Cooking again. This time for the Silicon Stroll Bootcamp.

Let me preface this story with this warning.


Seriously. I have probably done more real cooking playing around with Chef Watson in the last month then I have done in years. I am good at following instructions, and searching for how to do things. So my food presentation skills suck. I know this (and more professional chefs told me to my face :). I also know without Chef Watson giving me the instructions I would be incapable of creating anything edible.

So, to help out a co-worker who was demo’ing Chef Watson for the Silicon Stroll Bootcamp, I did up a few more recipes.

For the presentation I made up the following.

  • Korean BBQ Lemon Cupcakes (by popular demand).
  • Irish Smoked Bacon Cookies.
  • Avocado Meatloaf.
  • Apple chilli cheddar cupcakes.

The first two I had done before. This time I am starting to understand how Chef Watson works. It’s not about following verbatim, but gives you a baseline of what works. You still need to play a little.

So for the cookies this time I used sea salt and roasted the bacon instead of frying. Huge difference this time! My previous attempt tasted like confusion. This time the cookie started off tasting like a raisin cookie, then midway changed to a savoury bacon flavour. Very cool.

For the cupcakes I tried to colour them (bad idea!). Otherwise they were more or less the same. This time I detailed my steps as I went. The reason for this was one of my co-workers attempted to make them and they didn’t turn out exactly the same.

Also I told Chef Watson this time that I didn’t want peanuts in the recipe and it created the Apple chilli cheddar cupcake recipe. These looked disgusting while making, but tasted really nice. Somewhat similar chilli kick as the other cupcakes, but otherwise a totally different taste.

The meatloaf was to try something not so crazy and somewhat easy to make. Main ingredients were Avocado, Truffle Oil, Anchovies, Peppercorn Mustard, Pork Sausage. Personally I hate anchovies and avocado, yet I could eat this fine. Very heavy though (one slice would probably put me to sleep).

So how did it go?

Out of everything the Korean BBQ Lemon cup cakes were the winner. Of the 60+ cupcakes I have given out, I have only had two complaints (eg. “This was possibly the worst thing I have ever tasted”). I’d argue those two people should have tasted the full cup cake instead of a pinch. I mentioned this before, that for some reason it doesn’t work unless you taste everything together.

I was a bit upset, but then it was being critiqued by a chef. Having said that however, all of those cup cakes were eaten. Even the ones that a pinch was taken from, someone else cut the pinched bits off and ate the rest to try.

Second most popular from my group was the cookies (1 of 2 boxes eaten), then the Apple cupcakes (about 2/3 eaten) followed by the meatloaf (just under half of it).

As asked by a number of people there I submit to you the recipe for Korean BBQ Lemon Cupcakes. I am not sure if the Beta is still open, but the application form for Bon Appétit is still there if you are interested.

… As for the bootcamp. 

I didn’t get to any of it. :(  I did get to chat with some of the attendees who gave some nice (and passionate) overviews of what they are building.

Chef Watson part 2. Korean BBQ Lemon Cupcakes.

Korean BBQ Lemon Cupcakes (Small)So I finally got all the ingredients for my next recipe from Chef Watson. This time it was Korean BBQ Lemon Cupcakes.

I didn’t have to make any modifications to the amount this time. The main ingredients in the cupcakes are.

  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Figs
  • Chilli Oil
  • Peanut butter

I found the taste to be fantastic. They start off tasting like normal cupcakes, then you get a slight hot sensation in your mouth after eating. The chilli oil is very subtle.

It does share some attributes to the bacon cookies though. You have food types you wouldn’t normally mix, and you get conflicting sensations between the tastes. But I found these worked much better.

What I also found interesting was that the combination worked exactly, but if I changed/removed one of the items then the taste was either “meh” or horrible.

I’m going to try a few more recipes, but I try something not in the “Unique” zone, and not a dessert.

My first attempt with Chef Watson. “Irish Smokey Bacon Cookies”

I finally got access to Chef Watson in work. There has been a beta running for a while, but they opened it up for IBM’ers (limited access).

Playing with it for a while, it is clearly still in Beta. I found some recipes had typos in them, or incorrect terms. But the system does make it clear that the steps are suggestions and not fixed guidelines.

Also for the first recipe I had to reduce the amount of ingredients by a factor of four. It said it serves 19, but even at the reduced amount I was able to make 18 cookies.

My only other complaint about the system is that it is geared towards Americans. In that everything is measured in cups/sticks/lbs. Thankfully I got a nice app called “Cups!” to do the conversion for me.

I could get it to create some funky recipes, but I settled for two for testing. I didn’t have all the ingredients yet for the second one, so I will post that later.

For the moment I give you “Irish Smoked Bacon Cookies” below.


Some of the key ingredients are bacon (rashers), raisins, honey, maple syrup, vanilla.

This was the second batch, as the first one I used too much salt (did I mention I can’t cook). Visually they don’t look appealing (at least to me). The taste however is “new”. My brain can’t figure out if it is savoury or sweet. Overall they taste fine though. Everyone who tried them said they were nice. I honestly was expecting a travesty.

Although not part of the recipe, I tried one with cream cheese and another with chocolate (to figure out where it fits). Both actually tasted OK which left me more confused.

I’ll be bringing them into work to see what people think.

The next recipe is “Korean BBQ Lemon Cupcakes”.🙂 It will be a few days before I get all the ingredients though.

2 Months in.

So I have been two months in the new role. Most of that has been educational training (Littleton, Raleigh as well as local). It appears be a continual learning process, but I am slowly starting to work on customer related stuff.

So what am I doing?

I work in Lab Services for Watson Engagement Advisor (WEA). WEA is a version of Watson that you teach to become a domain expert. You do this by feeding it in unstructured data and then teaching it to understand the material. Once you teach it correctly, it’s almost scary at how well it can understand what you are asking.

So my role is pretty much doing that for the customers, until the customers understand how to use the system and do it themselves.

It’s been more tricky trying to explain what Watson is to family, friends, co-workers. Seeing as the internet likes lists, I thought I’d put up the most common issues I come across explaining.

#1 Watson is not self aware.

It’s not HAL, Skynet nor the Machine. If you are going by sci-fi interpretations, it would be closer to a Virtual Intelligence from Mass Effect.

#2 Watson is many products.

Most people see Watson as a single entity, but it is in fact many products. They are all related to the cognitive sciences, and have different functions.

For example WEA is more useful in areas where you have limited domain experts, or the ability to become a domain expert is tricky (eg. high turnover, material always updating).

In places where you may have many domain experts then something like Watson Discovery Advisor (WDA) is more useful. This system is less about getting an answer, and more about being interested in the evidence that brought you to that answer. It also allows you to give an answer to your question. WDA then researches what evidence exists to support your answer.

There are many more products and I couldn’t do them justice in a single blog post. In fact it took a full week in Raleigh just to get a high level overview of the main products in Watson.

#3 Watson is not a search engine.

This seems the hardest to grasp for many. Watson is no more a search engine then a human is. It uses a search engine like a human does.

When you are dealing with a search engine, you put in your terms and then get your results. You expect a 100% return as it is a simple* keyword match. *(simple in comparison to Watson)

With Watson it will try to understand exactly what you are asking. Once it determines this, then it searches for the results and analyses them for what it believes is the correct answer. Once it has it’s set of possible answers, it will then research them to determine if what it believes is true actually is. Only then it returns the answer/s.

#4 You need to stop thinking it is like a computer.flyovertheboatwiththeredbow

As a follow on from point three. Because it is a learning cognitive system, what you expect from a computer is not what you would expect from Watson. Take the picture to the right as an example. Depending on the knowledge of the person (or Watson) the answer you get back can change.

The same would apply if you had a person with a photographic memory. They may be able to respond verbatim (like a search engine). However if you teach them the material, then over time how they will respond to the same question will change as they learn how to apply the knowledge they have previously memorized.

This concept got me for a while (and in one training session, it was good to see I wasn’t alone). We were shown where Watson failed to understand a sentence (ambiguous idiom). I asked if it was the job to correct Watson every time we see variations of this, or if the developers needed to fix the code. The response was pretty much what I said above. Watson would pick up on this and learn how to correctly respond once you teach it. So it wasn’t a case of having to figure out every variation of odd sentences.

#5 It’s not your parents IBM.

Watson is also a division within IBM. At one point in time IBM had some very strict rules. By today’s standards the past seems a bit too strict. Watson feels that way compared to the rest of IBM. It feels more like a start up. Even some things IBM’ers take for granted are changed. For example no PBC’s.


Out of the Yellow, into the Blue.

Today is my second last day as a Support Engineer for Notes/Domino.

Out of my nineteen years or so in IBM, eight of them were spent in Level 2 support. When I first entered into the role, I had the mistaken belief that many others do (in and out of IBM!). In that it would be a call center reading a script. I couldn’t have been more further than the truth.

Apart from the massive amounts of training in several product areas, you also got trained on how to deal with people. Something you don’t realise you need until you do it.😉

At the time of joining as well, it was quite common for support engineers to move into new roles after three years. So some of the training focused on making sure when you do move, you set a standard and expectation that is expected by customers.

In the day-to-day stuff, you are dealing with stressed customers, complex technical issues, keeping everything progressing and focusing on the product knowledge for the customer. This meant writing tech notes, wiki articles, videos, open Mics, etc. You are also reviewing issues for development to investigate in future releases. As well as new features coming down the line (training & supporting).

The job I found is extremely fun and technically challenging. Which is why I have stayed for so long.

However I have followed the Watson technology for a number of years, and it’s great that a role opened up that I actually get paid to use the technology.🙂 So come Monday I will move into my new role in Watson.

While I have met many people from Level 1 to Level 3 across the world, AVL’s and customers. I believe the ones I miss the most is the customers. The Appdev customer community is very well established and I would often work with names you see showing up on Planet Lotus, OpenNTF, StackOverflow. While I have never had a serious issue with any customer, there are some customers that stand out.

Dealing with them is a “breath of fresh air”. They knew what to expect. So you would often get a well designed test case/sample which not only reproduces the issue but would often explain all the alternate workarounds tried, etc. In some cases some of these customers have shaped some of the features you see today in Notes/Domino.

I’m not allowed mention names in PMRs publicly, but I am sure they know who they are.🙂

Anyway I wanted to say it’s been awesome, and I hope it stays awesome for everyone!

Thanks for the Linkedin endorsements but..

I appreciate everyone giving me LinkedIn endorsements, but I am really not an expert on WebSphere / Portal. Haven’t used either in years.

Likewise with other non-related endorsements I’ve been deleting them as I find them. But I was wondering if people just accept these random endorsements? What would be the benefit in doing it?

Forget about the Help NSF for the ND9 Designer client.

For those of you who have just installed Notes Designer 9, I recommend to check out the new help features.

Pressing F1 in the designer client will bring up the help, which you can move around the UI to where you like or expand it to full screen.

Here is an example looking for getDocumentByUNID method.

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 20.05.25

As you can see the methods now have the Object reference in the title along with the language. If this isn’t enough you can also filter out what you don’t want. For example clicking on the Scope and create a new Scope called Java API.

When selecting topics set it to search only “IBM Designer Basic User Guide and Reference -> Java/CORBA Classes”

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 20.06.17

If we do the search again you can see only Java related items showing up.

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 20.06.36

Overall a much cleaner experience than the NSF help file.

Because no one need suffer the pain I did. (C-API)

I’m ramping up on C-API stuff at the moment.

I’ve been having a pretty horrific time trying to get installed and running properly on OSX (Thanks Parag for the help!). What has driven me to near insanity though was creating a simple project to run in XCode. After numerous trial and error it appeared to all stem from one wrong little backslash in a string! That’s what I get for expecting it to execute the same way as the command line.

So I wrote up my steps on the Domino Appdev Wiki, so that no one need suffer like me.🙂

A reminder to those going to Connect 2013.

It’s that time of the year again. From a support point of view, to maximise your time there I recommend doing the following.

1. If you have a particularly tricky PMR, or a block of PMRs that you want to discuss at the conference with someone (i.e. Developer), let your support engineer for the PMR/s know that you will be there. No guarantees!, but they hopefully should be able to get some time with a developer for you that is relevant to the issues.

2. If you aren’t available for PMRs for the week of Connect 2013, let support know who your backup is or tell them you will follow up after the conference. Saves them wasting time on trying to chase you for a follow up.

3. If you speak to a developer at Connect 2013 and they tell you to open a PMR. Make sure to get their name and it is put into the PMR! Especially if they have promised you the Moon on a stick.😉