Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stop Using the F, S and C words to Explain Connections

It's another one of those things which came up a few times in conversation and while you may disagree with me on this it seemed to strike a chord with people.

C is for Cookie Collaboration and be really sure you know what you are doing before you use this word. Why? Because when an IBM or Lotus shop hears this word, they think about Lotus Notes and Domino first. Microsoft shops think about Sharepoint but that's another story. Talk about sharing and security, files and finding, profiles(not profiling) and priorities (Activities).

S is for Social and do you really want to conjure up thoughts of interoffice affairs or family outing details? No, you want to encourage business and sales. Discuss openness, within your firewall. Point out the updates and "streams" of  data flow and information one can leverage. Utilize everyone's profiles to get a step up on your competition or sales.

Some will argue executives get this already. Well if they do, please ask your sales reps to stop comparing Connections to Facebook.
It's not.
Facebook is a platform that encourages games.
You encourage business.

Keep in mind while many people use Facebook in one way or another, there is much to dislike about it including security, games, likes, photo sharing, too much openness, serious UI changes unexpectedly and it is FREE

Compare it to Linkedin, something an executive probably uses and understands and in most cases PAYS for it. No, they are not on par by features but can you explain profiles in a better way? People naturally value what they spend money on so why would you compare a product that costs money to a free product?

Get inside your customers mind and outside your sales goals and you will go far.

Edited 11/9/2011: Information Week had a post with more generic ideas on selling, you should see it as well.
11 Ways To Explain Social Business Benefits by Rachel Happe, November 08, 2011

The Parallel Life of Notes/Domino and Connections

In response to a few people today, this theme kept coming up.

I expect others to add to this list and some to detract from it, but it's a basic view of a situation which if you have been on the fence lately, still, this may help you.

If one views IBM Connections in parallel to IBM Lotus Notes and Domino you see these parallels:

  • have picked up some steam with the advent of release 3.x
  • are a platform to run your business, or some aspects of it
  • provide for messaging integration in one form or another
  • are extensible and expandable
  • are/were not so friendly to build at their earlier points in time
  • Domino(with R4) was an answer to the Internet, Connections to Social, both paradigm shifts
Then companies had green screens and dumb terminals for email making Notes a great alternative plus it had a built in designer client to make your own apps! 

Connections uses widgets or plug-ins or apps that could be found almost anywhere and put to great use.

Notes really made one believe in sharing or collaboration and that information did not have to be locked away on an as need basis.

Connections helps you find the persons or things, and don't forget the analytics, that will help you get the most out of your project, sales pitch or budgets.

Simple view? Yes. But do you want the 3 pages version when you are explaining it to the execs or the "Twitter" size?

There is an elegance to simplicity.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

0199 Error Resolved for Thinkpads

This is a hardware post. We don't sell much hardware, in fact we are only Lenovo dealers because of laptops and a rare server.

But I have been working on Thinkpad's since 1993/1994 when I used to manage upper memory blocks, a la QEMM and built-in MS-DOS6 options, so we could get other apps to run. In any event, the older people know what I reference and why it was important then.

Anyway, so over the course of about 2 weeks we had 3 laptops and one desktop all go bad. In 2 cases a hard drive replacement was needed, one a blown power supply which fried the motherboard(desktop) and another which worked but suddenly had this 0199 error.Eventually the other laptops got it as well.

For those that do not know an 0199 error on a Thinkpade, these are T60, T61 and SL510 models means that someone has exceeded their password attempts on a machine with a security code for BIOS administration or one of the BIOS passwords.

What is interesting in searching the web is some units, the T series ones, you can press ESC instead of F1 when prompted at boot to continue on to windows. Can't do that on the SL models.

There are some people on eBay that will "fix" your laptop for you for various prices, from $10-$100 a unit. I was in discussion with one about this before fixing them. There is also a person in Austrailia that sells a hardware card device to help assist when you do not know the passwords. Search for Joe in Austrailia prices are between $125-$250.

Now I was lucky enough to find a 4 year old reference that had the correct password and then proceeded to clear the references and check through the BIOS. BUT this only worked on the T series.

The SL510 does not accept ESC and the passwords had been cleared. The problem is with Lenovo's software that sits in Windows and monitors security. So if the user had thought it meant their Windows password, try three times and then BAM dead machine. Error 0199 exceeded attempts to login. So how do you fix this? I found some Chinese tech notes that outlined some options.

1) Cold boot then try to use SHIFT-F1 when prompted to press F1.This may take you to a security screen. In my case it did not.
2) If you can get to the BIOS, which I could when I press F1, tell the unit to revert to the default BIOS setups by pressing F9 or whatever key stroke your model says. This worked on mine. Then press F10 to save it and reboot it. POOF! It worked. On a desktop- it's like resetting a jumper on a motherboard.

So there you have it, this may not help you if you don't know the passwords, but to get around an 0199 error is really not too difficult. Hope this helps someone some time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

SnTT - Flags or Follow-ups now highlighted in Notes Client

Flags as I call them. But for my fellow Admins out there that don't do development here is a simple nice thing to do for clients. Mat's post last night reminded me of this.

Some people want to see the flagged items in a more obvious way, say color code the memo in the inbox view so you can see what is due when and by priority.

Thanks you to my friend Natallya of RPR Wyatt(a partner of ours) for helping me solve the problems i had with it. Any other developers out there who wish to point out anything let me know.

Originally I wanted to do this with an agent, but that created other questions like when would it show, what about when you were done with the item and of course what if the agent went crazy on the server side?

Although I am not in favor of hacking mail templates, this may make some people happier with the follow up items. On the flip side, this would go into everyone's inbox which creates an entirely different problem should people not like it. But no one complained yet. Suggest you make a copy of the mail template and name it uniquely and test it and then give it to people who want it or just add it to the general mail template.

So how to do it?

1) Open the Domino Designer
2) Open your mail template on your server
3) Open the Folders View
4) Open the $Inbox folder
5) Right click on the column to the right of the colorcolumn(hidden)
6) Select Add new Column
7) Give the column a name
8) Check the box marked value as color
8a) Click on the User Definable box and add ColorProfile to the field but uncheck Use Column Formula as Backup
9) On the last tab of properties, mark the column hidden
10) Now click on the column
11) Click on formula from the designer mini view
12) Enter this formula in the box:
@If (FollowUpStatus !="";102:153:255:0:0:0; 0:0:0)
13) Save it (CTRL-S)

The 1st set of 3 numbers are the highlight color, the 2nd set of numbers is the text color.

Test it
1) Replace the design on your mail file. File- Application-Replace Design
2) Close your mail file once completed
3) Open the mail file
4) Select any email for followup, quick flag or define it, your choice
5) The email should then be highlighted in blue
6) Remove the flag and the highlight goes away

If you do not like the blue, select a new color, this site was helpful to me.
To change the color, pick the color you want, and take all 3 of the 3 digit codes for RGB and replace the 102:153:255 part of the code.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Windows7 Icon Quirks for 8.5.3

I asked this on Twitter last week, no one had an answer for this odd event.

When I run Notes, full client meaning Standard and Designer and Admin are installed as well, on a Windows7 machine I see the Designer icon in the task bar below. One time it showed the Admin icon.

Is this some odd reference in code? Makes no difference to me or functionality just funny to see it there.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

8.5.3 Machine Specific Policy...Not in the Docs

This has been asked for by many and kudos to IBM for getting it done.

What is Machine-specific policy settings and what does it mean?

This IBM Technote #1501673 explains it and is THE ONLY place for the information right now.

In prior versions of the Notes Client, and policy control, an administrator could target an individual, but not a specific machine configuration for that individual. For certain settings and customers, this made the enforcement of specific settings problematic, either because a user had multiple machines, or because the configurations and usage were not easily partitioned.
To address this limitation, Lotus has introduced the ability to apply policy settings based on characteristics of the machine. For a given user, different policy settings could be applied on different machines. For example, this would allow the creation of a managed replica on laptops, and only laptops. It can also provide server administrators the ability to determine what policy settings to enforce, based on the specific attributes of the machine on which the Notes Client is running. Some possible attributes may include; version and type of OS, type of machine, basic or standard client, laptop, desktop, etc.

This capability has been implemented by adding a new @Function (@GetMachineInfo), by changing the Policy handling characteristics in the 8.5.3 client, by changing the Public Name and Address Book template's policy settings forms, and by adding formulas for the policy settings.

The code is on the technote as are examples.

Just a great benefit for admins and IT staff.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

CIO.com article about Nationwide and Connections

This article appears in the October 1, 2011 issue. You may need to register to read the full article on line.

What should be of interest is this quote from the CIO of Nationwide:
IBM’s integration “was ahead of most other companies’ in terms of vision,” says Mark Gaetano, CIO for enterprise applications at Nationwide. 
This for years was Lotus strength, being ahead of the world, IBM also has many initiatives that are ahead of the curve and nice to see it recognized.

Mark Gaetano contiues
Lotus Connections integrates with document management, making documents searchable by end users in a way that could violate policies for protecting sensitive data at financial firms, Gaetano says.
This seemed to be a problem for them. Something which has come up in sites we have worked on as well. Customers do not grasp the security setups and how much is related to the end user versus the admin preset or defining them. It could be resolved but I am not privy to what went on.

When you explain Files, please make sure to discuss the pros and cons of how to handle security.
Admins can set to only share internally or leave open to the user's discretion. Tried to find a good document that outlines this better, if anyone has a link to one, please let me know and I will add it.

SnTW - $Inbox, Don't mess with it

This is NOT a problem with 8.5.3, just about one mistake I made while upgrading, but it is about the $inbox folder itself.

While trying to edit my mail template, I ended up piecing wrong versions of code into it from an older version. In other words, I copied the $inbox to the new 8.5.3 template. Well, there's just one thing you see, I thought it was the template I pasted it to. It was my actual mail file. But I deleted teh original ($inbox) so the "new" one could go there.

Big mistake.

NEVER delete the ($inbox) folder from a mail file. You know why? Because none of the mails in your inbox will now have a home. That is correct, you have basically made orphans of your inbox mail. Of interest to you may be that any NEW mails appear fine, but the rest of the box is empty. Your mails are there, check the All Documents view, but they can no longer find their "home".

So how do you correct this?

It helps to have backups or in my case multiple replicated copies(server, desktop, netbook, etc..). Grab one before your bad changes got replicated. Now make a copy of the db, not a replica copy, just in case. Once done, copy and paste your inbox mail to the "bad" mail file. all will be good again. Clean up your FTI or delete them and rebuild all indices afterwards.

Replacing design will not fix it, nor will much else, in my case.
Afterward I found this IBM Technotes that can help:
1104973 How to rebuild a Notes mail inbox

My way included copying the good mail file all around would also work obviously. But you see the problem? If you didn't know it killed your inbox, it would replicate everywhere and you would be stuck to go hunt for your backups.

Once again replication saves the day. But no idea why that Technote didn't come up when I Googled for it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Some Notes and Domino 8.5.3 Benefits You May Not Know

In no specific order of importance here are some things I found on 8.5.3 Notes, Domino and Traveler.
Traveler must be searched separately from Notes and Domino if you are downloading it from IBM's websites. Wish they had it all together.

The Admin Client, at least for me, is REALLY fast now. (Just my view, your mileage may vary)
Designer client, is now really slow, it is always waiting for something to close. Must know I'm an Admin. (Just my view, your mileage may vary)
Notes client gets to open faster and cleaner than before.

Unread mail can now be ANY color, with a color picker found in File-Preferences-Fonts and Colors.
You also get the ability to change the read emails colors and set the size of your mail view font.

Preferences have been expanded in many cases to include more details upfront or than previously shown.
As one example, the accounts provides more details now.
Sametime embedded is now ST 8.5.1 so you have more options to work with and review as well.

Mail notifications can also include a slide-in summary type now if you wish.

Server console shows more threads and details than prior server like it's in debug mode. Someone said there is a reference in release notes about this. I didn't find the reference.
From Support regarding the logging changes:
"Starting with 853 the notes.ini paramater Debug_threadid is added automatically to the server and set to 1. The debug thread id is very useful when troubleshooting issues as it makes it easy to:
1. Grep for specific errors based on the task
2. Allows to see which task is throwing the error
If you would like to disable this option you can do so by setting debug_threadid to 0. To do so you can issue the command "Set config debug_threadid=0"
The debug is dynamic so the changes will take effect immediately."
Also the server seems to shut down faster for us but your mileage may vary.

Now is also the time to get your entitlements for Connections Profiles and Files setup. With a growing population of Domino shops looking at Connections, this is an excellent way to get a taste of it all. If you need help, just ask.

Lastly, if your install fails, try this:
Lotus Notes Install Cleanup Executable (NICE)
You can use the supplied Notes Install Cleanup Executable (NICE) tool to clean up a failed installation, failed uninstall or failed upgrade. You can also use the tool to uninstall an existing version of Notes, and clean up extraneous files, before performing an upgrade installation. The tool is available for Lotus Notes 8.x installations on supported Windows platforms only and must be run as an administrator.