Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Have you seen our Exchange Server?

Neither have we...for 2 days! And then we lost ALL of our email?

Not ours, we don't use that Exchange puzzle of a system. This was from a friend of mine who is in the business of keeping people up with generators and UPS units..Large UPS units.

Goes to show that just because one is in the industry does not mean one practices what they preach.

Told him they should have called us, we could have had them up within an hour or 2 if their IT people worked with us. Full webmail, calendar and (if required)mobile clients(sorry Blackberry People no hot spare BES laying around) access, even provide secure Instant Messaging if necessary.

Sure we couldn't do anything about past emails or meeting details but at least the executives and sales people could still be working and making money. And your IT staff can be focused on their task.

This is just another example of how robust Lotus Domino is that you can be up and running, admittedly in an emergency basis, but running securely and efficiently.
Could you do the same using Exchange? Possibly, but if so, then why doesn't anyone ever do it that way? Why is it we always hear about a day or days of outage?

Think out of the box, there are alternatives usually.

So if you are reading this because your Exchange server crashed...again..or Outlook is down for some unknown reason until further notice, contact us and we will get every executive and top tier manager back online in less than 2 hours.

Everyone registered. The only wait beyond the 2 hours is for the mail boxes to be created which just depends on how many users you want to provide email.

So if this is you, and you are in need, click here to contact us via web or get a hold of me from one of the ways on the top of the blog page.

Before others suggest this makes Domino sound cheap or easy, it is not meant to replace a proper defined environment, but we have systems in place for this situation which are available at that last minute.

Friday, August 27, 2010

An Invasion of Privacy by Citibank and AT&T

Dear Citibank and AT&T,

If you robocall someone, ask for their name and zip code, which is not that hard to produce for criminals and then ask for me to speak to someone to assist me, they should be able to let me know what account # we are discussing BEFORE asking me for real information like Social Security #, birth date or my bank details.

I asked for them to let me know which card(we have a few between corp and personnel) it is, tell me the last 4 digits of the card or the last digits of one of our accounts, but they are unable to comply unless I give out my details?! YOU CALLED ME!

So you get to invade my privacy and request personnel information BEFORE your people can tell me anything? and you expect me or anyone else to believe you are Citibank or whatever?

The person suggested I call back the number on the back of my card, I asked, which card, they can't tell me.

Thank you,

A not very happy customer

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

852 is installed and I see SPEED!

Speed! Like in Lightning McQueen from Cars.
Lightning McQueen sees Speed

Multithreading Replicator page that really moves.

Startup improved, warm startup really improved. Make sure when you install it to check the bottom box of this screen.

look it goes faster, if you ask it to do so

I ran into a RCP plug-in error, like this one:
plugin not found

But doing an install 1st thing this morning with nothing else running let it go through fine.

But when you have a 8.5 client directory that looks like this, without mail files, some bumps might be expected.
how big is your directory

Fonts getting larger with every reply? Thoughts?

A quirky problem arose, and while I didn't think much about it at the time, it is becoming a problem.

Client, who emails IBMers quite a bit, and only the one person in the office sees this, has emails that progressively get larger and larger fonts as the emails go back and forth. Today's was 22 pages, shrunk down to 7 after we fixed it.

An odd situation if ever I saw one.

So far, unable to fully resolve it, but there is a technote, #1099606 ​that specifies that this was NOT RESOLVED IN R6 or R7.

Can any IBMers please let me know if this was resolved in R8.x?

Other suggestions I found include:

1- on the "Edit Current" check if the format of the text is "MIME" or "Notes Editor " then change it to either one and then try

2- on the "File" ==> "Preferences" check if the emails editor is " Word" or "notepad" then again change it to either one

3- when you receive an email right-click it and then check what is defined over there the Encoding is it "European" or what

We do not believe this is a Notes client issue per se, but still looking into it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Projects Concord and Vulcan at MWLUG

David Via just showed the people in his session project Vulcan and Concord.

Have to say Concord is very impressive watching it work. Smooth and quick, enhanced functionality and no lag between edits of coworkers live, compared to my experience with Google apps online. The key to speed is once connected, everything is running locally for you, that and the underlying code.

Yes it's beta and what we saw may not survive but if I had access to it in my beta of LotusLive I could make great use of it today, internally and externally.

Vulcan on the other hand is not so swift as Concord, but it is doing a million things. It is pulling details from all over, integrating into back end systems, xpages apps and of course sametime, email and connections pieces.

A true home page which if the speed can be improved(we had bad wifi, so it may not all be Vulcan's fault) would truly make Facebook look ancient as far as real time integration.

We are still a ways off from both seeing the light of day but as David said, 'These are "Show Cars" not exactly what the end product will be, more a direction of thinking.

Keep thinking this way and how will anyone not want it?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My DDM Session at MWLUG

Packed room, about 50 people and one lucky developer who won a Plantronics Voyager!

"If You only If You Only Knew What Your Server Was Saying"

The customization of DDM and how to understand some ambiguous messages.

You can download the file from here.

1 compettive session done Tonight at MWLUG

Thanks Rick for talking with me, and thanks to Laurie for pointing him to me.

The conversation with execs that want to leave Lotus, or for that matter any product, is always based on the issues the executive has, rarely if ever about technology.

Remember it is never about technology itself. Sure you may have to point out the execs ignorance, but do it in a nice way. Remember their underlings never tell them what they think, just what they want to hear...if they even know the answers.

You must have the exec in a room with others, it is the only way to have a semblance of logic in your discussion. Otherwise they will act like the meeting never happened.

Let them list their laundry list of what is wrong, or what they think they will gain by moving to a new system. In many cases they are just unaware of what they could be doing.

Admittedly, some will be adamant that they want to go to vendor XYZ, but that is never the issue and if they are that head strong, having the meeting with others in attendance will flush out reality and if not, they will look bad to their minions.

Never slam them, never argue why one is better, that is not going to help you.

Listen to their issues, write them down, wait for the last one, which is really the issue. Then proceed to discuss the issues one at a time.

You may find they say, " I never knew we could do that" or "Why didn't my team tell me". You may also find "I don't care we are moving anyway".

You can not reason with someone who does not want to reason. But talk in their terms, go over their issues in their language and you will start to see others at the table start to open their eyes and be in awe of what they did not know.

NO ONE can know everything. Not me, not any BP or employee, so never belittle anyone in the discussion, just aim at the exec and pace your self with them.

Do not bring up anything technical, aside from explaining how to do something they may not have known was even in front of them. You may scare them with any technical discussion. Keep to business, keep to their existing staff as being capable.

Likelihood is their staff may just not have updated a server or client or whatever it may be and that is the only issue.

It is about money but it's also about getting every last dollar out of what they already spent. Or it's about wasting a bunch of money and all they still get is a database system, an email system or a CRM system or whatever is at issue.

You can do it, really, and if not, ask me for help if it is too daunting.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Free Competitive Discussions at MWLUG

I am enjoying the beautiful Hyatt Regency Cleveland Arcade hotel during MWLUG.

If you will be attending MWLUG or are around Wen night we can discuss how to handle objections, executive decisions, political turf and other routes to unrest which may cause you or your organization or clients to question their future directions.

So email me or send me a Tweet I will be around until Friday morning.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Last minute MWLUG DDM Session help

If You Only Knew What Your Server Was Saying - INF101 - Thursday 11am-12pm
Abstract: Your server is crying out in pain and you ignore it. Daily, hourly it suffers in silence because you do not let it talk. You know it can talk, right? Then you turn it on and it talks, non stop. So you shut it off again. Let me spend some time on what it is saying to you and understand what is important and how to customize it to make your life better and keep your server and employees happier.

My session on DDM is not exactly a best practices, but more a how to work with it, understand it session for those who either never go inside/under the covers but use it or those who have no idea how to use it

While I have a number of items, I was looking for other issues you have seen or been emailed by the system which are vague or questionable warnings.

Or for that matter anything you wish it told you beforehand?

Just wondering if I am missing anything.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tethering and Modern Times

It used to be that one could use their GSM chip in a nice pcmcia style device to connect to anything, for free.
Someplace that broke in the world.
So I called AT&T and asked what gives and they said I had to sign up for tethering.
Because we don't pay them enough now to give us data and calls and sms?

So my poor Tilt-2 still wouldn't work until I changed a registry entry that is hard coded by At&T incorrectly.

Changed HKLM\Comm\InternetSharing\Settings\ForceCellConnection to "MEdia Net" and it worked.

And so now I am posting from my tethered laptop via EDGE or 3G or nothing.

It seems Amtrak's auto train does not have WiFi. Shame on them.

But what's 18 hours among friends right?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Water Bills and Online Payment Services in Boca

This is about a decent application that fails in its effort to assist the average every day person. In this case, that person was me.

The website for the City of Boca Raton
, a city which we are not part of since we are in unincorporated Boca Raton, but we pay the city for our water and sewage usage. Fine, I can live with this. I can also live with them not letting us use their libraries, although I do anyway for their free wi-fi, even if it is only an hour of it a day, sometimes you just want to go someplace quiet to work. But I digress.

On the website there is a E-Services tab and under there is Water Bill Payment.
Simple UI, does just what you want, takes payments, uses a Login and password which work fine, can show the details of past payments and what is owed and when.

The problem starts when you want to pay the bill. You are presented with 2 options, one for immediate payments, the other for On-Demand Payments. Personally I do not see anything different in these 2 options, yet this is what the explanation says under On-Demand:

* We save your credit card or bank information in a secure location.
* You tell us when to charge one of these accounts.
* No need to re-enter this information every time you want to pay on-line.

And this is what it says under Immediate:

* Enter your credit card or bank information in a secure location.
* Immediate, on-line authorization of this payment transaction.
* No credit card or bank information is stored for your use in future payments.

So under Immediate it stores nothing but you can pay right now.
Under on-Demand it stores your data so you don't need your credit card every time and one can define when to charge their account, just like most other online services.

HOWEVER, that is not what the application really does under On-Demand. Instead it stores your credit card, but doesn't tell you that it can not store the little numbers on the back of your card, sometimes called CSC numbers.

Then there is an immediate request for payment. Huh? Hang on a sec, didn't it just say "You tell us when to charge one of these accounts." OK, so where do I do that?

Nowhere. Instead of scheduling my payment for while I am away, I paid it just now.

Suffering through bad application workflow is not a way to endear you to a customer and in this case the development house, SunGard HTE, Inc., also called SunGard Public sector, should fix it or at least edit the page so it stops LYING to customers.

The moral of the story is you can have a great UI and great functions but if you say you can do something on a website, you should really test that you can do so, otherwise REM it out until it works.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A walk through a client's frustration to a sale

CRM stands for what? Or better, what do you think you get for a CRM system?

I posed this question to a client a few days ago and the Executive was like a deer in headlights.

Some background first. This is a client we have worked with in the past, but for various reasons was unable to commit to a larger project last time we worked with them(just before R8 came out) and they are on 4.6! Still...today, but not for long :-). IT is on our side, loves Lotus and wrote their apps they use that EVERY person in their organization uses for EVERY client.

Problem is he no longer has time to do updates and as you will see, this created some issues that possibly could lead to them dropping the system. Unbelievable really, but it gets worse.

The organization has limited IT budgets to beyond minimal...for maybe 10 years.

Yes i know what you are all thinking, why waste your time with this no win scenario. They have no money, budget, they have an older server (running quite fine I might add thanks to us) use Exchange for email(not going there...in this post), and supposedly the "employees" use rolodexes, not digital ones, physical ones on their desk.

We walked into our meeting and were joined by the IT, head AA, executive VP and a AVP. My type of meeting. Oh and of course they want to move to one unified system.

We were asked about and shown some documents that must get fixed immediately. Nothing broken, but some federal or state mandating reporting requires changes and well, as the customer put it, all the other Business Partners they contacted refused to work on Release 4.6.

When I asked about the changes, the EVP started pointing out all the issues they have and that they will be getting a CRM system, sometime down the road.

I asked in my usual way, what will you get from the CRM system that the existing application doesn't do?



Deer in the headlights...almost. I don't think anyone had ever asked the question to the EVP.

A short list followed of things the app obviously COULD do, but no one either ever asked or made an effort to learn how to do it. This last part probably sounds familiar to many that have been in similar situations.

After the list was done and it included simple things like agents to run to let people know when a new request came in or that 30 days have past, reports(monthly/annual/weekly), better way to capture inquiries from the web into a core system(did I mention they use a 4.5 app),and some other bits of importance, I proceeded to explain how each either already existed(although maybe needed some slight edits) or could be added with some development work. They didn't even ask about web use or devices. I found out later that they really are not a very technical savvy organization and we will help them with that too in time.

It was like they won the lottery if you could see their faces as we walked them through not only what they wanted but what they didn't think was possible.

We got on the subject of reporting and how it takes between 1-3 hours(?!) to create a graph or pie chart of their data because they do it all manually. They nearly fell over when I let them know there is a much simpler way to perform that task.

The questions just need to be asked and people will let you know what they need...once you can manage their frustration and bias.

The AVP wanted more flexibility. Again, this is a matter of some questions and inputs to understand the requirements but still nothing impossible.

However I countered with our view of flexibility. Flexibility to us is having a platform that can not only run on any Operating System but on any device(they are a Blackberry shop yet when I mentioned the iPhone/iPad suddenly everyone was excited) and naturally be a web client/app as well.

The client is a respected organization and one which potentially we could, if we get everything together, assist in helping them meet their annual goals on many levels.

All because we were able to paint a picture, using their words and needs in a way that encouraged them to stay with a platform that, once updated, will bring them and their field reps into modern times.

Reducing wasted efforts by roughly 25-75 hours a month.
Estimated savings in dollars per month is between $1,250 - $3,750.
Annual savings: 300-900 hours, $15,000 - $45,000

Amount of money and time lost because of indecision on the clients part for the last 4 years(so they said):1,200-3,600 hours and $60,000 - $180,000

This is a minimum ROI to work with(as more details come in this will no doubt grow). No, they are not a huge organization, but they will see an ROI from our work easily within 2-4 months. And this does not include any new business they may earn because of changes to their application.

What will it cost them to see this return for the graph/pie chart issue? Probably zero or at worst a few hours on our part to document it and test it with them, just depends on them really.

Am I backing down from my recent post about value of an Enterprise solution? Not at all, in this organization it does not take much to make something Enterprise level and we are doing just that because it is THAT important to them.

And we can still do it all for 1/2 of what the Microsoft CRM quote was.

Making a frustrated customer happy and saving them money? Priceless