Thursday, November 30, 2006

SAF06 - ESB Microsoft Implementation

This presentation at SAF described an ESB implementation based upon Biztalk, Sharepoint and the .net environment.

I've picked up a few things from this.

  1. The use of XMS rather than JMS over MQ
  2. The use of Amberpoint and MOM for service management
  3. Very high performance message transformation by not using message boxing.
  4. Implementation of a customer ESB management portal in Sharepoint with an exception handler created to provide an easy to see view of current activity and errors.
  5. Use of BAM to track information as it's being written into Sharepoint with the graphs output into Sharepoint.
  6. Use of SOAP headers to contain message context that is later written into the MQ message headers.
  7. Monitoring at different levels
    1. Infrastructure
    2. Operation
    3. Biztalk Server
  8. Good description of how they marketed the solution through Kaiser-Permanente
    1. Developers Guide
    2. VM with ESB core engine installed
    3. Sample applications create
    4. Sample unit tests (nUnit and BizUnit)
    5. Sample automated build process

Apparently there will be a Microsoft ESB guidance package. A prelim version will be available - perhaps via Brian Loesgen's blog at

Seattle and the SAF06

I'm in Seattle now, listening to an ESB presentation at Microsoft with snow outside and the feel of winter in the air. It's absolutely gorgeous and a nice change from the spring winds of Wellington. But what a journey to get here!

My arrival into Seattle coincided with a "interesting meterological phenonomen" according the pilot: lightening and snow at the same time. Great but as a result we had to stop by Portland for an hour before heading back to land at 10pm in the tailend of the snow storm. Now the roads aren't geared up for snow and ice here so the city was shut down for that night. I didn't get to the hotel till almost 6am in the morning. It was long wait at the airport for a shuttle bus. Fortunately the people sitting near me were wonderful and the seat was heated with blankets. The joys of travel...

Now I'm here because of an invitation from Microsoft to attend the Strategic Architects Forum 06 and my employer has paid my way here (note: very thankful). The conference has 250 attendees and another 100 Microsoft staff. I'm in the financial sector and there are people here from across the world, especially europe it seems to me. The size of their organisations is rather greater than my own but we all share similar problems.

I'm struck by a few points in particular.
  • The difficulty to make change in a bank
  • The lack of standards outside of payment instructions
  • The cost of testing
  • The importance of identifying the commercial value.
I'll have to see how the conference progresses to see if there are any significant lessons I can take away.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Movember Sponsorship

It's an off chance - hardly anyone views these posts.... but if anyone does, and it's still the month of November in the year 2006 then please feel free to sponsor me for my November Mo!

You can find all the details here:

It's open to Mo Bro's and Mo Sista's (I'm a Mo Bro of course...). And the idea is we try and get a bit of sponship for ourselves and our teams. To sponsor you just need a creditcard, the link to the sponsor page -, and my rego: 52272.

I promise to post a picture tomorrow, all the team have had pictures taken by the team captain.

Also, keep your eye out for the mo gala festivals - I'll be missing Wellington's (I'll be in Seattle visiting Microsoft and the Strategic Architects Forum 06 thanks to current employer!)

On an off chance...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Banh Xeo

I've had these fantastic filled rice pancakes at restaurants and my wife has enjoyed them in Vietnam - but I've never had success making them.

Whenever I follow the recipes on the net - invariably made with rice flour, coconut milk, tumeric and a touch of salt and sugar - I get a dismal mess. Now, I thought I was alone in this failing, but in fact I'm not. There is a brilliant article on this very sticky problem at Viet World Kitchen ( authored by Andrea Q. Nguyen writing for the Los Angeles Times.

Now Andrea appears to have nutted out the core problem: by adding cooked rice and mung beans to the (uncooked) rice flour batter the extra starch should crisp up the pancake.

Andrea's research in her kitchen showed a couple of tablespoons of cooked rice and a tablespoon of steamed mung beans would do the trick for a rice pancake batter normally made with 1 cup of long grain rice. Just in case the original article is ever lost the essential part of the recipe was:

1 cup long-grain or jasmine rice
2 tablespoons cooked rice, firmly packed
1 tablespoon steamed, ground mung beans, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
1 green onion, sliced into thin rings ( 1/4 cup)

1. Place the raw rice in a bowl and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Let soak for 3 to 4 hours. Drain.
2. Place the soaked rice in a blender with the cooked rice, mung beans, salt, turmeric, coconut milk and water. Blend until very smooth and lemony yellow, about 3 minutes.
3. Pour the batter through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and discard the solids. Stir in the green onion. Set aside. As the batter sits, it will thicken to a consistency like that of heavy cream. Makes 3 cups of batter.

Refer to the link for instructions on soaking and steaming mung beans (basically 2 hours soaking and steam for 8 minutes); and on frying the pancake (basically fry onion, shrimps, pork and mushrooms then add pancake mix then cook about 3 mins covered and then another 3 uncovered to crisp up) .

I've gotta try this!

Report back later...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What's going on here?

I'm constantly asking myself this.

I've walked backwards and forwards past a building site for 3 days. Never seen a level. Never seen a string line.

This morning they'd poured a concrete floor - the women do all the labouring work by the way. (The men seem to stand and watch or handle the power tools.) Everything seems bodged. Concrete block walls are better described as breeze block; there's so many holes in the mortar. I can't figure out if there's a building code or if it's just ignored. I suspect there is but it's just ignored.

Why does the road up to our resort have intermittant footpath? Some of the properties appear to go to the edge of the road surface, and in other sections there's a nice footpath at the side. What sort of legislation and compliance regime operates here? Is there a building inspector?

Where does the sewerage go from the apparently uncontrolled development on Rei Lei? How is storm water managed?

I find myself very doubtful of the integrity and transparency of the governance systems deployed across Thailand. What I'm wondering is how this has occured and what will happen in the future. Hopefully a progressive transition to a better operating model but I'm sure that a lot will be lost along the way.

Broad Beans

Gotta love em... not!

At least not usually, not until yesterday. At lunch yesterday, prior to the usual serving of fried flat rice noodle with topping of vegetables, shrimps and thickened sauce (my staple diet), the restaurant served up a bowl of crispy, deep fried, salted broad beans. These things are good!

A quick check on google shows the recipe to be the fairly obvious one... (repeated from

Vegetable oil for deep-frying
500g freshly podded broad beans

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or deep saucepan.
2. Add the broad beans to the hot oil and fry until lightly coloured.
3. Remove the fried beans using a slotted spoon. Drain on kitchen paper. Season with salt.

Gotta to give it a go when I get back home.