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.

Goodbye Lotusphere Hello Connect

Goodbye Lotusphere Hello Connect

The end of this month I’ll be attending a yearly technology conference in Orlando, Florida for another time. How long? Well, If I had birthed a child way back when I started attending, that kid would be in high school. It’s a long time to do anything in this world, and as with anything you do this long, change is inevitable.  Up until now, that conference had been called Lotusphere. This year, the moniker has changed to IBM Connect.

For the first time in nearly a decade I’m not working the show as press, or as a technology blogger, or as a speaker.  This year I’m just going as a customer.

It’s actually a nice thing for me.  In the recent past I’ve always had interviews, and press briefings and blogger “nachos and news” events that I had to attend.  I missed a lot of session content and even some parties because I was sequestered away in a back hotel hallway interviewing executives and writing articles and blog posts (sometimes on a deadline.)  Last year, I didn’t have writing responsibilities, but I had to speak on stage twice.

This year I just have to attend sessions and soak up all the information I can.  I still may take as many pictures as always, but I might not even write a word about the event until well after it’s over.  That’s a fairly seismic shift for me, but quite frankly I’m looking forward to it.

The event is obviously changing in other ways too.

Most notable is the fact that the Lotus branding is being deprecated and everything is now true blue IBM.  I agree with the decision on the branding point, but not seeing thousands of bumblebee backpacks will be a sad departure from years past.

In addition the conference has really expanded to include more managerial, strategy and big picture business tracks and the focus isn’t quite as strong on the technical ones any longer.  I’m wondering how this might affect it’s usefulness to myself and my team.

I’ll miss some of the people who will be absent this year too.  Some staples on stage giving sessions, and staples on stage singing karaoke at Kimono’s.  This saddens me for many reasons, not the least being that some of these people no longer make their living based on IBM software.  That means chances to see them in person are far less likely.

Lotusphere has always been a family reunion for me.  Reconnecting with the people who bled yellow and had the same passion for the software that I had.  We would talk tech, network, learn, party and become close friends.  It was the recharge I needed to kick off the year in high gear.  WE were social business long before anyone coined the term.  This year, I’m just not sure it will be the same.

That said, I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt, and reserve judgement until I’ve seen what IBM has to offer.  I just can’t help having a nagging feeling that is my last yearly trip to Orlando.

Here’s hoping I’m wrong.

Planning a Resolute 2013

‘Tis a little late I know, but it’s time for me to outline my resolutions and plans for 2013.  So without further adieu, here it goes.

Enjoy my family – I want to put this here to remind myself to continue to maintain a really good family/work balance.  This is going to be a busy year for my job, and I want to make sure I can balance work, time with my kids, time with my wife and even time with my buddies in the man cave.  Family is the most important piece, so I want to make sure the other things don’t overshadow them.

Maintain my weight – This past year has been a great one for weight loss, and I could probably use to lose another 10 pounds or so.  That said, I’m not setting my sights that high.  I just want to maintain where I am, and not gain it back like I’ve done so many times before.  So here’s to watching what I eat and drink, and trying to keep things level.

Exercise SOME – Even though I lost a lot of weight this past year, it was primarily due to the fact that I changed my eating habits.  So this year I would like to actually try to exercise some.  Walk during lunchtime more often, use the Gazelle occasionally.  Spend more time doing things like yard work that really do burn calories.

Play more Games – I know this one sounds kind of cheesy, but the fact is that due to work and other obligations I had stopped gaming almost entirely.  I used to be a big time video gamer, and quite frankly I miss it.  Over the holidays my family and I played the Ticket To Ride board game, and I played a lot of Fieldrunners 2 and all five episodes of the Walking Dead game on iOS.  I really enjoyed it all, and want to make sure I carve out some time to get back to escaping with a good game once in awhile.

Learn some stuff – I don’t care if it’s by playing around myself, reading a book, watching a training video, or following a web tutorial, but I want to learn some new things.  Doesn’t matter if it’s about photography, web design, social media, cigars, software or anything else.

Update my personal websites – I haven’t updated my main site in a cringe-worthly length of time, and I’d like to change my blog template design too.  In addition I have a lot of personal nameplate sites and social networks out there, and it would make sense to have that a little more organized and up to date.

So I think that’s about it!  Quite enough to accomplish I imagine.  I still plan on hugging as much as ever, keeping my anger/sarcasm in check a bit, and forgiving more quickly when I do get upset about things.  I have a feeling 2013 will be a very packed, but very good year!

2012 Post-Mortem

As is tradition in these here parts, it’s time to reflect on last year’s resolutions.  A couple of them I did pretty well on, a couple, not so much.

Eat slightly less – Exercise slightly more.  This one was a pretty excellent success.  I was in a team based Biggest Loser contest where my team placed second (out of over ten teams) and I lost the most weight based on percentage and won the individual weight loss challenge.

We had a second individual contest over the months leading up to the recent holidays and out of 25 people I finished fourth.

I’ve just concentrated on keeping calorie counts down. I’ve really limited liquid intake to water and coffee (and whiskey of course) and I’ve tried using technology to my advantage with my FitBit and my Withings WiFi scale.

I haven’t exercised nearly as much however, so that will be a bigger focus in the upcoming year.

Watch Less TV. I passed this one with flying colors.  My wife and I watch some shows pretty religiously (The Walking Dead, Fringe, Revolution) but I’ve really cut back, and would like to cut back even more.

Take more photographs. #failedmiserably, unless you count gymnastics meets, then by all means I’ve taken more :-)

Be slower to anger. I did pretty well on this for awhile, but the last couple months have not been good for this resolution. I need to really get back into that mentality.

Be quicker to forgive. Even though I haven’t done as well not to get angry, I do think I carry that anger with me for shorter periods of time. Anger isn’t good for you, and you really do need to try to “let go.”

Hug more. Huge success. I’ve always been a hugger, and I’ve made it a point to be even more so this year, and it’s been wonderful. Hugs do a body good!

So in all, it was a pretty decent year for my resolutions. I think making them a little less specific helped a bit, and I had the wherewithal to actually stick to them. Looking forward to what 2013 brings.

So how about you all, how did your resolutions turn out?

We live in the future

We live in the future

A couple of weeks ago I flew to the US west coast for a business trip.  Mid-flight I tweeted the following:

I’m at 38,000 feet, playing Words with Friends, listening to NFL Sunday Countdown and drinking a screwdriver. THE FUTURE, I AM IN YOU!

I had my iPad in hand and was connected to the WiFi in the plane.  I was streaming a football game in the background, checking Twitter and Facebook and playing Words with Friends.  It really struck me how insanely cool that is.

As a kid, I would have never envisioned the internet, tablet computing, online real-time multi-player gaming or streaming audio.  Much less while mid-flight.  Oh and that tablet device houses thousands of songs, dozens of books, comic books, magazines, and several feature films, all in the palm of my hand.

I landed later in San Francisco, then drove to Petaluma, California to watch one of my favorite podcasts record live, This Week in Tech with Leo Laporte.  Think how unusual podcasting is? When I grew up we had a couple local radio stations and you had to listen to what was on, and only what was locally available.  Now anyone can record a show (in high definition nonetheless)  and make it available for download to people the world over.  Folks like Leo can make careers in podcasting and have fans anywhere.

Then driving back to San Francisco, I drove through a mountain tunnel, and then over the Golden Gate Bridge.  What amazing feats of engineering.  Humans continually amaze me, and it’s insane how far technology has come in my lifetime.  I can only imagine how things will be 10, 20, and 30 years from now…

The future, I am in you, and you feel awesome.

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