Saturday, October 27, 2012



Yepper - you really missed it!  If you weren't here (here being IntelliFest 2012 in San Diego, October 22-26) for the past three or four days, you missed that once in a century, maybe once in a millennium, happening.  We had

  • Dr. Charles Forgy, inventor of Rete, Rete 2, Rete III and Rete NT
  • Dr. Doug Lenat, inventor of the 30-year and still-ongoing CYC program
  • Dr. Stephen Grossberg, one of the Godfathers of Mathematical Neural Networks
  • Gary Riley, inventor of CLIPS, the standard for rulebased systems 
  • Mark Proctor, inventor of Drools and all things Drools-related
  • Carlos Seranno-Morales, inventor of Advisor (Neuron Data) and Sparkling Logic
  • Dr. Jacob Feldman, inventor of Open Rules
  • Dr. Vijay Bandekar, early AI pioneer and BRE architect at Cisco
  • Dr. Alex Guazzelli, creator and author of PMML, Predictive Modeling Markup Language
  • Dr. Wolfgang Laun: Jess and Drools Guru, Rulebase Patterns creator and all-round cool guy
  • Kenny Shi, Rule guru at eBay on fraud detection
  • Paul Snow, inventor (among many) of Fifth as well as DTRules
  • Paul Vincent, former Neuron Data guy and now Tibco guru

 I don't think these guys will be together again in one place again this century.  Not all at once in one place where you or I can talk with them, have breakfast, lunch or supper with them, talk about the universe in general or rules or AI in particular with them individually or in a group, listen to them expound or argue with each other, discuss things...  It was absolutely, positively, GREAT!

And you missed it.  Oh, well...  I tried to tell you.  Mark tried to tell you.  Jason tried to tell you.  Everyone here tried to tell you.  But you wouldn't listen.  Nooooo...  You were too busy with this and that and the other.  Well, you missed it.  Just like Woodstock.  Just like Paul McCartney's last concert.  Just like BB King's last concert.  Just like SRV's last concert.  You missed it.  And all you can do is hope to see one of the slide presentations if and when they become available - which most won't since the authors won't release them to the public.  Sorry, Charlie.  You missed it.

Oh, one other thing.  See my blog on Bad Bahai for my comments on my stay at the Bahia Resort Hotel.  It was close to terrible.


IntelliFest 2012 Friday


Lots of cool things happening today but I'm working this morning - SCRUM meetings, training and other meetings taking up most of the day.  Did get to have lunch with Dr. Doug Lenat and Mark Proctor though.  Also, got to listen to part of Carlos Seranno-Morales' presentation on "Converting a Ton of Data Into an Ounce of Knowledge."  He and Dr. Charles Forgy are really working on data analysis for fraud, something that should go together quite well with what Dr. Stephen Grossberg presented on Tuesday.  Got part of the presentation by Paul Vincent of Tibco on "Decision Modeling for Better Decisions" - that was part of the business focus track that we were supposed to have had but that never quite happened.  Still, it was a good presentation - what I saw before going back to work.

Back to work and missed most of the rest of the day but had supper with Dr. Forgy, Gary and Linda Riley.  Gary and Linda are a really nice couple - I can see why they have been together so long.  Gary is so laid back that he and Charles just seem to listen to Linda talk about whatever - especially since she is a highly qualified programmer as well.  Anyway, Gary is from Texas, Charles is from Texas and I'm an immigrant to Texas; Linda is the only Yankee import so it's nice to have an outside opinion now and then.  More tomorrow but it's been a great conference.


IntelliFest 2012 Thursday


Thursday - my turn in the barrel.  I did a pretty simple talk on Benchmarks and how far we've come in the past 25 years when Dr. Miranker first got them started.  Yep, first up at 0830 followed by Dr. Charles Forgy (inventor of Rete, Rete 2, Rete III and Rete-NT) at 0930 talking on just why the benchmarks worked like they do and why most are pure junk and how to modify so that they run properly.  Then he was followed by Charles Young of Solid Soft who spoke on the trust value of Applied AI.  Finally, just before lunch, Dr. Doug Lenat of Cycorp presented a really great talk on Cyc, a program on which he has been working for the past 30 years.  I felt like a real groupie today.

After lunch Kenny Shi of eBay gave  his presentation on Emotional Business Rules.  Then it was "Old Home Week" when Rob Rossi (formerly of Neuron Data and one of my running mates at Norwest Bank in Des Moines back in 1998) gave a neat presentation on what they are doing at XTOR to do AI in the Cloud.  What a neat idea!

The final two presentations were by Dr. Jacob Feldman of Open Rules who spoke on Constraint Programming and Dr. Wolfgang Laun who followed his boot camp with Reasoning on XML Data.  What a great day!!!  All in all, if you weren't here today, you missed a great time.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Corticon / Progress Rebuttal


There seems to be a link at at Progess/Corticon  ( ) where I am quoted (page 14, figure 8...) as having said in an InfoWorld article in 2006, "Corticon Plays By Different Rules", (see for the link) and that I conducted certain benchmark tests on Corticon and that they were much faster than other BRMS vendors at that time.  If you go to the link at  you will see that InfoWorld did not publish ANY benchmarks with that particular article.  As a matter of fact, against my objections, the article was slightly re-written to remove reference to performance so that Corticon would not seem to appear so poorly in the eyes of the readers.  At the end of the revised article, our editor posted the following note:  "This review has been changed to qualify statements in the original regarding Corticon 4’s performance and scalability and its suitability for complex applications. The scoring remains unchanged."

However, pertaining to performance, when I first informally reviewed Corticon I did note that Corticon used DETI (DEsign Time Inference) rather than Rete (Ree'-tee), meaning that most of the inferencing process takes time before the timing process begins so that any time to compare would be totally unfair to another benchmark process.  Also, if the number of rows were to be the number of rules, then Corticon used an inordinate number of rules.  Ordinarily Miss Manners uses only 8 rules and Waltz50 uses only 32 rules.  Corticon used WAY more than that (something over 1,000 rows for Waltz50) even though they did solve the problem.

I compare this to running a marathon.  It is much like a runner running the first mile, catching a subway to the 25th mile, then running the last part of the marathon and claiming victory.  I just isn't fair to the other competitors.  Sure, he completed the race but NOT according to the rules.  Sorry, Charlie; no cigar.

And NONE of this showed up on the review in InfoWorld - they are far too nice a magazine to ever publish this kind of thing.  So, as you might notice, we totally cut the part of performance out of the evaluation during both versions of the article.  After all, they were a small start-up company at the time, struggling to compete with the Big Boys of the BRMS world and we just wanted to give them a leg up as it were.  Little did we know that we had grabbed the wrong end of a snake.

So, for the record:

First, I DID write such an article for InfoWorld in 2006 and InfoWorld DID, in fact, publish that article.

Second, I did conduct certain benchmark tests but they were NOT published in any form.

Third, Corticon was not the fastest on Miss Manners benchmark - far from it.

Fourth, InfoWorld did NOT publish any of the benchmarks in the published article.

Fifth, I did not make such a statement nor did I authorize such a publication by either Progress nor by Dr. Mark Allen.

Sixth, I hereby request that Progress and/or Corticon and/or Dr. Mark Allen please remove this article from their website forthwith and without hesitation.

James C. Owen
Senior BRMS Consultant / Architect

Thursday, October 25, 2012

InteliFest 2012 Wednesday


New Day here in San Diego - beautiful and cool.   First up is Carlos Seranno-Morales showing how to create rules from Big Data when your SMEs don't have all the answers.  This is heresy for most BRMS guys but it has a bit of truth; sometimes they really don't have all the answers and you have to do quite a bit of data analysis to dig it out, especially in the world of fraud analysis where the SMEs can help guide but the statistics hold the ultimate guide to the answers.

Keynote Speaker is Dr. Stephen Grossberg, Godfather of Neural Networks; formerly at MIT and now at Boston University.  Quite a trip!  He explained a lot on neural connections, visual recognition and ART, Adaptive Resonance Technology.  He ended up showing a lot of what Dr. Gail Carpenter is doing on the ARTMAP front where she did in one day what some SMEs had taken over a year to analyze on some highly complex data mapping and analyzing.

After lunch Gary Riley gave a talk on how he implemented another commercial rulebase (it as ILOG JRules we found out later...) and some of the problems that he experienced with the project.  Most of the problems that he had were mostly with people and planning and PPPPPP.  One thing of note was that they went to using XML for their object representation which led to problems with extensibility.  This is much easier to accomplish in POJO (Plain Old Java Objects) than in XML but XML does extend to using with other software.  It was a swap-out and the Java developers lost out on this one.

Days End we all went to supper at another seafood / steak place again, Saska's, and, of course, I had to get more fresh seafood.  Can't wait until tomorrow.

IntelliFest 2012 Tuesday


What a day!  Talking with two of my favorite Charles' today - Charles the Forgenator and Charles the Younger (Charles Young of Solid Soft).  I had supper with Charles Forgy last night where we discussed that he is now using Linq (a Microsoft-only product) for his new development work.  Spooky!!  Then today at lunch I had both of them expounding the virtues of Linq and C# and .NET (yes, Virginia, there is a .NET for the Mac now) for over an hour.  It seems that Charles the Younger is a MS-Maven from way back while Charles the Forgenator is a recent convert.  Both are convinced that Java is dying on the vine and that all of us Java geeks need to jump ship now before the ship goes bottom up.

Supper on the shore again - this time with Gary and Linda Riley.  What nice folks.  It turns out that she has family here in San Diego who split their time between here and Seattle; Summer there, winter here. So, they are off to see them this weekend and here for the conference.  I had fresh seafood again.  It's really great to get fresh seafood for a decent price again fully knowing that there is absolutely no MSG in it anywhere.

Well, tomorrow is a great day for all.  Really looking forward to the first day of IntelliFest.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Backward Chaining


A couple of years ago I blogged on this topic but I see that it still is running rampant across the internet. So, I thinks to myself, thinks I, one more time into the fray.

Backward Chaining (BC) Definitions

Level One BC: Goal Oriented
First Condition Element (CE) contains a goal that, basically, changes the focus of all of that particular rule set.  Until that goal is satisfied then, or no more rules are true that have that Goal as its first CE, then no other Goal can be considered.  Goals are usually inserted in reverse order of order of desired firing because most rulebased systems use a LIFO stack such that the last goal on the stack will be the first one to be considered.

Level Two BC-OoD: Backward Chaining Object On Demand
  • When Needed: This rule is not evaluated until there is a need for the status of this object that is being evaluated in another rule.
  • When Changed: This rule would fire ONLY when the value of the data element changed.
Level Two was/is used extensively in ND Advisor (later FICO Blaze Advisor) as part of the Nexpert additions to Advisor.

Level Three FOBC: Full-Opportunistic Backward Chaining
Condition Elements have the following constraints
  • True
  • False
  • Not Known (NK) – the fact is not known and there has not been an attempt to evaluate
  • Unknown (UK) – the fact is not known.  There has been at least one attempt to evaluate the True or False condition but it has failed.
Level Four BC:  
Level Three BC can be extended such that there could be either a first failure for AND statements as well as a first success in an OR statement or there could be an exhaustive evaluation of that rule or all rules regardless of the nature a predetermined outcome.  This is normally only done when there is a method (function) in one of the condition elements of one or more rules.  This was done in the Neuron Data Nexpert tool and copied in the early versions of Advisor.  The reasoning being that even though the rule did not fire you still wanted the function/method to be evaluated and possibly a value stored somewhere.  Really bad programming that was, nevertheless, used by some major clients.  Really, really bad programming.

Fuzzy Logic (FL) in a rulebase.
The probability of this outcome being true is xx% if all of the CEs are True.

Extended Fuzzy Logic (XFL) – sometimes called the MYCIN Approach
If the CEs all evaluate to True, then there is a certain confidence interval (CI) that the rule is true as well as a certain Doubt Interval (DI) that the rule is still not true because, in the opinion of the expert(s) this rule cannot be 100% verified.  For example, if the CI == 60% True and 20% false then there remains a 20% Space of Doubt (SD) that cannot be accounted for by ordinary means.  The complete description of this is contained in the seminal book on MYCN that dealt with this problem.

In the Level Three FOBC approach, as one leaf of the CE is evaluated and a condition is NK then the elements are evaluated to determine whether it is true or false or UK.  As each leaf is traversed and is marked if a leaf is found False then the rule is no longer evaluated.  If the rule is found UK then the rule is no longer evaluated.  If the CE if found True, the the next CE if evaluated until all of the CEs are evaluated and the rule can be determined to be True or False.

Any questions, comments or corrections would be appreciated.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Three Things In Life


My father told me that there are three things to consider in life.  Only three things that you should remember.  No, four things.  Someday you will die so you have to consider: (1) When you will die,  (2) where you will die and (3) how you will die.  You can't control any of these.  Not normally.  Not unless you commit suicide.  Not the normal way out.  The fourth you can control.  What happens between the time you are born and the time that you die.  Or, between the time that you read this blog and the time that you die.

If we knew the time, place and the circumstances of our death, we probably would lead a completely different life.  Most would live a life of abandon until the final year when they realized the futility of what they had done.  Some would actually live a life worth having been lived.  Me?  I have no idea.  I'm just glad that I don't know.  I actually never thought that I would live to be over forty or fifty and really didn't plan to be this old.  It's nice, but I didn't plan on it.  G-d has been nice to me but I've been ready for many years now.  Only recently did I realize how totally unprepared that I was actually to die and move on so, I thank Him that he let me live this long.

And you?  Well, what are you doing to prepare for your final destination?  What kind of memory will you leave behind?  After all, most of us will leave some kind of legacy behind for some kind of brief period.  Some longer than others.  Abraham left quite a long legacy.  Beethoven left a long legacy.  Will I leave anything like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson?  Not bloody likely.  Mine will probably last 30 years - 40 at most.  Just about as long as my youngest son.  See, I don't have any grandchildren to continue my legacy so it won't last much longer.  Not my fault, it just is.

Again, how about you?  Will your writings last beyond your lifetime?  How about your work?  Your grandchildren?  Great-grandchildren?  On the other hand, does it really matter?  Does the fourth question really matter after all?  Probably not.  But I like to think that, like Steve Jobs, that I did make a small dent in the universe.  Just not so big a dent as he made.  I didn't help invent the iPhone, the MacIntosh, the iPad nor any of the other cool Apple products.

But, along with Mark Procter of Drools (and Greg Barton and Rolando Hernandez of Biz Rules) I did get October Rules Fest started back in 2008 in Dallas, Texas.  (Why is another story.)  We did it again in 2009.  Then in 2010 I turned it over to a friend of mine and it moved to California.  Then it morphed into IntelliFest 2012 and that became the greatest AI event in the world so far.  It features a reunion of the infamous CMU Gang of Three (so far).  So, if you don't do anything else, help make my small legacy the greatest event the world had seen this year.  (This is completely shameless!!)  Come out to San Diego this October and pay us a visit.  Hang out with Forgy, Miranker, Grossman, Riley, Berlioz-Matignon, Ceranno-Morales, Feldman, Saint Marie, Laun, Lenat, Raden, Vincent, Fry and all the rest of the AI, medical, and business greats.  Three Days Of Total AI Glory!!!  Number FIVE is ALIVE !!!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

IntelliFest 2012, Java, Rules and Expert Systems


As I've stated before, to me Java is a wonderful lady.  I really like her, possibly love her.  We've dated on more than one occasion since we started hanging out in 1997, and I think I can call her a really good friend.  However, I'm not married to her. I'm married to OPSJ, Drools, ILOG JRules, Blaze Advisor, Jess, etc., etc.  Java is my mistress, my love, my flame.  Expert systems are my many wives. I'm also married to the world of Unix and C/C++.   Since I'm a consultant, I'm a polygamist.  I have my favorite wife but I'm married to all of them.

So, when I state an opinion please understand that you guys are married to Java whereas I am more of a philanderer; forever taking pleasure from her beauty, reveling in her former simplicity and functionality, supporting her, but rarely going out in public with her.  When I do go out in public with her, the community whispers about us - mostly about me - and some aspersions are cast recklessly about the neighborhood concerning my character.  :-)

BTW, even though I may be verbose at times, I rarely "rant" about anything, unless the issue concerns such as things that touch on the nerves of the entire community. I'm just having fun with a bunch of guys who seem to have the same interests that I have.  I like the old adage, "If you're not having fun at what you're doing you're either doing the wrong thing or you're doing it wrong."  :-)

So, on that idea of fun, this October 22 - 26 if you can find it in your schedule, come out to San Diego (especially Delmar Beach - WOW!!!) and hang out with some real Uber-Geeks such as

  • Dr. Charles Forgy (who invented Rete, Rete 2, Rete III and Rete-NT) who will be talking on "Where Does Time Go?" - dealing mostly with the problem of benchmarking, one of my favorite topics.
  • Gary Riley (Yes! The inventor of CLIPS - C Language Interface for Production Systems and co-author of THE seminal text book on AI system used in almost all universities today) will be there speaking on "Implementation Comparison of Three Production Systems" 
  • Dr. Stephen Grossberg (who invented Adaptive Reasoning Technology and is considered to be THE God Father of mathematically-based neural networks along with his wife, Dr. Gail Carpenter) who will be talking on "Mind, Brain and Autonomous Artificial Intelligence."  
  • Dr. Doug Lenat (inventor of Cyc, world's largest real knowledgebased system and founder of CycCorp) will be speaking on "Grappling With Human Consensus Reality Knowledge: Lessons From the Trenches"  If you didn't know it, Cyc has about 6 million rules dealing with everything from how sentences are composed to general purpose rules, something that ordinary rulebased systems simply cannot handle.
  •  Dr. Wolfgang Laun (Research Specialist with Alcatel / Thales of Austria) of both Drools and Jess fame will be hosting a boot camp on "Design Patterns in Production Systems" - something that we in this field have been clamoring for incessantly for many years now.  Well, I have...
  • Kenny Shi (Software Engineering Manager for eBay) will be speaking on "Emotional Business Rules" that deals with fraud detection.
  • Carol Ann Berlioz-Matignon (formerly of Neuron-Data, ILOG, VP of FICO, Co-Founder and CEO of Sparkling Logic), a true visionary of the industry who has led rulebased systems further and faster than any ever though possible, will be speaking on "Rules, Business Rules, Decisions, Big Decisions."  This should prove popular with both geek and business analysts.
  • Neil Raden (James Taylor's partner at one time and uber-geek in Decision Management) will be speaking on "Decision Management on Steroids: Will Big Data Tools Trump Rules?"  Truly this one will draw lots of controversy if nothing else.
  • Paul King (Founder and CEO of ASERT) will be hosting a talk on "Leveraging Scripting Languages and DSLs for Expressing Rules"
  • Helgi Helgason (Founder and CEO of Peseptio) will be talking on "Attention Capabilities of AI Systems"
  •  James Owen (Founder of KBSC, working in the field with Neuron Data, ILOG, FICO, OPSJ, writer for InfoWorld in the field since 2003, etc, etc) once again will be talking about benchmarks.  (Surely you didn't think I would leave my name out of this list?  Did you?  Really?)
  • Dr. Jacob Feldman (founder and CEO of Open Rules) will be speaking on "Modeling and Solving Decision Optimization Problems".  Don't miss this one if at all possible!
  • Rajat Monga (Engineer at Google who is working DistBelief - a framework for brain-inspired large-distributed neural networks that is driving progress in areas such as vision and speech) who will be speaking on "Deep Learning at Large Scale".
  • Carlos Seranno-Morales (the other half of Sparkling Logic, the inventor of Advisor, formerly of Neuron Data, FICO, etc, super-Uber-guru) will be speaking on "Converting a Ton of Data Into An Ounce of Knowledge"  Carlos had a knack of making something extremely technical understandable by most everyone and his talks are always very technical so don't miss this one!! 

ALSO, IntelliFest will have Boot Camps!  Red Hat Drools with Mark Proctor et cie will be hosting their annual introduction to Drools and Advanced Drools.  Jason Morris of Jess Fame (the one and only authorized instructor for Jess) will be there as well.  Wolfgang will, of course, have boot camp the day before the conference begins as well.  His talk is shown above but I think it's the boot camp so come a day early if don't want to miss his "talk."  

We are still missing some really great speakers from previous ORF conferences, especially those two or three from Canada and Mexico.  Hard times seem to have hit everywhere.  We also haven't had many speakers from PegaSystems, Visual Rules, Corticon or FICO this year.  Just Sparkling Logic, ILOG and Drools.  Most of our guys seem to be from the big name guys of Google, eBay and the hard-core sciences.  Check out for more information or to register.

So, be there or be square.  :-)


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Has Lance Fallen From Grace? - NOT in My Book!


I just heard the national news.  It's now official.  Lance Armstrong has been, or soon will be, stripped of his seven medals for the Tour de France.  And he will be stripped of his Olympic Medal.  Why?  He's just tired of fighting the financial might and power of the US Anti-Doping Agency, the USADA.  This is a total abuse of the power of the USADA.  They are trying to force Lance to prove his innocence rather than proving his guilt.

Even a federal judge has said  “The USADA’s conduct raises serious questions about whether its real interest in charging Armstrong is to combat doping, or if it is acting according to less noble motives.”  If a Federal Judge can say this why can't someone come out and get Lance off the hook?  This is totally insane!!

This man, this American icon, this French idol, this North Texas star, this Dallas/Plano home-town boy, didn't just suddenly become a great bike rider who popped up on the world stage.  He started before high school riding bicycles in road racing events.  He worked his buns off.  He defeated testicular cancer along the way and started a family.  

Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France not five times, which no one else had ever done before, not six times, but seven times!  Not just seven times but seven times in a row!!  No one will ever do that again!  Never!  And someone at the USADA just can't believe that a man can do that and not be on dope.  Idiots!!

And here's the deal:  Lance Armstrong never, EVER failed a drug test after any of the stages of the Tour de France.  EVER!!  Not on any of the races that he ever raced during any point of his career did he EVER fail a drug test.  No one ever accused Lance of using drugs until later in his career and even then they were totally unfounded.  The Washington Post carried a lot of print on this - check out Sally Jenkins continued rant against the USADA and her quotes from the Federal Judges against the USADA as well.  It's enough to make you sick.  

The world needs to rise up and bring the USADA to account for itself for its actions on this and other actions that is has done in the past.  The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) — which is supposed to be where athletes can appeal, only they never, ever win — that it’s hard to know where to begin. American athletes have lost 58 of 60 cases before the CAS. Would you want to go before that court?  This is insane!  

Quoting from the Washing Post article:  "Anyone who thinks an athlete has a fair shot in front of CAS should review the Alberto Contador case. Contador was found to have a minuscule, insignificant amount of clenbuterol in his urine during the 2010 Tour de France. After hearing 4,000 pages of testimony and debate, CAS acknowledged that the substance was too small to have been performance-enhancing and that its ingestion was almost certainly unintentional.  Therefore he was guilty. He received a two-year ban.  CAS’s rationale? 'There is no reason to exonerate the athlete so the ban is two years,' one member of the panel said."

Sorry, but the CAS is just totally insane.  


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Forecasting Made Easier - and Cheaper !


Now you don't have an excuse!  Rob J Hyndman and George Athanasopoulos have made it possible to explore the world of forecasting for free - or for a small donation of your own choosing.  Just go over to and read the on-line book.  Rob previously helped write the seminal work with Makridakis and Wheelwright and this is a replacement for that $140 book.  This will eventually be an e-book.

Rob said ( ) that he made only about $1 per book anyway and that the publisher made all of the money.  So, this time around he would hope that the readers would have the good sense to donate more than a dollar each to help defray the cost of writing and maybe he would actually make a few bucks.  The tools are free.  The book is free.  No more excuses.

Me?  I'm going to start tonight!!  I probably have six or ten books on forecasting and 20 or 30 (more like 50 - 100) printed white papers on the subject that I read from time to time.  Why?  I have to review things that I did in university so that I don't forget.  The fundamentals are ever so important that we should never forget why and how we did things.  When studying more advanced concepts we should always remember the fundamental principals of our particular field of study.

Anyway, get the book online.  If you already have some books, this will just supplement them.  Hyndman is well-recognized as one of the leaders of the forecasting field so you can't go wrong.


"Why Can't The English Teach Their Children How To Speak?"


Ah, the eternal lament of Professor Higgins.  (As played by Rex Harrison in the movie "My Fair Lady" and innumerable actors on the stage in both "My Fair Lady" and "Pymaglion", the predecessor of "My Fair Lady.")  While attending a Webinar by a very major Analytic Vendor this morning (even now in fact) I was struck by the fact that so many college graduates in the field of sales and marketing, native-speaking Americans who should know better, continually end sentences with the infinitive form of the verb "to be."  Infinitely disgraceful. Terrible.  Horrible!

I suppose that this behavior could be forgiven if the speakers were but callow youth, fresh from their collegiate activities where they had been shanghaied from some technical activity, such as engineering, where public speaking is not a normal pursuit, into marketing or business because of their aforementioned indiscretions and possible habitual-absenteeism from their classes.  But that is not the case.  These speakers, ladies and gentlemen, occupy advanced positions of Vice President or Senior Management with years of experience.  These are those who should have attended many classes on public speaking and business communications.  These are those who, above all, should know better than anyone else the importance of proper public speaking.  These are those who should be teaching others the proper methods of public speaking.  And what do I hear?  Nothig but:

And, ahm, ahm,
And this gets you, ahm,
Allow me to, aahhuh
And, uh, and, uhhh
And, finally, ahmm,  from, a, ahmm,  best practices standpoint, ahm, ahm..

Really!  That was, almost, a back-to-back, verbatim, transcript of what is being said at this time.  And, to make matters worse, it is the reporters, both local and national (yes, NBC and its local affiliate here in Dallas, Texas) that is the most egregious perpetrator of all.  I'm sure that the other stations are equally guilty but I don't follow them as faithfully as I do NBC news.  Constantly they end sentences with "... this is where we're at."  This is where we are AT?  It is quite sufficient to say, "This is where we ARE."  The "at" is quite superfluous.  Listen to your office mates from now on and you will hear the same thing now that you are attuned to hear this thing.

In the Southern United States, "can't" quite often rhymes with "paint" and folks say "git" rather than "get".  Unfortunately, the "git" thing is quite common around the English-speaking world, not just the USA.  Another Southern thing is, "I'm fixing to go to the store.  Do you want something there?" Or some other thing.  Never, "I'm going to the store." But, "I'm fixing to go to the store."  What do you need to fix to go the store?  Don't know but we're always fixing to go or fixing to do something to do something else.  It's a Southern thing...  Also, I understand that "ain't" is now in the American Standard Dictionary and has even made inroads into the English Standard Dictionary.  Sad, but true.

Once, not so long ago, I spent quite a bit of time in England on a couple of occasions.  The first time that I was there I determined to adopt a truly English accent to impress my friends back home.  Unfortunately, on the third floor at Lloyds Bank where worked there were at least 15 different accents of the English language:  Cornish, Northern English (Yorkshire, etc), West Midlands, East Midlands, Essex (now that one is almost incomprehensible), Welsh, Cardiff, South Wales, Irish of all kinds (Dublin, Ulster, Connacht, Leinster, Munster), Scot, Highland-Scot, Cockney, Posh (what most consider the "true English accent"), Queens (what the Queen herself speaks), East End (not to be confused with Cockney) - and that's just SOME of the UK part. Then you have the rest of the British Empire: South Africa, Canada, Trinidad, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, The Congo, North Africa etc.

Now, if we throw in the USA from back home we would have had Brooklyn, NYC, Chicago, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Southern Virginia, Northern Virginia, California, Atlanta, the rest of Georgia, New Orleans, the rest of Southern Louisiana, Northern Louisiana, North Texas, West Texas, East Texas, South Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, East Tennessee, West Tennessee, Mississippi, etc. Yes, almost every state, and sometimes parts of a state, has its own accent in the USA.  Nope!  I decided that my accent was quite good enough and that my version of English was spoken better than most of those around me, even with the decidedly Texas Twang that marked me as an American Traveler.

So, for those of you who might be self-conscious about your own accent when visiting the British Isles these days, don't be.  Or, when speaking in public anywhere, be proud of your own heritage.  But!  And this is important, regardless of your regional accent, your English must be spoken correctly and you must strive to make yourself understood by your audience.  Never use "dese" for "these" or "dem" for "them" nor "po" for "poor."  Poorly spoken English, especially with an overly-broad accent that cannot be understood by your audience, is never appreciated.  Just remember these few main points about the English language itself:
  • A sentence never ends with a preposition
  • A sentence never ends with a verb and especially not with the infinitive form of the verb "to be".
  • Never split an infinitive form of the verb "to be" such as "he will gladly be presented..."
  • Always use the adverb form of an adjective when modifying a verb
When speaking, remember these few points that follow.  Practice them in front of a mirror, with your spouse or with your partner, or with a really good friend or business associate.  
  • Can't never rhymes with paint.  
  • Git should never be used for get.  
  • Completely remove the aaahhh's and the uuuhhh's from your speech patterns.
  • NEVER rush through your presentation.
  • NEVER insert long pauses for effect. (There should be an effective balance)
  • Maintain eye contact with your audience
  • Keep your hands below your face at all times
  • Never let them (the audience) see you sweat
If you remember those few caveats, you probably will go far in the world of public speaking.  Forget them, and, well, most folks won't notice.  Probably, your boss won't even notice.  But I will notice.  And others like me, the smart-alecky know-it-alls, in the audience will notice.  But, we won't say anything to you because we won't wish to embarrass you.  So, to keep us all from that problem, please work on your English and work on your presentations.  From those of us in the audience, thanks.  :-)


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Apple MacBook Semi-Pro


Apple has done us in - again!  The "new and improved" MacBookPro now has the remarkable Retina display - but at what cost?

  • You can't upgrade the standard 8GB RAM once purchased.  Meaning that you have to decide UP FRONT to purchase the maximum 16GB RAM available for your Mac since you won't be able to upgrade later.  Fortunately, that's only a $200 upgrade.
  • You won't be able to upgrade the Flash Drive (hard drive to you old troops) later either.  And the low end MacBook Pro has only one available, the 256 GB drive.  The BigBoy MacBook Pro has either a 512GB or a 786GB.  Unfortunately, that's a $500 upgrade for a small upgrade on the HD front.
  • There is NO Firewire 800 on the blooming thing!  OK, there is a pair of Thunderbolt ports and Apple does sell (if you can find one) a Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 Adaptor.  But it does not come with it as a necessary accessory.  
  • There no Kensington lock slot so you will have to find another way to lock your laptop to the desk when visiting a client or when at the office.
  • THERE IS NO SUPER DRIVE !!!  Now how inconvenient is that??  You will have to carry around a separate USB drive.  That's anoter $79 plus tax, title and license.
  • Finally, just to cap everything off, THERE'S NO ETHERNET PORT!!  Now, is that really stupid or what??  Apple seems to think that everyone has access, all the time, to wireless ports, everywhere!  At the office.  At the hotels around the world.  Everywhere!  Well, surprise, Apple Executives Everywhere Around The World!  It doesn't work that way.  I've been around the world and you do NOT get wireless everywhere - not even in the USA.  Not even in NYC!!
  • Penultimately, just to make things even better, the battery doesn't last as long because that beautiful Retina screen draws more power.  Yep - the battery that was supposed to be better?  It isn't.  The screen takes up all the juice plus more.
  • Finally, Apple dropped that wonderful 17" MacBook Pro.  Yep.  No Retina screen for my Big Mac.  I have to go back to a 15" screen on the airplane with all of the CxO guys and the Executive Assistants who are not "real" developers but just need a word processor or a spreadsheet display on a plane.  I NEED THE REAL ESTATE !!!  Damn it, I'm a a developer and I need my big screen when I'm off-site!  Now I'm going to have to go to Toshiba or HP or some other Windoze environment, aka Linux, to get it.  
Apple, you've done me in.  I've been with you since you went to Unix and now you're driving me away.  I'll stay for a while to see if you will mend your ways.  But I won't buy that 15" Baby Mac that you're trying to foist on me and the rest of the real Developer World.  Not for travel, anyway.  Maybe for working at home when I can hook it up to my 30" Mac Full-Color Display and work like real developers are supposed to work.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Apple Developer Xcode and Lion


I really should NOT have to write a blog about this but somebody has to tell the world rather than have it show up on a Q&A page somewhere that nobody but an übergeek can find it.  How many of you have upgraded to Apple's new Lion OS and found that your GCC had gone MIA?  Or, worse yet, upgraded to a "new and improved" HD only to find that your Time Machine backup did not include the applications - or did not include all of your applications?

Fortunately, there is a way back that could take about thirty minutes or less, depending your internet connection.  You might have to RE-register as an Apple developer (as did I) and have to dig up your original Apple ID (as did I) from some old documentation somewhere (as did I) and then download OS X developer tools again (as did I).  Then, after having downloaded Xcode's latest and greatest, about 3GB, go over to the Xcode -> Preferences -> Components -> Downloads -> Command Line Tools and click on Install.  After another 158MB of installation you will have your gcc and man tools back.

Lion has to be one of Apple's biggest blunders in years, ranking up there with Lisa (almost - not quite) and Apple III in quality and how they have handled the publicity of their problems.  Maybe they will learn from this.  Maybe not.  Maybe they need to find another Steve Jobs to keep everyone in line the next time around.  He may not have been a great engineer, but he was a dreamer.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

IntelliFest 2012 - It's Official


OK.  It's official NOW.  IntelliFest 2012 (aka October Rules Fest 2008 - 2009, aka Rules Fest 2010 - 2011)  will be at the Bahai Resort Hotel in San Diego, CA (USA) Hotel on October 22 - 26.  (The hotel link is NOT the link for the official room rates - just an early link to see the hotel.)   The sign up links are not there yet BUT BE PATIENT!  They should be ready by the end of the week.

This year something different about the conference.  Ergo, the name change.  Jason (Morris, that is) is encouraging management and academic attendees to the conference, something that wasn't done in the past.  And, from my perspective, that's a good thing.  If your management personnel is not aware of what you are doing then you won't get the funding that you need to do the things that you need for research and/or new tools.  If your track is academics, you really need to be aware of new frontiers in commercial applications and vendors need to be aware of new adventures in academics.  Thus the new name of IntelliFest to mean gathering of intelligence on all fronts; commercial, management, academic and applied AI.  The inventors and researchers need to interact with the vendors and developers of AI products.  Management needs to see what is happening with both sides of the fence to understand how these things are interacting to understand how they can use these tools back home in their business to improve their bottom line.  Developers can get new ideas, either during the special vertical markets, the conference or the bootcamps, on how to improve strategy on development of their own products or new products.  All in all, the IntelliFest conference should prove to be fertile grounds for ideas for everyone in the BRMS, rulebase, AI or Intelligence fields.

So, make plans now (sounds a bit like hucksterism on my part but I don't make a dime on this stuff) to attend IntelliFest.  Since the speakers have not been chosen I can't say that it will be the greatest show on earth, but going on past performance I will say that I haven't been disappointed in the past.  So, watch for the speaker list, see if it meets with your approval and, if so, sign up early and get the Early Bird discounts and other advantages, like group discounts and some freebies for bootcamps, etc.  Tell'em Old Jim sent you.  You won't get anything special except maybe a wry grin and an exhausted sigh.  :-)


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

D-Day + 18 hours at Normandy in 1944


Well, about 18 hours ago (0600Z) in 1944, the worlds greatest armada arrived at Normandy.  My Uncle Bill (Sgt. William L. Leach) had already arrived with the 82nd Airborne (The Famous AA patch, along with the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne from the "Band of Brothers" HBO movie, as well as the British Airborne) who landed behind the German lines about 0200Z or so.  The Americans paid dearly at Omaha and Utah beaches that were heavily armed.  General Erwin "The Desert Fox" Rommel had done a great job there.  And even though Gen. George S. Patton didn't get in on the action, he was used as a decoy to hold the 2nd Panzer and 116th Panzer tanks up north who were expecting the real invasion to come in at Pas de Calais.  As a matter of fact, the 2nd Panzer and 116th Panzer didn't move until the 14th day of the invasion.  To quote the 82nd Airborne report "By the time the All-American Division was pulled back to England, it had seen 33 days of bloody combat and suffered 5,245 troopers killed, wounded, or missing. Ridgway's post-battle report stated in part, "...33 days of action without relief, without replacements. Every mission accomplished. No ground gained was ever relinquished."  What a report for such a small brigade.  They went on to fight in Operation Market Garden (what a fiasco) and Bastogne with the 101st Airborne and the British Airborne both times.

Anyway, sorry this reminder is so late.  All in all, England, USA, Poland, France, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, The Netherlands, Norway, and other nations - all chipped in what men they could afford (but mostly England and USA as well as Australia, Canada, France and NZ).  Of the 1,300,000+ men who invaded Normandy, over 120,000 men lost were KIA, MIA or wounded on the first day.  Of the 380,000+ Germans more than 113,000 were reported KIA, MIA or wounded on the first day.  It usually takes a ratio of 10:1 to storm a fortress successfully so losses of 1:1 were somewhat commendable - but sad nevertheless.  Unfortunately, it had to be done.  The USA was late getting there since the war for the rest of the world started in 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Germany and the subsequent declaration of war by England, France and most of Europe.  Only England was standing a year later while the USA congress argued and drug their feet in an isolationist mode.  Today, they are accused of being overly aggressive.  You just can't win.

So, lift a glass of cheer to the American, English, Aussies, New Zealanders and all the rest who stormed the beaches long, long ago.  If not for them, we'd be all be speaking German.  Not that Germans are all bad, it's just the Nazis that I can't stand.  The real German army was actually kind of neat.  At least they tried to kill Hitler.  Only a table leg saved him and he never was the same after that.  So, maybe they sort of succeeded after all.  At least he was crazy enough to keep the Panzer divisions at Pas de Calais until July rather than sending them to Normandy on June 6th- right?


Monday, May 28, 2012

2012 - Memorial Day for WW II and 'Nam


Here we are again - Memorial day and remembering our war dead (KIA), missing in action (MIA), and those who returned home alive but still were MIA to their families.  My father and uncle were like that.  My dad was a WW II vet who was a First Sgt (Master Sgt with the star in the middle) in the 1st Special Service Forces (predecessor to the Green Berets) who landed at Anzio beach and fought their way to Europe through Italy through the Alps and some of the bloodiest fighting that was rarely reported except for that bit about the mountains and the chapel on top full of Germans.  The Force (as it was called then) was one of the US Army's first attempts at commando operations.  It was the ONLY outfit that never lost an inch of ground, regardless of what General Patton claimed.  And they paid for it heavily.  Only about 10% of the initial outfit that went to war returned home, my dad being one of them.

And there lots of kids like us.  Our dads came home from war and they were lost to us for many years.  We didn't know what happened and they wouldn't talk about it to us.  They didn't know how to tell about the horror of it without bringing the nightmares back or sounding like a grave digger.  You just didn't do that kind of thing in those days.  So my younger brother (15 months younger than myself) and I spent our youth not talking with our dad except that he had the theory that children should be seen and not heard.  We worked in the one-acre garden after school every day and all summer after summer-school.  We went to summer-school to get away from  the house.

My uncle wasn't much better.  He was in the 82nd Airborne and made all five jumps in WW II.  He met up with my dad in London after the war, exchanged phone numbers and got together in Alabama after the war.  He ended up marrying my dad's oldest sister.  Both of them used to talk about the war to each other but not to the kids or the wives.  During the war, their rations were packed with Lucky Strike's or Camel cigarettes and they were encouraged to smoke because, supposedly, it calmed the nerves.  It also led to cancer and other lung problems for both of them.  The other war problems were mental and loss of family but, by at that time, the army just didn't seem to know or care about those things.  The children became the biggest loss of that age.

During the rest of those years, the children grew up and in the late 50's and early 60's joined the armed forces in the early Viet Nam War during the "Consulting" days of the Viet Nam War.  That was when we were there but we weren't there in an official capacity.  My brother was in Cambodia in a remote outpost that could have been overrun at any time while I served my time in what was an effectively remote outpost in West Texas.  Using long-range radar we watched the southern border and the Gulf of Mexico for invading Russian aircraft that never showed up.  The Cuban Missile Crisis was about as close as I got to the actual shooting war.

But, the thing was, both my middle brother and I never did get close to our father until after my middle brother was killed in an auto accident in 1968.  After that, slowly, my father softened and allowed my younger brother (12 years younger than myself) and I to talk with him about things but still not about the war until just before his death in 1988.  I inherited his war papers, medals, etc, and discovered that he had effectively earned, among a lot of other stuff, five bronze stars during WW II for combat during his war time in Italy.  Five!  Three bronze stars, two with an extra star on them for the same action making it effectively five bronze stars.  And he never once mentioned them to us.  He just couldn't talk about them to us.  Only with his buddies from the war or to Uncle Bill from the 82nd Airborne.

And, now, every memorial day I remember him and Uncle Bill and wonder what it would have been like if we had had programs something like the programs today back then.  Maybe we would have had a dad with whom we could have talked and been friends.  Maybe...  Maybe not...  That was a really bad war, just like Nam and Korea.  No bullet-proof vests and only tin-pot helmets.  Lots of dead guys left and right.  And the guilt feelings that you could never explain to your family and friends back home.  And now you know the rest of the story about the "Lost Generation" of WW II.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

IntelliFest 2012


October Rules Fest (2008, 2009) in "Big D" morphed into just Rules Fest (2010, 2011) in Silicon Valley and it looks as though Rules Fest has morphed into IntelliFest 2012 - possibly again in Silicon Valley or maybe back in Big D (Dallas), just not in August as the Web Page used to say.  Count on October.  (Maybe November but probably October.)  This year, according to our Fearless Leader, Jason Morris, we're going to have several tracks - one of which will be a management track and another will be an academic track and maybe a medical track.  All of this to go along with the regular rulebase and BRMS tracks.  The home page should change next week to allow registration and the REAL location and dates; so be patient.  Jason just started his la few weeks ago in Australia so now maybe he will have some time to devote to more serious things - like IntelliFest in Silly Valley.  He still has a long way to go on the AU thing but he's back home now.

So, you heard it here first.  This blog is totally unauthorized and I'll probably get booted off the Intellifest Organizing Committee for doing such a dastardly deed but somebody had to get the word out to the rest of the Great Unwashed Herd of Programmer Elite.  :-)  Now you know, so go to your managers and start needling them for the funds to go to the meetings.  Plan on the first or second week  in October.  Tell them that this will be the Greatest Show of Technical Fireworks since Java One back in 1998 or 1999.  And if you don't get to go, then you will be branded for life as having missed out and will be (technically) left behind in the dust of your companions who were fortunate enough to have nice managers who were smart enough to send their smartest and brightest programmers to IntelliFest 2012.

This post was updated on 27 May 2012 by jco.




Engineers are rapidly disappearing.  Why?  Because the learning curve to be a "real" engineer, of any kind, is extremely hard.  Usually the second semester of Calculus causes lots of dropouts.  If not, then Partial Differential Equations gets another 1/3 of them.  Finally, if the school still offers it, Abstract Algebra and/or Advanced Statistics / Forecasting will cook the goose of any slackers left over by their junior year.  The senior year was actually a breeze.  By that time, the professors had weeded out the slackers and "engineer wannabes" and we had fun doing fun work.  Even the Masters programs were run about the same way.  The first year was bad.  The last years were fun.   But most students can't make through the first three years of Engineering Basic Training - much like the Navy SEAL training. 

Very few programmers ever have any of the aforementioned items in the title of this blog.  Not in any quantity of any consequence.  Not if they remain programmers.   However, Chris Taylor recently pointed out that the gigantic Obama Recovery Act that laid out $845 BILLION USD to various places (of which the great State of Texas claimed about $17 Billion for such projects as The First Methodist Church of Dallas and a moving company in Denton) that created darned few jobs but lots money for Health Care IT and other stuff - meaning money for existing doctors ($40K - $65K per physician) and hospitals (about $11M each hospital) that was supposed to go help create jobs.  Did you get any of that???

Well, I certainly hope that the quack that screwed up my back got his share of the "Great American Bailout" since he has now proclaimed me "healed" when my insurance ran out.  That guy would make a great TV evangelist - but I've never seen a TV Islam Evangelist.  Too bad...  He would have made a good one.  Originally he was supposed to have fixed the problem of the breakdown between the 5th and 6th lumbar - instead he decided (with my previously written permission that you have to give or they won't operate) - that he would fix my slight sway back (technically, scoliosis) that I have had since I was a child and it really never bothered me. 

Now I can walk more than 25 yards only with the help of two canes.  At my last session he finally told me that I would have to come back in a year or two and fix that 5th lumbar.  I came really close to being convicted of 2nd degree homicide in a later court appearance.  And I had two canes in my hands with which to accomplish such a task.  Oh, well.  Y'Shua, an Essene Jewish Rabbi two thousand years ago, taught that forgiveness was better than vengeance.  (How do I know he was Essene?  He had a Passover supper the night before the rest of the Jewish population had their Passover supper meaning that he followed the Essene calendar and not the "new and improved" Jewish calendar.")

Enough on religion and bad doctors!  How about us, the lowly, the pale-skinned, cube dwellers who toil long hours under artificial, fluorescent, mercury-vapor, cool-white lamps to help the middle managers make twice or three times our salary and bonuses while the CxO (Charlie Guys) make 10 times our salaries and/or bonuses for driving us to higher and higher production with fewer and fewer people who work for less and less money.  Well, most of us, that is.  Some of us had the good sense to quite the rat race part and become "consultants"for just wee bit more money and HECK (H E Double Tooth Picks) of a lot more freedom of movement.  Unfortunately, that also comes with long periods of unemployment and a sense of loneliness that is lost only with Webinars and Skype conferences with others of the same ilk.  Or playing chess against the computer at higher and higher skill levels.

Here's the real two-pronged problem: First, The Charlie Boys gave the Middle Managers some short term (three to twelve month) goals to improve production with less personnel and less money.  So, the MM cut their top money makers (meaning the older, higher-paid troops with the experience) and hired off-shore or recently on-shored labor (i.e., Green Card Guys) who were lots cheaper but didn't know diddly squat about programming enterprise projects nor really technical tools.  Yeah, they know Java, J2EE/Spring and some other "cool" stuff but they don't have the engineering background of the REAL programmers.  Things like Unix internals, nor real OOAD nor how the Rete Algorithm actually works, nor Conflict Resolution in the Rete Algorithm - all that they have are some highlights to fool middle management. 

Second, HR is too danged (this gets me a PG-13 rating since I didn't use the real D-word) lazy to do the ground work for themselves so they hire off-shore or recently on-shored companies to do a "warm-body" search for people to fill "warm-body" slots in the company.  The few technical people left at the company are allowed to interview ONLY the lowest-paid 10% of the ones that HR found, not the real programmers that cost more than the ridiculous amount that HR had set as the maximum that they would pay for a certain position. 

OK, this has now turned into what sounds like a previous rant but it has to be said over and over again that HR and Middle Management (at the direction of Upper Management Charlie Boys) are screwing up the world, not just the USA.  Only in the UK and a couple of other countries are they actually hiring and paying their technical people what they are worth.   The next few years will see if the USA companies have learned their lessor or not AND whether or not the difference between the two policies (USA vs UK / France / Deutchland / etc) will pay off in the long run.  China has that policy and it hasn't worked for them very well in the long run.  I've learned to looks at labels and those that say, 'Made in China" I drop like a hot rock in West Texas. 

So, if you got this far in the blog, you deserve at least a "B" for having the perseverance (or the stupidity) to read this far.  Leave a comment and have the bravery to at least sign it.  ;-)


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Seven Programming Myths


Neil McAllister of InfoWorld wrote a great little article (which he probably plagerized from some other editor somewhere - just my guess, not fact!) but it's really great and should be read by all of us.  You can check it out for yourself at and be sure to read them all.  The first one really caught my eye was #1; off-shore programming is cheaper.  Another one (this should catch the eye of all those Jess and Drools programmers) was Myth # 5:  The more eyes on the code the better the code, meaning that open source has more eyes on it and therefore it will be better.  Boy! Neil took that one apart.  Sorry Mark, but I have to kind of agree with his analysis - most guys don't develop Drools, they just use it and develop the part that fails when they use it.  :-)  Note, I said most, not all.  (Most could be 51%.)

Anyway, take a look at it.  I'll list them for you here so you can see if you want to look at them: 
  1. Offshoring produces software faster and cheaper
  2.  Good coders work long hours
  3. Great developers are 10 times more productive
  4. Cutting-edge tools produce better results
  5. The more eyes on the code, the fewer bugs
  6. Great programmers write the fastest code
  7. Good code is "simple" or "elegant"     
So, there you have it - Seven things that you thought were set in concrete busted up and pulverized into dust for all time.  Of course, there are 27 comments already; some for (most) and some against (few) so jump in and either cast your own pundits or plaudits.  Me?  I liked all of them.  Which is why I'm writing this silly blog about some else's blog.  :-)


Benchmarks Summer/Fall 2012


OK, we're off and running again on benchmarks.  CLIPS, Jess, OPSJ and Sparkling Logic are in the running since they have agreed to provide their programs to run on my machine; a Dell i7 with 12GB of RAM, a 7200rpm 1TB HD and a wonderful graphics board.   Oh, and a 32" High Resolution monitor that can display anything that I throw at it.

Anyway, now the technical part.  The first hurdle will be WaltzDB-16 that will build 16 3-D boxes from a series of random lines generated from another program.  After that will come the more cumbersome WaltzDB-200, WaltzDB-400 and WaltzDB-600.  All of these will have to be written and run for a specific rulebase.  CLIPS, Jess, OPSJ and Sparkling Logic have been done for DB-16 and DB-200 and published for OPSJ in InfoWorld as the introduction for Rete-NT some time ago.  Drools DB-16 was written some time ago but I haven't checked it for accuracy yet since it seems to run inordinately fast and doesn't fire the same number of rules as other rule engines.   I've been told that WaltzDB-16 was written for ILOG JRules but we don't have a copy here.

However, I'm going to re-write the benchmarks so that I don't use the number of rules as the acid test that it actually ran correctly.  Rather, it will check that it built the 16 boxes correctly for WaltzDB-16, 200 boxes for WaltzDB-200, etc.  The 36 or 37 rules are absolutely non-trivial rules and should prove to be a good starting point for testing any rulebase.  I'll have to get FICO to provide me with Blaze Advisor as well as get IBM to provide me with a valid copy of JRules rather than that silly sandbox that they now provide. 

Also, I would like to run Open Rules, Drools, and some others (they do provide their engines) as well as the code for the WaltzDB-16, 200, 400, 600.  I can check the code but I refuse to write the code for all of the engines in the world.  These tests will more than stress the ability of the engines to run large, complex problems.

After that, Mark Proctor of Drools (Red Hat) suggested that we have a 1K, 5K and 10K rule set with  sufficiently large data set to test what he and others call "real world" problems.  I have no issue with this approach but I do no have such a test suite and, to my knowledge, neither does anyone else.  Or, rather, no one has offered to provide one for testing purposes.  I'm sure that there are many of them out there and I have seen them but they usually exist at some customer's site and are not for publication.  I do have one that maybe I can use later but it will be 2013 before I can get around to producing a general purpose rulebase with all of the proprietary information removed from both the rules and data.

So, let me know if your company would like to participate and, if so, send me a working version of the engine and a 12-month license and we'll get cranking.  Also, I will need a technical contact person at the company for help should something go bottoms up.  :-)


Beware "The Cloud"


Today everyone seems enamored of "The Cloud."  Don Adams of Tibco recently blogged about this at when he had the audacity to say that there is a possibility that "The Cloud" is not secure.  THANK YOU, DON!!  This is what I have been saying for six months now!  I don't want my software running on YOUR servers somewhere (who knows where?) and controlled by (who knows who?) and subject to backups (what and when) and subject to security attacks of all kinds. 

Sorry - I don't want to have to go to your company to inspect every month and examine all of your security and backup procedures when I'm already doing that very same thing for my own servers.  Why not just do this ONCE at my own place of business and not have to worry about YOUR security, YOUR network lag, YOUR performance problems when your other customers are crunching up the CPU time that I need for my customers.  Nope, I want MY software on MY machines where I can control everything myself.

Any bank, insurance company, stock brokerage or other financial firm that allows their software to reside and have their data to travel across "The Cloud" is insane.  Keep your data and software at home under your own control.  If some miscreant breaks in (meaning you were using Windoze rather than Unix servers) then you are at fault, not the company managing "The Cloud" software. 

Besides, real data security never allows itself on the internet in the first place, right?  Of course, right!!  You would keep your data and access off the internet and run them securely only within a tight, on-site environment.  Difficult?  Darned right it is!  But it's the only way to be 100% secure and 100% sure that there are no outside hackers.  Inside hackers?  Well, that's another problem for another article at another date.  :-)


Tuesday, April 24, 2012



OK, this is a blog to grouse about the world in general but somebody has to say something!
  • Golf Tournaments have all been renamed from their founders to some fancy company name.  It's like the founders just passed into the sunset and we can now forget about them and focus only on the big company.  Hey!  The guys who founded this thing should STILL be honored and remembered that they were the ones who started this blooming thing - not the fancy-schamcy company with the big bucks who can afford to buy out the little guys.
  • The Bing Crosby ProAm Clambake => AT&T Pebble Beach ProAm. Not only that but they keep running the same stupid commercial with the same two slackers "that is so seven seconds ago" over and over and over.
  • Jackie Gleason Inverrary => The Honda Classic
  • Dean Martin / Joe Garagiola Tuscon Open => defunct
  • Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open => Travelers Championship
  • Bob Hope Desert Classic => Humana Challenge
  • Andy Williams Sandiego Open => Farmers Insurance Open
  • Glen Campbell Los Angeles Open => Northern Trust Open
  • Danny Thomas Memphis Classic => FedEx St. Jude Classic
  • Ed McMahon - Jaycees Quad City Open => John Deere Open
  • The world is facing a nuclear war with Iran that nobody is talking about
  • We have a bus-sized meteor headed our way that will pass between us and the moon (hopefully) sometime in December - more coming in a few years so if that one doesn't get maybe one of the others will.
  • Greeks are throwing Molotov cocktails at the police because they don't want to work
  • The Syrian population has been begging the USA and the Arab League for months for help against an evil dictator who is slaughtering his own people - for six months everyone just watches and watches while he kills more and more with the help of the Russian government
  • The USA is going deeper into debt and the depression is deepening and nobody blames the President for any of it.  
  • Our President still bows to the Arabs and Nicaragua while denying Canadian oil after promising that he would cut off the evil oil barons of the east and South America when he was running for the office of President.
  • We have an oil glut in the USA that came from our ground that Exxon/Mobile and others are selling on the international market at ridiculous prices and at our own oil pumps
  • Israel and Iran are killing each others diplomats and soon we will have WW III
  • The news shows during the day (and evening a few weeks ago) were mostly tied up with details about the accidental drowning of a singer. Now I loved Whitney Houston. I have only 15 or 20 Direct Disks vinyl recordings that I bought when I was a starving student in the 70's and one of them is hers. But we need to get a grip and face the bigger issues in the world.
  •  Every day this week we see more about the fiasco in Columbia with the Secret Service
  • Every day this week we see more details about nothing that leads me to believe that we don't have decent news to report so they have to run something and they can only rehash old news just like they rehash old movies.
Well, I've done my grousing so I'm going back to the reality of my programming.  It seems that the last place that I have for truth is my own silly computer that does exactly what I told it to do and not necessarily what I wanted it to do.

So, in conclusion, keep the faith, be strong, protect the widows and orphans and screw the politicians and big business companies to the proverbial wall for all of their lies and false promises.  Especially Exxon/Mobile and President Obama.  (This is not a political message, just a personal opinion)

(updated 25 April 2012 1715hrs)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gatekeepers to my Clients


Yes, it's been a while since I've written anything of anything of any consequence lately. But something has been bugging me of late - the "gatekeepers", those hired by increasingly indolent HR personnel whose first question, without having read my CV, is "What is your lowest all-inclusive rate?" and their second question is immediately, "Is there any room for negotiation there since that seems a little high for this position?" Now, remember, these gatekeepers are keeping about 40% or more for themselves when they used to keep only 5% (this was 10 years ago when Maxim and TekSystems were the "biggies") of the payout from the client.

Also, in the "Golden Days of the Programmers and Designers" the real recruiters actually screened the potential candidates rather than being "body shops" and they delivered actual workers who could deliver "the goods" for the clients. Today, what gets delivered to the client just happens to be a cousin or an uncle from the gatekeepers village or home town who can spell Java or BRMS that gets the chance to get the job. And all that the person has to do is to know a few "buzz words" to impress the poor manager that has to hire "someone to fill a slot."

The "real deal" guys who have devoted their lives to the industry to learning the technology for 10 or 20 years? Well, you don't stand a chance. First, you cost too much; or so the "gatekeepers" say. Secondly your rate has to be "all-inclusive" at $60 per hour. $60 per hour when it costs about $35 to $45 per hour to fly in and out of town every three weeks (not weekly like 10 years ago) rent a car by the month, rent a room by the month, pay for food and incidentals, pay for laundry and/or dry cleaning because you are there for a month at a time, etc, etc. That leaves the worker bee (you) clearing about $20 to $30 per hour (before taxes) working out of town when you could stay home and make $70 per hour (or much more) working for a local company if you are in a town like Dallas, Atlanta, San Francisco, San Diego, NYC, etc.

My advice? Set up your OWN corporation - it can be done for about $200 or less. Hire a CPA (about $500 per year or so - and they will save you way more than that) to be sure that everything is OK with the IRS and local government agencies. Stay the heck away from Dice, Monster, and other major head hunter swamps. Now, just network with your friends and the major companies that you used to work with in the past; let them know that you are still available and maybe at a lower rate than before since you can now work direct rather than going through head hunters. Work with a GOOD local designer and make up some GREAT brochures that tell an HR and an IT guy what you can do for them. Make some cold calls on major local Fortune-500 companies and leave lots of those brochures and business cards around. Work with HR and get your company on the "Approved Vendor" list. (You might have to take someone from HR to a nice place for lunch a time or two but it will be worth it in the long run.) Be your own boss and forget about the "gatekeepers" who take all of the profit out of a job and do absolutely nothing in return for that small fortune except send for more relatives to employ more gatekeepers!

Oh, one other thing: If at all possible, make sure that you can do training for their personnel on whatever subject you are going to work, whether Java, C#, C++, Unix, BRMS, whatever... That will really impress them. Be sure to have the training materials, programs and software; they'll have the rooms and laptops.