Working for Songhay System ‘Ready State’

I am not a military scientist but I seem to insist that this concept I call ‘ready state’ comes from the military. ‘Ready state’ means that you have worked with your organization and have achieved a certain level of preparation. This level of preparation is ready to handle a certain set of known scenarios. For me this implies that there are (at least) two kinds of work: you work to obtain a certain level of preparation and you work to maintain a certain level of preparation.

I am not a Tibetan monk but I seem to know about this way of suffering called “the suffering of change.” This implies that whenever I use words of permanence like “maintain” I am making myself vulnerable to the suffering of change. Life is about constant change—and any “intelligent grasping” for the illusion of permanence is a recipe for the Blues, baby.

My clever grasping would suggest to any willing to listen that my two kinds of work are worth it. And, in fact, obtaining a realistic ‘ready state’ is a defense against the suffering of change. The delicate, professional, career-orienting move here is to prepare for these ‘known scenarios’ but also be ready to abandon them completely. So, with my Songhay System organization, I have been ‘suffering’ for years working toward reaching a level of preparation in these areas:

  • Building a generic solution (now called ‘GenericWeb’) that generalizes the document-centric Web application. This is largely server-side work in ASP.NET, XSLT and Microsoft SQL Server with a little bit of client-side AJAX/CSS under YUI.
  • Building a generic solution (with no fancy name—so let’s call it ‘Next-Generation Songhay UI’) for displaying content on the Web. This is largely a client-side effort, using AJAX/CSS under YUI, with a little bit of server-side Zend Framework/PHP/XSLT.

These two work areas described with the buzzwords above suggest the following:

  • The Songhay System is using XSLT to render user interfaces (with AJAX). This implies that XML must be used to represent data that “bound” to these interfaces. This further implies that an XSLT/XML “pipeline” had to be built in PHP and .NET.
  • The PHP-based solution described above mentions no database systems. This does not mean that databases (like SQLite) are not being used. What this means to imply is that something other than direct contact with a DBMS is the future here. Yes, we can speak of “cloud computing” but for the humble scale of the Songhay System we can look at a sample of how this ‘next-generation’ UI can connect to a WordPress Blog and pull data from an RSS feed.

Why prepare so much for some theoretical scenarios when you may have to abandon them completely? Well… why be born when you know you are going to die? The essentials of what I am grasping for here in this IT context are these:

  • XML is the preferred way of transporting data across tiers. This preference for XML influences the desire for user interface technologies that support XML-based, declarative, techniques (e.g. XAML, E4X in Flex, XHTML and HTML 5).
  • XML is the preferred way of transporting data across tiers. This preference for XML influences the desire for data management technologies that support XML-based, techniques (e.g. SQL Server 2005 and above).
  • The use of XSLT and certain “good parts” of JavaScript directs my work toward functional programming for purely pragmatic reasons.

So what’s ‘ready’? I think I am ‘close’ to ready-state nirvana. More journal entries to come… Here are some proposed milestones for this journey toward ‘ready state’:

  • An upgrade to my web site will use this ‘next-generation’ UI. This release would be a strong indicator of readiness.
  • New .NET projects from me appearing in or in the “MSDN Code Gallery” would be a strong indicator of readiness.
  • New, formal documentation for all the mess I’m talking here showing up at is definite readiness.

These would-be achievements do not represent something I would impose upon you in order to justify its existence. These achievements represent my personal technology strategy—my proposed expression of sanity amidst crazy worlds of proprietary technologies. It is one thing to whine and complain about another strategy (supposedly outside of one’s “self”)—it is another matter (according to my illusions) to “possess” what represents a technology strategy that can be considered ‘ready.’ I even I am not concerned about you using “my” solution. My concern is that a solution—that is actually regarded by me as a solution—exists.

What I find, after almost twenty years in IT, is that I have solutions to problems that many don’t even regard as real. This is one of two reasons why my score is so low!