Tag Archives: Review

David A. Fisher “An Emergent Perspective on Interoperation in Systems of Systems”

When David A. Fisher wrote this paper in 2006, the hype around Web Services and SOA had just begun. The point that struck me most when reading the executive summary, was that Fisher does not limit his thoughts to technical systems. Instead he accepts the fact that the involved people are also an important part of the equation. This aspect seems to be ignored by most authors and is -in my view- a major reason why many theories seem to be so far from reality.

The paper is more than 60 pages long, so nothing for a quick lunch break reading. However, I recommend reading at least the executive summary. It made me curious enough to schedule special time for the rest of the document.

“The Rough Guide to Scottish Music”

Scottish music is more than just bagpipes. Probably the most well-known band is Runrig, although I sometimes get the impression that they had their greatest success in the 1990s. But the CD I want to recommend today is not from them (although I have some of their stuff and certainly like it).

[amtap amazon:asin=B00000B18Z]

Rather it is a compilation called “The Rough Guide to Scotland”. It’s a nice collection that I first heard while visiting a friend in Cambridge. Unfortunately it sometimes seems to be difficult to buy outside of the UK. Also, be aware that there exist two CDs of that very same name. I refer to the one from 1996, while the other one is from 2003 (no idea how this one is, does anybody know?).

Oh, one more thing to mention: Those who are not from the UK will possibly not realize the pun in the CD’s name. There is a well-known series of travel guides called “The Rough Guide to ….”.

Nicolai M. Josuttis “SOA in Practice”

[amtap amazon:asin=0596529554]

A colleague recommended this book (link to amazon.com and amazon.de) to me and I was not disappointed. On the contrary, this was one of the most interesting IT books I have come across so far. The author is pretty well known in the SOA space and a regular speaker on conferences. He has a lot of real world experience and this shines through. What made the book particularly valuable to me, was that Josuttis points out when something is not black or white but gray and discusses the relevant aspects.

This book is probably not so easy to read for a beginner, but certainly of great value to the more experienced reader. It does not provide checklists or vendor recommendations but focuses on patterns and a good conceptual understanding. It will therefore not become outdated as quickly as many other publications but probably be relevant for a number of years to come.

“Manager Tools” Podcast

My favourite podcast is Manager Tools, that offers an incredible amount of tips and useful background information on many aspects of management. A friend told me about it some 2 years ago and since then I’m hooked. The really cool thing is that all shows have actionable content. They typically last about 30-40 minutes, so I mostly listen to them when I commute to the office.

If you decide to sign in, which is completely free, you get a few additional shows. Believe me, they are worth it! For those that prefer to have some notes to go through and read, there is a professional membership available on a subscription basis. Also, there is a quite active community, so make sure to check out the forums as well.

The History of Commodore

If you spent your teen years in the middle to late 1980s chances are you owned a {en:Commodore 64} home computer (or a C-128 as I did). For those of us that want to re-live these years there is now a chance.

On the Edge: the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore by Brian Bagnall

This book gives a comprehensive description from the early days (when Commodore was mainly in the business of electronic calculators) to the very end. It contains a huge amount of details and you must probably be a bit crazy to read it. Nevertheless I rather enjoyed it and even bought myself a used C-64 while reading it.

“Getting Things Done”

Today I would like to tell you about a very effective way to organize your work. It is the “Getting Things Done” approach from David Allen. Some people argue that due to its simplicity it does not deserve to be called methodology. In my view this is a completely academic argument. On the contrary I would even argue that one of its main success factors is exactly that simplicity.

In a nutshell, whenever a new task comes in, you do one of the following things with it

  • You work on it right away
  • You delegate it to someone else
  • You decide to work on it later
  • You don’t do anything but ignore it

The nice thing is that this approach works very well with emails (most of which represent a task anyway). To make things even easier, there is a nice Outlook Plug-in that automates steps that would need to be carried out manually otherwise. There is also a book describing things in a great more detail.

[amtap amazon:asin=0142000280]
I personally never read more than the first 50 or so pages, because the core principles are so easy that they fit onto a few pages. Perhaps I missed some great points and would like to hear from you if you think so. I did, however, spend a few bucks on the Outlook plug-in which is a great tool.

One tip for the plug-in here: Set up a rule that puts you on CC for every mail that goes out. You can then either have it sitting in your inbox as a reminder. Still better is to treat it just like any other email and create a “Waiting for” task from it, while you wait for a response.

Gause/Weinberg: “Exploring Requirements. Quality Before Design”

[amtap amazon:asin=0932633137]

We probably all know that gathering requirements is not as easy as it may sound. And it’s also pretty clear that the issue is not primarily around technical things but communication and people. I can recommended this book (link to amazon.com and amazon.de) to everyone who is interested in or works in that area.

I came across the book during a project where requirements gathering was a very important aspect. I had certainly done this before on numerous occasions. However, this book greatly increased my insight into the underlying mechanisms, patterns etc.

Restaurant “Fish” in Prague

During a recent trip to Prague a colleague and I ended up in the restaurant Fish next to the Vltava river and quite near to the famous Charles Bridge. This was pure coincidence, since we had decided to just enter the next restaurant that would be “somewhat acceptable”. (It had been a very hot day and we were longing for a good Czech beer.)

We were not disappointed, on the contrary. Having ordered the beer without even looking at the menu, choosing the food was more difficult. We had a (positive) decision problem, because so many things looked really nice. I ended up with a starter (salad with duck breast) and a desert (pear baked with cinnamon honey, vanilla icecream with almonds and chocolate) but without a main course. The salad was nice but the desert was by far the best I ever had. My colleague had a carpaccio of tiger prawns (starter) and some fish as main course. Both were excellent as well.

The service was good but did not match the quality of the food. In terms of price it was certainly not cheap but worth it. So overall I can definitely recommend going there. Here are some logistics (no garantuee that they are correct, sorry):

Restaurant Fish
U Luzickeho seminare 42
Mala Strana, Prague 1
Czech Republic

Opening hours: Daily 11:00-24:00

Public transport

Metro: Malostranska (line A)


For a nice overview on restaurants in Prague try this link

Peter F. Drucker “The Effective Executive”

[amtap amazon:asin=0060833459]

For those of you who have never heard of Peter Drucker, be assured that he is one of the most prominent authors of management literature. Some even say that he invented management as a discipline. In any case he published a number of books and papers, many of which were groundbreaking.

This book (link to amazon.com and amazon.de) is one of the classics in the field of management books. It is timeless and covers the essence of management, which is “How do I get the right things done?”. Although first published in 1967 it took me more than 50 pages to actually realize this. And the only reason was actually that a year in one of the footnotes seemed a bit “old”. But the core messages are still fully valid (perhaps more than ever) after more than 40 years. Yes, some of the examples are a bit outdated and I must admit that I have never heard of some of the companies mentioned. However, I see this as an advantage because it allowed me to focus on the main points and not be distracted by details I had read about a year ago or so.

It is not a book for people who want a checklist. Instead it lays the background and tells the reader how to think and act upon these thoughts. In terms of main blocks it is made up from the following parts:

  • How to manage time
  • What do you want to contribute to the organization?
  • Where and how should I mobilize resources for the best effect?
  • How to set priorities
  • Putting it all together

One final advantage of the book is its length. While many people these days seem to think that at least 300-400 pages are necessary to convey their message, Peter Drucker needs only about 170 pages. So you can read all this great content without spending weeks. And finally, the language doesn’t make things more complicated than necessary. So even for non-native speakers (like myself) it should not be too difficult.

Overall a must-read for anyone who either is or wants to become a manager.