Storm Avoidance


I was due to fly to New York this weekend, but unsurprisingly the meeting got cancelled. It will be interesting to see just how long it takes for my credit card to get refunded for the ticket – taking money out seems very fast but for some reason the other direction is incredibly slow.

But I’m glad I wasn’t in the air for this one. I was just talking with a friend who flew home through Miami 2 days ago and he said it was the worst turbulence he’d ever experienced. (Matt doesn’t travel as much as some, but he does do enough to have some idea of “normal” bumpiness.)

It reminded me of this supposedly short flight that I was on a few months ago.
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Grab your ankles – or why the safety video is not required

Anyone who flies a lot knows the safety videos and demonstrations given at the start of the flight. We can probably recite it ourselves (except that because almost all my trips use the same airline, I do get a bit of a jolt when travelling on a different one and the words are in a slightly different order.)

But a recent flight showed me just how unnecessary this demo is.
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Updating a classic

When someone is new to MQ, the document they are often told to read is the MQSeries Primer. This is a very short publication from the IBM Redbooks team (the ITSO) that covers the basics of MQ. But it was written in 1999 and has not been updated to take account of new features (or even the new product name).

MQSeries Primer
MQSeries Primer

A few months ago, we got approval to write a new book covering features of the recent MQ 7.1 and 7.5 releases. I’m not going to talk much more about that book in this post, and I’ll let some others from the team comment on it if they wish. The book is still being written, and I expect to see a draft in about a month’s time.

New book on MQ
IBM Redbook on MQ V7.1 and V7.5

But I decided my participation was also an opportunity to refresh the Primer. We should be able to reuse material: have an introduction to MQ in the full book, but also have it as a standalone Redpiece still referenced from the same URL as the original primer.

I read the 1999 material quickly and thought it would be reasonably simple to modify aspects like the product name or lists of features, and remove obsolete comments such as the one about Y2K compliance. But nothing is ever that simple.

First problem was that the ITSO couldn’t find the source to the document. But at least we could get the text extracted from the PDF and Marcela did a superb job re-tagging the paragraphs so it looked sensible in the authoring environment.

Then I started on the rewrite.

The ITSO has style guidelines for its books, to ensure consistency and clarity. The Primer met very few of those guidelines.

I felt it was not structured in the sequence I would do it. So I’ve been moving and rearranging content.

It had too many specific comments about features that might have been exciting or new in the V5.x releases – those either had to be removed or rewritten to show them as standard features.

And so on …

Right now I’m about half-way through the rewrite, before the editors get their hands on it to “correct” my English spelling into American (another style point that seems more of a rule than a guideline).

I suspect that almost none of the original text will survive this exercise. But I’m not going to denigrate the book – it still has most of the right subjects at the right kind of level. What I originally wanted to do was cosmetic surgery, but we’ve ended up with a brain/body transplant instead. Even so, I hope my rewrite will preserve and respect the intention of what Dieter wrote in 1999. And that we can continue to have a basic introduction to MQ that people find valuable.

This post was last updated on November 27th, 2021 at 03:01 pm

Berlin – Websphere Technical Conference

The WTC event is still going on as I write this page. It’s a great alternative to the massive Impact conference that is in Las Vegas every spring. A smaller, more focussed conference, it’s ideal for European customers and IBM teams to meet up towards the end of the year and hear technical sessions about a range of WebSphere products. Though it’s not required that you are from Europe – this time I ran into two colleagues from Australia who had decided it was easier to get to Germany than Nevada.

It seemed that this year we had the same number of attendees as last year, but the venue was much smaller. Instead of spreading across an enormous conference centre, we used a hotel’s facilities with the advantage that it was much easier to meet people. And we could stay in the same location instead of having to get a train/bus.

For my talks this year at WTC, I presented on what’s new in MQ V7.1 and V7.5, and a session on MQ’s Managed File Transfer solution. I also did a talk about monitoring and auditing that was given the alternative title (which we weren’t allowed to publish) “WebSphere MQ: What the $*@# is going on?“. All sessions well-attended and I didn’t see anyone falling asleep even though two of them were right after (large) lunch.

The European technical conferences used to be notorious for afternoon snoozing, as when I started doing them 15 years ago, wine was served at lunch. One of our team knew the phrase for “leave the bottle” in almost every language. That’s been discontinued, but there is still a relaxing attitude at the meals.

I didn’t want to leave early, but I had to get back to Hursley for another event. And next week, planning starts for the content of Impact 2013.

About this blog

Brief introduction to me and what this blog is likely to be about:
I work on the development of the IBM MQ product, one of IBM’s extremely successful pieces of software. It’s developed at IBM’s Hursley laboratory near Winchester in England where I have been for more than 30 years.

My normal description of Hursley is that it is a typical English village – one shop, one church and two pubs. Except for the 3000 people working at the IBM site behind it.

My activities in MQ have meant I have been involved in lots of different aspects of the product – security, performance, administration, monitoring and more. It’s also meant that I’ve spent a lot time travelling, working away from the office desk, talking to people individually or in front of conference and seminar audiences.

This blog started out primarily to record stories about some of the non-technical pieces of what I do. For example planning, preparation and travel stories; talking about some of the aspects of MQ that are not necessarily part of the code.

But for various reasons this resurrected and relocated blog is now going to also have some MQ technical material. There are now copies of blog posts I’d posted to other platforms, but going forward I expect to post newer articles too.

The blog started in 2012 and languished for a while, so there was quite a large gap when nothing was published. I’m hoping to be more assiduous in future. Though the copied articles from other sites have preserved their publication dates to fill in some of those gaps.

I’m also going to talk about some other stuff I do around music. And how the hobby occasionally intersects with the MQ work.

And there may be guest authors on here too.

This post was last updated on November 25th, 2019 at 01:30 pm