Monday, March 26, 2018

At THINK, Therefore I was

55+ kilometers I walked last week.

For a conference.

The IBM THINK conference.

In Las Vegas.

30,000 people at an IBM Lovefest for 5 days of 3,000+ sessions.

I can only imagine this is what Woodstock was like, awesome speakers and musicians, great amounts of love and imagination and when you left you were worn out beyond belief.

My bad knee needs a vacation.

I was busy almost every day with sessions I gave, sessions I attended and various hall way meetings with IBMers.

Some sessions ran, some in mythical rooms (lacking maps it was hard to find some rooms), others never ran for unknown reasons. I missed more sessions because of the app that synched incorrectly dates and times. I hope they fix that for next year, and give us access to it much earlier.

My discussions about the HCL deal were interesting, the ICS teams strongly believe this is going to be the best thing yet. The fact Quickr was even mentioned made me pause to think maybe they were really looking at ways to rebuild everything. But dreams aside, the deal will run its course and this year, well really 2019 (presuming R10 comes out in Q4 2018) will be the make or break it year. Barry, don’t worry, I will let you know our top 10 webadmin needs.

THINK Academy
The IBM THINK Academy was a great place to spend time. The life size BattleShip game, professional head shots, Watson, labs galore, Soft Skills sessions where I and many other IBM Champions gave our time to help the next generation and most importantly…food and drinks all day long.

I attended one lab and it was run by a developer advocate Erin McKean, her avatar is a pink robot, that was great, sadly it was the only one I got to be a part of at the show. But it was run quite well and easy tutorial to follow. For more details about it, see the lab on git hub here.

I had more people at my soft skills presentation on speaking, Monday, than my microservices session on Thursday. To be fair, the latter was near the end of the show and attendance was way down by Thursday. I will post about the Q/A from my Soft Skills talks because that was enlightening.

Notes and Domino
Yes we will finally get to use .xls instead of .123 for import and exports. And a few things we have been asking about for years but the HCL team is listening and if you have enough information on why you want/need something, they will seriously think about it. Go to Gabriella Davis's blog post which includes her presentation on what is new, I can't do it justice.

Sametime is NOT Watson Workspace (WW)
Yeah, that is obvious but not to everyone yet. Sametime is staying on premises. WW is web/cloud based.
Sametime was Mentioned but nothing pronounced other than some licensing changes and a possible return to "just chat". Rumors of all kinds of things from a streamlined full stack to a completely microserviced architecture were tossed around. Of course it was dwarfed by the WW information. The new shiny in everyone's eyes. Helps it has Zoom built into it and its infancy is growing so stay tuned.

Dwarfed by the HCL stuff, Connections had sessions and I went to the troubleshooting one from Roberto and Sharon. Great stuff if you need to dig in deep. Grid looks good but I don't spend much of my time on Connections, although I will be in 2018.

Before I forget , I send my apologies to Heather Graham for cornering her about some things, but knowing each other for 10+ years it happens that some frustrations some with the discussion.

Thank Yous
Thank you to all the IBM Champions that I met for the first time and the usual cast of characters that I call my friends for helping me out or just talking through ideas or just spending time together which in some cases has been years apart.

Huge thank you to Alan Hamilton and Libby Ingrassia and their staff of IBM Champion wranglers. We are not an easy group to please and can be rather vocal when we want to be and they handled all of us quite well. They also supplied us with swag of the best kind and even got the front row tickets fort the concerts for everyone. They also helped get us some speaking options and other meetings of the secret kind so for all they do, thank you!

Thanks also to the team in THINK Academy that engaged us and let us have some fun in their areas to help people who wanted something other than tech details.

A great shout out goes to Ephox for the never miss Aussie Party, the many Business Partners or Vendors that invited me and everyone to imbibe and enjoy ourselves. For the ones I missed, or could not connect with, my apologies, I tried, but there are always plans and misses at the shows. There are also serendipity occurrences you can only put down to being at the right place at the right moment in time.

Thank you to IBM for the speaker gift certificate for the Logo and Book store. But $40 was not enough to get the skateboard. Libby, can we get IBM Champion ones? J

Next Year
Next year in San Francisco, in February is the next time this will happen, will see what the future brings before I commit to do this again.

A Sad Note
Lastly, I may not have been as much fun this year as usual. I found out on Monday that my best friend’s father passed away and I could not be there for him in Florida, or home in Israel for the burial. No doubt this influenced my time at the show and the nightly activities. RIP, BDE Rabbi, as I always called him even after I was old enough to call him by his first name.

As I head home finally, been away for 12 days, and I write this at 10,000 feet above the ocean I wonder if anything I saw will keep me busy for another 20 years like Domino has for so long. I don’t know. Time will tell. Then again I doubt Ray Ozzie thought Notes and Domino would still be alive.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

I'm a LEGO Man Living in a Duplo World

This was aimed at business people, not developers.
The idea was to balance the past, client server world, with the new decentralized microservices one.
Delivered on the last day of IBM Think in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Presenting Presentations 101 Session from the IBM Think Academy

I just finished giving my session on the soft skills and other tidbits a person should think about when presenting or building their slides.

If you were lucky enough to be here in person, great, if not, I can help you or your company with your presentations in person or online. Ask me how.

Thank you to David Hablewitz for his input.

Remember, all the world's a stage and we are merely players.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Beautiful Domino Environment

It is an incredible treasure trove of applications, planning, architecture and user attention that we all wish our companies would provide.

A true work of art, this is the environment I want to show everyone and be proud of that I was the admin, if I had built it. These days we rarely get to extend environments like the early days. Change management, mergers, fiefdoms, lack of training/knowledge and just fear of the unknown prevent us from helping customers sometimes.

Dozens of servers, dozens of application directories on each server, you name it they used it or tried it, sandbox apps, nifty 50, OpenNTF templates, apps even I have never seen used in the wild, and I have seen a lot, and have discs of misc. templates from books long gone to history.

Except, it is The Titanic of Domino environments.

The framework is all there, the structure too, sure it lost all the servers along the way as consolidation brought it to this point of life. It has been unearthed, by me, because it needs to get moved to a new physical server. The effort is not lost on me and I am in awe as I open apps that ran the IT department, handled changes and ID files and looks like a well maintained and curated environment with IT people that documented everything.

It is pure and regal just like it was when it ran this Enterprise's world. How would it have known that a merger or two would cause leaks in the infrastructure and the leadership to lose faith in the abilities to keep them running..

It could still get up and run today, bring everyone back, there is life here! I shouted in my head. But all I could do is be a voyeur and help it move to what may be the final resting place.

After all how long do they need this data?

Why would they no longer leverage these applications?

Sadly, it is not coming back to see the light of day, having been put down a few years ago and now sits as a read only backup documentation server.

Like the underwater footage of the Titanic where chandeliers, art, gold, dishes and windows live on and we can relive their beauty, so I sat in my remote desktop just amazed at the art in front of me that will never see the light of live data usage again.

So much awesomeness, so much sadness.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Where's Keith? Trip plans and my sessions at IBM Think

Where's Keith between March 15th and March 26th? 
IBM Think from Sunday the 18th thru Thursday the 22nd I will be at IBM Think.

Send me messages on Social Media, Twitter(@lotusevangelist) is preferable or Watson Workspace, but any one of numerous ways will work, if you want to meet me or have business to discuss with me like jobs, projects, training requests, competitive pitches coaching.

I will be flying to LAX via CDG on Wen the 14th Air France 10:20am if any of my European friends are on that very, very long flight let me know.

Hopping a flight from LAX to Vegas Saturday night because as you will see below I have a busy morning.

I will be speaking or guiding discussions as follows:

Sun, 18-Mar
10:35 AM - 10:55 AM 
9239A How to Engage More Customers and Potential Clients While at Think
MGM Grand Conference Center, Level 1 - Room 103

10:55 AM - 11:15 AM
9240A Birds of a Feather/Roundtable: Promoting IBM and Vanquishing the Competition
MGM Grand Conference Center, Level 1 - Room 103

Mon, 19-Mar
3:00 PM - 3:40 PM
Hone Your Communication Skills - Powerpoint and Presentation Skills, Intro to Body Language Workshop
At the Think Academy, located in Mandalay Bay, 2nd floor, Shoreline Ballroom

Wen, 21-Mar
12:30 PM -1:10 PM
Hosting a Champion Chat: So You Want to be an IBM Champion
Champion Corner Bayside D

Thu, 22-Mar
10:30 AM - 11:10 AM
2858A I'm a Lego Man Living in a Duplo World
Mandalay Bay South, Level 2 - Lagoon B

1:00 PM - 1:40 PM
Repeat Session: Hone Your Communication Skills - Powerpoint and Presentation Skills, Intro to Body Language Workshop
At the Think Academy, located in Mandalay Bay, 2nd floor, Shoreline Ballroom

Beyond that I would say look for me in my Champion gear but there will be over 200 IBM Champions walking around.

I will be taking the late flight to JFK on Thursday night and then a Sunday afternoon back to Israel direct from JFK should anyone be flying my way.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Why Google Calendar is NOT An Enterprise Solution

I have been toying with ways to get a certain upcoming event schedule into my IBM Notes calendar because the vendor did not provide ANY way to export one's choices from their nice online website.

If this was 2004 I would say they did it for the website hits, but this is 2018!

Anyway I figure the best way, for me a non developer, to to get the task accomplished was to scrape the page and dump it in Excel and then import it into Notes.

Ah, but you are saying already, and I knew this too, there is no way to import an xls file into Notes. One can ONLY import a Lotus 1-2-3 .wk4 file. Since office dropped Lotus 1-2-3 extensions before Office 2013, modern users would be out of luck.

Note to the Notes PM/OM at HCL, please fix this so we can use an .xls /.xlsx in Notes 10.

However one can import an .ics file(if I only had one),  Structured Text (.csv? .txt? maybe?), Tabular text (.csv? .txt? maybe?) so there are options.

As it turned out .csv nor .txt were not working files Notes accepts because no matter which way I tried it or named it or entered information, the client says it imported them but they never appeared.

Not one to give up easily, off I go to my secondary calendar, Google. Google calendar luckily lets one import a .csv file. Hooray!

Loaded it up, found the import option, why it is hidden 3 layers deep in the preferences settings is weird, and the events all appeared on screen, joy! But.... with the wrong times.

You see Google calendar has absolutely ZERO ways to set a time zone when using a .csv. Z-E-R-O!

I am 10 hours in time zones away from the event, as you can imagine my calendar is a mess. Basically the import worked great, all the data in my .csv came in as expected...except the time zone. I read pages and pages of posts, rants and vba scripts to realize Google does not care about the needs of an international person, let alone their company. If you are an entity that never leaves your time zone, it probably is awesome for you, otherwise, what were you thinking making this junk your standard calendar tool?

The only way to fix the time zone issue, before importing the .csv, is to set the times to one's current time zone. So 9:00 AM PCT would be listed in the .csv for me as 7:00 PM. And then you get to pray that when you are in that time zone your phone, calendar and the code all get it right. YIKES!

Alternatively, as I did for the Sunday events, I manually opened the events and set a time zone for them.

Oh and one more quirk Google doesn't care about, try to put a hyphen in your location reference.

You can not do it.

Nope, no way.

You can not add it by itself, with quotes around it, or any other way. No hyphens allowed.

Thus room 120-123 becomes room 120 to 123. Sure not a big deal, but somewhere out there is a developer pulling their hair out until they find this little nugget of an issue.

Hours wasted on what should be and easy, save your agenda to an .ics and import it into your calendar. maybe over the next 12 weeks a better solution will emerge.

Friday, March 2, 2018

FudBuster Friday 2018 Edition: That GDPR = Dead Domino

"From the ashes we can build another day.."- from "Story in Your Eyes" by The Moody Blues

Every once in a while I feel the need to publish another FudBuster Friday post, yes it has been way too long but "fake news" makes these posts almost superfluous. I could write 10 a day and still never get them done.

Over the last few days some people I like, trust and learn from, were bothered by a "op-ed" type Press Release from the CEO of a company that obviously makes their money by moving IBM Domino shops to Microsoft.

Their own website even states in absolute terms "Our mission is to develop user-friendly, cost effective technology solutions to help companies escape the IBM Domino/Notes application landscape.:"

From their site I get the impression they have not been around for a long time but obviously are unhappy that people use Notes and Domino. This is their prerogative and in business there are many ways to make money. However, FUD ways are not funny, nor valid reasons to ever do something.

In this case they try to angle that the old solution is not up to par for the imminent on May 25, 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the EU. For a great article about it read this

GDPR is a regulation that requires businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. It also is applicable to US companies that STORE the data.

Taking a few items to task, let's start with 
"It is compelling because organisations are expected to create a single view of a customer – leaving data in old Notes databases is likely to render users non-compliant"
No explanation is provided and it is "just a fact". There is no requirement, that I found, requiring a single view of a customer. And even if there was, given Domino is a flat database solution, the data is sitting in one nsf although it may be called and referenced by others. Of course you may have data shared in various formats across your CRM, your SAP, your individual sales people as well. This would not change no matter what or how you store your data. What becomes incumbent on companies is the need to document their data workflows and processes for reporting breaches of the said data. 

Domino non-compliant? No way.

He then goes on to lay out a process of three steps that are required to help you meet GDPR requirements, namely: Discovery, Data Extraction and Archiving. In truth none of these steps do anything except pad a consultants pocket and sell, as we will see, many software licenses.

Discovery phase in which they inventory your Domino servers looking for applications. How exciting! our interns can and should do this for us if the built in tools of Domino can not.

Again, this has nothing to do with GDPR or Domino, it is just a normal project process. 

Data Extraction
"A key area of importance to the GDPR compliance directives is being able to get to all the data that is held on an individual so that, for example, a request to be forgotten is executed with a high degree of certainty. This means that getting data out of the Notes databases into an easily searched Relational Database is critical."
What? A did not go to B and definitely did not reach C in that sentence. If you already mapped out your data workflows and locations, then you would have a process in place to eliminate the data asked to be forgotten.

You do not need a relational database to do an index lookup, Excel does it quite well and so does your own internal search solution hopefully. If not, you may want  to invest in a corporate search appliance but this is still no reason to give up on Domino nor does it prove any non compliance. Just bad FUD.

The author then goes on to elaborate about how data could be dumped out of Domino into not one (MS SQL), not two (MS Dynamics), but three (Alfresco) different solutions and somehow this is a better idea? Imagine how many licenses and servers and billable hours this requires compared to your existing team looking at your data and mapping it out.

Archiving of data is always fun. those of you with 20 year old tapes of customer data, how will you rectify this? There is a serious business. This however is just bad rhetoric. Do you really need an all encompassing search solution? Perhaps, but if you have workflowed your data, you should know exactly where it resides and be able to easily identify what parts need to be marked/deleted.

Again, Domino is no different than any other database when it comes to finding your data.

The gist of the PR is a SQL server will give you better control, indexing, deletion of the data. No, it will not and no matter what database or solution you use if you do not document it or manage it properly you will face some huge fines. Any business no matter how small or large if you have personal/private data of EU members you will need to sit down and sort yourselves out.

In the end, no, moving to Microsoft SQL server will not be more compliant for GDPR than Domino.

You will have spent way too much money to move data from one solution to another for zero, I repeat zero reasons other than you were blindly following some entity because you were ignorant and uninformed!

I welcome feedback, further details which maybe I have neglected to research thoroughly enough or even an official statement from IBM or HCL that provides me with a reason to edit this post.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Domino 10, The Early Game is Afoot

Notes is dead they say.
Domino is passe.
Who uses this thing?
Why do you (meaning me) bother?

Yes it is a tough life one leads when they go against the grain.When you believe in something so strongly you pursue it until a better pivot comes along. So far nothing I have used outside of Salesforce makes me want to pivot away from ICS, but I always have a soft spot for CRM apps, see my history with SugarCRM.

IBM did a webinar yesterday and due to the holiday here I could not be on it live but I just finished the recorded version (only some slight redactions of a few screen shots) and want to report about it. You can watch/listen to it here.

Bob Schultz the recently crowned GM for IBM Watson Talent and Collaboration Solutions opened the call.

Bob then handed it over to Richard Jefts who is the GM/VP Collaborative Workflow Platforms for HCL and Andrew Manby Director of Offering Management for ICS. 

Jason Gary of the ICS internal Pink team, now with HCL, also snuck on the call and did a quick Node.js discussion and demo. Leaving Connections to work on Notes and Domino is a loss for the Connections team but a big win for the Domino one.

So what did they actually tell us?

I am skipping the dev items because I am not a developer and would not explain them well at all. Aside from the Node.js inclusion that will be built in, not bolted on, please go read some other blogs from my developer friends like Paul Withers and Hogne Pettersen and the Red Pill team.

The list is in no particular order includes the following and feel free to provide more details or comment:

  • 256GB NSF sizes - Currently we have a 64GB limit so this is nice but why in a world of unlimited cloud storage and massive mail files is there even a limit of under 1TB? Performance and function. The larger it is the harder it is to maintain it properly and the resources to manage it efficeintly. My guess is IBM has some data to work from and notices database sizes are growing and this is an acceptable compromise.
  • Leveraging Microsoft Word as an editor - Not sure I like this idea given every single version of Word not only handles regular text and rich text differently it also messes up HTML and XML and O365 is not exactly efficient especially when run from the Cloud. But I understand IBM's reasoning and understand the option should be available.
  • Team Calendar Enhancements - They were kind of vague about what was new and it was a fast screenshot/demo. Presumably making it easier as the speakers said the loudest voice was to make functions easier to use.
  • 3rd party invitations to a meeting - That you don't own which would be great instead of just forwarding an email or entry but adding someone to a meeting you don't own.
  • Group forward mails - This we already had so I was not sure what was so new. Sometimes our own people don't even know the 1,001 things we can do with Notes and Domino. Anyone feel free to provide me some edit for this one.
  • Scheduled email - All I can say is FINALLY! This has been one of the top things I always get from Outlook users that they need. Personally I could use it maybe once in a while so never a big need but i understand why people want it.
  • iPad app is coming. - I know because I was on the beta until my iPad was no longer included in updates from Apple and thus I can not leverage it anymore. But I have grown apart from my iPad and so while this may be needed, it may have jumped the shark already.
  • Version 11 and others in pipeline  - which means items they could not do for 10 or items which were questionable get pushed forward to what I hope internally the beta will be called Spinal Tap "it goes to 11" edition.
  • NSF-2 - NSF is getting updates and the future of NoSQL looks to be in good hands.
  • OAuth support via REST API - which will allow Domino to interact with so many apps and websites that will be exciting to see how this works out.
  • Domino apps on the Cloud - is a needed service and sounded like it will be coming out.
  • SAML support is being extended - Not much details provided yet, come to Think is the mantra for more information and SEE it in action.
  • Elastic search - or just better, broader search is coming.
  • Active Directory integration - continues because why should you run two different directories.
  • Client AutoUpdate - Yes, been asking for this for years. Of course big customers with tweaked environments will turn this off, but for the rest of us out there just Thank the team. This presumes they do not just mean an update to SmartUpgrade and a real polling and downloading from a "store".
  • Automated Database Repair - More proactive database monitoring and automated fixups or whatever goes a long way to letting Admins stop putting out fires and be more proactive in expanding their users worlds of collaboration.
  • Docker - I am on the fence if this is really a genius idea or just another VM type option. But for companies who want it, it is coming. You can already make use of Domino and Docker in 9.0.1FP10.
  • Destination Domino - SME and IBM Champions and IBMers will be more proactively writing useful and detailed information in what sounded like a newsletter or another DeveloperWorks community  for admins, developers, security people and business owners. As they said on the call communication is key and they have planned many routes to inform everyone about what is going on. 
  • 3rd party mail integration - "At THINK" more will be known, shown, etc.. Being a mail person I am very interested in what they have in mind.
  • Verse and Desktop client parallel development work - going on because large groups exist for both currently.

ETA for Domino 10? 2018 which is a vague way of saying 2nd half of the year.