Domino, Notes and videotape
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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!

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!

ISBG Day 2

May 29th, 2013 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | ISBG - (2 Comments)
isbg t-shirt

The ISBG t-shirt, signalling the transition from the old LSBG

I was glad I went to bed early after Day 1. I think I was more ready for this day than certain other people I talked to… On to the sessions:

An Introduction to Working With the Activity Stream
This was one of my favorite sessions. It was presented by Mikkel Flindt Heisterberg from Intravision. However tired we are of the expression “social,” there’s no doubt that people these days expect to have the same social possibilities at work that they have on their computers, mobiles and pads.

We are moving away from emails to activity streams. The latter won’t replace email, but a lot of the unnecessary emails you receive can be replaced with activity streams. However, it’s important to note that the activity stream is not an inbox. As things are pushed down in the stream, they will eventually disappear.

Mikkel talked about how you can use the http protocol and REST APIs to interact with the activity stream in IBM Connections. Http is so much more than people think. You have several components in a URL stream, like POST, GET, PUT and so on.

The session was very technical and while I certainly understand the principles behind this, I will need to start testing this for myself, to see how we can use it in my workplace.

However, it should be used with caution. Spamming people’s news and activity streams is not the way to go. The challenges are therefore not just technical, they are also organizational and ethical.

Planning and Designing For Your First Connections Install
Gabriella Davis from the Turtle Partnership went through all the steps for an installation of IBM Connections. This included planning on how to use IBM Connections within your infrastructure, what servers and software you need to download, where to get the software, what kind of hardware do you need, how do you get it up and running and also how you should prepare and train your users.

For me this was a useful session, because I finally learned exactly what components that makes up an IBM Connections installation. Our site was installed and set up by IBM, and I really had no clue to what the components of the product really were. Now I do.

Gabriella also said that she discouraged installing a subset of Connections. Install everything, and then decide what you want to use. This because quite a lot of the applications depended on each other.

Also: Clean up your LDAP data before you export them into Connections. And make sure that you have all systems that should have single signon on the same domain. This is something that we learned the hard way at my company…

Mastering Eclipse in IBM Notes the Easy Way
Another lecture by Panagenda. The jury is still out on whether it was a good idea to integrate Eclipse into Notes, after all, the Notes client is now more than bloated, consisting of over 20 00 files, spread out over 4000 sub directories.

What the Eclipse platform does, though, is giving you the opportunity to create and distribute plugins. This can be done manually, or via policies on the Domino server. This is however a pain in the ass so Panagenda has developed a tool for making the distribution of such plugins easier and more foolproof.

Effective Flow of Information with IBM Connections and CMS
Another highlight for me. In my company, we are constantly trying to reduce the number of systems we are running, and preferably we want to run as much as possible from within IBM Connections.

This is what Alere, a producer of medical laboratory equipment, does with their content management system for their extranet. By combining they’re Enonic CMS with IBM Connections, they can, with the help of predefined tags, publish files and information straight out onto their extranet, which over 300 distributors are using.

This makes it much easier to publish new information about their products, since the persons responsible for the products can post this directly, without having to go through a workflow involving the web staff.

With the help of Blogs in IBM Connections, Alere could also answer questions, suggestions and feedback from their distributors in a much more effective way than via email. In addition, other distributors could also take part in the discussion, something that wouldn’t be possible if Alere only used email for this.

I was personally very interested in this solution and I’ve requested a demo.

Status for IBM Collaboration in Norway
Morten Meier, Nordic Chief for Partners and Sales, gave us a status about IBM’s results, focus areas and successes within Social Business in Norway.

IBM has 49 000 social business customers globally, and the number of partners and certifications are increasing. IBM is, according to Gartner, the leading social business software house. In addition, over 2000 customers have returned to the IBM Notes/Domino platform.

The reviews for IBM Notes 9 Social Edition have been great, and the media publicity have been very positive. In short: The sun is shining.

When Morten was finished I had to grab my bags and make a run for it, because he was my ride to Oslo.

The seminar was well worth the trip, and it was really nice to meet partners that I’ve only communicated with via email or phone. I will definitely make it to the next one, I might even do a presentation…

 

ISBG Day 1

May 28th, 2013 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | ISBG - (1 Comments)

I attended the ISBG (IBM samhandling brukergruppe), formerly known as the Norwegian Lotus user group, at Farris bad (a spa and hotel) in Larvik on Wednesday and Thursday.  This was the first time I attended the group’s meeting, even if my previous employers have been members.

I didn’t get to see much of Larvik, but the hotel, Farris bad, was a really nice place. My room was directly above the sea, and I fell asleep, and woke up to the sound of waves crashing onto the shore and beach.

From Lotus Notes to IBM’s Platform for Social Busniess – the journey continues

farris bad

Farris bad

Michael Wuerdemann from IBM started his presentation by showing a commercial from IBM about their commitment to social business. When the video ended, the Lotus logo appeared. This took quite a few people by surprise, but that’s when the ball was dropped: The commercial was ten years old.

Michael did this to show that IBM’s commitment to social is not something new, they’ve been focusing on this for a long time. He then showed IBM’s newest commercial. It’s not half as catchy as Microsoft ‘s commercial for Windows 8, but the point is that IBM is thinking social solutions, and not technology and platforms.

He pointed out that users are used to social tools in their private life, and that they expect this at their workplace as well. The problem, he said, is that workers are often ahead of their companies, and they start sharing business sensitive information on Facebook, Yammer and other social networks. IBM’s solutions can meet this problem.

Of course he also mentioned IBM’s cloud business, which also has a center in the EU now. IBM gives you the possibility to either run your own private cloud on your premises, or normal cloud computing.

He then moved on to comparisons between Notes/Domino vs Micosofts’s solutions. IBM has finally coughed up the Domino Migration tool for migrating from Exchange to Domino, but I haven’t heard non biased information about this tool yet. It will also be possible to use REST to access Notes databases. Maybe I misunderstood him on this, and it’s already possible. I haven’t tried it, but if true, it’s certainly a huge leap forward.

Before the break he talked about how Quickr had been an attempt to meet the bad feedback Files got in IBM Connections, something I myself have complained about (look for a future blog posting about this). This had been a mistake, according to Michael, and now that Quickr is shut down, Content Manager for Connections is what IBM will offer Quickr customers.

A Day in the Life of an IBM-er
After the break he showed us how an IBM-er works with Connections, and how Social Mail makes it easy to integrate Notes with Connections. I saw to my great satisfaction that everything he showed us are tools and methods we use at Brunvoll every day.

Teamstudio Unplugged
Arshad Khalid of Teamstudio showed us some very impressive mobile solutions for Notes databases. This is where I want Brunvoll to go. The possibility for working offline, and then synchronize any changes back into production, is something that we are in severe need of. Especially since our offline replication has become very complicated.

As Easy as Lego – Put it All Together Using a Widget Framework on Domino
Henrik Winkel from Opus Neo demonstrated the Neo dashboard, and how you can utilize and construct Widgets from sources like Notes applications, RSS feeds, blogs, video and IBM Connection. This is stuff I know quite a lot about, but it was nice to get a demo of the dashboard product.

Back to the Future: Understand and Optimize Your IBM Notes and Domino Infrastructure
I like Panagenda and their products, and I’m planning to test the Marvel Client in for pushing out Notes clients and policies.

The presentation was solid and about how you should go through your current infrastructure before planning for the future.

ISBG CSI4.0: What now? – Info and Team Activity for Everyone
First we were treated to a slightly confusing horror film about who killed Lotus, something that would have gone well together with my “RIP Lotus” badge. I’m not quite sure what the movie had to do with the assignments we were given.

The assignments were fun, though, and one member of my team surprised me with the facial recognition app on his Iphone. It recognized a young Freddie Mercury based on not much more than Mercury’s right eye. Impressive.

Spa & Relax
We now had two hours where we could enjoy the spa, something I didn’t. I went to the gym and lifted weigts before dinner. Maybe next time.

Dinner
We were treated to a three course dinner that was delicious. The prizes from the competition was handed out, and I just don’t understand how the points were calculated, considering that my team had answered more questions than the three teams that won. I think I’ll have to check the bank statements of that jury…

After several hours of magic tricks, good food and nice company, I threw in the towel around one o’clock. I fell asleep to, and woke up to, the waves hitting the beach. Wonderful.

Here’s my summary of Day 2.