Thursday, October 27, 2005


Hmmm. I haven't had a chance to read it all yet, but initial thoughts are: why?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Spot the difference?

For her birthday, I bought my wife a new mobile phone, after much background research. She wanted one with a camera, but the fact it also runs Java games is a bonus. She's a Tetris fanatic, but unfortunately that game didn't come on the phone by default. So, I spent some time last night looking for a good implementation and came across this version, which downloaded first time and plays like a charm.

However, this got me thinking. The jar is small, at only 18.29K. There are versions designed for the PC that are larger (e.g., this one is 744K), but not huge in the grand scheme of things. Yet when I run the game on the mobile phone, the resources it takes are tiny compared to when I run it on my PC! I know it's the difference between J2ME and J2SE environments, but you've got to wonder: how much of the latter do you really need to run your everyday projects?

I know there's a lot of work going on around Java microcontainers, but maybe we also need effort in micro-JVMs, similar to micro-kernels of old! Time for the big monolithic JVM to bow out, I think.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A message from the twilight zone

Normally Jason Bloomberg speaks for ZapThink in the real world. However, his latest comments about Oracle's Fusion middleware are definitely from another reality.

To call it Frankenstein shows a strange lack of understanding about how large middleware offerings really develop. I can't put my finger on a single one (including IBM's) that has been entirely developed in-house and from scratch. These things develop in leaps and bounds as requirements change. As companies acquire other companies, it's also inevitable that some kind of cross-pollination will occur. But to suggest that it's not uniform or cohesive in some way is very strange indeed. Maybe he just had an off day?

It's also the case that this kind of evolution rather than revolution approach happens throughout the industry. Many large organisations we've come across, have grown by acquisition and are forced to leverage all of their infrastructural investments simply because they can't afford to migrate to a homogeneous environment. That's where SOA and Web Services really come into play these days.

Now whether IBM will see Oracle as a threat in this space is a different matter.

Note also that Frankenstein was trying to advance science and defeat death. Not such a bad goal!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

IBM and Arjuna

Via Jim, this interesting piece about our transaction service, hosted by IBM.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

OASIS WS-TX announcement

The WS-TX specifications have finally made it into OASIS, with the formation of the WS-TX Technical Committee. It's been a long time getting here!

WARNING: Reference Parameters considered bad for your health

There's been a discussion going on over at the WS-Addressing public forum around Reference Parameters, which degenerated into the need for session semantics. The specification is already more complex than it probably needs to be: not a good example of Occam's Razor. I hate to sound like a broken record, but use WS-Context. The argument for it is pretty compelling.

Just back from JBoss World 2005

We're a JBoss partner and have been for a few years. We went to JBoss Two a couple of years ago and there were maybe 100 people, so it was interesting to see the much larger attendance at this year's JBoss World in Barcelona. I'm not sure what the official figures are, but I'd reckon that there was in excess of 300 people, crammed into 3 presentation rooms. There were some good presentations and it was interesting to see the enthusiasm on the faces of the attendees.

The most interesting presentation I saw still confuses me slightly: it was presented by a group of belly dancers at the Elephant. I think they were trying to demonstrate vertical sector take-up of JBossAS, but something got lost in translation. It was definitely the most well attended presentation of the whole conference!

OK, it was a party! I admit it!

I love Barcelona, but the airport is definitely not designed for the rapid transit of passengers. It's as if someone built a city highstreet and remembered after the fact that they hadn't put on the departure gates! Good exercise I suppose.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Did H.G. Wells predict 21st Century Computer Science Students?

Back in 1895 H. G. Wells wrote The Time Machine, a story about a man who invents a time machine, travels far into the future and the experiences he has. There've been two movies: the 1960 George Pal version and the more recent 2002 version. Despite the fact that Guy Pearce is a relative (on my wife's side), I prefer the original with Rod Taylor; and any director who can bring something like The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao to the screen always has an edge anyway!

But I digress. When the Time Traveller reaches 802701 A.D. he finds that the human race has fragmented into two species: the Eloi and the Morlocks. They are markedly different in appearance, with the Eloi as smaller, more beautiful humans who live above ground, and the Morlocks as grotesque creatures who live in the perpetual darkness below ground. It turns out that the Eloi have evolved past the point where they could understand or use the advanced machinery of their ancestors and rely on the Morlocks to provide them with food; the Morlocks maintain much of the machinery which helps both species and eat the Eloi. In essence, the Eloi spend all their time playing and appreciating nature and life without knowing why things work the way they do, whereas the Morlocks spend all their time ensuring things work and can't appreciate anything else.

Over the years, the School of Computing here at the University of Newcastle has had a world class reputation for both its undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. But one of the things I've noticed is a gradual change in the subjects that undergraduates learn from when I did my degree back in the mid 1980s. Back then, we learnt software languages such as Pascal, C, 6502 assembler, 68000 assembler, did hardware design (e.g., VLSI) as well as operating systems (using Concurrent Euclid strangely enough) and network programming. For a software course, it covered a lot of depth and breadth: we were taught why things work as well as how they work.

These days, with the advent of languages such as Java, GUIs and even the Web, students are taught at a much higher level, with little or no experience of hardware or operating system principles /architecture. (Note, I've reason to believe that this is not purely a local phenomenon.) That's because industry needs a new set of skills. However, if you ever get a chance to talk to successful graduates these days, there's a definite lack of understanding about why things work at any level below the virtual machine. Now I'm not saying that everything I was taught all those years ago is still useful to me today, but it gave me (and others) an appreciation of so many different aspects that it is often surprising when something from left-field will be useful. I realise there's a trade-off to be made between time and subjects (there are a lot more topics today in computer science than there were 20 years ago), but I wonder: are we breeding a race of Eloi?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

WWW 2006 CFP


The International World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2) invites
you to participate in the Fifteenth International World Wide Web
Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland on May 22nd-26th 2006.
The conference is the prime venue for dissemination of Web research
and is held in association with ACM, BCS, ECS, IFIP and W3C.

*** REFEREED PAPERS (Submission Deadline: November 4, 2005)
WWW2006 seeks original papers describing research in all areas of the
web. Topics include but are not limited to
# E* Applications: E-Communities, E-Learning, E-Commerce, E-Science,
E-Government and E-Humanities
# Browsers and User Interfaces
# Data Mining
# Hypermedia and Multimedia
# Performance, Reliability and Scalability
# Pervasive Web and Mobility
# Search
# Security, Privacy, and Ethics
# Semantic Web
# Web Engineering
# XML and Web Services
# Industrial Practice and Experience (Alternate track)
# Developing Regions (Alternate track)

Detailed descriptions of each of these tracks appear

Submissions should present original reports of substantive new
work. Papers should properly place the work within the field, cite
related work, and clearly indicate the innovative aspects of the work
and its contribution to the field. We will not accept any paper which,
at the time of submission, is under review for or has already been
published or accepted for publication in a journal or another

New for WWW2006: We solicit submissions of "position papers"
articulating high-level architectural visions, describing challenging
future directions, or critiquing current design wisdom. Accepted
position papers will be presented at the conference and appear in the
proceedings. Both "regular papers" and "position papers" are subject
to the same rigorous reviewing process, but the emphasis may differ
--- regular papers should present significant reproducible results
while position papers may present preliminary work rich in
implications for future research.

All papers will be peer-reviewed by reviewers from an International
Program Committee. Accepted papers will appear in the conference
proceedings published by the Association for Computing Machinery
(ACM), and will also be accessible to the general public via Authors of all accepted papers will be required
to transfer copyright to the IW3C2.

*** TUTORIALS (Submission Deadline: EXTENDED to November 1)
A program of tutorials will cover topics of current interest to web
design, development, services, operation, use, and evaluation. These
half and full-day sessions will be led by internationally recognized
experts and experienced instructors using prepared content. For more
information and submission details see .

*** PANELS (Submission Deadline: November 4th 2005)

Panels provide an interactive forum that will engage both panelists
and the audience in lively discussion of important and often
controversial issues. For more information and submission details see

*** POSTERS (Submission Deadline: February 14th 2006)

Posters provide a forum for late-breaking research, and facilitate
feedback in an informal setting. Posters are peer-reviewed. The poster
area provides an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to
present and demonstrate their recent web-related research, and to
obtain feedback from their peers in an informal setting. It gives
conference attendees a way to learn about innovative works in progress
in a timely and informal manner. Formatting and submission
requirements are available at


Conference: May 22nd-26th 2006

Submission Deadlines:
Workshop proposal: October 1, 2005
Tutorial proposal: November 1, 2005
Paper (regular): November 4, 2005
Paper (alternate track): November 4, 2005
Panel proposal: November 4, 2005
Poster: February 14, 2006

Acceptance Notification:
Workshop proposal: November 1, 2005
Tutorial proposal: December 1, 2005
Paper (regular): January 27, 2006
Panel proposal: January 27, 2006
Paper (alternate track): February 10, 2006
Poster: March 21, 2006


Leslie Carr (University of Southampton, UK)
Dave De Roure (University of Southampton, UK)
Arun Iyengar (IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, USA)

Mike Dahlin (University of Texas, USA)
Carole Goble (University of Manchester, UK)

E* Applications: E-Communities, E-Learning, E-Commerce, E-Science,
E-Government, and E-Humanities

E-Government, E-Humanities
Mark Manasse (Microsoft Research, USA)
Bertram Ludaescher (UC Davis/SDSC, USA)
Wolfgang Nejdl Universitat Hannover, Germany)

Browsers and User Interfaces
Yoelle Maarek (IBM Haifa Research Lab, Israel)
Krishna Bharat (Google)

Data Mining
Ramakrishnan Srikant (IBM Almaden Research Center, USA)
Soumen Chakrabarti (IIT Bombay, India)

Hypermedia and Multimedia
Lloyd Rutledge (CWI, Netherlands)
Wei-Ying Ma (Microsoft Research, China)

Performance, Reliability and Scalability
Misha Rabinovich (AT&T, USA)
Jeff Chase (Duke University, USA)

Pervasive Web and Mobility
Venkat Padmanabhan (Microsoft, USA)
Jason Nieh (Columbia University, USA)

Junghoo Cho (UCLA, USA)
Torsten Suel (Polytechnic University, USA)

Security, Privacy, and Ethics
Ari Juels (RSA, USA)
Angelos Keromytis (Columbia University, USA)

Semantic Web
Frank van Harmelen (Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands)
Mike Uschold (Boeing)

Web Engineering
David Lowe (UTS, Australia)
Luis Olsina (Universidad Nacional de La Pampa, Argentina)

XML and Web Services
Mark Little (Arjuna, UK)
Santosh Shrivastava (University of Newcastle, UK)

Industrial Practice and Experience
Marc Najork (Microsoft Research, USA)
Andy Stanford-Clark (IBM Hursley Laboratory, UK)

Developing Regions
Eric Brewer (UC Berkeley, USA)
Krithi Ramamritham (IIT Bombay, India)

Robin Chen (AT&T, USA)
Ian Horrocks (University of Manchester, UK)
Irwin King (Chinese University of Hong Kong, China)

Marti Hearst (UC Berkeley, USA)
Prabhakar Raghavan (Yahoo!, USA)

Jeremy Carroll (HP Labs, UK)
Mark Baker (Coactus)

Bebo White (SLAC)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Web Services sessions

It was funny and gratifying the number of times I either heard about the need for Web Services sessions or talked with people about that subject during HPTS, and from some widely diverse individuals. No one I talked to disputed the requirement and everyone wanted standardisation. Maybe we're not doing a good enough job of advertising or it's an affect of insular company policies, but only about 50% of them had heard of WS-Context. Fortunately it didn't take long to describe what it is and to convert more people to The Cause. Let's hope it leads to some wider adoption of the technology.

One of the common (though not exclusive) themes that seemed to lead people to WS-Context was trying to use Reference Parameters and WS-Addressing in general, to achieve sessions with more than one participant and which spanned multiple invocations. It reminded me a lot of the paper we wrote on Web Services sessions. Greg, Anish, Hal and I have been finishing up the two papers on the subject that were accepted for XML 2005 and ECOWS 2005. More good opportunities to spread the word.