Usability - Productivity - Business - The web - Singapore & Twins

By Date: April 2007

Summer diet for your Notes Forms

The title I wanted to give this post was Spring clean your notes forms, but then it did get delayed....
One hallmark of Notes applications is their durability. It is quite common to find applications being in use, that root back into R3 or R4. Quite a number of these applications still look like that too. That's the flip-site of not needing to rip-and-replace. Sometimes you also will find, that older forms load slower and behave odd at times. Before you start beautifying your applications, it is a good idea to do some spring cleaning. To do so I use Domino's DXL to extract a form in XML, filter it through a XSLT transformation and reimport that into the database.
The LotusScript code is very straight forward, has been well covered on developer works and the help file and looks like this:

Set importer = session.CreateDXLImporter(stream, dbCopy)
importer.ReplicaRequiredForReplaceOrUpdate = False
importer.DesignImportOption = DXLIMPORTOPTION_CREATE
Call importer.Process<

The "meat" is in the transformation. The XSLT file consist of 4 principal sections that contain templates. In section 1 we find the start of the output including the wrapper and calls to various templates. In section 2 design elements are filtered out, in section 3 design elements are tweaked, finally in section 4 the remaining DXL is copied 1:1 to the resulting document; . The sequence of the sections is not relevant, since XSLT uses priorities not sequence to determine what element to apply. What are the elements you can or should spring clean:

  • In DXL I found NotesItems between the </body> and the </form> tag. Removing this from the form makes the form smaller, load faster without any change in behavior.
  • Font information is encoded inside the <run> tag. The <run> tag is similar to HTML's <span>. When you designed and re-designed forms over and over, there will be <run> tags that only contain a font change, but not actual any characters. Filtering that out lightens the form - Filter out all paragraph formats and/or fonts to be able to apply a new look & feel more easily
  • Convert access controlled sections into subforms (to work in the web)
  • Remove (all) LotusScript code and move it to libraries (see an upcoming SnTT post on "Classical Forms" about that).

Let us look at some code....

Read more

Posted by on 27 April 2007 | Comments (1) | categories: Show-N-Tell Thursday

On dead students, guns and the US constitution.

It is sad to read that innocent lives have been taken. A man made disaster, that lines up in a series of similar senseless events. But thinking of it, the sadness turns into anger. Why does that have to happen? Well guns are so readily available and seem to be part of manhood accessories, thanks to these gentlemen. The NRA sings you the siren song, that having a gun is part of being a free man, is part of the civic liberties of the United States. It is even protected by the constitution. They will recite the second amendment like a mantra: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." And this liberty is more important than a life.
But wait a second. What does that sentence really mean? Sometimes it has its advantages not to be a native speaker, you have to lookup words and meanings.
The first striking point: the sentence starts with militia and not an individual. Is that right only meant for members of a "well regulated militia"? Given the time and context the constitution was formed, that looks rather obvious. And what does "bear arms" really mean. Webster renders two meanings: a) to carry or possess arms b) to serve as a soldier. So in the context of militia it could very well mean: "keep arms to serve as soldier in the militia."
In 2004 there were 11624 people in the US shot dead, that is 3.92 per 100000 (for comparison: Canada, just a few miles north: 0.54, Switzerland 0.50, Japan 0.04). How many more people have to die until they learn? Of course fear is a convenient control mechanism, so maybe everything works according to plan? For a more complete discussion check out the Wikipedia article.

Posted by on 17 April 2007 | Comments (1) | categories: After hours

Finally some service.

Friday afternoon at the D&B SME conference I meet a SingNet marketing representative and shared my little story. She was shell shocked and promised to investigate. Since I wouldn't expect any reply before Monday I decided to give the help desk another shot on Saturday morning. What a different experience. OK first I had to wait 15 minutes in the phone queue (My guess is that phone queues are the reason why speaker phones have been invented <g>). The support representative was friendly, very apologetic about the massive delay and, best of all, very competent.

She immediately suggested to give me the modem parameters, so I could check. And it turned out, that the default settings don't match the SingNet settings (anymore I would say). So I'm back online. For reference here are the SingNet ADSL settings:
  • Encoding: PPPoE
  • Encapsulation: LLC
  • VPI: 0  (Linksys default/auto is 8)
  • VCI: 100 (Linksys default/auto is 35)
  • DNS: &

Of course you might want to consider using & for DNS as suggested by OpenDNS

Posted by on 13 April 2007 | Comments (2) | categories: Buying Broadband

Customer service anyone?

The story continues. Two days ago the SingNet engineer showed up to measure my DSL line. Unfortunately I had to travel, so only she-who-must-be-obeyed was at home to take care of that matter. The engineer connected his own modem - it worked. He connected my modem to his laptop - it didn't work. His conclusion: "maybe the modem needs settings". Then he walked away, since settings are a matter for the hotline.
Just to sum it up: The broadband service stopped working, I ask the hotline to check settings, they insist to send someone to measure the line, leaving me without service for 9 days and then turn around and claim: you need to check settings with the hotline. On top of that: the service engineer walks away and lets non-technical user behind with a non functional setup.

Speak after me: Customers need service!

Posted by on 13 April 2007 | Comments (2) | categories: Buying Broadband

You have to love SingTel and their Broadband Service

My regular readers might remember the fun I had getting details about the QoS of Singtel's ADSL service. Today about 1:30pm my VPN connection to mama blue started sputtering and terminated. Happily hacking away at my Domino and Portal Integration sample I did realize that only in the early afternoon. But it wasn't the VPNs fault. The whole Internet connection at home was down. A quick check: The Linksys AM300-A ADSL modem didn't show an internet connection but still a DSL connection. After resetting the modem the internet connection light came back on , but not the connection. The online status just stated: "Unable to obtain IP from PPPoE server".
Time for the hotline. After a few minutes (about 10) of the unavoidable waiting music, the friendly helpdesk operator walked me through the steps of resetting the modem (explaining to him that I did that before didn't help). Since this didn't help he promised to call me back in the evening, what he promptly did. However no new development, seems the behind-the-scene magic didn't work. So he decided to send the "wire man" to measure my line. They guy would stop by at my house between 11:00am and 1:00pm..... on the 11th of April. I reminded him that a) April fools was yesterday and b) it would be full nine days of waiting to measure something that very likely is not the problem. Horray!

Good to have a plan B (and a plan S, S like Starbucks). Digged out the cable modem and got a pay-per-day Starhub cable connection going. A quick Google rather suggests, that someone played with the firmware of the DSL end point.

Speak after me: Customers need service

Posted by on 02 April 2007 | Comments (0) | categories: Buying Broadband

The Future of Java in the Enterprise

Working for IBM has its special perks. One of them is direct access to a huge bunch of really smart people. As you might (or might not) know IBM is maintaining its own version of the Java JVM. In a recent chat with our researchers I could take a glimpse into the future of Java for the enterprise. Since there will be so many new features this upcoming version it will be named "Java Enterprise Edition Extreme" or short J3E (or as the researchers like to put it: J E power three). Based on IBM's version of Java 8 (we jump a few version to get ahead of SUN), it will not only feature all time favourites as Aspect Oriented Programming ( AOP), an multi-core threading optimized compiler (MTOC) but also a new persistence interface (code name "deep freeze") that persists Java objects into various open standard disk structures (my favourite being Linux EXT4 streams).
But there is more to come: IBM's processor unit will release new versions of the Cell and Power processor families, that feature a Java-On-Silicon JVM (JOS-VM) making Java execute without the need of an operating system. Lotus Expeditor will take advantage of this new abilities. Especially the upcoming Cell Micro processor with barely 0.1 Watt power consumption will be a hit for mobile devices running J3E applications ( IBM Websphere Portal on your wrist watch anyone?).
Of course Java Developers will have to get used to a few changes. D. Doligez from our research labs explained to me: "The biggest change is, that we had to let go of the venerable Web Application Repository (WAR) files. It simply can't deploy to all our target JVMs especially the JOS-VMs. We created a new format we call "Lean Object Versatile Extension" (LOVE) that will serve as container for both regular Java 8 as well as J3E applications. To create files in this new format we will not only support Ant and Maven but also the popular make utility".
IBM marketing is planning a media blitz to introduce J3E once it is ready for prime time. They have enlisted a well known artist to promote J3E with IBM's new Java 3E tag line.

Update: An early version of IBM's Java8 is available for download.

Posted by on 01 April 2007 | Comments (2) | categories: Software