Posts in Category: Conferences

Innovating in a corporate world

Luck had it that I got hold off a free registration for the SDForum’s Open Innovation and Research Fair in Santa Clara, CA on September 18, 2009.

Being so close to home, I managed to shuffle my work schedule around and attend the morning part of the event to listen to the keynote speakers talking about how innovation happens in their corporations.

Albeit the conference was not very technical and I clearly was not the typical attendee (senior and manager are not part of my job description :-)), I find this events rather interesting and a good opportunity to step back from the computer screen and the news reader and look at things from another perspective.

The keynotes were delivered by representatives from Nokia, HP, IBM, Paypal, Forbes and EMC and it was clear that every company has a different perspective, or approach, on innovation. The ones I got the most value from were:

  • Nokia: John Shen leads the Systems Research Center at Nokia Research Center in Palo Alto, CA. John’s talk covered Nokia’s approach to innovation from a very academic perspective. Innovation is only possible when there is a culture, people and vision towards innovation. To innovate, you need to hire the best! But what defines the best? For John, it is someone (with at least one PhD :-)) that can grasp not only the science behind the research topic, but also quickly create a marketable solution for the innovations created. At the end of the day, the decision makers need to run the business and please the stock holders, so it is important that a research team which just came up with the most exciting technological innovation can also create the most exciting business plan to convince the decision makers. “Innovation is the intersection of business and technology.”
  • IBM: Deborah Magid, from the IBM Venture Capital Group. Being that IBM has several research centers across the world, including one right here in San Jose, I was expecting someone from research would come and explain what makes research at IBM special and responsible for the company’s extensible list of technological innovation achievements in the last century (yes, getting close to the 100th anniversary of incorporation). Instead, I got to learn how a complete different part of IBM, the Venture Capital group, drives innovations mainly through partnerships in the field. It basically consists of creating innovative solutions out of existing technological components/solutions provided by partners. The most recent example of such partnership is the focus on Smarter Planet. Through a diverse partnership, from utilities companies, to semi-conductor producers to software providers, IBM is creating solutions that will provider smarter management of cities, food, healthcare, water, traffic, etc…
  • HP: Rich Friedrich, the Director of the Strategy and Innovation Office at HP delivered a keynote on how his company is applying the concept of Open Innovation to amplify and accelerate research results. Through research collaboration programs with universities, HP has been able to invest in University research and then successfully monetize on the innovations created. Definitely a good example of collaboration between industry and academia. A couple of interesting notes from the session are OpenCirrus, an open cloud computing research testbed and the fact that when you manage innovation inside a large company, your new projects need to generate billions to have any significance in the overall company revenue and be considered successful.

The message from these keynotes is that there is no secret or standard recipe to create innovative technologies. It can range from a very science focused internal research strategy, to an shared activity between a company’s research departments and the academia, and it can even happen outside of research, when you join technologies together to create something better than the sum of the parts.

And a honorable mention to University of Minho, Braga, Portugal, that has been participating in the HP Open Innovation program doing research projects on cloud computing.

Old Year, New Year

Originally uploaded by Vitor Rodrigues.

For the first time in many months, I really gave some rest to my laptop during my vacations. Last week was spent mostly with family, girlfriend and friends. So, only now I got to do the review of the year 2006:

  •  started the year looking for a regular job to start after the end of my internship at IBM in Silicon Valley (my internship was going until August, but Visa applications need to be filed by April, so you need to have everything set by then).
  • after a few job interviews, got job offers from both IBM and eBay (received both within a 20 minute interval :-)).
  • decided to accept IBM’s offer. Although eBay’s offer was economically better, I really enjoy the work environment at IBM, I have most of my friends there, and more important than that, I was proposed new job responsabilities that made me prefer this position.
  • presented at some internal conferences about using a Wiki environment in a big scale software testing project.
  • presented at NPUC about using Wikis to give power to team members in the creation of an information repository for cross-team utilization.
  • hired as a regular employee in March, 5 months before the end of my internship.
  • published a IBM white paper on XML Indexing in DB2 9 pureXML.
  • decided to accept an opportunity for a 1-year international assignment at IBM Toronto Laboratory in Canada, from August 2006 to August 2007.
  • after 18 months in California, I finally enjoyed some vacations in Portugal, visiting some places I hade never been before, like Tomar, Sintra, Evora and Vila Vicosa.
  • move to Canada.
  • co-lectured a workshop at CASCON 2006.
  • visited New York for the first time.
  • published a techincal paper in the IBM developerworks website.
  • finished another soon to be published white paper also related with DB2 pureXML.
  • contributed to the DB2 pureXML demo.
  • came home for Christmas and New Year.

Lots of stuff happening, mostly at work. I have the feelling that I could have done more, but I’m still happy with the results. I did more/better than what I was expecting one year ago.

In the personal life, besides the long awaited vacations in Portugal, all the other events where caused by work or work related (look for job, move to canada, trip to NY).

 For 2007:


  • professionally: improve presentation, communication, organization skills.  Find time to invest in side/innovative projects. Read more.
  • personally: more local exploring. Sometimes there are lots of interesting stuff in the place we live that we ignore and only later we realize how interesting that place was. Start to read. Save more money (hint: no more gadgets :-)).


Live at CASCON 2006

CASCON Technology ShowcaseAfter my yesterdays participation in the workshop DB2 XML – A True XML and Relational Database, the rest of the week will be spent at the CASCON Technology Showcase, with a poster and a some live demos aout DB2 9 pureXMLâ„¢.

Yesterday’s workshop as a success! The room was completely full and we even had some people having lunch in the meeting room just to have more time to explore the project and ask us questions. My session was the first in the afternoon, entitled "XML Indexing in DB2", with a 30 minute presentation plus 40 minutes of lab exercises. As my first experience lecturing at a workshop, it was interesting to be on the other side and feel the responsability (and excitment) of having about 40 people staring at us and asking questions. Most of the public in our workshop were wither DB Appllication developers or students in the database field.

Note 1: for as much that you prepare a presentation, there will be always some question that you don’t expect, and that if have no idea what’s the correct answer.

Note 2: for as much that you prepare the lab exercises, there will always be a typo on it 😉 Nothing serious.. just a "$d" not escaped being consumed by the linux command line.

Note 3: the food at Hilton is great!


CASCON 2006 wil take place from October 16 to October 19, in Toronto, Canada. 

"CASCON 2006 is the 16th in the Annual International Conference hosted
by the IBM Centers for Advanced Studies. This "Meeting of Minds"
provides an exciting forum for exchanging ideas and experiences in the
ever-expanding and critical fields of software development and

I will be presenting at CASCON, doing both a workshop and a technology showcase. Both sessions will be about the same subject: DB2 9 and it’s pureXMLâ„¢ features.

Live from NPUC 2006

Today I’m at NPUC 2006
New Paradigm in Using Computers, taking place in the IBM Almaden
Research Lab, Calfornia. This year’s session is entitled "Power to the
users: the new web".
Although the registration was full 12 hours after opening, I managed to get a spot by using a poster presenter slot.
poster is entitled "A Wiki test tracking solution", and focuses on the
collaboration and social implicattions of using a wiki to track the
testing phase of a software product.
Regarding the conference, it has a very interesting program, with the featured speakers:

  • Sam Ruby, IBM – "Teenager on the go"
  • Rob Miller, MIT – "Automization and Customization of Rendered Web Pages"
  • Stewart Butterfiled, Yahoo, Flickr co-founder – "Flickr and the User"
  • Ross Mayfield , SocialText – "New Paradigms in Social Computing"
  • Tom Gruber, – "The people-powered web"

Innovation That Matters!

Las friday was day of interesting events here at work. Besides the
World Cup opening game during the morning, on the afternoon we had a
poster session with the subject "Innovation that Matters", to conclude
a week full of talks and presentations dedicated to the subject
Innovation. Although I’m still a freshman in the company, I decided it
was time to start participating (not as attendant) in this events.

I decided to create a poster to show some of the work i have been doing
in my extra time: a Wiki Test Tracking Solution. Just like the
development process, the test process involves many resources, and most
of the time this resources are spread over different repositories and
tools, being hard to manage. Other issue we had faced last year was how
to keep tracking of the testing progress. Not happy with the process in
the past, I worked with my team to create a solution to this problem.
The result, use our team’s wiki as the infrastructure to contain all
the information about the test project. Changing most of the resources
to wiki, we eliminate the use of Lotus Notes, Excel, Word and others, 
as tools and repositories for information. The only issue was that
there was nothing in our wiki that would allow us to keep track of the
testing weekly progress. This was where I really spent my overtime. The
wiki engine we are using is TWiki, and it’s easy integration of plugins
convinced me to develop a plugin to test the weekly progress of our