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Intranett 2015

December 16th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in Connections - (2 Comments)
Intranet 2015

Me holding my presentation. Photo: Tiina Manninen

On November 26th I attended conference at Vika Atrium in Oslo, where I did a presentation of IBM Connections. I also got to see several presentations of Intranet solutions from other companies, as well as gaining some insights on where intranets are going now. Because an intranet is no longer just a web page.

Development

When intranets were introduced at the end of the 90s they started as static web pages where management provided information for their employees. After a while it also turned into a portal, where you could find links to other internal systems and resources.

But when social tools like Facebook really started to make an impact, it became clear that an intranet like that wasn’t very valuable. It was just a static web site which nobody would read. This prompted companies to develop intranets that were more interactive. The content wasn’t just produced by management any more, it also started to become more user generated.

This lead to some changes:

  • Leaders started to blog and gave their employees the possibility to comment, ask questions and reply
  • Instead of just sending out information about events, happenings and news, the employees could take more control of the flow of information
  • The intranet wasn’t just a news site any more. It became more like a dash board, or control panel, where employees start their working day

As the evolution of the intranets and social tools went on, the intranet now turned into a repository where all the flow of information, documentation and other communication took place, and were stored. And that’s when users started to demand the possibility of using the intranet on their phones and pads. So now the trend is that an intranet project also includes development of an app for mobile devices.

In my company

In my job, we are somewhere inbetween a full social intranet and an old fashioned intranet. Our intranet solution is now four years old, and it has severely cut down on internal emails sent out to all (that almost never happens any more). But the communication on the intranet itself is very one sided. That’s where IBM Connections comes in.

IBM Connections gives us a news stream, the possibility to upload and share files with full version control, to share bookmarks, to create complete wikis with documentation and information, to move discussions to forums instead of emails and plugins that makes it possible to work with content directly from Microsoft Office, Windows Explorer and IBM Notes (or Outlook if you use that as your email client). All the content have version control, can be commented on and, yes, even “liked.” By tagging content it becomes much easier to find when searching for it.

We also have blogs, and our CEO is blogging several times a year to give us a summary of our company’s situation. People can then comment, ask questions directly.

The process of adapting to Connections is still going on, and I’m in charge of the training. But we are seeing the fruits of the process now. Files that used to be hidden on network drives are now much easier to find (and it has access control). More and more people are now asking questions and have discussions in open forums instead of using email, where only the “lucky” ones that are included in the “to” or “cc” field can take part. We also have projects and processes where communications and sharing of information and documentations now happen in communities, instead of being hidden away.

In that regard, IBM Connections is now a part of our intranet, at least if we use the definition of a modern intranet. And it will in the long run be our complete intranet. I’m currently testing out using the news stream from IBM Connections to create a standard startup page that will open when you log on in the morning. It will consist of official news streams that you can’t remove. But it will also be possible for the users to have control of what they want to see and not.

And since IBM Connections has a complete mobile app, both for Apple devices and Android devices, we have that covered as well.

My presentation

In addition to touching on the ideas mentioned above, I also gave a live demo of IBM Connections, directly from our servers. I demonstrated both the web edition, the mobile edition and how the plugins work.

What was funny was that I could present functionality that other companies in the room had spent millions on. Not, that’s not right: They had spent millions and still had only half of the functionality I presented. I was asked on how much development cost we had on it, and I could say: – None!

It all comes out of the box. You only need to purchase the licenses for Connections, and get it up and running. That’s it. You can do development on it since it has a very open and well documentet API. But if you want to you can just start using it. And: The mobile app is included. You will have no development costs for a mobile version of your intranet.

I got great feedback from people after my presentation was over, and I have received a couple of emails afterwards where people have told me that they wished IBM could be this good at selling their own solutions. Personally I just like presenting things I like to use, but I should really get a commission from IBM for this, shouldn’t I? 🙂

External users in IBM Connections

External users in IBM Connections are easy to spot

One of the main reasons for using tools like IBM Connections is that you can share information with a lot of people at the same time, without having to use email. This means that the information is open for everybody who has access to it. This instead of being hidden in someone’s inbox, upon which you have to ask them to forward you a message, a file, a task and so on via an email.

This works very well internally in your organization. It does not help you minimizing email contact with your customers, business partners, suppliers and other people outside your organization. In turn, this often forces you to use email instead of Connections also inside your organization since projects with external partners mostly also involves several internal people.

In IBM Connections 5.0 you can get around this by inviting external users into communities on your IBM Connections server. If you do this, you can share information also with external people, without having to resort to email. Garbriella Davis from The Turtle Partnership gave a very good presentation of this during the ISBG meeting in Larvik.

The first thing on any administrator’s mind is security. What is it that an external user can and cannot do? An external user cannot:

  • See public content
  • Create communities
  • Follow people or add them to their network
  • Search for users
  • See anything under Recommended
  • See the menu selection Profiles
  • See @-mentions
  • See already existing tags (but can add new ones)

An external user can:

  • Only access the community he is invited to
  • Use, edit and share files in the community
  • Post and reply in forums inside the community
  • Comment and like content inside the community
  • Only share files directly with the community, or with users inside the community if he knows the exact email address

Only selected people can create external users and communities for such users. It’s not open for anyone to do this. There are also other issues that must be addressed:

  • How should external users be registered
  • Who should be given the rights to do this
  • What sort of password policy should you enforce
  • Where should the users be registered
    • It’s recommended that you use a separate LDAP-server or a separate branch
  • You should turn off Anonymous user access on all IBM Connections applications
  • Make sure reader is not set to Everyone on any IBM Connections applications
  • Turn off public caching in LotusConnections-config.xml (you should do this anyway!)

You can also set up self registration. This means that you can create a community for external users and then send out invitations to join it. When the external user clicks on the link in the invitation, he’s asked to register. Domino is very good for self registration and there are Xpages based solutions for this.

Other security information:

  • All communities with external users are clearly marked with a huge yellow sign
  • If you share a file with a community with external users via the web version of Connections, you are given a warning
  • If you share a file with a community with external users via one of the plugins you are not given a warning. This means that one should have well established routines around this
  • A community with external users can be converted into an internal community where no external users have access.
  • You cannot take an existing internal community and convert it to an external community, not even if the community is a former external community that was converted to an internal one

Sharing information with external people does have its pitfalls, but I think these pitfalls are far outweighed by all the benefits.

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!

Finally I get around to summing up day 2 of the Norwegian IBM User Group’s spring meeting that took place 21st and 22nd of May this year. This was also the day that I would give my presentation about my company’s introduction of IBM Connections, so read on to know about that.

It was a late night for some of us, but thankfully I turned down the invitation for nachspiel, which the German’s from Panagenda finds amusing since the word means something entirely different in their language (and don’t get me started on the German meaning of vorspiel…) so I managed to get up at a reasonable hour. Here’s a short summary of each session during day 2:

Become a Connections Administrator
Gabriella Davis, The Turtle Partnership

Gabriella Davis

Gabriella Davis

Let’s face it: IBM Connections is a bitch to deploy and administer. It takes days to install and it’s very hard to control. At least it’s hard when you have several other assignments at work and can’t devote your full attention to it. So Gabriella Davis’ presentation on how to become a Connections administrator was something I was really looking forward to. Her main points where:

  • Fight for your resources, IBM Connections demands a lot!
  • Have a deployment server
  • You can then choose to have one server for each application in Connections, or not
  • A Connections installation is only as good as its LDAP source, be sure to have a good one
  • People needed in a setup: Network admins, server admins, firewall admins, designers and the marketing department
  • Make sure you have all fix packs and files needed before starting a setup
  • Always install a test-server that mirrors your production server

A short summary on how you perform an installation and how to administer Connections:

  • Download the software
  • Install in this order: Websphere, Connections and then Internet HTTP Server (it will work without the latter but that’s not recommended) where the SSL certificate will be
  • Your database source can be Oracle, SQL or DB2. Choose the latter if you do not have your own database administrators
  • Remember Connections consist of at least 20 databases, so make sure you have plenty of memory
  • File attachments should be available for all servers. This is achieved via Connections Shared Data, use UNC paths
  • There’s a lot of shared data: Custom JSPs, customisation strings, profile types, language translation files and file attachments
  • If you move servers, make sure to always copy shared data beforehand
  • If you delete the search index, it will be rebuilt, so don’t panic
  • Make sure that the language for Connections is set to the same language as the the one you tag content with
  • If you delete a community you lose everything belonging to it, so you will need to do a complete rollback
  • Plugin-cfg.xml maps all applications. This file can be modified in Websphere but it does not validate so make sure you are in control
  • There’s no super admin user that will give you administration rights for everything
  • WSADMIN is used for sending commands

After the presentation I had a much clearer understanding on how Connections work, but I can see that it will not be easy to administer without taking a class and then work with it every day.

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Modernizing, Mobilizing and Socializing your XPages apps using 9.0.1 plus extensions
Martin Donnelly, Software Architect at IBM

MartinDonnelly

MartinDonnelly

XPages is a technology used for easily adapting your IBM Notes (formerly Lotus Notes) applications to web browsers on all platforms, as well as making them available on mobile platforms. The programming model is based on web development languages and standards (Javascript, Ajax, Java, CSS and so on). It was launched with huge fanfare 7-8 years ago and was hailed as the thing that would save Notes/Domino. The problem is that this has not happened.

I know that Donnelly is a clever guy who is very good with Xpages, but even though he works for the company, IBM themselves shows no interest in Xpages. The only ones keeping Xpages alive these days are the people behind OpenNTF. If you think this means I’ve no belief in Xpages, you are quite right. There are some people in the Domino community still going on about how wonderful Xpages is and that a lot of people use it. The latter is false. The number of Xpages projects in OpenNTF and the number of downloads (a few thousand) is a clear sign of that. Also: Compare the number of classes given or projects done with other (and much easier) web technologies than Xpages, and you will see that Xpages doesn’t even have a percentage of the market.

Also: Almost every single company using Notes/Domino that I am in contact with, and that’s quite a few, don’t use Xpages, and have no plans for it either. The same goes for every single company I talked with at the conference. TINE, who presented their new Ipad Solutions for their Domino sales databases, used absolutely no Xpages in their project. They used HTML5, Javascript, Ajax and REST. And that’s what we are going for in our company as well. So far we’ve done no development in Xpages.

But I still went to this presentation with an open mind. Unfortunately Donnelly didn’t say much more than what I already knew about Xpages, so after a while I stopped paying attention and did the final preparations for my own lecture. He did introduce me to the Single application wizard, which I will try out a bit, as I might have a few Notes solutions that could benefit for a very quick mobile conversion. But I’m not sure.

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Configuring a Single Sign On Experience For Your Notes Clients
Gabriella Davis, The Turtle Partnership

Gabriella Davis

Gabriella Davis

Gabriella again! The presentation was a bit similar to her presentation given the day before. A short summary:

  • Notes shared logon:
    • Removes the password from the id-file
    • You log on to Windows and then start Notes. Notes downloads from the id-vault (which means the first time you log on you have to write the password), removes the password from the ID file and stores it encrypted on the PC
    • For every logon the password will be decrypted and read
    • You must have an ID-vault.
    • You do not need to configure anything in the client, but you must create a security policy
    • What it doesn’t do: It does not synchronize with the http password
    • Can’t be used for Citrix or roaming profiles
  • LDAP authentication:
    • You only need one password and no synch tools
    • The user logs on to Notes/iNotes, Domino then checks if the password is the same as the http password stored in the person’s document in the Domino address book
    • Even if it doesn’t recognise the password, it will still check on the LDAP server and the LDAP server will determine if you are allowed to log on
    • Use Tivoli to change username, it can write directly to AD or Domino from there
  • SPNEGO:
    • A user logs on to Windows and AD generates a token
    • When a user tries to access Domino or a Domino web-site, a SPNEGO token is sent to Domino, Domino then checks with AD if the credentials are ok
    • AD is needed and this will only work in Windows and Internet Explorer (or in Firefox with a plugin)
    • You have to set up SSO or MSSO on Domino
    • The clocks on the servers must be synchronised
    • Run Domino with a specified service account and not the local system account
  • SAML:
    • Supports multiple OS-es and clients
    • Needs and ID-file in an ID-vault
    • User logs on and the logon attempt is sent to ID-provider. After confirmation you are sent the the original site via SAML Service Provider to decide if the user should be granted access
    • The user will not have to enter a password at any time
    • You must have ID-provider. IBM supports ADFS and TFIM. Others can be used, but check with IBM first
    • Requirements:
      • ADFS 2.0
      • IIS-server with SSL-certificate
      • ID-vault
      • Security policy in Domino
      • IDPCAT-database based on the idpcat.ntf template
      • Domino 9.0.1
      • Time and patience
    • Other:
      • Most complicated setup so far. Not in complexity but this involves 150 steps!
      • Remember to check that the ID-vault template is upgraded when the server is ugpraded
      • Unfortunately Traveler, Sametime and Connections are still not supported
      • No passwords are sent between the systems, so nobody can snap it up on unsecured connections
      • NO MORE VPN!
      • You still have the ID-file, so there’s no problem with being offline in the Notes client, however: Notes will ask for a password, it’s not recommended to combine with shared login

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How Brunvoll learned how to be connected
Hogne Bø Pettersen, ICT Teaching Manager, Brunvoll AS

Hogne B. Pettersen

Hogne B. Pettersen

Then it was my turn! I was invited to do a talk about Brunvoll’s (my employer) introduction of IBM Connections, or bConnect as we have decided to call it (be connected or Brunvoll connect, take your pick). I’m responsible for integrating and adapting bConnect into our infrastructure. While I’m partly doing that on the technical side, my main job is to train ours users to integrate Connections in to the regular working day. The goal is that bConnect should be the starting point every morning instead of your mailbox. Here are the main points:

  • I struggled with adapting our company to using the intranet or other collaboration solutions instead of email until new CEO arrived in 2011
  • I talked about partnering up with IBM for installation, and then later Item
  • I talked about the huge technical problems we had, and not all of them are solved yet
  • I mentioned that the integration og FileNet (CCM) and the use of libraries had made it impossible for us to move to a new installation
  • I talked about the complexity of administering Connections
  • I talked about user adoption and how it’s not a race, but more like an orienteering marathon
  • The importance of having the CEO and management group onboard
  • I emphasized that this is not an IT tool, and that the IT department really should not be the ones doing the user adaption, but in Brunvoll that was a necessity since I’m also the firm’s instructor when it comes to IT-based systems
  • You have to improve your users work day, this sometimes makes it necessary to do things a little bit more heavy handed than before, but in the long run it’s worth it
  • Train your users. Then train them again. And train them some more!
  • Have super users as your allies and as a second line of support between you and the users
  • Visit the users to get a feel of their working day and hold workshops
  • Use the plugins for Office, Notes and Explorer!

You can read the rest in my presentation, but I was very adamant to point out that this is a long, long process, and that sometimes it’s easy to lose hope. There’s also an age gap when it comes to who adopts very easily to this way of working instead of relying on email and network drives. The younger crowd grew up with systems like these, they didn’t learn about them long after their education.

My talk was very well received. I was a bit apprehensive about meeting with some of the IBM folks afterwards, since I had made some negative (but true) remarks, especially about FileNet. Even if I had emphasized that bConnect so far has been a success for us the negative things often sticks out. Thankfully Louis Richardson came up to me afterwards and thanked me, said it was a great presentation and that they needed to hear about problems like that.

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And with that my part of the ISBG spring meeting was over. I had a train to catch, so I didn’t get to see the last session about Sharepoint. Looking forward to the autumn meeting!

I attended the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG) spring meeting from on the 21st and 22nd of May. Just like last year, it was held in the city of Larvik, in a spa resort called Farris Bad. Farris is a very famous brand of mineral water that is bottled in this city.

My arrival was one day before, and thankfully other people were there, and I spent an enjoyable evening, being treated with beers from the Panagenda guys. This, while I really should have been preparing my own presentation for the last day of the conference…

I will here give you a short summary of each session I attended on day 1:

Keynote: How Smart are You?

Louis Richardson

Louis Richardson

Louis Richards, Storyteller & Enthusiast, Social Smarter Work – IBM
Richardson’s talk was about how conventional we become with age, and how divergent thought is less and less encouraged as you grow older.

He referred to a Dutch study showing that children, when asked where they wanted a third eye, always said “on one of my fingers,” whilst adults wanted to have it in the back of their head. People who don’t go by the book shouldn’t always be held back. Let the rebels be rebels. They aren’t always trouble makers.

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It’s not Social Business, it’s Just Good Business
Louis Richards, Storyteller & Enthusiast, Social Smarter Work – IBM
Richards also held the next presentation. He is not fond of the word social. – It’s not social, it’s just good business, was his mantra. – We have always built relationships at work and we communicate. It’s just that we are now able to do it digitally, and preserve it.

He encourages everyone to start sharing their knowledge:

  • Do not frown upon people sharing things via blogs or other media
  • Share your knowledge and encourage others to do the same. If you die, your knowledge and skills should be easy for others to get hold of
  • Don’t ask people for the information, search for it in the blogs, wikis, files and forum postings (if you have such tools)
  • Do not force people to report all the time. Let them do their jobs and then share their information with you

Like me he abhors meetings. – Too much time is wasted on meetings. The way to go about it is this: Share a file. Invite people to a meeting and refer to the shared file. If a very few, or nobody downloads the file, cancel the meeting.

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Sales Tool on Ipad/Iphone, Based on IBM Domino

Einar Ellingsen

Einar Ellingsen

Einar Ellingsen, ICT System Consultant, TINE SA
Tine is Norway’s biggest producer of dairy products and the company is owned by the biggest farming organizations. They have been running Notes/Domino for years, and on the very same day that we attended the conference, they launched their brand new intranet, running on IBM Connections.

Einar showed us a very impressive solution running both on Ipad and Iphone. It could also run on other solutions since it’s 100% web based. Before 2008, TINE had loads of paper forms that needed to be filled out for each order. In 2007 they started a project where Lotus Notes databases where used. These were replicated locally to each sales person’s computer.

The entire solution was developed by Einar, and I was very impressed. Here are some key elements:

  • Every sellers has their own calendar for appointments
  • There’s a built in chat function so that sellers within a region can communicate easily
  • You could snap a photo of an exhibition in a store and upload it directly
  • You could use a scanner to read the barcode for any product
  • You could generate KPI’s for a region, for a store, for a certain product within a store and so on
  • Orders are generated and sent to a mailin database. From here they are generated to XML files and sent to the EDI-server
  • There are help files and movies that the users can look at for assistance

Technology used:

  • SQL
  • HTML5 (no framework, just best practice)
  • Lotusscript and Java agents
  • Google Chart Grid
  • Google Maps
  • REST
  • Cumulus
  • FTP for transferring of orders to the EDI server
  • Ajax
  • Pic2Shop for reading barcodes
  • A-PDF Text Extractor
  • ImageMagick
  • The API in IBM Connections

Einar finished his talk by showing us the new Tine intranet, which is 100% IBM Connections.

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Simplifying the S’s: Single Sign-On, SPNEGO and SAML
Gabriella Davis, The Turtle Partnership

Gabriella Davis

Gabriella Davis

Let’s face it: IBM Notes and related products is a nightmare when it comes to having one username and one password. We all know this, and we have fought with this limitation for years. And the users hate having to log on several times after logging on to their computer.

Gabriella described the three techniques that we can use:

Single Sign-On: The Notes client is using the Windows AD credentials.
SPNEGO: The user logs on in Windows and AD generates a SPNEGO-token. When a user tries to access a Doino web site the web browser will send this token to Domino, which in turn contacts AD for validation of the token. If the token is valid, the user name will be returned, and since it found the user’s name, the system knows that access should be granted.
SAML: This is the future. It works on all platforms, not just windows, and it’s a standard. A user logs on to Notes. The user will then be sent to an Identity Provider which will ask for credentials (if the user is already logged on the credentials will be returned). The user is then sent back to Notes with all the SAML information. Notes will then use the SAML-service provider to check this information, and whether access should be granted.

The drawback with SAML is that it’s still not supported by IBM Sametime or IBM Notes Traveler. A solution can be to combine SAML with SPNEGO, because SPNEGO is supported by both Sametime and Traveler.

She also described using OAuth to let IBM Connections communicate with third parties like Facebook, LinkedIn and so on.

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Quo Vadis – Where Do You Want to Go Tomorrow With IBM Notes/Domino

Christoph Adler

Christoph Adler

Christopher Adler, Panagenda
Panagenda has a great product called the Marvel Client, which we unfortunately don’t use at my company. However, Christopher’s talk was on more general topics. He talked about a company’s attitude towards Notes.

He also touched upon the fact that in the past you were a Notes/Domino administrator. Today you are responsible for a whole bunch of collaborative solutions. And all of them communicate with Notes!

He also talked about the importance of continuous upgrades and that whenever someone talked about changing email systems, you had to be aware of the fact that a lot of solutions in Notes are tightly integrated with the Notes mail template. Quite a few companies have burnt themselves on that fact.

And with that, the first day was over, for me anyway. I couldn’t partake in this year’s competition or murder mystery. I had to finally prepare next day’s presentation and I therefore also missed the spa bit. I did go down to dinner, and it was magnificent!

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Stay tuned for day 2!

IBM added support for libraries (derived from Content Manager) in IBM Connections 4.5 Unfortunately the Files-plugins for IBM Notes, Windows Explorer, Microsoft Office 2010, Outlook or Open Office do not support libraries. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has received complaints from users about this.

Then I remembered that at the IBM Connect conference last year, it was also announced that IBM Quickr was discontinued, and that companies using Quickr instead could use libraries in IBM Connections. We used Quickr at my previous employer, and there we had a great plugin that made it possible to work directly with files that had been uploaded to a Quickr Place. You could also create new files, as well as folders, and you could also rearrange files and folders and even rename them. The plugin was used from Microsoft Office, IBM Notes, Explorer, Outlook and IBM Sametime. I don’t think it exists for Open Office.

So I downloaded the IBM Lotus Quickr Connector, and did the following (click on the screen captures to see them in a larger and slightly more readable format):

1) Closed IBM Notes and all Microsoft Office programs that were running

2) Double clicked on the downloaded file and started the installation:

Places plugin install

Start of installation

3) I chose the language for the installation

4) Clicked Next.

5) Agreed to the license rules (we all read through these, right?)

6) Got to the screen where I chose what programs the plugin should be installed for:

Choose the software that will be using the plugin

Choose the software that will be using the plugin

7) As a default, all of them are selected, so you have to deselect the ones you don’t want. I did this by clicking on the small arrow to the right, and then I chose This feature will not be available:

Deselect software you don't want the plugin to be installed for

Deselect software you don’t want the plugin to be installed for

8) In my case I only wanted the plugin for Microsoft Office, IBM Notes and Windows Explorer:

The result of my choices

The result of my choices

9) I clicked Next. I was then asked about the location for the plugin, but I wanted it installed in the standard catalogue, so I just hit Next again. On the next screen I chose Install and the installation started to run. If you do this, and you still have one of the programs that will be using the plugin open, you will be told to try again after closing said program down.

10) After the installation I was told to restart my computer, which I did.

Now I was ready to configure the plugin. But here’s the trick. I was going to tell the plugin to connect up to our IBM Connections server, and not a Quickr server. We don’t even run Quickr at our company.

Here’s how you set up this plugin to work with your libraries instead of a Quickr Place:

You can do this from any of the programs that will be using the plugin, and you only need to do it once. So if you do it in Outlook, you will not have to do it again in Office later. Most people will probably do it from Windows Explorer. The process and all pop up windows will look the same no matter where you do this from.

1) I opened Microsoft Word and found the new ribbon called Places:

A new ribbon will appear in Microsoft Office

A new ribbon will appear in Microsoft Office

2) I then found the Configure button and chose Add Places…:

Add New Places

Add New Places

In Windows Explorer you would have done this by right clicking on the new Team Places icon which is located beneath the list of all your disks and network drives:

Add Places in Explorer

Add Places in Explorer

3) The following screen appears:

Logon screen

Logon screen

4) Now, this is where we do the trick. Instead of entering the address of a Quickr server, you enter the address of your IBM Connections server. Trust me, it will work! Then it’s time to choose your Authentication type. You do that in the pull down menu. In our company we use Integrated Windows Authentication, so I chose that (this means that our users only have to log on to Windows, they don’t have to log on to IBM Notes, IBM Sametime or any plugins). If your company doesn’t have this you choose Basic enter your User ID and Password. Hit Next.

5) On the next screen, all libraries that you have access to in IBM Connections will be listed. They will not be sorted by community, however, so I always instruct my users to include the community name in the name of the library:

List of libraries

List of libraries

6) Then you just check the libraries you want access to and hit Finish. They are now accessible directly from all the programs where you will be using the plugin. If you want to add or remove places later, you just choose Add New Places again and add or remove to your heart’s delight.

But there’s one more thing you need to do before you can use this 100% seamlessly. Open up your IBM Connections site in your web browser. Then navigate to a community containing one of the libraries you just chose. Open the library and scroll to the very bottom of it. You will need to activate that the Quickr plugin should be allowed to check in and out documents from the library:

Here the plugin is activated

Here the plugin is activated

If it looks like it does above everything works just fine. If not, the link to the right of Subscribe to this library will tell you that you need to activate it. To do so, you click on that link and confirm your choice in any pop up windows that might appear. When it looks like it does above everything is fine.

Another way to check if this is ok is to open up a file in the library. If the button the left says Download, it’s not ok:

Only a Download button is showing

Only a Download button is showing

If the button to the left says Edit, everything is hunky dory:

The file can be checked out

The file can be checked out

If you click on Edit the document will be checked out, downloaded and opened in the correct program. You can now edit the file. Every time you save, it will be saved directly into the library. You can also check the file in from the program you are editing the file in.

PS! You need to have at least write access to the library. If you only have reader’s access, you will naturally not be allowed to check out or check in files.

I hope this was useful for you, and that you now will be able to work directly with files in libraries, until IBM starts supporting libraries in the regular Files plugin.

 

IBM has launched IBM Connections 4.5.1. To promote how you can work better with the product, they have created a demo which quite brilliantly demonstrates how you can work much more effectively in your organisation instead of relying on just email.

Via blogs, where users can come up with suggestions and ideas that can be voted on, document review processes, chat and status updates, you can work in a way that is much more user friendly, immediate and more meaningful than what you do via other more traditional tools.

Check out the demo in the video below. Note that you can click on the video to watch it in full screen mode. The video is in HD quality, so that you can see all the details.

Marvel's Thor

The PWC conference hall certainly had decorations to my liking. How did they know?!?!

The Norwegian IBM user group meeting took place in Oslo Monday October 14th. For the first time I did a presentation, (yay!) but I will give a short report about the entire meeting here.

The meeting took place in the brand new PricewaterhouseCoopers’ building in Bjørvika in Oslo. The auditorium had certainly been decorated to my liking.

IBM Sametime 9

Bo Holteman, Unified Communication & Collaboration Specialist IBM Collaboration Solutions – Europe (boy, his business card must be long), presented the new Sametime package.

In short the higlight can be summed up like this:

  • No more licenses when connecting external users to the system!
  • The licensing model is simplified. There’s now three models: Sametime Communicate, Sametime Conference and Sametime Complete, where you can get an additional module for Sametime Unified Telephony.
  • If you have a standard Sametime license today you will be able to get Sametime Complete, which contains everything of the already existing Sametime Standard, Sametime Advanced and Sametime Unified Telephony Lite
  • The menus have been simplified to reduce the number of clicks
  • In video conferences all video images are showing, instead of like it is today where only the active speaker is shown
  • Scaleable Video Quality: No more lagging. The client tells the server how much bandwidth it will need
  • Maximum 6 video feeds at any one time, but hundreds of people can take part in a meeting
  • You can now run a presentation from a Community in Connections.
  • Easier to integrate chat solutions on web pages, this makes it easier to create chat solutions for customers and agents
  • IBM will come to your company and hold a 4 hour free workshop on how to upgrade

So what’s the catch? Well, this:

  • The server setup is even more complex than before! You’d think this would be impossible, but I’m not kidding.
  • In addition. the SVC makes it necessary for you to have two more servers! AND: THEY HAVE TO RUN LINUX!
  • The video conference solution for pads and cell phones is not ready yet, but will be released sometime during Q4
  • There are currently no plans for integration with Files in IBM Connections

Bo gave a good demo on both a PC and on mobile devices to demonstrate the functionality, and I’ll give Sametime 9 this: It really does work and looks great!

Download the presentation (in Danish)

Geno does social business for a better life

Geno is owned by ca 10 500 Norwegian farmers. Their main task is breeding and developing the NRF-cow (Norwegian red cow). Tore Søgård, IT manager at Geno, and Erik Borse from Item Consulting gave a great presentation on how to introduce IBM Connections into your organisation.

This was very useful for me, since I’m in charge of the training and I have the responsibility of introducing our users to the product. I got a lot of great input for our own approach to this, as well as a confirmation that we are on the right track.

Also: Item is our new partner on our IBM Social Collaboration tools, and it seems that we are in good hands. I did an entire blog posting on my internal IBM Connections blog at work on this presentation alone.

Download the presentation (in Norwegian)

Know Your Notes Client

Notes education

Remember to train your users in the use of IBM Notes!

Now it was my turn. I gave an hour long pep talk about all the cool features of the IBM Notes client, as well as how one should go about training ones users. My point is that a lot of people hate the Notes Client because it’s either badly administrated, or that people have no training using it (and sometimes it’s a combination of these two.) If someone put you in front of a complicated CAD program, or gave you Photoshop, and just said: “Get to work,” you wouldn’t be very productive.

I also think a lot of companies sin when it comes to Microsoft Office and Outlook as well. There are tons of hidden features in those products that would enhance your users productivity if they were just told about them. Train your users!

My presentation, was very well received, and people told me that they had both learned new features after having been Notes users for years, as well as been give ideas on how to train their users better. This reception made me very happy. Not least that a lot of people liked the idea of doing what I do at my company: A weekly Notes tip blog posting.

And thanks to Mat Newman for the inspiration to do this.

Download the presentation (Party Norwegian, but all screen captures and menu choices in English, so you should have no problem following it even if you’re not Norwegian)

The Euroka Moment: The Knowledge You Need to Understand Xpages

Paul Withers, IBM Champion and OpenNTF Director, now gave a talk on the underlying JSF framework of Xpages. Really insightful and good.

Download the presentation (in English)

The OpenNTF Domino API: Making Domino Work the Way You Want

This is a new community drive API that really simplifies how you use Java in your applications. A real eye opener for more than one developer, I think.

Download the presentation (in English)

Aftermath

After this IBM treated us to dinner and Paul Withers and I struck up a chord and sat talking during dinner, and continued on the train to the airport. We also took in a cup of coffee (hot chocolate for me) before our planes took off. Paul is a great guy and I think OpenNTF is in good hands.

As I left for my gate I realised that I had been sweating like all hell for a few hours, but everyone had been telling me it was cold.  On the plane in the seat next to me, was a nurse. She cast one glance at me and said: “You got a fever!” Then she told the stewardess she would take care of me during the flight. Nurses are heroes!

IBM Connections is a social software tool running in your web browser. Think of Facebook with profiles, groups, pages, likes and comment fields. Then add files and forums and you have a pretty powerful social tool for doing business much more effectively. Via tagging it’s much easier to find, share and discuss files and information, than on intranets or file shares and network drives. Intranets are usually only used for one way information and with network drives you either search for hours on end for a file until finally someone must tell you what drive and folder the file you’re looking for is located. If the other person can remember it, that is…

When working with IBM Connections, as I do in my job, it would still be very impractical if I only could work with files by downloading them in the web browser before I could open them and work with them. Therefore IBM has developed plugins that you can use either from Windows Explorer, Microsoft Office, Open Office, Outlook or IBM Notes.

The Explorer and Office plugin is especially useful and the one I use most. When installed you get an icon on the desktop:

Connections desktop icon

This is the desktop icon for IBM Connections

 

 

 

 

You also get an IBM Connections icon on the taskbar and in Windows Explorer:

IBM Connections in Explorer

IBM Connections in Explorer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This  gives you direct access to either your own files, files in communities you are a member of, files others have shared with you and so on.

There’s also a ribbon in Microsoft Office:

IBMConnectionsRibbon

IBM Connections Ribbon in Office

However, in several companies they decide to rename IBM Connections to something that reflects the company name or something that reflects the goal of the tool. In my company we renamed IBM Connections to bConnect. This means Brunvoll Connect and it’s to symbolise that this will help us be better connected.

When I’m training my users, I’ve discovered that the fact that I have to use the terms bConnect and IBM Connections interchangeably is a major source of confusion for the users. IBM Connections in the Office ribbon or Explorer doesn’t mean a thing to them, whereas bConnect does.

With the latest release of the Connections plugin I can now rebrand it to fit my own needs. So here’s the desktop icon:

bConnect Desktop Icon

bConnect Desktop Icon (Yes, I do have Star Wars background)

Here’s the taskbar icon:

bConnect Taskbar

The bConnect Taskbar icon

Here’s how it looks in Windows Explorer:

bConnect Explorer

bConnect Explorer

Here’s how the ribbon in Microsoft Office looks:

bConnect Office ribbon

No more confusion. Everybody knows what bConnect is

And here’s how the Save & Send selection looks in the File menu in Office:

bConnect Send To in Office

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

So how did I do this? This is where it gets a bit tricky. You have to do some changes in the Windows registry. My suggestion is to get your Windows administrators to do this so that they can push this out to all users, instead of every user having to do it by themselves.

This is easily done via Microsoft System Centre Manager. The registry settings will be pointing to the icons you’re using, so these images will also need to be distributed. The best thing would be to put them locally on the computer when the plugin is installed, via an installation package created by your administrators.

IBM has published a recipe on how to do these changes manually in their wiki for the plugin. However, if you want a peak at the what the registry settings should be, here’s how I did it in 64 bits Windows 7:

I first went to the start menu and in the search field I wrote regedit:

regedit

I then hit Enter and in the regedit tree I navigated to the node HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SOFTWARE -> Wow6432Node -> IBM -> Social Connectors -> Branding

In my case Branding didn’t already exist so I right clicked on Social Connectors and chose New -> Key

Regedit key

How to add a new key

I now wrote Branding and hit Enter. After it was created I right clicked  on it and chose New -> String value. I gave it the value Main Title and hit Enter. After it was created I right clicked on it and chose Modify:

Regedit value

Choose Modify and then write the name you want to replace IBM Connections with

The point here was to replace IBM Connections with my own title, so in my case I wrote bConnect.

When I’d  done this I right clicked on Branding and chose New -> Key. I repeated this three times and gave the new keys the following names: Monitor, Office and ShellExt.

When this was done I created a new String Value under Monitor called System Tray Idle. When I modified it I filled it with the complete file path to an ico file that is 16 x 16 pixels. This is the icon that will be displayed on the taskbar when the plugin is idle.

I now moved on to Office and created a new String Value and called it Backstage SendTo Image. After choosing Modify I gave it the file path to a 32 x 32 pixels bmp file. This is the icon that will show up under File -> Save & Send menu in Office.

Finally I created a new String Value under ShellExt, called it ContextMenu Image and gave it the file path to a 13 x 13 ico file. This is the icon that will show up in the context menu that appears when right clicking on a file.

However, I wasn’t done yet. To change the desktop and Explorer icons, not to mention the title from IBM Connections to bConnect, I also had to navigate to the node HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{21034BDC-B57E-400b-A5D5-2B1E98502805} in regedit.

Here I right clicked and chose Modify first on Default and then on InfoTip. If any of them don’t exist, create them. The process is described in detail above. I gave both the value bConnect when I modified them.

In my case Default Icon was already listed under {21034BDC-B57E-400b-A5D5-2B1E98502805} but if it doesn’t exist, you create it as described above. I modified the default entry and gave it the path to a 256 x 256 pixels ico file.

And there I had it. Everything was now branded, both in title and with our company logo. And hopefully my users will be happier and less confused. As long as I remember to only say bConnect, and not IBM Connections