Archive for October, 2007

Two Lives

It seems that you’ve been living two lives. In one life, you’re Thomas (the other) Otter,
solution architect for a respectable software company.
You have a social security number, pay your taxes, and you… help your good lady carry out the garbage.
The other life is lived in fashion, where you go by the hacker alias "dfof" and are
guilty of finding virtually every computer geek fashion item we have a law for.



photo credit Marilyn Pratt

Handy ICWeb tip

Disclaimer: technical and writing it down here so I can find it next time I need to do this.

Sometimes you need to get a custom controller in the CRM Web Client when you aren’t in the context of a class that has the get_custom_controller method available.

In such circumstances use the following static class and attribute to get to the class.

CL_CRM_IC_SERVICES=>CONTEXTAREA_CONTR->get_custom_controller( ‘nameOfContoller’ ).

SAP Community Day Munich

This year was my first community day. I was invited by James Governor to do a presentation and thus the entry fee was waived.

For me the best part of the community day was getting to know the main players in the community better. There was only 150 or so delegates so there was plenty of opportunity to chat to people without being overwhelmed by a crowd of thousands.

I was able to get to know, for example, Mark Finnern, Mark Yolton better. Not only through their town hall session but also in one on one conversations at the event and at the after party.

The speed networking was also a highlight. The first session was a random session and the second was organised around topics of interest. I had a good CRM chat that included David Terrar, Gregor Wolf and Tobias Trapp.

The breakout sessions were introduced and James was on the warpath to make sure that mine was the first of the Redmonk Track as I was originally scheduled last.

WordPress meets SAP

PhotoCredit Marilyn Pratt

I had prepared some thoughts on how wordpress and sap could get along. I also had a sneaky bonus slide or two to explain how this could be used at sdn to great improve the blogging platform there. A great discussion ensued and there were some take away thoughts. This spilled over to more converstions in the after party.

You can see the whole presentation on SDN or on Craig’s ustream channel. It is 2 parts 1 and 2.To be honest I don’t think I made the point clear enough about if you can be Australian and English and both a PHP and ABAP programmer that it could be ok to put WordPress and SAP together. Still we had some fun and people seemed to enjoy it.

I think my wife is right. After living in the UK for over 6 years I can still sound outragously Australian. Rock on Kath and Kim!

I was a little relieved after presenting and after rehydrating was able to enjoy the rest of the day much more than if I had spoken last.

I was able to learn about the whole flex development from a Redmonk track session with Matthias Zeller. This was augmented by a very quick demo of Flob by Thomas Jung later in the day. As an aside Thomas also contributes to the ‘ABAP Freak Show’ on the SDN Kyte channel.

Both of these was given much more airtime at the adobe hacker night.

The afternoon ended with the town hall session by the two Marks and then we headed out to the after party in central Munich.

Bruce Sterling, who had been with us all day spoke and as you can see from this video it was thought provoking.

The hall was acoustically challenged which did not make for the best environment for communicating visionary ideas.

Later in the evening I was able to chat with some the regulars on SDN, Thomas Jung, Thomas Ritter, Ed Herrmann, Gali, Maya, Thomas Otter and a host of others. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and if you are thinking of attending TechEd next year I would add community day to your addenda.

Enso Release Developer API Prototype

More exciting than news of an investment in a social networking site, Enso have released an API to interact with their humanising software. I reviewed the softwarea little while ago and it is really great. Since that time I have also found Launchy and StrokeIT which both do similar things but slightly different ways.

I definitely don’t have the bandwidth to look into this, as fun as it may seem, but it is a great step forward for them. It is also great to see that you are not limited to python (the language not the British comedians) but anything that can drive an XML-RPC interface.

Good work guys and it is great to note that you have grown the team from 4 to 6.

Enso Beta Products

They also have a great set of beta products: Search, Mapping, TeX markup, Translation, Media Remote…

The SAP Global Media Survey

You may have heard about the Global Media Survey that Shel Israel is conducting on behalf of SAP. It has been well over 60 days from when it was announced but I thought I would roll my own, as many others have, so here goes.

I note he is providing a report at the end of this month. These thoughts may not make it into the survey,  but as part of the searchable internet they will live on.

1. From where you sit in the world, how has social media changed your life? How about the lives of your other family members?

After blogging for about a year I have been invited as a ‘blogger’ to the SAP TechEd event in Munich. To me this is a little suprising and humbling but I am glad that I have been able to make the connection with these people through my blogging. I am looking forward to the event and deepening these connections through serious face time.

( As I revise this after this event I can confirm that many connections have been deepened. It was a great event from many angles and I have a lot more to say about it yet. )

2. From where you sit in the world, how do you think your personal and business lives will change over the next five years? How about for the rest of your family?

This feels like a ‘where are you going to be in five years’ question they ask you in job interviews. Who knows where we are going to be in 5 years. I have my own ideas about where I want my business to be. Gadgets will be smaller and more powerful than ever before but I still think we will have no idea how to keep up.

The best ideas are yet to come. I like the idea that Douglas Adams put forward in that if there was a technology invented in the first 35 years of your life you could probably make a career out of it. In the next 5, 10, 15 years all sorts of things are going to be invented and improved beyond recognition. Who would have thought that 5 years ago I would be blogging?

So who knows what my kids will be into in 5 and 10 years time?

3. What do you feel are the ascending social media tools and which are descending?

While facebook is getting a lot of airtime, I still find linkedIn useful. Twitter is fun. Email is still a functional way to communicate just like the phone and the fax and I don’t think any of them are going to go away. Wiki’s are a great way to collaborate and I use them to work with geographically distributed development teams.

4. The folks at SAP are particularly interested in social media’s impact on the global enterprise as well as small to medium-sized corporations. Do you have any knowledge or advice for them?

Small to medium can be very different if you are a very small business (<5 employees) as opposed to the largest enterprise company in the world. Lets for arguments sake take the Business ByDesign target as the small to medium market.

I think although many more companies could be using social networks and blogging to augment their message and interaction with the market. If they do they may just add to the noise though and they may get tuned out.

How this relates to a company running SAP and how SAP intends to monetize this I have no idea. Are SAP going to launch a web2.0 platform of blogs and wikis? Harmony? We still haven’t seen any plan to release this even though it was mentioned earlier in the year. It would be interesting if SAP entered this space as it is very different to transactional processing.

5. Do you have any interesting case studies of unique uses of social media?

One of the businesses I am involved in makes heavy use of wiki’s for technical documentation and for user help. These tools have made editing our documentation easier and faster. Particularly when some of our team is distributed over the globe.

I would like to use wiki’s more for developing specifications or for proposals. In some of the projects I don’t have the clout to introduce such things but I find a wiki much easier to collaborate that tracking turned on in microsoft word.

6. What social media tools do you use?  Which are your favorites? Why.

I like delicious, and blogging. They are the two keys ones for me. I also twitter a bit. It is mostly about being involved in an ambient conversation. Each of these tools allow me to add something asynchronously to the conversation without having to butt in to make my voice heard. If people listen, great. If they don’t they are not complelled to.

7.  Do you see language as a barrier for  social media?  Will English become the global language of the Internet?  Should it?

English has become the global language of computer programming. That is, most programming language keywords are in English. The rise of social networks will challenge that as I am sure that people will communicate in the language they feel most comfortable in. The SAP Community Network has an English only policy but this has restricted growth in some areas where other languages are primary like in South America. Facebook has had a similar problem in the region and is apparently opening up to other languages.

8.  Are you reading more blogs or less these days? Are you watching more online video or less these days?

I am trying to cut down on stuff in my RSS reader that I routinely ignore. There are not necessarily blogs but rss feeds from forums and other channels that I watch first in RSS. I subscribe to Robert Scoble’s link blog but scan it quickly. There is probably 20 blogs that I could cut back to if I had to. I think my approach will be to triage my rss reader so I have the most important stuff prioritised and the other less import stuff able to be marked as read at will without feeling like I am missing anything.

I find video and audio hard to consume as I have to dedicate time to it much like TV. Blogs and other text services can be scanned much more quickly than other linear services like video and audio casting. This would probably all be different if I owned a small electronic specialist video and audio consuming device. I could then consume as I travelled.

9. What will take over from these social media tools?

There has been some feeling that twittering has surplanted blogging this year. I am not so sure. There are plenty of people that are blogging just as much as earlier in the year. What I am interested in is the next big thing, but I have no idea what that will be. It may well be video.

10. Additional comments?

The participation bar has been lowered with social media tools. Anyone can join in and more people should. Having said that it is an effort to maintain a blog but from my view it is worth it.

Linklove for an email client – Scribe

Matthew Allen, an old friend of mine, who is an incredibly talented programmer who dreams in windows C++ api calls wrote a email client a few years ago. Personally I have never used it, but I do know, given that we worked together for a while and even were in a band together, that Matt knows his stuff.

He was complaining about the lack of google results for ’email client’ these days. So Matt here is some link love. Hope it helps or alternatively humans reading this blog could check out Scribe.

MemeCode – Blog

#include std.disclaimer

There has been some words written recently about the partisanship or otherwise or certain bloggers if they are invited to tradeshows by large companies and have their travel and expenses paid for them.

Well, as I was recently invited to the SAP TechEd conference as a blogger, I thought I would lay out my affiliations for all to see. Yes my flights and part of my accommodation was paid for.

When I was invited to the event by Mark Finnern, I openly asked him (half jokingly) ‘Am I expected to be an SAP Stooge now?’. He laughed and made it quite clear that this was not the case. During the event we caught up to talk about many things one of which was this issue. I made it quite clear to him that although I appreciate the invitation to the event I certainly would not be completely one eyed about SAP. Yes, my company makes most of it revenue by assisting my clients with SAP implementations but if I see something which I think is a little odd I will not hesitate on calling SAP out on it. In my mind that would be like a grain of sand trying to get the beach to change colour but I have been pleasantly surprised how open SAP executives have been when listening to what I have to say.

For that I am thankful and am looking forward to the year ahead and even an invitation to the Berlin TechEd next October.

I have a whole stack of stuff to write up coming out of the conference so hang on to your hat. Hopefully I can get it out before the moment passes.

While we are on the subject of disclaiming I am also a customer of FreeAgentCentral and there is a nice win-win if you sign up from this link. If I am writing about FreeAgentCentral it is because it is great software that is saving many UK contractors time and money in producing their accounts.

Lastly, I am part of a team developing a product called ChurchWorks. Church managment software if you will. If you ever catch me writing about that it is because I am trying to raise it’s profile and make a few sales.

So I hope that lays a few things out in the open. if you have any questions you are always welcome to leave a comment or get in touch.

Back at my desk

Well after a pretty amazing week at SAP TechEd and a nice relaxing weekend in Munich I am back at my desk implementing and customising SAP for my clients.

I am going to be busy as a beaver but I have a stack of blogs queued up in my Microsoft Live Writer trying to get out so hopefully I can find a few moments to bring these to you.

It was great meeting everyone in Munich. It is much nicer to have met the people behind so many urls.

The people I work with …

SAP Gui error message

… have too much time on their hands.

Making a list and checking it twice…

Well I am counting down the days until I am flying over to Munich and there is still a few things I need to do before I get there.

But once I am there I am going to be flat out meeting people and having some great converstations about all sorts of things enterprisey.

Here are just a few of the people I am planning to meet: (in no particular order)

But most of all I am looking forward to meeting the people who I have no connection with yet. I want to meet you and hear your story about what crazy, exciting, revolutionary things you are doing with SAP.

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October 2007

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