technology from back to front

Archive for August, 2007

Invitation to AMQP and RabbitMQ Birds of a Feather session

I am guest blogging here on behalf of CohesiveFT. We work with the excellent LShift team on our joint venture, RabbitMQ.

I’m here to invite you to a Birds of a Feather session this coming Thursday, August 30th, at 8pm, in central London. It is FREE and will last for 45 minutes starting at 8pm, followed by the traditional breakout discussions over a beer.
Please do take a look at RabbitMQ if you have not yet done so. It’s a commercial open source product, available under the MPL 1.1 and implementing the Advanced Message Queue Protocol. AMQP is a new way to do business messaging (ie: “what goes in, must come out“). What’s really cool is that like HTTP it is a protocol instead of a language specific API. This should make interoperability between platforms much easier and less painful (business readers: “systems integration projects take less time and success can be predicted more accurately”). For more information, please see my list of links here.

What is the BOF about – and why come? It’s an informal session about RabbitMQ and AMQP, and how they apply within popular environments such as Spring, Mule, Ruby, AJAX, and other messaging protocols such as FIX.

“Informal” means we’ll be encouraging a conversation between people interested in any of these things. We want to hear from you, and from each other, rather than pushing slideware at people.

Come if you want to:

* Meet the RabbitMQ team and hear about AMQP and its implementation
* Meet Neil Harris and Damian Raffell from MuleSource
* Meet Ben Hale from Interface21, makers of the Spring Framework
* Meet other end users of these technologies, and people from the AMQP Working Group
* Talk about what you want from these products and how they might work together
* See demos of these products working together on Amazon’s EC2 Cloud using CohesiveFT Elastic Server

Details of the BOF here: Ideally we ask you to register via the web site, but late arrivals are very welcome – if you turn up, we shall get you in. The BOF is offered as part of the popular EJUG series of tech talks and as a tie-in with the most excellent No Fluff Just Stuffconference.

If you cannot come but want to know more about any of these things then you can email us at

Thank-you very much – and we hope to see you on Thursday :-)

Posted by Chris on behalf of Alexis Richardson, CohesiveFT.


Squeak and OpenEmbedded

Neo1973 running Squeak VM 3.9
Recently, I’ve been getting interested in getting Squeak running on smaller pieces of hardware, such as cellphones or PDAs. Last week I received my FIC Neo1973 open-source GSM cellphone, which runs a system based on OpenEmbedded called OpenMoko.

I’ve managed to get the system compiled and running both in emulation and on the phone itself, and I’ve added support for building Squeak VM 3.9-8 to the base OpenEmbedded packages. It took a little while, but I’ve managed to get past the cross-compilation (libtool) and plugin-loading (-rdynamic) hurdles, and I’m pleased to report that everything is working well. Squeak images old (2.8) and new (3.9-final) run fine.

Here’s a (blurry) picture of the latest Squeak VM, version 3.9, running a tiny, stripped 2.8 image on the handset itself: Squeak on the Neo1973.

The next steps will be to use OSProcess and Flow to access the various bits of hardware jammed into the Neo (GSM modem, GPS, Bluetooth, touchscreen, audio, battery, auxiliary buttons, headset connection/mute-button events, etc), and to use something like Faure (screenshots) to construct a stylus- or finger-driven UI.

The Neo hardware is amazing – the display is VGA resolution at a crisp 285dpi, only slightly lower than a low-end laser printer, which opens up a lot of options for UI design – and the kernel programmers have done a great job of the kernel/userland interfaces.

Update: I’ve added an issue to OpenEmbedded’s bug tracker, to see if they would like to fold my build scripts into the main trunk. You can follow the discussion here:

Here’s a link to the squeak-x bitbake scripts, for those who would like to try it out in the meantime.


If I Read History Aright

I just re-read Merrill Chapman’s highly readable “In Search of Stupidity”, an encyclopedia of high-tech bungling from Silicon Valley. As the title suggests, the book is partly a counterpunch to management bestseller “In Search of Excellence”, and its main theme a cheeky mirror image of Tom Peters’ focus on corporate culture and efficiency.

Chapman advises technology companies to concentrate instead on “avoiding the icebergs”. He singles out Microsoft as a company which has been remarkably successful at doing this. In the ensuing case studies, he bolsters his viewpoint, which almost counts as a theory of history. Each cautionary tale stars a company which threw away a commanding market position with one single, fatal mistake.

The book is engaging because of its theme that giants stumble, puncturing all the slick marketing and apparently infallible corporate master plans with often devastating accuracy. No one is immune: Microsoft fail to notice the rise of the Internet, Intel try to gloss over critical flaws in their flagship processor, IBM plough billions into the doomed OS/2.

In this vein, Chapman dissects the pretensions and pratfalls of Lotus, Borland, and others who once rode tall, taking the launch of the IBM PC as his starting point. Tellingly, some of the company names are already unfamiliar: Ashton-Tate and MicroPro, who are you?

The style is occasionally annoying. Chapman uses a particularly laboured analogy with Civil War-era stagecoaches to tell the story of 1980s microcomputing. By contrast, his account of Microsoft’s marketing strategy strikes an almost mystical note, and suggests a diabolical cunning worthy of Sun Tzu.

For me the interesting comparison is with real history. In this context, the “great mistake” theory seems inadequate, an oversimplification of things. Even so, Chapman is probably right to see it as a more lasting management nostrum than the Tom Peters version.

I note with interest that Chapman’s book now has an updated second edition, no doubt applying the same insider knowledge to the likes of Yahoo, eBay and Google.




You are currently browsing the LShift Ltd. blog archives for August, 2007.



2000-14 LShift Ltd, 1st Floor, Hoxton Point, 6 Rufus Street, London, N1 6PE, UK+44 (0)20 7729 7060   Contact us