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

By Date: February 2009

Reader fields (again)

Reader Fields and how to handle them to balance security and performance is a never ending topic. Let us have a a closer look what actually happens. Let us assume we have a view with 500,000 document, where a particular user has access to 77 documents (which is not so uncommon in big organizations). In the first case the view is sorted by some criteria (case number, date or whatever) that scatters the 70 documents all over the database.
When the user e.g. opens that view from the web requesting the default 25 entries, the Domino server actually will more than 350,000 documents. It needs to instantiate a document object and evaluate access control rules for it. These are costly (read time and memory) operations. Performance will not meet any user expectation. Ironically this is hardly discovered by developers since they test with a few hundred documents and very often have universal access. With a little change of the view layout, the situation changes completely. We take the same view but categorize it by e.g. by @Unique(DocAuthors:DocReaders) which would list all documents for a specific reader (remember: an Author field includes Read Access Rights).
Now the Domino Server does an index search which is very fast going after a build index and reads exactly 25 documents. So with a little change in the view layout we removed 99.9929% of the document reads (bad news for hardware sellers). Looks good.... but you will say: wait a second. One user can have read access because her name is in a Reader/Author field, she might be member of a group or have a specific role, the single category only will show me one of that entries at a time.

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Posted by on 28 February 2009 | Comments (6) | categories: Show-N-Tell Thursday

Customer Disservice

What is the last thing you want to hear when calling the customer service? " Sorry sir, but I will not help you!". Happened to me just now, here is my story:
I pay big bucks to SingTel every month for Broadband, Phone and Blackberry service. Especially the data roaming service is a huge item on my phone bill. In their own words SingTel describe themselves as world class telecom company. Seems that self perception doesn't reach to their customer service hotline (and I'm not talking about their recent refusal to reveal how to configure a SIP phone to use the Mio phone service). 2 days ago I got new SIM cards for my blackberry and my phone. The friendly sales guy told me, just to wait until the old card stops working and to swap them then. So far so good. When I swapped the Blackberry card (at the airport in Frankfurt on my way to Cambridge/MA) everything seemed to work fine. The usual swash of emails populates my inbox and SWMBO gets duly informed via SMS that the flight was all enventless. The trouble starts when I reply to a message. Message status is " Service blocked" instead of " Sent". Very nice, failing communication technology is very suitable to send the average traveller into distress. Also standing in the middle of an airport cuts you off from the usual selfhelp. Luckily foreign telecoms have the (apparently not so) annoying habit of sending a welcome SMS (to remind you whom your provider is now teaming up to rip you off) that states the numbers you can dial for mailbox and helpdesk. So I called the SingTel helpline. The gentleman told me, that he won't help me. To be fair: he said that he can't help me, but for a traveller in distress that amounts to the same result. I would need to call the Blackberry helpdesk (which is actually not in charge for corporate Blackberry) and that is all he could do. I feel a little sorry, because I expressed my dissatisfaction with the help provided in very clear words. He tried his best in the constraints of his possibilities. What is broken is SingTel's customer service.
I don't care what product segmentation or specialization SingTel has internally. I'm one customer, I get one bill and I expect one service. Asking a customer to write down a number and call that one is a joke. Bad Service. A few bullet points how that could be fixed:
  • Put a voice hell menu at the central service number, so customers can select what service they need. Keep the direct lines. So if one is clueless like me, the central number will read the options, while the expert help seeker can benefit from direct access.
  • Equip your helpdesk operators with a decent integrated telephony system, so they can say: "Sorry, you need someone else to help you, do you want the number or should I put you through?"
  • Let the customer know that the problem has been recognized (read back the problem description, pull the other questions out of your CRM) and offer a call back by the respective expert. This way you can put the solution into a task queue improving the utilization of your help staff
  • Offer (self)help and help requests via SMS. You know your customers, so you know who did send the message. A lot of issues can be fixed without a direct 2 way conversation. And hey SMS is a money printer
Unfortunately the alternative doesn't look very attractive either.
I send one SMS to SWMBO and she fixed it for me. Took the right guy less then 30 sec. SWMBO is the best.

Posted by on 27 February 2009 | Comments (1) | categories: Buying Broadband

Investigate notes:// links.

You are sending out emails that contain Notes links to other email systems. The router converts them to notes:// links (and with a little help even into good looking HTML mails). However when you click the document in your target database doesn't open, even if you have a Notes client installed. Now you need to investigate what is happening. These are the steps:
  • Open your windows registry using regedit
  • Look for HKEY_Classes_Root\Notes, which is the protocol handling definition for Lotus Notes. It should look like this:
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    @="URL:Notes Protocol"
    "URL Protocol"=""
    @="\"C:\\Notes\\notes.exe\" -defini \"%1\""
    Note, that your path to the Notes location might be different.
  • With this fixed Notes will pickup Notes URLs and display them correctly. However there are more possible caveats. One could be the Notes URL in the email, the other the way the email application is calling the Windows function to launch Notes
  • The syntax for a Notes URL is notes://servername/database/view/documentuniqueid (For a full description see the online help). If you omit the documentuniqueid Notes will open the view (the view can be specified by name or by unid), when you omit documentuniqueid and view Notes will open the database.
  • When you create a link from a local database the server name is missing, so the Notes URL has a triple slash notes:///database/.... The Notes client will look for it locally. If the database is not local (or on the desktop) it will throw an error. With a little help you can force server names even if the database was created locally.
  • Sometimes the mail application isn't calling the notes url properly. This is a little harder to investigate. You need to edit your registry to point the URL protocol to something else than notes.exe, so you see what is exactly handed over at the command line (You backup your registry, isn't it?). I've written a small Java class that can do that for you. So instead of @="\"C:\\Notes\\notes.exe\" -defini \"%1\"", you would write: @="\"java.exe\" C:\\temp\\CommandlineSpy.class \"%1\"". The little class will spit out a prompt with the URL handed over to the OS.

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Posted by on 25 February 2009 | Comments (5) | categories: Show-N-Tell Thursday

Hidden IBM Software Gems

When looking into the software universe you usually find 2 kinds of software: standard software (like OpenOffice, SAP, Lotus Notes) and custom (or bespoke) software (which is build by an ISV or an inhouse team). On a closer look there is a third category. In IBM we call that a software asset. Such an asset solves a business problem in a repeatable way but hasn't enough breadth or depth to justify the process that turns it into a standard software. Typically software assets are used together with consulting and implementation service. Inside Lotus, to no surprise, there are a lot of these assets under management by the IBM Software Services for Lotus ( ISSL). From time to time I'd like to introduce this solutions. Here are two:
  • Automated Database Deployment for Lotus Notes(ADD4LN - IBM internally known as Database-o-matic): Allow business users to create new databases based on selected templates and manage them including the access control. Users won't need to learn the ACL dialogs or the Notes admin client.
    Why is it interesting: One of Lotus Notes' biggest fans clearly stated, that databases are the key to Notes bliss. However allowing anybody create access to any server only ends in a maintenance nightmare. ADD4LN fills that gap by not only making creation easy, but also helping to keep track. ADD4N does this one thing very well, and is fast and easy to implement. If you are looking for a more versatile solution, you need to ask Bill.
  • My Attachments Tool (MAT). MAT moves automatically or on trigger all attachments from your mail file into a separate attachment database and replaces the original attachment with a DocLink to the new location. It identifies duplicate files and only keeps one copy. MAT predates tools like DAOS and Quickr and is still a valid addition to your toolset. MAT works on Windows, Linux, Mac and OS/2. Normally you would use a local attachment database, so no server side storage is required. I have configured my MAT to archive any attachment that is older than 7 days.
    Why is it interesting: While that 50 MB Powerpoint presentation is stored only once in DAOS for all 500 users, it still counts 500x against the quota. With MAT you can remove these attachments from your quota and still enjoy the fulltext search and intact context of the attachment (who send what file when is often as important as the content itself). MAT works offline by design and can be replicated if desired (the Quickr connectors are not there yet). MAT also helps to eliminate local duplicates. I use it every day (OK, the background agent works for me every day).
Your local IBM sales rep will know more - or drop me a note.

Posted by on 23 February 2009 | Comments (0) | categories: IBM Notes Lotus Notes

Keeping track of events

Every large or small organization has events that everybody needs to be aware of - as needed. There are many solutions that offer corporate and team calendaring. They all have a drawback: you need buy them and you need to change the way you work (Some are smarter than others). Today I'd like to show you one option how to get a corporate calendar on a shoe string (You need your admin's help for that):
  1. Create a new database on the server using mail[yourServerVersion].ntf as template
  2. Set the default access to -No access- and [x] Read public documents (don't forget to have a manager access for the database)
  3. (Optional): Add a group with -Author access- and [x] Write public documents. They could create new events in that database
  4. Go into the profile and set the Owner of the mail file to Corporate Calendar/MyCorp
  5. In the calendar profile set the autoprocessing option to "accept initiations even with time conflicts
  6. Define a mail-in database in the Domino directory with the name Corporate Calendar/MyCorp pointing to your new database
  7. From now on for all events you want to be visible, enter them as meetings and invite Corporate Calendar/MyCorp
  8. (Optional): In Notes 8.5 add this calendar to your calendar overlays.
Of course you can have many calendars this way: by department, internal and external events etc. Short of the calendar overlay this possibility has been around since Notes R4.5 when calendars have been introduced into Lotus Notes. Hint for IBMers: you also can use the calendar of a functional ID for this purpose. Getting one of these is a well established process.

Posted by on 22 February 2009 | Comments (0) | categories: IBM Notes Lotus Notes

A Visitor from Home

This weekend the son of an old friend is visiting us. He came back from an ANZ trip and will explore South East Asia for a while. Since he has deep roots in the German coffee culture, he is wondering if he should visit Java or Vietnam first.
So we created a little presentation and he will see important people on his trip. If you are looking for high quality coffee in Germany, look for this logo:

Posted by on 21 February 2009 | Comments (0) | categories: After hours

Advertising with LinkStar?

This arrived in my inbox today:

Hi ,

I work for Linkstar Media, a leading broker of online advertising, dealing with many thousands of independent webmasters worldwide. We currently have a client in the Telecoms industry for whom we are looking to acquire advertising from quality websites.

We've had a look at Wissel.net and think that it would be a good match for our client, whose target demographic is similar to your own.

We would be interested in purchasing advertising in the form of a text-based link on your site. To reduce unnecessary admin and hassle, we prefer to pay a fixed annual upfront fee for such advertisements. Once the ad has been placed, payment can be made quickly by PayPal or money bookers.

If you are interested, please get back to me with your rates etc. I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,
Jill Green

There was some more stuff below the fold, might be a disclaimer or so, but I never bothered to scroll further down. Feels fishy. Anybody knows who they are?

Posted by on 20 February 2009 | Comments (4) | categories: After hours

Setting up DXLMagic to run from the command line

It is a little hidden in the slide deck. These are the steps for setting up the DXLMagic environment to be useable. You need to replace [AppDir] with the path to your Notes application (typically something like C:\Notes, C:\Program Files\IBM\Lotus Notes, /applications/lotus/notes or /opt/ibm/lotus/notes, depending on your platform. You also will need to set [DataDir]: the place where your nsf live and [JarDir] where you copied the DXLMagic.jar file (can be in the Notes directory, up to you). So here are the steps:
  1. Install and configure Java 6 (It should work with Java 5, but I haven't tested it)
  2. Copy the DXLMagic.jar file into the [JarDir]
  3. Edit your environment to include Notes on the path and the Jar files on the classpath and add an environment parameter LD_LIBRARY:
    • Windows: notepad c:\autoexec.bat and add these lines:
      SET PATH=%PATH%;[AppDir]
      SET CLASSPATH=.;[AppDir]\jvm\lib\ext\*;[JarDir]\DXLMagic.jar
      SET LD_LIBRARY=[AppDir]
      (Reminder: if you have spaces in your path you need to put the path in quotes)
    • Linux: sudo nano /etc/environment and add/edit these lines:
      PATH="[whatever was there]:[AppDir]"
    • Mac: vi ~/.profile and add/edit these lines:
      export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH=[AppDir]/Contents/MacOS (where AppDir is going to look something like: /Applications/Notes.app)
      export CLASSPATH=$CLASSPATH$:.:[AppDir]/Contents/MacOS/jvm/lib/ext/*:[JarDir]/DXLMagic.jar"
      (Thx Luis)
Update: Fixed the classpath to ...ext/*
Now you are ready to go. Lets have a look at the available commands.

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Posted by on 19 February 2009 | Comments (2) | categories: DXLMagic Lotusphere

Domino eMail for Android devices (and others)

On 16 February Seven announced at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona the availability of their email solution for Android phones. From the press release: ... Support for business email: provides mobile subscribers with seamless and secure access to Microsoft Exchange or IBM Lotus Domino corporate email, which represents 80% of the corporate email services in use without installing any software behind the firewall....
Seven already supports Brew, J2ME, Palm, Symbian and Windows Mobile. Seven is available in more than 50 countries.

Posted by on 18 February 2009 | Comments (0) | categories: IBM Notes Lotus Notes

DXLMagic 0.1 released

I finally made it. The DXLMagic 0.1 release is available on OpenNTF. It contains the database to generate the job files and the Java executables. I need to cleanup the XSLT stylesheets, they will follow soon.

Posted by on 17 February 2009 | Comments (0) | categories: DXLMagic Lotusphere

Domino Configuration Tuner

The Domino Server has hundreds of configuration parameter and you need to be a real expert to master them all. For less smart people like the rest of us, there is the Domino Configuration Tuner (DCT). DCT can analyze R7 and R8 servers: Domino Configuration Tuner is available to any customer free of charge. It works with Lotus Domino server 7.0 and later, and runs on the Lotus Notes client, standard or basic, version 8 and later. There are no required changes to a customer domain configuration in order to take advantage of DCT evaluation.
R6.x servers are not supported, but you can run DCT and see what happens <g>
To sum it up:
  1. DCT is free of charge
  2. No changes are required in your Domino configuration
  3. You need one R8 client to run the tool
  4. You could even install a Notes client on a stick to run DCT (see this)
  5. It does analyze R7 and later servers
  6. There is a lot of information already available
  7. The Domino wiki provides a detailed description
  8. Harry Peebles posted a slidedeck on slideshare about DCT
  9. You can watch a video tour about DCT
  10. DCT and Domino Domain Monitoring (DDM) complement each other. So while you are on it implement both
  11. DCT is available for download free of charge from the IBM Website
  12. DCT runs fast, depending on your network configuration you spend just a few minutes per server
What's your excuse not to run it?

Posted by on 17 February 2009 | Comments (0) | categories: Show-N-Tell Thursday

More on eMail Retention

eMail retention seems like a never ending story, even when thought leaders kiss it good bye. Ferris reminds us, that we must not let the discussion/decision about the applicable retention policies stop us from archiving eMail at all: " Defining retention rules is a continuous and complex process of prototyping and refinement. [...] If you wait until the rules are fully defined, you’ll never get started." Of course lack of action sometime seems intentional.

Posted by on 17 February 2009 | Comments (0) | categories: Software

An old dog peeing on the rug?

" Microsoft is like an old dog that even when beaten won't stop peeing on the rug." - That's not my opinion, but a statement made at Microsoft Watch. While initially I had a good laugh, I then felt that statement is a little over the top. I certainly don't like the way they do business, but I recognize them as a formidable technology force. I don't think Microsoft ever was very innovative, but they have an important skill, lacking in so many IT companies: picking up underdeveloped ideas and making them easier to use for a broad set of users (and much more!) for developers.
When I compare the learning curves for VB.NET (or C#) and Java: It is so much easier to get started in VB. Just try: write a client application that shows a window with a menu with one label that says "Hello World". Of course learning curve is just one aspect, when it comes to higher functions the battle is on (and I'm biased, so I won't comment). Imagine how boring it would get, if there wasn't a heated competition, and yes - a superior backend isn't enough. So we (we as in the Lotus community) kind of owe Microsoft that she is around. So I won't call them "old dog" but "favorite foe".

Posted by on 16 February 2009 | Comments (0) | categories: Software

Workflow and Document Access

An interesting question arose in a discussion with a Korean customer this week. In that discussion I learned, that workflows are subject to a lot of cultural influences. Cultural influences come from the region as well as from the corporate culture. A typical requirement in workflow applications in AP: A user must not see other workflow documents (vs. the more European: doesn't want to/doesn't need to). A "must not" requirement mandates the use of reader fields (with all its performance ramifications) while a "doesn't want to/doesn't need to" requirement can be fulfilled with clever navigation (more on this in a later article). For good performance it is smart to use clever navigation in both cases.
When documents are protected by Reader Names, you typically find 3 types of entries in these reader fields: Full Names, Group Names and Roles. A Full Name (e.g. "Roger Rabbit/Toons/Warner Inc" mostly stems from the users directly involved in the workflow like the requester and the approvers, while groups and roles typically denote departments and/or business functions like warner.apps.controlling or [Audit] (I like structured group names). When a user moves on to a new department or role (e.g. from engineering to collection) (s)he would not be member of the respective groups and only will see workflow documents with direct involvement (The full name in a reader field). Depending on corporate culture that might or might not be acceptable. So what are the options to remove access for the user to these documents? What needs to be done is to make the entry in the reader field look different from the full name of that user. These options come to mind:
  1. The organization is using OU to specify the department of the users. The adminp/CA process is used to change the OU of the user moving to a new role. In this case the workflow database needs to be set not to touch names, reader or author fields. This is an advanced property in the ACL. The user name changes, the entry in the workflow database doesn't -< read access is removed.
    Caveat: Of course NO name change would be reflected in the database thereafter, so after changing your family name in marriage your workflow documents would "disappear"
  2. The organization is not using OU or the adminp for other reasons *must* update the workflow database. In this case the content of the Reader field needs to be changed. Ideally the change of role would be governed by a capable tool, so starting of the update agent can be automated. The agent would go through the workflow database and change the name of the user by prefix or appending an entry (like an OU): Roger Rabbit/Toons/Warner Inc -> Roger Rabbit/RoleChange/Toons/Warner Inc.
    Caveat: You need to be very clear with the auditors about such an agent. Altering a workflow document might violate corporate governance standards. It is therefore a good idea to separate the fields storing the business logic from the "access mechanic".... Which leads to the next option.
  3. You need to change the application slightly. The field that computes the read access based on business logic would actually be a names field. You have another names field "DocReadersRemoved" that is computed when composed as "". The DocReaders fields would be computed and have the formula @Trim(@Unique(@Replace(DocReadersCandidate;DocReadersRemoved;""))). An update agent, similar to the previous case would only update the DocReadersRemoved field and refresh the DocReaders field. This way no business data needs to be manipulated. If that process is properly documented it can be considered "Audit save".
In any case I highly recommend to limit the number of reader and author fields per document to exactly one each: DocReaders, DocAuthors (you could use DXLMagic to do the changes). These fields most likely would be computed and pull in their values from Names fields that contain the business logic. One good tip: Always include a special role in the Author field (e.g. [Joshua] if you know). That role doesn't need to exist in the ACL, actually it shouldn't during normal operation. If the database needs to be investigated for whatever reason you add the role to the ACL and the investigator.

Posted by on 12 February 2009 | Comments (3) | categories: Show-N-Tell Thursday

Generating a dynamic questionaire

A developer recently asked me how to generate dynamic questions. Dynamic as in: there is a general topic and then details. E.g.
Please state the number of building blocks per shape
Shape Red Blue Yellow
Triangle 5 6 4
[Button: add row]
The filled in cells would have entry fields (not just text). So how would one do that in Domino 7 or 8 (so no XPages)? It is actually not that hard. Use a form "ConfigureQuestion" to capture all the parameters. I would have a text-area for the question (call it question) and one for the column headers (call it qdimensions). The nice trick: use a hidden regular field and construct the text-area with passthu html. The qdimensions field would be multi-value. Have a dropdown list (call it qType) with the data type. Use dijit names as alias. e.g. Text|dijit.form.TextBox. This way you will be able to generate properly validated stuff. Then have a field for width (qwidth), the first column text (qCol1) and question number (qnumber). Then have a hidden field that puts all together:
tmpCount := @Elements(qdimensions)+1;
tmpNum := "0":"1":"2":"3":"4":"5":"6":"7":"8":"9";
colCount := @Subset((tmpNum*+tmpNum);tmpCount);
tmpStart := "<table id=\"qtable"+qnumber+"\"> <tr> <th colspan=\""+tmpCount+"\" >"+question+"</th> </tr><tr>";
tmpHeader := "<th>"+qdimensions+"</th>"<;br /> tmpLineStart := "</tr><tr> <td><input type=\'text\' id=\"row1col1\" /> </td>"
tmpQuestions := "<td>&ltinput type=\"text"\ dojotype=\""+qType+"\" title=\""+qdimentions+"\" id=\"row1col"+colCount+" /> </td>";
tmpLineEnd := "</tr>"
tmpEnd := "<tr> <th colspan=\""+tmpCount+"\" ><input type=\"button\" value=\"Add Row\" onClick=\"addRow('qtable"+qnumber+"')\" / ></th> </tr>"

The code is a rough outline, so cut and paste might not work and you also might need to work on the ids for the input fields. But you get the idea. The trick here: the multi-value field qDimensions creates as many th/td/input as we actually need. The questionnaire form would have an embedded view showing that hidden field as passthru html, so you get all questions rendered. A JavaScript function addRow(id) takes the ID of the table as parameter, so you know what table to use. Last stop: make the questions submit to an agent, so you can process all the fields.

Posted by on 11 February 2009 | Comments (2) | categories: Show-N-Tell Thursday

Interesting Development Tools to watch

I come across a lot of tools I see potential in. These are my latest findings:
  • Pivot Toolkit: A Rich Internet Application Toolkit. Interesting: uses XML for the UI definition that can be loaded at runtime. Could supercede Thinlets if it runs on mobile devices.
  • JFreechart: Java Charts for everything. Works in Windows, Linux, Mac and in applets. And it works in Notes 8 clients as Julian has shown. Don't forget to buy the Developer Guide.
  • XML Diff and Merge. I had a deep look at a lot of XML files lately. The little tool from Alphawork helps to work on changes. For a fuller experience you can also look at Oxygen.
  • Not a development tool per se, but an interesting source of vizualisation ideas: ManyEyes.

Posted by on 10 February 2009 | Comments (1) | categories: Software

Dear SingTel, I love your MIO service and I really would like to use a SIP Phone!

OK, that was maybe a bit exaggerated. Generally I'm OK with Singtel's broadband now (except the slowness in the evening, but that's a gateway issue). The MIO Voip/Surf package works well. What irks me: it comes with a 2Wire ADSL modem that I simply don't like. The configuration isn't intuitive, there's no support for DynDNS and I can't pick the firewall I like.
But I'm tied to it. The 2Wire has the interface to connect the normal phone to Singtel's VoiP service. I'd rather use a SIP phone (or an Asterisk), so I called support. They didn't even understand the question. So my request for the SIP configuration parameters was turned down: "No we don't do that". *sigh*.
Note to SingTel: Check my monthly bill, the first vendor offering me a choice here gets it!

Posted by on 10 February 2009 | Comments (3) | categories: Buying Broadband

IBM Opposes the Buy American Provisions

The "Buy American" provisions of the US stimulus package has caused quite a stir. The Economist likened them to the raise of long buried zombies. However there seems still the voice of reason available in all that madness. A broad coalition of US and multi-national organizations has formed expressing their concern to the president and the senate leaders. The list reads like the who is who in business: ABB, The ACE Group of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., Aerojet, Aerospace Supply, Chain Solutions, LLC, Alcatel-Lucent USA, Alticor, Inc., AgustaWestland North America Inc., Avaya Inc., Axcelis Technologies, Inc., BAE Systems, Inc., BASF Corporation, Boston Scientific Corp., Case New Holland Inc., Caterpillar Inc., Cisco Systems, Inc., Citibank N.A., Cummins Inc., Dassault Falcon Jet, Diageo PLC, The Dow Chemical Company, ESIS, Inc., EMC, Eastman Kodak Company, Finmeccanica North America, Inc., Freescale, Forsberg International Logistics, LLC, Fujitsu, General Electric Company, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM Corporation, International Bancshares Corporation, International Bank of Commerce, ITT Corporation, John Deere, Lexmark International, Inc., Lockheed Martin Corporation, Manitowoc Company Inc., The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., McKesson Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, NEC Corporation of America, Nestl?? USA, Nestl?? Waters North America, Nestl?? Purina Petcare, ldcastle Inc., Oracle Corporation, Panasonic Corporation of North America, PCS VacDry USA LLC, Philips Electronics North America, Pinkerton Government Services, Inc., Plantronics, Inc., The Procter & Gamble Company, SAP America, Siemens Corporation, Sony, Spirit Electronics, Inc., Stone Construction Equipment, Inc., Sumitomo Corporation, Symantec, TEREX, TIGHITCO, Inc., Teradyne, Texas Instruments Incorporated, Transact Technologies, Trimble Navigation Limited, Unilever United States, United Technologies Corporation, US Trading & Investment Company, Volvo Group North America, Windings, Inc., XOCECO USA, Xerox Corporation, The Advanced Medical Technology Association, Aerospace Industries Association, American Business Conference, American Chemistry Council, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Meat Institute, Associated Builders & Contractors, Associated Equipment Distributors, Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, Inc., Business Roundtable, The Associated General Contractors of America, The Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Brazil-U.S. Business Council, Business Software Alliance, California Chamber of Commerce, Canadian American Business Council, The Coalition for Government Procurement, Coalition of Service Industries, Computer & Communications Industry Association, Computing Technology Industry Association, Consumer Electronics Association, Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition, Emergency Committee for American Trade, European-American Business Council, European Council of American Chambers of Commerce, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Hong Kong-U.S. Business Council, Information Technology Industry Council, International Wood Product Association, Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce, National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones, National Association of Manufacturers, National Defense Industrial Association, National Electronic Distributors Association, National Foreign Trade Council, Ohio Alliance for International Trade, Organization for International Investment, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International
Semiconductor Industry Association, Software & Information Industry Association, Technology Association of America (formerly AeA and ITAA), Technology CEO Council, Telecommunications Industry Association, United States Council for International Business, US-ASEAN Business Council, U.S.-Bahrain Business Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, US-China Business Council, U.S.-India Business Council, U.S.-Korea Business Council, U.S.-Pakistan Business Council, U.S.-UAE Business Council, Washington Council on International Trade.
The RIAA is absent, but that is hardly surprising.

Posted by on 09 February 2009 | Comments (2) | categories: After hours

How *NOT* to get a new job.

In the current economic condition and with the impending implosion of Satyam the frequency of resumes ending up in my mailbox has sharply increased. Typically now I get requests from people between 5 and 15 years of experience, all with completed university degrees and all making the same basic mistake. Here a sample:
I am [Name removed to prevent embarrassment] with xx years of experience in IT Industry.
I request you to consider me as candidate for a suitable opening in your company.
Please find my resume attached

So what's wrong with that? Everybody likes to have a good job. Here we go:
  1. I was on the BCC list. My spam filter had sorted it out.
    Advice: Put in that little effort and send individual emails. If a candidate isn't putting effort for the most important thing in his business (his own job), I can conclude, that he won't go the extra mile when working for me.
  2. No personal salutation.
    Advice: The Internet is an open book. There are phone lines. Hiring managers have names and they like to be properly addressed.
  3. Why did he write to me? I'm not working in the "IT Industry" (I guess my email came from an IBM business partner list, an outdated one). I work in a very specific niche: Craftsmanship around IBM's collaborative products.
    Advice: State and be very specific why you write to a specific company. Show that you did your homework and already know about the company. If you don't know what to say: at least state how the vision/mission/value statement resonates with you. This creates a feeling of "he is family" in the hiring manager.
  4. No statement of contribution.
    Advice: If I hire you I want to know what I get. Yes I can read the attached CV, but I won't if I'm not convinced it is worth my time. So sum it up: managed projects in a CMMI5 certified company worth xxx dollars on time and cost. Passionate about [state your technology passion]. Will fit into [part of my organization, you have researched that isn't it?]
  5. How should I know what position suits him?
    Advice: I know that feeling: first get a job and then see how to get into the position you like to do. But that's a bad idea. State clearly what you are good at, so it is easier for me to consider you. If you have praised my company enough you can state, that you also would consider a position that leads you to your desired role.
  6. Resume formatting careless, no photo.
  7. Resume format in MS-Word to an IBM Business Partner company. So you are not following what IBM is talking about? At least PDF would make sense. (I know that is controversial, but DOC isn't an ISO standard. ODF, DocX (eventually) and PDF are.
  8. No web presence.
    <> : Do good and talk about it. If you don't have a blog at least show me where you contribute online (on OpenNTF, Notes.net, JavaRanch.com). If you don't use online resources and at least occasionally contributed back.... in what century do you work? <>
  9. No chat. How can I ask you a quick question? Skype, GTalk, Yahoo are free.
Get yourself one or the other good guide to land a job and try again.

Posted by on 07 February 2009 | Comments (3) | categories: Business

The Great Economic Crisis

" Dire warnings of impending economic doom started being heard above the euphoric shouts of the million who had recently vaulted into the middle and upper classes. Suggestions to balance budgets and limit credit at all levels of the economy were ignored. Instead, creative effort was expended to come up with one way after another of putting more spending power in the hands of a populace that had forgotten how to say 'wait', much less 'no' to itself.
The global stock market began to sputter in January ... and there were predictions of a coming crash. But to most humans spread around the Earth ... the concept of such a crash was beyond comprehension. After all, the world economy had been expanding for over nine years, the last two at a rate unparalleled in the previous two centuries. World leaders insisted that they had finally found the mechanism that could  truly inhibit the downturns of the capitalistic cycles. And the people believed them - until early May ... three of the largest international banks announced that they were insolvent because of bad loans
Question to the audience: Where was this published?

Read more

Posted by on 07 February 2009 | Comments (1) | categories: After hours

The nifty-fifty unearthed

Catching up on my Blog reading I came across a post from Tony Austin ranting about rants about Notes 9.0. In that post is a gold nugget (cat's gold I suppose): a link where you can download the original nifty-fifty (for the uninitiated: the nifty-fifty were 50 sample applications Lotus published ca 1999 1992/93 together with Notes R3/R4 in the early days of collaboration, where people would use groupware for a wide range of tasks and hadn't turned into eMail junkies). Looking at these applications I can't starve off that feeling that all the new web2.0 hype is pretty much the same old wine in, admitting very pretty, new barrels. These are the applications:
  1. Things to Do
  2. Requisition Approvals
  3. Application Tracking
  4. Book Reviews
  5. Budget Planning
  6. Call Tracking
  7. Clip Art Gallery
  8. Contract Library
  9. Correspondence
  10. Customer Service (five databases -- Product Design Problems, Customer Suggestions, Knowledge Base, Data Dictionary)
  11. Call Tracking -- as well as a sixth database with documentation)
  12. Demo Room Reservation
  13. Employee Records
  14. Event Calendar
  15. Executive Briefings
  16. Expenses Reports
  17. Formula Catalog
  18. Forms Routing
  19. Electronic Library
  20. Icon Catalog
  21. Job Candidates
  22. Job Posting
  23. Sales Management
  24. Library Tracking & Training
  25. Purchasing Item Tracking
  26. Litigation
  27. Lookup Keyword Library
  28. Meeting Tracking
  29. Monthly Financials
  30. Engineering Notebook
  31. Patient Treatment Signoff
  32. People and Facilities
  33. Phone Book and Yellow Pages
  34. Presentations
  35. Race Results
  36. Real Estate Management
  37. Recipes
  38. Relocation Expenses
  39. Routing Tracking
  40. Reservation Scheduler
  41. Sell-through Sales Reports
  42. Shotgun E-Mail Communications
  43. Conference Suggestions
  44. Support Conference
  45. Support Center Call Tracking
  46. System Equipment Inventory
  47. Team Consolidate
  48. Team Room
  49. Tech Services Call Tracking
  50. Technotes and Tips
  51. Telemarketing
  52. Travel Authorization
  53. Values and Goals
  54. Wholesale Customer Tracking
Tony of NotesTracker fame lists 3 locations (2 of them his) where you can obtain a single zip file with all these databases: All of these applications are vintage and look like 1999, some are outdated but the rest could be a nice foundation for an XPages feast. Xifty-Xifty anone?
[Update]:The databases are in R2's ODS13 format, to save you the trouble of conversion they are now available in ODS51 of R8.5. Still the design hasn't changed, but there is hope (Do you now understand what a circulare reference is ).

Posted by on 07 February 2009 | Comments (3) | categories: IBM Notes Lotus Notes

What Kind of Kid Were You?

You Were an Inspired Kid
When you were a kid, you tended to see things from a unique, inventive perspective.
In class, you were either asking lots of questions or getting lost in a daydream.

You excelled at brainstorming. People were always amazed with what you came up with.
You didn't do as well with structured activities. Giving you freedom was the only way to make you shine.

Posted by on 06 February 2009 | Comments (1) | categories: After hours

DogMind - Escaped from the Lab

IBM internally runs a Technology Adoption Program (TAP for short). TAP follows the principle: "Let us throw it at the wall and see what sticks", means: it is our breeding ground for innovation. All internal software and all products go through TAP before they graduate into "released software" or "good to use for all". I think this is very smart. I like trying new stuff and balance between leading and bleeding edge. Others are less adventurous. TAP allows me to try things within the boundaries of our corporate governance. Real nice things come out of TAP. One, wich I'm particular fond of, is a new visualization for Lotus Connections Dogear bookmarks. It is called DogMind. It is using a mindmap to draw on tags in Dogear to visualize connections.

Posted by on 04 February 2009 | Comments (1) | categories: Software

Protect your IBM Lotus Domino Server against brute force attacks on non HTTP ports

Chris Brandlehner provides excellent advise how to harden a Domino server further against dictionary attacks. Of course you only need that if you allow non-Notes clients to authenticate via SMTP. If that's off (as in good Notes/iNotes only shops), you don't need to protect that vector. Anyhow the script is designed for Linux, I guess it works on AIX, Solaris and other Unix too. I wonder what you do on Windows.

Posted by on 02 February 2009 | Comments (0) | categories: IBM Notes Lotus Notes

Global recession - where did all the money go?

The Guardian is running an excellent story to explain the Global Financial Crisis. In a nutshell:
(Amount of Money) *(Velocity of transfer) = (Price of goods)* (Economic Output).
The velocity of transfer is slowing down much faster than the amount of money can be increased. While $1.9 trillion stimulus looks big compared to the $3.9 trillion cash in circulation, it is merely a drop in the ocean of the 290 trillion "great asset bubble" (the whole global GDP was $55 trillion only). Go read the full article.

Posted by on 02 February 2009 | Comments (1) | categories: After hours