#ThanksBruce for your work at OpenNTF

SaveYourHairToday my good friend Bruce Elgort ends his tenure as president of OpenNTF.  For those not in the Notes community, OpenNTF.org is a repository of open source software solutions for IBM Notes and Domino.  These free software offerings have helped thousands of people and companies implement great solutions, and inspired many developers to learn techniques for programming for the platform.

This community would not be where it is today without Bruce.  His enthusiasm and dedication have really helped keep OpenNTF afloat and in the public eye for many many years.  He deserves every bit of praise he’s getting from all over the world today.

Thanks again for all of the hard work my friend.  Don’t be a stranger :-)

A Decade of Meanderings

A Decade of Meanderings

Ten years ago today I started my public-facing blog with the following wide-eyed post:

Wow, am I loving this blog software or what? It’s truly amazing what a great program this is, and what a tremendous amount of effort it has been to put together a killer blogging app. More to come as I tweak this damn thing.

That software was Blogsphere by Mr. Declan Lynch. It’s how I first got to meet Dec and become friends. That software also gave me a way to join a community of writers, friends and other technologists.  In 2006, it helped me get paid for my writing with a gig that would last three years at Intranet Journal.  It got me press credentials, blogger credentials, and it blazed a trail to do things I may never have otherwise.

My first daughter was nearly two back then and my second daughter was almost here.  There was no iPhone or iPad or Android, and Blackberry was the only game in town.  Mozilla was at version 1.5, and Chrome didn’t exist.   I was planning a Domino 5.0.12 migration to Domino 6.5. I ended up migrating to Exchange.  Ephedrine was still legal over the counter, Napster was a big deal, and HDTV didn’t really exist.  I was a programmer, then an admin, and now I don the pointy hair.  Things really have come a long way.

I’ve written over 1000 posts and interacted with over 2000 comments in those ten years.  And even though my output has diminished over the years, I still love this medium.  And despite the continual “Notes is Dead” proclamations and “Blogging is Dead” idiocy that we’ve had to endure over the years, I’m still working with IBM Notes and still blogging away.

This blog really has been a springboard for so many things.  I’m grateful for that and grateful for every reader who has ever interacted here on Greyhawk’s Meanderings.  This has been a big part of my online world, my online brand, and such an outlet for my writing.  I would have done it if no one was reading, but I’m thankful that you did.

Ten years is a long time to do anything in this world, so I’m happy to have kept it going for so long.  Here’s to doing it another ten.  Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Dispensing Justice for Ten Dollars a Day

Last week, I was called upon to fulfill my job as a citizen and report for Jury Duty.  Basically, you get called to a courthouse and do a lot of sitting around.  Then, a group of 45 or so of you get corralled like cattle into a courtroom.  You get to answer answer awesome questions like:

Do you have any religious objections to alcohol? or

Does anyone here NOT believe in the US system of Government?

Once you’ve answered the questions, then the attorneys get to dismiss people they think might not be good to their case.  Those of us who seem fine to both the prosecution and defense get picked to be on a Jury.

I’ve actually been called quite a few times, but never actually picked.  Well last week was my lucky week.  I was part of the twelve (and two alternates) who were chosen to choose the fate of a man who was up for felony aggravated battery.

The defendant had struck a man with a large plastic BB gun at 2AM in the parking lot of a taco joint.  When it broke, he then grabbed a baseball bat.  Luckily for the person who was struck (and the defendant) there was an officer that saw him strike a victim the first time, and got there in time to keep him from striking with the bat.

The officer saw the defendant strike the victim.  Everyone on both sides agreed that happened.  They also agree it was in public.  The thing they didn’t agree on was whether or not it was self-defense.  Did the defendant feel threatened enough to have to defend himself? If we had even a shadow of a doubt whether it was self-defense or not, we had to proclaim him innocent.

Now the defendant was too drunk to drive (his fiance drove) and was known for starting fights when drunk (his fiance’s words.)  The victim did NOT want to testify and had to be subpoenaed.  The victim never struck the defendant, and also did not speak English.  What the victim did do is stop the car, get out, and confront the drunk guy.  For many of our jurors, that act of stopping the car (and possibly blocking the defendant in) and then coming around the car meant the defendant could have gotten scared enough to grab the first thing he could get his hands on and defend himself.  He was found by us, a jury of his peers, to be not guilty.

I had to be convinced. I think this guy instigated the whole thing and was acting tough and as soon as someone got back in his face he hit him.  But, I had to feel that beyond a reasonable doubt that he didn’t feel threatened to act in self-defense.  Eventually, as one of the only dissenters, I caved, because there was the wee bit of doubt.

There were lots of screwed up things in everyone’s testimony and no one was really believable.  The original officer who witnessed the crime that night was actually off duty, so rather than pay him overtime they brought in another officer to process the scene.  That officer basically skated through the investigation and only wrote a one page report.  The report didn’t have key info in it that could have been bad for the defendant and good for the prosecution.

Also, through testimony the defendant said he only had five or six beers and stopped drinking at 10PM.  So some folks thought he might be fairly sober at 2AM and just had the fiance drive to be safe.  Also they say he was really remorseful in the police car and very apologetic.

During your Jury Duty, you cannot research the case outside the courtroom, and you can only listen to the testimony. You are also not allowed to talk about it with anyone including other jurors.   I followed the rules.  But after the case was over and this man was set free, I did some research and found some news articles.  The article from the night in question had his mug shot.  He looked completely plastered and he was laughing and defiant.  He didn’t seem remorseful and didn’t look the least bit sober.  If we had been shown the mug shot, it’s possible folks might have had another opinion.

Despite my misgivings, I really like that it takes a unanimous vote of 12 people to convict someone in this country.  I also like that people in the jury are really supposed to have not heard anything about the case and not have any knowledge of the situation.  I think it’s a decent system, and it was nice to see it from the inside.  Our case was fairly laughable, and there were so many mistakes that we had to proclaim the defendant not guilty.  That said, I’m really glad that I didn’t end up on a trial that was more serious or deadly.  I can sleep at night with this decision, I think a more serious case would be much harder to put behind me.

But I leave you with words of advice.  If it’s 2AM, and you really want tacos, go to bed, you’re drunk.

 

Back in the Saddle

In order to get back into the rhythm of blogging, you have to actually sit down and write.  That’s true of any writer, you just have to sometimes force yourself to put words to the page. I used to have the urge to write all the time, and that’s largely been satiated with various social media outlets, but I miss blogging.

So I refreshed the blog template with a new Parallax theme from Themify.me that I like quite a bit.  It’s got some great ways to share photos, so that’s rekindled the desire to get out and focus on my photography a bit more too.  Both of these are good for my creative outlets, and I need to be more creative.  Lately the pointy hair of the day job has focused on long term goals and politics more than the joy I get from technology.  It’s not all a bad thing, just an evolution.  I just need to make sure that I don’t lose that joy, whether it be technology, writing or photography.

Out in the Man Cave tonight I put some old memories up on the wall.  My old baseball jersey from the town I grew up in, the T-shirt I designed for our college radio station, and some awesome shirts from the LDC including the Lotus “Back in Blue” shirt.  It’s really rekindled a lot of memories and stirred the muse.  Some punk music on the Sonos and a cigar at my side and things feel right.

So as I’ve done on several occasions over the last decade, I’m declaring that I’m back folks.  Let’s see if these are hollow words or if I follow through :-)

We have four paws in the house again

We have four paws in the house again

It’s been quite some time since I blogged anything here, and I believe some of it was a little bit of depression every time I came to the site and saw my last post.  We had lost our dog Peanut to cancer, and whenever I came to the site to write, I never really had much to say.

We recently started looking to give a dog a forever home because we knew we wanted to get a dog in the summer months to get them acclimated to our house and the dog run and everything before the fall weather and rains kicked in.  Nothing like trying to house train a dog when outside is completely soggy.

Well now we have filled that furry void with our new dog, Pepper Pawts.  We adopted her from Cache Creek Animal Rescue a little while ago, and she has fit in perfectly with our family. She’s got a wonderfully mellow personality, loves to snuggle, was house trained and young enough to really be able to be a part of our family for a long time to come.

She’s made our house a home again.

You see, I’ve always loved dogs.  And except for a couple years in college, dogs have been a part of my whole life, a faithful companion.  In addition, Jen and I have had up to four dogs in the house for the entirety of our marriage.  There’s just something about the unconditional love of a dog that makes life better.

So now things are back to where they should be.  Pepper got her forever home, and we got a new family member.  Makes coming to this blog worthwhile again.  Maybe that means you’ll start seeing me post more regularly again.  Don’t hold your breath, but I do feel energized to start writing again, so hopefully it will manifest itself here.  Thanks Pepper.

Say Goodbye To My Little Friend

Peanut 1 A little over three weeks ago on March 13th, we had to put our dog Peanut to sleep.  She had stopped eating, had a hard time getting around and looked at us like she knew it was her time to go.  She had some non-cancerous tumors but they must have grown pretty rapidly, because one week she seemed fine, and by the next it was really too late to do anything.

If you didn’t know the story, Peanut came to us as a stray.  Keeshonden are not a common breed, and for her to show up on our doorstep was pretty amazing.  She spent a wonderful six years with us and we’ll miss her dearly.

The really weird piece for me is that this is the first time (save for the first couple years of college) that a dog hasn’t owned me.  I grew up with dogs, and even before college was done, I made sure to have another canine companion.  Since college we’ve had as many as four at a time in our home.  And in our current house, we’ve always had a pup roaming the halls.

But now, we don’t.

I still find myself looking down to make sure I don’t step on a dog when turning a corner, or heading to another room.  I’ve teared up when I have no one to give the yolk of my hard boiled egg to.  I still have the urge to open the door to let the dog out before I leave or get home from work.  These things I’ve done forever are no longer applicable.  It feels empty.

My wife was sure I’d have to have another dog immediately, but I think she has the itch even more than I do.  That said, I’m going to wait awhile.  Maybe replace some carpet, and avoid the wet spring.  Then we can look again.  I have no doubt we’ll add another furry family member, but not quite yet.  In the meantime, we have the photos to remember Peanut by, and we’ll give a little extra love to the cat.

I want to thank my wife for taking Peanut in for her final visit to the vet.  I was crushed when I took Shadow in, and I couldn’t get that out of my head.  My wife took the burden off of me and did it herself, and I know it was a really hard thing for her to do as well, no matter how necessary it was.

Have fun running in the wind Peanut, we’ll miss you.

The Ongoing Notes “Legacy” problem

On an IBM WebcastLast week I was honored to part of a webcast that announced the worldwide launch of IBM Notes 9 Social edition.  I was able to speak about how our company uses custom applications built on XPages and Domino to run our business.  I also spoke as to how Traveler has helped our workforce be more connected, and how we are looking forward to integrating Connections into our Notes investment via Activity Streams and embedded experiences.

As the Director of IT for our company, I’m always trying to work with the best technologies to meet our needs.  Those are not always IBM technologies.  We use vendors like Microsoft, EMC, GoToMeeting, Salesforce.com, Basecamp and Box.com.  I tend to choose the best platform to fit our specific needs, whatever they may be.  I’m not simply an IBM fanboy.

That said, we’ve built the software that runs our business on XPages and Domino because it’s a great platform.  We can’t buy off the shelf software to manage our business, it simply doesn’t exist.  We could buy project management and warehousing programs, but it would be very hard to bend them to work the way we need.  That’s why Domino is such a strong platform.  I have a very small staff of very skilled developers who have built amazing applications that our business relies on to manage every bit of work we do. We have built it to fit our business processes exactly, and we can add in features at a very rapid pace.  We integrate everything including our Microsoft ERP system, and I couldn’t be happier.

So why am I writing a blog post mentioning “legacy” on the day the brand new IBM Notes 9 Social Edition is released?  Well, it’s because the market still sees it as legacy.  There has really been no discernible marketing to the contrary.  I’ll give you three quick examples that have all happened in the last couple of weeks.  All were manageable, but I can’t believe I even have to deal with them.

First, a client of ours had been auditing our warehousing software.  A German IT Auditor questioned (with much disdain) why were were using Lotus Notes instead of a “pro” warehousing system, and stated that the fact that we used Notes was a red flag.  This was from a very large, very well known organization, yet this IT Auditor considered Notes legacy and worthy of disdain.  It was even insinuated that nobody used Notes anymore.

I explained our reasoning for using Notes and Domino much like I did above, and then touted a brand new release of the product as well and over 100 million users worldwide, yet I feel that it fell on deaf ears.

The second one was an executive asking one of my employees what our “exit strategy for Notes” was?  When the exec was talking with people from other companies, and some of our clients, the general consensus was that Notes was dead and people couldn’t believe we were still on it.  So the executive assumed we had to be moving off of it soon.

Part of that is on me, and I need to continue to do a better job of internal marketing, but the reason I HAVE to do so much in the way of internal marketing is because there is little to no external marketing.  You really don’t know that Notes exists unless you deal with IBM on a regular basis.

The last thing that happened was a simple offhanded comment on the This Week In Tech podcast.  I don’t remember the context but the host Leo Laporte stated how he hated Notes and would never use it again.  Granted, this man hadn’t touched the software in over seven years, but he was still attacking it.  I’m sure he has no idea how nice the new client is, or how good the development environment is in XPages.  Yet, he still made that statement that was heard as fact by tens of thousands of listeners.

Those of you that know me, and have read this blog for nearly a decade know that I will take IBM to task when it’s warranted, and I will give credit where credit is due.  Obviously I believe wholeheartedly in Domino as a platform.  I wouldn’t use it otherwise, and I wouldn’t take time out of my busy schedule to record customer testimonials or get interviewed for quotes for press releases.  I am very publicly on record with the fact that Notes and Domino is the platform from which our business is run.

Today is a watershed moment.  IBM Notes and Domino 9 Social Edition has been launched and it’s the best the product has ever been.  It’s truly a great piece of software with so much potential in the right hands.  It would be really nice if the tech universe starting seeing it that way. I would just like the perception of Notes to get better in the marketplace, because right now perception doesn’t match reality, and hopefully IBM can work on changing that.

Bucket List: Visiting the TWiT Podcast

Bucket List: Visiting the TWiT Podcast

I’ve been a huge fan of Leo Laporte since his days at MSNBC’s “The Site” and TechTV.  Many years ago he started the TWiT Podcast Network.  TWiT started as This Week in Tech and expanded to tons of different programming options.  It’s all free and much of the tech news and punditry I get on a weekly basis comes from listening to those podcasts on my way into work.

Since I’ve been such a fan, I really wanted to visit the studios where the TWiT podcasts are recorded.  So, during a business trip this last November, I made it a point to drive to Petaluma, California to see everything in person.  It was a great experience, and I got to meet Leo, and panelists Baratunde Thurston and Nick Bilton.  They couldn’t have been more gracious.  It was a great thing to check off the bucket list.

Anyway, for those of you interested, here is my photo album of the experience!

IBM Connect 2013 Recap – The People

IBM Connect 2013 Recap – The People

In my last post, I spoke of the IBM Connect show itself, and what it meant from a show and technology perspective for me.  That’s only part of the story.  The real value in Lotusphere for me has always been the people.  The business networking is invaluable, but the enduring friendships are what truly stand out.  These folks have become family over the years and this conference has always been our family reunion.

That’s what I would really miss most if I decided not to come.  Not seeing these friends and colleagues in person would cast a definite sadness over my January.  It’s obvious that other friends feel the same way.  There were at least a half a dozen friends who no longer come to the conference who still traveled to Orlando to be able to hang out and see everyone.  For some, like my good friend Tom Duff, it was a very sad experience to call it his final Lotusphere.

But like Tom referenced in his blog post, Volker nailed it:

“Let me tell you something: life is about people, not about technology. Your friends will be your friends. And you will see them again. And again, and again. Technology changes, friendship lasts. In change, there lies opportunity.”

And I know these friendships will endure.  I can go all over Europe, or Australia, or pretty much anywhere in the US and I know someone I want to visit with, have a beer and a good meal with.  You people are special, no matter what color you are wearing or what code compiler you are using, or how pointy my hair gets.  I’m very happy to call you my friends.

I’ve always thought of us as a very welcoming group too.  You can see it in the yearly Blogger photos growing in size year after year.  We love to welcome new people in, and this year I was more encouraged by seeing some younger talent coming around.

It’s not a lot, and maybe not nearly enough, but I spoke with several people who were new to the IBM technologies in the last few years.  That’s a great thing, and we need to encourage more to do the same.  The only way our species can survive is if we breed more of us. :-)

In addition, I was really touched by a post by a new blogger named Monica Mora   who had always wanted to go to the conference, and this year she made it a reality. It’s a great post on the real power of “social” in our community.  I’d love to hear more of these voices in the future.

Speaking of hearing voices, one of the best things to humanize Lotusphere are the Nerd Girl Spark Ideas talks.  If you want to really get to know the kind, caring, artistic folks of our community, this is a wonderful place to start, and it’s not about our technology choices at all.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the week started with a tragedy to our Lotus family.  A Danish gentlemen named Kenneth Kjærbye passed away after a freak accident during the annual motorcycle ride that many of my friends and a co-worker partake in.  By all accounts, everyone from the police, to the motorcycle shop, to IBM were very supportive and responded warmly and wonderfully given the situation.  I could only offer my condolences, hugs and support to all of my friends who were deeply affected. They carried on with brave faces, but I know how much they were hurting.  Once again, this community came together to help however they could, and I’ve heard from the folks affected how much is was appreciated.  My thoughts are with all of you, and especially Kenneth’s family.

These are the extremes of this family.  We grieve together, and we enjoy life to the fullest together, and celebrate everything in between.  These people, you people reading this, are what makes this conference and our community special. Big virtual hugs to you all until we meet again.

IBM Connect 2013 Recap – The Show

At the end of January I took my annual pilgrimage to Orlando, Florida for the IBM Connect (formerly Lotusphere) conference. It’s something I’ve looked forward to every year for a decade and a half.

This year I approached it with some trepidation. I was afraid that IBM was changing it away from the conference I loved to something… well more corporate. I wasn’t wrong, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The change was pretty evident in the Opening General Session. IBM did a great job, but was showing off technologies that are more apt to the Fortune 100 than companies like mine.  In fact, I think someone said that the upcoming Notes and Domino 9 only got a total of a 56 second mention during the two plus hours.

For my team, who runs our company on XPages, based on Domino, that was kind of a bummer. However, the real travesty would have been if the technical tracks fell flat, and that couldn’t have been further from the truth. XPages had an incredibly strong showing (40+ sessions.)  The Best Practices track was as valuable as ever, and I think the content was even stronger than years prior.

Outside of the tech content, there were a lot more things offered for the pointy-haired bosses, and HR and Marketing professionals.  They are definitely offering more to bring those folks to Orlando, and that’s fine. They didn’t lose focus on the technical side despite the lack of sessions on some things like Quickr.  It makes sense as they are trying to migrate everyone to Connections, and that product continues to get even more compelling.

The conference in general made reference to Lotuspheres past with a wall of photos and a great video of highlights through the years.  The one thing they also promised to do was have a party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Lotusphere.  This is the one IBM screwed right in the ear.

You see, our session booklets said this party was to happen on the Product showcase and it was at a time during sessions.  So if you wanted to attend, you had to skip out on content which I did.  I got to the floor and started looking around.  I found lots of other friends doing the same thing.  What did we find?  Nothing.  Well unless you count one thing of balloons and some cupcakes.

Don’t get me wrong, the cupcakes were FABULOUS, but that wasn’t really the point.  I expected an homage to the past, and kind of a passing of the torch from Lotusphere to Connect.  I skipped actual content damnit, I wanted my goodbye.  But much like we’ve felt about Notes and Domino over the years, it seemed like IBM just forgot about it.

At least on Twitter we made the “party” seem worth it, what with our piercing stations, the llamas, the live performance by Psy, and the tattoos upon nether regions.

Despite that particular shortcoming, IBM Connect seemed to maintain the things that made Lotusphere great in years past.  I really had gone into this whole process feeling that this could possibly be my last year, but when all the dust settled I felt a lot better about things.  So will I be back next year? I guess we’ll see.  One thing I would really miss is the people, and I’ll talk about that in an upcoming post.

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