Saturday, December 30, 2006

Domino 7.02 upgrade - mosty good and a few glitches

Today I upgraded my mail server from 6.5.4 FP3 to 7.02. The install was relatively painless, but trying to track down all the information on getting Rooms and Resources set up was frustrating. I had read some posts about it on and the blogosphere, but I couldn't find it all when I needed it and ended up spending an hour or so pulling it all together. My pain is your gain. Here's the down and dirty on what you need to do to go from 6.x to 7.x:
  1. Upgrade to Domino 7.x
  2. Load your Domino server
  3. on the console tell rnrmgr quit
  4. on the console tell sched quit
  5. on the console load convert -d [your reservation database] * resrc7.ntf
  6. Open your reservation database in Designer and enable all the disabled agents. Optionally sign the database with the server's ID if you don't want automatic notices to have your name on them.
  7. Make sure you have an administration server set on your reservation database
  8. on the console load sched. Let it finish processing.
  9. on the console load rnrmgr
My only problem now is I'm getting errors like this:
12/30/2006 02:22:02 PM RnRMgr: Error processing reservation document (NoteID: NT0000988E) in database RSVP.nsf
12/30/2006 02:22:02 PM Error connecting to server MAIL/WMBIRD: The server is not responding. The server may be down or you may be experiencing network problems. Contact your system administrator if this problem persists.

The server this is running on is MAIL/WMBIRD, so I don't know how it could possibly not be responding. Also, the filename in the OS and in all the mail-in records is rsvp.nsf. I don't know where that all upper case thing is coming from. I haven't broken out NotesPeek to see which documents can't be processed, either.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Upcoming travel

The next several weeks are going to be a little insane...
  • January 6 - 13, 2007 - Lake Tahoe ski trip (link to our timeshare resort). This will be my 9th year going to Tahoe and my partner's 12th, and a friend from San Francisco will be joining us for the third year. If there's anyone out there in the Sacramento or Bay Area and you want to join us, let me know. We have a spare sleep sofa. :-)
  • January 20 - 26, 2007 - Lotusphere. My second! I still need to figure out what sessions to attend.
  • February 4 - 11, 2007 - WinterPRIDE in Whistler, BC (ski trip) We went to this event in 1999 when it was called Altitude. Some friends from Atlanta will be joining us
Between all this I'll be upgrading our servers to Domino 7.02 and migrating more servers off the iSeries and onto Red Hat. I still need to publish more documentation about that process...

Later in the year I already have the following planned...
  • June 3rd - Wedding in the Eastern Shore.
  • July 13th - Wedding in Toronto
  • October 20th - Wedding in Boston
  • November 13 - 24 - transatlantic cruise - Barcelona to Miami on the Oceania Regatta
With all this travel I'll end up taking a couple of weeks off without pay. I gotta live while I'm still alive, right?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Blue Rinsed application template

A really long time ago I created a standard application template for all my applications. After R6 was released I decided to "Blue Rinse" it and make it look more like the regular mail template. It was a little tedious but it has allowed me to provide my applications with a consistent look and feel. Hopefully someone else can benefit from my effort, too.

A few things to know:
  • The star icon is an image resource with the alias DBIcon.
  • The name beside the icon is an action button with a computed label of @DBTitle. You can find it on the ($notes-Top) form.
  • There is a view for comments, and an agent for adding comments. Nearly every application I create needs this feature so I just built it into my template. To get rid of it you'll need to delete the (Add Comments) agent, the Comments view and the Comment form.
  • There are a few shared actions.
  • Everything on the form template is sized so it will print nicely. This means a left margin of 0.85" and a maximum table width of 6.8".
There's probably something I left out so let me know if you have any other questions. Download the template here.

[EDIT - 12/29: Added the General script library and reuploaded.]

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Michael Sampson on Sharepoint Portal 2007

Michael Sampson recently wrote an article for Messaging News Magazine in which he does a high-level review of his favorite features from Sharepoint Portal 2007. In his final analysis he states the following:
Collaborative capabilities in SharePoint are positioned as merely one of six major functionality areas, the others being portal, enterprise search, enterprise content management, business processes and forms, and business intelligence. This is an extensive product that addresses an extensive list of business needs.
Wow. Where else have we ever seen a product do so much? I mean, one platform that handles all that? All kidding aside, welcome to the party, Michael. :-) Customers have been doing all that for nearly two decades with Lotus Notes and Domino. In fact, there isn't anything particularly revelatory in what Sharepoint Portal 2007 delivers. Michael's favorite features are as follows:
  • Blogs and Wikis - As far as I know this has always been part of Notes in the form of discussion databases, it just didn't have a supercool buzzword attached.
  • Shared Notebooks - The concept is that you can store information in a central repository and you choose who can view it. Again, it's a discussion database.
  • Knowledge Network for Collaboration Auto-Discovery - For those of you still awake after reading that, the idea is some sort of server-based spider searches your e-mail to find out what you're an expert in, then lets you choose whether you want to tell the rest of your organization. I think Lotus had something called Raven or KMStation that was similar, but it died because nobody cared. I guess in a large organization this might be useful for those times when the person who handles Responsibility X could be in another country. For the other 97% of companies I just don't see it being relevant.
  • Engine for Human Workflows - Basically a set of six or eight document-centric workflow choices, such as fill out your TPS report then select the "Forward to PHB" option. There isn't really much to say, other than it's nice this is easily accessible to end users. Doing it in Notes is still several orders of magnitude simpler for a developer. Notes doesn't have a built-in way to extend this to end users, though, and that is a shame.
I never used any previous release of Sharepoint Portal and only installed the 2007 version to see what all the hooplah was about. Coming from Notes and Domino I wasn't particularly impressed. The features aren't new, and to get the full functionality everyone needs to use Office 2007. That is an extremely heavy requirement in every conceivable way: massive hardware requirements, massive server requirements and massive user retraining. Michael sums it up well:
If your business or organization has the financial wherewithal to embrace Microsoft's Office 2007 system, plus the people to manage and maintain the resultant infrastructure, SharePoint is good move.
That excludes me.

Picked up from Peter de Haas, the article is available from Messaging News Magazine.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Install Shield Tuner on Passport Advantage

There's something seriously strange going on with the Passport Advantage site. None of the Notes or Domino 7.0.2 stuff shows up in my preferred list and I have to go to the "all" view to find it. I was just downloading the 7.0.2 files and noticed there is now a downloadable Install Shield Tuner package, which I have never seen before. According to the PA website this was posted on August 25, 2005 but it only shows up under the Domino 7.0.2 section. I don't know if it rolls up to the most recent list but I do know for a fact I never saw it for 7.0 or 7.0.1. You can't find it by searching, either. I tried by name (Install Shield Tuner) and part number (C84T5NA). By name gives no results, by part number returns everything in the catalog that I have access to.

Anyway, for those of you who do use the Install Shield Tuner, there is now a downloadable version. Or maybe it's over a year old and I somehow missed it.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Template upgrade finished

It took a little tinkering but I finally got this the way I like it. The most frustrating part was the default sidebar was HUGE. We're talking nearly 1/3rd of the screen. Fixing it meant wading through the seemingly endless layers of divs wrapped in divs wrapped in more divs. Anyway, I figured it out and it's more appropriate now. You'll also notice the annoying wasted space at the sides is gone. Someone finally got the memo that people want to actually use their full screen real estate.

You'll also notice the About Me section is a little different. I put my e-mail address on my Blogger profile. Hopefully that won't get abused too much, if it does I'll obfuscate it a bit. The big reason I did this template upgrade in the first place was for the comment RSS feed. That's mostly for my own benefit because now it's on my Netvibes page. I hope you like the new layout and find the comment feed useful. Let me know f there's anything else you would like me to move around or add.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Domino's place at the table

The discussion over on Ed's blog is about why people believe rumors that Notes is dead. I posted a lengthy comment there, but I had some more thoughts on the subject that were more contentious and I didn't want to take over Ed's blog with my ramblings.

It isn't Notes that is threatened. It's Domino. Look at the recent announcements:

  • Sametime RTC Gateway
  • Lotus Component Designer
  • Activity Explorer
  • Workplace Forms
  • Domino Toolkit for Websphere Studio
  • Domino and Extended Product Portlets
  • Lotus Expeditor
It's all about Websphere. Where are the Domino innovations? IBM's lack of focus on Domino, while claiming it is a focus on Domino, is creating FUD. There is a roadmap for Domino and there has been a commitment to new releases for the next decade or so. The question is what lies along that road?

I'm not suggesting that Websphere is replacing Domino. When I look at everything laid out in front of me and I start connecting the dots, Domino's role and even it's usefulness isn't clear. End users don't care about the difference between Notes and Domino, and you need to look no further than the above examples to understand why people are willing to believe the rumor that Notes is dead. Strictly speaking, though, it's Domino that is more likely on a path toward extinction.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Template upgrade

Blogspot has some new templates available so I'm going to be changing mine around this weekend. The big thing I'm trying to hack in is a comment feed. I also plan to tie up a lot of loose ends this weekend and provide some follow-up I promised a while back. I just wanted to give everyone a head's up in case things go wonky. :)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Why I love Netvibes (subtitle: Okay, so I'm a little slow.)

Over the past year or so I've accumulated quite a list of blogs that I like to keep up with. The problem has been trying to keep up with all the updates since everyone publishes new content on their own schedule. This is the problem RSS and Atom are supposed to address.

RSS and Atom are both relatively simple protocols, but there is a huge number of clients that can be used. The issue I had is I wanted something that was Internet-based so I could use it from wherever I happened to be. I didn't want to have to install software or use a special browser add-in that essentially tied me down to one computer.

And then I stumbled across Netvibes. Here is a description from Wikipedia:

Netvibes is an Ajax-based start page similar to Google Personalized Homepage. It is organized into tabs, with each tab containing user-defined modules, such as RSS/Atom feeds, iCal calendars, Gmail messages, notes, Web search, the local weather forecast, Google Docs & Spreadsheets documents, bookmarks,, Meebo, and user-created modules.

Nathan Freeman recently commented that he found Netvibes overwhelming. I can understand why, the initial screen takes some time to figure out. But once you do, you realize you can tailor it to be exactly what you want, such as this:

And when you click an article, it gives you the full thing (depending on content and how the blog publishes it):

I never really got the buzz over RSS until I found Netvibes. Now I can't imagine keeping up with all the blogs I read without it. I know I'm a little late to the party, and my uptake on these things is a little slow. Many of you are probably either smiling or guffawing at the idea that I only recently embraced this. It's better late than never, right?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Upgrade to Office 2007 and Outlook takes over

Today I upgraded to MS Office 2007 Professional. Here is the Notes icon on my desktop before...

and after...

And now my Notes shortcut launches Outlook:

Edit: Here are the properties of the updated shortcut:

And here are the properties of the Notes shortcut in my Start menu:

Is it okay to share modified versions of Lotus templates?

I know OpenNTF has their Mail Experience, but I just wanted to make sure it was acceptable to share copies of modified templates. I have an application template I created based on the Notes 6 mail template and I also "Blue rinsed" many of the other templates to look like Notes 6. A lot of the templates are stuck in Notes 5, and some (like the Sametime Configuration database) are from some earlier version (4.5?). I was just wondering if it was okay to share my updated versions.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Any hope for iTunes on Windows XP 64?

I have intentionally avoided getting an iPod because...
iTunes is currently not supported in Windows XP Professional x64 Edition (the 64-bit version of Windows XP). Features may or may not work correctly. One example is reading or writing to an optical drive (CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-RW). It’s also possible iTunes for Windows may not successfully install.

Recently I purchased a Sony Walkman because it is supported on XP64. (The Sony SonicStage software is horrible, by the way.) So wouldn't you know it, I won a 30GB iPod Video at my company's holiday party!

I debated just selling it on eBay and decided that was more hassle than the $175 - $200 I could get out of it. I considered regifting it but I don't know anyone I like that much. So I finally broke down and installed iTunes.

The installation went fine and after it finished it tried to load iTunes and this all that happened:

Okay, I'm a nerd, I can make this work. I excluded all the EXE's from Data Execution Protection and set them all to run in Windows 2000 compatibility mode. I fired up iTunes, and I get the same error. Multiple reboots, lots of Googling, numerous suggestions, and all this is as far as I can get.

Apple's lack of support for XP64 is frustrating, but it's not completely surprising. Supposedly Anapod Explorer works in XP64 so I'm going to give it a try. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Until I can get some software that works I have a really pretty but effectively useless $200 paperweight on my desk.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Why you care about the new Electronic Discovery rules

On Friday, December 1st, 2006, new rules concerning electronic discovery went into effect in the US. Technically these rules only apply to federal litigation, but since they were ruled on by the US Supreme Court they can be used as precedent in any case. In a nutshell, the regulations say that all electronic communications must be saved for a period of 7 years.

Basically this brings at least part of Sarbanes-Oxley down to all levels of business. It does provide a few "outs", though. For example, Rule 26(b)(2)(B) states:

The amendment to this rule will provide that a party need not provide discovery of electronically stored information from sources that the party identifies as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. The burden would be on the responding party to show that the information is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. Even if that showing is made, the court may nonetheless order discovery if the requesting party shows good cause. The court may also specify conditions for the discovery.

That's nice, but trying to justify why it is unreasonable to store 500TB of e-mail data to someone whose knowledge of technology starts and stops with iPod ads on TV is going to be painful. And there is Rule 37(f), which I see being invoked a lot:

This amendment will provide that absent exceptional circumstances, a court may not impose sanctions on a party under the rules for failing to provide electronically stored information lost as a result of the routine, good faith operation of an electronic information system.

In other words, you can overwrite backup tapes if you can prove your backup procedures maintain full copies of documents. The questions I still have are:

  • What about revisions to documents? Do you need to maintain those?
  • What about the autosaved revisions some applications like Word, Excel and Lotus Notes create? Do those point-in-time snapshots have to be maintained?
  • What about personal computers used to conduct work-related business?
  • Or what if someone uses their personal cell phone to text message a customer are we expected to capture that?
  • What about using a personal digital camera to take pictures of a customer site? Are we supposed to confiscate the camera media so we can obtain a copy?
  • What is the liability of the systems administrator responsible for a messaging solution? Can we be held accountable at any level?
A good write-up can be found at the website of O'Melveny & Meyers, LLP. I have no relationship with them at all, I found their site while Googling for information and it was actually readable. They also provide a link to the full text of the new rules.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A matter of perspective

I've been lurking and/or participating in the blogosphere for over a year. Most of the blogs I read are written by IBMers, their business partners, or consultants. Many of the discussions I have participated in show this point of view almost to exclusion.

What seems missing from most discussions is the voice of the end user and customer. The role of a BP or consultant is inherently different than someone on staff. The BP is brought in for a specific project or problem, and when they're done they move on. I don't mean that to sound cold or callous, but the reality is they aren't sitting at the same desk every day, working with the same group of coworkers. The outside vendor hopefully has an ongoing relationship with the customer, but it's still a different focus.

I'm also not saying that BP's aren't customers themselves or suggesting they don't have a place at the table. I'm not knocking the role BP's and consultants have, I value their input tremendously. They have seen more than I ever will and their expertise is truly amazing. They're usually the ones who have the opportunity to push tools in directions and ways staff developers such as myself never will. The insight they gain in that process is invaluable, and it is extremely rewarding when they freely share that experience, as many of them do.

So, to my point. I think the BP's and consultants are the minority, but in most conversations I participate in they have a majority voice. Their influence is disproportionate, and I try to balance the scales somewhat and bring the perspective of the end customer to the discussion. I don't want to sound like an egomaniac with delusions of grandeur. I definitely have my own agenda and ultimately I can only speak for myself. I am by no means claiming to be "the voice of the common man".

But I don't think my experiences or needs are so different from the majority of Notes and Domino customers out there. I keep hearing that the majority of Notes and Domino customers are small to medium businesses, so I feel that my perspective and concerns are representative of a lot of people, and I often don't feel like we are being heard.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

In memoriam - Theodore (Ted) Wesley Pstrak - February 8, 1927 to December 2, 2006

At 5:15 AM my partner's mother, Helen, called to say that Ted had fallen out of bed, she didn't think he was breathing, and she needed help. At 5:35 AM we arrived at their house and wove our way through two fire trucks, two police cars, and two ambulances. Ted was taken to East Cooper Regional Medical Center shortly after we arrived and was pronounced dead at about 6:15 AM. The cause of death was a heart attack.

Ted's health had been declining for a few weeks. He recently spent 13 days in the hospital, returning home on Friday, November 24th. Ted is survived by his wife, Helen Tyriw Pstrak, five children, and eight grandchildren. Ted was a former Navy Captain, having served for 10 commands with that rank. He joined the Navy in 1944 and was in active duty during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He retired as Commander of the Charleston Naval Base in 1977, having been awarded numerous citations including a Bronze Star. A frugal man who grew up during the Great Depression, Ted was generous to a fault. He contributed to numerous charities and took great joy in leading the congregation at Christ Our King in Mount Pleasant, SC, in hymns.

This has been an extremely surreal day. I helped my partner and his family plan the funeral of their patriarch this morning, then this evening attended a wedding for the daughter of my partner's boss, whom he has known for 23 years (since she was 3). It struck me during the service that I heard The Lord's Prayer twice today: at shortly after 6:00 AM and again at shortly after 6:00 PM. I'm not a Catholic or even a Christian, and I'm having a hard time understanding the dichotomy of how this one piece can be used in two vastly different circumstances.

Ted, wherever you are, know that you are loved and will be missed tremendously.