Thursday, April 29, 2010

White Space? Doesn't everyone have an Email system?

Evidently not.

Yes, there is life on the planet that does not have a corporate email solution in

Sure, there are some small outfits or startups who don't have anything, but this is a company doing some serious business with offices in 3 locations, 2 in the US and about 100 people.

But they use FREE tools. How cool! How cheap! How....frustrating!!!

Seems the IT person/people had a great idea to use web tools (not ones I even know, but to each their own findings) and Linux file servers running some homespun email, and well, you get the picture. They have serious issues with a failure of various services, some web 2.0 software they used going under, their file server platform needs to get restarted daily, they use an ISP mail server, they have no calendaring/scheduling, they use a (1)Google calendar for everyone to manage their calendar, but send invites via an Outlook like program and track other bits of meeting info in a spreadsheet, which is shared between the AA's and... well it's amazing they get it all done.

We were asked to discuss LotusLive(LL for the rest of this post).
We ruled out LLiNotes because they also want a full client, they can't depend on Internet access for everything all the time.
LLNotes was deemed appropriate because of their need for a mixed client and browser requirements to accommodate everyone's way of working, I can appreciate their forward thinking on this.
LLEngage was included as they want collaboration, sharing of files(inside and out), Meetings and parts of the Lotus Connections which is in the offering.

After meeting with the executive in charge, we sat down with some people who setup meetings and we learned how they work and their frustrations. Something I learned over 15 years ago is always ask the administrative assistants if you want to know what works or doesn't in a company and just what they do every day, because these are the 10% of people who use 90% of the product, really, so befriend them if you know what's good for you...and them. Done with lesson.

So they proceeded to detail how they set a meeting.

First, they go to the great Google calendar they use to see what time is free...for everyone. Yes, most of the employees time is kept in there. Then they find a time(somehow)that works for everyone.

Second, they must find a phone line which is available for the conf. call. They use...a spreadsheet to track this. Evidently their Google calendar does not have a resources option. They provide a line they think might be open based on anything scheduled around the meeting. I kid you not.

Third, they have a location which uses....Outlook. Not Exchange or so I was told, just Outlook for their calendar and email. So these poor AA's have to send an Outlook invite to those people and a Google one to everyone else, I gave up asking why after a while. Suffice it to say they need a little direction as they are expected to double in size next year.

Fourth, they then have to track everyone that accepted or not to merge the 2 different calendars plus outside people. I immediately thought of Tungle and advised them to use it. And save a huge amount of time and effort, but they don't want to learn something new and then another thing after(the LL they meant). While I explained it works together, decided it better to push forward.

Fifth, there is the problem with seeing someone's email, especially if there is NO server for email. Sorry did I forget that part? All emails are downloaded to each person's pc. Never mind Business Continuity or Government requirements(we also discussed what they should or should not do, I suggested their corporate lawyers provide a guideline and then we can discuss it, I am not a lawyer and can not advise on that properly). So they almost have to play phone tag with people to verify times/dates, some people seem to use an IM or Skype but not enough.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Now, after all this, I sat down with my laptop and showed them 3 different ways to create those same meetings requests. I used LotusLive, Notes and the Domino iNotes clients. Imagine their faces, and comments, as I showed them the meeting options in the Notes and iNotes side include the LotusLive details for dialin and meeting details, Group Calendar option, colored layers(they have that in Google but not one for themselves and everyone else), free time lookups, resource reservations, auto processing for meetings and a few other items they asked about.

Happy to hear them say things like "Something really does all of that?" or "OMG, we don't have to deal with 4 different lookups and systems?" and my favorite "We can't do this in Outlook!".

At no time did anyone voice a bad opinion about Notes or IBM. True the exec was in the room, but even after he left, everyone was just amazed and impressed at what they saw.

Next thing is to setup a demo for the AA's on some items they asked about so they can walk through a few meeting setups on their own to make sure we have all the pieces they use/need.

So the next time you hear there is no new opportunities out there, just remember, you see what you want to see.

Did I mention these guys have an office inside a building where Microsoft has offices. I almost went to the MS office just to go talk to their local evangelist but as our meeting ran over by an hour or so had to get home. Maybe next time I will check it out. That might be an interesting post.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

LCTY event in Miami, Palm Beach/Boca Raton

LCTY Miami and LCTY Boca Raton
While it has taken some time, I am now happy to say our LCTY site is now live.
You can find it here,

Florida, the home of Lotusphere, where it all starts for many of us each year, is also where LCTY's (for the moment) stop. On our site you can get links to all of the Florida LCTY events, not just the 2 we are running.

June 10 is the last date on the IBM public site, for North America and that is our event in Boca Raton.

So just how does one close an LCTY event? An excellent question.

We were thinking about closing the 1st LotusLive deal in Florida at it, too late, we did it already.

Maybe a Domino.doc to Quickr migration announcement, again, already got it.

Maybe we can find an old Domino customer to bring them to 8.5.1, nope did it already, although there might be an R4 server still in South Florida.

Possibly the 1st IBM Cloud Computing deal for a Websphere/DB2 project? hmmmm, maybe.

But we look forward to meeting some new people, hearing from our speakers like a yet unconfirmed IBM executive, a great chance to hear about mobility and Lotus software clients from RIM our sponsor of the events, if we have enough interest for a technical session or 2 I will probably present as well.

Thanks go to the IBM teams who are being so helpful and assisting us with logistics as well as nailing down the IBM executive.

So if you happen to be on vacation or visiting a client or maybe you are a Microsoft person who reads my blog, come on down and introduce yourself. There are secret meetings/sessions as well, but you have to register to get notification of these.

We do ask everyone register so we can nail down the right size room, food and perhaps other goodies.

So go to and register for either Miami, June 9 or Boca Raton, June 10.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My escapades in Xpages in which I ...code? sorta

This is for all the admins and developers who have yet to work with XPages.

Many readers know I am not a developer, although decades ago I was. You may recall this post which was highly popular at the time when I discussed how hard it was to code in Designer 8.5 or I should say what worked or didn't work for me.

At the time I did not even touch XPages.

My how times change, we still do not employ a developer in house, we hire as project requires, so guess who gets to play developer!

So for our LCTY's I needed a database for registration and information setup, easy I say, I got some hundred templates and stuff, must be something I could reuse. Famous last words!

If you have been following me on Twitter, you will know I have been playing with PHP usage and Domino(post coming if/when I get it working) and the last few days providing excellent humor to the greater community, right Darren, while I query basic items that should be simple to do in the Designer client but are nowhere to be found.

I asked around, not with much luck, and some cryptic coding references. Chris Toohey Blogger of the Year for his great efforts, was helpful in 2 key points which made a world of difference for me.

But let's start simple.

1) Getting started page of Designer which most people click away has some basic, really basic information. You can see it by clicking on help from Designer and Click on Welcome.

2) From the Welcome screen, now click on What's New. Scroll down to Learn more and you will seek the "howto" for XPages from the help. So click on XPages Tutorial which takes you to the Help guide and the XPages tutorial, which for me was not written for a new developer. If I had more time I would have followed it all, but I learn on the fly and by necessity. Don't follow me, follow the tutorial, it is pretty good with pictures and details, although you would be better served if you were a developer already IMHO.

3) Now, if you are with me this far, I suggest you take a look at some blog posts from David Leedy that helped me with some basics that I was missing. Thanks again David!

4) If you have any interest in XPages, you must start with Declan Lynch's (definitive?) blog posts on XPages, not as helpful for me short term this time but great references.

5) Chris Toohey pointed out some items which a new developer might not know and that is you may not see your control sets or data in the right hand column of your Designer client. Control sets provide the great drop down of all the items available for usage which we all know and love like checkbox, fields, links, radio buttons. This is important because they are drag and drop and easy to use, if you know hwo to work with them. And the second reason this column is important is because once you create your Notes regular form and fields, there is a 2nd tab for data which once you tell it where to find the details allows you to drag and drop all the fields onto your new XPages form. And they are done. So cool! But for whatever reason they did not show up on my screen. To see it, when you have your application/database open in Designer go to Window on the Menu bar and then Reset Perspective and click Yes when it asks to reset to defaults. Later on you will understand more about it, if you stick with this.

So that's the basics. Perhaps in another post I will detail how i put the site together. Suffice it to say I used a mix of html pages and a notes app.

Now, what were my problems?

1) RTFM applies to me in this case, but since there is no really good manual or help file that lets me ask in normal English what is in Eclipse/XPages language this caused me some issues.

2) Emailing your form/document. Prime example of my queries that went nowhere, as I just said in #1. Nothing to explain how to do this, no control set either. You have to build it. Bad, I say, just Bad. You can have a control for links but not a mailto option type control? I chalk this one up to my lack of education but if you can "submit" a form, you should be able to have the option to submit and email.

3) Lots of options for everything, but if you don't get your data linked properly, it won't work. Error reporting, even when enabled, leaves a lot to be desired.

4) XML is not HTML. Fine I accept that. But provide a basic, here is how you would add something in html and this is what it looks like in XML. Note the changes, now go code. I found some sites on the net that helped but don't have the links. Sorry.

5) I might be out of line here, but a default view should be created on the fly with whatever information is in one's form (notes or XPages). Ok, maybe this is just a dream, but why do I still have to create a basic view like I did 20 years ago? By hand?!

Eventually I did manage to get the XML side a little and edit in the source page to fix some things. But if you never coded html or understand how to read code, you may find yourself confused at first.

A great learning experience and makes me want to understand more about XPages and see the fruits of my labor more often, but I also know I am really not a developer, and never claim to be one.

Bottom line is yes you can build it, if you have patience, time, the internet, books, manuals and great friends to help you online, IM, skype, phone or email.

Even an Evangelist can Fail

12 days since my last post and I have been busy.

What with a book deal, clients moving to LotusLive, other clients firing their IT staff and having us take over, LCTY Miami and Boca Raton websites and registration and invites to do plus normal business, and yes The Admin conference coming up I have been busy.

However, the truth is I was floored by a client that decided to migrate to Exchange and then to the MS cloud for Exchange and really was put off for a while.

We had wondered why we got the cold shoulder and no replies to emails or calls when we were supposed to be signing on renewals and 2 projects.

Well now we know the outcome, but the why is what bothers me.

We did a session with them on Cloud Computing which at the time had a minimum seat requirement. In retrospect this may have been one of the nails to this coffin.

Mysteriously the Websphere leader was on vacation, across the world, for a rather long time.

The Sametime staff, which we were helping get Sametime 8.5 setup also stopped calling us for help.

While we never sat still and let the client go away, we had begun to wonder about them. We had meetings with them and IBM and executive management seemed gung ho to move forward.

What we also found out is the executives have a monthly gathering with other executives. Nothing wrong with that, except some executives are vendors. In this case a rather large vendor who has moved away from IBM in favor of our friends in Redmond.

You can guess the next part.

Miraculously this other vendor has convinced the client to go with them "because everyone else does and if IBM isn't ready for you now, when will they be". Edited based on comments: to include "" and change, them, to you. More details in comments.

FUD of the highest order!

But sadly, and keep this in mind everyone, even with a strong relationship and honest discussions, the CEO mandated a change and nothing we could say or do would change the order.

The seat limit is no longer for LotusLive and because of that we have made great strides in selling it to other clients. In fact the same presentation and discussions we had with this client, we have had with others who are moving to LotusLive.

While this was not a competitive discussion, although I did cover MS and Google as well, it was an opportunity that I had to provide greater leadership and evangelism and evidently failed in my efforts to help the client bring our and their excitement to the CEO (who I have yet to meet or talk to, which was a point of issue for me given the level we were working).

The jury is still out but we believe these points are important:

1) If you are working with a CXO and don't meet or even talk to the CEO you may have a problem later on.
2) Honesty is still the best policy. Yes, it has caused me to lose jobs, clients and other projects because I was either too Lotus happy or not enough when discussing problematic situations. However, I'll be tarred and feathered before I will ever pull a Microsoft Consultant stunt. This is when on the eve of a contract completion they say, usually at 4pm on a Friday, we need more time, resources, money to finish something we promised you would be done in a week but it takes 4.
3) Clients don't lie to you, they just don't tell you the whole story. Spend more time with them to learn all you can and ask more probing questions. (In this case we have known them for 5+ years)
4) Do not let any vendor, IBM included, have a meeting where they do not work with you on topics. Naturally you can not be or even know all your clients meetings, BUT you should know about the ones between your client and the vendors you are buying software and hardware. If the customer just bought a hammer, why would you continue asking them about a slightly different hammer if not to drive them crazy or upset for making their choice?

While we bounced right back and got some other deals, and that eased the feeling of failure, it doesn't cure it. It's been a very long time since I lost a client this way, going back many years, and you always remember the ones that got away.

On the bright side, learning from it, I have submitted an abstract for MWLUG on this subject and competitive discussions which hopefully will be accepted. Suggest you submit some sessions as well.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What do you do with a Stand alone Notes Client

A discussion on twitter from someone in IT that was asked by an employee to let them use a Notes client as a stand alone functional piece of software.

I replied that it does no harm and the person does not need a server, although it helps for more advanced needs and of course if any application needs to get shared then you do need a server.

This brought up an interesting discussion, aside from them being on Exchange and Windows 7.

What do you use on your stand alone client, that maybe is replicated to a server but doesn't really NEED a server?

I keep copies of everything on a server but my laptop has a massive directory of apps I play with or use.

A quick list of what is in my Launcher section of my home page includes:
  1. Time tracking/billing
  2. Serial Number/Password list for clients
  3. Gotcha db file (where I store various odd items of technical wizardry for support issues)
  4. PMR/Outage Reports
  5. Travel/Vacation time off (a second db also has past hotels, cars, trips in more detail
  6. Expense Reports
  7. Lotusphere Dbs (because thanks to Ben's efforts you can attach the slides to the sessions for later use when you need a review)
  8. Client configuration (where I keep client details like IP addresses, visio maps et al)
  9. Irish Pub db (You never know when you need it!)
  10. Home project db (never quite as used as I prefer, but helpful in planning sometimes)
  11. Sketch ups (code pieces for reusing to demo an app)

And a slew of other ones which require some server interaction.

So an individual in a company could be more productive, in various ways at a simple level and in the case of workflow type database, even for their own knowledge, it is a nice win for them as well.

Can you do more having a server, sure, no question, but working on your own, with a designer client you can go pretty far.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

SnTT - 10 ways to Sign a Db if you are w/out a Designer or Admin client

Rehashing old information but for those in need, here you go.
I have been asked about this a few times in the last few weeks about it.

So in no specific order, here are your options.

1) Use someone else's pc that has the programs running.
2) Download it all from IBM if you are entitled.
3) Call your local Business Partner and get it via FTP
4) Go here and download it from IBM, the 100% FREE Designer client that is.
5) Go here and download the 90 day trial Admin and Notes client code.
6) If you do not have any of these options, then you want to print and keep this page about Lotuscript to do it for you. Thanks to the SearchDomino site for posting it.
With this LotusScript code, you can sign a Notes/Domino database without using Lotus Notes Administrator. Just create an agent with the LotusScript code snippet below and then run it. Right click on Run in your client, or SignAgent?openagent through your Web browser to sign the Notes/Domino database.
Sub Initialize
Dim session As New Notessession
Dim db As Notesdatabase
Set db = session.Currentdatabase
Call db.sign(DBSIGN_DOC_ALL)
End Sub

7) Nomad, run Notes on a USB! It will run designer and admin clients, keep it handy just for this purpose.
8) RDP to a machine with the admin client, copy the file over or put it on a server and get it done.

Edited 4/7/2010:
Thanks for the added items from the comments
9) Another option is to use the free utility "Simple Signer", developed by Tony Austin in Australia.
10) Copy designer.exe to your program folder, it worked prior to R8.

Friday, April 2, 2010

TGIF - How to Permanently set Return Receipt on

You can't!

Shocked and bewildered that this is not a policy setting option. The only way to do it is to edit your mail template code. Not even sure what this would be like for iNotes.

There is technote #1211338
"Enabling return receipts by default in a mail file or mail template"
This say for

Notes Domino 6.5.4 and later:
1. Open the design of the mail file and open the DelOptionSubform subform.
2. Give the ReturnReceipt field a default value of 1 (type "1" in the formula window for the default value; include the quotes) and save the changes.

But why is there no policy for this? If I needed this for only the legal department or sales I would need to keep multiple templates. Not what I want to do in mot clients situations.

Someone tell me I am wrong and just missed it in the policy listings some place please.

I created an ideajam request on this and if you agree, go vote on it here.