Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Why do I say that? Because it started with a conversation on the phone.
We would like to lease this van, model type, color, whatever, how does it look on monthly lease prices? Answer came with a dollar figure we could live with. Great, send it to me in writing. They did, so off we went today to swap the old van.
So far it all sounds good, just like any other sales conversation.
We get to the dealer, they do their song and dance and announce a price that is $100 more a month. Funny how that happens, but sad really if Honda and their dealers cared about customers. But maybe they learn from Microsoft that you suck people in and then change the terms on them.
I asked what happened to the quoted price. Was told that the sales person had no right to provide a price. Ok, so let me get this straight, you hire sales people not to give prices to customers that want to buy your cars? Interesting.
So his job is to lie to customers to get them to come in so you can bait and swap them? Sound familiar? Microsoft will come to a company tell them the product will do everything they ask, nothing special required. But there is this minor issue that there are no such options in version X, but buy this one now and when the new version comes out we will let you upgrade. Yes, really nice.
The Internet Sales Manager needs to go to ethics training. When I asked if he respected his staff and stood behind them, he said "of course". I asked why he would tell a customer that the sales person they talked to lied and should not be trusted, yet why should we trust him? Ok, this line happens in every sales organization at one time or another but really, he answered me with a straight face. I did warn him, he was a good deal older than I am, that the Internet has powerful friends and many ears.
As it turns out they did not have the car we wanted, oh we could get the color, but it came with a bunch of accessories which we do not require but the dealer had put them in or on 95% of all the vehicles. I reckon this is the License, with a CAL type deal, even if no one ever uses Onenote. Eventually we found one car that would work and the dealer still refused to honor the written offer from their own sales person. In the end we compromised to an amount that we knew others had signed off on. No I am not happy about it, stick to your word as a company, for better or worse, own up to the fact that you messed up.
Then it was time to sign the 1,000's of pages in documents. They then asked if we wanted to pay in advance for maintenance and towing benefits. Normally I would say no but as this is not my car left it up to my wife and she wanted it. Fine, another $9 month, but no fee for general service. This is the Microsoft Software Assurance offer, but we know the car will go in for maintenance, unlike say Microsoft who may not have any new versions of software out for years at a time. This also felt like the way the Microsoft consultants come to you at 4pm on a Friday and say they need more money, time, hardware to make stuff work or they have to drop the project.
On our side we did go to leave and they gave in to the price we wanted, but not the quoted price. Numerous customers have been in that situation and it is never fun especially if you got budget approval for less.
Some people will say IBM does this as well, but I have faith in the sales people I know not to act this way. Something I do not have for Microsoft sales people or a specific Honda dealer in Pompano.
Everything else went well and efficiently showing that not everything learned from Microsoft is bad. Of course I don't expect to hear from them until the lease runs out again, that is something they did not learn from Microsoft who continuously calls on customers weekly if not monthly.
Friday, March 25, 2011
We had about 25-30 registered attendees. Some of our clients, some unknown to me,other Business Partners and naturally a gaggle of IBMers.
The session started with a overview/welcome and some marketing pitch. Then the IBM team gave a scripted demo of a day in the life of a basketball manufacturer.
Clients I discussed it with said they liked the demo and how the integration was shown. I suggested the demo be less marketing fluff and more about what the people need and used, but I would say that wouldn't I. Aside from some sound issues it went well and we would like to see more of these types of events done in a vertical market way for finance, insurance, cruise lines etc.
Thanks to the IBM team that put it all together.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
As a client put it to me, we need the file sharing/depository of Quickr, but the social benefits of Connections.
With that said, another session at The View conference in June I am working on is related to Quickr qpconfig optons and settings.
So if you have questions, ideas, ponderings about how to do something, where to set it or just what changed in the qpconfig.xml between versions, let me know them as I am making my list of topics.
Those of you with more Quickr experience, and those of us that go back to Quickplace and it's beta, have settings we make sure are set appropriately. However new admins do not have that experience yet and I am aiming this session at the new admins, but with details to make experienced admins happy as well.
Thank you in advance.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Hopefully someone reading this has a good answer.
Southwest.com website from home and my office works fine and shows an IP of 126.96.36.199(Comcast Cable).
However from a clients office they can not access the site and the IP there is shown as 188.8.131.52 (Sprint T-1).
Searched the web the only thing someone reports as working does not work for many people and that was a netsh interface set tcp command.
Tracert, nslookup and ping all show the IP address as defined.
So aside from trying to convince Sprint they have a problem, with 1 website in the internet, any ideas how to get around this?
I tried hard coding the IP in the host file with no luck.
IPconfig /flushdns /register done, cleared cache of browser, tried all 3 browsers.
Any ideas or better Google searches than I are appreciated.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The View Admin Conference, June 22-24 Las Vegas.
What you learn in Vegas should NOT stay in Vegas. Share it!
So I have a session I am doing and given I only get about 75 minutes to present, want to focus on what you need.
The basic abstract is below:
Breaking and entering: If you can hack it, so can I
Have you ever tried to break into your own Lotus infrastructure?
Walk through different scenarios and find out how to test the limits of your
infrastructure in order to keep it running properly.
Find out how to make sure a terminated employee is not only removed from your Directory, but you know how to handle their email if it needs to continue to accept inbound mail, how to disable them from Traveler, and how to handle any Quickr sites
they might own.
So what other aspects should I cover?
Over the years of cleaning up environments the most common issues are the admin is gone but their ID is on everything.
Quickr sites/places administration.
Mostly focusing on Domino side but open to more depends on my time and how I map this session out.
So ever wonder about what to do when firing people? Or try to get into your own nab but without proper access?
This is not how to bullet proof your server for security, although some aspects will be hit on, this is more about the practicality of a day to day admins role.
Thank you in advance.
Monday, March 21, 2011
I was driving out to a client site to literally plug in an external USB drive (don't ask, I tried to have the people in the office do it, server was not having it) so off I went.
5 minutes away I get a call that mail and sametime are down. Odd, I thought, staff has been there an hour and they now called? I said I was on my way already, see them in a few minutes. They must think I am a mind reader.
Naturally I get to the office and the server console is flying by with emails and such. BUT Traveler is showing errors in connecting to the very visible server being down.
Internet access was down, sounds like T-1 issue, or the Domain Controller died perhaps? Checking about saw the Firewall had the test light on, good old Sonicwall was letting me know something happened. When the test light is on, it means it went into SAFE MODE which is a euphemism for "nothing is going to work now, go get lunch and leave me alone".
OK, turning it on and off didn't change anything, power cut, still nothing. The only way to resolve this is to kill power, and kill power from the routers that cascaded off it. It seems the Sonicwall does not appreciate repeated attempts to flood itself with invalid packets. Who'd know :-)
Starting back up the Sonicwall then the 2 routers cleared the issue.
In the mean time had to reboot a bunch of servers that had invalid DNS entries.
So the problem we can now resolve, but what caused it to fail?
Best guess so far is there was a power surge or failure that affected either the Sonicwall unit or the Domain Controller and DNS server. No matter how many UPS units we use or what is plugged in where, some of the servers seem to be highly sensitive to fluctuations in power. Didn't want to go to heavy duty UPS but may be forced to do so. But for the few times a year this happens they can live.
Domino gets blamed for mail not working or Sametime or Traveler but as the client said, if they can't get to anything fromt he outside, they know its a firewall or T-1 down and that makes them MUCH happier than to think Domino is down.
In fact, aside from these outages, Domino is usually up for about 40-60 days before I pull it down for OS maintenance. Still trying to train the users it's not Domino, but at least the boss gets it.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Purim, for those that do not know, is graphically rich, filled with characters of all types and levels and written up in a movie script of a plot that occurred over 2,400 years ago. This year it falls on Sunday. Normally the fast is the day before but since we don't fast on Shabbat or the day before it, the fast ends up being on Thursday, as it is this year.
The story has Villains, Heroes, Kings and Queens, Women of Leadership, Harems, 6 month log parties and the Gallow's Poles..in short it's an excellent adventure which only partially explains the joy it brings to everyone.
Every child, even my 3 year old, can tell you the basic story and we remember it forever.
So if you don't know the story, here is my 30 second pitch:
King Achashveros has Queen Vashti, kills her, needs new one, finds one that is Jewish named Hadassah but she is called Esther, takes her to the palace. King's right hand man, Haman gets into an argument with Mordechai, Jewish and Esther's Uncle and also a King adviser. Haman gets mad, decides to kill the Jews after discussing with his wife. Convinces the King to listen to him. Mordechai and Esther create a plan to stop the action which involves every one in Shushan to fast and pray for 3 days before Esther tries to convince the King to rescind the order. Naturally she does, Haman is thwarted and hung, along with his 10 sons on a set of Gallow's Poles. Mordechai becomes the King's right hand man and all is good again.One thing to know, you will not find God's name anywhere in the Book of Purim.
Coupled with the holiday are a handful of requirements that everyone must fulfill on THE day of Purim.
1)Matanot L'evyonim - Gifts to the poor(donations of money, food)
2)Mishloach Manot - Sending of a Gift to a friend (Usually 2 different types of food items that require different blessings.
3) Listening to the Megillah being read - We read it twice, once in the evening then once the next morning.
4) Purim Seudah - The Feast, what you expected a Jewish holiday without food?
So we fast and pray and ask that God protect us from the evil that people can perpetuate against each other. While Haman was from the tribal clan of Amalek, the Rabbis over the years took that any group that tries to destroy the Jewish people is from Amalek.
This Shabbat, we read a section of the Torah that every Jew must here, known as Parshat Zachor, it is a short, 8 lines, from Exodus 17:8-16 that reminds everyone of the cowardly ways evil can work, namely by attacking women and children first.
Before you leave this post and think it is all historical, last Friday night, as Shabbat had started, a terrible tragedy occurred in a town called Itamar in Israel. A family of 8 lost their parents and 3 siblings(ages 11, 3 and 3 months) because someone came into their home, slit their throats and stab them repeatedly (the link contains graphic pictures) because they were Jews.
It is said in the Talmud Shavuot 39a: Kol Yisrael arevim zeh ba zeh. “All Israel is responsible each for the other." With that in mind, our synagogue, will have a memorial service for the Fogel family tonight.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Suffice it to say we do not have 100,000 pounds there else we would have "Private banking" which would let us do everything over the phone. Whether we have 1,000, 5,000 or 50,000 pounds there, it is still our money and we should be able to get to it, when we want to or need to, without a delay. I was surprised they didn't ask for us to send it via coded messenger or carrier pigeon.
Never mind us, what about all the UK customers who have retired to non-UK countries? Does this make any sense to them? As people live longer and travel more and do more, I guess we also need to work with more advanced and modern banks that have security, that they trust, and can allow for worldwide access to funds.
Maybe this is a new law enacted by the UK I thought. No, I was told this is a Natwest "guideline". Right, so the UK has no such limitation on transferring money outside of the UK that it must be in writing via the Royal Mail.
Any UK banking people reading this have a modern and future outlook on the world, please get in touch with me so we can move our accounts.
The letter below is what I sent Natwest via their online feedback page, which after going about 5 clicks deep and them saying if it is about my account I can only call them or go to a branch, I finally was able to submit it.
As an owner of a UK account residing in the US and traveling frequently, I find it appalling that when I need to get access to my money, I have to send you in writing, not fax, not via secure email, not via your own secure website, but in writing, a letter requesting MY MONEY to be transferred to MY account wherever that is, outside of the UK.
This process can take over a month depending on IF you receive my letter at all in the mail and IF everything is correctly handled.
You have no documents available online for me to download to fill out from your own secure website so hopefully I will not need to fill any out, thus postponing again MY MONEY.
The person I spoke to on the phone gave me some story about faxes being intercepted...because regular paper mail never got lost, burnt, stolen, fell overboard or just never arrived?
This is the 21st century and you are acting like feudal lords with MY MONEY which is loaned TO YOU, not to be held in a ransom like state.
As the population ages and lives longer and moves out of the UK many people will be relying on an easier way to receive their money around the world.
When will Natwest come to the modern day?
You provided me with a calculator like security method to access your website, surely that is secure enough for me to make my transfer? Surely that is secure enough for me to download a document?
If not, then what have you been paying for all this security?
Does the front side of the bank ever talk to the back office?
Did any of you ever need money when you were traveling and had "guidelines" that prevent YOUR MONEY from being distributed to you?
This message will be posted to a number of places online and I do request an answer. I understand you may not be able to resolve my situation at this time.
However, I would like to know how you will resolve this for the future, not just for me, but for ALL of your customers.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Right now a number of states are facing desperate measures to reduce their deficits. And naturally what gets cut? Education. We are messing around with our future leaders and employees, that can't be a good thing. Also what message does this send to the students?
Some states want to pay based on how the students do on standardized test. Self fulfilling prophecy? Good district, good grades and raises/bonuses for teachers. Bad district, bad grades nothing or get fired? Purely based on if the kids do well? You can't make kids do well. Some just can not take test and this system really is a bad idea and what teacher would approve of this measure?
Teachers unions should have been advocating for years for better pay and more advanced agendas on their curriculum. If you think something is above the kids, then it will always be above them. Push the envelope a bit please. Kids today are smarter than we were and really need to move faster sometimes.
In truth education in general has problems that no simple answer exists. Home schooling your kids is not easy and not for everyone. Individual learning is frowned upon because it does not allow for social interactions and group efforts in learning and social norms. I have news for you, your kids are more into social media than you are and want to use it. As a parent this is a problem for some people, either because of their own expectations or because they want their kids to grow up "healthy and normal".
What if your kids could get an individual education, via an authority of some sort, but could learn at their own pace and within a boundary of guidelines for homework, projects, tests? Would you do it? Should schools offer it? This may have been called enrichment, gifted or some other name through the years but now it seems to have hit a wall. What if your kids school will not help the kids who are that smart to move forward quicker? Doesn't this encourage the dumbing down of all classes to the lowest level in the classroom?
Great teachers are able to inspire you, challenge you, raise you to a new level. But for every teacher that does this, there are anywhere from 2-10 that do not. They may be good teachers, but just not great. Nothing bad here, in all professions some people rise to a different level, it does not mean the others are bad.
Should great teachers get paid better, or tenured or whatever benefits them? Yes, but how do you figure out who is that great? Often times it will not be obvious until years later or at least 1-2 semesters.
What about good teachers? How do you define their pay? I know some teachers that had bad years due to family/personal issues or some other things that caused problems. In some cases those problems did not become obvious until 1-3 years later and the ones with the problem are the kids who missed out and now may be behind in their grades.
I have written how I was surprised at my kids school lack of initiative when it comes to computer studies. Yes they are learning to type, which is great, and do some things which are important when first using a computer. But the problem is as they get older the curriculum is out of touch with reality. You have elementary school kids with iPhones and iPads, they are doing things the school thinks it needs to teach them in 5 years. Clearly the issue of education is not a teachers fault entirely.
So in 20 odd years while teachers salaries have barely moved by 25-50%, tuition at private schools has gone up 3-400% if not more. If the teachers are not getting that money, so we can entice more people to be teachers so they can live on their salary, where does the money go? Insurance and security costs are obviously much higher than years ago. We used to get buses to school, for a small fee, and lunch as part of our tuition, that's gone too.
When did school become a bloated corporation. How many administrators exist now at schools? When I was in school we had 2 principals, primary and assistant, some office staff like a secretary, finance person, development and maybe a few others. How many different levels of bureaucracy exist now in schools? How much of it is needed?
Ever see the States educational leaders taking pay cuts, and how many do so in private institutions? Few do. It's always the teachers getting less benefits and money. Teachers salaries are not enough for a family to live on and what do we do to encourage new people to enter the field if they don't see it as viable?
I believe there is no shortage of great teachers in the world, but perhaps at your school, so what do you suggest? How do you make teaching matter again? How do you encourage great teachers to join your low paying school? What can you as a parent, business person do to help the school or the kids?
Get involved, if they will let you, to enhance the education system. Encourage students to do more, try more, learn more and have more fun.
Monday, March 7, 2011
So salaries do not matter. Money does. Yet, probably more than 95% of the world makes their money via salaries. And this is great if you are getting paid your value and you provide your worth to the company.
But what about the dead wood of your company? Why does that man or woman in sales exist still when all they do is keep messing up? They get a raise? And you don't? Why?
The reality is, if you take care of yourself, you will not get a benefit from your employer every time. Think like a small business and treat your job like one and you should do fine is just not quite the way of reality.
Companies don't care. In fact, one can argue, the reverse happens. Management does not like smarter people under them. The exact reverse of how they should view it. Instead of fearing these people, management should be happier because the smarter people will in turn help the manager get promoted and everyone becomes happier. What happens in reality is the management fears intelligent people, discourages them and their ideas, will trade them to anyone else in the company or just let them go..if they don't leave on their own first.
What happens when the person leaves? The manager gets more money in their budget, not for everyone's bonus, but for their own. Yes, Dilbert's boss lives on everywhere. Companies do not care about you as an employee. How do I know? Because you are not making any more salary than someone did 20 years ago.
In some cases jobs disappeared over time or business morphed into new technologies or merged but in other ways salaries really have not changed a whole lot. Were it not for the minimum wage levels, most people's jobs would be way below what they are paid now. Because they do not provide enough effort or value to the company and the company in turn may not view the role as important.
Call it PR, awareness or just plain bragging, if someone has no idea about what you do every day or why what you do is important, you may find yourself at the end of a "can we have your badge please" discussion.
If a manufacturer or vendor drops a product from their catalog, that isn't your fault. Staying on top of the news or direction coming from that vendor is your fault if you have not been letting your management know your findings. Sometimes this is against our own personal bias, for instance if you supported Symbian, you are now 100% dead. Could you have seen the writing on the wall for the last year or two? Yes, did you? Maybe. Did you tell your boss? Maybe. Did they listen? Doesn't matter, not your fault, but now what?
Do you get up Monday morning and change your ways? No, it's not that simple. Start with a little step, spend 5 or 10 minutes just writing/typing your thoughts and what you want or need. The power of goal setting, in text, writing, visibility or however it helps you has been proven time and time again. Your targets and goals at work mean nothing to you usually and so if you hit them or not makes no difference to you, aside from the job you have which may become precarious.
To think this job is the one you will be doing down the road is just not likely. Be open to change, recognize an opportunity, define yourself better and in turn get better recognition, and hopefully salary, at work or however you earn your money.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Do you need a salary?
What if you could make your money doing something completely different than what you earn your livelihood today? Would you do it?
Do your kids care how you make your money? No, they just want, well..want everything.
If you didn't have to go to work Monday morning, what would you do instead to make money?
The NFL, and NBA as well, are arguing about who gets not just millions, but in the NFL's case, billions of dollars. Indeed it puts ones own salary in a whole new perspective, unless you work for a handful of wall street financial firms.
The NFL teams business offices may also close if they strike. Why?
There is no money? Nope they have money of course.
Because these people are the problem and make millions? No and many make only average wages.
The owners don't care about them? Quite likely. They treat them this way astonishing as it may seem when these people are what holds it all together. But management is letting them know they don't care about them. Nice, real nice. The owners better be giving them raises when this is all over.
Why do teachers get paid so little to educate your kids? If this is not the most important job a person could have, not sure what is. Many of us can not home school because of our salaried jobs or maybe because of lack of knowledge. You get what you pay for and is it any wonder private school tuition goes up as does enrollment? Who can afford all this is a whole other post.
Why do companies stop paying for training, insist it is not needed or can be done online by someone on their own? If repetition is how we learn, are businesses being short sighted and short changing themselves and their employees? As adults do we not need to still learn like we always did? And why do we have to do it on our own time? We may like our jobs but do you need to spend 3 hours a night doing your training because your boss won't let you do it on company time?
If no one needs to learn, why do our kids go to school? Why do some people pay $20,000 or more for elementary school or even high school education? Did you ever ask the teachers what they get paid? I have and was not surprised it is not really much more than when I was in school back in the mid 80's. So where does all that money go? 12th grade for me cost about $4,500, it now costs over $15,000. 300% increase in 25 years. Did teachers salaries go up that much? Average salary was $20-40,000 back then. Now $30-50,000. Not a big increase is it?
So the public school system treats our teachers horribly, pay them worse, then blame them because they teach in bad districts and come up with some crazy way to figure out if you are a good teacher because of grades students get on standardized tests. Okay, so your boss just fired you because you did not meet your targets, no matter that you had no support, no marketing money, lack of training in sales or the product line and were supposed to do a bunch of things on your own time.
And that encourages teachers to help your son or daughter how? Does it encourage you to keep working for a salary?
Likewise in business, management has some odd ideas about who to fire, promote or provide proper salaries. During economic issues everyone gets hurt, well, unless the government bailed you out and you then gave whopping bonuses to your key executives...who did NOTHING to earn them in most cases. Who did much of the work? Yep, the people who got fired.
Yes, some will be dead wood or bad fits or just not necessary, but when a company lets go of numerous people with 20+ years at the company, makes it hard to imagine they were all so bad to have lasted all that time. Maybe they didn't make the executive track, but you kept them all these years because they were good at something. But now, this year, they no longer are? Okay. Thanks, no gold watches, you understand, it's the economy.
So in this era of $0.99 apps, a whole new meaning to the dollar store franchises, how does one make money? Salaries can not be solely supported by selling cheap applications. Or can they? Maybe in large quantity of numbers this works and there lies the key.
If the consumer side, where else can one find such large quantities of people buying ANYTHING, is where he money is going, why would an organization wish to focus only on selling to companies..instead of the people who work in those companies? Sell both sides and win big. It worked for Microsoft and appears to be finally working for Apple.
Salaries do not matter.
Money matters. So does your health and your family.
Everything else is extra, but what will you do Monday when there is no more salary? You may love your boss, love your products, but the company may not love you one day and then what will you do?
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Wait, you may be right.
I finally got my copies and read it last night. Believe it or not, they had never sent us a completed copy, had all the bits and pieces but not as a finished version.
If I can say, Packt did an excellent job of taking our edits and scribbles and making a well presented book. Going through some items I see I could have added some more screenshots but some parts were added last minute. I may add to those sections in time so the digital version will get the benefits.
Amazon has the book on sale today for $32.46 a steal compared to retail of $44.99.
You can also get the book in a digital format from Packt's website.
The book covers Domino primarily. Some sections do go over the J2EE version but at the time, unlike now, few were on the J2EE version so we went with the dominant product.
Clustering is covered as is setting up Domino, Quickr, Fix packs, interim fixes,DAOS, SSO, integrations with ECM and Sametime, plus how to customize basic sites.
Numerous people have bought it and are waiting for delivery, so what are you waiting for?
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Picture a business that trains people for new roles. Now picture that company performing the training online only. Next the sales people who get more people to sign up, get rewarded. The people doing the training get paid for their knowledge that they impart in the training. The people supporting the online infrastructure...don't exist. It's all in the cloud. There is one person who makes sure the files get saved and stored in the right place. Everything else is automated with a call center handling support for the students.
A simple example yet one with is Utopian in nature to big business.
This is the world we are heading towards.
We have to change it if this is not the end we choose.
How do you change it? Can we change it? Is resistance futile?
CIOs, aside from saving their own skins, have been trying, and not always well, to show how IT can and does not only bring value but benefits the company as a whole.
Now the time has come where the ability to promote the IT department has never been easier. Yet, where are the CIOs now? Where is your IT department?
They may be time to save you still. If you want people to know what you do, blog about it, video it, podcast it, text about it, tweet about, skype about it, set up persistent chat rooms for IT support. Use the tools your company has already, built in and free usually. This is your chance to do PR for yourself. It is not a forced issue or requirement but it must start with you from within.
On the other hand if you think this is all just a way for people to goof off at work, and I am talking to you, the CIO, then your own job is probably going to disappear soon as well.
You have been begging for people to listen to you and understand what IT does for them. You finally have a perfect way to do this. You can't be serious that you still don't get it enough to not only let IT use it, but let everyone in the company use it, can you?
If you are afraid this will lead to the hastening of your demise then you also do not see where this will lead your organization. This is your chance to change the course, lead by example and make your organization the envy of your competitors.
Don't blow this chance, it may be the last one you will get. Social Business is NOT the Holy Grail, but it may be the chance you have been looking for.