In the next weeks, all the team members will be sharing some of their technical experience with WebSphere MQ in future posts. The first entry comes courtesy of Craig Both and Alex Ross. Craig and Alex share their experience on writing an IBM Redbooks publication.
Other posts from the team:
How to write a WebSphere MQ book in 4 weeks (and survive to tell about it!)
By Craig Both
WebSphere MQ Software Engineer
IBM Hursley Laboratory
By Alex Ross
WebSphere MQ Software Engineer
IBM Hursley Laboratory
To write a book, in 4 weeks, with 6 people that you don't ordinarily work with (that you've never even met in some cases), seems nigh on impossible. Nevertheless, we did it!
September 30th, 2012 saw us leave our loved ones behind at London Heathrow, bound for Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina. Our task, to write the IBM Redbooks IBM WebSphere MQ V7.1 and V7.5 Features and Enhancements
This post is the experience of 2 of us, Craig Both and Alexander Ross, (mentor and mentee), based in IBM Hursley and both working on WebSphere MQ.
For Alex, this was his first trip to the USA, so of course he needed to be prepared.
Firstly, the basics; traffic drives on the other side of the road, you can turn right on a red light most of the time ("WHAT?"), all the money looks the same ("WHAT?"), and most importantly DO NOT make jokes at immigration ("WHY?")...Just don't.
Next the language barrier. Do you have your American dictionary? ("WHAT?") It's gas, not petrol. It's a sidewalk, not a path. It’s apartment, not flat. It's a faucet, not a tap. It's a parking lot, not a car park. It's thanks, not CHEERS!
Our flight was uneventful, and got us there successfully, pretty much on time. A sports bar, showing a vast array of sports was the choice for something quick and easy to eat before hitting the sack ready for the residency to start the following day. We've since lost count of the number of American football matches we watched during the four weeks.
Monday morning, day 1 of the residency and although we've spoken on the phone several times, we meet everyone in the team for the first time: Alex, Jamie Squibb, and I all from the IBM Hursley Laboratory. The three of us have been working on WebSphere MQ development, test, and customer support for several years. Lyn Elkins is an IT Specialist from Advanced Technical Skill in the USA; she has plenty of experience helping customers with WebSphere MQ solutions. Barry Dearfield is a consultant in IBM STG Lab Services; he is a CICS and WebSphere MQ expert. Cezar Aranha is a consultant in IBM Brazil; his focus is messaging integration middleware. Mark Taylor, a well known WebSphere MQ evangelist also from Hursley, is providing overall technical direction. The project leader is Marcela Adan from the IBM Redbooks organization. Great team, many years of experience, and a good mix of skills and backgrounds. We learned a lot from each other.
We all go in convoy from the hotel to the IBM site. We settle into our desks ready to get started. We immediately started to reap the rewards of doing much of the planning for the book before we arrived, sorting out the structure of the book, setting up the lab environment, and deciding who would write what. We all jumped right in and by the end of the first week, the book stood at something of the order of 200 pages already! We'd set ourselves the target of completing a first draft of everything (literally everything) by the end of the second week. By that time we'd even started to review our colleagues work too! Was this the best team on an IBM Redbooks ever!?!?
At the same time, Mark was also updating the IBM Redpaper WebSphere MQ Primer: An Introduction to Messaging and WebSphere MQ, a very popular IBM Redbooks publication for several years since it was first published in 1999.
It was going well, but let us assure you, it was hard work. It involved some long days, some weekend working, and of course being away from home for so long. We even made it all the way to the penultimate day before having a full blown disagreement about content, but after some discussion and an hour and a half later, we reached a decision on the matter and moved on. We thought one disagreement in the space of four weeks was good going!
So while we weren't writing a book, what were we doing? Almost certainly one of the following things; eating, playing pool, or watching American football. Remember Alex, you said you were ready to eat...don't let us down now! Our American football feast ended with us seeing a game live. The University of North Carolina against Duke University. Duke being the home team, that's who we were supporting. It wasn't looking good for them, until the very final moments where they won the game and a pitch invasion ensued. It was nothing short of amazing. We did experience some of the night life while there, our English accents being immediate ice breakers, and we made lots of friends that we'll never see again!
The experience for us both was excellent: the people we met, the work we did, the fun we had and if you get the chance you should definitely do it! To see the latest residencies accepting nominations check out the IBM Redbooks Residencies in the IBM Redbooks website.
Craig and Alex