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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!

 

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.

Download presentation

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

Natural Notes color

I’ve pimped my Notes client and I change colors, depending on the season. Click to see a larger version

Sometimes you just got to have some fun with your work tools. I like to pimp my Notes client with the help of Panagenda’s Marvel Client: Skinning Edition. This makes it possible for me set my company’s logo as the background for my workspace in my Notes client, as well as changing the database icons. You can download the files and instructions here, but be warned, this might be overwritten by your administrator. It depends on how your setup is.

In addition, I’ve installed the Eclipse plugin called Themes for Lotus Notes. Just follow the instructions, and you will be able to do like me, change the color of your Client, depending on the season. And since it’s summer now, at least according to the calendar, my Notes client these days is green.

Have fun!

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.