Category Archives: Miscellaneous

On the occasion of Wm S. B’s 100th birthday

Below is the brief interview with William S. Burroughs I published in the May-June 1981 issue of Newcomers magazine.

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I got him to agree to do it by giving him a photocopy of an Orgone Energy Bulletin (published by William Reich, whose work I discovered reading The Job: Interviews with William S. Burroughs).

The issue I gave him had an article about the Orgone Motor, which sounded a lot like a radiometer since it supposedly worked off of free atmospheric energy (“orgone” energy, or biological energy – the centerpiece of Reich’s later work).

The Orgone Energy Bulletin was a hard thing to get in those days, although now of course it’s all online.

I had obtained my photocopies through interlibrary loan from the Library of Congress by requesting them from the Antioch College Library (where I went to college and organized an independent study on Reich).

Anyway, I went up to Burroughs after his reading (he was in Chicago promoting “Cities of the Red Night“) and knowing of his interest in Orgone energy gave him one of the photocopies in return for a promise to respond to a brief set of interview questions for my magazine.

Unfortunately, the Orgone Energy Bulletin did not disclose the critical “factor Y” that made the Orgone motor actually work (and give free energy to the world). We were supposed to find out when Reich’s lab at Orono Maine was unsealed in 2007, 50 years after his death. But I don’t think we did.

I sent the questions off and the answers arrived a few days later, all typed on a single sheet of paper. Burroughs was living in Kansas City at the time. In the magazine I also reported on his book signing appearance at Barbara’s and his reading at Tuts, and reviewed Cities of the Red Night. I will post those articles another time.

The Interview

So here, in honor of William S. Burroughs’s 100th birthday, is the brief interview:

1. What do you say when someone asks you, “What is Cities of the Red Night about”?

It’s about a remake of history and a second chance. Sooner or later for every species time runs out. Mutate or die. This is not a religious or moral but a biologic imperative. The human species is not designed to remain in its present state any more than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole.

2. What did you think about coming to Chicago on a publicity tour like a normal author?

I felt normal. All my reading tours have been publicity tours and I have given more than a hundred readings in the past six years. One thing authors have in common: they are in the business of writing and selling books.

3. What has been the reaction so far to Cities of the Red Night?

Critical reaction has been mixed, two good reviews to one bad. Word of mouth has been unanimously enthusiastic and positive.

4. Why is there no mention of the word love in Cities of the Red Night, though there is ample opportunity for it?

The word love has been so vulgarized and loaded with sentimental connotations that I prefer not to use it. In this book the characters are working for a common end which they take for granted. Many of them experience the mixture of liking and sexual attraction that is as close as I can come to a definition of love. It is not necessary to state the obvious.

Welcome!

Hello, this is my new general purpose blog.

I created it so I could import all the entries from my previous blog at iona.com (see below).

(Maybe if I’d known you could import MoveableType entries to WordPress I would have started a new one here, instead of at Blogger.)

I suppose it’s just as well – I can use the Blogger one for OSGi postings, and this one for general topics.

Happy Christmas!

Here’s this year’s Christmas tree.

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Christmas 2008

After all the ice and snow, and the people without power for two weeks tomorrow, let’s have a great holiday, and good wishes for everyone.

Christmastime again

Update 12/6 – Number 1 on Google images today! “One little Christmas tree” really did light up the world, at least the world wide Web!

Here in Tokyo the Christmas decorations are up, as they were back home near Boston. It is certainly something shopkeepers seem to agree on around the world, Christmastime is good for business.

A couple of weeks ago I recieved the second formal request for publishing rights to a photo of the family Christmas tree I posted a couple of years ago, along with a list of “why can’t we all get along” type wishes in the spirit of the holidays.

The first was from someone publishing a safety brochure. Apparently they wanted to warn everyone not to do what we did and put too many lights on. But I’m really not sure – they did not really give a good answer. But I figured what the heck.

The second was from a family Christian organization. Apparently they wanted to show what a nice family Christmas tree might look like. They both said they’d credit me and cite IONA as the copyright owner. I actually have no idea who owns the copyright in this case. I would have thought it was me, but perhaps by uploading it to the IONA sponsored blog site I implicitly turned over the rights. As I said, I have no idea.

But this time, I started wondering what was going on. I suspected a subtle scam, maybe some new kind of phishing. As anyone with a blog knows, blog spam is out of control, and maybe this was some new way to get some links to a nefarious Website. But I really didn’t see how it could be. Finally I thought of checking Google.

Sure enough, there was the old photo of the family Christmas tree, popping up at number 4 (at least today) on an image search for ‘Christmas tree.’ After a while it struck me that my photo was the only one on the page that didn’t look staged, or professionally done. What I still don’t know though is how many times the image has been used. If I got two formal requests, how many just downloaded the photo and used it, without bothering or thinking to ask?

ps Happy Christmas

pps Can we keep working on those items? Or maybe we need a new list? For example, now we have OSGi EEG and Java EE 6 to reconcile for 2008

Johnny CORBA

Well, they finally did it. Posted it on YouTube, that is.
One note to non-Boston residents: the “come on down” is a famous catchphrase of a long time local auto dealer.
Update 4/27: I guess I should explain a bit of the background here. IONA’s annual sales kickoff features a presentation by Steve Vinoski, and for historical reasons it’s ended up being a blend of technology and humor. This video was what Steve used to close his presentation this year, and we all thought it was hilarious. The “actors” are all IONA sales people, one of whom is (ironically enough) named Art. We talked forever about whether or not it should be posted on YouTube, and this week I found out that someone finally had.

Goodbye Steve, and good luck

Update 2/16: See also William Henry’s post.
It’s with mixed emotions that I write about Steve’s departure yesterday.
I am really going to miss him. It really hasn’t sunk in yet. No more Steve!
But I really also want to wish him the best. I envy his opportunity – as he said, things like this come along once in a lifetime.
I know that Steve loved working for IONA, just as I do. It really is a great company, full of exceptional people. I know how hard it was for him to leave. I got the impression he was just trying to pull the band aid off quickly, if you know what I mean.
I first met him when I was working for Compaq (by way of being at Digital when Compaq bought them). I was in the enterprise server group, and we were evaluating technology for potential partnerships, including IONA’s.
A couple of nights ago I was sitting on the window ledge beside Steve’s cube, chatting while he was going through his stuff. He pulled out a business card I’d given him in those days and we reminisced a bit. As usual, he ended up giving me one of his familar self-deprecating jokes: “Yeah, the technology turned out to be ok, but what about the bozo they sent over?”
I am really going to miss that.
One time he “shamelessly” promoted his new book on CORBA. So of course I answered him right back by shamelessly promoting my book on TP. I learned a log from that book, and from him.
Shortly after joining IONA I went on a customer visit where we were both scheduled to speak. But the signs put up all over the halls said: “Steve Vinoski is coming!” As I discovered, in the CORBA world (and rightly so) Steve is God. (I mean this in the Eric Clapton sense, of course 😉
Steve is one of those multi-talented guys – he can play the blues harp well enough to sit in with a house band. He can throw a frisbee well enough to compete internationally in freestyle – and I would say golf too (having played against him, throwing from the women’s tee to try to keep up).
He can code, write, speak, and think well, and understands how to contribute meaningfully, and in multiple ways, to a company’s goals. But he also cultivated a larger role in the industry, and as anyone who’s followed his career knows, he’s contributed significantly, whether writing journal articles, serving on myriad conference program committees and standards committees, and of course to the blogosphere.
He also has a wicked eye for fashion, as can be seen in this photo.
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An Hawaiian Shirt Day
Come to think of it, there are some things I am not going to miss…
But seriously, during his 10 years here he led the most challenging engineering projects, including the project that created what are really our “crown jewels” – the Adaptive Runtime Technology (ART) on which our modern CORBA and SOA products are based.
Steve characteristically recognized the value in things like REST before many of us and would not hesitate to challenge the prevailing wisdom, whether internally or externally, when he saw something that made sense. His most recent column is a good example of the kind of clear thinking and clear writing he’s capable of.
No one around here feels bad about this, although we are really going to miss him. Steve left on the best of terms, to pursue his dreams. He gave us his all for more than ten years, and a pile of great memories.
Good luck!

Sometimes a hospital is a happy place

You encounter the gamut of emotion at a hospital. You can see it in the faces of the people on the sidewalk and along the hallways – some are anxious, worried, some sad, some determined to go on and not to cry. Some are happy, or suddenly relieved, or both at once.
Sometimes their eyes search yours for something – maybe sympathy – for some reaction – for some human contact. Some smile, a bit guardedly. Some try to hide their faces, and most seem to respect the conflicting and potent mixture, keep everything private.
It is not a place you frequent – it is unfamiliar and when you go it is for some specific reason and often enough something to do with life or death.
No happier place exists than a maternity ward. No more beautiful smiles than new parents gazing on new babies.
But down the hall or a few floors over among the geriatric wards, the intensive care units, the emergency room, or the surgical theatre, sometimes scenes of sudden sadness occur, unexpectedly perhaps, but always shocking when something goes wrong, as it often can.
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Mass General yesterday full image

So it was with great relief yesterday that Mass General turned out to be a happy place, where my mother emerged just fine from a lengthy heart valve replacement surgery.
I have to say that Mass General was just great. Dr. MacGillivray, the heart center, the nurses, the staff, the volunteers in the waiting area – everyone.
Sometimes it is really, really good to step back from work for a while and think about what’s really important in life.

How the Internet Really Works

And why certain types of gambling, such as government lotteries, are actually helpful!
This hilarious clip from the Daily Show comes to me via Mark Little’s blog.
All I can say is that this really illustrates why so many people take an interest in these kinds of news shows.

Munich

Ok, today I am in Zurich but yesterday I was in Munich so I will report on that.
Not much to say except we had a great visit with a senior SOA architect at O2. I can say a couple of things – they are definitely interested in SOA, and one of the interesting aspects the architect mentioned is the benefit of SOA in the context of standardizing IT terminology across projects and departments.
That had not really occurred to me before but it makes perfect sense – part of the problem created by “stovepiping” often includes language or terminology. People working on different projects can easily create their own definitions of words that have multiple potential interpretations (such as “service”).
It was also an interesting coincidence that I had visited Telefonica on Tuesday in Madrid, since Telefonica recently aquired O2. In fact some of the flat panels in the reception area were showing Telefonica ads already…
This fast pace of industry consolidation is one of the major reasons why the current SOA trend is so important – the way that applications talk to each other and share data really needs to be standardized.
One thing that I talk about frequently, and this meeting was no exception, is how the trend toward SOA has the potential to change industry dynamics. Most software consumers (although not yet all I would say) understand that SOA is not a technology but an approach – a blueprint or style of design for applying technology but not a technology itself (i.e. SOA is not CORBA or Web services or WebSphereMQ or Tuxedo or anything else, although you can use any of those and more to implement one).
This means to get the benefits of SOA the consumers have to start with the design – and often with the organizational, cultural, and skill set issues – rather than with the technology. And only then approach the software manufacturers to see whether their products meet the requirements to implement the design.
Up till now the industry has been more technology driven. Software manufacturers have been promoting their new technologies to the consumers, and telling them about their benefits. It is a little like car manufacturers telling you what kind of car to drive. The SOA trend could reverse this picture, which I believe would be a good thing.
I have to add that in Munich they are very excited about the World Cup. The initial match will be held in the new Munich stadium, affectionately called “the big tire.”
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“The Big Tire” – As Seen From the Highway Toward the Airport
I am told that the important feature of the Big Tire is its ability to change colors. The white panels are made of translucent material, behind which are placed red, blue, and white neon lights. The lights can make the stadium all blue or all red (depending on which team is hosting the match I guess) or a mixture. I hear it is very impressive from the air.
But I also heard something very alarming. Apparently Anheuser–Busch was the highest bidder for the beer sponsorship rights, and this means that only Budweiser can be sold inside or directly outside the stadium during the World Cup. Say it ain’t so! Budweiser isn’t even beer! And so close to the real Budweiser, too!!

Boeing Factory Tour

One of the top tourist attractions in the Seattle area is the Boeing factory tour.
IONA sells a lot of software to Boeing, and yesterday after introducing our new CEO, Peter Zotto, and providing a technology update on our new products and open source initiatives, Peter, Tony Frey, Dan Stein, Al Davies, and I were treated to a factory tour by one of the Boeing executives. I had heard about other IONA employees getting to go on this tour, and I had been jealous ever since. But not anymore 😉
Tens of thousands of Boeing employees use IONA software every day in the process of manufacturing commercial aircraft, and even though we were well aware of that fact it was still a real experience to see airplanes actually being assembled, to get a close look at the massive 777 engines, stand inside an empty 747 freighter, and sit in a 747 cockpit during power on testing.
IONA software is used to power the DCAC/MRM application. The project began in 1996 and started going into production in 1997 through 1999. According to the stats on the company’s website, as of July 2001 39,250 Boeing employees were using the system, and its purpose is to streamline the commercial aircraft manufacturing process.
With the downturn in business following 9/11 the numbers of manufacturing workers are down from their pre-9/11 peak, but the application is still used in the manufacturing process for every commercial aircraft currently in production.
Like our Western Region sales director Tony Frey said, it makes you proud to be American. It’s not just the unbelievable size, scale, and complexity of the job, but also the spirit, enthusiasm, and pride of the people who work there. There is a real “can do” attitude, which is apparent in the enthusiasm everyone has for the new 747-8 model and of course for the soon-to-be-in-production 787.
During the visit and the tour there was quite a bit of talk about the 787. They are already refitting the factory for it. It’s due to start the production cycle later this year and begin filling orders in 2007. This is the answer to the Airbus 380, or perhaps the challenge, since Boeing is taking an opposite view of what the airline industry, and by implication the traveling public, really wants. The choice is between a mega liner capable of carrying 555 people on two full decks and a smaller, efficient, and relatively inexpensive liner capable of taking 210-330 people point to point. The fact that the Airbus 380 requires some new airport infrastructure seems it may present a challenge to overcome (although the Airbus website says this will not be a major problem).
In any case this will be a very interesting drama to unfold over the next five to 10 years. The Airbus is already in its first flight, but Boeing is countering with the 747-8, which expands the upper deck the length of the plane (although it will, like the 787, not be in full service till 2008). According to the Boeing website it will carry 450 passengers in a typical three-class configuration.
The factory in Everett where they turn out the “twin aisle” airplanes is the largest enclosed space in the world: 86 acres. Looking out across the roof it had the appearance of a cityscape. Mount Rainer was visible in the distance past one end, and Mt Hood across the other. Employees came up to jog during lunch or after work. When it was cold they’d jog or walk in the tunnels in the basement, where they had at one time set up the charts and plans for building the first 747, since the enclosing part of the building hadnt been finished yet when the first 747s rolled off the line.
There were a lot of signs warning against the dangers of FOD – foreign object debris. Wrenches left inside wing assemblies, rags inside engines, debris on the runway that could get sucked into the powerful turbines and wreck a multi million dollar engine.
The science involved, the attention to detail, the engineering – really impressive. The GEMS machines that literally stitch together entire wing assemblies, automatically drilling, deburring, riveting, and polishing thousands of holes. The 777 wing laid out on the floor 170 feet long with supports measuring the precise halfinch of distance and height. The attention to sealing up the fuel tanks. The way in which parts are delivered using trains, special trucks, and container ships. The history of the company – the daring and risk taking and attention to every detail. It is a privilege and honor to work with these guys, and I hope the relationship continues for a long, long time.