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. ;-)