On this day, 35 years ago, the NASA space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after takeoff. I still remember when I was told. From the age of 6 I’ve been very interested in space exploration and this was shocking news.
On this day, 35 years ago, the NASA space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after takeoff. I still remember when I was told. From the age of 6 I’ve been very interested in space exploration and this was shocking news.
As a freelancer, you get to do a lot of cool stuff. When you also take into account that you live in an amazingly beautiful county, the photo opportunities just lign up. See the artists, models, cities and sites I photographed this year. Here’s my top 10 best photos of 2018!
Do you want to know what it’s like to go to another country as an exchange student? Do you want to know about the culture shock you can experience when coming home again? Or do you want to see a moment that is like it’s taken straight out of a high school movie? Then you should check out this video!
A little under two weeks ago I attended the LION 18 conference in Chicago. LION is short for Local Independent Online News and is an organisation for local news sites. Little did I know all the reactions I would get when I tweeted my surprise over how in bed Facebook is with local news sites and newspapers in the US.
I did not start the day with a workout. I was actually very tired and you have to keep your strength up if you are to hang on during a session with Mat Newman. So I slept as long as I could and headed off to the conference hotel.
Mat Newman is a character that everybody in the community, and at the conference, knows. He’s impossible to miss in his yellow suit, with matching shoes and wrist watch. Newman is also a born showman, and he loves the technologies IBM provides. I’ve written and said this before, but Mat has been a huge source of inspiration for me when it comes to both user training, as well as preaching about Notes/Domino and Connections (and other tools and technologies that I like for that matter).
Mat presented a user case scenario where a user went from having dozens of copies of the same file, which were emailed all over the place, to taking control over the work process so that she only had to contend with one copy, which she then shared across with those who wanted it.
We didn’t exactly learn something new here, but Mat’s conviction made a lot of us feel that this is what we should go home and tell our boss, our colleagues, our competitors, our friends, their grandmothers and their dogs.
I spoke to several people after the session, and we all concurred that if IBM had more Mat Newmans, people would not be moving to other platforms. And I got a great idea (at least I think it’s great) on what to do with the Norwegian IBM Users Group’s spring seminar in May. Stay tuned!
The title of this presentation was a bit misleading, because we are talking about Sweden only. But if their claims are true, it’s still pretty impressive to get a 100% adoption rate from their users. But that was their point: They didn’t adapt their users. They adapted the technology to fit their users need. So they took IBM Connections and put their own product on top to skin Connections to become more of a web page (intranet) where users find what they are looking for, instead of wading through things they don’t understand (wikis, blogs, forums and so on).
This seems to be a predominating theme: To achieve user participation, you need to skin Connections. Hopefully the new design of Connections 5.5 will make this need smaller.
I will definitely check out this product, and during the Nordic dinner, I spoke to one of the product managers from the Swedish company.
IBM has a big user community with developers who are really the ones driving the technology and solutions forward. IBM acknowledge this and both reward people with the IBM Champions price, as well as giving them the possibility to speak at the conference. Even though we have lost a lot of the old timers among the gurus, there still are a lot of them, and they are all willing to share what they know.
There was a pretty big turnout, but I do get the feeling that those who don’t come to this session stay away because they feel this is a club, where everybody knows each other, so they feel left out. Personally I was welcomed with open arms in to this community back in 2006 (thanks to Bruce Elgort who saw me at an OpenNTF session and wanted to know who the new guy was). I think maybe the gurus should think a little bit about that, especially with the internal jokes going on.
It’s also a bit hard for some people to know the difference between this session and the ASK the developers anbd Product Managers session.
Even so, the session was fun. I started the question round, and you can see that moment if you click on the video below:
(I also pop up at the 48:55 minute mark)
The most important thing that came out of this session was that we turned the focus on the user groups. Some don’t exist any more, some are thriving and others are struggling. I hope more people came out of the session and were ready for start turning up at the user group meetings. Or even engage themselves in organising them.
This is a session where you can ask the developers and managers of the various IBM products and solutions questions, to their face. Sometimes you really do get an answer (and that answer might very well be “no that will not work” or “no, we do not have that on our roadmap for the foreseeable future”), but a lot of the time the session ends up with “we’ll take that back with us.”
This year someone made a list of all the questions that had been promised a follow up on last year, which hadn’t been followed up on…
I asked a question about the Files plugin in IBM Notes and I was told that, yes, it will be developed on more. So that’s good news!
Liz Urheim, Vice Precident of Collaboration and Smarter Workforce, summerised the week and promised us that, yes, there will be a conference again next year!
Inhi Cho Suh then took the stage. She is the General Manager of collaboration solutions for IBM and her words on their commitment to developing all the platforms of IBM is still strong. I liked her talk. It was short and to the point.
Erik Wahl then took the stage. He is an artist who has made a career of letting go of traditional thought patterns. During the presentation he painted pictures and talked about encouraging people to use disruptive strategies. Let the kids colour outside the lines. And he asked: “Why is it that when I ask pre school children if they can draw, they all say ‘yes,’ but when I ask adults, almost all of them say ‘no.'” When do we lose that? Food for thought.
And that was it. In the evening IBM Norway treated us to dinner at Kimonos, which is a at the Swan and Dolphin hotel where this conference used to be held. Sushi, beer, nostalgia, karaoke with Mat Newman made the whole evening in to very enjoyable event.
And that’s how I feel about the entire conference! Last year it was all doom and gloom. This year the vibe was much more positive. IBM seems determined to deliver what they promise, features that have been requested, both in Notes/Domino and Connections are coming fast, the plugins (which I love) are getting more and more love and there were some really good sessions this year.
For me personally I got to meet friends again, but most importantly: I got to have meetings that will probably result in my employer saving time and money, as well as becoming a more effective and collaborative organisation. I’ve also received loads of great feedback, both about my blogging from the conference, and my contributions to the community.
Oh yeah, the weather was great too. Thanks to IBM for buying that weather company!
Until next year, folks!
Woke up half past five in the morning. My internal clock is still not up to snuff. The humidity outside was unbelievable and there was so much fog that I opted for a 4 x 4 interval run on the thread mill instead of running around the lake. After hitting the shower and taking in some breakfast it was off to the conference. On the way there I realised I had forgotten my conference badge and I had to run back to get it. After running to the conference hotel I was so soaked in sweat that I didn’t know what to do, but thankfully Floridian style air condition quickly cooled me down during the first session.
As I’ve stated many times, I love the IBM Connections plugins for IBM Notes, Windows Explorer and Microsoft Office. I therefore try to pick up so many tips as I can about them. I really didn’t learn anything new during this session, but I was able to give a few inputs, tips and pointers to people. Two people from the plugins’ developers team told me later in the day they really appreciated my feedback and promotion of the plugins. Made my day!
For the four past years I’ve been working hard on introducing IBM Connections in my organisation. It has hit quite a few roadblocks during the way, so it’s always nice to listen to other the experiences of other IBM customers. Lufthansa are using IBM Connections through their entire organisation, and it was very interesting to hear about their challenges. I also liked that even though they had switched from Jive to IBM Connections, they didn’t down talk Jive. They said it had delivered what they wanted, but now they wanted more. That’s class.
Here are some of the key points:
When a huge and important company like Lufthansa choose IBM Connections I think IBM should do even more to make Lufthansa representatives travel around talking about it!
We were presented with a roadmap with the following key points for Domino
Here are the key points for Domino Designer (which means that there will be a new version of it):
Here are the key points for the Notes Browser plugin:
Here are the key points for IBM Verse on mobile (Traveler):
Here are the key points for the IBM Notes Client:
Here are the key points for IBM iNotes (webmail):
Here are the key points for IBM Verse (the new web mail IBM has been talking a lot about):
Phew! To sum up: Domino is not going away. It seems that there still will be an IBM Notes client, but we are getting mixed signals about that, especially because of the ICAA, which is replacing the Notes Browser Plugin. But IBM are committed to Domino, and now that you can choose between five different clients, including Outlook, there is absolutely no need to spend millions on migration yet! So tell your boss and Financial Director that, ok?
We are currently running IBM Connections 5.0 in our organisation. The newest version is 5.5, and during this session we got to hear what’s new this version. We got to hear quite a lot of what is new in communities, but I covered this in yesterday’s posting, so I won’t write much about it here. Other highlights:
Tufts Health Plan found that after deploying IBM Connections, users just didn’t take to it. After getting XCC involved they developed a social intranet where IBM Connections is hidden under a layer of widgets and apps. Instead of confusing their users with terms as wikis, blogs and so on, they instead offered the user a new GUI, where widgets and apps presented contents from IBM Connections in the form of news streams and forum postings, just as you would expect to see on any normal web page used for collaboration.
It seems that a lot of companies do this with IBM Connections and the users take to Connections much easier this way. People don’t even think about it as Connections, they just use the tool and engage in collaboration.
I will check out XCC and their tools a bit more. It was a really inspirational presentation, and it gave me a lot of ideas.
In my company we have been adapting to the use of IBM Connections for the last four years. That’s also the situation for the Spanish company Hipra. They told their story on how the adoption in their organisation has been. It seems like they have gone into the same pitfalls as we did, but little by little, they increased participation from their users.
It’s always nice to share experiences with other companies in the same situation as yourself, and that’s one of the reasons conferences like these are so useful.
The plugin parts of this presentation was just a repeat of what I’ve seen already this week (and already knew). It was exciting though to see how incredibly useful it is to be able to edit Microsoft Office documents directly in the browser via IBM Docs.
This means that you can edit the document without having to download it first. You can also do @-mentions inside the documents, and when the user that is @-mentioned clicks on the link, she is taken directly into the place in the document where she was tagged!
Files in IBM Connections is an incredibly strong product that you all should start using. Stop saving documents on network drives or on your computer. And if you also invest in IBM Docs, you can even edit the documents in the web browser, or on your mobile device!
It was then time for some blogging before we took the bus to Universal Studios and Harry Potter Land. IBM rented the whole area for us, and the Hogwarts ride with the brooms is awesome! I must say that it was also really cool to experience Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley in the dark. When I visited last year, it was in broad daylight.
After the park I was so tired I just had to get home and crashed into bed. I had to prepare to start the day with Mat Newman the next morning. You need your strength for that!
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.
It was then on 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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
The 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!
Started the day with 10 km run around the lake where we live, in what in Norway would be called a cloudy but very warm and humid summer day.
Even though the general opening of the conference always happens on Mondays, there are still lots of sessions to go to on Sunday as well. They are called jump starts, and here’s a short summary of the ones I went to:
IBM is very eager to move people into the cloud, and my company has been looking into it as well. Unfortunately the cost of the moving itself has been way too costly. After this session I got a bigger understanding of why. The key points were:
There’s also a staggering amount of work that has to be done to perform such a move, and it will involve your ICT department, IBM and/or a third party. It’s a big project and will take weeks.
If any companies reading this are willing to help my company out on this, please get in touch.
As people who have seen and heard me give presentations of IBM Connections can attest to: I love the plugins for IBM Connections. I know them in and out, and I have made documentation on how to use them, which I hand out to people who ask.
I therefore didn’t learn anything new in this session, but it was nice to see IBM give the plugins a presentation and some love. Several people in the audience knew very little about them, and I hope they run back home to their users and start training them.
We did get a presentation on up and coming plugins for the web version of Connections that makes it easy to interact with Sharepoint and Office 365 in the cloud.
The lead developers of the plugins are well aware of me as I’ve pestered them both during earlier conferences, as well as via email. During the Q & A I asked the following questions:
A very technical session on how to use Eclipse, which IBM Notes is running on, to create plugins that will add functionality to the Notes client. This feature has been available since 2008, and it has been criminally underused. IBM haven’t been very good at promoting them, and Eclipse is a bitch to fight with.
Even so, you can do some great stuff with it. But since people are moving out of the Notes client, I think plugins will be developed more for the web in the future instead of for the Notes clients. Personally I wish I had done more of this kind of stuff, but I’ve only made a few myself.
I met up with several other of my Norwegian companions, and we went into the exhibition area to see what vendors and business partners were there. I met up with my friends in Panagenda as well as all the other people you have gotten to know through the years here. That’s always so nice, and all through the day when walking through the corridors of the hotel, you meet an old friend again.
You also get to meet IBM-ers that you have a lot of contact with on email or via phone calls.
The evening ended with IBM Norway taking all the Norwegians out for dinner at the fantastic steak house Texas Brazil. They cut your meat for you at the table, and it’s so tender it melts in your mouth. And of course you have to have key lime pie for dessert.
Happy, content and full I went to bead, ready for the Opening General Session Monday morning.
Call it Lotusphere, call it IBM Connected or call it any other name that IBM has changed it to after dropping the name all old timers refer to the conference as: Lotusphere. No matter what you call it, the official name this year is Connect 2016.
Another change is that this year it’s not taking place at the Disney hotels Swan and Dolphin, but at Hilton Orlando. You can see it on the photo that I took by the lake at the place we live. Since the conference hotel itself had insanely high room prices, my colleague, Gunnar, our Domino consultant Gunleif and me hired a great flat at the Vista Cay Resort, a short walk from the hotel.
The Vista Cay Resort is a relatively cheap and great place to stay, with stores, restaurants, a gym and a swimming pool in the neighbourhood. I whole heartily recommend a place like this for a family holiday trip to Orlando.
This year I’m the official blogger for the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG). That’s because I won a scholarship to go to the conference, which means that ISBG is paying for everything. In return I will blog from the conference on their behalf, I will look for potential candidates to speak at the ISBG spring meeting in May and I will give a presentation from the conference at said meeting.
We arrived this afternoon after a pretty uneventful flight. The storm/hurricane that hit Molde Friday evening resulted in my flight from Molde to Oslo being delayed for an hour and a half, but other than that the trip went just swimmingly. Ok, I have to admit that I would like to ask all parents to never ever go on ten hour flights with children under the age of 6. It’s torture both for the kids and their fellow passengers.
The weather is great, 22 degrees (72 F) and we just finished a pizza and a few beers. The first part of the conference starts tomorrow afternoon, and I’m eager to start. I hope you are eager to follow me as well.
We in the IBM community are much too focused on the negative things. We are our own worst enemies in that regard. And when I look back at my blog postings from the previous Lotusphere/Connected conferences, I see that I’m just as guilty in this as everybody else. So I will promise you this: I will focus on the positive things. My job is to learn all I can to make it easier for my company to solve our business challenges and improve our flow of information and IT structure. I don’t care if this means that I have to use this or that tool/standard/language. The important thing is to get the job done, and done well. So no complaints from me this year. It will only be about what can be achieved, and not what I would wish could be achieved.
Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch, follow up on something I wrote or give me tips on what I should look at while I’m here.
I’m a bit behind on blogging on the last day of this year’s conference, but here we go:
I started the last day, slightly hung over, by being treated to breakfast by Panagenda. Not because they want me to buy the Marvel Client, but because we over the years have struck up a friendship. And that is one of the reasons this conference means so much to us in the Domino/Connections/Sametime community: You meet old friends again, in between all the sessions.
Since I’m a developer focusing on GUI, and I’m a teacher and instructor, I like things to be consistent and recognisable to my users. And that includes IBM Connections. Which is why I‘ve skinned the Connections plugin.
Hence I thought learning how to be able to do something similar with the Connections mobile app would be a good idea. However, turns out there is very little you can do with the mobile app for Connections, since it must through rigorous review processes before publishing. There are some stuff you can do, though, especially when it comes to security:
The most important thing I took with me was the security part.
After this it was all set for something me, and most people there, are looking forward to: Gurupalooza. This is where the developers take the stage and everybody who wants to can come up to the mic and ask questions. The developers are IBM partners, OpenNTF-members (the Open Source site for Domino) or just people in the Domino/Connections/Sametime community that are considered experts in their field.
The whole thing reeks of the fact that everyone vaguely knows everyone else, and there is a lot of laughing. I received an award for asking the first question and I got a yellow bicycle vest with Lotusphere 2000 printed on the left side. Nice!
It was time for a session about plugins, something I myself handed in a draft for a session for. I didn’t get picked up, though, so I decided to visit the one that did get picked instead.
The plugins in question are a the ones used for working with files in Connections from Microsoft Office, IBM Notes, Open Office, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Sharepoint or Windows Explorer. I’ve become quite the expert in utilising them and I’ve created both documentation and wikis about them.
I must brag a bit: I was able to answer a few questions from the audience that the people giving the lecture couldn’t answer. Finally the developers asked me to meet them in the lab afterwards, so that I could show them how to create favourite links to libraries in communities.
After the Plugins session I spent a few hours just talking with people in the community, as well as taking in lunch with a few of them. I also got a demo of some new features in ProjExec, a project module we are running in IBM Connections.
It was then time for the closing session. It seems that IBM consists of nothing but Vice Presidents, and two women I’ve never heard of before came up to wrap up the conference. Even mentioning the fact that the Lotusphere cookie was missing form the lunch box this year!
A lot of people have guessed that this would be the last Lotusphere (or whatever you want to call it) and that it would be absorbed by the annual conference in Las Vegas. However, the message we got was that we would be told in the coming months what would happen to the conference in the future.
Me and several others think IBM was surprised about the big turnout, and the strong feelings we have about Lotusphere. And despite that the conference clearly was a low budget affair this year, it was a really nice experience. And of course: Most people wanted to know about the future of IBM Notes/Domino, while IBM did it’s best to bury talk about it, apart from Bluemix. It never ceases to fascinate me how little IBM is in contact with their customer base. Or maybe they just ignore them…
The session was closed with a fantastic sequence with mathemagician Arthur Benjamin. My guess is that he has ADHD and several other diagnoses, but he was a born showman, and showed what could be done with mathematics, given a bit of training. But I seriously doubt many people will be able to reach his level. You can see him in action at a TED-conference.
And then it was over. IBM Norway treated us to a very nice farewell dinner, and after a few rounds in the karaoke bar Kimono at the hotel, it was all over. We stayed for a few days more and took in some sites in Florida. At the airport on Saturday, we ran into other Lotusphere-attendees and ha a final round of beers. See you next year?