Tuesday, November 23, 2004

New Area of Interest - RFID

I am constantly looking for new and exciting technology opportunities and spend a bit of time properly researching life's offerings.

Prior to webMethods consulting, I worked in database development and then on to mobile and wireless (palm, wap and hdml) product development.

I've always been a gadget guy. First to buy the new gizmo.

Surprisingly, I'm looking at a really old technology that over the last decade has really taken off:


RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID provides the logistics and supply chain with the ability to monitor the status of an RFID shipment anywhere in the world. Well, it's supposed to anyway.

During World War II, the British used a crude kind-of RFID to track planes returning from bombing runs so they could tell if a returning place was friend or foe.

In everyday use, a shipper places a small passive or active RFID tag on the item, case, or pallet and based on the type of RFID tag, an amount of data is passed back to the tracking entity.

A passive RFID is kinda like RFID lite. It possesses just basic information on a barcode and has to be within a few meters of an RFID reader.

The active RFID tag contains a power source and an antenna and can TRANSMIT data to a satellite-based system (i.e. reader).

Check out RFID Journal for specifics.

In reality:

Walmart requires all of it's 10,000 plus vendors to comply with their RFID standard.

The largest user of RFID in the world is the US Department of Defense with 43,000 vendors.

During the gulf war, it was estimated that the DoD could have saved over 2 billion by having vision or knowledge of order status of goods. In the Iraq conflict, DoD has saved over 300 million by not over-ordering products and knowing exactly where shipments are.

webMethod's recently OEM-partnered with OAT Systems Inc. to provide an RFID framework solution embedded in the webMethods platform.

webMethods Stock Change (for the worse? or for the better?)

I dunno if anyone noticed, but webMethods missed filing their quarterly report, so the powers-to-be behind the NASDAQ issued them a delisting notice.

Their stock symbol has changed to "webme" and has lost a bit of value since the November 17 action.

According to my sources at webMethods, this has to do with some numbers that were improperly reported by an overseas "reseller". webMethods has not made a specific statement other than to say that they delayed the filing of it's quarterly report because it was auditing one of it's international units.

It's nice to see that they are taking the time to "correctly" work through any accounting difficulties.

I am still bullish on webMethods and love to work on the product.

Let's all keep our fingers crossed that webMethods gets through this so they can concentrate on bigger and better things.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Awesome Test Harness

I'm working with a custom adapter that outputs adapter notifications. There is an IS package that, when configured properly, can trace the output of all relevant underlying flow services.

This in turn, can be used to verify/validate business transformations.

It basically works to capture broker documents and write the output to a pipeline/saved file.

It is by far the most interesting and intriqueing piece of debugging code I've seen in webMethods to date.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Usable Java Client

I'm working with a custom java client that sets an example of how every java client should work. It is a stand-alone java client that connects to a custom government financials application.

It's different than many other java applications (most notably the webMethods entire suite) in that it actually was designed with users in mind.

When an action is initiated and complete, the application sets focus to the appropriate button or control. (take notes webm..)

It anticipates based on function called on which component control the focus should be. So, if you are putting in your password, the focus automatically leaps to the OK button so all you have to do is press enter.

Now that's nice. Too bad that the upgrade to this system phases out this java client and replaces it with a web gui.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Workflow Rocks!

I've had a great opportunity to jam on some workflow stuff. Overall, the product has gotten a lot better. I am using both 6.02 and 6.1 versions (not a huge difference that I can tell yet, but I'm sure there are some things under the covers).

When I first started working on workflow it was only to support the workflow product with IS services (calls mainly to DB). So, from the backend sense, I kinda get it. Now I am working on the front end stuff. The prototype will be with the fat ugly client and then we will transform it into a JSP custom inbox.

I'll let everyone know the status, good/bad/ugly stuff.

So far so good, with no huge problems.