Monday, March 31, 2008

Daylight Savings Changes Part II Updating Blackberry Enterprise Server

Well, the weekend daylight savings changes went mostly ok... except for the Blackberry Enterprise sever that is. I was out at a children's birthday party last weekend and was near another Blackberry user from a different company. His phone

Luckily, I found this article fairly quickly;
How to prepare the BlackBerry Enterprise Server for IBM Lotus Domino to support DST changes in 2008.

It was on a forum, so I had to register in order to get to the ZIP file download.
I quickly registered downloaded and extracted the files.

The next step was to run a command line;

BBDBUpdate -n -db -input LoadSyncDeviceConfig.sql

then... well then, nothing happened.
After a bit of stuffing around, we decided that Coffee was the best answer to our problems. Sure enough, while we were making Coffee, the BES Server completed its internal updates and reset the time accordingly.

All is right.

Other Fallout
It does raise a few interesting concerns/questions;
  1. Why doesn't BES set it's time Zone and DST from windows?
  2. Why is there a warning about applying the patch to a Blackberry Smartphone which has already been patched? Can't it handle it?
  3. Why is the BES Update so cumbersome?
  4. Why is there no simple way to restart the blackberry server service?
I'm sure I'll figure out the answers to the rest of these questions eventually. In the meantime, today, I'll be keeping well hidden.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Daylight Savings Mayhem - Automating a Check of Notes INI

Yesterday we discovered that there are changes to the Australian Daylight Savings dates coming into effect this weekend (it will continue when it would normally have ended).

There are lots of repercussions, but the worst (ones that could affect the business) relate to the Lotus Notes Calendar.

There are two things to do to prepare ourselves;
  • Windows Updates on our clients (WinXP)
  • Windows Updates on our servers (Win2003)

We can handle the servers ourselves but how do we know if the clients have done their updates? Simple, we ask them by sending a button around so they can determine the answers for themselves.

Creating a Button that can be mailed to Notes Users
Here's the LotusScript code on my button;

Sub Click(Source As Button)
  Dim vDSTText As Variant
  Dim Session As New NotesSession

  Const CorrectDST = "10,1,1,4,1,1"
  vDSTText = Session.GetEnvironmentString("DSTLAW",1)
  If vDSTText = CorrectDST Then
     Msgbox "Your Time Settings are Correct!", 64, "Checking Time Settings"
  Else
     Msgbox "Your Time Settings are NOT Correct! - You need to do a Windows Update", 48, "Checking Time Settings"
  End If
End Sub

Basically, all we're doing is having a look at the value next to DSTLAW in the Notes.ini file.
In our case, it says... 10,1,1,4,1,1

Syntax: DSTlaw=begin_month, begin_week, begin_day, end_month, end_week, end_day

Which means Daylight Savings - BEGIN October, Week 1, Day 1 and END April, Week 1, Day 1

You could easily change the Const CorrectDST = "10,1,1,4,1,1" value to cater for different locations.

Note: Although you can write back to the Notes.INI file, don't be tempted to do this. The value is set when Notes starts from the Operating System, so making changes at this level won't fix anything.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

E-Books and other Documents on the Blackberry

I have found a great E-Book reader for the Blackberry. It's called Mobi Pocket Reader, and its free. It's available for a lot of other phones too. You can download books "over the air" or you can copy them to your Blackberry using the desktop manager software - MobiBooks looks in the Ebooks folder (although this can be changed via the options menu).

Getting Books
I have been enjoying some of the many E-Books available as free downloads in Mobi format from ManyBooks.Net. If you're not a fan of classics, there are also a lot of commercially available books in the built-in libraries.

Creating and Converting Books
It doesn't stop there though. There is free MobiPocket Creator Home Edition software available for creating MobiReader books from a variety of other formats, including, text,html, pdf and doc.

This means that the entire resources of Project Gutenberg are open to you as well as a lot of online fan-fiction and business documents, whitepapers etc.

Creating Your Own Books
Best of all, there is the ability to create your own books for free. MobiBook Creator provides a bunch of handy templates for recipe guides, shopping lists and other databases but I personally feel that the best options are centered around the conversion of existing business documents.

At first, this may not sound terribly exciting but think how handy it would be to have your Disaster Recovery and/or Business Continuity plans on your Blackberry as an E-book.

I'm sure that everyone has other documents like IT Strategies, lists of IP and Mac addresses, WAP codes and Serial Numbers for your Software inventory etc, which rarely change and could benefit from greater offline availability.

Setting these things up as Ebooks could be just the ticket.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another Great FREE Video Converter

I recently began having trouble with Nero creating stuttering "coasters" when I convert YouTube video clips to DVD. The stuttering problem was present in both versions 6 and 7 - I didn't try 8. I contacted Nero and asked for assistance but they didn't seem able to help.

I eventually narrowed the problem down to Nero's annoying habit of recoding everything. My data files were playable in every other player except Nero Showtime. I needed to save in a better format.

Yesterday I discovered Internet Video Converter (Standard) a free video file converter which handles a lot of different formats. Unlike a lot of conversion applications, this one was very straightforward (literally 3 button pushes) and I was able to convert to DVD. Better than that, it even supports encoding to PAL DVD - used in Australia and the UK.

Nero still wanted to re-encode the video files but at least they came out on my TV without a stutter.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

LotusSphere comes to you - Sydney 2008

I've just returned from the annual IBM mind-blowing (LotusSphere comes to you) session in Sydney.

Strangely, it feels different this year.

In previous years, I'd come back all excited about some new technology, or perhaps a little apprehensive (in the days when they were pushing workplace). I'd always be able to take some comfort in the fact that we were only one or two versions behind the new features.

Now however, I'm looking at Version 8.01 of Domino from a standpoint of 7.02 - only about a year's difference - but it might as well be 10 years.

I don't know exactly how IBM have managed to take such giant strides in only a year when everyone else (Google excepted) seems to be standing still.

I'm impressed - but I really don't know where to start.

One thing is for sure... there won't be any Domino 8 for us until Blackberry gets it's fixes out there.

It's frustrating, because about half of the attendees seemed to have Blackberries, so that means they're being held back by the same issues that we are. Surely it must annoy IBM to have their adoption plans hamstrung by one of their business partners.