Saturday, August 23, 2008

October Rules Fest (ORF)

I spoke with the other directors of the ORF and it seems that ORF is filling up more quickly than anticipated. We now have another Silver Sponsor (thanks to Dr. Forgy of Production Systems Technology) and a few of the Bronze sponsors have moved up to Silver. Visual Rules is still the # 1 sponsor (Gold) but we are anticipating a Diamond sponsor from a major vendor as soon as marketing finishes up their annual budget and allocates the funds. Such is life in the fast lane. :-) We're negotiating with a major hotel chain for decent room rates as well as a large conference room, bar, restaurant, workout gym, etc., so that you won't have to go anywhere for anything unless you just HAVE to sample a bit of the real Wild, Wild West. We'll know by Tuesday if we have it secured or not.

The conference has guests and speakers from around the world right now; several from the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Columbia and, of course, many from all over the USA. Where else would you get a chance to meet and greet (and have a few drinks with) the major thought leaders in the rulebased community. I look at the signup list and then at the speaker list and it begins to dwell on the unreal - some of the attendees alone would be honored guests at any other conference dealing with rulebased systems. And our speakers are the creme de la creme de la creme. One speaker said that this might well be the "Woodstock of Rulebased Systems". Another likened it to the 1956 (it isn't anywhere near that level) conference at Dartmouth College where the term AI was first used.

What we really need at ORF is a really good PR guy who could tell the world what is happening here in a way that would help folks understand that this is "must attend" event. And with a price tag of only $150, why not? This will be better than attending any five-day or ten-day school hosted by any one vendor. These speakers are the people who invented all this stuff !! Check out and look at their credentials: The very people who invented Rete, Rete 2, Rete III, CLIPS, Drools, Advisor, Open Rules, OPSJ, CLIPS/R2 as well as the chief engineers and scientist from all of the major vendors. I have only one comment:

Sign up now or there might not be room later.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blogs, Blogs and More Blogs

I added another blog to the list today - it's by Carole-Ann Beriotz-Matignon, VP at Fair isaac. She continues the EDM blog started by (probably) Paul Vincent that was continued by James Taylor and now Carole-Ann. I could be wrong about Paul. All in all, the blog isn't bad as far as commercial blogs go, but I think that she could add so much more.

I know her personally since she was my boss for almost six months. She seems to be quite quite political in her blogs since all of them reflect heavily on Fair Isaac as a corporate entity - but she could contribute so much more. Blogs on how to extract rules, blogs on letting business users control the rules (always a bad idea) and blogs on business intelligence; these are all good. But what about blogs on really technical problems that plague users or a blog on how to solve problems or a blog on theory of mathematical relationship of rules and objects or a blog on benchmarks?

Carole-Ann has it within her ability, more so I would think than any of her predecessors, to tackle the thorny issues of our industry and get really dirty with mathematical solutions and problems. Only a few other persons at Fair Isaac have her ability to closely analyze problems and arrive at solutions. One is her partner in crime, her former boss, Carlos Serrano-Morales, one of the originators of Blaze Advisor back when we all worked for Neuron Data. Another is Don Tallo, a brilliant AI guy from the old days.

I think that the Fair Isaac folks are treading lightly because of the layoffs and, maybe, fear of getting their heads chopped off if they stick them up too high. Well, live a little - after all, you only go round once in life. Step out and give us a reason to comment on the blog - something that is actually controversial, something with some "bite" in it.

BTW, both Carole-Ann and Carlos will be presenting at the October Rules Fest this year.

Founder and Director for the October Rules Fest

Friday, August 15, 2008

ORF - October Rules Fest

Greetings, Programs:

Probably once a month from now until October 21st I'll send out a blog on ORF. Yes, it sounds like a barking dog but that's how it worked out. Here's the deal: It's probably the greatest conference since 1954 BECAUSE (1) It's technical, (2) it deals with rulebased systems rather than the nondescript BRMS (Business Rule Management Systems that could be nothing more than an Excel spreadsheet - and sometimes is), (3) it's being held in the Republic of Texas near my hometown of Fort Worth, (4) it has the GREATEST SLATE OF SPEAKERS on the subject of rulebased systems since 1954 and (5) did I mention the great slate of speakers?

OK - check out and see what I'm talking aBOUT! Check out the sponsors. Check out the speakers. Check out the abstracts. And it's being crammed into three wonderful days and nights in Texas where it is usually fairly warm in mid-October. I won't promise great weather, but usually October is really nice in Texas. Maybe next year we can have a rules fest in March in Sweetwater so that everyone can attend the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup, which is held in March of each year. Or not. :-)

Regardless, we really do have lots of buffalo, jack rabbits, ostrich, llamas and longhorns in Texas. The last night of the conference will be spent at Billy Bobs, - the world's biggest Honky Tonk. Three mechanical bulls to ride, lots and lots of pretty ladies in cowgirl outfits and slow talking cowboys. Oh, and lots of real, down-home country music. If you hang around until Saturday night Willie Nelson himself will be there for a $40 reserved ticket or maybe $20 if you're luck enough to get a general admission ticket that night.

Enough about Texas and Billy Bob's. What about the conference itself? If you know anything at all about rules then you know the names of Dr. Charles Forgy, Gary Riley, Mark Proctor, Daniel Selman, Dr. Jacob Feldman, Carlos Seranno-Morales, etc., etc. Check out for the complete list. The talks are ALL technical ALL the time and NO sales pitches allowed during the talks. But the major vendors will be there to talk about their product(s) - just not during the "official" presentations.

One last thing: If you really want to attend, you had better register NOW! The available space is filling up fast and the cost is only $150 for the conference itself.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Leveling the Playing Field for Rulebase Benchmarks

Sorry about this, but the way that the blog works, I started a blog in July on this subject and just published it today. See

for the blog. Weird...


2008 Bossie Awards


Still about as hot as Hell's Back Porch here in Texas but here's some "News You Can Use" - not the normal fluff. InfoWorld recently announced it's Best Open Source (egro, BOSsie) awards for 2008 - the whole thing is at were you can check your favorite category. Naturally, I was interested in the best rulebased system (BRMS, if you must) aware that is at for those who care to read the blurb on Drools. There is another interesting one just before that at that deals with Parallel programming. If you are developing today and you want to be among the "elite" class of programmers, then you will have to learn how to program applications for parallel programming.

InfoWorld covered this in the same eLetter with an article at that covers what and why you need to be able to program in threads in the coming world of programming. (Just when you had it all down, something else pops up - just like "Whack-A-Mole" at the fair.) True enough, you can trust the vendors to do this for you, but if you are developing your OWN software AND you hate J2EE because it took away threaded programming, now is the chance to get it back. Unfortunately, you'll have to pull out all of your old books on Java Threads and C++ threads and do your best to remember what all that did for you. But, and here is the kicker, if you do that and put in the necessary time and work, you will be among the best 1% of the best 1% of the world's best programmers, an even tighter niche that knowing rulebased systems. Hopefully, it will pay better but I'm not sure. More than likely you will have to write your own multi-threaded program (that probably won't be J2EE compliant) to make any money off this deal.

But, if you are a speed freak (like yours truly) then you probably will do it just for the fun of it. Major vendors will pooh-pooh the idea as being not practical or not really necessary ONLY because they don't want to re-architect and re-write their applications.

Congratulations to all 60 of the winners from a pool of more than 500 nominees this year. If you didn't make the list it may have been because InfoWorld was not aware of your product OR because your product is not true Open Source. (I found a couple of non-Open Source that made the list this year but not many.)


Monday, August 4, 2008

Texas Heat

OK, most of you won't care about this - but you might get a chuckle or two. At any rate, it will make you appreciate what you have. And it has absolutely NOTHING to do with rulebased systems; just Texas and heat!

Recap Part 1: [Don't bother reading if you already know about it] At about 1:30 a.m. last Friday morning we had a lightening storm (some rain) move through the DFW area, mostly in the Fort Worth area. Lightening hit a transformer, took it out as well as our 33-year-old air conditioner. The blower motor burned and took out the control circuitry with it. I called the Home Warranty service at 6:00 a.m. to be first on the list. The repairman (all air conditioner contractors are working from sun up to sun down these days) arrived at 6:00 p.m. because he had been handling all of the left overs from the past few days. On Saturday morning he tried to find parts but, since it was an old Square-D unit that went out of business years and years ago, no luck. So, with the temperature at 107F/41C for Saturday and Sunday (only 106F/40C today) we hunkered down to "sweat it out." Jimmy (our son) was fortunate enough to have friend who would let him crash on his couch during the night.

Recap Part 2: On Sunday afternoon, my next door neighbor (Jim Welch) was kind enough to find a friend who loaned us his 5K-BTU (small) window A/C unit that we put in the only west-facing window in the house, the one in the master bedroom. This cooled that room down but it's only big enough for one room - maybe two small rooms. But, it really was a blessing. On Sunday night we opened the door to the hall from the MBR (shut all of the other doors) and and put a fan on the floor blowing "some" cool air into Jimmy's BR where I slept last night. Not really as cold as I like it but it was bearable. Today we shut that bedroom door and I'm blowing the air into the office so that it's in the high 70's and low 80's in here now. The rest of the house is not cooled yet but the temperature outside was only 77F/25C so we opened up some windows to cool down the rest of the house until about 9:00 when the temperature had gotten up to 97F/36C so we're now in official shutdown.

Update Part 1: Why not buy another room air conditioner???? Went out Sunday to find one. Conn's had one but no warranty from the store. It had to be returned to the store (in original packing and condition) for store credit or another unit within 24 hours. After that, you're hosed. Went to four other places but all of them were sold out of the 8K and 10K BTU units that we needed except for one store, Target. (Never would have guessed that one, would you?) Bought that puppy and brought it home. Have not installed it yet since we're waiting to see if the central unit can be fixed on Monday.

Update Part 2: This morning (Monday) the Home Warranty people called at 8:00 a.m. and said that after talking with the technician at TKO (the contractor) and because of the catastrophic nature of the damage and the age of the equipment, that the policy covered a 16 SEER rating replacement but we would have to pay the $275 to cart everything off the premises. They said to call the contractor (who didn't know what was happening) and let them know that we had talked with the Home Warranty people. Called TKO and they didn't know anything. Called the technician himself and he said that he was authorized to replace the inside unit only and that they were authorized to put a "hard start" on the outdoor unit (which they said wouldn't last long) and replace only the inside unit. (Sounds fishy, huh?)

Update Part 3: So, until this afternoon, we're still waiting on the 2nd call from the Home warranty people to confirm that it includes the outdoor unit as well. Truly, that would be a blessing from The Almighty since our outdoor unit is probably an 8 or 9 SEER.

How did we live when we were growing up in this area without an air conditioner? Simple, we had 12' ceilings, huge windows, big front porch, steep roof lines and attic fans. From 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. we did very little except fan ourselves and drink really sweet ice tea. AND, we didn't know any better. Remember, you never wanted a color TV until you saw the one that your neighbor had. Like the depression, everyone was miserable so that was our lot in life and we lived with it. Soldiers in Nam lived in 110F/43C heat with 100% humidity and went on patrols with 80 pounds of field gear. In Iraq and Afghanistan the troops go on patrol in 120F/49C heat (no humidity though) heat and they have full field packs, steel helmet and body armor. And they bear it because everyone else has to bear it.

Anyway, that's the news from North Texas (which is about 10 degrees hotter than South Texas) where the women are strong, the men are good looking and the children are all above average - just like in Lake Woebegone.