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Connected 2015 Day 3

January 31st, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (0 Comments)

Today: Hogne learned splendid new things about content management, libraries and plugins for Office and Explorer.

This Tuesday was the perfect example of why it’s so important to go to the conference in Orlando. You get to talk to the right developers and managers to present challenges and errors. And in mine and Gunnar’s case, we solved several of them. Others we were able to lift to a higher level. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the top:

The future for Domino development

BluemixAs usual there was a huge turnout for a Domion session. Most Notes/Domino sessions are very popular, since it’s the main reason people come to this conference, no matter what IBM claims. People are very anxious to hear if there is any point sticking to the platform or not.

Since a bloated client that takes several gigabytes on your hard drive is not very fashionable any more, the idea is to move more and more of the functionality onto web and hand held devices.

This will be done by separating data and presentation in a much better way. The data can still be stored in the .nsf-files on your Domino-server, but the presentation and manipulation of the data will be done on web or mobile. Writing and reading will still be done to the Notes datbase.

With Bluemix IBM hopes to exploit this by integrating other systems and platforms. I wrote more about this in my previous blog posting. So you can for instance, via Bluemix, combine your Notes/Domino solution with SQL databases, php-systems and so on. In addition, you can still use an ID-vault and ID-files for encryption and signature support via Xpages on web.

The possibilities are many, and I think most of our Notes solutions can be modernized in this way. In addition they will be available for you when you travel, and you can even set up offline syncronisation, like you’ve always been able to do in the Notes client.

Development for IBM Connections

Luis Benitez is the product manager for IBM Connections, and I’ve been in a lot of contact with him in the past year (read: I’ve been pestering him). He and one of the developers did a great presentation that really inspired me.

I’ve now learned how I can develop my own widgets for Connections. This makes it possible to present data from other sources into Connections, like a Notes database. I will test more of this via my own cloud account.

Solutions to problems with plugins, libraries and content management

LibraryAnd then we arrive to the part where I tell you why me and my colleague were so happy on this Tuesday. The conference had, as always, a lab where you can ask the developers of the various IBM systems questions, face to face.

We are using CCM in Connections. It’s a small content management system that makes it possible to create libraries for files. We’ve had huge problems with this.

We’ve not been able to create meta data and document types. This has all stranded in technical problems. We were able to create a form that popped up every time someone wanted to upload a file to a certain library. We wanted them to be able to fill in meta data like production number, thruster type and so on. This can then be used to organise and search for content.

After a talk with the main developer of CCM Gunnar, my colleague, managed to fix this. He was so inspired that he ran straight to his hotel room to finish the solution. And it works. Beautifully.

And: The form asking for meta data also appears when you upload files via the Office and Explorer plugin for Connections! Tears of joy were falling. Beautiful!

Speaking of plugins: These are constantly developed by IBM, and I was able to talk to the chief developer. We will now have offline sync for files in Connections 5.0, via the Office and Explorer plugin. In the newest version of the plugin, you are also able to check files in and out, directly from Office.

I was also told that there would be no more development for the plugins in Notes. Så those of you who have, like me, dreamed of file tagging in the Files plugin in Notes can just forget it. Darn that IBM Verse!

I also talked to him about a problem where my users get an error message when trying to drag certain emails from their inbox and into an activity in the Activties plugin in Notes. Has anyone else of you experienced this? Any tips or help is appreciated.

The trials and tribulations of becoming a social business

This was a very interesting session. It was a non technical session, because it was simply about the organisational challenges you face when converting to a social business.

They presented us a survey done among 20 large companies on what their experiences were. And I must say I nodded in recognition to a lot of the things that was presented.

2,5% of employees are often the ones that take the lead when it comes to introducing social solutions, like IBM Connections. They are impatient, and you can’t even train them, because they are ahead of you, finding every strength and weakness in the system.

13,5% are what we call early adopters. They immediately grasp what it’s all about and they see the possibilities and start their adoption right away. About 34% of the employees need more prodding to be convinced. They usually turn into team players after being trained and have to be able to see it work in real life.

The next 34% are the employees that don’t really see the point but they slowly adopt the system along the way. But they do not use it eagerly, and just look upon it as “just another system.”

The final 16% you should just give up on. You cannot persuade them, and they will use any trick in the book to get around the system and keep working “like we always have done.” It is important, though, not to force them.

We also discussed how you should go about to introduce social business solutions and methods. There’s no rule book for this, and there is no right and no wrong way to to this. But we can sum it up:

  • Do not teach too much at once. Take it step by step and let things sink in
  • Move data from the old system to the new system, so that they don’t start with an empty system. It’s much easier to graps with content
  • How should you control the system? Too many rules, and people  give up. Too few rules and things can get out of hand
  • Do not let everyone work as they please. Create guidelines and suggestions. If not, it can be impossible to find things
  • It’s very difficult to move people from using email to start posting in forums, blogs or comment fields
  • Training and adoption are two different things
  • Give compliments and celebrate milestones. Make sure everyone feels an ownership to the solution
  • Systems like IBM Connections are not projects. They are a part of the infra structure
  • Remember that it should be fun!

Upgrading from IBM Connections 4.5 to 5.0

This session was about how to upgrade to Connections 5.0 and best practices around this. Even if my company will be using consultants to do this, it was very useful for me to get an overview what it really will entail. I also got hold of documentation.

Security on Notes/Domino and the Web

This was a very technical session, with a lot of abbreviations and strange jargon. Both me and Gunleif, who administer the Domino servers with me, were pretty tired afterwards.

It was a very thorough walk through on how to secure your Domino servers to minimise the danger of attacks via the web. Gunleif and me concluded that we will go through our web servers when we get home, and of course install all the latest Fix Packs.

In addition I learned that you now longer need a Windows XP PC to generate keyring files. Hurrah!

Register users in one place, let the rest just happen

Most companies, mine included, have a lot systems with employee data. The problem is that they all must be maintained manually. We want this to happen in the HR system, and then be replicated to Active Directory, then to Domino and further onto Connections and other systems.

This session was more of a discussion on how to achieve this, with a special focus on Active Directory and Domino. This will not just be about technical solutions. It’s just as important to have the organisational bits in place.

When a users is created she must be added to a group which reflect the access she should have. This will be based on which department she is a part of. Only after all this is in place can you start with the technical side.

How much of this we will be able to do at my company, we don’t know yet. The job has to be done, and I talked to an expert on Tivoli Directory Integrator, a system you automatically get via your Domino license. He was from Norway, and he felt that everything I wanted should be able to be scripted in TDI.

Beach party

Because of winds that made the fountains blow the water horisontally IBM moved this year’s beach party indoors. We had good food and drinks, once again, and it turned into a late evening with good talks, exchanges of experience and the establishing of new contacts.

And so it goes!

 

Connected 2015 Day 2

January 28th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (2 Comments)

Today: Hogne learns a lot of cool stuff about IBM’s new email solution, about inviting external users into IBM Connections and about Content Management!

Opening

Fre Choice

Free Choice. Photo by Kevin Petitt

Since Sunday usually is a pre-day during the conference, the general opening session is always on Monday morning. This year it was severely reduced in scope. Usually they’ve had world famous guest speakers like Neil Armstrong, Michael J. Fox, Kevin Spacey and other big names, but this year it was a much more quiet affair.

There’s always a lot of speculation and expectations about what IBM will present, and we did get to see a lot of the stuff IBM will be releasing over the next year. We finally got a demo of IBM Verse, the new email solution. It’s very tightly integrated with Sametime and Connections, and it looks pretty slick. Main points:

  • You can open attachments with one click
  • You can drag and drop attachments out and in of emails
  • You can mute email threads you don’t want to follow anymore
  • A search engine that creates very powerful searches
  • You can tag emails!
  • The intelligent email engine in Watson can answer questions for you. In the demo, they sent an email to Watson, as if it was a real person, asking who was the  biggest expert on Connections. And Watson gave a reply, with a link to this person’s Connections profile.
  • Everything will also function in the IBM Verse mail app
  • It will run on Domino
  • It will be released in the cloud first, and on premise in the second half of 2015
  • I already have a test account

We were also presented with some customer stories, among them from Moet Hennesy Louis Vuitton, who dabbles with everything from wine to perfume, watches, jewelry and clothing. They told how they are using Notes, Connections and Sametime in the entire corporation. It’s proven vital for their interaction with their end customers.

We also got a demo of IBM Connections Next. The biggest change here is a new homepage that analyses what’s important for you to know from forums, profiles, communities and so on. In addition, Connections will get a new design. And everything is tightly integrated with IBM Verse and Sametime.

But the coolest thing about Connections Next was that if you were working on something in the web version of Connections, and then open the mobile version, it will pick up where you left off! Now, that’s cool!

This year’s guest speaker was saved for the end, a wise choice. It was a nice talk given by Phillipe Petit, the man who walked on a line between the towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974.

Think design during development

The next session was about the importance of thinking in the right way when doing development. This was about theories and methods that you can use in any form of design and development, not just for programming and software.

Where people in the past used the waterfall technique during development (start, planning, analyse, do, test, put in production), you now do a life cycle of development that is a repeating loop. Understand -> Explore -> Prototype -> Evaluate -> Go to Understand

It’s also important to encourage people to come up with wild ideas. Often those are the ones that are the catalyst for success. So I encourage all companies to have internal blogging, where people can come up with ideas and creative thinking. No matter how off topic or off the wall it might appear.

Panagenda

Panagenda Marvel Client

Panagenda Marvel Client

I now took a break from sessions to have a meeting with Panagenda about their Marvel Client. This program makes it much, much easier to install, upgrade and fix the Notes client on your users computers. Today people do all sort of stuff, like deleting the cache.ndk-file, removing workspace files and so on. This client makes all such stuff unnecessary.

Personally I want my company to invest in this product, so I got the license prices and forwarded them to my boss. Fingers crossed.

Working with external users in IBM Connections

Gabriella Davis, who has helped me with many a problem on several occasions, held a great lecture on how to invite external users into IBM Connections.

She first did a lot of technical stuff how to set this up with Active Directory, Domino and LDAP. After this she talked about the administrative and organisational challenges and decisions that would have to be made.

Can you trust the people you’re inviting into Connections? How should the external people be registered? Can they do it themselves? What kind of password policy should we set? Who will be allowed to invite external users?

Here are the main points about working with external users in Connections:

  • Only persons who have been given a specific role can invite external users. It’s not an option for everybody
  • You can only invite people into communities
  • External users can only see files, forums and postings made inside the community they have been invited into
  • External users will not be able to see any other information outside this community. They will not be able to see stuff like wikis inside the community they have been invited into
  • If they do a search, they will only find content that exists within the community or content that have been shared directly with them
  • External users will only be able to share content with the community, they will not be able to share directly with other users
  • External users will only be able to see a person’s business card, with limited info. They will not be able to go into a person’s profile
  • External users can tag content, but they will not be able to search for and see tags other people have used, so it’s safe to use sensitive tags
  • All external users are clearly marked as external users, so there will be no confusion between external and internal users
  • Communities containing external users will also be clearly marked
  • If you share a file with a community containing external users, you will get a pop up warning you about this. But: This will not happen in the plugin in Office and Explorer. My suggestion is to prevent this by putting “external” in the title of the community

Bluemix

The next session was about how you can use IBM’s online platform Bluemix to put together applications in the matter of minutes. In that way you can combine data from a database in Notes, which then pushes data to Bluemix. You can then use other services or applications to act on that data. These services and applications can be almost anything, from php solutions to a whole other bunch of technologies. And setting this up is incredibly quick.

I’ve played around a bit with Bluemix, and it’s fun. But I still haven’t seen what business value one can get from this. We’ll see how it develops.

Content Management

Enhance Collaboration

Enhance Collaboration

This session was an eye opener for me! We already use CCM, the content manager plugin for FileNet and libraries in Connections, at Brunvoll. We haven’t really utilised the possibilities you have with adding metadata to files yet. With the IBM product Content Navigator this can be expanded on, quite heavily.

Instead of just adding text, you can with Content Navigator crop and edit photos, add design to files and so on. This in addition to adding document types and metadata. After this, you can publish this in Connections, on the web, in Notes and so on.

You can use widgets to show content from Content Navigator in IBM Connections. This is a product that I want to test to see if we can take advantage of it in Brunvoll. In addition, the product comes with a mobile application that gives you the same opportunities as you have in the original product.

IBM Nordic

After this I had to hurry down to Downtown Disney for the traditional IBM Nordic dinner, which this year took place at the Italian restaurant Portobello. Afterwards we were full and not thirsty, and that’s all she wrote…

Nice people, nice talks and a late night, that ended at the end of a labyrinth of hallways in our hotel, where we found a 24 hour store that I never knew existed, even though I’ve been coming here for over ten years now.

You learn so much at these conferences!

Connected 2015 Day 1

January 26th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (2 Comments)
Sunset between Dolphin and Swan

Sunset between Dolphin and Swan

Today: Hogne, of all people, learns something he didn’t know about the Notes client (and now you will too).

It’s early Monday morning in Orlando, and the rain is pouring down outside on the balcony of my hotel room. It hasn’t been summer temperatures, but Sunday we did have sun. Not that I had much time to enjoy it, since I had sessions to attend.

We arrived late Saturady evening, and already on the airport I met the first old friends from the Domino community. IBM Norway had been kind enough to invite us for dinner in the evening, but it took so much time to get to the conference hotel that we decided to go to the Disney board walk instead. Arve from Atea and Gunleif from Evry (or Evru as his name tag spells it). The latter is the guy who administer our Domino servers in cooperation with me.

Before I start with the sessions: Dear Orlando International Airport. Those new machines were we scan our finger prints and passport ourselves, do not cut down the lines and waiting time. Because after doing this, we still have to line up in front of a TSA officer to get a stamp. So everything is just the same as before…

 IBM Verse

IBM Verse future

IBM Verse future

The first session was about IBM’s new solution for email, IBM Verse. The session was very dissapointing. We didn’t get a demo, since that will be done during the opening session, and they talked more about the thought proesses and ideas behind the solution.

The interesting part of this was that we were told that it was the company Colgate Palmolive (yup, the gigantic company with the soaps, toothpastes, cleaning liquids, dog food and so on) that had come ot IBM and said they needed a smarter way to work with email. They are running their mail in IBM Notes, and combine this with IBM Connections and Sametime. Their demands were:

  • Email isn’t going away, make it better
  • Keep it simple
  • Focus should be on lifting important email
  • Email should be easy to find
  • The email should trigger an action

As an example, the development manager for IBM Verse said that the last time he came from a two week holiday, he had 5862 unread emails in his Inbox. IBM Verse quickly managed to reduce this to “only” 1000 emails that he had to read. The other emails he simply ignored and/or deleted.

The session became more interesting towards the end:

  • Notes is not dead, but there’s a little doubt that both emails and applications will be lifted to the web
  • Domino will live for years to come
  • Everything is still running on Domino, with nsf-files
  • IBM Verse will first be deployed in the cloud, before they will present an on premise version
  • The goal is to have one billion users on IBM Verse within four years
  • Internet Explorer is not a prioritised web browser, since Microsoft refuse to follow standards. The development browser of choice is Chrome

Customizing IBM Connections

The next session was about how you should go about to do simple changes of the design in IBM Connections. The most interesting bit for me was learning on how to create your own widgets that you can add into communities, profiles and the home page. I was very inspired, not least when I started thinking about how I can present things from Notes applications into IBM Connections, and maybe even the other way. It’s going to be exciting to try it out.

 User Blast

Mat New man in action

Mat New man in action. Photo: Kevin Petitt

Now it was time for Mat Newman himself. He’s a bit of a character and an institution in the Domino community. And if you think my love for the Notes client is huge, you should meet Mat. He’s the first lover! Mat has also been my main source of inspiration for the way I’ve conducted my Know Your Notes classes and courses, that I’ve given for several Norwegian companies. But my enthusiasm is peanuts compared to Mat’s.

Notes celebrated it’s 25th anniversary in November, which is pretty unique for a piece of software. Mat did a short tour through the development of the Notes and Domino platform. He explained the incredibly high level of security Notes has, which makes other solutions look like they just keep the door open.

 As per usual, he talked about the importance of training the users on how to use their Notes client, and to show them all the possibilities Notes has. He also gave a lot of tips. Now, I know the Notes client so well that there is very little anyone can teach me about it. Except Mat.

All Notes users know that you can sort on date in most views, especially in your email. But did you know that you can sort on date, and then simply type “today” to jump to the first email from today? No? Me neither. And what do you think happens if you write “yesterday?”

Notes also has an incredibly powerful search tool in the form of Search in View. However: If you write “conference orlando” in the search field, it will search for documents containing either conference or Orlando. This can produce too many results. But try writing “\conference orlando” instead. Now it will search for documents containing both “conference” and “Orlando.” Voila! A much smaller search result.

 Mat told me that the Singapore-office he works at had sold 250 000 new Notes/Domino licenses in 2014. Seems like there is some life in the old lady after all.

Socialising

At the end of the day it was time for what used to be the beach party on the beath between the Swan & Dolphin hotels. The party was much smaller this year, but it contained food, beverages and good conversation with great people. I talked to quite a few of the Norwegians here, and we exchanged stories and experiences. This is the best part of a conference like this and you learn a lot from it. Not to mention that you strike up connections and friendships.

I crashed into bead already at 09.30. I’m glad I did a one hour run in the morning after all the food and beer. Tomorrow: The official opening day and opening session!

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!

 

I’ve been down this road before, and I’m sure most other artists, journalists, writers, photographers and musicians have as well (I know you have).

Friday night I photographed a concert done by the Norwegian band Di Derre. The concert was great and both the band and the audience were on fire. Suddenly Jo Nesbø (world famous author and lead singer and song writer of the band, which I guess how is a hobby project for him) announced that they had a new singer. Then the captain of the local football team came on to the stage. His name is Daniel Berg Hestad, and he just set the record for most games in the elite series in Norway (even I recognise that this guy is turning into some sort of football legend). His team had also won that day, and they are currently the number one team in Norway. In short: There was cause for a celebration, and he sang his heart out.

Naturally I realised that this was a moment I had to capture on video. I was ill prepared and just had to make do with the lens and equipment I had there and then. When I came home that night, I edited the video and uploaded it to the local paper’s web site. It got thousands of hits, something I of course knew it would get. Both Berg Hestad, and his team, are well known, well liked and very popular.

The next day, a journalist from one of the biggest media houses in Norway called me and asked if they could have the video on their web site (read: in their player so that they could receive all the hits for the video). The would credit the original article on rbnett.no and link to it. I said that was of course fine with me, as long as the editor of the rbnett.no approved. He did, and I downsized the video so that it would be easier for the journalist to download it to his computer.

I emailed him the link, and then I asked where I should send my bill. I swiftly got a reply telling me that there must have been some misunderstanding. Payment had never been mentioned, and they thought that it was clear that crediting the video and linking to the original article would be enough. I told him that no, that would not be enough. He then replied he had to check with his superiors about payment, and said he’d get back to me.

I was sure that this would be the last I heard from him, but several hours later I got a reply from him telling me that they would not be using the video after all, and he thanked me for my time.

That’s when I got really pissed off. I had spent over an hour getting permission for them to use the video, downsize it, upload it to my server and telling the journalist where to get the video. Yes, the video is not of great quality, as I said I was ill prepared, but there are videos on their web site of much worse quality than mine. And that’s beside the point. They wanted me to give them my work for free so that they could receive hits and ad revenues for it. And believe me, Berg Hestad’s name would make sure that they would receive loads of hits on this. This is incredibly unprofessional behaviour that I would not expect from this media house.

I choose to believe that it all came down to a misunderstanding. That they didn’t know that I was a professional, and do this as part of my livelihood. But the realist in me is afraid they thought they would get away with telling me that I would get free exposure.

I’m sorry, but the exposure I will get from your use of my photo is minimal. Besides, would they go to the local grocery, buy lunch for your colleagues and then tell the cashier to give it to them for free because it would give the shop publicity? Would they tell their carpenter working on their building that? “I doubt it. Do you think the journalist on duty work for free?

I’ve invested in equipment, I’ve trained, worked for hours and I worked my butt off that night to get pictures, interviews and that video. I worked until half past three in the morning, and they have the gall to ask me to get it for free?

I know the editor of the web site, so I will get in touch with him and tell him what I think of all this. I just have to calm down a little bit more first.

Here’s Harlan Ellison on working for free:

Summer means holiday and vacation, at least in Norway, where the country grounds to a halt for three weeks. Most people have been told to turn on Out of Office in their email when they go away. But should you? I’m here to tell you that no, you probably shouldn’t. Not unless you plan to not read your email.

Out of Office

Be offline when you are out of office!

I’m sure you are familiar with this situation:

You need a reply, urgently, from someone about an issue in an important project. Seconds after hitting Send, you hear a pling in your Inbox. But the email reply says: “John Doe is Out of the Office. Will return 32nd of February 2014. If urgent, please contact Jane Colleague.”

So naturally you contact Jane. She promises to look into your problem, but she’s not really familiar with the project, so she has to check up on things before getting back to you. Here’s the punchline: John brought his cellphone with him on holiday. And on this device he reads the email you sent. So he replies to your questions. These are questions Jane now is spending her valuable time finding replies to. Unfortunately she’s not able to come up with any answers, so she contacts another colleague and then he starts spending time on this.

The wheels are now in motion. The others don’t know that you are happy because John got back to you after all, and the company loses time and money because other people are working on providing you with something you already have. This is bad business.

My advice is therefore: If you are planning on being available via email, either via computer or a hand held device, during the holiday, do not turn on Out of Office! You are either offline or you are online. There’s nothing in between. Telling someone that you are out of office, but you will “read email sporadically,” is worthless info for when there are issues that can’t wait.

Second advice: If you have turned on Out of Office, do not reply before you are back at work! The people who have emailed you are not expecting a reply before you are back, because it’s stated very clearly in your Out of Office reply when you will be back (or at least it should be). And if it was urgent for them to get a reply, they must surely have been in contact with other colleagues of yours by now. Replying, even if you have stated that you are Out of Office, does not come off as being very professional.

Last advice: If you do turn on Out of Office, make sure you care completely offline! It’s ok to take a break and have timeout from your work. It’s your well earned holiday, and you are not indispensable. Making certain key personnel at your workplace know how to reach you (like your boss or project leader) by phone or other means is fine. But do not read your email.

A lot of people do not take Out of Office messages seriously any more because of what I’ve written above. So I will personally add an: “No, seriously, I really am out of the Office…” to my Out of Office message.

Have a nice summer, folks!

 

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

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

Become a Connections Administrator
Gabriella Davis, The Turtle Partnership

Gabriella Davis

Gabriella Davis

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

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

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

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

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

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

MartinDonnelly

MartinDonnelly

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

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

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

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

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

Gabriella Davis

Gabriella Davis

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

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

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

Hogne B. Pettersen

Hogne B. Pettersen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keynote: How Smart are You?

Louis Richardson

Louis Richardson

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

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

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

He encourages everyone to start sharing their knowledge:

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

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

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Sales Tool on Ipad/Iphone, Based on IBM Domino

Einar Ellingsen

Einar Ellingsen

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

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

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

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

Technology used:

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

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

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

Gabriella Davis

Gabriella Davis

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

Gabriella described the three techniques that we can use:

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

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

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

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

Christoph Adler

Christoph Adler

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

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

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

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

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Stay tuned for day 2!

In the past 3-4 years more and more businesses have started their own Facebook pages. The problem is that most of these pages are only used for self promotion. Now, it’s only natural for a business wanting to promote itself, but if that’s all you do on your Facebook page, you will quickly find that less and less people are actually seeing your postings.

facebookkilling

Facebook is not worht it for small businesses

A lot of people don’t know about this, and more than one person responsible for the Facebook page of their company are scratching their heads in bewilderment as they see the page hit decrease more and more.In fact, on average, only between 1% to 5% of the people who have liked your page will actually see your postings. In an attempt to counter this, a business very often decides to open a competition. This used to be a violation of Facebook’s rules, but since those rules never were enforced, Facebook gave up on them.

The competition usually takes this form: “Please share and like this page/photo/posting and you will have a chance to win one of these ten baskets full of goodies.” And then people start sharing and liking. However, the effect is the complete opposite of what you think: The more you ask people to share and like something, the fewer people will actually see what you post on your page. Why this happens used to be a mystery, but now Facebook has lifted the veil and explained how this algorithm works.

But it makes sense: If people’s news streams became filled with spam (because that’s what these share and like competitions are) people would stop using Facebook. And that would really be bad for business. In addition: People have several hundred “friends” on Facebook and like dozens of Facebook pages. The news stream would be impossible to follow if every single thing  that was posted would appear there. That’s why Facebook does a filtering. Now, there are those who feel the users should have more control over this filtering, but that is another debate.

So the next time you see a share and like competition, don’t share it. In addition to annoying other users with spamming (would you run around putting fliers in people’s mail boxes or tell them to go shopping at a this or that store every time you meet them?) you actually decrease traffic and visits for the organisation holding the competition. Instead you should tell the owners of the Facebook page that what they are doing is counter productive.

I’ve been doing social media and business for almost fourteen years now, and several small businesses have asked me lately whether it’s worth it to put up a Facebook page. I tell them that it’s only worth it if the Facebook page will be monitored, and that instead of posting competitions or pure advertisements for their business, they should post and share stuff that people will find useful.

If you run a photo store post tips about photography. Are you running a book store, post links to interviews with authors and reviews of books. Is your business selling sports equipment, post exercising tips. Are you running a toy store, post links to Lego creations or model train shows. I think you get the idea.

And if you manage to get a debate going, where a lot of people participate, the chances of your postings appearing in most of your followers news stream are much bigger. Take the web page io9.com for example. They always get a good debate going in their postings, and I often participate or click on them. The result? Most of their postings end up in my stream.  The same with Classic Rock Magazine’s Facebook page. On the other end of the scale is a local store who continue to post endless “share and like” postings. They never ever appear in my news stream. And the owner of the page complained to me last night that nobody visited her posts any more. I then told her why. Also: Let customers ask you questions and answer them, and give them good advice.

The conclusion is that instead of promoting your business with share and like competitions and the sale of the week, you should give your followers useful and interesting content. And the next time you see such a competition, don’t share it, ok?

Universal Music is probably the biggest music company in the world. They have a among the world’s most famous artists in their roster, and they have for the past two decades swallowed up most of the competition. You would think a record company like this would be good at their raison d’etre: Namely selling records. Sadly, they are not.

Universal Music logo

Universal Music can’t sell music

I’m a huge fan of Mike Oldfield, and a few years back Universal announced that they would over the next years be releasing remastered versions of Oldfield’s back catalogue. In addition to great releases with 5.1 surround mixes, new stereo mixes, alternative versions and rare tracks, they would also release the albums on vinyl. And that’s not all: They would also release numbered limited edition packages that would include LPs, CDs, DVDs, books and other goodies. They would also be numbered and autographed by Mike Oldfield.

So when the Tubular Bells package was announced I ordered it from Universal Music’s own web store. I got confirmation that I would be among the 500 who would receive the limited edition package. Great? Not so much. After several cock ups, Universal ended up having to send out a whole bunch of “limited edition” packages that were not numbered. They also managed to inflict damage to a lot of the vinyl records shipped, and had to do returns.

The following year it was time for Hergest Ridge and my favourite album of all time, Ommadawn to have a release like this. And Universal did it again. First of all several of us got the albums several months after the promised delivery date. People also got the wrong vinyls and the several of the CDs had bad sound quality. Many Oldfield fans reported that they didn’t even receive their orders. But at least this time they didn’t screw up the numbering of the limited editions.

When it came time for Incantations to be released I thought “to hell with Universal” and I ordered the vinyls from and CD/DVD editions from cdon.com, despite the fact that Universal claimed these were sold exclusively from their online store. And lo and behold, the records arrived, unharmed and in a very short time. So when Platinum and QE2 was released on coloured vinyl and CD/DVD I ordered those from cdon.com as well.

After Mike Oldfield’s triumphant performance at the opening of the Olympics in London, a very limited edition 12″ with blue and pink vinyl was released. I gave Universal another chance and ordered it from their store, and everything arrived just fine. Hurrah! So when it was announced that Crises would be released in a five disc box and on green transparent vinyl and Five Miles Out would be released on yellow transparent vinyl and in a CD/DVD-box I once again ordered them from Universal’s shop. Huge mistake.

First I received the LPs without any hitch. I then started to wonder where the DVD-box and FMO CD was. So I emailed them and asked. Here’s the answer:

Crises Box Set

The Crises CD & DVD box set

“After speaking to our delivery company, DPD, I have been advised that your shipment which included the ‘Mike Oldfield / Crises CD & DVD Box Set 2013’ and the ‘Mike Oldfield / Five Miles Out Deluxe Edition CD 2013’ has been sent minus its invoice and as a result, was returned to us.

Hogne, please allow me to take this opportunity to apologise profusely for the inconvenience this will cause.

Moving forward, I am happy to confirm that at the time of writing, the ‘Mike Oldfield / Five Miles Out Deluxe Edition CD 2013’ is available and you now have the option to proceed with a free replacement or a complete refund of this item. In addition, I have been assured by our warehouse that this issue will not be repeated.

The ‘Mike Oldfield / Crises CD & DVD Box Set 2013’ is now out of stock and the parcel that was sent to you has since been damaged in transit and is now unsellable and so a refund of £60.98 will be credited back to you as a matter of urgency within the next 1-2 working days.”

I sent them an all over not too polite reply telling them to refund FMO as well, and that they shouldn’t bother with any replacement as I from now on would take my business elsewhere. And to add insult to injury I managed to find the CD & DVD box sets, once again, on cdon.com. Despite the fact that the very same record company who released them said that this was not possible…

But the story doesn’t end there. Oh, no. You see, you have to pay taxes when ordering from abroad.

Long story shot: Three weeks later and was still fighting with Universal, and DHL. Universal did reimburse the money for Five Miles Out and Crises boxes, but then a letter from DHL arrived asking me to pay toll and sales taxes for both the LPs AND the items I never received. Here’s a copy of an email I sent Universal after being the middle man between DHL and them for over two weeks:

“I’ve now been emailing between Universal Music’s support and DHL for over 2 weeks. I’ve calculated that I’ve spent in total an entire work day on communications with both parties. And I’ve had it.

Not only does Universal Music mess up my order and then tell me that they can’t deliver my whole order because it’s out of stock (a bit strange since I’ve since ordered this item elsewhere). Then I’m billed by DHL for taxes and VAT for items I’ve never received from you.

This is what has happened:
– The second package I received from you only included only the Five Miles Out LP
– The package was also supposed to contain the Five Miles Out CD box and the Crises DVD box
– For some reason these two items were not in the package
– It seems that these two items had been sent in a separate package by DPD (which Universal have confirmed in my previous correspondence with them)
– However, the freight letter with the original shipment claimed that the missing items were inside that box, and their value was stated in the freight letter
– Because of this, DHL paid the Norwegian toll authorities the VAT for that value
– DHL cannot be reimbursed from the authorities for this and therefore demand that I pay them by October 7th

DHL is not at fault here. They have to trust the freight papers that you send and have just simply done their job. They are not at liberty to open all packages to check that the sender has indeed packed what’s stated in the freight documents  As I said above, I’m now sick and tired of this case, and Universal Music (check out my history with you and you will find it’s a history of mistakes in the years I’ve been shopping with you)

I therefore demand that YOU pay me the amount I have to pay DHL. The time you’ve spent communicating with me must surely has cost you more than this amount already.

This is your mistake, not mine and certainly not DHL’s. But I’m the one sitting without the items I originally ordered, and being stuck with the bill. All the while being told by Universal that I should just refuse to pay DHL. This is appallingly bad customer service.

Please step up and fix this by Monday afternoon! DHL sent the a copy of the freight document, where you can clearly see that it’s stated that the original package included the items I never received. I’ve included them here in this email.”

The next day a customer representative from Universal Music called me and said they would fix it, and that they would get back to me. That was six months ago.

I think the phrase I will use when talking to Universal Music the next time rhymes with “clucking bass poles.”