Friday, November 10, 2006


Language with a Chip on Its Shoulder: From Here to Blackbaud's Infinity
by Pam Ashlund

Don't have time to read the whole thing? Jump to the funny part!

Background: This week I attended the 2006 Blackbaud Conference in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. Well, at the convention center (in the not so beautiful airport area). There was over 850 attendees, representing nonprofits, educational institutions, churches, etc. Arrangements were made with six hotels, which booked to capacity (even overbooked at the Embassy Suites). They also arranged for shuttles from these six hotels. See No Room at the Inn for my midnight adventures. Needless to say, I was running, hiking, taking local transportation etc. and still running late for everything. To make a breakfast at 7:30 am (which would be 4:30 am California time), I would have had to wake up at 5:30 am (2:30 am my time), leave by 6:00 am, run the mile to the Holiday Inn where the shuttle for the convention center departed, to make breakfast. Do I need to say that I missed breakfast the first two days? Or that I am not a very happy person without breakfast? Or that there were no snacks to purchase at the hotel or at the convention center?

The Internet Session: So, when I arrived at the conference (late, hungry and tired), I ran to the breakfast area (which was a barren table with tumbleweeds blowing around)...then ran back to registration to find out where my session was held, and then ran back the way I had come to the session room, having burned 250 calories, etc. etc. I was ready for the sneak preview of...the new product in development: Code Name: !

Actual Topic of this Article: I won't be revealing any of the proprietary secrets about the new product (of course neither did the presenters!). Instead, I want to talk about the lingo they used. Years ago I was struck by the war metaphors used by computer professionals (capture the printer port, etc.).

The trainer covered the “slices” and the “blades”. Said the “platform” wouldn't "bulk-load the database“; that it “lives” with” Linux applications. The trainer apologized that he would have to to “drive thru” the training (meaning run the slide-projector when he talks). He told us that application really “morphs” into something (I forget what). He told us that if we were a "heads-down" data entry person, we might be working in editing mode) and they wouldn't have to worry about record locking). He told us that they were going to "run" with this...

He told us the new product would be based on Open Standards: XML (SOAP Web Service API, an Extensiblity catalog system, and RSS” . He told us that the application will be changing from a “client installation footprint” and will be 100% web deployed .

He told us about Smart Query opposed to "Ad Hoc", and that it can be “grammarized". Apparently he liked to "ize" things because he said the product would “parameterize” with two prompts. The new product would “Unite the query results with the page”!

Apparently the application “chooses” to use (insert some efficient product here). He assured us that the client is “stateless”. "We are completely stateless" he raved. He agreed with a participant that Web Aps can be a “Fat” platform. He lauded the new Toast “Pop-ups”

When we shifted to theory he asked permission to go “off script”. He agreed that some product or application was “tilted” toward the big bang? That they had taken steps to "handle phase integration". He demonstrated, stalling while the application was "spinning up”.

Another presenter told us that we no longer have one API, we have API’s at every layer of our stack(!) and that we also consider Web Services an API. Last, he wound up with how to “mash this up” with other applications.

Don't believe it? Blackbaud didn't post a pod cast of Paul's podcast (maybe it would be giving an "edge" to the competitors), but you can find Sean Sullivan's podcast of the session on emerging technology at Blackbaud's Conference Central (you'll have to scroll down to the middle of the page since they didn't direct-link to the section.

By then I was ready to go out to breakfast and go back to bed!

To read more on the topic of geek lingo and metaphor, see LA StreetBeat posting.

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1 comment:

rallyfan said...

I wondered when that conference was. I used to attend as a user/dba for a non-profit and really enjoyed the conf. They used to do a bang up job of feeding and hosting but that was then. :-) The tech speak concerns me. I wonder if they lose users (sales) when they get so technical.

I happened to be in Charleston over the weekend as well for a soccer tourney. Love the city. Thanks for posting that humerous look.