Bizcamp Dublin is tomorrow … see you there

Really looking forward to Bizcamp tomorrow in the Guinness Storehouse Dublin.  5 Streams of 8 Sessions each = 40 Top speakers, not to mention the buzz of meeting 500 people in the business and technology areas. And it’s free (thanks to a word from the sponsors … )

Bizcamp

Want to say a big thank you for the guys who did all the hard work in putting the camp together. Keith, Emily, Alan and Jason, do ye not have a business to run as well?!

Key people that I’m looking forward to hearing are the two EI guys (David is talking at 11.30 about Business plan mistakes and Gerard’s on at 15.30 about how your startup should approach EI for the first time). I’m also looking forward to seeing Ciara talk about personal productivity (10am), Ronan about Microsoft Bizspark (10.45),  Justin talking about Service (14.45) and Steve talking about Software as a Service (16.15).

Talk to you there!

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Opportunities in the New Software Economy – Event Cork , Dublin and Galway

This event may be of interest if you’re about in Cork , Galway or Dublin on the 8th to 10th of Sept. (Disclosure – event is linked to my day job, but I would recommend it even if it were not).

Enterprise Ireland in association with IT@Cork, ITAG and ISA would like to invite you to a seminar entitled Opportunities in The New Software Economy’. These seminars will be held in Cork (Sept 8), Galway (Sept 9) and Dublin (Sept 10).

The New Software Economy is driven by the growth of the Internet and changes in the software value chain. It is underpinned by new technologies such as Open Source, Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), Cloud Computing, Semantic Web and Web 2.0. It is characterised by demand for greater flexibility, global delivery and cost effective solutions. Partnerships and collaborations predominate. Learn more about the New Software Economy

This seminar will give you the opportunity to network with key stake holders in the software industry in your region from different sections of the ecosystem: – SME, multinational companies, financial sector, public sector and academia.

Additionally, the seminar will provide insights from key thought leaders on the important topics at the forefront of the New Software Economy.

The speaker line-up will include:-

Chris Hofmann, Director of Engineering, Mozilla Foundation

Fergus Gloster, former VP of Business Development, Salesforce.com

Joe Drumgoole, CEO, Putplace.com

Date

Location

Venue

Time

Sept 8th 2009

Cork

Webworks, Cork

10.30 am– 1 pm

Register Here

Sept 9th 2009

Galway

Webworks, Galway

10.30 am – 1 pm

Register Here

Sept 10th 2009

Dublin

Radisson, Golden Lane

10.30 am – 1 pm

Register Here

Seminar cost:  Admission is €50 and will include tea/coffee on arrival and tea/coffee/sandwiches on conclusion

The full amount of €50 per person is due on registration. Spaces are limited and allocated on a first come first served basis.


Cancellation Policy

No refunds will be issued on cancellation, however if a registered participant cannot attend the seminar, he/she may nominate a substitute. Cancellations or substitutions must be notified by email to tina.cahill@enterprise-ireland.com.

Invoicing Policy

A sales order acknowledgement will be issued to you on receipt of your registration form. Invoices will be issued after the event has taken place.

Methods of payment

Payment can be made online by credit card.

My First Book Published – Business Rules with JBoss Drools

The guys over at the official Drools blog beat me to the announcement, as I was waiting for it to published on Amazon, but now that it has, I’m happy to announce that after 12 months of pushing and shoving, I’ve finally got my first book , on Business rules and Workflow, out the door.

What, you’re still here? Well if it takes a bit more to convince you to buy it, here’s the info on the Business Rules and Workflow book direct from the publishers (Packt) own site. If you can’t wait, and want to dive right in, the code samples from the book are available on the Red Piranha 2 website.

JBoss Drools Business Rules
JBoss Drools Business Rules Capture, automate, and reuse your business processes in a clear English language that your computer can understand.

  • An easy-to-understand JBoss Drools business rules tutorial for non-programmers
  • Automate your business processes such as order processing, supply management, staff activity, and more
  • Prototype, test, and implement workflows by themselves using business rules that are simple statements written in an English-like language
  • Discover advanced features of Drools to write clear business rules that execute quickly
  • For confident users of Excel or other business software, this book is everything you need to learn JBoss Drools business rules and successfully automate your business.


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Sample Chapter 4 Guided Rules with the Guvnor [2.0 MB]
Table of Contents
Book Details

Language English
Paperback 305 pages [191mm x 235mm]
Release date April 2009
ISBN 1847196063
ISBN 13 978-1-847196-06-4
Author(s) Paul Browne
Topics and Technologies Open Source, Java


A comprehensive, practical guide for business analysts and non-programmers to harnessing JBoss Drools Business Rules in your organization

In Detail

In business, a lot of actions are trigged by rules: “Order more ice cream when the stock is below 100 units and temperature is above 25° C”, “Approve credit card application when the credit background check is OK, past relationship with the customer is profitable, and identity is confirmed”, and so on. Traditional computer programming languages make it difficult to translate this “natural language” into a software program. But JBoss Rules (also known as Drools) enables anybody with basic IT skills and an understanding of the business to turn statements such as these into running computer code.

This book will teach you to specify business rules using JBoss Drools, and then put them into action in your business. You will be able to create rules that trigger actions and decisions, based on data that comes from a variety of sources and departments right across your business. Regardless of the size of your business, you can make your processes more effective and manageable by adopting JBoss Rules.

Banks use business rules to process your mortgage (home loan) application, and to manage the process through each step (initial indication of amount available, actual application, approval of the total according to strict rules regarding the amount of income, house value, previous repayment record, swapping title deeds, and so on).

Countries such as Australia apply business rules to visa applications (when you want to go and live there)—you get points for your age, whether you have a degree or masters, your occupation, any family members in the country, and a variety of other factors.

Supermarkets apply business rules to what stock they should have on their shelves and where—this depends upon analyzing factors such as how much shelf space there is, what location the supermarket is in, what people have bought the week before, the weather forecast for next week (for example, ice cream in hot weather), and what discounts the manufacturers are giving.

This book shows how you can use similar rules and processes in your business or organization. It begins with a detailed, clear explanation of business rules and how JBoss Rules supports them.

You will then see how to install and get to grips with the essential software required to use JBoss Rules. Once you have mastered the basic tools, you will learn how to build practical and effective of the business rule systems.

The book provides clear explanations of business rule jargon. You will learn how to work with Decision Tables, Domain-Specifi c Languages (DSL)s, the Guvnor and JBoss Integrated Development Environment (IDE), workflow and much more.

By the end of the book you will know exactly how to harness the power of JBoss Rules in your business.
Read the full Table of Contents for JBoss Drools Business Rules

What you will learn from this book

  • Understand the basics of business rules and JBoss rules with minimal effort
  • Install the required software easily and learn to use the Guvnor, which is a user-friendly web editor that’s also powerful enough to test our rules as we write them
  • Learn to write sophisticated rules and import the fact model into the Guvnor and then build a guided rule around it, which makes your web pages a lot clearer
  • Gain complete knowledge of what we can do with the Guvnor rule editor, and then use the JBoss IDE as an even more powerful way of writing rules, and automate processes for discounts, orders, sales, and more
  • Know the structure of the rule file through the example of a shipping schedule, which will help you with your own shipping schedule
  • Test your rules not only in the Guvnor, but also using FIT for rule testing against requirements documents; run unit tests using JUnit for error-free rules and interruption-free services
  • Specifically, non-developers can work with Excel spreadsheets as a fact model to develop business processes without learning any other new technology
  • Work with DSLs (Domain-Specific Languages) and rule flow to make writing rules easy; which makes staff training quicker and your working life easier
  • Deploy your business rules to the real world, which completes your project successfully, and combine this into a web project using the framework of your choice to provide better services
  • Benefit from concepts such as truth maintenance, conflict resolution, pattern matching rules agenda, and the Rete algorithm to provide advanced and faster business systems so that staff efficiency is maximized

Chapter 1, Drooling over JBoss Rules. This chapter gives you a good platform to understand business rules and JBoss rules. We look at the problems that you might have (and why you’re probably reading this book). We look at what business rule engines are, and how they evaluate business rules that appear very simple and how they become powerful when multiple rules are combined.

Chapter 2, Getting the software, deals with installation. This chapter explains setting up Java, setting up Business Rule Management System (BRMS)/Guvnor running on the JBoss App Server, setting up Eclipse, and installing the Drools Plug-in. It also details the installation of the Drools examples for this book and the Maven to build them.

Chapter 3, Meet the Guvnor, deals with writing our rules using the ‘Guvnor’. Guvnor is the user-friendly web editor that’s also powerful enough to test our rules as we write them. We take up an example to make things easier. Then we look at the various Guvnor screens, and see that it can not only write rules (using both guided and advanced editors), but that it can also organize rules and other assets in packages, and also allow us to test and deploy those packages. Finally, we write our very first business rule—the traditional ‘Hello World’ message announcing to everyone that we are now business rule authors.

Chapter 4, Guided Rules with the Guvnor. This chapter shows how to use the Guvnor rule editor to write some more sophisticated rules. It also shows how to get information in and out of our rules, and demonstrates how to create the fact model needed to do this. We import our new fact model into the Guvnor and then build a guided rule around it. Finally we test our rule as a way of making sure that it runs correctly.

Chapter 5, From Guvnor to JBoss IDE. This chapter pushes the boundries of what we can do with the Guvnor rule editor, and then brings in the JBoss IDE as an even more powerful way of writing rules. We start by using variables in our rules example. Then we discuss rule attributes (such as salience) to stop our rules from making changes that cause them to fi re again and again. After testing this successfully, we look at text-based rules, in both the Guvnor and the JBoss IDE, for running ‘Hello World’ in the new environment.

Chapter 6, More Rules in the jBoss IDE. This chapter looks again at the structure of a rule fi le. At the end of this chapter, we look at some more advanced rules that we can write and run in the IDE.

Chapter 7, Testing your Rules. This chapter explains how testing is not a standalone activity, but part of an ongoing cycle. In this chapter we see how to test our rules, not only in the Guvnor, but also using FIT for rule testing against requirements documents. This chapter also explains Unit Testing using JUnit.

Chapter 8, Data in Excel, Rules in Excel. This chapter explains how to use Excel Spreadsheets (cells and ranges) as our fact model to hold information, instead of the write-your-own-JavaBean approach we took earlier. Then we use Excel spreadsheets to hold Decision tables, to make repetitive rules easier to write.

Chapter 9, Domain-Specific Languages [DSL] and rule flow. This chapter aims to make our rules both easier to use, and more powerful. We start with DSLs—Domain-Specifi c Languages. This chapter follows on from the ‘easy to write rules’ theme from the previous chapter and also discusses both ruleflow and workflow. It would be great to draw a workfl ow diagram to see/control what (groups of) rules should fi re and when. Rule flow gives us this sort of control.

Chapter 10, Deploying rules in real life. This chapter shows you how to deploy your business rules into the real world. We look at the pieces that make up an entire web application, and where rules fit into it. We see the various options to deploy rules as part of our application, and the team involved in doing so. Once they are deployed, we look at the code that would load and run the rules—both home-grown and using the standard RuleAgent. Finally we see how to combine this into a web project using the framework of your choice.

Chapter 11, Peeking under the covers. This chapter looks at what happens under the cover by opening up the internals of the Drools rule engine to understand concepts such as truth maintenance, confl ict resolution, pattern matching, and the rules agenda. In this chapter, we explore the Rete algorithm and discuss why it makes rules run faster than most comparable business logic. Finally we see the working memory audit log and the rules debug capabilities of the Drools IDE.

Chapter 12, Other Drools features. This chapter deals with the other advanced Drools features that have not yet been covered. This includes Smooks to bulk load data, Complex Event Processing, and Drools solver to provide solutions where traditional techniques would take too long.

Approach

This book takes a practical approach, with step-by-step instructions. It doesn’t hesitate to talk about the technologies, but takes time to explain them (to an Excel power-user level). There is a good use of graphics and code where necessary.

Who this book is written for

If you are a business analyst – somebody involved with enterprise IT but at a high level, understanding problems and planning solutions, rather than coding in-depth implementations – then this book is for you.

If you are a business user who needs to write rules, or a technical person who needs to support rules, this book is for you.

If you are looking for an introduction to rule engine technology, this book will satisfy your needs.

If you are a business user and want to write rules using Guvnor/JBoss IDE, this book will be suitable for you.

This book will also suit your need if you are a business user and want to understand what Drools can do and how it works, but would rather leave the implementation to a developer.


Author(s)

Paul Browne
Paul Browne’s first job was selling computers in France and things went steadily downhill from there. He spent millons on behalf of a UK telephone company’s procurement department and implemented direct marketing for a well-known Texan computer maker before joining the IT department of a company that builds bright red tractors and other seriously cool machines.

Paul then embraced his techie side (he was writing games in machine code from the age of 11) and started a consultancy that used IT to solve business problems for companies in the financial and public sectors in Ireland, UK , Belgium, and New Zealand. Eight years later, he now works with an Irish government agency that helps similar software companies to grow past their initial teething pains.

More formally, Paul has a bachelor’s degree in Business and French from the University of Ulster, a master’s degree in Advanced Software from UCD Dublin, a post-grad qualification in Procurement from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (UK), and will someday complete his ACCA financial exams.

Paul can be found on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulbrowne , and via the Red Piranha (Business knowledge) project at http://code.google.com/p/red-piranha/ .

Why corporates should blog – reason one (of many)

I recently got into a conversation about corporate blogging. The sort of conversation that starts with ‘what is a blog?’ and ends with ‘it’ll never work here’. And, as always, the killer argument for corporate blogging popped into my head 5 minutes too late.

A tractor in a field yesterday

Many years ago, I used to work for Case, the company that builds big red tractors. It was great work, especially as people understood what you did – none of this ‘I work in computers’ malarchy. Only problem was that we were working in Navan Ireland, with most of our colleagues based in Racine, just north of Chicago.

Not too much of a problem for the first 15 or so people – people who worked out of Chicago for the first 4 or 5 months. We were able to build up personal relationships with a colleagues. We could ask later ‘how are the kids?’ or ‘are you still playing football?’. Small things, but make the real work discussions a lot easier.

The problem came with employees 15-100 – the ones that didn’t spend any amount of time in the US. Technically great people, but didn’t ‘click’ in the same way with Chicago. As a result, small misunderstandings became big misunderstandings, and projects got delayed.

And that’s where corporate blogging comes in. It allows people in far flung offices to connect. Doesn’t matter what you blog about – personal life, or some small project that’s happening in your local office. Chances are somebody else in the company will pick up on it and vital connections will be made.

And if you’re in the market for a big red tractor, click on the photo above. 125 BHP, Diesel Engine, a bargain at 16,500 Euro.

You know the Irish Economy is hurting when …

You know the Irish Economy is hurting when Sainsbury’s Supermarket in Newry (in Northern Ireland) has to close it’s doors at 7.30pm on a Saturday due to too many shoppers from the south trying to get in.

For those of you that don’t understand the above line: It’s unusual for an island as small as Ireland to be blessed / cursed with an international border running through the middle. Bad for politics , good for shoppers as it’s much cheaper to travel from the southern part (in the Euro zone) to the northern bit (where they use Sterling) to save up to half on your weekly grocery bill.

Travel to Sainsbury’s supermarket in Newry on the last Saturday before Christmas and you’ll see something just short of a riot as southern punters fight over the last bottle of (cheap) beer. But they’ve never closed the door due to too many people before – which is what happened last Saturday evening. Even more unusual in that June / July are normally very quiet months for shopping in the North.

Now discuss (in less than 100 words): Did this happen because …

  1. Irish people are fed up with rip off prices in Dublin and are finally voting with their feet?
  2. There’s a lot of hidden pain out there – people with no money but desperate to ‘keep up appearances’?
  3. Both of the above

Which of these people is going to win the 'Best Irish Business Blogger' Award?

Did we mention that FirstPartners is sponsoring the Best Business Blog award? As a taster, here are the profiles of the 13 people short listed for the award. Who will we be giving the prize to? Come along on the 1st of March , Alexander Hotel, Dublin to find out.

MaryRose Lyons Brightspark Consulting
Brightspark is a Dublin web design and internet marketing agency, run by Maryrose Lyons who has been blogging since 2003. So she probably knows what she is talking about. Maryrose doesn’t pull her punches (read her blog to find out who she called ‘a shambles’) and is recommended to people dipping their toes in the world of business blogging.
Bubble Brothers
The tagline to this blog pretty much sums it up : ‘Wine, Champagne , more’. These Cork Wine Merchants ooze sophistication, even when they branch out from wine to talk about pancakes, pizza and the Bridgestone pick of 2008. All on the one page. They’ll even sell you some of their stuff if you ask nicely.
Pat Phelan
Cork Based Giant Killer Pat Phelan is out to slay the telecoms monsters. Watch a blow by blow account on the roam4free blog. You’ll never look at your mobile phone bill in the same way again.
Keith Bohanna
Keith’s main job is as part of the Irish Internet Association and creative camp Kilkenny. Or maybe it’s as part of a startup , DB Twang, a site for Guitar enthusiasts Kilkenny Creative Camp. Or maybe it’s teaching other business people to blog. Whichever subject is, Keith covers them well on his site.
Ice Cream Ireland
Ice Cream. In a blog. From Kerry cows. What more do you need to know?
BH Consulting Blog
Brian Honan , one of Ireland’s top Security Consultants , will have you paranoid after reading his blog. And while everybody else except you gets hit by virus, phishing attempts and emails that knock over your PC, you’ll be glad that you listened to him.
The Blacknight Blog
Michele Neylon has been a supporter of the blogging community, since well , before they were called blogs. Michele runs Blacknight hosting based in Carlow. The Blacknight example shows how a company in a ‘commodity’ industry (web hosting) can stand out by showing a human face on their blog(s). At the very least , it shows faith in their quality of service.
O’Conall Street
Conall manages to make business and politics mix. A man who has journeyed from Dublin to Belfast via Spain, the SDLP and the Good Friday Agreement , he is currently head of PR Company Weber Shandwick in Northern Ireland. He’s also a Man United fan, but everybody has to have at least one flaw.
McGarr Solicitors
McGarr solicitors are the first point of call for bloggers in legal distress. The site is very much legal people who blog, rather than just bloggers with a passing interest in the law. The blog provides a lot of useful advice in areas such as Personal Injury, (accidents at work particularly) , Environmental , Planning and Employment Law. And they do the bread and butter buying and selling your house as well. .
Interactions
Annette Clancy is an organisational consultant, coach and psychotherapist. An unusal combination perhaps, but she helps people overcome their ‘stuckness’ and solve business problems. The blog isn’t afraid to venture into uncharted areas such as the role of emotion in the work place.
Worldwide Cycles
One of europes few specialist bike stores run by people who are still competing regularly. Barry, based in Tipperary, explains what those infestations of cyclists are actually doing on our roads. And what cyclists get up to with cans of Lynx. It will make 4×4 drivers think twice before overtaking with only inches to spare.
Fortify Your Oasis
Thinking of changing your job? Read this blog first. Rowan explains how to give your life direction, how to pick , then land the job that fits in with this. And shows you how to preform a graceful exit from the role your are currently in and hate. And he’s written a book about it, showing that bloggers can do ‘real’ writing as well.
Frank Fullard
Mayo based Frank talks about entrepreneurs and the businesses they start. And he’s not afraid to think small, taking a different view from many of the ‘we’re a startup, we’re going to take over the world’ blogs that are out there.