Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Teach Yourself New Tricks

Evidently it is still possible, in this age of instant knowledge, to teach yourself something new.

Remember when you first got into IT or MIS or whatever programming language you started on and the power you felt when you got some OS to run or "hello world" showed up on screen or you got a line of text to blink? What happened to you? Do you still get that excited?

Encouraging the next generation to follow us means we need to remember the good old days and the excitement we felt. Personally I don't get that same feeling from Websphere but if you do good for you.

I used to say give me a day with any system and I will figure out enough to make it work for me. In time I could fill in the details and more knowledge. Now that I am older, evidently it takes me a few more days than it used to in my prime. To be fair systems are much more complex than they used to be. I know more now and it makes it harder to "just learn on the fly" when you can think of some many permutations of what you are trying to do.

So it was with great happiness I left the client site tonight completing part of a project doing something I haven't done before and it was really cool, again. For the first time in a long time, I got to feel like I did in the early days. It's a minor thing, perhaps to some, and even looking at it for face value it's a minor accomplishment but it's just great to every once in a while do something new and renew the enjoyment of why I chose to hang out with the technology world and not the accounting profession.

So go ahead teach, yourself something new and stay forever young.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Admins XPages

Tim wondered on Greg's blog post why we, that is Admins, do not extol the virtues of XPages in order to promote the long term viability of Domino infrastructures.

It is an interesting question. One which I do not have a good answer. Maybe because in many cases infrastructures get tweaked based on what we find in the wild. We don't build an infrastructure and then ask the developers to build an app for it, we build the infrastructure usually for or after an app is in place or required and tweak it at that point.

Many times we Admins are reactive, trouble hits and we spring into action. When life is calm we plan the future and tweak this or that along the way. Many times tweaking happens at the point of upgrades, migrations, changes in hardware in addition to new installations.

The job of an Admin does not always involve having a seat at the table when platforms and infrastructure decisions are made. We love having it but it's not always that way unfortunately.

If we always were part of that discussion, no doubt more companies would be expanding their usage. This is not to say Developers are in a better position but if a company has Domino Developers, good for them and hopefully they are doing their best to step up and push more apps to be built.The days of just coding for Notes clients must end of course because, well, the Notes client doesn't run on a phone.

But Lotus Notes Traveler with XPages support could change many things in the world. Mobile apps are the problem, mail is a given but how do you get to your apps? As Ed expounded, the Domino 8.5.3 Upgrade Pack 1 brings XPages magic to some core templates and provides more options for the developers to push out apps. I am not a developer and trust our friends that are will expound further on this topic in ways I  could never do it justice.

Admins? Get those new templates out there and start pushing your mobile mantra. You can help the push of XPages but you first have to install 853UP1. While you are doing, start tweaking, get your ODS upgraded, make sure DAOS is properly configured, check that swap space, change your web cache or tweak your memory settings for the larger RAM in the server.

And if you have something good for other Admins, post it so everyone gets the benefit as well.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's New in LotusLive as of Today

This is from a PDF we received from IBM. Some nice additions and changes. If you are looking at LotusLive let me know, happy to help you with it.
One thing which is of interest:

Mail file transfer over FTP
Companies that user a hybrid environment and that transfer mail files to the service can use a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client to perform the transfer. This method is supported for mail file batches that are equal to or less than 1234 GB.

What's new in LotusLive

The latest update of LotusLive™ contains many new features and upgrades.
Searchable help system
The new help system is navigable and searchable. It contains help for Profiles, Contacts, Communities, Activities, Files, iNotes, Events, and Administration. For additional information, go to the Product Documentation on the LotusLive wiki.

What's new in LotusLive Engage and LotusLive Connections
Many features have been implemented that enhance productivity and give users
additional capabilities.

  1. A community business owner can change the business owner of the community to another person.
  2. Files uploaded into the community, and files shared with the community can be made available to community members.
  3. Community owners can stop sharing files and folders that were originally shared to the community by its members.
  4. Community Folders within Files navigation are now displayed in Folders shared with Me.

For more details about Communities, see Communities Help in LotusLive.


  1. As you create or edit an activity entry, your work is automatically saved every 5 minutes, unless the administrator changes the interval.
  2. The activity business owner can change the business owner of the activity to another person
  3. You can add a link to a file or folder in the Files application from an activity entry to share it with the activity members.

For more details about Activities, see Activities Help in LotusLive.

The LotusLive Files application has been replaced by the IBM Connections Files application to better leverage the functionality across product offerings.

Functional and user interface changes include the following:
– You can pin frequently used files and folders to make them easier to find.
– You can subscribe to Feeds to receive update notification for files, folders, and views in your feedreader.
– You can share a file with a user who is not yet a member of LotusLive; the guest must accept the invitation to join LotusLive before they can access the shared file. When you include a non-LotusLive user email in your share list you are prompted to specify the person's name. The person receives an email to join LotusLive; upon doing so they can access the shared file.
– You can add tags when uploading files and folders and can search and filter on tags to retrieve files and folders.

Some features of the old interface have been removed or have been changed. The changes include the following items:
– Bookmarks are preserved as an attached text file.
– Readers will see all other readers on a shared tab for all files, regardless of when the files were created. If you do not want the readers of files created prior to this release to be visible, you must remove those readers prior to using this release.
– Users will no longer be able to upload a file and have it be accessible by anyone inside or outside of the company without authentication for all worldwide public users.
– The size limit for comments is reduced from 10 MB to 50K. This limits the amount of comments you can type.
– The character limit for tags is reduced from 256 to 100 characters. This limits the amount of Tag text that you can type.
– Recent Collaborators is no longer included on the Files dashboard and is available through the LotusLive Files interface.
– Recent Files is no longer included on the Files dashboard. However, it is available through the LotusLive Files interface.
– All files uploaded to LotusLive Files take the name of the file name being uploaded.

For more details about Files, see Files Help in LotusLive or watch the Getting
Started using Files in LotusLive video at

Instant Messaging

  1. Added support for Sametime® Connect client 8.5.1
  2. Dropped support for Sametime Connect client 7.5.1
  3. Sametime Connect client for BlackBerry is available if activated for your account.
  4. A browser-based Sametime Chat client is available if activated for your account.
  5. Users who are logged into Sametime using the browser-based client will see presence awareness information for other users when viewing their LotusLive business card.


  1. Usability improvements to My Profiles makes it easier to edit your profile.
  2. "Company" has been changed to "Organization" throughout the People interface.
  3. Personal Profiles no longer displays Folders shared with me.
  4. Organization Profile no longer displays a Files widget. Public files, which was the content of this widget, are no longer supported.

For more details about People, see the People category in the LotusLive wiki.


  1. The Charts service/feature is being removed from LotusLive Engage and LotusLive Connections.
  2. The Creating Data Set feature is being removed from the navigation of LotusLive Files.

Meetings for Mobile

  1. A mobile Meetings client is now available for BlackBerry, Android, iPhone, and iPad devices, enabling subscribers to join a LotusLive Meeting, view presentations, list participants, and chat with participants.
  2. Visit Apple iTunes for the LotusLive Meetings Mobile app for Apple iPad or iPhone. Or go to the Android Market and download the LotusLive Meetings app.
  3. LotusLive Meetings for Blackberry users is available from

Integrated Applications
A new integrated application is available: Trilog ProjExec Live . ProjExec Live
enables project managers to create, plan, execute and track projects using a professional Gantt editor that synchronizes with Microsoft Project. Invite other LotusLive users as project members and collaborate securely using a multi-project activity stream called the Project Wall. ProjExec Live is an intuitive, mobile-friendly solution to effectively manage and deliver projects of any size. More information is
available in the wiki page for ProjExec.

Note: Integrated Applications are available only if your company administrator has enabled them.

What's new in LotusLive iNotes

  1. Additional browser support and automatic configuration for IMAP, CardDAV, and CalDAV has been added.
  2. Internet Explorer Version 9 and Firefox Version 5 are now supported.
  3. The LotusLive iNotes Consumer profile is now available. This allows you to set up IMAP, CardDAV, and CalDAV in one operation on your iPhone.

For more details about LotusLive iNotes®, see LotusLive iNotes Help in LotusLive

What's new in LotusLive Notes®
The following features and documentation improvements are new in the current
release of IBM® LotusLive Notes™.

Free 60-day self-service trial
You can sign up for a free self-service trial of LotusLive Notes. This self-service trial includes a 60-day subscription to LotusLive Notes and LotusLive Engage. To sign up, simply go to the LotusLive website, and then click Try LotusLive. Complete the information shown on the form and click Submit. You receive an
email that includes your trial account logon information. For details about the self-service trial, see Frequently Asked Questions about the LotusLive Notes Self-service Trial.

BlackBerry smartphone management improvements
Administrators now manage user’s BlackBerry® smartphones through an improved interface in LotusLive Notes Administration. Most options available through the previous MDM interface are still available. One exception is the ability to add and delete BlackBerry smartphone accounts; these tasks are no longer available because they are no longer required. To manage a user’s smartphone, administrators perform the following steps from the LotusLive Notes Administration window:
1. Click Users.
2. Select Show: BlackBerry only.
3. Select a user name and click Manage BlackBerry Smartphone.
Users now manage their BlackBerry smartphones through an improved interface in LotusLive. Options available through the previous MDM interface are still available, except the ability to reset a device password.

To enforce a stricter device password policy, only administrators can now reset device passwords. To manage their smartphones, users perform the following steps from the LotusLive dashboard:
1. Click Apps > Downloads and Setup.
2. Click View LotusLive Notes options.
3. Under Got a mobile device? click Manage your BlackBerry smartphone.

Administrators can now provision users with BlackBerry smartphone subscriptions and LotusLive Notes subscriptions at the same time. Also, the smartphone management interfaces and the documentation are now translated.To read about this feature, see the topics Administering BlackBerry smartphones
and users and Using your BlackBerry smartphone with LotusLive Notes.

Integrated instant messaging for LotusLive Notes web
Administrators can use the instant messaging settings in LotusLive Notes Administration to enable an instant messaging community within LotusLive Notes web clients. The integrated community can be the LotusLive instant messaging community or an on-premises IBM Sametime community. Lotus Notes® clients that
previously connected to the LotusLive instant messaging community, continue to do so in the current release.

To connect to a community that the administrator has enabled, LotusLive Notes web users perform these steps:
1. From the LotusLive Notes web Inbox, click More > Preferences.
2. Under Instant messaginge, select Enable instant messaging.
To read about this feature, see the topic Configuring instant messaging.

Trash folder management
By default, when a LotusLive Notes user deletes a message, the message is moved to the Trash folder where it remains for 14 days, and then is permanently deleted. Administrators can change this value by configuring mail settings and entering a number 14 - 90. Additionally, you can specify whether users can select and delete a single message, or delete all messages from the Trash folder by emptying the trash. For information on how to enable trash folder management, see the topic Configuring mail settings. For LotusLive Notes users, the topics Managing the Trash folder in the Lotus Notes client and Managing the Trash folder in the Lotus Notes web client provide an explanation of how administrative settings impact Trash folder management.

To read about this feature, see the topic Configuring mail settings.

Adding external names to a group
In a service-only environment, administrators can add an external name to a group. An external name is one that is not included in the directory list. To read about this feature, see the topic Managing groups.

Email filters
Administrators can create filters to allow or block Internet email sent from specific domains or addresses. For example, they can create filters to allow users to receive email from people whose messages would otherwise be blocked because of the content they contain. Or they can use filters to block email that is not normally
blocked but that their users do not want to receive. Filters are applied to all email that is addressed to an Internet domain for which LotusLive manages inbound routing.
To read about this feature, see the topic Creating filters to apply to inbound

Internet mail.
Revoking a LotusLive Notes user account
When you delete a LotusLive Notes user account, you remove the LotusLive Notes subscription from the user. If you delete a new account within seven days of creating it, the data is removed from the LotusLive Notes servers. However, if you delete a user account that is older than seven days, the data remains available on LotusLive Notes servers for up to 30 days. If you want to delete a LotusLive Notes user account and remove the data from the LotusLive Notes servers before the 30-day period ends, you can revoke a LotusLive Notes user account.
For information on this feature, see the topic Deleting and Revoking a LotusLive Notes user account.

Mail file transfer over FTP
Companies that user a hybrid environment and that transfer mail files to the service can use a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client to perform the transfer. This method is supported for mail file batches that are equal to or less than 1234 GB.
To read about this feature, see the topic Uploading mail files to an FTP server.

Documentation improvements
In addition to documentation on new features, the "Administering LotusLive Notes" documentation includes the following improvements:
New and updated topics in product documentation

Information resources for LotusLive Notes :
New topic -- lists additional resources available to help you keep up-to-date on technical content, known issues, and product news.

Frequently asked questions about administering LotusLive Notes
New topic -- provides answers to questions frequently asked about the tasks that company administrators perform in a LotusLive Notes environment.

Using policies to configure message disclaimers
New topic -- describes how to use explicit policies in a hybrid environment to enable message disclaimers.

Forming a distinguished name
New topic -- describes how to form a distinguished name. Used when adding new users or change LotusLive Notes user names in a service-only. Information was previously included in renaming topics.

Suspending a LotusLive Notes account
New topic -- includes results when a user account is deleted. Information on suspending a user was previously included in a general user management topic.

Removing a LotusLive Notes subscription from a user account
New topic -- describes how to remove a subscription, and how the user account is affected.

Additional administration tasks
New topic -- includes links to general LotusLive administration tasks that are included in the Administering LotusLive product documentation.

Managing user accounts
Updated topic -- provides additional details about account management tasks such as renaming or deleting user accounts.

Changing a Lotus Notes user name in a service-only environment
Updated topic -- added advisory text that includes a list of recommendations to ensure a successful user rename.

Changing a Lotus Notes user name in a hybrid environment
Updated topic -- added advisory text that includes a list of recommendations to ensure
a successful user rename. Also reorganized topic to make it clearer which steps are performed on-premises, and which are performed using LotusLive Notes Administration.

Adding a new user in a service-only environment
Updated topic -- added information about new Administrator Assistant role. Also added clarification that the language specified in the Basics section needs to match mail template language.

What's new in LotusLive Engage and LotusLive Connections
Administration Improvements and updates have been made to the administrator interface and administrative functionality. Performance upgrades are also included in this release.

Updates and new features

  1. Custom Apps are now called Internal Apps.
  2. OAuth 2.0 is now supported. OAuth 2.0 introduces new features, including the ability to customize how long an application has access to LotusLive.
  3. A new role called AppDeveloper is available for users that need to integrate their organization's internal applications, but don't need access to other Administrator areas.
  4. Usability improvements added to User Accounts make it easier to find the context menu and account status for each user.
  5. Administrators can now request enablement of journalling to capture various LotusLive application events.
  6. Administrators can now request enablement of federated identity management, with SAML protocol, to control how federated users log in to and access LotusLive.
  7. Administrators can now request enablement of LotusLive integration server capabilities, allowing designated subscribers to upload user provisioning information from their organization's on-premises systems, such as IBM Lotus® Domino® directory or LDAP, to LotusLive. The LotusLive integration server also enables designated subscribers to upload user and group content from their organization's enterprise directory to their LotusLive iNotes corporate contacts directory.
  8. When uploading user provisioning change files using LotusLive integration server, if no language is specified, the company contact language is used. Previously the default language used was English. An administrator specifies the company contact language in LotusLive on their My Account Settings page using the Localization and Language options.
  9. The Administrator Download Report is now shared by column. This change affects the Shared by column of the report to display the File Owner.

For more details about administering LotusLive, see LotusLive Administration Help in LotusLive.

And in closing:

This information was developed for products and services offered in the U.S.A. IBM may not offer the products, services, or features discussed in this document in other countries. Consult your local IBM representative for information on the products and services currently available in your area. Any reference to an IBM product, program, or service is not intended to state or imply that only that IBM product, program, or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program, or service that does not infringe any IBM intellectual property right may be used instead. However, it is the user's responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any non-IBM product, program, or service.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

SnTT- One way to troubleshoot SSO problems in WAS

This was a Mashup Center server and a Connections SSO integration on Websphere.
Prior to upgrading Connections from 2.5 to 3.0 it worked fine. But some place in the upgrade this, and some other internal items, broke. I was asked to lend a hand at troubleshooting it.

I first asked the Wizard of WAS, Dave Hay if there was anything I should know about Mashup Center as I have never used it. His help in discussing ways to troubleshoot this is greatly appreciated.

For the newbie and even someone who scratches their head at the Websphere Admin Console, sorry the Integrated Solutions Console, it is a bit confusing but once you get  the hang of bits of it you will be fine.

I am not going to go over how to set up the SSO but how to enable the trace and logs to help you get tot he bottom of the problem.

This could be used for any one needing SSO troubleshooting for WAS in general.

  1. Login to the WebSphere Admin Console
  2. Go to Troubleshooting -> Logs and Trace,
  3. Select the WebSphere server in question,
  4. Then click on Diagnostic Trace,
  5. And then choose Change Log Detail Levels,
  6. You will see a *[All Components] with a twistie (+ sign)
  7. Click on the expanded twistie and scroll down until you find*
  8. Click on this one's twistie and find*
  9. Now click on the whole reference to*
  10. And you can select the level of traces, in this case I selected the All messages and traces since we did not know what area exactly was failing.
  11. This will change the text in the box above the list to: *=all for the selected item.
  12. Click Apply, Save, OK
  13. Restart WAS
To revert it back, change the *=all to *=info and then
Click Apply, Save, OK
Restart WAS

So what will you get and where is it found?

  1. Login to the WebSphere Admin Console
  2. Go to Troubleshooting -> Logs and Trace,
  3. Runtime Messages and expand it
  4. Open Runtime Error
  5. You should now see towards the bottom a list, if any, of the errors and with code and references to help you troubleshoot your problem.
In our case we had an incorrect ou that appeared twice breaking everything. But we also had some other tinkering.

Good luck

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Morale DashBoards? Scary or Necessary?

This caught my attention today on Twitter. Mike Rhodin, past Lotus GM was discussing progression and social business. And it was pointed out that maybe HR needs a morale dashboard. Presumably fed from Blogs, Comments,Twitter, Facebook, Sametime, Yammer, FourSquare and the other personal apps everyone uses on corporate time.

One company, Cubevibe, URL, Twitter, does this already. there are many sites that will track references about you or your company across the Interverse but a Dashboard? Interesting.

Would you as a CEO want to see this? Would you like the risk of thinking all is good when it may not be?

Does HR really want to report to management that people hate their jobs or their company? Wonder how the American Airlines people feel about the filing of Chapter 11 today?

Do we live on a usual plane of all is good until found out otherwise? Would an instant analytics dashboard spring someone into action to fix it all? Don't think so if IT and Sales are anything to gauge by from their past dashboard efforts. Most people still complain about IT and help desk delays.

So would RIM have decided sooner to open up BES to all devices? Not likely as management has seemed out of touch, but would you or your boss change direction if the needle was heading towards the darker side of happiness?

In another light, could HR or an executive hone this down to a specific group or business line in order to justify jettisoning it?

With great progress comes great power, choose wisely.

How Do You Maintain That Family Feeling When You Are 500 People?

As your organization has grown, are you more like the UN than a family? Alliances being created and alternative budgets for country specific items or regional events?

When you were smaller, everyone could gather once maybe twice a year and spend some quality time together. Maybe it was technical, maybe it was fun, maybe it was brain storming, but you did it and everyone liked being one big family.

Now you are too big. The tipping point could have been at 100 people or 1,000 but there is the problem. What do you do when the travel alone is going to be a logistical and financial nightmare?

Social Media and Social Business tools help everyone feel connected, to a point. but do we all want to stay in our little houses, basements, attics or coffee shops instead of meeting the rest of the staff?

Do we care?                     Should we care?

Generational differences aside, can you have a 1 or 2 day event where EVERYONE is locked in/down to only be online or at the event? Cruises might be the closest thing to locking everyone in.

Can you really be close with someone you only know digitally or via UC/Skype calls? Is it important? As your company gets bigger, is it more important that there be better corporate messages and goals?

When an executive blog post can get more interest from the staff than an appearance, is this the future? Do employees really play better or nicer with each other because of these events? How can we provide the same benefits of in person events from a virtual or digital event?

Lastly, how do you encourage employees not to look at this as a cost cutting or financial issue? The problem is employees are skittish and the idea that an event people look forward to is now another webinar type event makes them wonder about the future of the company. Something must come out of it that restores faith in management, the organization, employees and the future.

I don't know the answers and I think many are trying various ways, remember Second Life meetings or even Sametime integration to Second Life? Are monthly all-hands calls for maybe 2-4 hours once a month equivalent or enough? Must you start looking at regional events and start segregating areas or do it by topics? The all for one and one for all attitude gets harder and harder to do especially if management is not ready to adjust their style of management for the new plans. On the other hand, if management is up to the task, they can marshall the forces even better than before, but it will take more of the executives time.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Updates Gotchas

Holiday weekends are always great times to do server upgrades and mail migrations.

Funny thing is all types of things can go wrong.  Well here are some pieces for you all, just in case.
If you will be updating your classic community server (Domino Sametime) see this blog post from Marc Champoux where he outlines some steps and also hits on Quickr integration and some other issues.

Most of this was found when doing a Domino upgrade from 8.5.2 to 8.5.3. Also a Sametime upgrade from 8.0.1 to 8.5.2IF1 and Traveler from 8.5.2.X to

Always backup everything first.

First thing to remember is to stop Domino from restarting automatically on reboot. Installing 8.5.3 will force you to reboot before you can restart Domino.

Second thing is you may find on reboot your server never comes back. You will be forced to have someone on site help you or go and do it yourself. The server, in this case a Windows 2003 server showed applying computer updates or something like that but it wasn't, just hung. 2 reasons can be guessed. One is remote desktop or your logoff did not go as planned and it hung with your login. The second is that 8.5.3 may ask if you want to upgrade the databases ODS. If so it stops with a yes/no request and if you did not change the automatic start to manual, you would be stuck too. So how do you resolve this? Easy, boot into safe mode of windows using F8. Then when you get to the desktop, run Domino and select yes or no to the question. But more likely you did not set automatic boot to manual. Do it now if you can and then restart the box. All should be good.

Another gotcha is Single Copy Template, an excellent idea, but if implemented without any thought, you may have errors which sayunable to open file or find single copy template. Also if you see ISpy errors about the single copy template, it is because Ispy uses the mail file template. Aha, you get the picture. So how do you fix it? See this Technote, #7002574 which explains it all. You shut down Domino and run the convert task and you must know the file name AND the Template Name. Example: >nconvert ispy50.nsf STDR85Mail mail85.ntf

Wait there is more. Hate the debug by default look of 8.5.3? Remove it using the console command:

set config debug_threadid=0 or to reinstate it set config debug_threadid=1 

Traveler showing it can't respond in the allotted time frame with a user in 25,000 microseconds. Use Kevin from Groupwave's Post and add the properties.   Thanks Kevin for that one which solved my problem!

Then there is a post I wrote that detailed how to resolve ST meetings, Classic community server version, though it was from 8.0.2 for cases when meetings would refresh every minute or 2 and wipe everything out.

Another Sametime item. If you see this, never mind the technote says its 8.0.2 related, we saw it on an 8.5.2 Sametime server, HTTP JVM: Caught exception from local listener: For input string: ""
Here is the Technote #1313986 about it. Sametime 8.5.2IF1 resolved this by the way in our case. 

Also if you need the File list of ST 8.5.2IF1, you can see this Technote #4031295.

An oldie but a goodie, Sametime BuddyList is broken in iNotes and you see errors in the console, try this fix from this blog post of Gunawan. I got through the language issue, pretty sure you can too.

Edited 11/28/11 In case you lost Sametime client connections, the server edits the sametime.ini file and not with your previous information. Follow these references to ensure all clients can reconnect...or not.

Wiki about VPS allowed when you list the clients you want to use.
ST_MINIMAL_CLIENT_VERSION setting: reference from the 8.5.1 docs. Set this to zero and all clients are allowed

After upgrading Sametime Server to 8.5.1 users using Notes 8.x Basic and older Notes clients cannot log in Technote 1443291

This post may get edited more over the weekend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

When the Admin becomes the User

Many of us are in management of IT or admins of some system. It's a great thing, to be lord over your manor so to speak. Just be benevolent. But what are you like when you become one of the users and not the manager?

While sub contracting some work I find myself with these amusing ideas:

  • Why am I unable to even edit my phone details in my NAB/Directory? 
  • Why MUST (policy set) I use single sign-on to my Windows Domain? What if I never set foot in the home office of the Client? (I got around this of course) If I want to type an extra password, is that so bad?
  • Support tickets on the bright side go to some one else and now I get to request all the silly things like where do you change your password in the app or how does one find the correct VPN client for my OS?
  • What do you mean some preferences are blocked? these are USER side preferences, why can't I use them?
  • Luckily no quotas are set, those drive me crazy that in 2011 someone still uses them to control the people instead of training them better to handle attachments or archiving. 
  • And I am unable to replace my design of the mail template. Will play with that one more to see if it restores back when Design runs at night.
There is no IMAP or POP3 access, only Traveler. Thank you but given I support numerous customers, our own Traveler is priority. Yes, I set a mail rule to autosend me any emails to my Traveler account. More than one way to skin a SMTP missive.
Policies are good, really good, but finding a good balance between security/configuration uniformity and user difficulties should be struck else your help desk gets more work needlessly. These are just the obvious ones I ran into while setting up my client.

It was pointed out to me that 95% the user base never questions it, it is always the techies. Well is everyone else sheep?

So once again, I learn something new every day and as they say, take a walk in someone else's shoes before you complain about them. So when was the last time you logged in as a user? Disney sends their execs out to work the parks a few times a year because that is what you need to remember, your job is based on letting them get their job done.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

DomDoc Manager Compared to Quickr

Good wiki article from IBM comparing Domino Document Manager (domdoc, dom.doc, domino.doc) with Quickr.
Tao YT Yan, the author, is a Software Engineer based at IBM's China Development Lab in Beijing, where he works on the Lotus Quickr for Domino product and is responsible for DDM customer support.

Really good for those still wondering what to do as support ends in 2012 for the Doc product.
We are still helping customers move their data if you need help.

Article is here: Comparing the features of IBM Lotus Domino Document Manager with IBM Lotus Quickr for Domino

Friday, November 11, 2011

Are You Smarter Than Your Phone? Or your Kids?

Your smartphone is probably infinitely smarter than you.

Not to worry, you got it on the longevity scale, but still, do you feel insignificant or like you are in remedial life?

There are sites to show you how to do so many things, do you ever use them? Do you even look for them?

Do you understand in any way shape or form how email works? SMS(texting for you non-techies)? Web Sites? Your Phone Apps? For that matter, your phone?

Do you care? Should you care? Does it matter?

What if no one knew anything anymore because it was all "online"? The Matrix movies were all about downloading information into your brain to even fly a helicopter with a few clicks of a download. As an aside, I remember IBM giving out Matrix DVDs to promote KM, Knowledge management.

The road less traveled is now growing weeds.

I have argued that iPhones make people stupid. The truth is they enable one to access information but do you really grok what you are reading? And is this how you want your kids to learn too? Think about that last this how you want your kids to learn too?

Too early for a definitive answer about the pros and cons. What we do know is the future is NOT that hunk of hardware you call a laptop or desktop or server. It is the Cloud. Tablets more likely, but at least for me, a keyboard.

When your kids ask you why the sky is blue or how rainbows are made or anything, what do you do? Do you answer them in kids terms or adult terms? Do you make them look it up? Or do you first ask them what they think and work with their logic process? Maybe a little of each of these?

Or do you make something up or just brush off the question?

What message do you send your kids when you do this? Would you treat your customer or employee, or worse, your employer that way?

Parenting is expanding, or as some point out, returning, to the original ways, namely something akin to home schooling.

If you are or could be your kids teacher would you? It's not for everyone. If not, do you complain when school is not meeting what you feel your kids need?

Are your ideas of education still last centuries, which was in some cases the previous centuries? Or as you have progressed have your views on education?

Are schools teaching your kids what they need to know? Are you so sure? If you don't think so, then get involved. Push for more, ask for more, within reason and budget.

Otherwise your phone really may be smarter than you and your kids.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Eat Your Own Dog Food

What do these mean to you?
Loyalty, Branding, Community, Advertising, Self-Promotion?

If you spend so much time getting your name, or your companies, out in the world, online or in print or wherever, don't you think you should also use your own tools to do that job?

Sure an auto company does not sell financial software packages but they do employ many designers and graphic artists....yet do these same people create their advertisements? They could and maybe should. Leave the wording to marketing. But why do they go outside for that part? I understand they go outside because others have connections to get them specific places or headings or promotional opportunities, but to outsource the advertising itself? Why?

And so when a technology company wants to impress people shouldn't they also be using their own software to produce websites or newsletters or apps rather than using a competitors solutions?

Think about your company, do you outsource what could be done inside by someone? The benefits to the employee are huge. They get to tell their friends to watch for the new ad or app or design. They will have a renewed sense of ownership in the greater community you call your organization and you will save some money and not make your employees feel stupid or wasted.

If you can't or don't want to use your own employees, or community members as one may say in social business arenas, what message does that send?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Shalom Rav Benny

Very sad to hear that one of my Rabbi's from Israel passed away.

Rav Benny Eisner ז"ל, who lived on campus at BMT, well in my year of 85-86, was like the campus father. I never took his classes, but he would give classes on specific subjects and would sit and learn with us while we used to sit on the roof top doing what teenagers do when they are hanging out.

He would always have students over and his family was ours. His kids were everywhere and if you had something on your mind he was always listening.He ran a number of Shabbat programs where the students, including myself, would go to different cities and settlements to help new immigrants and less religious areas to help them love Israel and Judaism.

He wanted everyone to love each other and especially other Jews and Israelis. He learned with Rav Kook and was there when Jerusalem was reunited.

Over the years I had seen him when I was in Israel, sometimes by accident other times when visiting. Sadly I have not been back in 10 years and did not keep up with him so well. Friends in Israel did and hard to believe one student from 20+ years ago would still be in his mind, but I was.

He died from Cancer which is really not the way someone who cared so much for others should go, but that is for God to decide and for us to accept and live on.

It is appropriate then that Rav benny passed when this week's Parsha from the Torah is from Lech Lecha where God tells Abraham to go to the land he will inherit. Why not say Israel? Because we were destined to love it not for it's name or location but because it was a gift from God and we should always love it. Indeed Rav Benny taught us this much.

Rav Dovid Miller gave this Hesped.  And a nice overview of his influence here.

I may not remember all the Rabbi's or people I met that year, but Rav Benny was someone you could never forget.

Shabbat Shalom

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 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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

FUD Buster Friday #70: Time To Go

Have decided after last week's event that I want to suspend these again. This is the problem with inspiration, it comes and goes. When I renewed writing these posts, I had a bunch of ideas to get out and I did. But when I reach a point that my mind is short on ideas I don't want to force a post.

There may be more down the road and maybe not just on Friday as posts and articles come up at different times. My passion still is competitive situations and helping promote better awareness from within but there are other topics and areas I want to spend time on and not necessarily at this blog although other blogs are involved and will get referenced at some point.

You can always find me to get help or ask for advice and these posts are always out there.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy New Year

The Jewish calendar says it's that time again. The start of another year, the 5772nd year starts tonight at sundown and runs till Friday night which would end at that point but because Friday night starts Shabbat, we get 3 days of holiday time. No e-readers or internet, just paper and print.

We then get 2 more 3 day holidays this year in 2 weeks when the holiday of Sukkot starts and ends 8 days later.

Those of our clients who have problems during this time know I am unavailable but our helpful staff will be on call for you.

There are 4 New Years in Judaism, from the 1st Mishna of the Tractate of Rosh Hashana, . They do not all start on the 1st of the month. You can read more about all of this at the linked location.

The trees have their own New year and it starts on the 15th of Shevat.

Why mention this? Because although one would presume they would all be the1st, they are not. A perspective here is trees predate man, per Genesis, and therefore have a different time frame they march along.

And so it is with everyone on Earth. We all march to our own drumbeats but these points in the calendar have everyone stop and together as one pray, not just for themselves, but the world as a whole, for a good and prosperous year.

Crowdsourcing at it's best.

שנה טובה  Happy New Year

Friday, September 23, 2011

Email is Ubiquitous thus IBM Connections exists

Liked Phil's post and you should read it if you haven't yet. I'll wait.

I don't like to say email is a commodity because then I become a stereotyped used car salesman.

Lotus Notes and Domino really are the best solution that takes the email is a XXX premise and makes it your:
  1. CRM
  2. Workflow
  3. Inventory/Orders Manger
  4. Shipping/Tracking
  5. HR
  6. Sales Tools
  7. Dashboards

It does all of this by itself....Standing alone, just one box and a client to code it and anything else to make use of the apps you build..

Nothing extra required except a developer who knows what they are doing.

Now the problem becomes how do you do this for IBM Sametime?
How do you make that same ecosystem that swirls around your email, swirl around your IM? Well you can and you can't is the short of it.You can extend email to UC and IM and VOIP but getting your applications into it and mixed with it as listed above well that's another story which really doesn't work as well. You can not make a program that is not meant to be, for example, a database, and use it as one. It has DB2 in the background but I am quite sure at this point that IBM does not see Sametime as the next Domino.

What about IBM Connections? Can it do this?
A better question. One which I believe coming up at Lotusphere 2012 (link still shows LS11) we will see some great steps in making Connections handle more of what Domino does today. This is not perfect or 100% what I or you envision, but if IM, or as some might say notifications, are the "new" email then a new way to work with it is required.

If you have seen the various IBM people doing their demonstrations you will see they are leveraging Connections as some, if not all, of the items I listed above that you may think are database and email related. They are, no question. But underneath the hood of Connections is DB2, a relational database that scales on a different plane than Domino. Not better, just different. My DB2 friends will argue but for my purpose it is equal. The integration, via plugins/widgets, just like in the Notes client, enhance that user experience the same way from within one interface. For those that don't know, that interface is a browser or a dedicated app for device users that want a more native approach, no Windows client required.

The SMTP side doesn't care what the transport is on the back end. Naturally I'd prefer to always be Domino. I respect the Linux community who has their choices, many want to use Sendmail, some other less technical people choose to rely on Exchange, while the budget focused companies go with Google. Nothing wrong with those choices, after all email is a commodity right?

Email is going away, no question, it will join the Telegraph at some point but the companies that look to the future, like IBM, and plan to be there for their customers are working with today's pieces of technology but looking towards tomorrows usage.

So email is ubiquitous, it will linger on for years to come, but more and more people rely on streams of information from twitter, FB, G+, Yammer and a million other apps. Your email system does not want to handle all of that, although it could, but it would mean an average of dozens of new messages per second per person and a more scalable solution is required.

Thus the direction IBM Connections I believe is heading and why as an IBM Business Partner you need to be a part of this now because just like Lotus Notes 3.x which truly was the version to start the growth patterns prior to the R4 and 4.5 when Domino appeared, Connections 3.x is shaping up similarly. I believe the IBM Connections 4.0 to be the one that turns the tide and pushes more customers to get on the bandwagon.

FUD Buster Friday #69: Is Confusion, Anxiety and Denial (CAD) the same as FUD

At the Entrepreneur Magazine conference titled Winning Strategies this week in Miami Beach, no one wanted to use the term FUD. It must be because tech people use it way too often, I guess.

But maybe it's because FUD is an acronym, and although it's hard to live in IT without acronyms, similar to the medical field, the average marketer and entrepreneur just don't speak that way.

They have their own TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms), but really they don't deal with IT at all. They outsource it, Cloud it, Free source it, or whatever they can, so the ideas and the offerings are the focused points, not the technology they use. I imagine if we were in Palo Alto or some similar place, this would not be the case as technology leads those discussions more often.

So do they have FUD? Not exactly. Sure they have competition, we all do, but the competition usually cares about themselves more and can not waste their time focused on the other people or solutions. Staying focused is essential. In fact, it is probably the best thing one can do for themselves, their businesses, and their lives.

So in this Social Business Media Web 2.0 world, the BS does get found faster and easier than it did a few years ago. It doesn't always go away, but at least more people raise their voices
to be heard. We saw this as a potential 20 years ago when we saw Lotus Notes. Anyone can leverage information and share it accordingly without fear of repercussion.

Entrepreneurs have no fear. Else they would be working for someone else. They do have anxiety about everything in their company. It's their name, their product, their goodwill.

Entrepreneurs have no uncertainty in their lives. They KNOW what they want to do or be doing. They do have confusion. Sometimes wrong, but often for good. Confusion makes one step back and refocus or sharpen what is vague or not good enough.

Entrepreneurs who believe in themselves and their business have no doubts. They may live in denial about how they made it or grew their business or how much better they are because they turned down buyout offers.

In the end, FUD that you create on your own against yourself or is thrown at you by others is really not crucial to your mission and goals. Of course, if your mission is to make the competition look bad, at least honest, then go do what must be done but do it honestly and openly on your end.

CAD is another level, and when you are the size of HP, IBM, Dell, Microsoft, or Google, it's the professional league, not college. CAD may be a better way. To some, it is semantics, but to others, it is a way of life.

Thank you to the 300 or so people that attended the event the other day for reminding me that the IT bubble really is not all there is to think about in life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Should you be Gaming your Learning?

I am at Entrepreneur magazine's Winning Strategies conference on Miami Beach today. The morning keynote was Gabe Zichermann and he discussed Gamification for those that have not heard of him.

While I personally do not "get" Farmville or the Angry Birds desires, I do like better business ideas and theories.

Taking Gabe's session to real life, how can you gamify the training systems your company uses today?

Usually companies ask employees to watch a video, use online courses, use e-learning or whatever you want to call it. But how many of those employees are really engaged by any of it? It's rarely exciting or interesting and generally a tick box on a chart that you did what you were told. Vendors make us get certification, not so we know what we are doing, but to be able to sell their products. Ideally we should know what we are doing but the testing rarely is about practical reality usage.

Instead of making everyone tick the box, why not encourage them to reach a level of status, within the education. One could just click, click, click, and be done or one could interactively be part of that learning process. Provide more feedback, ask better questions or any, recommend it to others. In return, as one example, the company could offer you a status of Student, Intern, Teacher, Professor. They could offer monetary gains too but in the long run that may not be so practical. With each level attained, either through quantity or depth of topic, one progresses up the chart.

Some companies do this in various ways, for external people, say if you post blog posts on their website or answer questions in forums. They do this to encourage the outside world to engage with them and expand their influence. But do they do this for internal people?

The simple effort to change the drudgery of learning to at least some modest base of interest has far reaching benefits to you, employees and your company. With less and less in person training and more online/webinar training, the lack of interaction creates a login but not listen attitude.

Change your thinking, change your business.

Need help doing this? Just ask.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fud Buster Friday #68: That "Product" is Dead

Stick any name you want, any product, any solution, to that title above, it makes no difference to me and should not to you either if you are in sales of any sort or responsible for a product of any sort.

Why doesn't it matter? Because how you reply to this question is the key.

Many answers exist on how to counter this, but here are some basics to remember.

1) Discuss with the naysayer the future road map or plans/designs or just about anything available. It is hard to continue to claim this after seeing or hearing about the plans. Yet some persist.

2) Find the internal people responsible for the product and have them call the client or someone of similar knowledge and ability.

3) If possible, do a hands on test or demo because seeing is believing, but having them do it for themselves is worth 1,000 times more. Just be there in case they need help with anything.

4) Other customer examples are helpful, especially if you know the customers or can arrange communications between the two parties.

5) Have them attend an event or conference and introduce them to key people. Everyone wants to feel special and it will usually rub off on their perspectives.

6) Try to keep emotion out of it, hard as it may be, but stick to the facts and pursue an unbiased discussion. Discussing alternative products or solutions is not a bad thing. However, know what you are talking about.

7) Don't lie. I repeat never lie about anything if you are trying to persuade someone to change their point of view.

8) Use The Force. Choose your words carefully and use inflections or speaking tactics to draw attention and get them interested. Don't just ramble on reciting information like you are reading the phone book.

9) The Godfather Deal. Make them an offer they can't refuse. Just kidding.

10) Talk about how the product can help them or their customers, use their own examples or businesses, customize the discussion to them. Again, making them feel special goes a long way to getting your point heard.

Don't forget to ask why they say this.  Push for reasons. Did someone tell them this? Did they read it someplace? Hear it on a podcast? Saw a Tweet? Discussion on G+?

The answer to this question also might give you a lead where to look for more information or push your PR.

Remember the person's last reason is the most important one to them.

The others are just smoke and mirrors although also sometimes valid. 

If they still will not change their mind, you have at least tried to do more than the usual steps but can feel you tried.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hilton and Hampton Inn Get Social

While I have been on site at a client the last few weeks, I previously wrote about the comparison of the 2 hotels I have stayed at. This week, I am finishing at the client and had a Social Business interaction.

While watching the Dolphins watch the Brady show, I tweeted that the Air Conditioner is so loud I can't hear the TV, even at full sound. A slight exaggeration, but I seriously have to crank the volume WAY up when the A?C kicked in.

Within a few minutes HamtopFYI had responded, asked me to follow them and direct message the details. I did.
About 10 minutes later the front desk was calling me to let me know they were sorry about the A/C and would have maintenance have a look. Also the hotel being full they could not swap my room.

Didn't bother to let her know that last week the same problem existed in another room and the likelihood of being able to fix it is low. Having spent some years traveling for work and pleasure, this is the downside of this level hotel. It happens.

I applaud Hilton/Hampton for getting proactive and looking to increase their customer awareness and the secondary feedback routes. It is not easy, the hospitality industry is almost as cut throat as the IT industry, and every little bit helps.

You could say the Hospitality industry understands customer service and social media fits them well. The truth is customer service is very hard to get right, Hilton has always tried to get it right and that is the key to social media adoption. Understand why you use it and for what benefits and make it work for you.

Keep up the good work Hilton, for the rest of the businesses out there still trying to get their head around it, ask, we and others are here to help you.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fud Buster Friday #67: Social Media Should be Outsourced

In conversation with friends last night we discussed the idea that using or creating something within the social media era is not for everyone.

Many companies hire out their social media efforts...why?

Is it really so difficult to type 140 characters? Sculpt a blog post? Send a missive to Facebook? No, of course not. But, what if your employees are not good at it? What if they don't use these things? Or what if they say the wrong thing the wrong way?

In steps the Social Media guru people or company. Sadly they exist because others think it is like advertising or marketing and since they have other people do that, they should have this outsourced as well.

You can spend a lot of money that way, monthly, and not get anywhere. Or maybe you hired the right people and it works for you. Roll the dice.

Having the tools in house as part of your core IT helps as people get used to using them. You also have the benefit of passion and clarity of vision for your company or product.

It makes no difference if you use IBM Connections, IBM Quickr or Wordpress for blogging but just do it.

Simple steps at first. Don't expect anything.
Plan for once a week to post anything anywhere.
Expand into audio or video once in a while, with different people in the office, not every one wants to be heard or seen or write.

Don't get me wrong, you should have a plan in place for a consistent message for your product or company, but extending the brand through employees is key to extending your reach to others outside of your offices.

Embrace the interaction, your fans are out there, they love you, do you really want them talking to people that don't care about your business?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What would make installing WAS, DB2 and X product easier

Does not matter if it is Sametime, Connections or Quickr you may face the following challenges.

These are out of the ordinary for most companies but certain locked down, highly secured environments should keep the following in mind.

There are excellent step by step directions for the products, Sametime, but this is about before you start them.

Imagine you have a set of servers to work with, now imagine those servers have every single port aside from the absolute minimum locked down.

The documentation warns you to disable any firewalls on your server. You can follow that, but what if you are not allowed to enable any ports? Am I serious? Yes. So what you need to do is either enable ALL ports on the server for the short term of installation or if security requires it, work from the existing knwon ports that are in use by EVERYTHING.

Remember this from various IBM docs:
Note: No validation is done to see if the ports are in use or if the ports file is valid.


So for those in a locked down environment, here are links to the known ports you may need or how to find them:
Sametime - and this one which is more detailed:

Quickr J2EE -

DB2,Websphere Deployment Manager -
for As/400

Lotus Notes Traveler -

And please disable your anti-virus solution as well.

Lastly, remember to use an 8 character administration name (DB2 limitation) and keep directories and naming as short as possible as well.

Domino Admin Role in St. Peters, Mo, 6 months+

Do not email or ask me about it, the agent is listed at the end of the post, let him know I posted it - KB
Please send resume in Word format if you are interested in this 6 month plus contract to hire opportunity in St. Peters, MO (Northwest of St. Louis). Rate for this position will be around $50-$55/hr and this position will convert to fulltime in 6-9 months plus. They will be migrating to Exchange in time and are looking to train the person on Exchange.

If you are not interested please pass this along to colleagues/associates for review.

Thank you and have an excellent day

Primary Responsibilities:
• Work in a team environment and will be responsible for day to day support of Lotus Notes system
• Provide proactive monitoring of Lotus Notes and BlackBerry systems
• Provide escalation support to other system administrators
• Monitor and troubleshoot message routing and directory replication
• Respond to user support calls for Lotus Notes, Blackberry and iPhones
• Assist in an enterprise wide Lotus Notes to Exchange migration (3,700 users) which may require some domestic and international travel
• Carry a company issued Blackberry and respond to after hours “on call” support issues

• Lotus Notes 8.5
• Citrix Server (preferred)
• Microsoft Exchange 2007 and 2003 (preferred)
• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and 2008
• Active Directory, TCP/IP, DNS
• Microsoft Windows XP
• MS Office 2007 Professional
• MS Outlook 2007 (preferred)
• Blackberry Enterprise Server
• Blackberry Desktop Manager
• Blackberry upgrades
• Lotus Notes to MS Outlook 2007 conversion (preferred)
• Symantec End point Protection 11.0.4
• Symantec Enterprise Vault or similar email archiving solutions
• Symantec Ghost
• Trend Micro Antivirus
• Clearswift MIMEsweeper or similar SPAM solutions
• VM Ware
• Microsoft Clustering
• Dell Servers
• SAN Storage Solutions

Install, Troubleshoot, & Replace the following hardware:
• Servers
• Hard drives
• Memory

Andrew Sigesmund
847.475.9100 (P)
847.475.9200 (F)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Choices Made

While spending my 2nd week on site at a client interesting parallels have emerged between my last two hotels and how IT works.

Let me explain.

I have to abide by certain guidelines of the clients to book my travel. Not a problem, they don't want one to be in a dump but they do want their value. In both cases the hotels offer a free continental breakfast. Mostly equal which is fine. One thing which is interesting is the juice and coffee available. In both cases, coffee is available 24x7. However, juice is not.

As a person who does not drink coffee, this is odd to me. Yes, there is probably more expense in providing juice 24x7 but if it is already free, in place and not moving, why limit it? One can take apples, bananas or oranges, while they last, at any time of the day or night. But juice? No.

Parallel this to IT. They provide access to all kinds of products and services, but if you need a keyboard, monitor, some cable or a mouse, you have to sometimes go through a lot to get one. Why? shouldn't there be a stack on hand? A dozen or so just to make life easier on everyone? Our clients like that we have these available for them. It's a small price to pay but rewards IT with a better feeling from the employees and makes life easier.

Then there are the IT shops that lock everything down so much that the users can't even change their passwords by themselves. How does this help anyone? Make life easier not harder.

The hotels do not have a restaurant, they are suites, but one has a pantry with some items to purchase, the other does not. So what is one to do? Go out and fend for themselves? One would imagine the incremental money made with having some pantry on site makes some ROI, but also is one more thing to like about the hotel chain. The lack of one, is one more thing not to like about the other.

One chain upgraded their cable and TV and now you can only see a handful of channels of HD, everything else it is snowing on TV. When I asked if someone could fix it while i was at work, I was informed this is how it is since they upgraded the wiring. I kid you not. The other has a full selection of channels and perfect pictures on their TV. Which one got it right? The reverse of the previous paragraph! That's right, the one that has no pantry has better TV. If I cared to watch TV that much it might make a difference to me. But again this is an item that may sway someone to stay again at your chain.

Now look at IT. Did they get some project done properly and yet other issues plague you perpetually? Great they let you use your iPad now, but when will they resolve the printer that keeps going offline regularly for no reason and causes you to go down the other end of the floor to get a print out only to find there was no paper or ink and have to go back and forth to resend it?

The choices we make as owners, managers or leaders influence how everything else in our company walks or runs and in the long run whether or not the business or your job survives.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fud Buster Friday #66: Telemarketing works?

I should save this for Friday but too annoyed to let it sit.

If you do webinars, write white papers, provide some type of positioning document or think you have something important that I must read/watch/listen, think again.

If your emailing about it, fine, it either gets blocked by spam filters (I hope), auto tagged using a mail rule for the word webinar to Trash(not a good idea but I know some people that do this), or maybe gets to my inbox. Here's a hint, if I see the word webinar in the Subject field, it is deleted without opening from my phone or client. We work with only a handful of Vendors and Partners who I will possibly look at the email, or from one of my friends companies.

Now that is the unobtrusive way to get my attention.

Having a telemarketer or outbound call center ring me up and ask if I am interested in any of this is a serious waste of your money and efforts and immensely  intrusive way to get my attention and possibly sour me on your company. I am not one of those people that thinks you have money to do outbound calling so you must be big, good or whatever.

Don't you think that in this age of information at the speed of sound I could find whatever you offer if and when I need it? Does your marketing team know this is going on? Or do they follow the "we try everything since everyone works differently" theory? Here's a hint, if you don't post it in enough places, say Linkedin, Facebook Events, Twitter announcements, G+, your blogs, your website and more then how would someone find out about it? Ah, but you say, that's why we are calling, so you know about it.

Look, I don't know how you work, but I work on an as need basis. JIT, just in time, it's not just for inventory you know. Sure I have interests too, but when I have the time, I will listen/watch/read. WHEN I HAVE THE TIME! So post your webinars or documents, I don't mind registering to get to them when I need them.

While we are at it, you called me, you gave me a name and maybe a company name. Now as it happens, as an example, I know who IBM is, but I do not know all of the existing Business Partners. If you say you are from company X, so what. What do you do? Are you a Business Partner? A financial adviser firm? HR legal practice? Your webinar titles mean nothing to me, they are sales, product or industry specific but that doesn't tell me if you are new or old, big or small, US only or International. I am not always so hard on telemarketers, they have a job to do and I will at least listen to them if I am in the mood, but somethings, as I will close with, will get you hung up on in a second.

This is the bet. They catch people when they are in the mood. My kids ask for cookies all the time, they figure at some point I will say yes and maybe I will. A numbers game that really sucks if you ask me from a pay off perspective. How many calls do you need to make to get someone to talk to you and maybe, just maybe, register or agree to whatever your pitch is? Would that money and effort be better spent in some other way?

Google does some nice work on their mailings. Mail is not always better than spam, but if mail is unique enough, something you can't be in a subject of an email, then it will get opened. Including something for free like a sticker or notepad or pen is not going to get you business. No buy in or not enough to get me persuaded. Engage me, don't pitch me. Suggest you read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini.

Lastly, do a search before you call and ask to speak to the owner. I don't care what company you are calling, the owner's name is out there if you try a little bit of searching. Here's a hint, Florida has a corporation lookup database that tells you the owners and details. Then again so do 1,000's of other sites. Try Linkedin at a minimum. This asking to speak with the owner line will get you hung up on immediately. This is a sign that all your efforts will fail. Next time make sure you are on the call rotation list and interact with the call center. Eye opening is a mild way to describe how you will feel.

PS - As a contrarian, I could be way off on all of this so I apologize to my friends in telemarketing, advertising and marketing. But seriously, get people to stop asking for the owner!