Thursday, December 28, 2006

Change Management

Since my last post, I've been busy with a lot of things, but one of the most important things has been change management.

The problems I, and most other IT people always seem to face is the constant influx of half-baked ideas from Management filtering down without proper paperwork.

It has always been a policy of mine to not say "NO" to people without giving their problems/solutions serious thought. Unfortunately this takes quite a toll on my time.

This has been a good policy and I'd strongly advise anyone who has Juinor IT staff, particularly helpdesk people, to take a policy like this onboard. Unfortunately, this doesn't work quite so well in IT Management. Here, we need to take a tougher stance.

One of the worst aspects of being proactive as well as responsive to user requests is that it encourages plausible deniability. Users who get into trouble about a project, or change their mind about it, can easily deny having asked for it in the first place. It doesn't matter that you have emails on the subject unless there is one that specifically says "build me a prototype NOW" or "Spend money on this from Cost Centre X, NOW".

So, the new change management process will hopefully address all of these problems. To begin with, I've created a chart that will help us to identify the levels of authority required.

Green for IT and Business Sponsor (Person requesting the project) only.

Yellow for Business Owner (People who "own" the system - and related systems).

Red for the Internal Management Committee

There's a JPEG of the Chart Below.



The idea of the chart is to force IT and the business sponsor to confront all of the main issues surrounding a project/change and determine the overall rating. My theory is that if it falls into the red at any point - then it's red. If it falls entirely into green, then it's green. In all other cases it will be yellow.

Green changes can proceed without significant delays and are simply logged in the change logs.

Red and Yellow Changes will require a memorandum to be completed. The memo basically identifies the project and then has one heading for each slice of pie in the chart above.

The only other additions to the memorandum are;

1. Proper Details of the Change (what it is and why)
2. Implementation Plan
3. Recovery Plan (for failed changes)
4. Signoff - and commencement date

The memo obviously shouldn't be completed entirely by IT or by the Business Sponsor, but needs to be a collaborative effort. Thus far, I'm finding that the process works. The people who are too sad to accept responsibility don't get their changes started (and take up no more IT time) while those who are willing to support their changes are able to proceed.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Business/Application Ownership

We're having a lot of trouble at work at the moment over business ownership and change management.

Here's how the cycle works...

1. Something goes wrong
2. Blame IT
3. Say that IT Needs proper "change management" and authorisation
4. Make IT Write a Business Process for Change Management
5. IT Writes about Business Ownership and Signoff
6. IT Presents it to Management (Personally)
7. Management agree that this is good, but a lot of work
8. IT Takes it to a committee who decide that it's too much work
9. Committee says "we don't want to be bothered with this kind of work"
10. IT is required to rewrite the procedures so that minimal authorisation is required

(Everything chuggs along again happily until something else goes wrong - then the cycle restarts).

Sorry if this all sounds very negative. I'll have some more constructive thoughts on change management once I get a little more time to report it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Disasterous Upgrade - and a Warning about Nomad.

What a disastrous week we have had! Last weekend, we upgraded one of our most critical systems on the Domino server. The system in question is primarily transaction based and as a result records are being added and deleted constantly.

The upgrade went well and all our post-implementation and testing was great. We all went home on Saturday feeling much relieved that the upgrade had gone as planned.

On Monday, the first day in which the system was going to be used by our clients, we received a phone call to say that they were able to create a record with the same primary key as another record in the system. We commenced an investigation to see what the extent of the problem was, not expecting a great deal of trouble after all of the testing we have done. We were surprised. There were quite a few duplicate records, many of which were very similar but not exactly the same. The dates on these records varied considerably making it even harder to identify a pattern.

In desperation, we reverted to the previous version of the system. A short while later, records with the current date began to appear despite the fact that we had locked users out. Classic replication syndrome - but where was the replica?

We have been in the process of getting an offsite server setup but we didn't have the connection in place. The people responsible for installing the server had obviously used an Internet connection to get the initial set of replicas. I hadn't given any thought to that server as it wasn't "active" but as a notes person, I quickly realised the problem and asked them to remove their replica of the database. All went well and we managed to revert back to the old version of the database.

Then the investigation began. How could something that had been tested so well be faulty. To cut a long story short, it turned out to be a replication issue. Our offsite server had been connected at some point in the past, via the Internet. This would have enabled them to get replicas of our databases. The server was then disconnected because we were going to have a more appropriate direct connection installed. The cable company, despite repeated requests to install the connection took several months to connect the cable. It was only connected yesterday (well after the problem).

During the long wait for the cable connection, our offsite server had obviously been reconnected to the Internet, hence the replication issues we had after the restore. More importantly, the offsite server had been disconnected long enough for the deletion stubs to be purged from the database. This made our deleted records look like they should be available again. When the server was reconnected and replicated, it performed some resurrections. This was where our problem began.

We would have been okay if the server had not been connected at all - or if the server had been connected and remained connected - or if we had a longer period on retention of deletion stubs. This one will take some explaining to management.

So why is this very rare, very unlikely condition important?

I was trying to think of all way it could recur. Apart from the obvious things such as having a local replica on your PC but turning your PC off when going on a very long holiday, I couldn't think of anything immediately... but now, a new thought springs to mind.

There are obviously a lot of people who are really excited about Nomad (Notes on a USB memory stick). It just occurred to me that if you only use your stick when on holidays or when travelling, any database replicas you have locally on it will grow old and you could find yourself with the same problem.

This isn't a problem with Nomad or with Notes and it will only affect certain types of databases. Nevertheless, you should be prepared for it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Why all the testing in the world can't protect you from Everything

In the light of my recent blogs, I thought this was worth relating.

We have one very critical system running on the Domino server. Everything else could fail for a while without problems, but not this one system.

The system has had the most extensive testing possible at our environment with a several test periods of several weeks each. This may not sound much, but it is a long time considering that the system isn't overly complex.

The way this system works is that requests are submitted over the internet for number allocations. These are processed internally and passed through a manual approval phase. Upon approval, there's a certain amount of time that must elapse before it is legal to use these numbers in production environments.

Recently one of our people had a clock problem on their PC. They fixed it themselves (our policies don't restrict users from touching their PC clocks - though the clocks all re-synch at startup).

In fixing the problem, this user managed to change the date forward by one month and one day. All approvals done by that person on that day therefore had the wrong date.

Now.. I know that this is fairly easy to fix, but

  • What if they'd changed the date BACK instead of Forward (harder to identify the problem files).

  • What if nobody had noticed?



I know that using stronger policies or stronger validation would avoid the problem. If we had these, I'd no doubt be writing about a different set of problems.

The point is that testing and user restrictions can only go so far... a good DRP is a must.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Testing and Clarification

After seeing some responses from the Notes/Domino community complaining about the apparent lack of testing I thought I'd better do some clarification.

Although I come from a long background in Notes with mult-server environments, I'm currently enjoying something of a break while I get the early child-rearing period of my life completed. I'm now at a small business with only ONE production server an no need to worry about screwing up other people's systems. If anyone has to wear the blame for a problem - it's me.

That said, we're doing things here that I've never seen done at any of my previous (and much larger notes/domino installations). We have some business/industry critical stuff running on Domino and it's being used by most of the biggest names in Australian banking.

We have a backup server which does nothing and could be down for weeks without anyone noticing. I always upgrade this first. We're soon going to be moving to a cluster - where I'll have to be more careful of future upgrades - but until then... anything goes.

I'm not a fast mover with upgrades, we've only been on XP for 2.5 years, and I still have one WinNT server (our PDC). I'm not forging ahead with Active Directory because it still has yet to earn my trust.

After doing every major and every minor upgrade of Notes/Domino without ANY issues since R5, Notes/Domino has well and truly earned my trust. I can't say that about any other software in my long history in the computing industry.

Our Notes/Domino DRP is so well developed that - well, secretly I suppose I want it to fail so that I can prove it to management. Well... no, I don't really want it to fail - but I think you get the idea.

Finally - do I rely on IBM's testing? well... Yes and No. I trust that IBM has tested the core components of Notes/Domino (Mail, HTTP, HTTS, SSO etc...) much better than I, with my own meagre resources could do.

I don't trust that any third party applications developed for us, developed by OpenNTF or developed internally have been tested - for obvious reasons.

We have good test plans for post-implementation which really haven't changed all that much from one version of N/D to the next (other than adding new systems and new procedures to the list). If I make it through these tests, then the server has been tested as well as it can be.

The bottom line: Testing and implementation can be VERY quick - provided that you have the right plan, the right backup and the right software.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Notes and Domino 7.0.2

I downloaded Notes and Domino 7.0.2 yesterday and had a play with the client. For the most part I can't notice any differences. This is great because it means that user acceptance will be perfect.

As expected, the client works with all of our applications - no modifications necessary.

Nomad - Notes on a USB Stick
I tried to get Notes installed on a USB Stick, but my first attempt using the Designer + Administrator client, wasn't a success. I then downloaded the normal client and tried following Paul Rigby's excellent instructions (http://paulrigby.blogs.com/weblog/2006/10/wandanomad_note.html). It worked like a charm.

This feature is absolutely fantastic. In particular, it would make a great DRP option for anyone who, like me, carries all of their DRP materials in a single Notes DB.

The Domino Server Upgrade
This morning I upgraded our domino server. It wasn't planned but I needed to process some of the Windows updates and reboot, so I figured that if I had any spare time, I'd upgrade Domino.

Did I do much testing before upgrading - erm... no. But.. I know how much testing IBM does, I've seen the Notes/Domino community reactions and I have not had a Notes/Domino upgrade issue since version 4.5 -> 5 (about eight years ago).

I have a lot of faith in my backups (and Domino is very easy to backup and restore). I've also got a lot of faith in the IBM Domino team.

The upgrade itself took less than 10 minutes and was faster to implement than the standard Windows updates. How many people could do a 10 minute update on their Mail + Web + ExtraNet + Internal Databases server on a platform other than Domino?

* * * Fantastic work IBM! * * *

In the coming weeks, I'll be happily testing the other new features, including calendar import, RSS Feeds and the Blog Template, though I'm not going to move my blog from blogger (I'm too attached to the name).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

How to Easily Locate and Customize your Computer with Wallpaper and Screensavers

Introduction
I found myself writing these instructions for my cousin. Since I put a bit of effort into them, it makes sense not to waste it. Hence, I'm putting them up here for everyone to use.

A word about screen-sizes
You don't have to stick to specific screen sizes, but wallpaper generally looks much better if you do. If you don't have a fancy widescreen monitor, then your resolution is likely to be one of the three main sizes of screen....


  • 640 x 480

  • 800 x 600

  • 1024 x 768



Usually you'll have 800 x 600, but it's ok to get things of the other two sizes too as they will resize to fit. The bigger ones (1024) will look better than the smaller ones (640)

Finding Suitable Wallpaper and Screensaver Images

  1. Start Internet Explorer

  2. Go to the Google Homepage http://www.google.com or if you're in Australia you can use http://www.google.com.au

  3. Click on Images

  4. In the Search bar type: "Winnie the Pooh" 1024 Note that we're using inverted commas to keep our phrase together, but are putting the screen size outside of the inverted commas

  5. Click the button marked Search Images

  6. Google will find a lot of pictures - ignore the ones that aren't the right screen sizes.

  7. Click on any picture - and the computer will go to a new screen with a small picture on it.

  8. In the top section, right-mouse click on the words See Full Size Image

  9. Select Save Target As from the popup menu.

  10. Save the file in C:\windows\web\wallpaper this will make it accessible to most parts of windows.

  11. Click the back button to go back to the list of wallpapers and choose another one - or do a new search.






Setting your Desktop Wallpaper
Once you have a bunch of pictures saved, you'll want to make one into your desktop wallpaper.

Follow this procedure;


  1. Minimise everything on your screen - the quickest way to do this is to press Window+M (ie: Hold down the Windows logo key on the keyboard and then press M).
    Right-mouse click on the desktop/background of your computer - anywhere where there isn't an icon.

  2. In the popup menu, choose Properties

  3. Click on the tab marked Desktop and scroll through the list of backgrounds to find one you like.
  4. Click on it and then click on OK

  5. The picture will become your wallpaper.



Setting up a Screensaver.
Ok - now that you have the wallpaper sorted out, you might want a screensaver too. Luckily Windows XP comes with a really cool one built-in.

To set it up to use your new wallpapers, follow this procedure;


  1. Minimise everything on your screen - the quickest way to do this is to press Window+M (ie: Hold down the Windows logo key on the keyboard and then press M).

  2. Right-mouse click on the desktop/background of your computer - anywhere where there isn't an icon.

  3. In the popup menu, choose Properties

  4. Click on the tab marked Screensaver.

  5. In the screensaver box, choose the "My Pictures Slideshow" and click the button marked Settings

  6. Click on the button marked Browse and change the pictures location to C:\Windows\Web\Wallpaper

  7. Click Ok (twice)

  8. If you leave the computer alone for a while, the screensavers will start.






Note that Microsoft puts some Windows pictures in this folder too - if you want to delete them so they wont display, you can use explorer (file manager) to go to C:\windows\web\wallpaper and delete them.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Microsoft's Model of Swiss Cheese software security is killing my Server

Whenever I set up a server, I always make sure that the operating system is on one disc or partition and that the data or applications are on another. When I set up our Domino server, Domino went on D: drive and Windows went on C: drive.

In the past, I have had the space problems with Domino because it contains data such as mail which grows explosively. I made absolutely sure that I bought a server with a very large hard drive. I look at the Microsoft recommendations for Windows 2003 server partition size and tripled it. The remaining space I allocated to Domino.

A year and a half later, Domino is still going strong with plenty of room left on the partition. Windows however is starting to run out of disk space because of all the Microsoft updates. There's only 15% free space on the drive.

I only run the critical updates not the "nice to have" ones and I don't run any of Microsoft's worst patching offenders, such as exchange and sharepoint.

Why is it then, that since February 2005, there have been 200 updates, replacing 3,563 files and taking up over 700MB of bandwidth? Surely the world's largest software company can afford to employ people to check the security of the operating system and any patches before they release them.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

How to Make a Compilation DVD from Video Clips on Movie DVDs

The Wishlist
One of my long-time wish lists for DVD recording was the ability to transfer all of those great music videos that come with movies from being scattered throughout the thousand odd DVDs in my collection to be on just a few compilation DVDs. I'm not really sure about the legality of the whole thing but given that I own these DVDs and that they are bought, not pirated I can't see an issue.

Admittedly I haven't tried terribly hard to find the answer to a problem but I have put it to the number of user groups and they haven't been able to give me a decent solution. Last weekend, while mucking about on my computer, I think I accidentally solved the problem.


Step 1: Unlocking the DVD
The first step, after installing some relevant software which I will detail in this article, is to insert a DVD (duh...) and get a player, such as media player to play the DVD. It's not a bad idea to navigate to the music video and have a look at the title and chapter information. This isn't always correct but it can often save you a little trouble.

Once you have a music video playing, press the pause button. This keeps the DVD in an unlocked state while reducing stress/conflict with the other software.


Step 2: Ripping the Track
Now, you start your copy of SmartRipper. You should be able to find a copy of the software somewhere on the Internet though it seems to have been removed from some sites. There is a tutorial of sorts at doom9.

In SmartRipper you should expand all of the program chains and click on each angle entry. Make a note of the size (in MB) in the middle window, usually titled chapter. If my experience, video clips seem to range from about 80MB to 160MB with the most hovering around 120MB mark.

Once you find a file that looks to be around the right size, click on the start button and it will rip to your hard drive (this might be a good time to mention to you need oodles of disk space). Make sure that you know exactly where the file is being saved, you don't want to start losing multigigabyte files on your hard drive.




Step 3: Checking the Track
After the file has been ripped, you need some way of finding out whether or not you have got what you were looking for. This is where our second piece of software comes in handy. This software is called Free DVD MP3 Ripper and it's available for download at http://www.jodix.com.

With this software, you simply open the VOB file saved by SmartRipper. From here you can play the file and look at the video to determine whether or not you have snagged the video clip. Some DVDs are so cluttered with featurettes and trailers that you may take several goes before you manage to get the right file. Incidently the Free DVD MP3 Ripper will allow you to save the soundtrack of the VOB file as an MP3 - Wow!




Step 5: Burning the DVD
Once you have a bunch of VOB files, each of which you have hopefully renamed to something sensible (retaining the .VOB extension), you can create a Video DVD from Files. There's a lot of software around that can do this but I had a lot of problems with Easy Creator which wanted to recode all of the files. This software should be called easy coaster creator. I found that Nero worked best.

Once created, you should test your new DVD in a couple of players and then create a backup. These things are easily scratched.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Our Anti-Spam Saga

Our "Uncrashable" Notes Server has only crashed a few times in the last five years.

Once it was due to an Archiving agent having issues with a corrupted mail.

Every other time has been due to incompatibilities between the Symantec MailSecurity package and Windows.

When we first got this package, we were very impressed and indeed it performed quite well for a number of years. The first really "WRONG" step, was when symantec lazily decided to get their premium Anti-Spam product to run from the Microsoft SMTP Service rather than from within Notes.

This is not a technical issue. It's a cost cutting measure.

Over the years, this one decision has caused us no end of grief.

The final straw came a couple of months ago when we were about to go live with our second website on the same server. obviously we needed to move our configuration settings to site documents.

Everything went fine until the reboot.

Following the reboot, the Premium section of the Symantec MailSecurity Service displayed a single error message indicating that it didnt work with Site documents. It then ceased to function. Obviously our spam numbers increased.

I decided to turn the whole thing off (and have now completely uninstalled it). The Spam volume didn't climb much higher, so obviously the Premium service was useful, while the standard service is not.

We still have Anti-Virus software on all our PCs and on our Firewall, so we're well protected. The server will shortly become part of a cluster in a hosting environment. When this happens, the Hosting Service's Anti-Virus and Anti-Spam services will kick in to provide improved protection.

We're obviously keeping our Symantec Hardware firewall, but I've decided that since I'm not happy with reporting and compatibility of the Symantec Client Security package, I'll be replacing it when licensing comes up for renewal.

I've mentioned this to Symantec in their customer feedback surveys, but they're not interested enough to contact me and look at other options.

I guess that the point I'm making here is that if companies don't make the effort to properly support my platform, I wont be using their product.

You would expect Symantec would be keen to retain customers, especially when Microsoft is about to launch their competing security suite. (though I don't expect to see a notes/domino solution in it).

"You have paid the price for your lack of vision" - Emperor Palpatine.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Helping Your Users to Create HTML Signatures

I was a little stuck for new Notes material for this blog until I read the brilliant Alan Lepofsky's article on creating Signature files for Lotus Notes.

Full URL of his Article
http://www.alanlepofsky.net/alepofsky/alanblog.nsf/dx/creating-a-simple-html-signature-file

His article provides a simple step-by-step guide to creating a signature using HTML and is very easy to follow but, as Notes Administrators and Developers, I feel that we have greater responsibility to protect our lower-level users from any kind of programming, so I'm going to post some code that I've been using.

Where to put the Code
Originally, I had this code built-in to our corporate mail template. You can do this if you want but the problem with building things into the mail template is that you have to remember to carry them through to the any new templates whenever you upgrade.

A more elegant solution IMHO is to put the code into an instruction manual.


My Instructions
The following are the instructions on my "document".


The following procedure will simplify installation of your signature and disclaimers.

Please note the following;


  • You need to perform steps 1-7 the first time, but can make changes in future by doing only step 1.

  • You do not have to supply your three digit telephone extension.

  • You do not have to supply a mobile number.

  • Your email address is a system guess... check (and retype if required) before accepting.



Having done the procedure, you can test it by creating a new mail memo.

Steps to Complete


  1. Click the button on the Right and answer the questions it asks.

  2. From the Lotus Notes menu, select Tools, and then Preferences.

  3. Click on the tab marked Signature

  4. Tick the box marked [x] Automatically append a signature to the bottom of my outgoing mail messages

  5. Select the option marked (o) HTML or Image File

  6. In the File section type: H:\NotesSig.html

  7. Click on the button marked OK




The Code
Please remember that I can't use HTML here so please replace all instances of { and } with <>.

I then have a button which contains the following code...


Sub Click(Source As Button)

Dim YourName As String
Dim DefaultName As Variant
Dim YourPosition As String
Dim DBName As String
Dim DefaultEmail As Variant
Dim YourEmail As String
Dim YourMobile As String
Dim YourExtension As String
Dim Session As New NotesSession

DefaultName = Session.CommonUserName

YourName = Inputbox$ ("What is your Name: " ,"Full Name" , DefaultName)
YourPosition = Ucase$(Inputbox$ ("What is your Job Title: " ,"Job Title" , ""))
DBName = Session.CurrentDatabase.FileName
DefaultEmail = Trim$(Left$(DBName, (Len(DBName) - 4))) + "@mydomain.com"
YourEmail = Inputbox$("What is your Email Address" , "Email" , DefaultEmail)
EmailLine = "{A HREF=" + Chr$(34) + "MailTo:" + YourEmail + Chr$(34) + "}" + YourEmail + "{/A}{br}"
YourExtension = Inputbox$("Enter the (three digit) extension for your direct number (or blank for none): ", "Phone")
YourMobile = Inputbox$("Enter your mobile number (or blank for none): ", "Mobile Phone")

Open "H:\NotesSig.html" For Output As #1
Print #1, "{FONT FACE="+ Chr$(34) + "Default Sans Serif"+ Chr$(34) +" SIZE=2}{br}{br}{br}{B}"
Print #1, YourName
Print #1, "{/B}{br}"
Print #1, YourPosition
Print #1, "{br}My Company Name{br}{br}Email:"
Print #1, EmailLine

If Trim$(YourExtension) {} "" Then
Print #1, "Phone: 61 2 9216 4" + YourExtension + "{br}"
End If

If Trim$(YourMobile) {} "" Then
Print #1, "Mobile: "+ YourMobile + "{br}"
End If

Print #1, "{br}{br}{hr}{br}{/FONT}{FONT FACE="+ Chr$(34) + "ARIAL"+ Chr$(34) +" SIZE=1}"

Print #1, "This message may contain confidential and/or privileged information, and is intended only for the use of the addressee(s) named above. If you are not the intended recipient of this message you must not disseminate, copy or take any action in reliance on it. If you have received this message in error, please notify us immediately, by telephone (Sydney 61 2 9999 5555) or e-mail ({A HREF=" + Chr$(34) + "Mailto:support@mydomain.com" + Chr$(34) + "}support@mydomain.com{/A})."

Print #1, "{br}{br}{B}My Company Name{/B}{br}"
Print #1, "ABN: xx xxx xxx xxx{br}"
Print #1, "Level 99, 01 Location Street SYDNEY NSW 2000{br}"
Print #1, "Phone: 61 2 9999 5555{br}Fax: 61 2 9999 6666{br}"
Print #1, "Web Site: {A HREF=" + Chr$(34) + "http://www.mydomain.com" + Chr$(34) + "}www.mydomain.com{/A}{br}"
Print #1, "{br}{hr}{/FONT}"

Close #1

Msgbox "You can now do Step 2 onward",64,"Finished"

End Sub



Obviously, you'll need to modify the domain name and addresses fields.

You'll probably want to change the storage location (I use the user's Home (H:) drive so that Notes signatures follow them around the network. Laptop users should use the Local Drives (C:/D:) for obvious reasons.

Also, you might want to remove the disclaimer information depending upon where your disclaimer is attached. (if it is attached at server-level).

Improvements
This code is far from perfect and some of the things I think could be done to improve it include;


  • Doing a lookup of the name to retrieve the email address.

  • Programmatically turn the HTML file options on in the Notes local address book.



Hope you can benefit from this code.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

RSS Feeds from Domino

I'm a big fan of RSS and I think that it's something that people running extranets and other sites should try to incorporate as much as possible.

Recently I decided to try and add RSS to a Domino Database manually.

The steps are below.
I've simplified them to make this more suitable for "beginners", and you can add other RSS Fields as you see fit.


PART 1: The VIEW
Create a view for your database with a selection criteria similar to the following;


SevenDaysAgo := @Adjust(@Now ;0 ; 0 ; -7 ; 0 ; 0 ; 0) ;
SELECT ((Form = "Document")& @Modified <= SevenDaysAgo))


The Form would obviously point to the type of form that you use in your database.

Column 1: The first Column in your database would probably be the date (@Modified) You should make it sorted in Descending order to put the recent items to the top and you should make it hidden.

Column 2:
Here is what I have in column 2 - I'll explain it below...
NOTE: I can't use <> HTML Codes Here, so I've replaced the brackets with braces {} You should substitute these on your code. I've also had to put a second M in the word amp. Remove this when using the code.


SV:=@DbLookup( "":"NoCache" ; "":"" ; "KRetrieval" ; "WebLocation" ; 2);

DB:= @Implode(@Explode(@Text(@Subset(@DbName;-1)); "\\");"/");

NDXDocNumber:= DocumentUniqueName;

DocNumLink:= "http://"+ SV +"/" + DB+"/NDX/"+NDXDocNumber+"?OpenDocument&Login" ;

"{item}" + "{title}" + TXTDocNumber + "{/title}" + "{link}" +

@ReplaceSubstring(DocNumLink; "&"; "&ammp;")

+ "{/link}{description}"

+ TXTTitle + "(" + KEYAuthor + ")" + "{/description}" + "{guid}"+

NDXDocNumber

+"{/guid}{/item}"


I have lookups all the way through my databases, so the first line simply does a lookup for my weblocation and stores it in SV. I could have used...


SV := "www.myserversite.com";


The second line, is a standard database name determination function with replacesubstrings to convert DOS/Windows backslashes into Web Forward Slashes and store the result in DB.

I could have used the following, but it would have been hardcoding.


DB := "myfolder/mydatabase.nsf";


The NDXDocNumber bit retreives a unique ID, used to access my documents in a view (you could use Notes UNIDs if you prefer).

The DocNumLink bit is where I actually build the URL to my document. Again, I use short URLs, but you could use UNIDs if you prefer.

The remaining bits are the ITEM Tags each of which ultimately looks a bit like the following...



TXTDocNumber, DocNumLink, TXTTitle, KEYAuthor and NDXDocNumber are database fields which you may want to replace with your own.

The ReplaceSubstring bit replaces any ampersands (&) with &ammp; which is more RSS friendly. Note that I can't even write the amp word without interpretation, so remove the second m

In the advanced properties for the View, tick the box marked
[x] Treat View contents as HTML

Once you've completed the view, it's time to move onto a form.


PART 2: The FORM
Assuming that the view was called RSS, we now need a form

$$ViewTemplate for RSS

Just a reminder: I can't use <> HTML Code here, so I've replaced the brackets with braces {} You should substitute these on your code.

The form should contain the following text...


{?xml version="1.0"?}
{rss version="2.0"}
{channel}
{title}My RSS Feed Title{/title}
{link}http://www.myserversite.com/{/link}
{description}This is a cool feed{/description}
{language}en-us{/language}
{generator}IBM Lotus Domino{/generator}
{webMaster}support@myserversite.com{/webMaster}
******$$VIEWBODY FIELD***************
{/channel}
{/rss}


Obviously you will want to change some of the descriptions etc above, and probably put the DB Title in there (or some other computed field).

The line with the stars in it is really just the $$VIEWBODY field.
(ie: Just a text field called $$VIEWBODY)

You should go into the advanced tab of form properties and set the content type to OTHER.

In the text box next to Other, put text/xml

Save the form.

You should now be able to display an RSS Feed using

http://www.myserversite/myfolder/mydatabase/RSS

Note that some feed readers dont support Authentication and some don't support HTTPS.
If in doubt, try an unsecured database first.


Good luck.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

More on Google's Services

I'm in danger of spending too much time praising google and no enough time on Notes/Domino, but here goes anyway.

The Latest Google Toolbar
I'm currently testing the latest google toolbar. There's a lot of new features in this one which are really quite useful.

Bookmark Wonders
This has to be my favourite part of the new toolbar. In fact, I think that this could well be my favourite computing enhancement in a long time - but.. since I've blogged about it before, I'll just shut up about it now.

The Buttons
Sure, the toolbar has had buttons on it for a long time - what's a toolbar without buttons anyway? These buttons are different.

1. Anyone can create them.
2. They can be hosted elsewhere and updated with a couple of clicks.
3. Google is building a library of them (they're not creating them, but they are testing them).
4. The buttons aren't simple one-click items, they work off the search field and can include RSS Feeds.

I'll post a lot more about the buttons in another post (I'm waiting on google to do an update).


The Google Home Page
This one is pretty cool too. I clicked on the customize link on the home page and found myself being presented with a bunch of options to add bits to the screen. I did so, and my screen now looks as follows;




Note that I've now got the Notes/Domino 7 forum open displaying the most recent postings. I've got my gmail account open displaying recent mail and I've got a bunch of my favourite bookmarks at my fingertips.

You can drag these things around and change their settings. You can also add more.

This really looks a lot like workplace and it certainly helps to get things done more quickly. If you haven't customized your google page, you should look into it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Final (?) Word on the Symantec Premium Anti-Spam Service for Domino

Last week, we needed to set up a secondary web site hosted from the same server. We did this by migrating from the standard Domino web setup to a configuration which used site documents.

All worked well...

Mail routed successfully, the old and the new web sites worked and everyone was happy.

This morning, I applied the Microsoft Updates. Now these, being Microsoft products, required a server restart, so I dutifully complied.

When the server came back up, no mail was routing.

The Culprit
After a bit of searching around (not very much searching really because I now tend suspect the Symantec MailSecurity services FIRST), I found a message saying that;

"The Symantec Premium Anti-Spam service could not be started because you are using a site document".

I rang Symantec and following a relatively quick game of telephone lotto, I got transferred to the right person. Yep, they confirmed it... Sorry - It's not supported. End of story.

I disabled the service, but still mail did not route.
I restarted the router, http task etc but still mail did not route.

I still had Symantec on the phone, so I asked about the ports and about the Microsoft SMTP Server task. They said that I might have to worry about the ports, but not about the SMTP Server Task.

WRONG! The ports were fine, but the MS SMTP Server (POP Server) task was still running. I disabled this and restarted the Domino Service. Suddenly everything began to route nicely.

Lessons Learned?

  • Any service that needs the MS SMTP/POP Server to be running on a domino server isn't worth running.



  • Just because YOU think that there's no connection between something, (The router and the site document) doesn't mean that someone hasn't made their own connection



  • Whenever you reboot as a result of any MS Updates, you need to go through all the tests - file server access, smtp, http/https, nntp etc. because rebooting always changes the picture.



  • Nothing is ever as easy as it looks in IT




So, the bottom line is now that since we NEED site documents more than we need Anti-Spam, Symantec's AntiSpam service is OUT. If we end up with a spam problem, we'll be looking for a vendor that provides proper Notes/Domino support.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Google Toolbar and GMail

Google Toolbar
I'm sure that most people are well aware of the google toolbar by now. If not, you should certainly give it a go. You can access all of the google tools here (note that this is the Australian site, and that you may be better going to the google site for your country and clicking tools on the menu if you live elsewhere).

You can download the the google toolbar by clicking the large button on the download page but did you notice that there's a smaller link underneath it which allows you to download the beta version of 4.0.629. I've been running this for weeks now, and I've had no problems.

The best bit though, is the new "bookmarks" feature. You can bookmark a page from the menu (as you would adding it to favourites). At the same time, or later if you wish, you can allocate categories to it. For example, my favourite online DVD shop is under DVDs and Shopping, while other things may just be under shopping. Effectively, this causes the bookmark to appear in two places.

Now comes the really good part.

I'm using GMail (more on that later), and the google toolbar knows how to log me on. I recently got a new computer at home. I downloaded the beta toolbar and logged onto my mail. Voila! All of my bookmarks from my work computer automatically appeared in the menu.

That's it for me... Microsoft's Favourites are DEAD.

GMAIL
I've got three email accounts that I use regularly. My work one (for work obviously), a Hotmail account (that I use for entertainment - ie: shopping catalogs etc) and a GMail account (that I use for IT-Related Newsletters).

I've always been quite impressed by Gmail, especially its categorisation features and it's large mail file sizes. Mostly though, I've been impressed by its simplicity.

Well... I recently converted my Hotmail account to Windows LiveMail. (the new version of hotmail). Microsoft has obviously decided to add more features....

The new interface is Much Worse than the old one and takes many more keystrokes to get the job done. It's feature set doesn't even manage to compare to google at all.

If Microsoft wanted to do some PRO-Google Marketing, they couldn't have found a better way to do it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Who are Microsoft's Competitors?

These days it seems that Microsoft simply can't keep up with the competition, though I think they've simply been making too many enemies recently.

I suppose that if I were to compile a list of the top competition for MS, it would look something like this (in order of danger);


  1. Google

    All those little niche things and web applets are really starting to take their toll. Google's desktop search is much better than the Microsoft Windows search and it beat their new search engine (coming real soon - on day - sigh) by a couple of years. Google's Gmail is heaps better that hotmail and beat the Windows Live Mail service (almost live now - sigh) by over a year.



  2. IBM (including Lotus)

    One of the worst things that Microsoft has done lately has been to annoy IBM as it has caused them to embark on a series of quite damaging "Move to Lotus" and "Move to the Penguin" campaigns. IBM is the second largest software developer in the world (after Microsoft) and their Lotus Product suite beats anything Microsoft has, hands down. Anyone who has been to any IBM roadshows recently can see that they have a clear direction and that they're focussing on a single-suite approach. This is clearly better than the Microsoft alternatives which all seem to involve about 5 servers to do what is basically a single job. I think it's also worth mentioning DB2 here, as IBM have lately started putting a bit more push behind this product.



  3. Open Source Linux and OpenOffice Alternatives

    Open source has long been a thorn in Microsoft's side, and some would say Linux is the worst of the problems. I would say otherwise. Linux is, unfortunately, still not as user-friendly or install-friendly as Windows and I don't think wholesale industry adoptation of the environment is going to happen for a while yet. OpenOffice, on the other hand is quite dangerous. I saw some really interesting statistics recently - a comparison of people committing to a Windows Vista upgrade compared to people committing to an office 2006/2007 upgrade.



  4. Microsoft

    Microsoft are in the top competition for themselves because they keep shooting themselves in the foot. Good examples include; Releasing relatively untested patches, needing patches in the first place, constantly revising published delivery dates (don't they use MS Project there?), making stupid remarks about competitors "I've never seen such as customer base waiting to be plucked" - Well, I for one am quite offended by the thought of being "plucked".




  5. Security Watchdogs and Semi-Official Bodies

    I know that these people all mean well, but by constantly pointing out Microsoft's unpatched and vulnerable systems, the likes of the Gartner group and the various incident repsonse teams around the world are really not doing Microsoft any favours. How many times have I seen them say - "the workaround is to use an alternative browser, such as firefox, until Microsoft fixes the problem"



Sure, there's plenty more competition, but I didn't intend to write this article on MS Competition, I really wanted to draw attention to a new google feature - oh well, I'll save that one for next time.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Here there be Dragons...

Recently an old keyboard overuse injury has flared up again. Aside from the the exercises that I need to do to overcome it, the other thing that seems to be helping is that I have installed Dragon simply speaking.

I remember trying out an IBM product called "VoiceType" some years back. That product was quite good although it did tend to confuse my voice with that of the dog. Strangely enough, it would never listen to anything my wife said - possibly a bit like myself :-)

At the time I installed Dragon, my hopes weren't very high. I figured that if things had changed drastically in the industry, I would know about it.

Dragon still isn't perfect, but people can come up and bother me at work and their words are not recorded. I still need to correct Dragon quite frequently, but it gets it right more often than it gets it wrong.

I'll post and update after I have been using the software for a bit longer but you may be happy to know that this blog was written using the software.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

More on Symantec's Premium Anti-Spam Service for Domino

A quick recap
If you remember, last time I blogged about this software we ended up turning it off because it was causing a lot of problems with a particular regular correspondant. Well...

We turned the service back on after about a week because we were getting a lot of spam. I changed the settings to notify us if an email was blocked, but not to delete/quarantine it.

We were notified of the spam, but were never notified of mail from the "offending" mail system (and mail from that system was not being delivered).

Clearly the problem was much more than a simple mis-detection issue.

The Real Culprit
After doing a lot of searching, I eventually found the answer. It was that Microsoft, being unsatisfied with using the industry standard 7 bit MIME format, decided to implement an 8 bit version.

Out of the box, Notes/Domino has compatibility with this format turned off (after all, it isn't the industry standard).

Normally what would happen is that;

  1. An Exchange server would connect to Domino

  2. It would offer a non-standard 8 bit MIME Email

  3. Domino would slap it for breaking standards and refuse to accept the email

  4. Exchange would then resubmit as a standard email

  5. Notes would accept the correctly formatted email.



Unfortunately, since Symantec Premium Anti-Spam uses Microsoft SMTP to collect Emails on port 25 and then passes these to the Domino server on Port 26 (it changes the Domino ports) our server was working as follows;


  1. An Exchange server would connect to Domino

  2. It would offer a non-standard 8 bit MIME Email

  3. The Microsoft SMTP Service would happily accept the non-standard formatted email on behalf of the Symantec premium Anti-Spam service

  4. The sending server would receive a delivery confirmation

  5. Symantec would judge the email as Non-Spam and would forward it to Notes/Domino on Port 26

  6. Domino would slap it for breaking standards and refuse to accept the email

  7. The Symantec Service (or the Microsoft SMTP Service) would discard the email since it was too hard to resubmit in 7 bit MIME.



The Solution
The issue could have been resolved at our end either by changing our SMTP Server to accept only 7 bit, or by allowing our Domino server to accept 8 bit.  I checked both solutions and found that the Microsoft solution involved several patches, changes to files etc, and a lot more work which would probably be wiped out by their next Windows update.

I've opted to change Notes instead and followed the instructions in this document.

To cut a long story short, you do the following;


  1. Make sure you already have a Configuration Settings document for the server(s) to be configured.

  2. From the Domino Administrator, click the Configuration tab and expand the Messaging section.

  3. Click Configurations.

  4. Select the Configuration Settings document for the mail server or servers you want to administer, and click Edit Configuration.

  5. Click the Router/SMTP - Advanced - Commands and Extensions tab.

  6. Locate the 8 Bit MIME Extension field in the Inbound SMTP Commands and Extensions section and set it to Enabled.

  7. Click Save & Close:



I don't think that I needed to restart the server for it to begin working, but I have certainly done so since then (it's always a good idea after an update to restart and see if your changes are still in effect).

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Some Lotus Figures

IBM Put a few figures on slides at LotusSphere.
I'm just repeating them here for easy reference.

Number of Notes/Domino 7 Seats: 12 Million
Number of ND7 Downloads: 11,575
Number of Notes Users: 125 Million
Number of Competitive Migrations: 1300

Recent Acquisitions:
Bowstreet (December 2005)
Bowstreet provide portal development tools.

PureEdge Solutions Inc (July 2005)
PureEdge are open standards forms developers.

LotusSphere comes to you...

Yesterday I attended LotusSphere comes to you in at the Sydney Hilton. Overall I think the half-day was a great success.

If I had to complain about anything it would be that when I got my gift for attending, I left it with my papers while I went to get my lunch (only a few crowded meters away). When I got back, some knave had nicked it. (sigh)...

Well, back to the day...

The Keynote Speech
This was very good and very reassuring. IBM has done a wonderful job over the last year and a bit to push Notes/Domino as well as Workplace. I think we all walked away with a very clear vision of the future.

The EForms Stuff...
I think that a lot of this stuff had people chomping at the bit... E-Forms, though not new, are terribly exciting and I can see that IBM has positioned themselves very well here. Now if only we had some of the E-Forms tools to play with (or a Macromedia Captivate tutorial on creating a form).

Exchange Versus Domino
Ok, it wasn't called this... it was called Selling Notes/Domino in your organization. This wasn't a terribly popular session, but I choose this stream because I wasn't interested in being bombarded with Workplace propaganda. I'll move to Workplace in my own time thank you.

This session was quite useful for me because it gave me some IBM approved phrases to use to describe Notes/Domino. Next time someone says what is Notes/Domino? I can say...

"It's a complete application development environment with email, web and directory services built-in"

There was a little bit of MS-Bashing, but for the most part it was about how to bust the myths around the office.

Some useful things I picked up;

When they say: I use outlook at home...
You say: Yes, but do you do corporate email at home? Do you schedule meetings at home? Do you book rooms from home?
(Not to mention that these are the only areas where outlook and Notes can compete).

When they say: But I prefer outlook/exchange -or- I like
outlook/exchange.
You say: We should really focus on Business issues rather than emotional ones.

The other things that they pointed out were the bleeding obvious, but it's nice to be reminded of them, especially when I do so few, or so poorly...

  • Provide Training for Users - They'll spend most of their time in Notes...

  • Provide Quick Reference Cards

  • Provide Tips of the Week

  • Take the time to find out what the areas of pain are (eg: PDA Synch)



Activity-Based Computing
This is a great idea and probably will be a hit BUT...

  • It wasn't really well presented.

  • It is too far away to be properly relevant.

  • Most people aren't ready to go there yet.

  • There's a strong NON-IT component over which most IT Managers have no control.



I think IBM needs to rethink the way they're pitching the last.

Overall it was a good half-day, though I'll admit that the venue was a bit cramped which made it difficult to meet with the vendors.

Still, Well Done IBM!
I'll be there next year.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fun with Mail and Symantec Premium Anti-Spam

Today we finally resolved our problem getting emails from one of our major contacts. The problem had been going on for most of February, but had generally been unnoticed.

The Symptoms
There generally were no symptoms, people from Company X would send us emails and they wouldn't arrive. There was no mention in the Notes Logs about the emails and there was nothing in the Symantec Anti-Virus software to indicate that there was an issue.

The company had recently changed their domain name from x1.com.au to x2.com.au (all domain names changed to protect the innocent) and we had, relatively recently upgraded to Domino 7.0, so there was much finger-pointing in both directions.

Steps Taken
The first thing I did was look through our firewall logs, but I quickly gave up - they were too difficult because of the sheer number of entries. I tried several methods of dumping the files, but they weren't readable and I couldn't see any filtering options.


My first mistake was to not spend enough time checking these logs, it could have saved a lot of time. The answer to filtering the logs turned out to be a tiny icon that I thought was merely screen decoration. The icon did not popup any 'hover text' which really is a must if you're going to have tiny icons.


So, what did I do?
Well... ...these were over a couple of weeks, not all at once...

  1. Added the new domain to our Symantec MailSecurity Whitelists

  2. Added the new domain to our Domino DNS Whitelists

  3. Reinstalled Symantec Mail Security 4.x - In case something was overwritten in the 6.5.4 to 7.0.0 upgrade.

  4. Upgraded to Domino 7.0.1 - To fix the security issues blogged about earlier

  5. Installed Symantec Mail Security 5.0 - Because it was supposed to be more ND7 Compatible

  6. Re-Signed the Databases using an Admin ID instead of the Server.id

  7. Replaced the Design of the Symantec Databases and ran fixup for good measure



Nothing worked.

What did work was to completely disable the Symantec MailSecurity Application but for obvious reasons we didn't want to do that.


Tracking the Problem
The Firewall logs reported the mail as incoming.
From the firewall, the mail goes straight to Symantec MailSecurity on Port 25.

Once MailSecurity has finished it's work, the messages should be forwarded to the Domino server on Port 26. Unfortunately, MailSecurity was simply killing/losing the message, and thus there was nothing in the Notes log to indicate that a message had been received.

Eventually, we disabled just the Premium Anti-spam.
The result was a server crash (ouch).

I had to kill the server task using

NSD.EXE -KILL

When the server came back up, it was able to receive mail from the affected domain.

Hypothesis
The problem seems to be that when they changed domain name, they also changed their email disclaimers. Something in their disclaimers was upsetting the Premium Anti-Spam component of Symantec MailSecurity.


Moving Forward...
Once Premium Anti-Spam was disabled all went well.

I've lost a lot of respect for this utility since it is the second time that it has been responsible for major Domino issues and only the first time in 5.5 years that our server has had a serious crash.

Amusingly, one of the reasons for my intense dislike of this component is that it requires Microsoft SMTP. Funny that having a small Microsoft Mail facility on the server should cause major issues twice in about 6 months, yet Domino itself has not.

The software is disabled and will stay that way unless we get overwhelmed with Spam.
We will not be renewing that license.

(We will renew the Symantec MailSecurity licence, just not the Premium Anti-Spam component).

Friday, February 24, 2006

Blogs and RSS and Notes

Why is this Domino Blog not hosted by Domino?
Good question. The main reason is that I don't own our domino server, My employer does.
I know that Domino is a very capable blog hosting system and there's plenty of blogs out there that use it... but, while I'm reasonably sure that my employer wouldn't be too concerned about hosting a small blog I'm not willing to take the risk.

blogger.com is free, flexible and works rather well, so I'm happy enough here.

What is this RSS stuff and what is it good for?
Put simply, RSS is a way of downloading the headings and a small extract of text on blog sites. If you have an RSS Reader, then you can easily look through the recent postings without them cluttering up your mailbox.

Where can I get an RSS Feed Reader?
You can get these apps all over the net, but in my case I wanted a Lotus Notes based one.

I looked a few Lotus Notes RSS Feed Readers and finally settled on one called News Miner from Digital Insites.

This product is free and works rather well.
http://digitalinsites.gotdns.com/site.nsf/products

The only drawback with this product is that it currently can't read ATOM XML RSS Feeds, like the ones produced by blogger. I've emailed the author, Michael Wagner, and have been told that he's working on it.

I'm happy with the rest of the product, so I'm happy to wait at this stage.


RSS Feed from this Blog
Until today, I didn't know that this blog was producing a feed. I've now adjusted it to use extracts rather than the whole text and will produce some links.

The first of these links is here.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Upgrading to Lotus Domino Release 7.0.1

This morning I upgraded our 2 servers and my workstation to Release 7.0.1 of IBM Lotus Domino and IBM Lotus Notes respectively. All went well.

The Reason for the Upgrade
Normally, I don't like to stay too close to the current version of software, but these days it's starting to look essential. My only reason for upgrading was to comply with a number of security advisories.

I've listed the security issues below. All are fixed by version 7.0.1.

Domino iNotes Client Script Insertion Vulnerabilities

Notes HTML Speed Reader Link Buffer Overflows

Notes Multiple Archive Handling Directory Traversal

Notes TAR Reader File Extraction Buffer Overflow

Notes UUE File Handling Buffer Overflow

Notes ZIP File Handling Buffer Overflow


The Upgrade Process
I received the Advisories by email yesterday and went looking for them on the IBM site. Strangely enough, this is the first time that I've ever managed to find the correct Domino downloads on the IBM site, either their delivery mechanism has improved or I'm getting better at second guessing their strange logic.



An aside - getting notified about these advisories
For a while there, I was subscribed to just about every kind of security broadcast there was. It wasn't helping much though. I've since changed my method. Now I have a Google Alert set up to look for Lotus Domino in the news and web once per day. It's fantastic. If you're not using Google Alerts, you should seriously consider using them.



So, I stopped our Domino service, and ran the upgrade. It took minutes and finished with a non-specific warning about not being able to replace a file. I rebooted the server, Notes started and then failed. I noticed it was still writing version 7.0.

I thought... oops, I might be in trouble here. On a Microsoft system, I think you'd be taking pills at this stage - but then nobody in their right mind would consider upgrading a Microsoft Exchange system with only 90 minutes to go before the workday started.

So I calmly went through the installation again and about 5 minutes later I was able to start the notes service. I let it do the database upgrades and all was well.

Another impressively easy upgrade.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Installing Lotus Instant Messaging Limited Use for Domino 7

Another great? Idea
This morning I decided that now that our Domino 7 server was working nicely, I'd start installing the extended features, instant messaging, DB2 etc...

First up, was instant messaging.

I spent a while looking on Notes.net to see what I had to worry about.

  1. The first thing I discovered was that the instant messaging facility is NOT built-into Domino 7 server, but is available by installing the limited use Sametime product. Luckily I'd spent a while obtaining the CDs from IBM and didn't have to try to find the product on their web site.

  2. The next thing I noticed was that it recommended that the sametime server be run on different hardware. It didn't give a reason, just a recommendation. I'm not sure why, though I did notice one alarmist posting suggesting that it "screws around with the address book settings" - technical terms indeed.

    I was thinking about running it on our normal server, since we only have 24 users internally and I didn't think it would be too much strain, when I remembered our "backup server". Installing it there was safer, and I could do it immediately.

A few things about this server before I begin.
The CPU is hovering between 2% and 11%

The Disk Space situation on D: is

Used: 22.9 GB

Free Space: 38.8 GB

Total Capacity: 61.7 GB

Problem 1: The CD...
I put the CD into the backup server, and it displayed a message "Windows cannot find AutoRun\AutoRun.hta". This was scary and I took the CD out again to check that it wasn't the Install for the Macintosh (but they're HQX's or something aren't they).

Obviously it's a bit of bad programming on the CD, but a worrying start. I'm leaving the Domino Server running to see what happens...

Problem 2: Domino is Running
I launch the install program by going into the \SERVER directory on the CD and running SETUPWIN32.EXE

At the welcome screen, I click next.

Next you get this lovely screen that says that it detected that Domino was running, that continuing could damage the configuration, but do I want to continue anyway.

Wow, That was a real friendly screen wasn't it.

Ok, so I click NO, Exit the Domino Server and then restart the setup program. So far so good (though more than a bit unfriendly).

Problem 3: A different kind of scary error message
Now I'm up to the bit where I hit next previously... A similar warning message appears telling me that Sametime 7.0 instant messaging server requires the use of Domino 7 or later but do I want to proceed anyway...

Now, I KNOW that I'm running Domino 7.0.0 but this kind of message just gives overly cautious system admins (like me) heart problems... Surely the install app could have checked for a file or something FIRST!!!

(Really Friendly: I wonder which psychologically unstable person created these messages because the're worlds away from the friendly Domino upgrade).

Problem 4: The "double-click"

I now accept the licence agreement and it goes straight to the install summary.

Luckily I realised that it did this because it took so long to register my agreement that it thought I clicked NEXT twice. (This install program really needs some work).


So going back one screen, I find that I'm being asked if I want to use the Domino Directory or LDAP. I'm leaving the default (Domino Directory) and clicking Next.

Finally, I'm at the install summary, and I'm being told that the installation will consume 227.3 MB of space. I can afford that, so I click install.

The bar graph appears and it takes about 3 minutes.

I'm then prompted for the server Id file, which I select and click next.

The next dialog box says..."[_] Allow HTTP tunnelling on a sametime server with a single IP Address"I have no idea what I'm being asked, so I leave the checkbox unchecked and click next.

(this could have been written down as problem 5, but I've decided to let this go since it's just a silly checkbox description).

Problem 5: Host Names.
The next exciting dialog box says:"The hostname setting of the Domino server is not a fully qualified name. The Sametime Release Notes provides information on correcting this setting. The Sametime installation will complete correctly but this setting must be corrected before starting the Sametime server.

I click ok, because there's nothing better to click on.

A few seconds later I get a congratulations message and am told that when I start domino, Sametime will start automatically. I briefly wonder about how this fits in with the previous error message... but only briefly.

I open the PDF help documentation on the CD and look for "HOSTNAME" since the entire text of the message isn't found. There are two instances of this word, both in the same sentence in "Pre-Domino Installation" - Great....


Trying a search for "Host Name" yields a lot more hits... I wish documentation writers could be more consistent.

Finally, I decide that I can't figure out what this is all about, since I can see the server's host name in the configuration, so I simply reboot the server.

It takes a long while to go down and I eventually decide to help it with the button. I'm not sure if it was my finger on the button or if the server started behaving, but it suddenly rebooted.

(this could have been listed as a separate problem, but it might have been my impatience).

I went back to my PC and opened the Server Document in Domino Administrator 7. I changed the bit that says,


Is this a Sametime server? to YES

I then went to my location document for Office and on the Servers Tab, I changed the IBM Lotus Sametime Server to Domino1

I didn't use the fully qualified host name of domino1.mydomain.com.au because I don't have it in the DNS like that. (not for this server anyway).

I was prompted for a password and entered my current internet password, then hit Save and close.

I think that instant messaging is working now, but I have to get some other users on before I can be certain.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Lotus Domino 6.5.4 upgrade to Version 7.0

This morning I decided to upgrade our Notes server, well actually I decided last night but wanted to wait until the backup was complete. I'd decided to record the procedure here. I would have recorded it internally anyway but I figure this might be of use to someone. Lets hope it works, because I'm writing this "live" as it happens.

Precautions
The backup ran last night, and I've checked it on the server.Yep, it looks like all of the notes/domino stuff is there.This is a Friday tape (Friday B) which means that it wont be overwritten for another 4 weeks. it should be ample time to test the new system for problems.

If there is any doubt at the 4 week mark, I can always replace the Friday B tape with a new one.



Hard Drive Space
These are the figures from Drive D: Before the Upgrade.

Used Space = 29.4 GB
Free Space = 165 GB
Total Capacity = 195 GB


Procedure
1. Make sure that you put the Domino 7 CD into the drive the night before (when you were at work) - and do it before Friday drinks so that you don't put it in upside down or anything.

2. In the morning, use VPN to connect to our systems, then Remote Desktop to connect to the Notes/Domino server.

3. Check the Backup Status and ensure that it ran successfully (and is finished)

4. Check the hard drive status and note the sizes.

5. Go to Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Services and Stop the Lotus Domino Service.

6. Go to the CD Drive and Choose to install Lotus Domino Server (not express server). It is now 7.47 am.

7. At the Welcome Screen, click Next, then accept the licence and click next again.

8. Leave the Program Files Directory Name as D:\Lotus\Domino and the [_] Install Domino Partitioned Servers checkbox unchecked. Click Next.

9. Leave the Data Directory Name as D:\Lotus\Domino\Data and click next (btw: You should check both of these directories, by looking in windows explorer, just in case you have domino installed elsewhere and an older installation is being detected.

10. Leave the server type checkbox as Enterprise Server and click next.

11. Wait for the summary screen to appear (for some reason, on a test server, this took a few
seconds). Read the summary carefully and note the disk space figure: 856.7 MB. Click Next.

12. There is now a very worrying period where it draws a bar graph and says that it is uninstalling the old server. Fortunately this lasts for less than a minute. Then it starts installing the new server.

13. The installation completes at 7.55am and the computer wants to restart. Strangely enough my test environment did not as k for a restart.

14. I now have all of these nice new desktop icons, so after re-establishing a remote desktop connection with the server, I click one. (the Lotus Domino Server).

15. I'm prompted to Start it as a Windows Service (which I do) and also [X] Always start Domino as a service at System Startup. I choose these options and click Ok.

This was a bad thing to do. If anyone else is doing upgrades, don't choose this option because the service will start and ask some questions, but because it starts as a service, you won't see it load over a remote desktop connection.

16. I've tried to end the service, but because it hasn't finished starting, I couldn't. I've ended up having to do a server restart. Hopefully this won't screw anything up.

17. Ok, back to remote login, and I'm worried that I'll have problems since I chose to start the service automatically when the server starts. I may have to go into services and turn it off.

18. The server is obviously available because I can ping it but I can't remotely access it and all because of a stupid menu option. At this point 8.18am, I've decided to take the kids on a trip into work.

About 1 hour later...
I arrived at work, with the kids in tow... and sure enough, the notes server console was sitting on "Do you want to upgrade the Templates Y/N". I had been about to say No, but since I was IN at work now, I decided to say YES, because I had the previous night's successful backup tape in my hand.

The whole thing finished about 10 minutes later without any other keystrokes required, thus rendering my trip into work really really annoying.

Still... ...this was useful because it gave me a chance to run a lot of extended tests on our applications, all of which ran well. It also meant that the kids got a day out in town.


Hard Drive Space
These are the figures from Drive D: After the Upgrade.

Used Space = 29.7 GB
Free Space = 165 GB
Total Capacity = 195 GB

So the upgrade cost us a total of .3 GB (about 300 MB).
Impressive.