Domino, Notes and videotape
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ISBG Scholarship

October 28th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in ISBG - (2 Comments)

Ego ISBGLast Wednesday the autumn meeting for ISBG, the Norwegian IBM user group, took place. ISBG is a standalone forum for customers and users of IBM’s software solutions for collaboration. In my employer’s case that means IBM Notes/Domino, IBM Notes Traveler (email, calender and contacts on mobile and pads), IBM Connetions and IBM Sametime (but we are moving to Skype for Business soon).

I gave two presentations. The first one was a very technical one where I explained how you can make it possible for users to log on to a web-based Domino solution without having to register those users in your Domino Adress Book. You only need to register them in Active Directory. I will do a blog posting about this, but you can download my presentation here.

In my second presentation I told how we at Brunvoll have used wikis in IBM Connections to document our processes. We are in the process of being certified with several new ISO certifications, and those demand that we document our processes. I demonstrated how we had used graphics and design to make the navigation through the contents and structure of the wikis more inviting and sexy. I also told what we liked about the wikis in IBM Connections, and the things we find are lacking in the wiki applications.

The reception was very good, and several people thanked me afterwards for teaching them that you actually have version control in the wikis, just like you do with files.

I’ve also received a lot of good feedback about Brunvoll and the fact that we share our experiences and knowledge like we do in these forums. That’s really nice to hear.

 On the top of all this I was also given ISBG scholarship, worth 20 000 NOK ($2300), so that I’m able to go to the annual IBM Connect (formerly known as Lotusphere) conference in Orlando, FL, USA in January. I was very happy about this, because I had received word from my boss that there probably wasn’t money left on the budget to send me this time. A colleague of min will also be going on Saturday January 30th.

The scholarship is given out every year. The person who gets it is obligated to blog every day from the conference (which I do in this blog anyway) in addition to give a presentation at the ISBG meeting in February. And I’m not shy about talking and holding presentations, so no complaints from me there.

I will during next week blog about some of the presentations from the ISBG meeting.

 

SkypeI have for a while wondered why Skype can boast having 299 million users. It’s a huge number, and while the product is arguably used by a lot of people, I’ve still found that number a bit fishy. Until today. Because today I realised why they can claim having so many people using their product.

My offspring bought a new laptop, and I helped him set it up. Then it came time to connect and start up his Skype client. The school he goes to uses Microsoft’s One Drive. This means that he has a Microsoft account with an outlook.com address as well, even if he insists on using Gmail and Chrome (yay, I’ve been a good father!)

A few years back, Microsoft bought Skype. This means that you can connect your Microsoft account with your Skype account. So that’s what I tried to do. In my infinite naiveness, I thought that should be no problem. But after telling the Microsoft account to connect to Skype, the latter pops up and asks you for your Skype user name and password. What? Skype user name? What is that?

I tried the offspring’s full name. I tried his gmail address. I tried his outlook.com address. I also tried all the passwords he has ever used. Nope! So I clicked on the “forgotten my credentials” link, and lo and behold an email about how I could reset the password landed in his gmail account. – Aha, I thought. – This means that his Skype account is registered with his gmail account.

I clicked on the link provided in the email, and I was now taken to a web page where it showed the users associated with that account. No Skype user name or email address in sight! I could choose to reset the password on that page. But get this: Resetting the password would mean that I also would reset the password to his Facebook account! Err…what? On this page I was also told that I also had the alternative of logging on to Facebook and continue from there. So that’s what I did. And the Facebook user name was the very same user name Skype didn’t accept!

I was now totally and utterly confused, so I contacted a colleague of mine who a while back told me had a similar problem to hear how he had solved this. – Oh, I solved it by just creating a new Skype account he said.

Ok. I then moved on to another friend of mine who also had this problem. He said the same thing: – I just created a new account.

I then googled the problem, and guess what the answer most forums and blogs gave was? Yup, you guessed it.

Regaining a forgotten user name on Skype is like regaining your virginity. You  give up, and then you just create a new account. And that’s why Skype has 290 million users!

Summer holiday and a huge load of journalistic assignments made me postpone and postpone, and postpone yet again, my summary of the Norwegian IBM User Group’s spring seminar, which took place at Farris Bad (a spa resort) at the end of May. I will therefore here do a short summary of the last sessions I attended.

Single, integrated social content management system

content_navigatorJoar Lyngaas (now retired, I’m told) from IBM talked about content management within IBM Connections. In my company, we use FileNet and CCM. This makes it possible to define document types with meta data, as well as creating a work flow for reviewing documents before being published. What Joar went through went deeper, and for my company, which is very much looking at a content management system for our documents, this was very interesting.

I have to say, though, that IBM’s acronym confusion continued. You have CCM, CECE, ICF, IBM ECM and so on. What I have gathered is what we need is CECE, IBM Connections Enterprise Content Edition. What this will give us is:

  • Check in and check out of documents
  • Meta data
  • Classification
  • Security
  • Advanced Search
  • Review process
  • Data integration

Another important factor here is IBM’s Content Manager, which we now will be able to use for administering the various document types, and it will also give us a widget/app that will work both in Microsoft Office, in IBM Connections and even in a widget IBM Notes.

This session was the most useful for me during this seminar, and we have already invested in three development licenses. We will make web versions of our biggest IBM Notes applications, and via the API for CECE, we will probably use it for storing of attachments and files and other documents used in the sales and service process.

See presentation

IBM Domino App Dev Futures

MartinDonnelly

MartinDonnelly

Martin Donnely from IBM talked about Bluemix and the possibilities that you have by using that cloud service to lift your old Domino/Notes applications to the web and mobile platforms. He also talked about Xpages and Javascript support that will be improved.

Honestly, Bluemix and Xpages is something my company have decided not to pursue. We will be using Domino as nothing more than a platform for storing the data, and then we will use the REST API in Domino to get the data.

See presentation

Tricks Every Super Domino Admin Should Know

Gabriella is always very knowledgeable and fun to listen to. She went through a lot of tips on how to secure the Domino environment, as well as very good tips on things you can do with Domino Administrator. I learned some new stuff:

  • Color coding of events in the logging
  • Domain Catalog
  • Starting Domino with Java Controller
  • Database Management Tools
  • Enhanced Fault reporting

See presentation

Driving success with social business through an effective adoption approach

Five StagesAlan Hamilton from IBM then talked about one of the biggest challenges Social Business adopters like me face: How do you do user adoption properly, and get people to use solutions like IBM Connections? But this also goes for adoption of any new system, because after 70% of the project budget is spent, that’s when you start user adoption. And neither time nor resources are enough at this stage.

He described five stages of user adoption:

  1. Vision: You need a vision when you start a project. You need to have a plan. What do you want to achieve with this project?
  2. Leadership commitment: Make sure the ones taking the bill are on board with what you are doing. Refer to business cases and tell them why this project is important and will increase your earnings and improve efficiency. Without leadership backing, you will get nowhere.
  3. Use Cases: Define what improvements and benefits you envision for your organisation and focus on  them. Then define what improvements and benefits you foresee for the individuals in the organisation. The good old “what’s in it for me?” is something that the users will ask or wonder about. Define what’s in it for them and focus on that. Use examples on where you think things would be improved.
  4. Plan: Recognise that not all users are the same. Identify the early adopters, the ones that will be ahead of even you, the ones that need prodding and the ones that will never adapt no matter what you do. Plan how you will deploy the solution, how you will train your users and how you will support them.
  5. Iteration: Do points 1-4 over and over again during the entire process, and improve. The old days of the waterfall technique are long gone

This session hit pretty close to home with me, as we are still going through them. Slowly improving, but not quite there yet.

See presentation on Slideshare

How to do more with IBM Connections through integration and expansions

Runar Brastad from Item consulting did a very good presentation on how you can use the very open APIs in IBM Connections and the Social Business Toolkit to both fetch data from Connections, as well as post to Connections from external sources.

This was a very interesting session, and I got several ideas that I’m testing these days. The plan is to replace our intranet with IBM Connections, and use the API’s to fetch data on to our own custom made start page, as well as to information screens that are in place all over our company.

And that was it. Phew!

External users in IBM Connections

External users in IBM Connections are easy to spot

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

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

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

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

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

An external user can:

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

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

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

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

Other security information:

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

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

Life of a file

Life of a file

We all deal with files on daily basis. They are everywhere. In emails, on disks, in forums and on Facebook. I’m sure you’ve created at least one file today, or at least this week.

But creating a file should be like planning parenthood. Are you sure you can take care of the file in the matter it should be taken care of? Are you sure it’s a good idea to create a file under the current circumstances?

This was the topic of a session that Omar Davison from IBM gave at ISBG in Larvik last week (read my first posting from ISBG). He pointed out that a file is like a person, with certain uses, certain attributes and with connections to others.

So, let’s look at a file as a child brought into the world. It will, hopefully, serve a purpose and generate value. When it’s born you spread the news and tell others about it.

You can tell about via email, via a forum or in the newsfeed of a social media. You can also find the siblings of a file and put it in a family context.

You put the file into a home in a community. Here it will meet people who will discuss the file and comment on it. Maybe they even will point others to it by sharing a link to it.

The file will then learn and grow. People can edit it and work on it simultaneously. In this way the child is influenced by its surroundings and will grow and change.

You can also choose who you don’t want your file to meet by denying selected people access. Or maybe you are bold and decide to share the file with someone external, outside your community.

As the life of the file progresses it will reach a point where it’s usefulness is reduced. You then retire the file and put it in a folder, or a retirement home if you will.

However, a folder is where files go to die, so don’t do this too soon. Files can have a long lifespan and be useful long after it has stopped growing. Because they will be read for a long time after being finished, they will be commented on, they will be liked and they will be spread.

So if you want to make a file, take care of it, ok?

Related:

The annual spring meeting in the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG) took place in Larvik, at Farris Bad, last week. I will in the coming days present my experiences and thoughts about

Hugutette RancHuguette Ranc, Social Business & Smarter Workforce Unit for Europe – IBM, talked about the strategic cooperation that IBM has with Apple, Facebook, SAP, Weather Channel, Twitter and other media outlets. IBM’s part of this is using Watson as a tool for analyzing the data. This is in turn used to create a better experience for the users, as well as gathering data that the companies use to decide on their future strategies with their tools.

Christopher Crummey, Executive Director of Customer Experience and Evangelism – IBM Enterprise Solutions, then took the stage. He has been working at IBM for over 25 years, and he discussed the soChristopher Crummey called New Way of Working.

He gave us some data about IBM:

  • 80% of IBM-ers do not have their own office
  • IBM has done 110 acquisitions in the past deacde
  • All users can bring their own devices to work, no matter what operating systems they are running
  • IBM has their own app-store and apps are pushed down to your device and computer
  • IBM automatically configures their employees phones, with one click and 6,5 minutes of waiting
  • They do not have phone support. All support is gathered in a community in IBM Connections where people can easily gather it

The fact that the users have a huge influence and control over how they want to work, where they want to work and with what tools, had increased user satisfaction.

Christopher admitted that IBM has never been good at design, and that’s why they partnered up with Apple. They’ve already launched a long list of apps for services like the police, health care and others for the Ipad. Here IBM provides the data and everything working in the background, while Apple provides the user interface. He compared this to building a bathroom:

IBM is the plumber and electrician, while Apple is the decorator.

They use Watson to analyse the big data. This can in turn be used to find out about user behaviour. For instance did a huge analysis of customer data for a phone company find out that it was the weather that was the biggest catalyst for whether a customer switched cell phone provider or not.

How could the weather influence such a decision? Further data analysis would be needed, but it could be down to the fact that a storm cut people from a certain provider off, while another provider was still online. The user would then change provider because of this.

This underlines the importance of staying on top of traffic, user habits, purchases and other activities that generate data.

Using this inside your own company is also a good idea. Make it easy for people to start working, to share ideas and to communicate. It’s especially important that the leaders in an organization leads the way here and invite everybody to start communicating. This will fuel engagement and drive innovation for your employees and users.

Then it was lunch time. Stay tuned for more blog postings about ISBG in the coming days. I will also continue my Whither IBM-series.

IBM Listens

May 28th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (5 Comments)

I’m at the Norwegian IBM User Group meeting in Larvik Norway, and several representatives from IBM Norway are here, as usual.

Some of them had read my last blog posting, and came up to me and said that I had been a bit unfair and that they wanted to remedy my impression.

So their suggestion was that I would, via a hybrid solution, be given the opportunity to test IBM Verse with my existing mail environment at work. This means that I will be able to give it a proper test, and have a full scale email environment for Verse to do it’s analytic work on.

This shows that IBM, at least in Norway, are listening and engaging with their customers. That is something I really respect.

I will do a new blog posting about Verse after testing it for a while.

Whither IBM? Part 1

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

IBM Verse

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

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

Here’s why:

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

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

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

Outlook.com

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

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

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

Stay tuned for Part 2.

So, How About that IBM Verse?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IBM is Going for the Push

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

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

Breakfast seminars

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

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

IBM Verse and Notes/Domino

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

The most revealing news were this:

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

Cooperation with Apple

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

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

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

My presentation

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

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

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

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

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

Next ISBG conference is in May. See you then!