Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rules Fest 2011 Day 3


I wish I could tell you more about day three but the only one for which I have Notes was Christian de la Maria of IBM/ILOG talk on RIF. My only note there was "A rule is just another data item." I certainly hope that I got that one wrong ONLY because we have been teaching for so long that rules are the logic that are data driven. So if rules are data and data are data then the data are data driven? Naaahhhh... That's not what he meant. Maybe he'll blog and correct me on what I thought I heard.

Anyway, I had to leave early but, again, Michael Small gave Rolando and I a ride to the airport. What a guy. Now I owe him two drinks. :-) So, that's all the news that I have from "Camp Woebegone where the women are strong, the men are good looking and all of the children are above average." [ala, Prarie Home Companion]


Monday, October 18, 2010

Rules Fest 2010 - Day 2 - Tuesday


[First this is being written a full week after the events from my notes which may or may not be spot on.] Well, here are just some things that hit me on Tuesday - migraine was just setting in good. I always get one the second day after a long flight. Something to do with decompression + recompression of the neck joints.

1. Karen Myers: Work flow for the Masses. OK, that would have been my title. Mostly to do with data flow and work flow; something ALL of us need but not the thrust of the conference. And she talked WAY too fast for this slow, old cowboy from West Texas. :-)

2. Paul Vincent: Former FICO guy and one of the great Brits that I have had the privilege of meeting. (a) Paul defines "real time" as something like 5 minutes. I define real time as something on the order of nano-seconds or less. (b) Brief visit into parallelism and Fail Over Strategy that was pretty good. (c) Just a bit on Forecasting (my favorite part but not much about it) and then he ended up saying something about a "finite state machine." FYI, ALL computer programs are finite state machines. If you have the same program, same data, same OS, same everything, you should always get the same output from a finite state machine. QED.

3. James Taylor: (a) Another Brit but with a stronger accent. Being in the back of the room probably didn't help, but I could understand only about half of what the boy was saying. And I happen to like "Only Fools and Horses" [I have the entire collection on DVD] as well as most Brit-Coms - and some of those have some real Cockney accents. (b) One of his slides was "Decisions Matter more than rules do." Personally, I don't think that you have direct relationship there. If I said, "Data matters more than do rules." (better English, anyway) then it is says nothing. Data matters, decisions matter, process matters, rules matter. To me, a decision is the result of the action of the rules. (c) A couple of other quotes: "Execution is less important than management." I didn't understand the statement nor could I hear the explanation so I'll just let that one slide. (d) "What kills rules is not performance but mismanagement of the rules themselves." Again, one does not negate nor prove the other. Performance and mismanagement of rules are two different concepts. (e) "Data Depth can improve its Width." ??? Your guess is good as mine but maybe I'm just showing my ignorance on database here. (f) "You can't use the same rule on every transaction." OUCH! Yes you CAN! As a matter of fact, that's exactly what a rulebase is all about. Same rules for all transactions of the same type. (g) Then he went into some Champion / Challenger stuff that the boys from FICO Business Analytics would have liked. Overall, good stuff from a business point of view but not very technical.

4. Mark Proctor: Drools Evangelist Extraordanaire! I still have to struggle having with the concept of having only CE elements in a rule, which is called a query in drools. Somehow I think that a good rules debugger would flag that one as a Conditions without Actions flaw. Lots of code. Lots and lots and lots of code. Drools guys loved it because they speak Droolie. I speak Drools about like I speak French - poorly and not in public.

[Another great lunch break provided by JRules guys. Good lunch and good talk by Daniel Selman.]

5. Panel Discussion: OK, but still opinions are like certain parts of the human anatomy; we all have one and they all smell about the same.

6. Andrew Waterman: Missed the whole thing and this was one that I really, really wanted to see.

7. Hal Hildebrand: Distributed Systems. (a) "Failures are the norm." ??? There are times when failure is not an option. And we should NOT tolerate it but the rule sales guys can usually turn them around so that it must be the fault of the client. The client should NEVER stand still for a failure unless they failed to commit enough resources and money to make it happen.

8. David Holz: Good talk, lots of code.

9. Jason Morris: Another one that I missed. It was time for another lie down to get rid of the migraine. Someone else will have to report on that one.

[Tuesday supper with my Executive Editor at InfoWorld with some of the guys from Rules Fest who insisted on bringing their best friend and therefore some didn't get invited to that supper that should have been. Sorry, CAB. How about in December in San Francisco?]


Thursday, October 14, 2010

ORF 2011 and Its History


First there was ORF 2008. The Three Amigos (myself, Rolando Hernandez and Greg Barton) were the instigators at the continued prodding of Mark Proctor of Drools fame. Rolo and I had our talks rejected by Business Rules Forum because they were too technical. So, we decided to start our very own conference for geeks and nerds. Pete Carapetyn helped in the beginning but dropped out because he just didn't want to tell vendors we might have 500 people. I used the term "might" because anything is possible.

I, on the other hand, really believed that if we set the price at $150 we would be swamped with applicants. (Didn't happen, BTW. We only had about 125 applicants and 30 speakers.) But it was lots of fun and I (it was my credit card after all) lost only about $1,000 on that venture. The speakers were some of the best (technically) in the world. FICO stepped in as a Diamond sponsor (God Bless Carole Ann!) and we made it.

ORF 2009: We raised the price to $500 not expecting the market to drop out the bottom. We moved the event to the finest hotel in Texas, the Adolphus (built by the Busch founder and hosted Queen Elizabeth in 1998) that was located right in the middle of all of the restaurants and only six blocks from Dealy Plaze where JFK was shot. FICO (Carole Ann again) and No Magic stepped up for Diamond sponsors but we had only 35 paying attendees. This one lost about $14K. But, once again, the speaker were the best and even improved over the year before.

ORF 2010: I had gone to work for a vendor so I couldn't do the conference and I handed it over to Jason Morris. Jason had the foresight to realize that he could lose his hind quarters so he set up a committee to help. Carole Ann left FICO so there went that sponsor. But, they got ILOG (IBM now) to replace FICO and only Gary Riley dropped out of the top speaker list from the year before. (His spousal unit was in the hospital for repair.) They dropped the October out of the name (buggers!) but the hotel was on the same level (quality wise) as The Adolphus. It's only drawback was that it was located in a sea of residential homes. The committee fell in love with the hotel and forgot that most people like to end the day, walk out of the hotel and wander around at various pubs and bars. On the other hand, the conference was a 100 with 10x bulls eyes. (If you're a target shooter you know what that means. If you're not a target shooter, you should be.)

ORF 2011: I would like to see it moved to San Francisco, Miami, or Nice in France. They probably won't but I'm just going to wait and see. BRF tried to have a BRF in Europe and they had to cancel for lack of attendees. Very, very embarrassing for all concerned. But, San Francisco or Miami? What do you guys think?

So, see you guys in (??) for Rules Fest 2011?


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

ORF 2010 - Monday explanations


A couple wanted to know why "diss" the speakers? Well, I don't know. Migraine, bad back, knees without padding between the bones... Whatever, I guess I just get tired of seeing blog after blog of happiness and wonderful accolades.

BUT! Overall, the conference is probably the only technical rulebase conference, top quality speakers, people who invented this stuff and people who are inventing more great stuff today. I learned a LOT and managed to say the wrong thing at the wrong time more than once.

If you didn't come, SHAME on you. If you did, pay no attention to the guy in the western hat sitting in the back. He's nuts! :-)


ORF 2010 - Day 1 - Monday


What a great day. Lots of fun and good food at lunch. Here's a play-by-play recap of some things that I noted today. Anyone who feels maligned, well, feel free to drop by and we'll share a Glen Livet and see why I say that.

Carole Ann Berlioz-Matignon: (She's dropped the Berlioz these days and I kind of miss it.) She said, (1) "Don't expect business users to think like developers." Well, OK, but they actually can. And, not only that, they kind of HAVE to think like developers and developers have to learn how to think like business users. (2) "Business guys need Tables, Nets and Graphs." Again, not true - nobody HAS to think like anything because we're all different and we all think different so we can't assume that all business users think like that. QED. (3) "Again, focus on the Business Concepts and NOT the rules." Ouch. The rules ARE the business logic!" Business Concepts and rules are one and the same thing. BUT, the presentation was simply glorious - she's using some kind of really cool software that allows her to give really cool, really neat presentations. BTW, since she made probably 150 documented points and we only disagreed on three, that's pretty close.

Pete Voss: (1) "Animals do not do abstract thought." Actually, animals have been shown to be able to count, communicate and express tremendous feelings for each other and ever some for humans. I just have to give animals more credit. (2) "Neural Gas Architecture." I don't know what that is yet but I'll be working on Goole overtime tonight. Supposedly it's a Dynamic Architecture based on data. Sounds really cool. BTW, way back in the dark ages of Ge transistors and diodes we (the good old USAF) did VERY large-scale training projects. Sure, the computers took up several buildings, but we did them.

John Laird: Now this guy was at CMU with The Forgenator in the early day of AI and Rulebased systems; a true rule guru. He still insists that people need to remember where we started and the this is, after all, AI. Dammit! (OK, he didn't say, "Dammit" but should have.) He claims to be the first person to write a rulebase (a game that he invented in college) with over 1,000 rules.

Rolando Hernandez: Rolo pretty much showed WHY we need to keep knowledge from "leaking" out of the company but some pretty fair ideas on how to to do it.

George Williamson: Something about "Forecasting performance of games." Didn't quite catch all of that but maybe I'll pick it up on the slides later. (2) He commented about taking a line-by-line translation of a C program straight to Java and the problems that they had with it. Well, Duuuhhh.. NEVER translate a program line for line. Not even C to C++. (3) "Business Users cannot understand complex coded rules." Horse hockey! I've worked with business users who did it. They did it because they wanted to do and (maybe) because their jobs were on the line. (4) "You can't test all the rules." Again, well... I did that at Lloyds Bank because we HAD to have 100% verification because it was an on-line banking problem. 800 rules had 65K+ test cases but it had 100% verification. (5) "RBS is a nightmare to maintain from an IT point of view." NO! RBS helps relieve the nightmare if the business guys are writing and testing the rules, NOT the IT guys. Once you put the monkey on their backs, they will make sure that everything works and works right! I guess that traveling around and not staying on one job more than 18 months gives you a different view. (OK, now that's just bragging and promoting traveling consultants, isn't it??) But, I have to admire a guy who stays on for 12 years at one place and puts up with the constant internal politics and wins out - that's something I could never do. :-) Finally, (6) there was a comment about "not having the same time on each device in the USA" (mostly in Texas, I think) Again, back in 65-67 we (NASA) kept everything synched up while doing satellite tracking at lunar distances using WWV out of Ft. Collins, CO, located at 5, 10, 15... MHZ. Nothing more than time hack every second of 1KHz and maybe 10 cycles that we zeroed in every shift. I don't think I'm going to get a job with Union Pacific after this but it had to be said.

James Owen: (moi) Forecasting with Rules. OK, lots of chit chat and didn't hole the putt with the first stroke and the finish was anti-climatic. (Forgot a slide showing how the C code of a forecasting rulebase done in 1992 would look in OPSJ or Drools in 2010. So sue me!) And I was really tired and missed completing the job. So, now I need to go back and put all in the stuff that I left out. Maybe Jason will give me another chance for redemption next year.

Luke Voss: Missed it. One of my favorite speakers (just me him last year) and I had to go get new keys from the front desk to change shoes. Oh, well. Maybe he'll tell me about it later and explain the slides.

Panel Discussion. Well, I deserved that since I started it at ORF 2009 last year. I was kind of hoping that Jason wouldn't do that this year but we're doing it. And the attendees seem to like it. A couple of photos later.


More tomorrow! Tune in.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

CAB Blogs on Rules Fest 2010


Carole Ann Berlioz-Matignon (CAB) has set up a video (complete with barking dogs) at - on her own blog site. CAB was formerly a VP of all of the products at Fair Isaac (FICO) and she is the very first speaker at the conference. She is extremely well versed in both rulebased systems as well as optimization and other products in our tiny little world.

Check out the video - she a lovely French lass whose English is so much better than my French but she still has a beautiful accent. (Forget it you plonkers! She's happily married!)


Friday, October 1, 2010

What to do, what to do?


[Warning: None of the below has anything whatsoever to do with rulebased systems nor AI.]

Right now in Texas, we have a slick-haired, pompadoured, Carpet Bagging Yankee Dixie-Dandy spending my tax dollars like it was free money and who is the incumbent Republican. The more mundane Democrat, (whom I happen to like) unfortunately, still favors abortion - something that is, or should be, an unforgivable offense to any true-believing Jew (comme moi), Christian or Moslem.

I can't vote for the Democrat. I refuse to vote for the crooked Republican. (This guy is so crooked that they are going to have to screw him into the ground when he dies.) (This guy is lower than a snake's belly in a wagon track.) (This guy would shame Elmer Gantry.) (This guy... well, you get the idea.)

So, what to do, what to do? What we need is a box that we can check that says "NONE OF THE ABOVE" and reject all of them so that we can get a new slate of candidates; maybe one that has morals and doesn't spend money like West-Texas dirt. (Can't say "water" in Texas - Water down here is WAY too precious.) All I can do is vote for neither one and go on with life. If I don't show up at the polls, then I don't get to vote in the next election unless I re-register again; a slow and arduous process that takes days to complete properly.

Somebody once said, "Every now and then a little (or big) revolution is necessary." Maybe it was Karl Marx. Or George Washington. Doesn't matter - sounds like a good idea to me.