Domino, Notes and videotape
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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.

Notes tip #1: Import Holidays

March 30th, 2013 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Notes | Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Aren’t there times when you are looking through your Notes calendar and you wish that public holidays could be marked, so that you don’t accidentally book meetings on days that no one is at work? At least here in Europe that’s a problem, what with all our public holidays. And if you work at a company that have branches all over the world, or as in the case of my company, employees are travelling all over the world to meet people, it’s often useful to see when other countries have their holidays.

This is how you import holidays into your Notes calendar:

  1. Open your personal calendar inside Notes
  2. Above your calendar, next to the New button, you have a More button. Click it and choose Import Holidays…Import holidays
  3. This screen will pop up:
  4. Holiday Group
    You can choose to import the holiday of any country in the list by checking the check box to the left of the name of the country. In this example I’ve chosen Norway:
    Chosen Norway
  5. Now all the Norwegian holidays will be imported. To check this I go to December to see if the public Xmas holidays have been setXmas holidays

    The Norwegian constitutional day is also in place:

    17th of May

    Also holidays that occur on different dates each year is in place. Here’s Easter:

    Easter calendar

This is how easy it is to have full control over holidays, both in your own country, and other countries. This is of
course also replicated over to your cell phone if you wish.