Monday, September 05, 2005

Man, I missed the road!

Finally, here I am on a real out-of-country assignment. After spending years without knowing which country I lived in anymore, I was starting to get itchy about all this work on the same country. Now I'm finally on the road again - only 400 km away, but hey - that's a start!

Anyway, nice hotel. I'm at the Luxembourg Sofitel, and it's so weird that it looks exactly the same as the Algiers Sofitel when I went there 5 years ago...


Anyway, and once again, glad to be back on the road!

Ora aqui está uma boa notícia

Eu digo: até que enfim!

Inglês no ensino primário.

Care to join us?

I suppose I should get some advertising money out of this... ;-)

Anyway, if you feel like joining a very dynamic and young company, (profitable as well, might I add) working in the domain of EVERYTHING related to Content Management (or in other words, EVERYTHING), check these links:

- Senior Consultant
- Technical Consultant

When I say everything, you do realize I mean: Enterprise Level Everything. Sorry, no PHP/MySQL around here (not that often anyway). We mostly deal with .NET and J2EE applications, back-end integrations, etc, etc.

XML/XSLT experience is a very valuable asset, willingness to travel, presentation skills, speaking more than one european language (sorry brits - we can still make an exception for you, if you're really good ;-) ), 5 - 10 years IT experience, etc, etc, etc.

PS - I say sorry brits and not sorry franks, because if a french person is reading this, he probably speaks 2 languages already ;-)
PPS - The Senior Consultant link is for a job in Brussels, but we're also looking for 2 in Amsterdam.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I knew I shouldn't have...

Years and years ago, about the time I bought my 386 (60 MB disk + 4 MB RAM!!) technology was not a subject to be discussed at the café's table.

Discussing technology, reverse engineering (of games, mainly) and networks was not for the masses. This was absolutely restricted to a group of friends - geeks as me mainly - with different ideas about the application of technology but with a common love for it.

It was about that time (we're talking early 90's) that I first heard of the Singularity and the implications it would have on everyone's life, and god - did I want the Singularity to arrive. Funny how - at that time already, within a group of people aged from 15 to 20 - we were discussing IA as the means to achieve it rather than AI (see glossary at the end if you're feeling lost - maybe, if you're feeling lost, stop reading ;-)).

Anyway, I then started working and got into the more mundane aspects of life: creating a career, finding a good partner - physical and mentally -, having and raising a daughter. And let all this meta-talk go to sleep inside my brain.

And then, about 2 months ago I stumbled accross Charles Stross's Accelerando. And I knew I should stop reading it. And I didn't.

From there to having re-devoured Neuromancer, filling up my Amazon queue with book orders and spending my nights doing research on all that is to come was a snap. And I'm re-reading Accelerando, just to be sure I got it ;-)

In short, I'm now in that state of mind where communication is not possible in normal terms, and desperately searching for a mind I can speak with about this. Maria is quite smart and very well intended, but I'll bore her to death before I even get to explain the difference between AI and IA.

So, if you live in the Netherlands, if you actually knew what The Singularity is before googling for it, please do contact me...

The Singularity - basically and simply put, the one single time at which the computing power on earth will equal the human brain's computing power. By others, also seen as the moment at which human progress will be at its fastest. By still other groups - and sometimes the same people - the end of humanity and the start of post-humanity. More on this at a later post.
AI - Artificial Intelligence. Come on, this one was easy.
IA - Intelligence Amplification. Instead of coming up with a thinking machine, come up with a machine that amplifies MY intelligence.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

What's in a name?

I seriously think that your choice for Corporate Content Management system should not be based on a given system's name. I also know that - in the front of Web Content Management (so, excluding all the ECM big-boys like Documentum and Oracle) - basically our biggest competitors are based on Open Source.

But this is ridiculous... You just can't be taken seriously by any proper company with a name like this, can you?

Just imagine ABN Amro's VP for technology announcing to his Board of Directors that they would invest xxx Euros (replace xxx by any obscene amount of money) on the next WCM platform, named "Joomla!"

But again, what's in a name?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

What a surprise... (not)

The Register's reporting on a new TCO comparison betweeen Linux and Windows. You know, another one of those "studies" commissioned by one of the big players.

The fun part is that this time it's sponsored by IBM, so, quite "surprisingly" and contrary to all the others we've seen, this time Linux's TCO is 40% cheaper than Windows.

More here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mas quem é que lhe pediu isto?

A política portuguesa nunca deixou de surpreender. Eu ainda tinha esperança, bem lá no fundo, que a Maria de Jesus lhe pusesse a cabeça no sítio, mas pelos vistos nada havia a fazer. O monarca avançou mesmo com a candidatura.

Agora pergunto eu: vamos mesmo votar nele? Acham que ele vai ganhar as eleições? Eu até tenho medo da resposta, pois arrisca-se muito a ser positiva, e vamos mais uma vez mostrar a todos os nossos parceiros europeus que não queremos avançar. O que nós queremos é continuar a viver na utopia do "antes é que era bom" e vamos votar em alguém cujo maior contributo para a nação portuguesa - em tempos recentes - foi criticar publicamente toda a estrutura da União e do próprio parlamento que ele - soi disant - representava. Sim, soi disant porque monsieur Mário Soares por vezes dignava-se a comparecer no PE, quando não estava ocupado a escrever artigos de opinião para revistas conceituadas - artigos esses pagos a peso de ouro, não duvido.

Eu que até já me tinha habituado ao tweetie - e ao seu excelente inglês - vou agora ter que passar pela vergonha de confirmar que sim, voltámos a ter o mesmo presidente, sim, ele tem já mais de 80 anos, sim, arrisca-se a ter funeral de estado, sim, esse mesmo, aquele que dizia viver em Bruxelas, sim, aquele que criticou tudo e mais alguma coisa sobre a união europeia (aqui entre nós, chegados àquela idade não há muito mais para fazer senão criticar os outros).

Cresçam e apareçam portugueses, não se deixem levar por esta farsa.

Dizia - salvo erro - o Pacheco Pereira, e muito bem, que Soares vai possivelmente vencer por ser a alternativa a Cavaco, nunca por mérito próprio. É bom saber que ainda há gente sem papas na língua...

Shaking up the establishment

For a long, long time, XML-Spy has been the dominant (and only) XML/XSL/X-Whatever tool we used in Tridion.

Since our product is extremely heavy on XML and XSL, this is an invaluable tool, and all of us use it - despite its rather steep licensing price.

Then, one day, I needed to debug some XSLT that was not transforming correctly using Xalan. It did work perfectly in MSXML and the internal built-in XML-Spy processor.

Cutting a long story short, I ended up downloading and trying <oxygen/>, and simply fell in love with it. So, I asked our internal IT department to get me a licence.

Up to here nothing unusual. Except for the little fact that Oxygen's licences can cost about 25% of XML Spy's. So, IT is now trying to convince the whole of Tridion to use Oxygen instead. I don't really care which way it goes, as long as I get my Oxygen licence...

Getting WebSphere and Tridion to work together

Q: What takes longer when setting up an environment for WebSphere and Tridion interoperability?
A: Downloading and installing Windows 2003 Service Pack 1...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

You know something's wrong when...

The replacement car you get has better options than yours (MP3 reader!)

My XP "most used" list

Nothing tells you more about one person than the list of most used applications automagically generated by Windows XP.

I do often reset the whole thing just for the fun of seeing it filling back again. So... here goes my list:

  1. Macromedia DreamWeaver MX
  2. Eclipse
  3. Remote Desktop Connection
  4. VMWare Workstation
  5. Textpad
  6. Notepad
  7. Winrar
  8. Oxygen XML Editor
  9. Adobe Reader 7.0
  10. Internet Explorer
  11. Paint Shop Pro
  12. Trillian
It is funny how so many applications are not taken into account (I think it has something to do with the way they're launched - from the Start menu or from some quick-bar shortcut).

Firefox is constantly open and doesn't show up in the list. The same goes for Outlook and iTunes...

Well, never mind. Care to share yours?

WinFS Beta 1 out

So, Microsoft finally delivered Beta 1 of Cairo. If it took them approximately 11 years to deliver the first beta (about 200 years Internet-life time) how long until they release the first final version?

And how long until someone decides it is actually a good idea? As with anything database related, a Database-driven file system will only be as good as its data.

Corporate servers know where the data they need is located. And very seldomly need to do versioning.

Home users never know where a file is, but will be too lazy to fill in enough metadata about any file to make such a system useful. And will still not be able to find their files back.

I might be a bit too pessimistic about it, but I just don't see the need for this anymore. Of course, I'm sure MS' marketing team will make it an absolute hit (TM) and manage to squeeze some more licensing money through it.

Anyway, if you're feeling adventurous, here's the link. (You do need to be a subscribed MSDN user).

I guess you're used to this by now...

Had a "kind of" writer's block around here. 1000 different subjects came and went and never made it to the Publish queue in blogspot.

Never mind, I'm back and with loads of content coming up, mainly on the Tridion news and some other nice and funny stuff.

Keep you posted,


Monday, August 15, 2005

Nice place to live in?

Intriguing name in any case... pity about the signs constantly disappearing though...

Monday, August 08, 2005

Back from paradise

This was the view from my hotel room.

Of course, 'round here there's nothing but rain and cold. Damn.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


OK, it's been some time since my last post, so here's the latest news from Nunoland...

New Laptop
Got my new laptop last week. It's a Dell Latitude D810 and it just rocks. Some of the specs:
  • 128 MB Video RAM
  • 2GHz Pentium M
  • 1GB RAM
  • 60GB 7.200 rpm disc
  • 15x4'' screen, 1920x1200 resolution (widescreen)
  • Built-in wireless, bluetooth, etc, etc.

And yes, it can run GTA:San Andreas at the same time as 1 VMWare image, WebSphere Studio + WebSphere test environment, Tridion, SQL Server, and synchronize the calendar with my phone without interrupting my game play ;-)

Favorite comments in someone else's code

I've been finding some pretty cool comments around here. Here's a few examples for you:

  • //dirty hack, I know, but must have this running today
  • <%-- Todo: error handling --%>
  • <!-- This must be the most misleading error message I ever wrote -->

Isn't life great?

Interesting discussion: Are design elements part of your application content?

In the never-ending discussion on whether your application design elements belong to the realm of Application servers or content management, we've been having some very interesting discussions within Tridion.

Current conclusion: we will keep on storing design elements (images, style sheets, dynamic pages, etc) in the content manager and deploy them from there.

Let's talk dirty: Tridion Delivery Framework

Got to the "expert level" in TDF now. I can now use the power of tag libraries and cast spells like:

Display all components based on template "componentTemplateID":
<tdf:cp ctid="componentTemplateId"/>

Display page metadata field "Title":
<tdf:pagemeta key="Title"/>

Apply stylesheet to section:
<tdf:style xsl="/path/to/style.xsl" method="xml">
some html here

And, last but definitely not least, the great cache & search construct
-- here you have your html form with the search fields mapped to verity --
<tdf:cache id="thisCacheName">

And I'm one day away from my holidays. I might still do a post tomorrow.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Sweet, man! Sweeeeet...

my new laptop rocks so much...

I've never had so much screen "real estate" (1900x1200).

When I manage to recover from shock I'll post something meaningful.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Memo to self

- ALWAYS do things yourself, do not delegate
- Do not trust e-mails saying "it's done"
- Do not trust people that are about to leave on holidays

This is the key to successful projects ;-)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Party time

Woo-hoo!! Q2 numbers are in, and we just did our best quarter since Q4 2003 (which had been the best ever).

Loads of new sales, including a very big deal in the US (first major deal there, hope this will spark some new ones) and very steady services revenue.

Party time now, champagne is starting to pop in 15 minutes.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Want to know what annoying is?

This is annoying.

Delivery of version 1.0 next monday.
Loads of work to do, best JSP IDE available is Notepad.
Copy everything to USB Key, take home to keep on developing on a real IDE.
Get home, laptop runs out of battery, though the charger is connected.
Shake the charger and column of smoke comes out of it, after some frightening short-circuit-like sounds.

Now, that's annoying, isn't it?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Dilemas, dilemas, dilemas

Tudo é cíclico na vida. Não interessa como se fazem ou não as coisas, temos sempre a impressão de voltar ao mesmo ponto. Aquele ponto.

Viver longe de Portugal, numa sociedade que - mesmo após 10 anos - me continua a ser estranha, é um peso muito grande. Para mim, para a Zé e para a minha filha. Nenhum gosta de estar cá, mas não podemos sair daqui.

E nesta altura do ano, todos os anos, meço bem o que ando para aqui a fazer e qual a intenção disto tudo. E nesta altura do ano, todos os anos, chego à conclusão que não sei bem, mas a alternativa (voltar a Portugal) ainda não existe. Ou seja, vamos ficando por não poder voltar.

Este ano parece-me estar mais complicado, os alicerces sobre os quais se baseiam a nossa "aventura" pela Europa fora estão a tremer mais do que é costume. A situação económica do país onde vivemos não está nada famosa (recessão "oficial" desde a entrada no Euro), o poder de compra diminui a olhos vistos, a Zé (o grande alicerce disto tudo) está farta de trabalhar para idiotas que nem sequer sabem que é o Conselho de Ministros que lhes paga as contas (e não, como aquela besta pensa, a Comissão Europeia) e a Morgana, chegada que está à idade de ter vontade própria, começa a gostar - e muito - do que lhe é dado a ver da façon d'être portuguesa.

E eu, para não variar, estou a ficar farto destes tontos, que pensam ser liberais por terem legalizado o aborto e as drogas leves, mas não conseguem admitir os graves problemas sociais que têm por resolver há anos nem ver para além dos 100km que separam a capital dos países vizinhos. Em vez disso, seguem uma política que se assemelha em muito à cultura germânica de que nós é que somos bons, só aqui é que se trabalha bem, os povos do sul não sabem trabalhar, é tudo mañana, mañana.

Está na altura de me deixar de merdas e fazer alguma coisa. Voltar para Portugal para trabalhar outra vez para a IBM (ou outros do género) está fora de questão. Aqui podem ver porquê. Não me voltam a apanhar num "ministério" em que as promoções são atribuídas aos amigos e vizinhos, nunca aos que se esforçam - mesmo se um desses esforçados é responsável por 50% do cash flow (numa equipa de +/- 15 pessoas). A alternativa é então criar algo.

E já esteve mais longe, é tudo o que tenho a dizer por agora.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Minor issue...

I'm going mad. MAD. MAAAAAD!!!

Spent the whole day - and still trying - to debug a rather large transformation process through XSLT which uses about 35 different .xsl files, linked through xsl:includes and, in one type of transformation, all possible editors and parsers I've used give me the incredibly helpful and useful error message: resource cannot be located.

Which resource? On which file?

So, let's take a different approach: step-by-step debugging. And here lies the source to my madness...

can't do it because the [insert highly-insulting name here] that wrote the xsl's decided he should use msxsl:nodeset a bit all over the place. XMLSpy can run msxsl stuff, but can't debug it.

OxYgen (a very good XML/XSL tool) has exactly the same problem. And the native Java Parser it uses will cry foul at every chance it has, mostly with Windows-only file urls...

Stylus is just more of the same.

I'm now trying (or rather, hoping to get a chance to try) Visual XSLT, a Visual Studio plug-in that apparently supports msxsl and runs within the Visual Studio 2003 environment. But I'm already doubting it will work, as it will use MSXML .NET which is not 100% like MSXML 4.0...
And they don't send me the trial key, even after I signed off my mailbox for them to spam in a rather big form to allow me to test their tool...


Anyone knows a working MSXML-compliant XSL Debugger?

Update: exslt:node-set (Xalan) does exactly the same as msxlt:node-set, though it seems to be a bit more forgiving. I eventually got it to work, and the reason it was failing for was a wrong URL...

Friday, June 24, 2005

Rants about a short trip

Had to go to the Portuguese Consulate this morning to get a new passport for my daughter. Though, in itself, this is not a very complex task, it is also not as obvious as one might think.

First issue: address.

Finding a consulate's address cannot be hard in this day and age, can it? I mean, google always knows where anything is. So, fired up Firefox, opened Google and started searching for "Consulado Português Roterdão". Good luck finding it.

Thought about using the official government portal to find this info. Went to "Portal do Governo". Was I really expecting to find anything here? No, not really.

Kept on googling for a while and then I did eventually find out this page which contains all the addresses for all the Portuguese consulates all over the world. Brilliant page, I thought to myself. Must be somehow controlled/built/maintained by the Foreign affairs ministry, right?
Very wrong. It's actually maintained by a Bank. A Bank of all things.

Never mind.

Found the address, hopped into the car and there I went. Of course, got completely lost in Rotterdam (it's only 20 km away but I never go there - I mean who wants to go to Rotterdam?).

As any man knows, when lost the only thing you have to do is keep your cool and keep on driving. Even if you've never been to that city, you know your target can't be too far away, and if you keep on driving you will eventually get there.
And so it happened. After turning right somewhere I saw the Portuguese flag hovering about hanging from a wall. That was it.

Found parking space (did eventually get a ticket, of course - any trip to a dutch town is incomplete without the 47.50 EUR parking ticket), went into the consulate and only had to wait about 15 minutes to have someone speaking to me.

For the first time in my life I had all the required papers and documentation, plus sufficient photos. "It's just a few minutes, you can take a seat here and we'll call you once it's ready."

Great. This was now 10:00, and it would mean that Morgana could be back in school by 10:30 and me in the Amsterdam office by 11:15.

Except that it took them exactly 1 hour and 15 minutes to enter the request into a computer form. "The passport will be ready in about one week, we'll give you a call once it's done." What? "65 Euros please." WTF?

I lose a whole morning to see someone take 75 minutes to fill in a computer-based form and I still have to pay 65 Euros on top of it?

Well, never mind, the weather is great today, Morgana's off for a sleep-over party with a friend, and when the kid's out it's Parent Party time at home (it used to be the other way around, wasn't it?).

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Feeling good

Just had one of those ego-boosting moments that will definitely last for a few days. One of those where nothing and no-one can wipe the smile out of my face.

It just feels so good when you show your work and get appreciated for it.

If it wasn't this early I would definitely go out for a celebrating beer...

Simple application description:
  • Tridion Content Manager
  • WebSphere Application Server
  • JSP Templating
  • Dynamic Content Publishing

Basically, a whole bunch of JSP templates that can be used to dynamically retrieve Tridion-stored content without any intervention. Just define which components should appear (within Tridion) and WebSphere will serve it ;-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Just a small reminder...

...that today's the longest day in the year.

Not that I risk seeing the sun today, as it is clouded all over and I can declare myself lucky if it doesn't rain...

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A situação em Portugal

Isto é complicado. Eu não tenho nada a dizer sobre quem manda, mas por vezes cheira-mal (de tal maneira que sinto o cheiro aqui, a 2500km de Lisboa).

Então um país que já tinha falhado na regra dos 3% mais do que uma vez, vem agora com um défice de 6.8%?
Um novo governo - que tem por obrigação mudar as coisas - volta a tocar o mesmo disco?
Um vice-presidente do Banco de Portugal trabalha 6 anos e reforma-se com 1.500 contos/mês?

E eu não consigo arranjar um tacho assim?

Não se percebe

Friday, June 17, 2005

Release .1

Today we're releasing our 0.1 version of my current project. Everyone seems ecstatic about it, and I just think it sucks.

But that's only me, so it's no big deal.

Anyway, the interesting part is that - being hired as a Tridion specialist - this is what I've been doing:
  • Writing JSPs
  • Modifying Tag Libraries
  • Configuring Verity
  • Writing XSLTs
  • (Occasionally) VB Scripting in Tridion
In other words, 0.05% of my time has been spent on their Tridion infrastructure and all the rest has been a web developer's work.

The customer is always I right, I guess...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I survived...

Just to say I survived my 10 day vacation, pictures to be posted some time soon.


Friday, May 27, 2005

Short update

Just before the holidays (which means I do have now a valid excuse not to write anything here for a few days).

- Amazing football match last wednesday. Congratulations to Liverpool, coming back from 3-0 against Milan is not for any team.
- Today's the second day of Tridion's Knowledge Sharing days, and there's been a lot of new stuff (to me anyway) particularly on the Solutions Framework which will eventually become Tridion's foundation services. Very cool indeed, I hope I can put some of the stuff in here after I come back from holidays.
- Had a great night out in Amsterdam yesterday, but can't really say much as details are still fuzzy...

See you in 10 days.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

We are the champions...

Benfica wins the championship
Benfica won the portuguese football championship for the first time in 11 years. The "dormant" Benfica fans have finally been able to express their joys all over the world, blocking roads a bit all over from Luxembourg to Caracas. Last time they had won it I was still living in Lisbon...

The cup final is still theirs for the taking, so this might be a memorable year indeed.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

This is worth a laugh or two

Sometimes you really don't know if you should laugh or cry (both simultaneously might be the most appropriate for this case). This "incredible visionnaire" that goes by the name of Steve Ballmer, CEO of this amazingly creative company (Microsoft I believe is its name) must have been having wet dreams about MSN.

I mean, nothing else can explain his "clairvoyant" claims that Google "may just be a one-hit wonder" and might actually disappear within 5 years.

Yeah right. Just before the Longhorn launch, I guess.

If I worked at Google I'd be hosting a drink tonight to celebrate the demise of the company. If someone as credible as the man behind the Tablet PC says Google will die, then he must certainly be right.

Seriously now: would you work for this guy? (for any other reason than the money).

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Go Sporting!

Make us proud (for the 3rd year in a row)...

For those that live under a rock: read this.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Não há cu que aguente...

Há vezes em que se perde a cabeça facilmente. E há alturas em que é ainda mais fácil.

A conversa hoje foi assim:
Ele: A partir de amanhã temos reunião diária às 9:00, é uma chatice (como ele trabalha a 70 km de casa, isto significa sair de casa antes das 7:30)
Ela: Realmente, e eu precisava tanto que fosses tu a levar a miúda à escola amanhã.
Ele: Não me dá jeito nenhum, mas tudo bem não há de ser nada.
Ela: Pois, nunca dá jeito, nunca dá jeito. Sempre os outros primeiro e eu que me lixe. É demais isto, não há ninguém capaz de fazer nada por mim, etc, etc (e várias frases/palavras que nem sequer devem ser escritas aqui).
O famoso "chorrilho de tretas".
Ele: Mas eu só disse que não dava jeito, não disse que não podia.
Ela: (Mais do mesmo)
Ele: (Lembrando-se que anda a ler o "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus", procura a tradução para marciano que diz algo do género: "abraça-me, dá-me mimo, diz-me que me amas e que vai tudo correr bem") Anda cá querida, desculpa se eu não te dei atenção, é claro que não é problema ...
Ela: Vai-te #$£*% seu @#&$% duma grande |\{}¤¤µ
Ele desiste, vai para a sala onde o portátil ainda está ligado e volta ao seu documento. Acende mais um cigarro e serve um generoso whisky.

Há dias em que não há cu que aguente...

Funny how things go...

To think that today, about 8 years from my first attempt at this, I am still working on creating a Knowledge-based structure, grouping people according to skills and ambition, defining best practices for knowledge sharing, etc, etc, etc...

Things do go round and round...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Short update

Busy closing down a project and starting another, so not much time to think about what to post.

Short update:
  • Loads of drinking and food abuse these past few days. Gotta go back on diet if I want to properly enjoy the short stay in Portugal at the end of may...
  • Knowledge Sharing "promoted" to top priority within Professional Services. Nuno to take the lead on this ;-)
  • XSLT is easy... (sometimes)
  • Started finally working (seriously) on a book. News to come on this. Global theme is how to "upgrade Professional Services into Elite Services"
  • People come, people go. 5 new employees since I started (2 months ago). 4 have left meanwhile...
  • Remember the bank people that will get outsourced? Well, apparently, not all of them will be hired by the future company, so nerves are finally starting to surface. Decision about who stays and who goes is taken in early June...

That's it for now. I'll try to get some time to do a real post before the end of the week.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

SOAP makes me sleep...

I'm sure it's nothing to do with having slept about 3 hours today.
I'm sure it's nothing to do with my DEV server running so slow I can smoke a cigarette between queries.
I'm sure it's nothing to do with going through someone else's VB (AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH the horror!) code searching for a bug.

No, SOAP messages definitely make me sleep.


It's a done deal:

Book Plane: Check
Book Rental car: Check

22 days to go and I'll be here! (just ignore the text and scroll down for the photos)

Chiça, até que enfim ;-)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Isn't it funny?

Liverpool reaches a major European football final for the first time in 20 years (the last time was the ill-fated Liverpool x Juventus at the Heysel Stadium) and all every sports commentator mentions is that Mourinho's team didn't go through?

Shouldn't journalists be spending time contratulating Rafa Benitez's men rather than claiming Mourinho is not unbeatable (something Benfica knew already from last year's Portuguese Cup final)?

As a curiosity, Rafa - as Mourinho - reaches his second European Final in two years, and "risks" winning both as well, though with different teams.

Even more amazing to me is that Liverpool can play as they did against Chelsea and can't defend against Middlesbrough...


Working with e-mail for the best part of my 10-year career (my first "real" IT work was linked to e-mail and "groupware" implementations), and particularly working with a system with a fast and reliable index system (Lotus Notes) taught me to:

1. Never delete an e-mail (except jokes)
2. Never create folders and "waste" time organising e-mails

Number 1 is for obvious reasons. Nobody can claim to have or have not said something by e-mail. You KNOW what's been said.
Number 2 might be less obvious, but it resulted from experience: I used to organise my e-mails, and dedicate a good part of the day/week into keeping my inbox clean. And then, when weeks later I would need a specific e-mail, I would go to the "All Documents" view and search the whole mailbox, which "kind of" defeats the purpose of organising e-mails in the first place.

So I gave up organising my mailbox, and adopted a "search when you need it" approach.

A few years forward and here I am. No Lotus Notes on my machine - MS Outlook only. It looks WAY better than Notes. But it SUCKS big time. Search is absolutely crap and slow. Try searching for an e-mail for which you only know the sender's mail domain. Or better, search in all folders at the same time. Or (I love this one) try searching on moderately-sized (50MB) Local folders...

Sure, it can be done. But it's not easy. And slow. And not comparable to a Notes full-text search on a 500MB mailbox. And you have to know where the string you're searching for is located: Body or Subject or From or Send To, etc. What if you don't know? Chances are that if you knew all that about the message you're searching for you would probably know as well on which folder it was stored, right?

Consequently, it was quite funny to find out that Gmail's "revolutionary" way of working with e-mail is exactly the same way we - old Lotus Notes users - have always used our mail. Don't organise, search for it ;-)

Lotus (the company, not the software) may be dead, but it sure had guys with vision.

How to motivate your employees...

Had a good demonstration today of how (not) to keep your employees motivated:

1. Tell them outsourcing is inevitable in a timeframe between 6 & 18 months
2. Assure them they will be hired by the company they will be outsourced to, in exchange for a 15% pay cut
3. Make sure they know their current benefits (mostly bank-related) will NOT continue

In compensation, they get 3 months' pay in a lump sum (conveniently, just before the summer holiday period) and a guarantee of a job for 5 years. Or in other words: within 4 years, start looking for a job elsewhere.

Now, that's good motivation skills, right?

Amazingly enough, everyone seems to be happy about the 3 months' package and not paying much attention to the rest, as if it were "minor details".

If you look at it from an outsider's point of view though, you can see a lot of problems coming on their way:
- Average workforce age is around 30 to 35
- They're all IT employees, but very few are really "IT-minded" or specialised in any domain (except banking)
- They've been working on highly customized (if not custom-built) systems that apply to the banking world and nothing else

The company that will hire them will most likely be one of the "experts" on this domain: LogicaCMG, IBM, EDS, etc. They might look into keeping some of the key people, those that know how to run the day-to-day business, and some might be offered a different job within their organisation: there is, after all, a lot of WebSphere knowledge around here though this will be limited to 2 - 3% of the workforce.

Others might get lucky and get some sort of "behind-the-desk" job, but risk being outsourced again in the long run.

So, you'll end up with 70% (being optimistic here) of under-qualified IT people, with about 40 years of age, being "dumped" on the marketplace and looking for a nice, well-paid, not very stressing IT job. Maybe even as managers.

I don't know, I really don't understand why they're not worried. Maybe they know something I don't?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The "special one" did it again...

It was about 10 months ago I first called him "Football's Michael Schumacher". Well, English football fans around the world, start preparing yourselves for a hell of a ride...

Congratulations Mr. Mourinho on your first of many.

And knowing him - as any Portuguese person now dares to say he does - I wouldn't be surprised his players would go and grab the Champions League, just to make sure they don't miss much of this year's titles...

Monday, April 25, 2005

Customer Interview...

I had a surprise interview today by another team of the customer where I'm currently working, apparently interested in working with me in some other Tridion project.
They had the usual questions like how's your Java skills, Tridion knowledge, blah blah blah. I'll skip those boring elements.

The best part was about XSLTs:
Interviewer #1: "Well, we're looking for an XSLT guru."
Me: "Can't say I am one, I have limited experience."
Interviewer #2: "Can you give us an example of what you've done?"
Me: "3 days ago I changed your metadata xslt and added a couple of simple functionalities to it..."
Interviewers: silence, small sign of perplexity in their face
Me (slightly scared I had touched something I shouldn't): "...I needed to add 2 fields to the broker database...and, not really sure why, I managed not to break it...for the error code know..."
Interviewer #1 (smiling to Interviewer #2): "That qualifies as being an XSLT guru around here..."

Cool, I'll start next week coaching their team on XSLT. Now, gotta go find some good XSLT web site/book/resource... O'Reilly's I guess (NOT the Irish pub in Brussels, the other O'Reilly's).

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Starting with the basics

Well, this might be very basic stuff, but there's always a first time...

If you need to write an application that uses Tridion remotely, here's what you have to do:

1. Find a Tridion CM Server
2. Go to Administrative Tools -> Component Services
3. Expand Component Services -> Computers -> My Computer -> Com+ Applications
4. Right Click "Tridion Content Manager" and select "Export"
5. Click Next
6. Enter a file name and select "Export as Application Proxy" and click Next
7. Wait for a while ;-)
8. Click Finish

9. Go back to your development machine and get the file you exported.
10. Repeat steps 1, 2 & 3 (on your machine now, not the server)
11. Right-click Com+ Applications and select New -> Application
12. Click Next
13. Select Install pre-built application(s)
14. Browse to the MSI file you created and copied to this machine and open it
15. Click Next, select a directory (just leave default if you're not too picky) and click Next
16. Wait for a while ;-)
17. Click Finish

Tridion CM TOM 5.1 should now appear on your COM reference list, so that you can add it to your project.

And then you will not get 354 error messages from code like this:

static void Main(string[] args)

TDS.TDSE tdsClass = new TDS.TDSE();
Type tc = Type.GetTypeFromProgID("TDS.TDSE","VM2K3-NUNO",true);
tdsClass = (TDS.TDSE) Activator.CreateInstance(tc);


As I said, this is not rocket science, but you need to do it once to know it...

Banks are not what they used to be...

It used to be the case that working at a bank meant having a decent work environment, quite some benefits and, above all, great credit rating.

Well, things sure have changed.

But even more annoying than the lack of decent toilet paper, is that this bank decided to save money on toilet brushes...

I suppose that's not part of their "core business", whatever that is nowadays.

Well, it's now official

You can now download the Forrester report on Web Content Management from here.

It is worth reading ;-)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A pretty good deal

Just bought an old server from our internal IT department, through an internal auction.

Can't say I had a bad deal:

1x Pentium III 667 MHz
3x 9.1 GB SCSI
3x 18.2 GB SCSI
512 MB RAM

All this for the huge amount of 5 €. Yes, it's not a typo.

I should have bought some more and re-sell the disks at e-Bay... ;-)

Anyway, time to rebuild my home file server. If I could just find that CD with Fedora Core 3...

Monday, April 18, 2005

The joys of being a consultant

If there's something constant throughout my career as a consultant is that more often than not I'd be bullshitting a customer about my current work until I had enough time to go and check how things *should* be done.

I call that "Creative Consulting".

Today I must have had one of my best performances ever regarding some of my XSD files. Let's just say that I have no clue why they were working, but hey, if it's not broken don't fix it, right?

Well, they weren't exactly working in this case. Hence the reason for my creativity to be put under stress.

But it worked. And I've now checked out how it should be done. And it's in the mail. And it kind of confirms what I told the customer during my creative consulting session.

Which brings me to another topic that also defines the fine line between Consultants and Great Consultants: it doesn't matter how good you are, but how good people think you are. Those of you who know me might recognise that sentence, as I have been using it for the better part of my life (and looking better than I really am, some will argue) :-D.

Of course, you must have enough knowledge to back up your claims, but you don't need to be a guru to be considered one.

So, when everything goes wrong, make sure your documentation is perfect. I mean, spotless. Abuse visio drawings. Use UML (those who don't know it are always impressed). Choose nice, modern fonts that are easy to read on screen. Make sure you have an "Executive Summary", at the latest, by the 4th page and that it is no longer than 1 page. Include an Excel graph on it. I mean ALWAYS include an Excel graph on it. If really not possible, a visio drawing then. It must have a strong visual element or managers will not read it.

The end result of doing this is that managers will always defend you. Someone who can make such good documentation can not possible be wrong, can he? ;-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Once a thief, always a thief?

Or in this case, once a Knowledge Manager, always a Knowledge Manager?

I was starting to wonder how long it would take until I would launch an internal Intellectual Capital system within Tridion.

Got my answer today: 1 month and 3 days ;-)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I must be an alien...

Do you really know anyone that buys music off iTunes or Napster? I can't think of a single person I know that would do that. Yet, they seem to be making (loads of) money out of it.

I don't get it...

Saturday, April 09, 2005

My next car...

Gone are the days of cheap powerful cars (that was in Belgium). Apparently in Holland cars are subject to a 42% luxury tax, meaning that the same budget that could get me a 320D a few kilometers south from here, will only get me a Peugeot 307...

It is a 2 liter petrol though... ;-)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

It's not fair... ;-)

Here am I in my corner, silently smiling about my first "official" client assignment: a Tridion deployment in Copenhagen...

Simple deployment, it's just to test the system within the customer's environment. Should take about 8 hours' work, so we planned the whole of monday for it, with me flying sunday evening and flying back on monday evening. Yes.

Then the customer calls and says he's not willing to pay for an hotel, so I'll be flying up and down the same day. No time for tourism trips...

Better luck next time, I guess.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

A poorer world

Dear Karol, we might not have always agreed in the past, but I do want to thank you for spending all your life trying to make this a better world for all of us - independently of color, age or religion.

You touched us all and I sincerely hope you're now with the Maker you so fervently believed in.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Assim sim, Serafim!

Estava a ver que não, isto já andava a demorar muito. Finalmente, aqui estou eu na minha varanda com vista para o canal a beber a minha geladinha.

Esta primavera andava atrasada...


I know I left EMD over a year ago, but after reading this I couldn't stop laughing...

Things must have changed a lot:

- I do agree EMD is a specialist in the unstructured data domain, that's a fair claim.
- ERP Systems?
- SAP and Baan?

What do ERP systems and unstructured data have in common? Who did they copy the press release from? Who's doing SAP and/or Baan in EMD?

In the end, we all know why EMD wanted to be Tridion Partner, and it is a smart move for both companies. It will allow EMD to keep one of their best customers and might bring additional exposure for Tridion, what will certainly make everyone happy, isn't it Pascal?

Challenging Post

How do you say something you really want THIS much to tell, but can't because it's classified? How do you leave enough hints for people to understand what you really want to say without violating a NDA?

Earlier in my career I would feel tempted to just write down what I wanted with no worries, but nowadays, because I am often on "the other side" of this question, I've learned to respect the IP (Intellectual Property) of others.

Here's my best try. Some of my friends did not understand my move to my current employer, mainly because it "restricts" the product-choice freedom I always defended (and because most of the technology is based on Microsoft stuff).

So, I have to backtrack a bit on this decision and explain:

After the decision to move to the Netherlands was taken, and after it was made clear I would have to change jobs to do it, I looked at the market and decided my future would go through one of the two areas which, for me, have the best outlook: EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) or WCM (Web Content Management). Ideally, a mix of both.

And that's what I found here. I can (and will start soon, I hope) do loads of integration work to enable WCM systems to talk to a company's back-end. And Tridion felt as a good choice because of their market projection in Europe, their proven technical leadership in the domain, and the quite challenging times Tridion is going through now: becoming a BIG player in the WCM domain.

And now, an as-yet-unpublished research paper from a major research group that will be released in the near future will confirm that I took the right decision.

See, I said it. And didn't violate any NDA. ;-)

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Lessons in life

Probably the best lesson in life I ever had was given to me by a brasilian friend-of-a-friend, though that was clearly not the intention.

Over 10 years ago, while I was still living near Lisbon, this friend-of-a-friend kept comparing Portugal to Brazil, and how much better Brazil was, how the sun was warmer, how the people were nicer, how the food tasted better, and so on and so forth.

Needless to say that I constantly felt like telling her to go back home and stay there, if it's that much better.

Well, now I'm living abroad, bulding a life in a country where the sun is colder, the people are definitely not nice and the food has no taste, but you'll never hear me complain about it. This we might call politeness, but I would prefer naming it "politically correct".

That's why you'll never hear me complain about the ham, dried ham, so-called "presunto", cheese (be it young, mild or old) that always taste the same. That's why you'll never hear me complain about the absolute revultion my stomach goes through everytime I see a truck driver eating a steak for lunch and drinking a glass of milk with it. That's why you'll never hear me complain about the 3 years it took me to know my ex-neighbour's first name. That's why you'll never hear me complain about the lack of choice in super(?)markets. That's why you'll never hear me complain about not being able to shop after 17:00 on any given day. That's why you'll never hear me complain about not wearing my sunglasses for 3-4 months in a row (this one is very hard). That's why you'll never hear me complain about paying 50€ for a dustbin-unworthy meal, 20€ for undrinkable wine, eating sandwiches at lunch time (you make them yourself), the "you people from the south" insinuations (from the south and very proud of it, thank you), the weirdest toilets in the world, and I could go on and on and on.

No, you have my word, I will never complain about this, I've learned my lesson.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


  • Last weekend we went to Paris (saturday to monday). Wonderful time, great city, fantastic restaurants. I was starting to forget how food really tastes like.
  • Diddl-mania is getting on my nerves. No Diddl stuff for two weeks due to the way Morgana behaved in a restaurant. For those of you lucky enough to not have to deal with this: I envy you!
  • Spent 3 days doing customer support for Tridion, and I have to admit I enjoyed it. Good people, some time to improve my Tridion and .Net skills, and still got to solve a few tickets (about 12 IIRC).
  • Last friday went out in Amsterdam with "the brits". No ambulances were needed.
  • Got my first "real" assignment: build the new Sales Demo VMWare image. That will be a cool challenge.
And that's about it. Tomorrow back to training (TMCS again).


The most surprising is that someone *actually* reads this site... ;-)


Isn't it funny that, still today, half the problems reported to any customer support service are solved by a simple reboot?

Isn't about time this changes?

Actually, wasn't it supposed to have changed with Windows 2000?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Longer life

Don't we all need this?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Ninja on the loose...

Breaking news:
There was some talk about some guy dressed up as a Ninja showing up on some browsers around here. I can assure you nobody else will get whacked, this ninja has been dealt with...


Have a great weekend.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Blame Lotus?

An interesting feeling has been growing in me for the past few months. I realised how much I miss using Notes/Domino and the real power that thing really has.

A few examples:

  • The company I work for is pretty big in Web Content Management, and keeps on growing. A few days ago I had a training on a new solution, that, among other things, allows your web site content to be reused on a newsletter sent by e-mail.

    It's brilliant. But we were doing that already in 98 with Domino.
  • This week I had a good training on C#, .Net and Visual Studio. Brilliantly easy to create a web site, put your business logic, connect to databases, bring out the site.

    But we were doing that already in 99 with Domino (R5 was the first version to really allow this on an easy way, though you could argue it was already possible before this version).
  • I'm building up an "Intellectual Capital" initiative to allow us to re-use, share, peer-review our documents/code/whatever, and I have to resort to actually use a full-blown "Application Server" (be it J2EE or .Net based, that is irrelevant for now) to do this, while I could with about half the work create it in Domino.

The interesting bit is that IBM and Lotus still managed to give a bad image to this wonderful product and I can't really understand why. The fact is, everyone that does not use it is sure they don't need it...

Delegates, Events, Datagrids, C++++...

We've just finished our 1st part in .net training, and I can't really say I'm impressed. Coming from a Java background (thanks IBM for brainwashing me) I was a little bit too sceptic about .net. And, as expected, I confirmed that it is not much more than taking the JVM idea and extending it to depend on the Operating System, though that is not the official message (it does support multiple versions of Windows)...

Anyway, C# is quite good as a programming language and delegates are cool.

Another suspicion I confirmed was that Microsoft's strenght in the .net field is based on the great IDE they have (Visual Studio) rather than the merits of the language or environment in itself. It's so bloody easy for someone with just some VB knowledge to come up and built an interactive web site that it's even scary...

Update - I forgot to mention mono. I'll post something if I ever get the courage to try it out.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Another week passes by...

Just finished my 2nd week on my new job, and I must say I'm really enjoying. Some things are better than expected, others worse.

2 weeks to follow Discovery, Functional and Technical Training, 2 more weeks for .Net (!! me! following a .NET training!) and Sys Admin and I'll be ready to roll.

Meanwhile today had a short demo of TMCS (Tridion Marketing Communication Solution) and I must say I'm impressed, great-looking tool. I'll have a formal training on that as well next week.

So, such a big message only to say I'm glad it's friday, and am looking forward for this weekend. Have fun!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

O Porto foi ao ar...

... e fez Pum!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


I own a 4-year-old IBM Thinkpad A30 which I refuse to let go. It must be the most fragile Thinkpad I ever had, but I still believe I must keep on using it at all costs.

Up to now it has:
- One dead PCMCIA slot;
- Something definitely very wrong with the remaining PCMCIA slot, since only one specific card works on it;
- Half-dead video RAM;

Windows XP failed on it constantly. Bluescreens every 2 days, and one boot in 2 resulted in a frozen desktop, etc, etc, etc.

The most interesting of it all was running any program in text-mode (no graphical environment loaded, like Windows Setup): it just scrambled all characters, replacing spaces by question marks, 'a' with 'y', etc. Absolutely challenging.

Then, one day, it stopped booting. Nothing, nada, zilch. Brave as always, and committed to keep this laptop running, I decided to try Windows XP again, but couldn't get past the text-setup part (hard to read).

Filled my lungs with air, popped up a Mandrake 9.1 CD I had lying around, went to, downloaded the network install boot and gave it a try.

The following 2 hours were spent downloading and installing packages over the Internet - I couldn't help but wonder why XP would take about the same time to install from a CD...

Anyway, cutting a long story short, my PC has never failed again ever since it got Fedora Core 3 running. No more network failures (the wireless card would restart once in a while), no more screen freezes, no more refusals to boot.

And today I decided to go the extra mile and set up the machine as my home's NT Domain using Samba. And the damn thing worked. I'm now busy installing cygwin/X on my other laptop so that I don't have to use the Thinkpad at all (video still gets confused once in a while, especially while surfing or running some gnome apps).

So, I'm now busy configuring XDM and all the crap that comes with it. I must really like suffering...
Interopera... what?

XML is brilliant. The idea behind it, I mean. I don't want to get into "Michel-esque" (insiders will understand this one) discussions about XML implementations in real-life software, but the general idea of interoperability allowed by an open standard as XML is brilliant.

Kudos for XML.

And then this. What in the name of [name-your-favorite-deity] is this? Do they really think it will work?

For the lazy ones around: linked article is about New Zealand patent 525484, submitted by Microsoft and open for objections until the end of may, where M$ tries to patent the use of a single XML file for a word-processing document.

In other words, you can integrate with XML-based word documents, as long as you pay them...

Monday, March 14, 2005

Useless error message of the day

'null' is null or not an object

I would have never figured that one out...
In training...

Sometimes you just want to be alone. A lot of those times you just don't want to speak, even if it's to a dumb laptop you're speaking. Sometimes you just don't want to share how you feel and how your life is going.

I feel I'm waking up.

Anyway, new job and new training. New country. New appartment. Old family, new feeling. New car. New phone. New laptop. New shoes. New IM client (Trillian). Great mobile phone (Nokia 6230). New life?
Contact update

I've been sending messages up and down with my new contact details, but, as ever with moves, laptop changes, mobile phone changes, etc, I have certainly lost your contact.

So, here's the new ways to reach me:

Professional e-mail:
Personal e-mail:
Mobile Phone: Ask me ;-)

IM Links:
Yahoo!: nuno_linhares
ICQ: 30951875

I will not promise to update this site very often... ;-)

Friday, February 18, 2005

By the looks of it... next professional e-mail address might well be