Domino, Notes and videotape
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Don’t let the headline fool you. I also show you how you can do this in Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo and other email and calendar clients as well!

I’m a pretty disorganized person who had to force myself to become organized. And I have succeeded pretty well with it, even if I do have a few relapses now and then.

In the past keeping track of my traveling plans, tickets and hotel reservations was pure hell. Especially in the days with printed tickets. For the past 5 years I’ve been using my cell phone to keep track of everything while travelling. And I do not use one app for the hotel reservations, one app for the airline tickets and so on. I import everything into my calendar on my Android cell phone. I used to do the same on my good old Nokia N8, and you can of course do this on your Iphone as well.

First of all: You need an email and calendar application on your cell phone. Personally I’m using IBM Verse, but there are also several other apps for this, including Gmail and Outlook. The application will make it possible for you to read and send email directly from your phone, as well as read and update your calendar. I will show you two ways of updating your cell phone calendar with all of your travelling  plans, tickets and reservations.

From the confirmation page

When you you’ve booked a hotel or flight online, you will get to a confirmation page after the order has been completed. Very often you will find a link, icon or button like this on the confirmation page:

Send to calendar

 

Sometimes you will have to click on it to get suggestions for the various types of calendars and sometimes they will all be listed. In this example I’m using hotels.com. When I click on the button link pictured above I get this:

Choose calendar

 

If your email client is not listed, click on ical Calendar. Since I’m using IBM Verse that’s what I have to do. A screen pops up where I have to put in my email adress:

Email calendar entry

 

Now hit Send.

No matter what method you chose above, you will now receive an email that looks just like a meeting invitation. Simply click Accept or Add to Calendar (or whatever it’s called in the email client you are using) in that email, and the reservation will be added to your calendar, with all the most important details (like reference number, addresses, times, dates and so on).

From the confirmation email

What I describe here will only work if you are sitting on a computer. As far as I know, this is not possible on a cell phone application.

Often when you get a travelling confirmation by email from an airline, or a reservation confirmation from an hotel, the email will sometimes contain a link or button that will look very similar to this:

Add to calendar

 

 

 

Choose your email client. If you are using Google or Yahoo, it will open up your calendar and you will see a web form where you can add details and then confirm that you want to add this to your calendar.

If you choose Outlook or iCal (sometimes this will be called ics) you will be asked to save the ics file to your computer:

Save ICS

 

Open your email client. In my case I’m using IBM Notes since, as far as I know, this can’t be done in IBM Verse (which is the web version of my email) yet. Go to the calendar and find the import function. In IBM Notes it’s under File -> Import A file dialog will pop up. Choose .ics as the file type:

ICS File dialog

 

Navigate to the file, click on it and then click Import. You will be asked to confirm that you want to add it to your calendar. Do this and now it will be imported, with all the details you need.

In Outlook you import ics.files under File -> Open & Export -> Open Calendar:

Add to Calendar Outlook

 

A file dialog will pop up:

Outlook File dialog

 

Navigate to the file, click on it and then click Open. A window for creating a new calendar entry will open. Here you can add additional details if you want. Click Save & Close to create the calendar entry.

Synchronisation

The beauty of all this is that you don’t even have to think about whether you add these entries in the calendar on your cell phone or in the calendar of your email client. The entries are synchronised, both ways, between your phone and the client.

Here’s how my travelling plans look in IBM Verse on my phone:

Cell phone calendar

 

I can open one of these entries by clicking on it. If I click on my hotel reservation I will get the confirmation number, time and date for check in and check out, the address and contact information for the hotel and even details on how to cancel:

Hotel reservation

 

Pretty neat, eh? All your travelling arrangements on your cell phone.

PS! Most email providers also gives you the option to use an online web version of your email. This means that even if you have imported this in your local Outlook or IBM Notes client (or other calendar and email client) this will also be visible in the online web version! This means if you lose your cell phone, you can simply use a computer and log on to your email via web, get the details from your calendar there and then print them out or write them down.

Any ideas for even better ways to do this? Did you find any errors? Did you like this? Hate it? Please leave some feedback in the comments field below!

No more NotesLast week there was an online presentation co-hosted by TeamStudio and TLCC where IBM presented their roadmap for IBM Notes/Domino.

I didn’t listen to the whole thing, I skipped some parts, because I could basically read the slides. In addition, they didn’t present anything new that they didn’t present at IBM Connect 2016. Nothing! Except one thing: You can now also use Outlook 2016 with Domino. Yay…

To paraphrase a friend of mine in the Domino community: “They are killing it, man.” And I find it hard to argue against that. For the past three years, I’ve been telling people who said that Xpages was going to save Domino that they were wrong. And this latest roadmap (which is the same as it was in January in Orlando) makes me ask: Is IBM interested in saving Domino?

Now, the Notes client was never going to be saved. We all knew that, even if IBM never comes right out and say it. But when it comes to email, they want you to start using IBM Verse or they actually want you to start using Outlook. In a world where people want to run light clients and use handheld devices, a huge bloated client is not the way to go, so I’m not really complaining about that. But the seemingly lack of commitment to the Domino platform is glaring.

It’s time to start delivering on your promises when it comes to Domino, IBM. But what’s happening is just one slow and drawn out torturing of a dying beast. If you’re not dedicated to the platform, at least come out and say it. “It will happen at Connect 2017,” they say. What will happen? That you will say the exact same things you said at Connect 2016? And the Java version running on the platform now isn’t just outdated. It’s a sediment on the bottom of the ocean which still hasn’t turned into black gold, and never will. We have been promised a Java update for a year now, and it still hasn’t arrived. Neither has any of the other stuff they promised.

One of the things that makes me want to say that “this is it, folks,” is the way IBM now lets you use Outlook with Domino. What’s basically happening is that IBM is saying: Connect Outlook to Domino, have the entire .nsf mail file downloaded to an Outlooks .pst file and then you can just move that pst file onto an Exchange server or up into the Office 365 cloud. They are even eliminating the need for a huge migration project, like a move from Notes to Outlook used to be.

My employer is, like 99% of the rest of the world, using Office 365. Mail is a part of the Office license, which basically means we are currently paying for two different mail platforms. In a time where we are struggling financially (I’m currently made 50% redundant), and we have to cut costs, what do you think we are going to choose? Staying on a platform where the company making it won’t make a commitment? Or go with the company which is constantly developing and refreshing their platform, and also makes integration and single sign on between all their products a default functionality?

Domino will remain in my company as an application server, because we are still running lots of Notes applications. However, we are currently webifying them and using anything but IBM technology to do so, apart from the nsf files which, for the time being, still will be on Domino.

Oh, well. See for yourself, and tell me if I’m wrong:

And here are the slides:

Connect 2016 Day 2: The next Generation

February 3rd, 2016 | Posted by elfworld in Connect | IBM - (4 Comments)

The calendar says it’s winter here in Orlando, but for us this is pure summer. It’s quite simply heavenly here right now, and I’ll never get used to being cold inside, and when I go outside I have to take off my jacket.

I started this day with a short run before I did several exercises at the gym.

Opening General Session Part 1 Turn Moments into Momentum and Opening General Session Part 2: The Engaged Enterprise Comes to Life

It was then Opening General Sessionon to the opening general session. This year it was split in two, and I won’t write much about it, because it wasn’t very interesting. OpenNTF got a shout out from the executives on stage, and that was great.

I was also very impressed with the two young students who came on stage to talk about Social Student. They had been using it as part of a project at university, and they were chosen as winners. Without a hint of nervousness, the two girls talked unaffected about the work they had done and how they had collaborated across the world with the help of Social Student (which is based on IBM Connections). And this in front of 2000 people. More about the students later.

We also got a presentation of IBM’s new product, which right now is called Toscana. It’s a tool that makes it very easy to set up and edit, both contents and design, on a online solution. It runs of course both on the web and mobile devices. It pulls and pushes data to and from several of IBM’s solutions, as well as solutions from other vendors, and it did look mighty impressive. Not sure if it’s for my company, though. Time will show.

Connections Communities – The New Stuff!

This was the first real session of the day, and I know some of the stuff I learned here is going to make a lot of my users happy. Connections is currently on version 5.5 and here are the most important features (at least for my organisation) that are included in this new version:

  • You have much better control over the layout of your communities
  • As an owner you can now move your communities! This means you can now move a sub community up and turn it into it’s own separate community. If you have several communities, you can now move them under one mother community and make them all sub communities! This is awesome!
  • Much easier to find communities
  • You can now create a lot more content for your communities
  • You can rename any widget. Which means  that if you want to call Wiki for Employee Guide you can!
  • You can change the layout, even the top banner, as well as design a nice and inviting front page in the community
  • Private communities can now also be shown in searches, if you want to. It’s only the title, tags and info that is shown. No member details
  • A new rich text field which woks just as well as editing in Word (thanks, Ephox)!

Bring Your Own Mail Client with IBM Mail Support for Microsoft Outlook

IBM has promised this for quite a few years now, but this time we actually got to see it in action. Currently the release is said to be around June 2016. Basically this means that you can connect your Microsoft Outlook client to a Domino-server, and have full access to your email and calendar. Everything you would expect to be able to do with your mail and calendar in IBM Notes, you will also be able to do with Outlook.

Here are the main details:

  • Windows support only
  • Thus far only Outlook 2013 (but plans for 2010 and 2016 soon)
  • Sync of mail, attachments, drafts, folders calendar and contacts
  • Sync of read/unread flags, forward/reply indicators
  • Notes encryption
  • Type ahead and address resolution
  • Sametime and Connections integration
  • Freebusy lookups
  • Room finder
  • Summary sync

Everything is installed with it’s own installation program. So far it’s only been available to selected customers for testing, and has so far been known as Project Hawthorne.

I asked if the status would automatically change in Skype for Business when a meeting start as long as you are using the Outlook client to read the mail on Domino, but they admitted that they simply didn’t know. So if anyone can answer me on that, please leave a message in the comments section.

Personally I think this is a good move on IBM’s part. Outlook is a good mail client, and this will make it easier to change to Outlook, without having to worry about moving huge mail .nsf files from Domino to Exchange. It also gives people a chance to use the client they prefer.

REST Services in Domino – Key to Modern Web Applications

This was a very technical session for developers. Some of it went above my head, even if I understand the principles behind it.

REST makes it possible to retrieve, present, update and delete data on a system, via web pages. This means that if a system with data storage, like IBM Domino, has a REST service, you can use that to work with the data, even if the system itself isn’t on the web. This is what we are doing with the data from the IBM Notes applications and databases in my company, so I need to get my head around it.

I got some really good pointers on how to get started, and I will download the example database the presenter was going to include with the presentation.

Social Learning with SocialStudent – #NewWayToLearn

SocialStudentThe next session took place in the huge exhibition area for vendors and IBM Partners. Once again the two aforementioned students and their professor told how they had worked with SocialStudent to collaborate. The product developers were there as well to explain a little bit about the technologies behind the product. In addition to IBM Connections, the product also uses Opus Neo Dashboard.

I think SocialStudent could give itslearning a run for it’s money. I really hope IBM takes this out to schools and universities all over the world, because they have a killer app here. The students that will be using it are the employees of tomorrow, so they will demand tools like this in their job.

The two students, Bree Mayer and Jamie Winger,  explained that they were used to dealing with Google Docs (which most of their fellow college students were using), in addition to Skype and online services like Facebook. When asked which tools they preferred using, they said that IBM Connections and Social Students were hands down the best tool. Instead of having to deal with 4- 5 online services everything was in one place inside SocialStudent. Even chat and video meetings.

SocialStudent is also available on mobile devices, and for me, who do quite a lot of user training, it sounds very interesting. I will therefore check out the product and see if I can get a trial user or something

After this session it was off to a networking event held by Panagenda (I always appreciate being invited) before being treated to dinner with IBM Nordic. It’s always nice to catch up with what my fellow Scandinavian IBM users are dealing with these days. It was a relatively early night, because I had to be ready for loads of IBM Connections sessions from early in the morning on Tuesday.

Come back tomorrow for a solid recap with great news about IBM Domino and Connections!

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.