Beware the Blob

The_Blob_poster It’s Halloween season and visions of tombstones and cobwebs are all around us. It’s a season for costumes, pumpkins, haunted houses and hay-rides, as well as a time for seasonally-tinged and pun-inducing blog posts.

In other words, reader beware…
Continue reading →


Semantics – A Conversation Starter

I spent some time the last few weeks engaged in all manner of speaker-to-audience related events, and on both sides of the podium.  Starting out at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia (speaker), then to the MarkLogic World 2014 event (mostly as listener/obsessive tweeter), then over to Salt Lake City for two customer visits (conversations – no podiums there) and finally to London for still more customer visits (with a funny accent – mine according to my UK colleagues). Given MarkLogic’s release last year of MarkLogic Server 7, it is not surprising that the theme of most conversations has been around Semantics since then.

Continue reading →

From Mainframe to NoSQL – Part 2

So last we left off, I had described a scenario where a prospect had asked about how mainframe data (as described by COBOL copybooks) could be ingested into MarkLogic.  I described an approach involving combining Legstar (and its ability to translate copybook descriptions into XSD) with MarkLogic and the MarkLogic Java API.  Because I was using a prospect’s proprietary copybook, I didn’t have sharable samples at the time.  Now, thanks to some custom copybook creation, I finally have something to share that is more concrete. In the last post I also alluded to not only creating a mocked-up copybook but also needing to find an editor that would allow me to work with EBCDIC data.  After searching for something native for Mac, I had a small eureka moment and realized that I could use the same tools that I had used for the EBCDIC to ASCII translation in the first place (i.e. Legstar) to simply go in the other direction.  So instead of editing  things in an EBCDIC editor, I was able to created a quick and dirty conversation program. So in the full example download there will also be a sample program for generating the EBCDIC data.
Continue reading →

From Mainframe to NoSQL – Part 1

Many years ago, I left college armed with a Computer Science degree, a marked-up copy of a first edition K&R, a job offer and full expectation that my freshly minted C skills would soon be honed in the real world (yes plain old C, which was considered new and up-and-coming at the time). Like many things in life however, reality worked out somewhat differently from my plans and I quickly found myself on a project steeped in all things mainframe, including COBOL, CICS and JCL. While I eventually made my way to newer technologies, I spent a fair bit of my early formative professional years writing COBOL code. And while it’s true that at the time I was eager to move on to newer “cooler” things (and eventually did), looking back retrospectively I can’t help but feel thankful for the then-unwanted opportunity and now look back on those years with more than a bit of nostalgia.
Continue reading →

The Mighty Text Box

The text box. It started humbly enough, a simple UI element, a Hello World of graphical widgets that to this day still reminds us that even after the introduction of computer pointing devices, the good old keyboard (including the virtual kind) has maintained an outsized place as an input mechanism.  And while natural language processing (NLP) is still considered the eventual nirvana of human to computer interaction, we by and large rely on text entry as our window into computers and the information world today.
Continue reading →