Domino, Notes and videotape
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With a slight headache I got out of bed as late as possible (07.30) and went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast with Christoph Adler from Panagenda and Stephanie Heit and Arshad Khalid from BCC.

The conference was held a five minute walk from the hotel, so I was there in good time before Roger Johannessen, ISBG leader, did a short introduction.

Lars Schorling from Intravision then talked about the mobile app for their brilliant OnTime calendar. Their product is very good (I’ve tested it), and it looks darn nice too, design wise. I’ve been trying to get Brunvoll to invest in it, and with the new possibilities that you have if you use the product with Events in IBM Connections, I hope I can get the right people at my company become more interested in it.

IBM KeyNote – A New Way to Work

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Luis Guirigay. Photo: Oliver Busse

Luis Guirigay, World Wide Executive IT Specialist at IBM, then delivered today’s keynote. It was split in two. The first part was a presentation of IBM’s philosophy of a flexible client strategy. With Project Hawthorne, it will be possible to use Outlook as your mail and calendar client, without having to migrate from your trusted Domino server.

This means that if people who are used to Outlook start working in your company, and they really don’t want (or neeed) to use IBM Notes, you can give them a choice.

Not only is an email migration from Domino to Exchange a big and expensive project. Remember that IBM Domino is really, really easy to upgrade from an old version to a new version. Not so for Exchange. A lot of companies are still on Exchange 2010 because upgrading is a huge and expensive project.

In part two he gave us a demo of the functionality. He showed us that everything you can do in IBM Notes, you can also do in the Outlook client. I wrote more about this in this blog posting from IBM Connect in Orlando back in January.

Experiences modernizing an IBM Notes application with AngularJS

isbg_markMark Luesink of Viaware Food Contact Software & Services is also a freelance consultant for my company. He did a presentation on the work we are doing with modernizing our IBM Notes applications.

We have two major applications used by the sales department, that are incredibly important. These are now being modernized, consolidated and put onto the web. The idea is that all the data should still be stored on Domino. This means no data migration.

He talked about the infrastructure of the servers, how the various technologies communicate and on the struggles of single signon (ADFS). The system is also communicating with Infor M3 and Infor IDM (document management tool). Right now are facing a challenge on how to get ADFS to work with these.

The technologies used are Nginx, Angular, Jquery and the Domino REST API, as well as Java for communicating with M3.

The session was very good and a lot of people were interested in this. I hope we can do a demo later this year on the before (IBM Notes) and after (on the web). Some people expressed disappointment with the fact that there was no demo this time. Other than that, only good feedback for Mark’s presentation.

Admin Tech Clash: Discussing Best (and Worst) Administration Practices from hundreds of customers

isbg_ytriaBen Menesi, Head of Prodct at Ytria and Christoph Adler, Techincal Account Manager in Panagenda, shared their experiences of administration of IBM’s Collaboration isbg_panagendaSolutions.

Both me and Gunleif Ræg of EVRY, who helps me administer our Domino servers, picked up a few tips here. It was also fun to hear some worst-of-stories.

Integrasjon og utvidelser I Connections Cloud GUI

isbg_inforteRuge Hegge, Sension Consultant and CEO of Inforte As and his colleague Arnstine Kjellevold gave a great presentation on how you can integrate an isbg_inforte2existing user interface in to IBM Connections Cloud. I was very surprised on how many opportunities you have with this. I thought we would get less opportunities if we moved to the cloud, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

They showed us some great demos, and gave us direct links for resources. Very nice! One of my favorite sessions this time around.

Unfortunately attending this meant I had to miss Erik Borse of Item’s presentation on using IBM Connections as a social intranet.

IBM Hybrid Cloud

isbg_camillaCamilla M. L. Tønnestad of from the IBM Social & Smarter Workforce was a first time attendee and presenter at the conference. She lead us through IBM’s Bluemix platform for developing with APIs and thereby integrating existing solutions in your company with brand new ones.

I knew most of this beforehand, but I was surprised on how much more evolved the platform has become since I played around it with myself.

Annual meeting

Then it was time for the annual meeting. After a going through the agenda, accounting and other stuff, I was up for election as a new board member. Long story short:

I’m now a board member of the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG). Yay! Thanks to Rune Carlsen for the great work through the years. I got a lot to live up to.

Competitions

Competition time! Once again it was a Kahoot competition. The quiz was about James Bond! Finally I could put some of my useless trivia knowledge to good use. I was leading for a long time, but then Rolf sidelined me and went off with the AppleTV instead of me. That darn… err…well done, Rolf!

Then it was time for prize drawings. The rule is that if your name is drawn you have to be present to win. If not, they draw again. So when one guy I know won an AppleTV, he had to forfeit it because he had already left. I sent him a message that he had just missed winning an AppleTV. I promptly got a reply saying: “I think the words is fuuuuuuuck!”

Then the meeting was over. I gathered a bunch of people who met for drinks afterwards. Unfortunately, quite a few people had to go home after a while, but some of us went to dinner at Hell’s Kitchen in Oslo.

The evening was finished by going to Tilt. A pub with old arcade games, flipper games and shuffle boards. And they had Crystal Castles! And shit, do I still rule in that game:

crystal_castles

The first level is shaped after the name of the person who has the high score!

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Whodda man! Whodda man! Photo: Christoph Adler

Thanks for a great conference, once again. The next one will be on me and the rest of the ISBG team. Yikes!

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The view during our dinner. Photo: Oliver Busse

The annual Norwegian IBM User Group spring conference for 2016 is now a thing of the past. I arrived home yesterday, and after having been away from home for almost fourteen days, I arrived to an empty living room where workers are still fixing my ceiling. In addition, the battery on my car was flat, my bike needed to be fixed and I had two episode of Game of Thrones waiting for me. So the summary I always write had to wait until today.

Oliver Busse does a great write up on the social aspects of the conference (no, I don’t mean IBM social but real social stuff, dinner, people hanging out together and stuff like that), so I won’t repeat much of that.

We4IT

We4IT was the platinum sponsor of the event, so they got to do a short presentation of their products and services.

IBM Strategy Update

HuguetteIBM-er Huguette Ranc, Social Business & Smarter Workforce Unit for Europe was up next and did a 15 minute presentation on what IBM’s thoughts for the future are. Highlights:

  • Research shows that in the US 80% of your time is spent at work with meetings. Phone calls and email. That leaves a small amount of time for real work
  • We spend on average 15,5 hours a day reading news and articles. That’s 174 newspapers
  • She talked about IBM’s platform Toscana that will make it even easier to create seamless integration between various collaboration platforms
  • IBM will soon start more strategic co-operations. Today they are doing this with Facebook, Twitter, The Weather Channel (which IBM own), Apple and DocuSign

Cognitive Collaboration – the next breakthrough

Koplowitz

Next up was IBM-er Rob Koplowitz, Program Director of Watson – Enterprise Social Solution strategy. His session was spread over two hours. He mostly focused on IBM Watson, the technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.

In short: Watson is a robot that can process a huge amount of data, and is able to learn from it. And he gave several examples on how they used Watson in various situations.

Koplowitz described Watson as a young athlete. You can see the potential, but he has to learn, train and grow for the greatness to shine through. Watson is like that. The more questions and answers Watson receives, the more it learns and understands. The system is self learning.

He told a story on how Watson was used for support. When someone asked how to delete an email, Watson told the person how to delete his entire mail account. Today Watson is able to come up with answers and suggestions that people would never think of themselves.

What’s special about Watson compared to other IT-systems, is that it’s ok if Watson gets the answer wrong. The reason is that 1) Watson learns from it when given the correct answer and 2) Often the wrong answer can generate good ideas and other ways of looking at a problem

The principle is understand, reason, learning. And while we used to be able to look at experience from the past to make plans for the future,  technology now is changing so fast that this is no longer an option.

Unstructured data is a huge challenge for companies. We’ve been talking about this for 25 years, but nothing much is happening. In addition, we have companies like Uber, Airbnb, Tesla and Facebook who do things completely different from the way business was conducted before.

In the second part he gave a demonstration on how Watson helps you prioritize your email and communication. For example suggestions for who to include in email conversations, who to include in meetings, what files you might like to share and so on.

IBM has never been famous for design, but there’s a new principle at work at IBM now. Designers are a part of the process all the way these days. And part of the design is that Watson should not be intrusive (like the annoying paper clip from Microsoft Office a decade ago).

IBM Connect 2016 – The way forward

ISBG Ego

Me doing my stuff. Photo: Oliver Busse

Then I was up next. I won the ISBG scholarship last autumn and was therefore able to go to Connect in Orlando in January. A part of the scholarship is that I had to blog every day while over there, and I also had to give a presentation on what I learned.

I told basically what you can find in my blog postings from Connect, so go read them.

The feedback afterwards was really good, and I got quite a few shout outs on Twitter for some of the stuff I said. IBM was also pleased, and I didn’t say anything wrong, I think.

I did warn everybody that if they hated the world social, they should be ready to hate cognitive, which is the new buzzword from IBM. I got a chuckle from several IBM-ers, as well as from the audience and on Twitter.

I also told people that they should know that moving from on premise to the cloud is a project, and not just copy and paste.

IBM Connect 2016 – The tools we love

I also did a presentation after lunch on what is new and up and coming from IBM Collaboration Solutions (IBM Notes/Domino, IBM Connections and so on). I was very humbled and happy that so many people turned up that it was standing room only when I started.

Are you approaching adoption like holding a ball under water?

BjellerupThe next session I went to was IBM-er Peter Bjellerup’s session. He is Executive Consultant, Social Business, Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing. He talked about the challenges you face doing self-sustained adoption. The users have to want to change and keep using the new tools and ways to work.

All of this is a challenge that most of us are familiar with, and I kept nodding most of the time, because I’ve been through most of them.

MittEA – Social Intranet with IBM Connections

For the final session I was torn. I really wanted to go to Item’s session on how to use third party services, like Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to sign in to your IBM Cloud solution

Instead I went to the session on how Euro Accident had created a social intranet, pretty much what we want to do at Brunvoll. This means using IBM Connections as our intranet, and then skin and adapt it like we want it to look. Got a few helpful tips in this session.

Team competition

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The team leaders are gathering for the competition. Great fun. Photo: Oliver Busse

Then it was time for some fun. The team competition, which also includes a speed session where all the vendors and exhibitors are given four minutes in front of each team where they give a presentation of their products and services.

I still say that the premise and conclusion for the riddle of the green eyes (check it out!) was wrong, but I guess you can’t argue with Math, can you?

Dinner and after-drinks

After the competition, I completely rewrote my after dinner speech, which I had been asked to give. This was because I had originally had written it in Norwegian. However, since I did my first presentation in English earlier that day because there were so many foreigners in the room, I realized I needed a new one in English. Puns don’t translate well…

It was then time for dinner, and I was lucky enough to be seated with two wonderful women from IBM (Renee and Camilla), my colleague Gunnar and Rolf from Moderne Byggfornyelse. We were served a three course dinner at the top of the PWC building in Bjørvika in Oslo (where the entire conference took place). We had a great view over Oslo, and the food was great. As usual we had a magic show, and the finale with the coin trick was amazing!

I did the after dinner speech, and with all my puns and jokes it went from pain inducing groans to big rounds of laughter and applause. So I’ll take it as a win.

We then went on a drinking spree and I’ll spare you the details. Come back later for a summary of day 2, where I’m up for election as a new board member for the Norwegian user group. Exciting stuff!

How I Became Engaged

March 28th, 2016 | Posted by elfworld in Connections | Engage | IBM - (0 Comments)
Evoluon

The hold Philips museum, which looks like a space ship, was the site of the conference

I’m currently on my last day off during the Norwegian Easter Holiday, which for most people last for 10 days. I spent parts of my holiday in the Netherlands, in Eindhoven to be exact, attending the latest conference held by Engage. They used to be known as BLUG and it’s the user group for IBM Collaboration Solutions in the Benelux countries. Not only did I attend, I also was a presenter and did a session on the plugins for IBM Connections.

Over 400 people attended the conference, and I am incredibly impressed with the whole event. It must have taken an unbelievable amount of hours to put together, and Theo Heselman and his gang should once again take a bow for pulling off an event that was free for all the attendees. In addition the hotel expenses for us speakers (who there were over 80 of) were taken care of, and we were treated to dinner both nights. This was thanks to great sponsors and all the companies that got the chance to present themselves and their products.

And to top it all off: On the last day we were taken on a free tour of the Philip Museum of History! The guide at the museum had a great time with our group, because we were a bunch of nerds and geeks who soaked up every detail about all of Philips inventions and design through the years. There were also these incredible vintage ads and posters on the wall, and I bought these two. Aren’t they beautiful? What a wonderful way to end a great conference.

philips_posters

What did you say? The sessions? Oh…yeah. That’s why we were there, wasn’t it? They were great as well. Since I went on my own accord and not through my employer this time, I didn’t feel pressurised to go to a lot of sessions. I could therefore pick and choose those I found most interesting. In addition, I also had to prepare my own session, which was at the very end of the conference. I therefore attended most sessions on Wednesday.

Among the highlights were the opening session, were Inhi Cho Suh, who is the General Manager for IBM Collaboration Solutions (which is what we who attend these user group meetings are working with) did the opening. Not only does she know the technology, she also has visions of where ICS should go. And Engage got the honour of being the meeting where the Big Announcement ™ was made, this year (last year it was at the Norwegian User Group Meeting (ISBG)): There will be another Lotusphere… sorry…Connect… in 2017. But for the first time it won’t be in Orlando. It will be moved to San Francisco, and will be held in the middle of February. Inhi’s goal is to double the attendance numbers as well. I spoke to her several times during the conference, and I feel more optimistic about the future of ICS than I have in a long time.

Other sessions I really liked were the stories on how the Dutch tax office used Kudos Boards to make Activities in IBM Connections much, much better to work with, Pete Janzen and Martin Donnelly’s session about the future of Domino applications in Bluemix, Using IBM Domino Data in IBM Connections and Carl Tyler demonstrating old versions of Lotus Notes (from v1.0 and up) while talking about the history of Lotus products. Can you imagine, they did marketing in the old days?

My session was at the end of the conference, and I had pretty stiff competition from the session about the Hawthorne project, which allows you to use Outlook with Domino. But I had a nice little crowd who were very interested in what I presented, and the feedback afterwards was really good:

So I’ll count this one as a win.

I talked about the use of the plugins and gave demos on how to use the IBM Connections plugins for Windows Explorer, Microsoft Office, IBM Notes and also a quick demo of the plugin for Microsoft Outlook. You can see, and download my session here:

Good Friday was spent travelling home. Since there were almost no planes flying in Norway on such a holiday, I had to fly from Copenhagen to Trondheim and then drive 3.5 hours to get home. So all in it all it took me 12 hours to get back home. But it was worth it, and I will definitely go back next year if I get the chance.

And huge thanks to Theo and the others for giving me my first international speaking engagement!

Connect 2016 Day 4: A Sense of Optimism

February 4th, 2016 | Posted by elfworld in Connect | IBM - (4 Comments)

I did not sMat Newmantart the day with a workout. I was actually very tired and you have to keep your strength up if you are to hang on during a session with Mat Newman. So I slept as long as I could and headed off to the conference hotel.

#UserBLAST 2016

Mat Newman is a character that everybody in the community, and at the conference, knows. He’s impossible to miss in his yellow suit, with matching shoes and wrist watch. Newman is also a born showman, and he loves the technologies IBM provides. I’ve written and said this before, but Mat has been a huge source of inspiration for me when it comes to both user training, as well as preaching about Notes/Domino and Connections (and other tools and technologies that I like for that matter).

Mat presented a user case scenario where a user went from having dozens of copies of the same file, which were emailed all over the place, to taking control over the work process so that she only had to contend with one copy, which she then shared across with those who wanted it.

We didn’t exactly learn something new here, but Mat’s conviction made a lot of us feel that this is what we should go home and tell our boss, our colleagues, our competitors, our friends, their grandmothers and their dogs.

I spoke to several people after the session, and we all concurred that if IBM had more Mat Newmans, people would not be moving to other platforms. And I got a great idea (at least I think it’s great) on what to do with the Norwegian IBM Users Group’s spring seminar in May. Stay tuned!

How the Salvation Army Doubled the Number of Active IBM Connections Users Worldwide in One Day

The title of this presentation was a bit misleading, because we are talking about Sweden only. But if their claims are true, it’s still pretty impressive to get a 100% adoption rate from their users. But that was their point: They didn’t adapt their users. They adapted the technology to fit their users need. So they took IBM Connections and put their own product on top to skin Connections to become more of a web page (intranet) where users find what they are looking for, instead of wading through things they don’t understand (wikis, blogs, forums and so on).

This seems to be a predominating theme: To achieve user participation, you need to skin Connections. Hopefully the new design of Connections 5.5 will make this need smaller.

I will definitely check out this product, and during the Nordic dinner, I spoke to one of the product managers from the Swedish company.

GURUpalooza!

IBM has a big user community with developers who are really the ones driving the technology and solutions forward. IBM acknowledge this and both reward people with the IBM Champions price, as well as giving them the possibility to speak at the conference. Even though we have lost a lot of the old timers among the gurus, there still are a lot of them, and they are all willing to share what they know.

There was a pretty big turnout, but I do get the feeling that those who don’t come to this session stay away because they feel this is a club, where everybody knows each other, so they feel left out. Personally I was welcomed with open arms in to this community back in 2006 (thanks to Bruce Elgort who saw me at an OpenNTF session and wanted to know who the new guy was). I think maybe the gurus should think a little bit about that, especially with the internal jokes going on.

It’s also a bit hard for some people to know the difference between this session and the ASK the developers anbd Product Managers session.

Even so, the session was fun. I started the question round, and you can see that moment if you click on the video below:

(I also pop up at the 48:55 minute mark)

The most important thing that came out of this session was that we turned the focus on the user groups. Some don’t exist any more, some are thriving and others are struggling. I hope more people came out of the session and were ready for start turning up at the user group meetings. Or even engage themselves in organising them.

ASK the Developers and Product Managers

This is a session where you can ask the developers and managers of the various IBM products and solutions questions, to their face. Sometimes you really do get an answer (and that answer might very well be “no that will not work” or “no, we do not have that on our roadmap for the foreseeable future”), but a lot of the time the session ends up with “we’ll take that back with us.”

This year someone made a list of all the questions that had been promised a follow up on last year, which hadn’t been followed up on…

I asked a question about the Files plugin in IBM Notes and I was told that, yes, it will be developed on more. So that’s good news!

Closing General Session: Discover your Inner Artist

Liz Urheim, Vice Precident of Collaboration and Smarter Workforce, summerised the week and promised us that, yes, there will be a conference again next year!

Inhi Cho Suh then took the stage. She is the General Manager of collaboration solutions for IBM and her words on their commitment to developing all the platforms of IBM is still strong. I liked her talk. It was short and to the point.

Erik Wahl then took the stage. He is an artist who has made a career of letting go of traditional thought patterns. During the presentation he painted pictures and talked about encouraging people to use disruptive strategies. Let the kids colour outside the lines. And he asked: “Why is it that when I ask pre school children if they can draw, they all say ‘yes,’ but when I ask adults, almost all of them say ‘no.'” When do we lose that? Food for thought.

And that was it. In the evening IBM Norway treated us to dinner at Kimonos, which is a at the Swan and Dolphin hotel where this conference used to be held. Sushi, beer, nostalgia, karaoke with Mat Newman made the whole evening in to very enjoyable event.

And that’s how I feel about the entire conference! Last year it was all doom and gloom. This year the vibe was much more positive. IBM seems determined to deliver what they promise, features that have been requested, both in Notes/Domino and Connections are coming fast, the plugins (which I love) are getting more and more love and there were some really good sessions this year.

For me personally I got to meet friends again, but most importantly: I got to have meetings that will probably result in my employer saving time and money, as well as becoming a more effective and collaborative organisation. I’ve also received loads of great feedback, both about my blogging from the conference, and my contributions to the community.

Oh yeah, the weather was great too.  Thanks to IBM for buying that weather company!

Until next year, folks!

HogwartsWoke up half past five in the morning. My internal clock is still not up to snuff. The humidity outside was unbelievable and there was so much fog that I opted for a 4 x 4 interval run on the thread mill instead of running around the lake. After hitting the shower and taking in some breakfast it was off to the conference. On the way there I realised I had forgotten my conference badge and I had to run back to get it. After running to the conference hotel I was so soaked in sweat that I didn’t know what to do, but thankfully Floridian style air condition quickly cooled me down during the first session.

Take IBM Connections Across Your Enterprise – Through Plugins and Integration Points

As I’ve stated many times, I love the IBM Connections plugins for IBM Notes, Windows Explorer and Microsoft Office. I therefore try to pick up so many tips as I can about them. I really didn’t learn anything new during this session, but I was able to give a few inputs, tips and pointers to people. Two people from the plugins’ developers team told me later in the day they really appreciated my feedback and promotion of the plugins. Made my day!

IBM Connections at Lufthansa – Modnernization of Cooperation and Communication

For the four past years I’ve been working hard on introducing IBM Connections in my organisation. It has hit quite a few roadblocks during the way, so it’s always nice to listen to other the experiences of other IBM customers. Lufthansa are using IBM Connections through their entire organisation, and it was very interesting to hear about their challenges. I also liked that even though they had switched from Jive to IBM Connections, they didn’t down talk Jive. They said it had delivered what they wanted, but now they wanted more. That’s class.

Here are some of the key points:

  • The workers unions demanded that IBM did changes to Connections so that people could choose whether they should be visible through tagging
  • Workers unions also demanded that users had to be able to decide whether they wanted to have photos in their profiles or not (surprisingly many chose not to)
  • The whole project was done in just 6 months (impressive!)
  • Training and adoption is still going on, but the use of Connections is increasing every day
  • A lot of Lufthansa employees are on mobile devices, another reason to go for Connections
  • Connections has improved communications between flight crews, maintenance, caterers, ground staff and management

When a huge and important company like Lufthansa choose IBM Connections I think IBM should do even more to make Lufthansa representatives travel around talking about it!

What’s New in IBM Notes and IBM Domino

DominoAs usual a session about the future of IBM Notes and Domino was a session that was packed with people. You can take Lotusphere out the Connect, but you can’t Lotusphere out of the attendee.

We were presented with a roadmap with the following key points for Domino

  • Mail, contacts and calendar support for Microsoft Outlook on Domino will be available during 2016
  • Domino Next (which means the next version of Domino) will be out during 2016
  • TLS 1.2 support for all protocols
  • Store databases vie windexes outside of NSF file and on the file system, like you do on your mail files today
  • Live view refresh
  • Support for winmail.dat files
  • Java (JVM) will finally be updated to the latest version!

Here are the key points for Domino Designer (which means that there will be a new version of it):

  • Designer integration with Bluemix
  • Document encryption and signing in Xpages
  • API access to ID Vault
  • Responsive design with Bootstrap
  • Easy to integrate data from relational databases
  • Open sourcing of most of Xpages
  • Java 8, Dojo, Bootstrap, CK Editor, OSGi and Active Content Filtering will be upgraded to the latest versions

Here are the key points for the Notes Browser plugin:

  • It is now rebranded and will be called IBM Client Application Access (ICAA)
  • It’s now a stand alone application instead of a browser plugin
  • Support for all  @commands
  • Can be installed with the IBM Notes Rich Client
  • Will now also work on the Mac since it’s stand alone application

Here are the key points for IBM Verse on mobile (Traveler):

  • Meeting Moderators can now view who has accpeted a meeting invitation
  • Real-time push notifications
  • MaaS360 Cloud Exterior support
  • Calendar ghosting on unprocessed calendar invitations

Here are the key points for the IBM Notes Client:

  • Improved calendar interoperability with winmail.dat
  • Display internet style addresses instead of Notes addresses
  • Rules will run on existing messages as well as on new messages
  • You can now delegate calendar and To Do entries!
  • CCM support for the Files plugin
  • Template updates
  • Windows 10 support

Here are the key points for IBM iNotes (webmail):

  • Improved calendar interoperability with winmail.dat
  • Delegate calendar and To Do entries
  • Open message in Notes client or ICAA when detecting Notes/Lotusscript buttons within a message
  • Support for mailto: and sendto:
  • Support for IE Standard (no-quirks) mode
  • Support for Microsoft Edge browser
  • Integration with the latest version of Sametime, Docs and Connections

Here are the key points for IBM Verse (the new web mail IBM has been talking a lot about):

  • Out of Office support
  • Define/Insert signature
  • Prevent copying
  • Share to blog
  • File preview for Microsoft Office files
  • Send encrypted and digitally signed mail
  • Business card on typeahead
  • Team analytics
  • It will be on premise during the second half of 2016!

Phew! To sum up: Domino is not going away. It seems that there still will be an IBM Notes client, but we are getting mixed signals about that, especially because of the ICAA, which is replacing the Notes Browser Plugin. But IBM are committed to Domino, and now that you can choose between five different clients, including Outlook, there is absolutely no need to spend millions on migration yet! So tell your boss and Financial Director that, ok?

What’s New in IBM Connections

We are currently running IBM Connections 5.0 in our organisation. The newest version is 5.5, and during this session we got to hear what’s new this version. We got to hear quite a lot of what is new in communities, but I covered this in yesterday’s posting, so I won’t write much about it here. Other highlights:

  • Desktop plugin enhancements
  • IBM Docs files can be edited with desktop applications
  • There will be updates to the Files plugin in IBM Notes after all! It will support CCM, as well as nested folders
  • Permanent links in wikis. Today if you rename a wiki page, all links to that wiki page are broken. This will no longer be the case
  • The Ephox editor is now included on premise, this is a much better editor than the regular rich text editor included in Connections
  • Attachments in forum posts are now indexed and are searchable
  • You can much easier add third party apps to communities

Get the Most Out of IBM Connections with XCC – Web Content and Custom Apps Extension

Tufts Health Plan found that after deploying IBM Connections, users just didn’t take to it. After getting XCC involved they developed a social intranet where IBM Connections is hidden under a layer of widgets and apps. Instead of confusing their users with terms as wikis, blogs and so on, they instead offered the user a new GUI, where widgets and apps presented contents from IBM Connections in the form of news streams and forum postings, just as you would expect to see on any normal web page used for collaboration.

It seems that a lot of companies do this with IBM Connections and the users take to Connections much easier this way. People don’t even think about it as Connections, they just use the tool and engage in collaboration.

I will check out XCC and their tools a bit more. It was a really inspirational presentation, and it gave me a lot of ideas.

Lessons Learned in 4 Year Adoption Journey Using IBM Connections

In my company we have been adapting to the use of IBM Connections for the last four years. That’s also the situation for the Spanish company Hipra. They told their story on how the adoption in their organisation has been. It seems like they have gone into the same pitfalls as we did, but little by little, they increased participation from their users.

It’s always nice to share experiences with other companies in the same situation as yourself, and that’s one of the reasons conferences like these are so useful.

IBM Connections Files – The New Way to Work, Sync and Share

The plugin parts of this presentation was just a repeat of what I’ve seen already this week (and already knew). It was exciting though to see how incredibly useful it is to be able to edit Microsoft Office documents directly in the browser via IBM Docs.

This means that you can edit the document without having to download it first. You can also do @-mentions inside the documents, and when the user that is @-mentioned clicks on the link, she is taken directly into the place in the document where she was tagged!

Files in IBM Connections is an incredibly strong product that you all should start using. Stop saving documents on network drives or on your computer. And if you also invest in IBM Docs, you can even edit the documents in the web browser, or on your mobile device!

Butter BeerIt was then time for some blogging before we took the bus to Universal Studios and Harry Potter Land. IBM rented the whole area for us, and the Hogwarts ride with the brooms is awesome! I must say that it was also really cool to experience Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley in the dark. When I visited last year, it was in broad daylight.

After the park I was so tired I just had to get home and crashed into bed. I had to prepare to start the day with Mat Newman the next morning. You need your strength for that!

Connect 2016 Day 2: The next Generation

February 3rd, 2016 | Posted by elfworld in Connect | IBM - (4 Comments)

The calendar says it’s winter here in Orlando, but for us this is pure summer. It’s quite simply heavenly here right now, and I’ll never get used to being cold inside, and when I go outside I have to take off my jacket.

I started this day with a short run before I did several exercises at the gym.

Opening General Session Part 1 Turn Moments into Momentum and Opening General Session Part 2: The Engaged Enterprise Comes to Life

It was then Opening General Sessionon to the opening general session. This year it was split in two, and I won’t write much about it, because it wasn’t very interesting. OpenNTF got a shout out from the executives on stage, and that was great.

I was also very impressed with the two young students who came on stage to talk about Social Student. They had been using it as part of a project at university, and they were chosen as winners. Without a hint of nervousness, the two girls talked unaffected about the work they had done and how they had collaborated across the world with the help of Social Student (which is based on IBM Connections). And this in front of 2000 people. More about the students later.

We also got a presentation of IBM’s new product, which right now is called Toscana. It’s a tool that makes it very easy to set up and edit, both contents and design, on a online solution. It runs of course both on the web and mobile devices. It pulls and pushes data to and from several of IBM’s solutions, as well as solutions from other vendors, and it did look mighty impressive. Not sure if it’s for my company, though. Time will show.

Connections Communities – The New Stuff!

This was the first real session of the day, and I know some of the stuff I learned here is going to make a lot of my users happy. Connections is currently on version 5.5 and here are the most important features (at least for my organisation) that are included in this new version:

  • You have much better control over the layout of your communities
  • As an owner you can now move your communities! This means you can now move a sub community up and turn it into it’s own separate community. If you have several communities, you can now move them under one mother community and make them all sub communities! This is awesome!
  • Much easier to find communities
  • You can now create a lot more content for your communities
  • You can rename any widget. Which means  that if you want to call Wiki for Employee Guide you can!
  • You can change the layout, even the top banner, as well as design a nice and inviting front page in the community
  • Private communities can now also be shown in searches, if you want to. It’s only the title, tags and info that is shown. No member details
  • A new rich text field which woks just as well as editing in Word (thanks, Ephox)!

Bring Your Own Mail Client with IBM Mail Support for Microsoft Outlook

IBM has promised this for quite a few years now, but this time we actually got to see it in action. Currently the release is said to be around June 2016. Basically this means that you can connect your Microsoft Outlook client to a Domino-server, and have full access to your email and calendar. Everything you would expect to be able to do with your mail and calendar in IBM Notes, you will also be able to do with Outlook.

Here are the main details:

  • Windows support only
  • Thus far only Outlook 2013 (but plans for 2010 and 2016 soon)
  • Sync of mail, attachments, drafts, folders calendar and contacts
  • Sync of read/unread flags, forward/reply indicators
  • Notes encryption
  • Type ahead and address resolution
  • Sametime and Connections integration
  • Freebusy lookups
  • Room finder
  • Summary sync

Everything is installed with it’s own installation program. So far it’s only been available to selected customers for testing, and has so far been known as Project Hawthorne.

I asked if the status would automatically change in Skype for Business when a meeting start as long as you are using the Outlook client to read the mail on Domino, but they admitted that they simply didn’t know. So if anyone can answer me on that, please leave a message in the comments section.

Personally I think this is a good move on IBM’s part. Outlook is a good mail client, and this will make it easier to change to Outlook, without having to worry about moving huge mail .nsf files from Domino to Exchange. It also gives people a chance to use the client they prefer.

REST Services in Domino – Key to Modern Web Applications

This was a very technical session for developers. Some of it went above my head, even if I understand the principles behind it.

REST makes it possible to retrieve, present, update and delete data on a system, via web pages. This means that if a system with data storage, like IBM Domino, has a REST service, you can use that to work with the data, even if the system itself isn’t on the web. This is what we are doing with the data from the IBM Notes applications and databases in my company, so I need to get my head around it.

I got some really good pointers on how to get started, and I will download the example database the presenter was going to include with the presentation.

Social Learning with SocialStudent – #NewWayToLearn

SocialStudentThe next session took place in the huge exhibition area for vendors and IBM Partners. Once again the two aforementioned students and their professor told how they had worked with SocialStudent to collaborate. The product developers were there as well to explain a little bit about the technologies behind the product. In addition to IBM Connections, the product also uses Opus Neo Dashboard.

I think SocialStudent could give itslearning a run for it’s money. I really hope IBM takes this out to schools and universities all over the world, because they have a killer app here. The students that will be using it are the employees of tomorrow, so they will demand tools like this in their job.

The two students, Bree Mayer and Jamie Winger,  explained that they were used to dealing with Google Docs (which most of their fellow college students were using), in addition to Skype and online services like Facebook. When asked which tools they preferred using, they said that IBM Connections and Social Students were hands down the best tool. Instead of having to deal with 4- 5 online services everything was in one place inside SocialStudent. Even chat and video meetings.

SocialStudent is also available on mobile devices, and for me, who do quite a lot of user training, it sounds very interesting. I will therefore check out the product and see if I can get a trial user or something

After this session it was off to a networking event held by Panagenda (I always appreciate being invited) before being treated to dinner with IBM Nordic. It’s always nice to catch up with what my fellow Scandinavian IBM users are dealing with these days. It was a relatively early night, because I had to be ready for loads of IBM Connections sessions from early in the morning on Tuesday.

Come back tomorrow for a solid recap with great news about IBM Domino and Connections!

Connect 2016 Day 1: Jump starts and steak

February 1st, 2016 | Posted by elfworld in Connect | IBM - (5 Comments)

Started the day with 10 km run around the lake where we live, in what in Norway would be called a cloudy but very warm and humid summer day.

Even though the general opening of the conference always happens on Mondays, there are still lots of sessions to go to on Sunday as well. They are called jump starts, and here’s a short summary of the ones I went to:

Successful Social Content Migration into the Cloud

Moving to the cloudIBM is very eager to move people into the cloud, and my company has been looking into it as well. Unfortunately the cost of the moving itself has been way too costly. After this session I got a bigger understanding of why. The key points were:

  • IBM’s tools for doing this are note quite finished yet. And that’s because IBM Connections on premise is very different from IBM Connections in the cloud
  • The biggest obstacle is the moving of data. You cannot just copy the database into the cloud
  • You need impersonating users that gets your data and then inserts them into Connections in the cloud
  • There has to be a very strong project management that has to analyse today’s situation, plan what you want to achieve, test, test, test and them migrate
  • Almost nothing in IBM Connections in the cloud can be standalone. This means that any standalone wikis, blogs, forums, bookmarks and so on has to be inserted into a community in the cloud
  • Likes and the counting of number of downloads will not be transferred to the cloud
  • CCM is not supported but nested folders for Files is now possible

There’s also a staggering amount of work that has to be done to perform such a move, and it will involve your ICT department, IBM and/or a third party. It’s a big project and will take weeks.

If any companies reading this are willing to help my company out on this, please get in touch.

IBM Connections Integration with Microsoft

bConnect Send To in Office

bConnect Send To in Office. Complete with our own logo. Pretty cool, eh?

As people who have seen and heard me give presentations of IBM Connections can attest to: I love the plugins for IBM Connections. I know them in and out, and I have made documentation on how to use them, which I hand out to people who ask.

I therefore didn’t learn anything new in this session, but it was nice to see IBM give the plugins a presentation and some love. Several people in the audience knew very little about them, and I hope they run back home to their users and start training them.

We did get a presentation on up and coming plugins for the web version of Connections that makes it easy to interact with Sharepoint and Office 365 in the cloud.

The lead developers of the plugins are well aware of me as I’ve pestered them both during earlier conferences, as well as via email. During the Q & A I asked the following questions:

  • Why can’t you tag files when copying them into a community. This happens when you copy your files to your self. The UI is therefore a bit broken as it behaves differently depending on the situation (I got applause for this question)
  • The best plugin for IBM Connections in IBM Notes is the Activities plugin. It’s quite simply brilliant. The Outlook client for IBM Connections is way better than the IBM Notes plugin in almost all ways, except that it doesn’t have Activities. I asked if that was in on the roadmap (I got cheers and applause for that one). I got no promises from the developers, though
  • I also asked about the possibility to create short cuts under Favourites in Windows Explorer directly to nested folders and was asked to meet up with the developers in the lab later on

My Love-Hate Relationship with IBM Domino Plugins

A very technical session on how to use Eclipse, which IBM Notes is running on, to create plugins that will add functionality to the Notes client. This feature has been available since 2008, and it has been criminally underused. IBM haven’t been very good at promoting them, and Eclipse is a bitch to fight with.

Even so, you can do some great stuff with it. But since people are moving out of the Notes client, I think plugins will be developed more for the web in the future instead of for the Notes clients. Personally I wish I had done more of this kind of stuff, but I’ve only made a few myself.

Solution EXPO Grand Opening Reception

I met up with several other of my Norwegian companions, and we went into the exhibition area to see what vendors and business partners were there. I met up with my friends in Panagenda as well as all the other people you have gotten to know through the years here. That’s always so nice, and all through the day when walking through the corridors of the hotel, you meet an old friend again.

You also get to meet IBM-ers that you have a lot of contact with on email or via phone calls.

The evening ended with IBM Norway taking all the Norwegians out for dinner at the fantastic steak house Texas Brazil. They cut your meat for you at the table, and it’s so tender it melts in your mouth. And of course you have to have key lime pie for dessert.

Happy, content and full I went to bead, ready for the Opening General Session Monday morning.

Connect 2016 Day 0: Just Arrived

January 31st, 2016 | Posted by elfworld in Connect | IBM - (3 Comments)

hilton_lakeCall it Lotusphere, call it IBM Connected or call it any other name that IBM has changed it to after dropping the name all old timers refer  to the conference as: Lotusphere. No matter what you call it, the official name this year is Connect 2016.

Another change is that this year it’s not taking place at the Disney hotels Swan and Dolphin, but at Hilton Orlando. You can see it on the photo that I took by the lake at the place we live. Since the conference hotel itself had insanely high room prices, my colleague, Gunnar, our Domino consultant Gunleif and me hired a great flat at the Vista Cay Resort, a short walk from the hotel.

The Vista Cay Resort is a relatively cheap and great place to stay, with stores, restaurants, a gym and a swimming pool in the neighbourhood. I whole heartily recommend a place like this for a family holiday trip to Orlando.

This year I’m the official blogger for the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG). That’s because I won a scholarship to go to the conference, which means that ISBG is paying for everything. In return I will blog from the conference on their behalf, I will look for potential candidates to speak at the ISBG spring meeting in May and I will give a presentation from the conference at said meeting.

We arrived this afternoon after a pretty uneventful flight. The storm/hurricane that hit Molde Friday evening resulted in my flight from Molde to Oslo being delayed for an hour and a half, but other than that the trip went just swimmingly. Ok, I have to admit that I would like to ask all parents to never ever go on ten hour flights with children under the age of 6. It’s torture both for the kids and their fellow passengers.

The weather is great, 22 degrees (72 F) and we just finished a pizza and a few beers. The first part of the conference starts tomorrow afternoon, and I’m eager to start. I hope you are eager to follow me as well.

We in the IBM community are much too focused on the negative things. We are our own worst enemies in that regard. And when I look back at my blog postings from the previous Lotusphere/Connected conferences, I see that I’m just as guilty in this as everybody else. So I will promise you this: I will focus on the positive things. My job is to learn all I can to make it easier for my company to solve our business challenges and improve our flow of information and IT structure. I don’t care if this means that I have to use this or that tool/standard/language. The important thing is to get the job done, and done well. So no complaints from me this year. It will only be about what can be achieved, and not what I would wish could be achieved.

Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch, follow up on something I wrote or give me tips on what I should look at while I’m here.

Adding a file to an activity can a lot of times be very useful. However, if you just simply upload the file into an element in the activity, you have no way to upload a new version of that file. This means that you have to download the file locally, edit it, and then upload it again into the activity. You then have to delete the previous version of the file from the activity, because there will now be two files.

There is, of course, a much better way to do this. You can share your own files with the activity. This means that every time you update that file, the activity will link to the newest version of the file, and you don’t have to worry about old versions.

  1. Create a new Entry or To do item, or start editing an existing one
  2. If all the fields are not showing, click on More Options:
    More Options

    Click on the twisty to expand

     

  3. All the fields are now showing. Find Add File:
    Add File

    Click on this

     

  4. Click on the drop down arrow and choose Link to File:
    Link to file

    Choose Link to file

     

  5. You will now see a window where your files are listed:
    Add Links to Files

    Choose among your own files

     

  6. You can navigate to see more files by using the Next and Previous links on top. You choose the files you want to share by checking the check box to the left of the file name:
    Check Files

    Click in the check box for the files you want to link to

     

  7. When you have selected the files you want, click on Insert Links.
  8. The files are now added to the activity element:
    File List

    The chosen file links are listed in the form

     

  9. You can remove any file by clicking on the x to the right of the file name. When you are finished with your editing click on Save.
  10. The files are now added to this activity element:
    File List

    The files chosen are now linked

     

  11. All members of the activity can now click on a file link to open a file. Remember: This is just a link to one of your files. The members of the activity can’t edit the file and then upload it to the activity as a new version. Only you, and people you have shared the file with and given editor rights to, can upload new versions . But when a new version is uploaded, the link in the activity will lead directly to that version. You do not need to add the link again.
    This is a much better way to deal with files in Activities.

Please let me know in the comments section what you think of this tip, or if you have any suggestions, corrections or other feedback.

 

I’m starting a new series. I will present tips on how you can make it easier for your users to adapt to using IBM Connections. I’ve gone through all the pitfalls you can think of while introducing IBM Connections in our organisation. After four years of using the product, teaching and training people on how to use it, doing presentations of IBM Connections and documenting and creating wikis about it, I feel that I can share some of the stuff that I’ve had success with. Please let me know what you think.

Some people think it’s very hard to follow all the stuff going on in IBM Connections. Nothing could be further from the truth. With one search and a couple of clicks, you usually find what you are looking for pretty easily.

Search Field

When you are in your news stream (usually the front page in most IBM Connections installations) you will find the search field in the upper right corner:

Newsstream

Click on picture for larger version

You start searching by simply typing in the search field:

Searching

Searching has type-ahead

To perform the search you hit the ENTER key on your keyboard.

Notice that the search field will automatically suggest persons who are tagged with the expression you are searching for. This happens no matter what you are searching for. To select a person you just click on her.

Choose what you want to search for

In the pull down field to the left of the search field you can predetermine what kind of content you want to search for:

Choose search

Choose what you want to search for

Click on what you want to search for. Then type the search word or search expression in the search field and hit ENTER. The search will now be performed. Above the search result you will see pull down menus that makes it possible to sort and minimize the search result.

Search result

Here I’ve searched for the expression domino:

Search result

The search result for “domino.” Click on picture to see it in full size

You can now sort the the search result by date or relevance:

Sort search

You can sort the search

Above the search result you can also choose whether you want to show all the contents in IBM Connections that you have access to, or if you just want to show contents that belong to you:

Search filter

Filter your search

Reduce the search result

As you can see, the search yielded 210 hits. That’s a bit too much to wade through. Fortunately you have the possibility to reduce the search results by just a few clicks with the mouse button.

Choose application

After performing a search you will see a menu to the left of the search result:

Search menu

Choose the application you want to search in

The currently active menu item is the one marked with blue. In the illustration above we have chosen All Content.

If you want to search only in Files you click on that menu item:

Search Files

Search result for Files

It will now only display files that either contains or were tagged with my search expression. If I had chosen Wikis in the menu it would have showed a search result with all wiki pages that either contained or were tagged with the search expression.

Tags

It’s very important to train your users in how to use tags, and make them understand how important it is to tag all contents in Connections. This is a perfect example of a situation where tags are very helpful.

As shown above we got 210 hits when we searched for domino. Let’s say I was looking for a file about upgrading a Domino server. I will therefore use the tag upgrade to minimize the search result.

In this example, the tag upgrade is displayed among the top hits:

Upgrade tag

The tag “upgrade” is a link I can click on

I can now click on the tag.

If I didn’t immediately spot the upgrade tag in the search result, I could have clicked on the pull down menu item Tags in the left hand menu:

Tag cloud

Tag cloud

After clicking on upgrade it would now show a search result showing only contents that contain both the word domino and the tag upgrade:

Final search result

With one click we now have only 4 hits!

So with just one click on  the mouse button, we went from 210 hits to 4 hits!

Please let me know in the comments section what you think of this tip. And let me know if you have questions regarding IBM Connections