Monday, October 19, 2009

Smart SOA Sage

We've made the Smart SOA Sage available up on the site earlier today. It's an interactive conversation - for those new to SOA or looking to learn more.

It'll run in your web browser and is quick to go through - and not only is it educational - but its amusing as well.

It has been a long winding road to get the Smart SOA Sage out (lawyers....don't ask) - but we're excited to get the conversation out there. Give it a try - and pass along the link to any others you think might value (or be amused) by the Sage.

I'd be interested in any comments you have on the Sage.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Fernie half-marthon and a look back at the season

Spent the weekend in Fernie, B.C. and participated in the Fernie Half-Marathon on Sunday morning. Having a race in Oct. means that there can be weather challenges. Leading up to the event - long range forecast was indicating that there would be a little rain (and possibly snow) on Saturday and partly cloudy on Sunday (and dry). However, it talking to folks, they indicated that they had heard 20cm of snow. Yikes!

Another concern going into the race was the elevation profile. No profile was available. There was a map of the course, but I've only driven past Fernie in the past, so the route didn't provide much insight. However, the course was always close to the river, so I figured that it was likely to be flat.

When picking up my race package on Saturday, I found out that the event was having a name the hill content. So there was going to be at least one hill.

On Sunday - there wasn't much sun - cloudy, with a bit of rain and from time to time a bit of snow. The high for the day was supposed to be 6 - a little chilly, but no too bad. I dressed in layers - figuring that if I started to get too warm it would be easy to ditch a layer (or two).

When I arrived at the race - came across many people running in shorts and a shirt. They looked cold - and were keeping active and working to stay warm.

The race went well. Course was well marked - many volunteers and everything was well organized. Ended up with 377 runners in the event - a good number as the race was mostly on hiking and biking trails. Wide enough for passing, but not a mass of humanity.

I ended up finishing in 2:05 - my fastest half marathon this year. Here's a look at the elevation profile of the course:

Just the one hill at the beginning and from there it was relatively flat.

This was my third half-marathon of the year. The previous race was a Five Peaks race held at the Canmore Nordic Center. Here's a view of the elevation profile for the race:

Definitely more climbs/descents to deal with for the Canmore race. I have some work to do both on my hill climbing and how I handle the more technical running needed to go down some of the hills. There were a number of places where the race course went through the trees, single track and was steep. It was a challenge to walk down without sliding - never mind running. I finished in 2:35 - the winner of the race clocked in at 1:25 which is just amazing.

The other race I competed in this year was Powderface. Here's the elevation profile for that race:

This was also a very tough race - hills were steep, lots of rocks, and as mentioned previously even some wildlife.

Running the three races this year has been a lot of fun. Looking forward to some more races in the new year. In the meantime, going to take a few days off from running and heal a bit. Then will start on a new training program and see if I can start to work on my timing and endurance.

Friday, October 2, 2009

SOA Sandbox - getting started with SOA

Regardless of the topic - the best path to learning is usually through hands-on experience. To read about a topic or have someone else describe it - while useful - is no replacement for getting your hands dirty. In looking at SOA this can be a challenging situation as there can be multiple development and runtime tools that need to be downloaded, installed and configured before getting started with any experiential learning (unless the goal is to learn about downloading, installing and configuring).

A useful alternative is to check out the SOA Sandbox. The SOA Sandbox is a cloud-based offering from IBM. The goal is to provide a way to get started with the SOA Entry Points and the associated set of IBM Products and Best Practices. By being cloud-based - there's no need to download any tools or runtimes (although there is a small Citrix plug-in download).

Once in the Sandbox, there are simple hands-on guided exercises. Its a great way to explore, learn and experience tools. Some of the tools available include: WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Business Events, WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus, WebSphere Process Server, Rational Application Developer, and WebSphere sMash (here's the complete list)

The Sandbox takes things further by including access to an Information Center - which contains documentation on Best Practices and architectural guidance. This includes whitepapers, decision guides, technical presentations and demos.

The Sandbox is available 24/7 and is free. Exercise trials are available in 4 hour windows.

Seems to me, that this is a great way to learn about SOA as it reduces the typical hassles involved in getting set up - while incorporating guidance and exercises.