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Whither IBM? Part 1

May 26th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in Email | IBM | Social Business - (3 Comments)
IBM Verse

IBM Verse

There’s a lot of people in the IBM user/partner community (in the old days lovingly known as the Lotus/Domino community) who have been asking one single question for quite some time now: Where is IBM heading?

The big thing at the last Lotusphere in history, back in Orlando in January, was IBM Verse. The new email solution that would blow all other email solutions out of the water. Then, after a few months, IBM Verse was opened in a beta release. To say we were underwhelmed would be an understatement.

Here’s why:

  • You could not import another email account into IBM Verse, you had to start from scratch with a new IBM Verse address. This makes it much harder to test the analyzer that would help you sort your mail, what is important to you and who you are most in contact with
  • You could not connect IBM Verse to other email and social media solutions to import contacts
  • The main point of IBM Verse is the close integration you will have with IBM Connections (IBM’s collaboration solution for business), IBM Sametime (chat, video and telephony) and between email and calendar. Sadly, since you can’t integrate this IBM Verse beta version with the servers at work you have absolutely no chance of testing this full integration
  • The chat service is only for the beta version of IBM verse, rendering the chat client useless since you don’t have anyone to chat with
  • If you click the calendar icon you are not given a fresh new and modern calendar interface, instead you are taken to the INotes calendar (web-interface for the Domino mail)
  • Some of the icons are incomprehensible until you hover your mouse pointer over it. An umbrella for the “Out of office?” Makes sense if you live here in Molde and tt’s summer, I guess…

Compare this to Microsoft’s new outlook.com solution:

  • A slick, modern and new web interface which is very easy to understand and use
  • You can use an existing email account inside outlook.com with no problem and it will help you to identify important mail and contacts. Personally I tested with my gmail account
  • You can import contacts from Facebook, LinkedIn, flickr, Twitter and a whole lot of other solutions
  • You can chat with and make to with any Skype user
  • You can chat with your Facebook contacts, MSN contacts (yes, really), Google chat contacts and several other chat services
  • Icons, colors and interface makes sense and is easy to understand
Outlook.com

Outlook.com

IBM Verse started out as IBM Notes 10, but the design team decided that improving the good old Notes client, which takes hundreds of gigabytes on your PC, was not the future.

I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. Even if I have to say that Outlook 2016 is a really, really good client (I don’t care what you say, Outlook has never been a good mail client, but the calendar became good in Outlook 2010), there is no point in moving from one dinosaur to another dinosaur. The future of email is, as with most other collaboration solutions, in the web and with mobile apps.

And if IBM want their customers to choose their email solutions and integrate it with their collaboration solutions, they must do something. Fast.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

So, How About that IBM Verse?

May 18th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in Domino | Email | IBM | Notes - (8 Comments)

IBM finally released IBM Verse on the world back in April, after much hype beforehand. In short: IBM Verse started out as IBM Notes 10 but evolved into a web mail client which offers a whole new way to sort, search and keep track of emails, appointments, contacts and content. This video gives a nice demonstration:

I’ve got an IBM Verse account, but since it’s not integrated into our solutions at work, nor with my private email, I really haven’t used it that much. The strength of IBM Verse is that it’s tightly integrated with IBM Connections and IBM Sametime. All are tools that we use at our company.

At work we are using IBM Notes 9.0.1 for a lot of things, including email and calendar. However, I’ve been testing the Outlook 2016 client, and it blows Notes mail out of the water. It’s really, really good. Outlook calendar has been better than the Notes calendar for years, but even the email part is now quite excellent in Outlook. Also the web version, not to mention the mobile app, are very good.

Why am I mentioning this? Because the integration between Outlook, Skype for business, Sharepoint and other solutions, combined with their new mobile client will make it even harder for IBM to both counter the moving that a lot of companies are doing from IBM to Microsoft. It will also be much harder to convince new customers to move over to IBM.

In that light, it’s not a smart move to:

1) Not deliver what we were promised with Verse (as this article from Red Pill points out).
2) Still use the standard web version of the calendar instead of the new Verse interface.

No matter how much I love Domino and old IBM products, the world is moving on. And I’m an atheist when it comes to my tools. If MS comes up with a better client, with a good mobile app as well as a nice web interface, I can’t keep my users in the dark. Especially now that we are moving our Notes applications to the web, where we only use the .nsf files for data storage while the web interface are running on other platforms. We are also contemplating moving from Sametime to Lyn…sorry…Skype for business, but IBM is actually doing an effort to keep us on Sametime.

IBM has a lot of challenges ahead. IBM Verse shows good promise, but promise ware is not good enough. The only reason Microsoft got away with promise ware for so long was that they managed to get into a monopoly situation in a time where that was actually possible.

IBM is Going for the Push

February 13th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in Connections | IBM | ISBG | Notes - (0 Comments)

Wednesday February 11th I attended the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG) meeting in Oslo, hosted by Symfoni. IBM presented some interesting news, both about IBM Notes/Domino, as well as a major push in getting out into the market again.

Breakfast seminars

IBM Norway was there telling us about upcoming products and plans. They are planning to host breakfast seminars in several Norwegian cities in the coming months. They want to meet new customers, as well as communicating with existing ones. The new ones will be introduced to IBM’s solutions (IBM Connections/Sametime/Verse/Domino etc) and the existing customers will be given the chance to communicate.

And this communication will not just be with IBM, this will also be a good opportunity for IBM customers to meet up with each other and exchange experiences, problems, information, tips and so on. This is something we IBM customers feel have been lacking for years and years and years. Hopefully this signals a new push from IBM.

IBM Verse and Notes/Domino

RoadmapAccording to IBM Norway, they will soon publish their new roadmap about Notes/Domino. This will tell us what to expect for the platform in the future.

The most revealing news were this:

  • There will be a new release of the Notes 9.x client in the coming months
  • Domino 9.0.2 will finally have the long promised feature where you can connect to the server with Outlook, and a couple of Norwegian customers have been testing this for a while
  • Notes 10 is IBM Verse, Domino, Xpages and Bluemix. Enjoy your last few years with the Notes client, my friends
  • IBM Verse will be available for cloud customers from March 31st
  • IBM Verse will be available on premise during the second half of 2015. However, it will probably not be possible to run Watson on premise. A hybrid solution might be a work around, but nothing was promised

Cooperation with Apple

Apple and IBMLast year IBM and Apple announced that they were in cooperation about apps for businesses, a market Apple has struggled to get a foothold in. IBM will, with the help of technologies like Watson, create tools for analyzing big data. This in addition to the gathering of live data. Apple will be making the design and GUI.

Every quarter there will be a release of new apps, for various types of businesses. We got a demo of an app created for the police. The officer logged on with his Ipad when her shift started. She would then see all police actions in progress that is nearby. In addition she will also be able to call for help via the app, as well as receiving requests herself.

If she is called out on an assignment, she can use the app to connect to surveillance cameras in the area where a situation is in progress. She can then assess whether she should call for backup or not.

My presentation

PluginAfter lunch, Tore Sørgård from the company Geno gave a review of IBM Connected. He was positive to Verse, but skeptical to the fact that Sametime is hard to administer and is flawed, and that IBM was only about cloud, while their customers were not.

After this I gave my own presentation. I talked about Brunvoll, which a lot of people liked because they think our thrusters are cool, and then I spoke about the plugins for IBM Connections.

I did a big presentation on how to install, create settings for and how to use the plugins for Microsoft Office, Windows Explorer and IBM Notes.

I also talked about how you can make the plugin your own.

After that, and during he breaks, we mingled, talked, discussed and exchanged contact information. These bits are also very valuable.

Next ISBG conference is in May. See you then!

Connected 2015 Day 4

February 3rd, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (0 Comments)

I’m a bit behind on blogging on the last day of this year’s conference, but here we go:

I started the last day, slightly hung over, by being treated to breakfast by Panagenda. Not because they want me to buy the Marvel Client, but because we over the years have struck up a friendship. And that is one of the reasons this conference means so much to us in the Domino/Connections/Sametime community: You meet old friends again, in between all the sessions.

Customize the mobile Connections app

Since I’m a developer focusing on GUI, and I’m a teacher and instructor, I like things to be consistent and recognisable to my users. And that includes IBM Connections. Which is why I‘ve skinned the Connections plugin.

Hence I thought learning how to be able to do something similar with the Connections mobile app would be a good idea. However, turns out there is very little you can do with the mobile app for Connections, since it must through rigorous review processes before publishing. There are some stuff you can do, though, especially when it comes to security:

  • You can remove applications and services (for instance wikis if you don’t want to expose them if a phone is stolen)
  • You can stop people from copying text and material from the plugin
  • You can change the name of applications and services
  • You can set a default language
  • If you create your own widgets these can be included as long as they are outside of a community
  • You can create your own login screen
  • You can set up single signon via TAM, SPNEGO, SiteMinder etc.

The most important thing I took with me was the security part.

GURUPALOOZA

The Flash

What a smashing bloke! Photo: Kevin Petitt

After this it was all set for something me, and most people there, are looking forward to: Gurupalooza. This is where the developers take the stage and everybody who wants to can come up to the mic and ask questions. The developers are IBM partners, OpenNTF-members (the Open Source site for Domino) or just people in the Domino/Connections/Sametime community that are considered experts in their field.

The whole thing reeks of the fact that everyone vaguely knows everyone else, and there is a lot of laughing. I received an award for asking the first question and I got a yellow bicycle vest with Lotusphere 2000 printed on the left side. Nice!

Plugins

It was time for a session about plugins, something I myself handed in a draft for a session for. I didn’t get picked up, though, so I decided to visit the one that did get picked instead.

The plugins in question are a the ones used for working with files in Connections from Microsoft Office, IBM Notes, Open Office, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Sharepoint or Windows Explorer. I’ve become quite the expert in utilising them and I’ve created both documentation and wikis about them.

I must brag a bit: I was able to answer a few questions from the audience that the people giving the lecture couldn’t answer. Finally the developers asked me to meet them in the lab afterwards, so that I could show them how to create favourite links to libraries in communities.

Closing Time

After the Plugins session I spent a few hours just talking with people in the community, as well as taking in lunch with a few of them. I also got a demo of some new features in ProjExec, a project module we are running in IBM Connections.

It was then time for the closing session. It seems that IBM consists of nothing but Vice Presidents, and two women I’ve never heard of before came up to wrap up the conference. Even mentioning the fact that the Lotusphere cookie was missing form the lunch box this year!

A lot of people have guessed that this would be the last Lotusphere (or whatever you want to call it) and that it would be absorbed by the annual conference in Las Vegas. However, the message we got was that we would be told in the coming months what would happen to the conference in the future.

Me and several others think IBM was surprised about the big turnout, and the strong feelings we have about Lotusphere. And despite that the conference clearly was a low budget affair this year, it was a really nice experience. And of course: Most people wanted to know about the future of IBM Notes/Domino, while IBM did it’s best to bury talk about it, apart from Bluemix. It never ceases to fascinate me how little IBM is in contact with their customer base. Or maybe they just ignore them…

The session was closed with a fantastic sequence with mathemagician Arthur Benjamin. My guess is that he has ADHD and several other diagnoses, but he was a born showman, and showed what could be done with mathematics, given a bit of training. But I seriously doubt many people will be able to reach his level. You can see him in action at a TED-conference.

And then it was over. IBM Norway treated us to a very nice farewell dinner, and after a few rounds in the karaoke bar Kimono at the hotel, it was all over. We stayed for a few days more and took in some sites in Florida. At the airport on Saturday, we ran into other Lotusphere-attendees and ha a final round of beers. See you next year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connected 2015 Day 3

January 31st, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (0 Comments)

Today: Hogne learned splendid new things about content management, libraries and plugins for Office and Explorer.

This Tuesday was the perfect example of why it’s so important to go to the conference in Orlando. You get to talk to the right developers and managers to present challenges and errors. And in mine and Gunnar’s case, we solved several of them. Others we were able to lift to a higher level. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the top:

The future for Domino development

BluemixAs usual there was a huge turnout for a Domion session. Most Notes/Domino sessions are very popular, since it’s the main reason people come to this conference, no matter what IBM claims. People are very anxious to hear if there is any point sticking to the platform or not.

Since a bloated client that takes several gigabytes on your hard drive is not very fashionable any more, the idea is to move more and more of the functionality onto web and hand held devices.

This will be done by separating data and presentation in a much better way. The data can still be stored in the .nsf-files on your Domino-server, but the presentation and manipulation of the data will be done on web or mobile. Writing and reading will still be done to the Notes datbase.

With Bluemix IBM hopes to exploit this by integrating other systems and platforms. I wrote more about this in my previous blog posting. So you can for instance, via Bluemix, combine your Notes/Domino solution with SQL databases, php-systems and so on. In addition, you can still use an ID-vault and ID-files for encryption and signature support via Xpages on web.

The possibilities are many, and I think most of our Notes solutions can be modernized in this way. In addition they will be available for you when you travel, and you can even set up offline syncronisation, like you’ve always been able to do in the Notes client.

Development for IBM Connections

Luis Benitez is the product manager for IBM Connections, and I’ve been in a lot of contact with him in the past year (read: I’ve been pestering him). He and one of the developers did a great presentation that really inspired me.

I’ve now learned how I can develop my own widgets for Connections. This makes it possible to present data from other sources into Connections, like a Notes database. I will test more of this via my own cloud account.

Solutions to problems with plugins, libraries and content management

LibraryAnd then we arrive to the part where I tell you why me and my colleague were so happy on this Tuesday. The conference had, as always, a lab where you can ask the developers of the various IBM systems questions, face to face.

We are using CCM in Connections. It’s a small content management system that makes it possible to create libraries for files. We’ve had huge problems with this.

We’ve not been able to create meta data and document types. This has all stranded in technical problems. We were able to create a form that popped up every time someone wanted to upload a file to a certain library. We wanted them to be able to fill in meta data like production number, thruster type and so on. This can then be used to organise and search for content.

After a talk with the main developer of CCM Gunnar, my colleague, managed to fix this. He was so inspired that he ran straight to his hotel room to finish the solution. And it works. Beautifully.

And: The form asking for meta data also appears when you upload files via the Office and Explorer plugin for Connections! Tears of joy were falling. Beautiful!

Speaking of plugins: These are constantly developed by IBM, and I was able to talk to the chief developer. We will now have offline sync for files in Connections 5.0, via the Office and Explorer plugin. In the newest version of the plugin, you are also able to check files in and out, directly from Office.

I was also told that there would be no more development for the plugins in Notes. Så those of you who have, like me, dreamed of file tagging in the Files plugin in Notes can just forget it. Darn that IBM Verse!

I also talked to him about a problem where my users get an error message when trying to drag certain emails from their inbox and into an activity in the Activties plugin in Notes. Has anyone else of you experienced this? Any tips or help is appreciated.

The trials and tribulations of becoming a social business

This was a very interesting session. It was a non technical session, because it was simply about the organisational challenges you face when converting to a social business.

They presented us a survey done among 20 large companies on what their experiences were. And I must say I nodded in recognition to a lot of the things that was presented.

2,5% of employees are often the ones that take the lead when it comes to introducing social solutions, like IBM Connections. They are impatient, and you can’t even train them, because they are ahead of you, finding every strength and weakness in the system.

13,5% are what we call early adopters. They immediately grasp what it’s all about and they see the possibilities and start their adoption right away. About 34% of the employees need more prodding to be convinced. They usually turn into team players after being trained and have to be able to see it work in real life.

The next 34% are the employees that don’t really see the point but they slowly adopt the system along the way. But they do not use it eagerly, and just look upon it as “just another system.”

The final 16% you should just give up on. You cannot persuade them, and they will use any trick in the book to get around the system and keep working “like we always have done.” It is important, though, not to force them.

We also discussed how you should go about to introduce social business solutions and methods. There’s no rule book for this, and there is no right and no wrong way to to this. But we can sum it up:

  • Do not teach too much at once. Take it step by step and let things sink in
  • Move data from the old system to the new system, so that they don’t start with an empty system. It’s much easier to graps with content
  • How should you control the system? Too many rules, and people  give up. Too few rules and things can get out of hand
  • Do not let everyone work as they please. Create guidelines and suggestions. If not, it can be impossible to find things
  • It’s very difficult to move people from using email to start posting in forums, blogs or comment fields
  • Training and adoption are two different things
  • Give compliments and celebrate milestones. Make sure everyone feels an ownership to the solution
  • Systems like IBM Connections are not projects. They are a part of the infra structure
  • Remember that it should be fun!

Upgrading from IBM Connections 4.5 to 5.0

This session was about how to upgrade to Connections 5.0 and best practices around this. Even if my company will be using consultants to do this, it was very useful for me to get an overview what it really will entail. I also got hold of documentation.

Security on Notes/Domino and the Web

This was a very technical session, with a lot of abbreviations and strange jargon. Both me and Gunleif, who administer the Domino servers with me, were pretty tired afterwards.

It was a very thorough walk through on how to secure your Domino servers to minimise the danger of attacks via the web. Gunleif and me concluded that we will go through our web servers when we get home, and of course install all the latest Fix Packs.

In addition I learned that you now longer need a Windows XP PC to generate keyring files. Hurrah!

Register users in one place, let the rest just happen

Most companies, mine included, have a lot systems with employee data. The problem is that they all must be maintained manually. We want this to happen in the HR system, and then be replicated to Active Directory, then to Domino and further onto Connections and other systems.

This session was more of a discussion on how to achieve this, with a special focus on Active Directory and Domino. This will not just be about technical solutions. It’s just as important to have the organisational bits in place.

When a users is created she must be added to a group which reflect the access she should have. This will be based on which department she is a part of. Only after all this is in place can you start with the technical side.

How much of this we will be able to do at my company, we don’t know yet. The job has to be done, and I talked to an expert on Tivoli Directory Integrator, a system you automatically get via your Domino license. He was from Norway, and he felt that everything I wanted should be able to be scripted in TDI.

Beach party

Because of winds that made the fountains blow the water horisontally IBM moved this year’s beach party indoors. We had good food and drinks, once again, and it turned into a late evening with good talks, exchanges of experience and the establishing of new contacts.

And so it goes!

 

Connected 2015 Day 2

January 28th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (2 Comments)

Today: Hogne learns a lot of cool stuff about IBM’s new email solution, about inviting external users into IBM Connections and about Content Management!

Opening

Fre Choice

Free Choice. Photo by Kevin Petitt

Since Sunday usually is a pre-day during the conference, the general opening session is always on Monday morning. This year it was severely reduced in scope. Usually they’ve had world famous guest speakers like Neil Armstrong, Michael J. Fox, Kevin Spacey and other big names, but this year it was a much more quiet affair.

There’s always a lot of speculation and expectations about what IBM will present, and we did get to see a lot of the stuff IBM will be releasing over the next year. We finally got a demo of IBM Verse, the new email solution. It’s very tightly integrated with Sametime and Connections, and it looks pretty slick. Main points:

  • You can open attachments with one click
  • You can drag and drop attachments out and in of emails
  • You can mute email threads you don’t want to follow anymore
  • A search engine that creates very powerful searches
  • You can tag emails!
  • The intelligent email engine in Watson can answer questions for you. In the demo, they sent an email to Watson, as if it was a real person, asking who was the  biggest expert on Connections. And Watson gave a reply, with a link to this person’s Connections profile.
  • Everything will also function in the IBM Verse mail app
  • It will run on Domino
  • It will be released in the cloud first, and on premise in the second half of 2015
  • I already have a test account

We were also presented with some customer stories, among them from Moet Hennesy Louis Vuitton, who dabbles with everything from wine to perfume, watches, jewelry and clothing. They told how they are using Notes, Connections and Sametime in the entire corporation. It’s proven vital for their interaction with their end customers.

We also got a demo of IBM Connections Next. The biggest change here is a new homepage that analyses what’s important for you to know from forums, profiles, communities and so on. In addition, Connections will get a new design. And everything is tightly integrated with IBM Verse and Sametime.

But the coolest thing about Connections Next was that if you were working on something in the web version of Connections, and then open the mobile version, it will pick up where you left off! Now, that’s cool!

This year’s guest speaker was saved for the end, a wise choice. It was a nice talk given by Phillipe Petit, the man who walked on a line between the towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974.

Think design during development

The next session was about the importance of thinking in the right way when doing development. This was about theories and methods that you can use in any form of design and development, not just for programming and software.

Where people in the past used the waterfall technique during development (start, planning, analyse, do, test, put in production), you now do a life cycle of development that is a repeating loop. Understand -> Explore -> Prototype -> Evaluate -> Go to Understand

It’s also important to encourage people to come up with wild ideas. Often those are the ones that are the catalyst for success. So I encourage all companies to have internal blogging, where people can come up with ideas and creative thinking. No matter how off topic or off the wall it might appear.

Panagenda

Panagenda Marvel Client

Panagenda Marvel Client

I now took a break from sessions to have a meeting with Panagenda about their Marvel Client. This program makes it much, much easier to install, upgrade and fix the Notes client on your users computers. Today people do all sort of stuff, like deleting the cache.ndk-file, removing workspace files and so on. This client makes all such stuff unnecessary.

Personally I want my company to invest in this product, so I got the license prices and forwarded them to my boss. Fingers crossed.

Working with external users in IBM Connections

Gabriella Davis, who has helped me with many a problem on several occasions, held a great lecture on how to invite external users into IBM Connections.

She first did a lot of technical stuff how to set this up with Active Directory, Domino and LDAP. After this she talked about the administrative and organisational challenges and decisions that would have to be made.

Can you trust the people you’re inviting into Connections? How should the external people be registered? Can they do it themselves? What kind of password policy should we set? Who will be allowed to invite external users?

Here are the main points about working with external users in Connections:

  • Only persons who have been given a specific role can invite external users. It’s not an option for everybody
  • You can only invite people into communities
  • External users can only see files, forums and postings made inside the community they have been invited into
  • External users will not be able to see any other information outside this community. They will not be able to see stuff like wikis inside the community they have been invited into
  • If they do a search, they will only find content that exists within the community or content that have been shared directly with them
  • External users will only be able to share content with the community, they will not be able to share directly with other users
  • External users will only be able to see a person’s business card, with limited info. They will not be able to go into a person’s profile
  • External users can tag content, but they will not be able to search for and see tags other people have used, so it’s safe to use sensitive tags
  • All external users are clearly marked as external users, so there will be no confusion between external and internal users
  • Communities containing external users will also be clearly marked
  • If you share a file with a community containing external users, you will get a pop up warning you about this. But: This will not happen in the plugin in Office and Explorer. My suggestion is to prevent this by putting “external” in the title of the community

Bluemix

The next session was about how you can use IBM’s online platform Bluemix to put together applications in the matter of minutes. In that way you can combine data from a database in Notes, which then pushes data to Bluemix. You can then use other services or applications to act on that data. These services and applications can be almost anything, from php solutions to a whole other bunch of technologies. And setting this up is incredibly quick.

I’ve played around a bit with Bluemix, and it’s fun. But I still haven’t seen what business value one can get from this. We’ll see how it develops.

Content Management

Enhance Collaboration

Enhance Collaboration

This session was an eye opener for me! We already use CCM, the content manager plugin for FileNet and libraries in Connections, at Brunvoll. We haven’t really utilised the possibilities you have with adding metadata to files yet. With the IBM product Content Navigator this can be expanded on, quite heavily.

Instead of just adding text, you can with Content Navigator crop and edit photos, add design to files and so on. This in addition to adding document types and metadata. After this, you can publish this in Connections, on the web, in Notes and so on.

You can use widgets to show content from Content Navigator in IBM Connections. This is a product that I want to test to see if we can take advantage of it in Brunvoll. In addition, the product comes with a mobile application that gives you the same opportunities as you have in the original product.

IBM Nordic

After this I had to hurry down to Downtown Disney for the traditional IBM Nordic dinner, which this year took place at the Italian restaurant Portobello. Afterwards we were full and not thirsty, and that’s all she wrote…

Nice people, nice talks and a late night, that ended at the end of a labyrinth of hallways in our hotel, where we found a 24 hour store that I never knew existed, even though I’ve been coming here for over ten years now.

You learn so much at these conferences!

Connected 2015 Day 1

January 26th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (2 Comments)
Sunset between Dolphin and Swan

Sunset between Dolphin and Swan

Today: Hogne, of all people, learns something he didn’t know about the Notes client (and now you will too).

It’s early Monday morning in Orlando, and the rain is pouring down outside on the balcony of my hotel room. It hasn’t been summer temperatures, but Sunday we did have sun. Not that I had much time to enjoy it, since I had sessions to attend.

We arrived late Saturady evening, and already on the airport I met the first old friends from the Domino community. IBM Norway had been kind enough to invite us for dinner in the evening, but it took so much time to get to the conference hotel that we decided to go to the Disney board walk instead. Arve from Atea and Gunleif from Evry (or Evru as his name tag spells it). The latter is the guy who administer our Domino servers in cooperation with me.

Before I start with the sessions: Dear Orlando International Airport. Those new machines were we scan our finger prints and passport ourselves, do not cut down the lines and waiting time. Because after doing this, we still have to line up in front of a TSA officer to get a stamp. So everything is just the same as before…

 IBM Verse

IBM Verse future

IBM Verse future

The first session was about IBM’s new solution for email, IBM Verse. The session was very dissapointing. We didn’t get a demo, since that will be done during the opening session, and they talked more about the thought proesses and ideas behind the solution.

The interesting part of this was that we were told that it was the company Colgate Palmolive (yup, the gigantic company with the soaps, toothpastes, cleaning liquids, dog food and so on) that had come ot IBM and said they needed a smarter way to work with email. They are running their mail in IBM Notes, and combine this with IBM Connections and Sametime. Their demands were:

  • Email isn’t going away, make it better
  • Keep it simple
  • Focus should be on lifting important email
  • Email should be easy to find
  • The email should trigger an action

As an example, the development manager for IBM Verse said that the last time he came from a two week holiday, he had 5862 unread emails in his Inbox. IBM Verse quickly managed to reduce this to “only” 1000 emails that he had to read. The other emails he simply ignored and/or deleted.

The session became more interesting towards the end:

  • Notes is not dead, but there’s a little doubt that both emails and applications will be lifted to the web
  • Domino will live for years to come
  • Everything is still running on Domino, with nsf-files
  • IBM Verse will first be deployed in the cloud, before they will present an on premise version
  • The goal is to have one billion users on IBM Verse within four years
  • Internet Explorer is not a prioritised web browser, since Microsoft refuse to follow standards. The development browser of choice is Chrome

Customizing IBM Connections

The next session was about how you should go about to do simple changes of the design in IBM Connections. The most interesting bit for me was learning on how to create your own widgets that you can add into communities, profiles and the home page. I was very inspired, not least when I started thinking about how I can present things from Notes applications into IBM Connections, and maybe even the other way. It’s going to be exciting to try it out.

 User Blast

Mat New man in action

Mat New man in action. Photo: Kevin Petitt

Now it was time for Mat Newman himself. He’s a bit of a character and an institution in the Domino community. And if you think my love for the Notes client is huge, you should meet Mat. He’s the first lover! Mat has also been my main source of inspiration for the way I’ve conducted my Know Your Notes classes and courses, that I’ve given for several Norwegian companies. But my enthusiasm is peanuts compared to Mat’s.

Notes celebrated it’s 25th anniversary in November, which is pretty unique for a piece of software. Mat did a short tour through the development of the Notes and Domino platform. He explained the incredibly high level of security Notes has, which makes other solutions look like they just keep the door open.

 As per usual, he talked about the importance of training the users on how to use their Notes client, and to show them all the possibilities Notes has. He also gave a lot of tips. Now, I know the Notes client so well that there is very little anyone can teach me about it. Except Mat.

All Notes users know that you can sort on date in most views, especially in your email. But did you know that you can sort on date, and then simply type “today” to jump to the first email from today? No? Me neither. And what do you think happens if you write “yesterday?”

Notes also has an incredibly powerful search tool in the form of Search in View. However: If you write “conference orlando” in the search field, it will search for documents containing either conference or Orlando. This can produce too many results. But try writing “\conference orlando” instead. Now it will search for documents containing both “conference” and “Orlando.” Voila! A much smaller search result.

 Mat told me that the Singapore-office he works at had sold 250 000 new Notes/Domino licenses in 2014. Seems like there is some life in the old lady after all.

Socialising

At the end of the day it was time for what used to be the beach party on the beath between the Swan & Dolphin hotels. The party was much smaller this year, but it contained food, beverages and good conversation with great people. I talked to quite a few of the Norwegians here, and we exchanged stories and experiences. This is the best part of a conference like this and you learn a lot from it. Not to mention that you strike up connections and friendships.

I crashed into bead already at 09.30. I’m glad I did a one hour run in the morning after all the food and beer. Tomorrow: The official opening day and opening session!

Connected2015 Day 0

January 24th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (0 Comments)

bildeI’m writing this on this Saturday morning (January 24th) at Oslo Gardermoen airport. Gunnar, a colleague of mine, and me are travelling Orlando in Florida, US. We are attending the annual IBM conference, that used to be called Lotusphere. I think IBM has changed the name of the conference every year since it stopped being called Lotusphere. This year the name is Connected2015.

I will be blogging every day from the conference to keep those who are not there, and for those who might be interested, in what’s going on when it comes to social business. But also what thoughts IBM has about this and how I think the technologies and solutions could have an impact on my working day. And maybe yours as well.

As I’ve mentioned, this is what used to be called the good old Lotusphere, since the focus used to be on the Lotus portfolio. First and foremost Lotus Notes/Domino, but also Lotus Connections, Lotus Quickr, Lotus Sametime and so on. Since the Lotus brand was killed a few years ago the conference changed it’s name, and focus.

Dolphin Swan hotel, som vi bor påIn the past few years the focus has been on business and social collaborations as much as it has been on administration, development and other nerdy stuff. In fact, the focus was shifted so much to the business side that some of the old timers stopped showing up. So this year the focus will be more on the nerdy stuff, but not just that. Also: The conference is much, much smaller.

My first Lotusphere was attended by over 10 000 people. This year I’ve heard reports that less than 1000 people are signed up. This is not surprising. The demise and death of Notes has been touted since the late 90s, but in the past few years it’s pretty obvious that the Notes client is on life support.

And contrary to IBM’s hopes, everybody that is, or was, using Notes, hasn’t shifted to Connections and other IBM solutions. It’s Outlook og Google all the way for mail and documents, but also Sharepoint. So the market is much smaller. In addition, like everybody else, IBM is going for the cloud market now.

IBM also sucks at marketing. So instead of visiting all their Notes/Domino customers and showing them how relatively easy it is to mobilize and web-enable their Notes solutions, their customers are in the dark about it.

I still have great love for the Notes client, but in this day and age, a big bloated client is not the future. Web and mobile is. So me and Gunnar’s main priorities here are learning more about how to web-enable all our data on Domino, as well as getting the latest news on IBM Connections *

So watch this space! It’s currently 24 degrees Celsius in Orlando, but I’ve still brought a jacket. January is winter in Florida as well.

*= IBM Connections is a social tool for companies where people can share files and information, create wikis, have discussions and a whole lot of other stuff. The key is: Do not hide things in people’s mail boxes. Get it out in the open and collaborate!

 

I Don’t Work for Nothing

July 13th, 2014 | Posted by elfworld in Journalism | Photography - (1 Comments)

I’ve been down this road before, and I’m sure most other artists, journalists, writers, photographers and musicians have as well (I know you have).

Friday night I photographed a concert done by the Norwegian band Di Derre. The concert was great and both the band and the audience were on fire. Suddenly Jo Nesbø (world famous author and lead singer and song writer of the band, which I guess how is a hobby project for him) announced that they had a new singer. Then the captain of the local football team came on to the stage. His name is Daniel Berg Hestad, and he just set the record for most games in the elite series in Norway (even I recognise that this guy is turning into some sort of football legend). His team had also won that day, and they are currently the number one team in Norway. In short: There was cause for a celebration, and he sang his heart out.

Naturally I realised that this was a moment I had to capture on video. I was ill prepared and just had to make do with the lens and equipment I had there and then. When I came home that night, I edited the video and uploaded it to the local paper’s web site. It got thousands of hits, something I of course knew it would get. Both Berg Hestad, and his team, are well known, well liked and very popular.

The next day, a journalist from one of the biggest media houses in Norway called me and asked if they could have the video on their web site (read: in their player so that they could receive all the hits for the video). The would credit the original article on rbnett.no and link to it. I said that was of course fine with me, as long as the editor of the rbnett.no approved. He did, and I downsized the video so that it would be easier for the journalist to download it to his computer.

I emailed him the link, and then I asked where I should send my bill. I swiftly got a reply telling me that there must have been some misunderstanding. Payment had never been mentioned, and they thought that it was clear that crediting the video and linking to the original article would be enough. I told him that no, that would not be enough. He then replied he had to check with his superiors about payment, and said he’d get back to me.

I was sure that this would be the last I heard from him, but several hours later I got a reply from him telling me that they would not be using the video after all, and he thanked me for my time.

That’s when I got really pissed off. I had spent over an hour getting permission for them to use the video, downsize it, upload it to my server and telling the journalist where to get the video. Yes, the video is not of great quality, as I said I was ill prepared, but there are videos on their web site of much worse quality than mine. And that’s beside the point. They wanted me to give them my work for free so that they could receive hits and ad revenues for it. And believe me, Berg Hestad’s name would make sure that they would receive loads of hits on this. This is incredibly unprofessional behaviour that I would not expect from this media house.

I choose to believe that it all came down to a misunderstanding. That they didn’t know that I was a professional, and do this as part of my livelihood. But the realist in me is afraid they thought they would get away with telling me that I would get free exposure.

I’m sorry, but the exposure I will get from your use of my photo is minimal. Besides, would they go to the local grocery, buy lunch for your colleagues and then tell the cashier to give it to them for free because it would give the shop publicity? Would they tell their carpenter working on their building that? “I doubt it. Do you think the journalist on duty work for free?

I’ve invested in equipment, I’ve trained, worked for hours and I worked my butt off that night to get pictures, interviews and that video. I worked until half past three in the morning, and they have the gall to ask me to get it for free?

I know the editor of the web site, so I will get in touch with him and tell him what I think of all this. I just have to calm down a little bit more first.

Here’s Harlan Ellison on working for free:

Should You Turn on Out-of-Office?

July 8th, 2014 | Posted by elfworld in Email | Social Business - (0 Comments)

Summer means holiday and vacation, at least in Norway, where the country grounds to a halt for three weeks. Most people have been told to turn on Out of Office in their email when they go away. But should you? I’m here to tell you that no, you probably shouldn’t. Not unless you plan to not read your email.

Out of Office

Be offline when you are out of office!

I’m sure you are familiar with this situation:

You need a reply, urgently, from someone about an issue in an important project. Seconds after hitting Send, you hear a pling in your Inbox. But the email reply says: “John Doe is Out of the Office. Will return 32nd of February 2014. If urgent, please contact Jane Colleague.”

So naturally you contact Jane. She promises to look into your problem, but she’s not really familiar with the project, so she has to check up on things before getting back to you. Here’s the punchline: John brought his cellphone with him on holiday. And on this device he reads the email you sent. So he replies to your questions. These are questions Jane now is spending her valuable time finding replies to. Unfortunately she’s not able to come up with any answers, so she contacts another colleague and then he starts spending time on this.

The wheels are now in motion. The others don’t know that you are happy because John got back to you after all, and the company loses time and money because other people are working on providing you with something you already have. This is bad business.

My advice is therefore: If you are planning on being available via email, either via computer or a hand held device, during the holiday, do not turn on Out of Office! You are either offline or you are online. There’s nothing in between. Telling someone that you are out of office, but you will “read email sporadically,” is worthless info for when there are issues that can’t wait.

Second advice: If you have turned on Out of Office, do not reply before you are back at work! The people who have emailed you are not expecting a reply before you are back, because it’s stated very clearly in your Out of Office reply when you will be back (or at least it should be). And if it was urgent for them to get a reply, they must surely have been in contact with other colleagues of yours by now. Replying, even if you have stated that you are Out of Office, does not come off as being very professional.

Last advice: If you do turn on Out of Office, make sure you care completely offline! It’s ok to take a break and have timeout from your work. It’s your well earned holiday, and you are not indispensable. Making certain key personnel at your workplace know how to reach you (like your boss or project leader) by phone or other means is fine. But do not read your email.

A lot of people do not take Out of Office messages seriously any more because of what I’ve written above. So I will personally add an: “No, seriously, I really am out of the Office…” to my Out of Office message.

Have a nice summer, folks!