Monday, March 14, 2016

At Last

‘Cause after a while and a thousand miles, it all becomes the same... - Bill Joel
Once upon a time in his song The Entertainer about life on the road as a musician.

This is my 1,000th blog post under the LotusEvangelist brand/title/moniker/aura. I had planned to write this one December 31st or when the latest IBM Champion announcement came out, but I was a few blog posts short.

The early days, 2007 or so, I was blogging quite frequently but over the years that slowed down considerably. Last year I had barely a post a month. I could blame G+, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or just face a reality that one cannot write forever. It is not writer’s block but more likely I have said all I wanted to say on this topic. This of course is not true, but it would seem this way based on the data.

Many of my posts were about technical peculiarities and things I, and hopefully you, learned along the way. The ecosystem of Lotus, now IBM Notes and Domino, thrived because we all worked together to help it grow, collaboration at its best. The original belief I had that we, the experienced ones, needed to help the new admins and people who were not getting training anymore was what led me to continue writing once I found my muse for this blog.

The Muse was a lack of evangelism around the Lotus brand. Many Lotus, now IBM, technical blogs exist, but few theory or business related ones. In particular no one really wanted to engage the enemies of our livelihood. It was a role I had when I worked for Lotus and one which I desperately wanted to see the Tiger team and SWAT teams perform, but that never happened. Internally I know they published but it was the lack of external information which pushed me further down this blog of a rabbit hole.

There were 70 FUD Buster Friday posts which were way too much fun to write until there was not enough to really write about further. As Paul Simon once said, “I could see the writing on the wall”. Plus, to be honest, I don’t like the serial, “I have to write another Friday” post feeling, it goes against my free spirited view of life.  However, it is the best way to create a following, by being consistent.

Of course the other vendors also stopped publishing the hard core stuff against us. A few people, not many, asked me to stop wasting my time on these posts and yet many others ask if I will write more for posts and the upstarts they come across. Being an IBM Champion has caused me to respond to these maybe too often. I don’t apologize, they were written because I wanted to write them, not because I thought I needed to do so, or because IBM or anyone else pushed me to do so. The life of an evangelist is a double edged sword at times.

My blog also was used to help promote events. I tried to promote not just the many conferences and training events I was a part of, but some of the ones I never could get to as well. I tried to average 4 events a year to be a part of, and help, where, and when I could with other ones. My blog also helped me speak on 3 different occasions at SugarCon, the SugarCRM annual event.

Sometimes I wrote things I regretted, sometimes I wrote the most amazing posts and no one read them. What encourages readership is beyond me at times but I do know that timing is everything. My iNotes posts from years ago are still hit, go figure.

I had some fun posts, various holidays and quirks of pop culture and even discussions about the opera and live tweeting it. Yes, it has been quite a bit of fun over the years. The blog helped me become an IBM Redbooks Thought Leader with a Social Residency. I wish I could be a part of these further for IBM and help train the new people and also protect them from the zombieness of canned social media. Be yourself, some of you out there get it and you should be encouraged further.

Speaking of IBM Redbooks, there were various Redbooks I wrote or took part in writing. There were articles written for The View and Exams that I wrote. I would be remiss if I did not mention the Quickr Administrator book. All of these great things, and people, may not have come about if I had not been blogging and getting my name out there in some way shape or form. And almost all of this was before I was an IBM Champion too.

And now, now I believe it is time to admit that much of what I wanted to say has been said. Are there still things I’d like to post, yes. Will I? That is a good question and only time will tell.

My next project is taking shape and as it grows I will keep you informed but I believe it will take much of my free time and so I am not going to say this is the end, but I do not expect to post often and given the last year or so, I think I am being pretty open and honest on this point.

The friends, places and events which I have been a part of over the years are what give me hope for the future endeavors we all embark upon to shine the light of collaboration, trust, friendship and experience no matter what business, or where, we end up.

For the first time in my life I feel old. I go to events and realize I am not the average attendee age, I am the old guy in the room. I wasn’t expecting this to happen, not yet at least. The interesting thing is my peers and friends, and readers, are in the same boat. We see the new people coming up the ranks and some of them really are as good, if not better, than we were and are today. Some of us also only get better with age.

Blogging is not a young or old thing to do. It is an expression of creativity, or sanity check, which I have enjoyed. I cannot express my appreciation enough to all the people who commented, liked a post, met me at an event and shook my hand, bought me a drink or thanked me for being there and helping them out, or just encouraging them to go for broke, but keep their day job too.

It was, and is, worth it and I don’t regret more than 2-3 posts over all that time which I think is a pretty good ratio.

Last second words of Wisdom:
Don’t post Shit(but do write some fun posts), think about how people will react when you are being provocative, don’t dump on the hand that feeds you, be it IBM or any vendor, or your customers. Try to give credit to others when it is due, if you get great help from support please blog about it for their managers benefit(Yes, I know it is about the survey but I also know it lets the support people know we care).

I’d like to think I will write another 1,000 posts in time, just not wait 9 years again to reach the milestone.

No idea when I will see you next, maybe at the next conference, maybe in an airport passing through, but we will see each other again soon my friends.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Dog Ate My Translation Homework and other stories from the ITA Conference

Yesterday I had the pleasure of addressing the ITA, Israel Translator Association, in Jerusalem at their 2016 conference.
ITA conference, keith brooks, jerusalemIt was my first formal speaking engagement in Israel since we moved here.

I had only submitted one abstract, but after reading my background was asked by the powers that be to do a second session about disaster recovery and planning for it. Given where we are right now, it seemed appropriate although I felt it was something everyone already knew. Little did I know.

My opening session went well in a packed room where more than half the attendees were in there listening to my Worst Practices session. The information gleaned over the years but much of the impetus from my experiences managing an SEO team of translators that filled our requests for about 15 languages.

I was trying to get across to everyone the nature of the professional world we live in, but may not always be understandable to them. While I hit on some basic issues, I also covered what we expect from them in return, and what they could offer us so they do not miss any opportunities with us.

The truth is, some of this is perfect for Business Partners, consultants and self-employed people in general. You can see it or download from

The Disaster Recovery session was almost too real. Slides are here:

The 2 weeks prior saw the following happen to me:
Primary laptop motherboard died (oddly enough came back to life, but that is another post)
USB drive stopped working or got corrupted
A client had a bad virus attack them (different one had a DDoS, yeah busy times)
My cell phone is constantly restarting

At the session first we had wifi issues, then we had video connector issues, then we had microphone issues, but it all ended quite well given the previous days.

I had more people come up to me after it and thank me for putting it all in simple terms and an easy process to follow. I provided a simple, and FREE, option for automating their data backups. Fbackup is very simple to use, works very well, is FREE, and is for personal and business usage PLUS automatically backs up to Google Drive. Love or hate Google, Google by the way was a sponsor of the event, no one will deny that a fail safe option for extreme data recovery is a bad thing. We talked about Cloud, USB, External Drives, Tapes, sharing systems, viruses, dead batteries, UPSs etc..

But here is the interesting thing. Many of the people in the room really do not know that much about technology. I thank Sara one of the event organizers for asking me to do the session. Something I take for granted, to be fair I was doing DR and Business Continuity since 1993 including 2 inside the World Trade Centers, I figured people knew the basics.

It goes to show and remind us that however far ahead we may be, we still have a long way to go to bring everyone with us and that is what started me writing this blog, 998 posts ago. This being number 999. I wanted to write for people coming into the industry, people who did not have the benefit of proper training or even mentoring. Based on the feedback yesterday, I am still doing a good job of doing this.

I also had an article published in their magazine that was handed out and hope that was just as well received.