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  def Softwaremaker() :
         return "William Tay", "<Challenging Conventions />"

  knownType_Serialize, about = Softwaremaker()
 

 Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I am very honoured to be invited to present in a prestigious event organized and supported by our Singapore Government (Ministry of Home Affairs - MHA) as well as the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA). It is really an honour to be amongst an elite speaker line-up with some really great security tracks and programs in store.

GovernmentWare 2006 has always been a great event and has been (and still is) evolving towards an improved and better positioning and I am sure this year's event will be significantly different from the previous iterations.

After all those years of speaking on Microsoft technologies from an external vendor's perspective, this will be the first time I am speaking "from the other side". I guess I will know by then how different it will be.

My topic ? No surprise ... It will be in the Electronic Identification (e-ID) track

Title: Federated Identities and the Metasystem
Synopsis:
What are the basis forces driving the concepts of the Identity Metasystem that has the world watching and waiting? How do we plug the missing gaps of the Transactional Internet today? Can we imagine the WWW without passwords one day? How can this be possible and even be more secure and assuring? One of the things people don't know about is how this entire secured infrastructure setup can be extended beyond authentication purposes to include other value-added business functionality.

Hope to see some of you there !

Wednesday, November 08, 2006 11:56:10 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Tuesday, October 31, 2006

    Namecard Spoof BarcodeText Spoof Barcode

    Barcode on MSN Live is really a great idea since none of the card-reader software applications I have come across work very well on my Windows Mobile 5 PDA. It is often very inaccurate when it comes to capturing contact information from the newer-generation namecards, especially those that have a picture image of the bearer as well.

    Go check it out and see my namecard as well as some random text beside it in the barcode images above.

    Tuesday, October 31, 2006 11:56:41 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    I had just broken my own budget this year already (and therefore I am not getting me or anyone anything this coming Christmas) ... Too bad ...

    After rounds of spec'ing and phone calls with my special DELL contact, I officially accepted the quotations ...

    Like I said here, I am going all out this time around as most of my machines had run its 3+ year course and I am getting it all ready for Vista as well as the upcoming Longhorn, or Windows Server 2008, or whatever PLUS the High-Performance Computing (HPC) of Virtualization Technologies (VT), etc.

    So, what kind of goodies did I end up with for being much poorer (even though I got a great deal on DELL for the pricing) ? Here it is - all X64 bit Chips (Core 2 Duo and a Dual-Processor Dual Core XEON Pro)

    Intel Core 2 Duo Inside

    • DELL LATITUDE D620
      CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T7200 2.0 GHZ - Merom Chip
      Integrated 4MB ON-DIE L2 Cache, 667HMZ FSB
      + the works ...

    Intel Dual Core Xeon Pro

    • DELL POWEREDGE SC1430 Server
      CPU: Intel Dual Core XEON Pro 5140 2.33GHZ - Woodcrest Chip X 2 Processors
      4MB L2 cache, 1333MHz FSB
      RAM: 4GB (4 x 1GB) 667MHZ ECC 2R Fully Buffered DIMM (FBD) Memory. Max Support: 16GB FBD
      + the works ...

    OK - Now that I have the metal, now its time to look at some nearby (I dont think I can afford the gas to travel that far ...) banks for a quick heist for the greens.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006 6:15:59 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Sunday, October 15, 2006

    Just been given an invitation to test out the new SoapBox (Beta) on MSN. Therefore, I thought I upload one of my favourite commercial clips here. So far, so usable. Fast and smooth as well. Now it becomes a marketing battle to see who gets the better content and more eye-balls. More importantly, its who that can cannabilizes those eyes-balls that wins and laughs to the bank. As usual - The consumer wins. .


    Video: Tall Person

    Sunday, October 15, 2006 9:21:57 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Friday, October 06, 2006

    So, while waiting for a new turn in my career to start, a couple of motivations spurred me to a 2-weekend-long project which I have completed, more or less.

    It is no surprise I have always been interested in all kinds of distributed technologies and I have always wanted to hack out a interesting prototype based on GPS, Wi-Fi3G and the likes.

    One of the motivations I had is to log events based on the trail I have been or want to go on (on a mountain hike, on a cruise, rafting, sailing, etc). It would be nice to have a map associated with it and pinpoint the locations that we left a trail with an option to leave sticky notes on those markers. With our entire landscape rapidly changing by the day, it is good to capture some good snapshots of where we have been before that landscape changes. This would even be more invaluable with a growing kid in tow so as to strengthen (future) family ties of affinity through nostalgic memorabilia.

    I have a PocketPC running on Windows Mobile 5, which I absolutely love. One of my favourite accessories is this Rikaline GPS 6033 Receiver that usually corrects when I feel (or am) lost. With the advent of greater usability, adoption and availability of some great virtual earth or maps technology such as Google Maps and MSN Virtual Earth, I knew I could have more possibilities.

    Lest you dont know, in Singapore, while GPS Receivers can be bought cheaply and easily, there is a law permitting against the sale of GPS Transmitters without a govt-issued license, for now anyways. This obviously ties back to privacy concerns, which is understandable. However, I dont see how we cannot control the misuse of that if we know the ins-and-outs of this specific technology.

    This is where I decided to spend a few days cooking up this project. I used my favouite modelling tool for this one. No need to pay and install anything, learn a new domain language or any sort of technical or programming notations. In any case, it is only meant for me.

    Glog Modelling

    Basically, what I wanted to do is to write a small piece of PocketPC software that can read GPS data from a COM port that is already communicating with my GPS Receiver. Depending on what kind of network access you have, you can either stream the data to a host server over the Internet or have a mechanism to capture and log those GPS data in a meaningful way (which means not capturing GPS data in NMEA data format) so that we can send the data across when we get connected.

    I always believe a good solution architect needs to have a good grasp of a wide-area of technology breadth. Having experiences with a different variety of technology, solutions and platforms helps to build that.

    For example, while it is so much more cool to do real-time streaming, it is generally not feasible to open up that socket to do this for a period of time on a mobile device. Unless there is some significant breakthrough in mobile cell technology, your PDA will die on you before you even walk for 2 kilometres. And to do some effective real-time streaming, you will probably need 3G access (since you will be walking in wide-open spaces) and that usually sucks out the mojo of your PDA big-time. I think its better to log marker points and then transmit that data in a file when you find yourself a hotspot.

    Having said that, the days of one big giant hotspot with WiMAX will happen very soon for us in Singapore. So, we may find ourselves in always-connected land soon. Then, I have to think about interested people who are paying bandwidth by the bits. The payload of the transmitted file MUST be small. Transmission must be quick and it must be WWW-Firewall friendly (since its likely you won't be doing this in the comfort of your own intranet environment, but most probably through a public security-tight hotspot). Only relevant data need go through Port 80 - That is a key design principle.

    Many people here would think that I would use (W3C) SOAP as a web service to send that data across. I am ONLY looking for a point-to-point scenario, with no interoperability and security in mind for now, so using SOAP (with the extra overheads of the verbosity of its namespaces and angle-brackets) is not a preferred solution for me in this context.

    I would stick with a time-tested architecture for this one - Just using Plain Old XML (POX) and Representation State Transfer (REST).

    Using my-own partially modified version of JW Hedgehog's GPS Reader and a bespoked Window Mobile 5 Form application, I came up with this:

    SWM GPS Reader Transmitter

    I had obviously blanked out my co-ordinates because I treasure my privacy as much as the next person. . You can save the data in 2 ways. One - via a single point marker so that you location will always be current as-is. There is no trail. Two - via an array of point markers. In the latter sense, you can choose to leave a trail.

    Once I press the Send button, an XML Data file is transmitted to my host server POX-style. In this sense, it only transmits when you tell it to. It doesnt transmit on its own. Like I said, it doenst really make sense to do a full streaming transmission (like a transponder) because of mobile cell power capabilities (or lack thereof). Privacy concerns should be subdued here. Some processing would be done at the data host server upon receipt and using Google Maps (Documentation API here), the point markers would be rendered like this on your webpage (WhereWasI.html or something to that effect):

    TestDemo Marker A

    TestDemo Marker B

    I termed this geoBlog (tm). I thought that is really cool. I can capture these snapshots and save them as part of my Glog and keep a memory trail of where I went and what I did. I intend to use this cool project on my cruises, hikes, holidays and vacations soon, especially the one to Alaska, which I hope to be doing soon.

    F * * * * I N G    A W E S O M E ! - if I can say so myself.

    Some of these images can be retrieved over the years over family dinners when the kids have all grown up and the landscape totally changed and I am sure it would bring up some great conversation.

    To the geeks out there, I will make this application free-for-all-to-use. And because this is freeware - dont expect any support, service-level-agreements, warranty or any sorts of guarantee from me.

    I have only tested it via my ETEN-M600 PocketPC. The data host is just a IIS6 Web Server on Windows Server 2003.

    There are 3 parts to this entire solution (More details of the setup can be found here.):

    1. The Windows Mobile 5 Application. You will need to install the .NET Compact Framework 2.0 for this to work, if you havent done so. 
    2. The Host page that receives and processes the data
    3. The WhereAmI page that renders the map.

    Of course, for [2] and [3], you would have to host the service yourself somewhere. I used Classic ASP technology for this. Why ? Because, I only needed to simple single host page to parse the XML coming over and saving it to a file and its easy to set up (no need for any complex IIS setups) if you want to transmit this to your own self-hosted server (for more privacy) if you have sufficient pipes. This is my own example here (anony) and here (auth) or here. (auth). If you would like to add more of your own features and port it to a ASP.NET version, you are more than welcomed to do so and share this with everyone else.

    To the paranoid in us who suspects some kind of secret routing during data transmission, I am neither interested in knowing where you are/went nor do I care. But, for now, I will make the source bits available to you if you request for it. I intend to make the source bits public once I deem it ready. I am still doing some optimization and tweaking around it but it is generally very usable for now. I could think of different features and functionality to add into this but this is supposed to be a weekend long project for me. Nothing more than that. I will let the others decide what they want to do with it.

    In the meantime, I have set up a simple forum here to collect any form of comments / criticisms / feedback / bugs / requests or whatever. Any enhancements, clarifications can be found here as well. Once I have the source bits ready, I will announce the host place for it. In the meantime, if you want the source bits for inspection now, just let me know.

    Have fun geoBlogging (tm) ...

    Friday, October 06, 2006 1:16:07 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Thursday, October 05, 2006

    This little interview I had done with INETA APAC just got published here.

    Up Close with .Net Leaders

    In this issue, we get up close and personal with William Tay (Microsoft Regional Director based in Singapore) to understand what makes him tick and his passions.

    Check out his blog at
    http://www.softwaremaker.net/blog

    William Tay
    Microsoft Regional Director

    MVP (Solutions Architect)

     


     

    1. What are your visions for INETA APAC?
    My vision for INETA APAC is simple. I would like it to be the de-factor facilitator for the birth and co-ordination of usergroups in this region. In addition, I would love for it to add value to the younger usergroups by providing mentorship and guidance to their leaders as well as providing the in-between services to help usergroups grow to reach their potential.


    2. What does being a MSRD mean to you?
    It means being part of a closely-knitted group of independent Microsoft experts and professionals around the world and being that bridge between the product groups in Redmond and the read world.

    3. What do you think will be the next killer application?
    Great question. Surprisingly, I think a non-new application will be the next killer application. With the proliferation of the internet as a platform today, it is key that the mass-consumed killer application must be of a non-intrusive technology and instead work on top of the Internet to bring out its best. Any application/technology that re-invents itself by plugging the current holes as-is today deserves a shot to be the killer application, and it must not be limited to platform of choice. I think Cardspace and the propogation of the Federated Identities and the Metasystem on ALL platforms is my next killer application. If I have my way today - I will kill off all disparate identity systems, especially passwords and all those password minder / digital wallet systems that prey on top of the fact that security and human convenience is, most often, oxymoron to each other. What they are doing is essentially breeding more chaos into a system that wasnt designed for it in the first place. As an analogy, I tend to view it as "Re-arranging the furniture on board an already-doomed Titanic"

    Just like the above, any kind of distributed technology will always catch my attention. Once we get the intrinsics of the plumbings out-of-the-way (which I think may take some more years), I would love to see personal-portable computing. The ideal would be the concept of portable codes embedded in a chip that makes full use of the entire meshgrid infrastructure (again, a few more years to hit mainstream use once the vendors get their act together). With that, you can download your entire desktop workstation to wherever you are by carrying a small chip. There are pieces of it available today - but the entire picture would take some years to piece together.

    4. If you are trapped on an island without network connectivity, what would you like to bring? Who would you like to be on the same island?
    All the books I couldnt read because I have network connectivity ;) And on an deserted island where all dimensions of stimulation is key, there is no one else I would like to bring with except my wife and kid :)

    5. What words of wisdom would you give to fellow user group leaders?
    Stay with that burning passion that brought you there in the first place. If you stay true to that void of any distractions, only good things can result. The journey itself and the people you meet along the way is, most of the time, the ultimate reward itself. That said, do remember that great leaders look ahead of their time and one of the key things they do is to prepare, mentor and groom the next generation.

    Thursday, October 05, 2006 1:19:27 PM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    Red Pill   openquotes.png ... Life is really about moving on.closequotes.png - Oprah Winfrey

    Well, what else can I say ? After going through rounds of remote and local interviews conducted by the MSFT Corp product teams as well as the Microsoft subsidiaries and field offices in Asia Pacific for various opportunities and roles in the past year and going through my very own intensive decision-making process (Yes, I have my own methodologies with Spreadsheets and CheckBoxes), I have made a decision.

    It wasnt at all easy as some of those packages looked really really good and attractive, especially those that require me to uproot me and my family and relocate. It seems the theme is - The further I relocate, the better the package. But I have to look past the bows and the ribbons and see what is at the bottom of the box.

    In the end, I decided to stay home and be with the home team for now. One of the key motivations is that I really have to cut down on my travelling. (which also explains why I cannot be here) While the roles differ a fair bit, I sat down and looked at what I was doing and where I wanted to go. I have been near the front-line for some time (as evident by my post here) but I wasnt measured by front-line numbers. As I sat down comfortably in my seat for some time, I realized I wasnt being challenged enough. I need to learn new skills. I have achieved a lot with my technical ones and there is no doubt that I left a rich legacy behind. This is evident by the emails, requests and engagements I frequently get from Microsoft's customers as well as the Microsoft field offices in APAC (see the evidence of presentations, articles, engagements I have over the past years).

    However, the desire to learn new skills is strong. So what if I can architect, design, code, build and configure ? - but Can I sell ? Can I pitch ? Can I talk to CXOs where and when it matters ? What good is a great software if you cannot convince people to buy and use it. I keep asking myself this all the time. Business issues and dynamics always interest me. New skills and new challenges in new environments always intrigued me. I always believe it is the mark of a great person to see how well he adapts to changes and not by the number of lines he can code in a single minute.

    I decided it is time to put my money where my mouth is. I need hard numbers and I need to be measured by it. I need more technical breadth and I need to learn new business skills. I wanted more time to pursue and learn other technical interests such as Speech Recognition, Location-Based Services, GPS and other Mobile Technologies, Grid/Mesh/P2P Computing, etc and then learn how to pitch them to businesses. Sure, I will miss those technical and evangelistic activities I have been known for in my area of Web Services and related architectures, but I am sure I will build new foundations again and blaze out new trails. And I am also sure all the communities locally and regionally I was helping grow (as a Microsoft Regional Director and Microsoft MVP) has grown and more importantly, more than apt to carry on by itself. All the mechanisms have been put in place and the torches have been passed to very capable hands who can do a lot better job than how I did.

    This blog stays and I will still be blogging about technicalities of software, products, etc. I will still carry on some of my previous activities - albeit of a different depth but more breadth, so look out for new blogging categories. I sure will miss what I have been doing for the past 5 years but isnt that what moving on is all about ?

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006 10:36:59 PM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    Some people are still questioning my thoughts about what's so good about GUI, WCF and such.

    Take a look at http://firstlook.nytimes.com/ and see what I mean. This NY Times Reader appears to be the best Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) app to hit the streets. As iterated by Scott here, it was first available to @nytimes.com and @microsoft.com users and now it is available to all.

    It adapts well to your device and screen resolution and I think Scott pretty much sums it up in his post.

    Sex Visual sells, the more erotic exciting, the better. It is not a debatable statement. In the conferences I have been in, audiences will find a visually-appealing demo much more engaging than one that sells plumbings and gnarly XSD'isms. No, I am not saying one is a better technology than the other. What I am saying is that - Eye candy engages - and that, to me, is half the battle won.

    Most people still dont know and dont want to know what goes at the server-end side of things and all those messy EAI, ESB, AIX, HL7 blah blah adapters, protocols and such and they shouldnt. I am betting that SOAP will become as obscure as TCP/IP one day and that SOAP talks will disappear from mainstream technology conference agendas one day. Have you ever seen talks on HTML or TCP/IP these days ?

    While people will wow at the new programming model of Windows Communication Foundation (WCF, previously - Indigo) and the wonderful separation of technical impediments from business contracts and logic (my demo of Reliable-Messaging in WCF usually drives this point home when I changed the bindings from Http to Tcp to MSMQ without touching a single line of code), the audience will instantly applaud the first vector-graphics, 3D Animation WPF application they see. And they could easily do the most complicated GUI very easily with mimimal .NET code.

    To showcase a wonderful WCF application and what transcends underneath the hood and what goes onto the wire, you would still need a good GUI application to show the listeners, dispatchers, plumbings at work. In many cases, you would want to use WPF to enable that for full effects. (Hey, since they have downloaded the .NET 3.0 runtime, you might as well make the best mileage out if it and use all its components, right ?)

    Well, it looks like my friends VittorioB and CraigM has already gone on that path with their amazing WCF Live Service Trace Viewer. Yes - there is a WPF component in there as well.

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006 12:41:41 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Sunday, September 24, 2006

    In reference to my post here, plus my very early post here, I have always try NOT to be drawn in all the hype, fluff and marketing innuendos designed to drive FUD and irrationality.

    I try to focus on what users really want and that really is all that matters.

    Coincidenally, bu showed me this Foxtrot comic strip today and it looks like Bill Amend has also echoed my exact thoughts.

    Foxtrot and Web 2.0

    Sunday, September 24, 2006 12:43:42 PM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  • I remembered speaking to some people during an architectural review as well as during a "Meet the Experts" Lounge in the just-recently concluded Microsoft TechED Asia 2006 in Malaysia and I made the comment where I said something to this effect:

    openquotes.pngIf I had to re-live my career for the last 3 years with the hindsight of today's technologies, I would NOT have chosen to go down the server technology route with MTS, COM+, WS-*, Web Services Enhancements (WSE), Windows Communication Foundation (WCF, previously - Indigo), I would have chosen GUI and focus on client-side technologies with the benefit of knowing what Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) could bring ...closequotes.png

    Some people asked me what I really meant what I said. I do ... and ... apparently, David Chappell has the same thoughts as me as well.

    Sunday, September 24, 2006 10:14:39 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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