Thursday, November 22, 2007

The best developer community in the World.

As rightly pointed out by Bruce Elgort in a comment on my last post, IdeaJam is actually an IBM/Lotus developer community initiative. I did know that, but somehow I accidentally wound up giving credit to IBM/Lotus anyway. (sorry).

The IBM/Lotus systems are blessed with IMHO, the best developer community in the world. Sure, a lot of praise is due IBM/Lotus for their commitment to the community and to their evangelists, Ed Brill, Alan Lepofsky, Mary Beth Raven, Adam Gartenberg and Bob Balaban among others.

But the real credit has got to go to the generally unsung heroes of the Lotus Community...

The people behind initiatives like IdeaJam, OpenNTF and regular submitters to the IBM Lotus Sandbox. I could rattle off a huge list of names and linked blogs, but then I'd be competing with the likes of Facebook and Orkut.

If the measure of an application's success is at least partially determined by the quality of the people it attracts, then there can be no doubt in my mind that Notes/Domino is up there with the best of the best.

Idea Jam - Another Giant Leap for IBM/Lotus

I've been looking at this site for a while now and am quite impressed. This concept might not seem complex at first but the business possibilities for this type of Web 2.0 app are endless.

Idea Jam (http://ideajam.net/)

The idea behind this site is to let people submit ideas, in this case for improvements to the Notes/Domino product, then allow others to comment and vote on them. The best ideas gradually move to the top.

Well done IBM !!


Also, today they announced code to allow you to embed your ideas on your web page or blog (though it doesn't seem to work in blogger yet) so...

Please vote my ideas :-) Obviously I want them to progress

Can we have a Code Wiki near the Forums

Clipboard access in LotusScript without API's

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A bit more on BlogSphere (and some disappointments)

Continuing with my implementation of BlogSphere, I feel sadly let down, not by the product, which seems to be very good but by the documentation - sorry, lack of documentation.

At any rate, pressing on...

Configuring BlogSphere
You can't configure blogsphere without the ACL being set correctly. As far as I can tell, you can only be a member of one role (ie: not in multiple groups with multiple roles). This could be completely wrong but so far it's working for me. I put myself directly into the ACL with Manager rights and the [UI-Admin] role. Logging out and then back in gave me access to the configuration options.

Configuration can be selected by clicking the BlogSphere config button in the top left hand corner of the Navigator.

Side Blocks
The initial web view of BlogSphere V3 is much better than V2, cleaner and nicer. That said, I'm sure you'll want to add some content to the sides.

In this example, I'm going to do a calendar because that one works - I haven't figured out the other types of side blocks yet but they're not easy from what I can tell.

In the outline navigator on the Configuration menu, select Side Blocks.

Click the button marked New Side Block and a new form will appear.

Choose a type (eg: Calendar) and an alignment, position and class. The position is just a number (1 for top).

Save your side block and then go back to the web version of your blog and hit refresh. Yay! the calendar appears.

Attaching Documents
Now what I really want to do is attach a document for discussion but my time seems to be running out. I've spent pretty much the entire day trying to figure this out but alas, there's no way BlogSphere is going to challenge Blogger for sheer usability and I haven't been able to find any documentation that describes this process.

For the time being at least, I'll be posting in a different database and linking to it from BlogSphere.

BTW: I'm trying not to be critical of BlogSphere, it's very impressive and these guys are doing it for free but they need to assign someone to the documentation in order to improve take-up. Actually, the whole of OpenNTF suffers from this - I'm yet to see one screen shot in the field for screenshots. If I manage to figure this out, I'd be happy to donate any documentation I have (if they'll accept it).

A bit on Blogger and Slideshows

I know I was going to continue on Domino's BlogSphere but I just had to mention this...

Google Blogger just keeps on getting better and better.

Today, my RSS feeds gave me a post on Blogger's New Slideshow tool entitled Show off your photos with the new Slideshow.

This is very impressive.

It allows you to add a layout element that will display your photos from a given folder in Picasa Web Albums.

The integration between Google's applications is spectacular. What's more, it's not limited to Google - It works with Flickr and Photobucket too as well as other sites supporting Media RSS.

Add this to features like the ability to publish RSS entries of interest directly from your feeds in Google Reader and (sorry IBM/Lotus BlogSphere) Google Blogger is, at least for the moment IMHO, the untouchable king of Blog tools.

IBM - If you're reading, this sort of integration is the main reason why you should be putting more effort into integrating your systems (and other people's systems) with the otherwise excellent BlogSphere template.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Web 2.0 without Notes 8 - Getting Started with BlogSphere on Domino

These instructions use Notes 7.

Getting hold of the Template
Go to OpenNTF.org and login. If you don't have a login, you should register for one. It's free, but you can't download without being logged in.

Download the BlogSphere Template. At the time of writing, the current version was 3.0

Documentation
Documentation for BlogSphere is at the BlogSphere Wiki. It's obviously going to be a better source of information than this blog. I'm only writing this because I want to keep my notes somewhere and I want to show how easy the product is.

[Note: Sadly, I've just had a look at the documentation and, at present, I'm not sure if it is actually better than this blog entry. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong - I hope so].

Save the Template on your Domino Server and Sign it with an appropriate ID.

Creating a New Blog
From the Notes Client select File, Database New.
Specify the Correct Server, Path and Filename to the Database (whatever you like really).

Choose the BlogSphere Template and click OK.


Initial Configuration
As part of the Blog Creation process a Start Wizard appears. This is pretty cool and I don't think I've seen this feature used in a Notes database before.

Click the Start Wizard Button.
fill in a Blog Name, Description, Home URL and Base URL. You can just hit next on the next two screens about comments and spam since you can change these settings later.

You might want to allow Email blogs in the Inbound Email Processing Section. Choose Specific Address and type an email address like myblog@mycompany.com


Access Controls
In order to be able to configure the blog template, you will need to put appropriate access controls in place. Don't forget to deal with -Default- and Anonymous if required.

First Blog Entry
To Have a look at your blog, Click the Goto button and then click Blog Homepage. It should open in a browser window.

At first, your blog will look a bit blank. That's because there are no entries there. I have to admit though, it already looks better in V3 than V2.5 of BlogSphere.

To create a new blog entry, click the button (in the Notes client) marked New Blog Entry.

You should put something into the Blog Title and the Blog Text fields. Once you've done that, click publish story.

Go back to the web version of your blog and refresh. It should look better.

Still nowhere near as user friendly as Blogger but for a commercial entity... not bad.

In my next post, I'll look at tidying up the settings and adding menus and functionality to the blog (assuming I can work it out by then).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

IBM Lotus Notes/Domino TCO

I've been a little busy lately with all sorts of family issues (including an outbreak of chicken pox at home). Sorry about the lack of posts - this will be a short one too.

There's a few new tools coming out from Google to help migrate things from Exchange and Domino to Gmail solutions.

http://karteek.selfdabba.com/2007/11/18/google-apps-a-challenge/

This is great for a mail-only solution. I don't begrudge Lotus people on simple mail only systems moving to gmail. It's only people who are using Lotus Notes (properly?) for databases who shouldn't consider this option.

One thing I noticed about the article though was the nice comparison of TCO's.

Lotus Notes comes in much cheaper than exchange in all categories - well done IBM Lotus.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Examining Server Hard Drive Space

About a week ago, Ask the Admin ran a feature called What the Heck is Filling Up My Server?. The article was quite a good one and covered several products. I tried a few of these out.

IMHO, the best of these is WinDirStat.

This utility is free and quite fast. There's also some amusing pacman-like activity when you start it scanning a drive.

One of the really cool things about this app is that it recognises the extensions of a lot of file formats - including less common ones like .NSF for notes. An extension that many expensive programs of this type often miss. If it finds a few files of an unknown type, it lists their extension as well (see DES at the bottom of the colour code map).



The other exciting thing about this tool is that it creates a colour-map showing all files in relation to eachother. You can quickly spot the big files. If you click on a patch of colour, the name and path of the relevant file will be displayed in the status bar.

Imagine my horror at finding a couple of gb of MP3s on our system. They've all be removed now so I can't show you that shot. Here's a map with several obvious copies of a large MS Access file.



This software is fantastic for the detection and removal of unnecessary clutter.

The final view that I've found really helpful in this product is a tree-view with bar graphs. It allows you to quickly see where the worst of the clutter is located.



If you haven't given this tool a go, you should.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Web 2.0 without Notes 8 - Getting Started with DominoWiki

For Notes 7 (possibly 6.5) and above.

This blog entry covers my installation of Domino Wiki from a business rather than a techncial perspective.

What is a wiki?
Wiki's have been around for years and probably the best known of these is the wikipedia. The simplest description would be a hyperlinked online encyclopaedia which allows web-based editing.

Ideally, wiki's aren't centrally updated in-house but could be updated by certain categories of users on the web. There's still a bit of debate over whether or not this is a good idea but I'm not going to spend time worrying about this, it's simply an ACL change for domino.

There's obviously better definitions of wiki's elsewhere but I'd guess that the best way to find out what one is, is to use one.

Why would my organization need a wiki?
At first, this may seem like a difficult question to answer. After all, if IT is meant to be a technology enabler rather than a business driver, there needs to be some fairly good justification for using such a tool.

My Justification
My workplace currently has high staff turnover rates. It also has a lot of external committees whose members are frequently changing. Finally, some of our longer term members are starting to leave.

The result, a lot of intenal knowledge is walking out the door.

It's my belief that a wiki could help us to retain some of that knowledge in an easily searchable format.

About DominoWiki
DominoWiki is a brilliant wiki product for Lotus Notes/Domino developed by the OpenNTF team. It seemed obvious to me that I should be using this product since it leveraged my existing domino server's web services and security.

Where to Get DominoWiki
DominoWiki doesn't ship with Notes 7 but it is available for download from OpenNTF. You need to subscribe to download but it's well worth it - there's a lot of useful goodies on OpenNTF.

Saving the Template
Save the NTF Template somewhere on your domino server, sign it and make ACL Changes as required.

You can then create a new database from the template.

There's a good blow-by-blow walkthrough here, so I won't bother repeating it;

Configuring the Wiki
Once you get to the configuration screen, it's worth having the wiki open in your browser window while you work. This helps you to see the effects your changes are having.

Once again, I'll not go into details here because the support is so good and their documentation is better than I'd write.

I'm not sure if you should full text index the wiki, but I've decided to do it anyway, just in case.

When you've finished the single wiki configuration screen, you can work on your wiki via the web.

Initial Pages
The first thing you should do is go into your Notes Client and locate the StartPage in the All Documents view. Open this page up, click the edit button and then deselect the checkbox that says
[x] Is this page locked

Click Save and then Close.

Now, refresh the Wiki in your web browser and click the Edit Page button at the bottom of the screen.

You'll want to type some introductory text for the wiki and create some links to your main topics.

Once you've got your start page in decent shape, you'll want to lock it again. Editors should be able to edit your main topics but there's really no reason to give them permanent access to modify the start page.

Camelcase and Brackets
It took quite a bit of searching for me to determine how to make wiki links.

The default method is called CamelCase, whereby you type a single word using fUnnyCapitalisation. I really don't like this, it's fine for a techie wiki but really awful for a corporate one.

The other method is to use double [[square brackets]]. This is much more acceptable.

Wikipedia mentions a way to use aliases within square brackets but at version 1.1, I don't think DominoWiki permits this.

Now I can open the system up to our staff to, hopefully brain-dump in.

When your Air Conditioner tried to kill you...

I don't think I've ever worked in an IT environment where the server room wasn't plagued by air conditioning issues.

We have two in our computer room,
a. The standard building air conditioner
b. An extra unit

They draw their power from different circuits, so they have a degree of redundancy but... ...both draw their water from the same source, a water tank on the roof of our building.

Late last night I got a warning from our security company about the air conditioning. They report when it hits 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 F).

I live quite a distance from the city and while I have keys to the building, our floor and the computer room, I don't have keys to the air conditioner reset itself.

I decided that since I only had a few hours to go, I'd finish sleeping and arrive at my usual time 6.30am.

By the time I got there, the room temperature was 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 F). I left the computer room door open and it cooled to 27C (80.6 F) within 30 minutes.

I'm obviously going to have to find some way of doing a remote-reset. Not that this works when some looney-toon has turned off the water supply to the air conditioner.