The blogs of Black Marble staff

My Pay

I have just read Scott Adams blog as he has a strong insight into the mind of corporate mind and politicians well errr motives. He has an Interesting Post on how to predict the success of a company. Fundamentally a happy CEO/MD gives good direction and miserable staff work hard. As person keen on good idea's , I will be looking to follow his advice to the letter and make sure that BM should take heed. As far as I can see there is no downside. So lashings of bonuses for me , reduction of staff benefits to no broken glass or gravel in the coffee should promote huge growth in the business. What could possibly go wrong ;)

UPDATE 1: Richard has quickly informed me that bonuses should be for senior management not just me, With this in place he can see no down side.

UPDATE 2: Lauren who is producing the pictures for my TechED Talk , seems to be now drawing me as more of a beach ball , hummm

UPDATE 3: We seem to be having some kind of open revolt , where is Catbert when you need him

UPDATE 4: Plan squashed, but the plan was so purrrfect.

So it looks like we are back to just treating everybody well <sigh>.


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Day 2 at the SOA conference

There has only been one major problem for both Richard and myself at the SOA conference has been that the prize for filling in the evaluations is


An officejet not even a small one , most people here flew here and errrr. Don't get me wrong the idea and feeling is great but not the strongest sense of practicality.

we have been filling in the forms just not our names and I think I am doomed to explain to the attendants on each room that it is a really nice prize , but I don't want one <sigh>.


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Where are all the people?

Since arriving in the Bellevue/Redmond area I have been struck by the lack of people. Wherever I have gone it seems like the place was built for at least twice the number that are present, whether it be the shopping centers or restaurants. I wondered was it because:

  1. the others are soon to arrive
  2. half the people left

Now after traveling in to the conference for a couple of days and watching the local news I have the answer, It is option 1. - they are all stuck in traffic.

The traffic between the city in the Puget Sound area is bad, more a parking lot than a road system. I am glad our hotel is just a couple of blocks away from Microsoft Campus, 5 minutes irrespective of the time of day.

Creating Multiple Messages in a BizTalk Server disassemble pipeline component

There is a interface IBaseMessageFactory that you can use to create instances of BizTalk messages and BizTalk message parts.

You can grab a handle to an instance of a subtype of this interface from within the Dissassemble method using the IPipelineContext.GetMessageFactory().

An important thing to note is that in order to preserve the message context you must grab this from the original message and poke it into the new instances created by the factory. The following code illustrates it.

public void Disassemble(Microsoft.BizTalk.Component.Interop.IPipelineContext pc, Microsoft.BizTalk.Message.Interop.IBaseMessage inmsg)
IBaseMessageContext sourceContext = inmsg.Context;
IBaseMessagePart part = inmsg.BodyPart;

// queue four messages to be processed in the GetNext() method.
// _msgs is a simple Queue
_msgs.Enqueue(CreateMessage(pc, sourceContext,part));
_msgs.Enqueue(CreateMessage(pc, sourceContext,part));
_msgs.Enqueue(CreateMessage(pc, sourceContext,part));
_msgs.Enqueue(CreateMessage(pc, sourceContext,part));

private string messageType = @"";
private string systemPropertiesNamespace = @"";

public IBaseMessage CreateMessage(IPipelineContext pc, IBaseMessageContext sourceContext, IBaseMessagePart part)
IBaseMessage msg = pc.GetMessageFactory().CreateMessage();
msg.AddPart("Body", part, true);

// comment out the following line to preserve the original message
msg.BodyPart.Data = new MemoryStream(ASCIIEncoding.ASCII.GetBytes("blah blah blah"));
msg.Context = sourceContext;
msg.Context.Promote("MessageType", systemPropertiesNamespace, messageType);
return msg;

Day 1 at the SOA conference

We are at the Microsoft SOA conference in Redmond , we have been meeting up with old friends and bumping into people who only exist on our bookshelves in the office. Compared to the last time I was here there is a LOT more interest in BizTalk and SOA. We have see running versions of Oslo Microsoft's vision of beyond BizTalk 2006 R2 and it is a very significant vision at that. I will be blogging more on OSLO over the next few months.


A view of Kodiak in the afternoon for an excellent presentation on SOA governance.

Over lunch I had a meeting in Building 34 with the doc team for connected systems and while passing through one of the kitchens I happened to pick up a couple of

Caffine Delivery System

Mountain Dew Halo3 special edition Game Fuel Caffeine Delivery systems. The conference center doesn't have any so it looks like our developers will have to fight it out for just the two cans , can you spell death match :)


Microsoft SOA Conference - end of day 1

So my thoughts at the end of day....

Certainly a useful day, but the conference seems a little slow. The breaks seem long,the sessions short and the breakout sessions finished quite early in the day. Maybe I am just used to the crammed in format of TechEd that go on late into the evening.

On the plus side this format does give a good chance to chat to other attendees, who seem very chatty and are from a wide variety of locations across the world; though nearly all white and male, an even less diverse group than at Mix UK! What does this say about the IT industry or maybe more to the point who gets to go to conferences?

I did see a great session this afternoon from David Chappell comparing .NET to J2EE.I think I saw in effect the equivalent session he did at JavaOne in year 2000 back when Black Marble was a Java house. The key point remains the same - the choice of underlying platform once made is very hard to change, even within the J2EE family of vendors. All platforms have good and bad features so a company has to make a bet on which platform will meet their needs now and allow them develop in the future. I personally can't get away from view that a single vendor solution (i.e. .NET) allow better internal consistency and easy of development but still allows external improbability via ws* standards (or the ISB in the future). But I would say that wouldn't I as I work for a Microsoft Gold Partner!

In the Q&A session at the end of the day it was interesting to hear the Microsoft take on companies using the cloud as the ISB, which as I posted this morning was my concern. Their view is to think of Exchange as the model, Microsoft could host it, other third parties can host it or a corporate may host their own. In many cases it is will only be a routing service and so will not actually be storing data (which could be encrypted anyway). This should go a long way to aiding acceptance.

But enough for today, off to the ask the experts reception now.

Mission control we have a problem

Sitting here at the back of the Kodiak room at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond is somewhat similar to the control room at JPL which I went to on my last trip to the USA.


All is can see is a sea of laptops and heads just visible over the rows of desks.

It is nice to have a desk and easy access to power and Internet - all conferences should be this way.

Microsoft SOA Conference Day 1

After a couple of days in the Washington state my body has caught up to a manageable time zone (somewhere east of Denver I think, but that is close enough) just in time for for the start of the Microsoft SOA 2007 conference.

The keynote for me highlighted that Microsoft see the future in the cloud, the Internet Service Bus (ISB) as opposed to silo'd Enterprise Service Buses (ESB). Now this assumes customers have gone down the SOA route already, which I would say is not the case in the SME market I work in. I still see many monolithic legacy applications where migration to SOA has not been considered yet.

Anyway that aside, I see storage in the cloud being the big question - yes Microsoft are throwing services out there such as:

Time will tell what the uptake of such services will be, and I think issues of trust will be a major factor - will you trust Microsoft, or Google or Yahoo to store you personal and/or corporate data? And what about the cost? At present these services are free; I expect them to remain free for the home user, but corporate users will expect better defined SLAs and these will no doubt costs. Is this another journey down the Application Service Provider style of business model?

To get the seamless application integration of the systems, as we see in demos, we will also need a better uptake of federated security models else you will spend all your time entering passwords. Now this can be mitigated by making the connections behind the scenes (within the ISB), however most of the demos seem to use the desktop client as the central point to access these various ISB services, which is sensible as this the point the data is needed.

In the keynote Oslo, the next wave of BizTalk and related products, was announced. This will address some of these cross silo connectivity issues, specifically by providing BizTalk Services, a Microsoft hosted set of routing and workflow services using BizTalk V6 (vNext) that will allow easier firewall traversal between corporate silos, but even CTPs of these products is a way off.

Anyway enough for the morning session off to lunch.

ps. Just done a sound bite for Ron Jacobs of Channel 9 on Oslo - I wonder if it makes the cut?

Vista high CPU on startup

For a while I have been suffering that when I switch on my Acer Core2 Duo Vista laptop, both cores sometimes go to 85%+ utilization, so the PC is slooooow. Usually after a few reboots it seems to clear. This can happen after a resume from hibernate and complete restart; there was no obvious pattern. Task manager only says that the load is due to the NT Kernel process - so not much help there.

After a bit of google'ing I found other people reporting the problem after installation of Microsoft Network Monitor 3.1, which I did months ago Interestingly I have only seen the problem is recent. However, as soon as I went into the network protocol stack and disabled the network monitor protocol on my WiFi card the problems have gone away.

My guess is some strange race condition caused by a recent service patch; this not a major problem as you can switch the protocol on and off as required without a reboot.