I take it back, Lotus IS Dead

Okay, okay I know. That was an attention seeking headline, but after the Lotus – Not Dead Yet post of a couple weeks ago, I figured I needed to eat some words a bit. That said, truth be told, ‘Lotus’ IS fading.

Not the software mind you, that’s as strong or stronger than it’s ever been, it’s the branding that seems to be changing. Lotusphere saw little mention of the word Lotus, and almost no glimpses of the Lotus logo anywhere. This was obviously by design. Ed Brill has a great post on it, as does Alan Lepofsky.

You see, Alistair Rennie spoke on stage about how this was going to be the most significant Lotusphere yet. We didn’t really see any new products, or radically new agendas, so what exactly did he mean? Well to me, I think it was the simply the shift of IBM’s full support of the Lotus portfolio and the value it brings for Social Business. Like Ed pointed out, you saw people on stage from IBM that had NEVER participated in the past, and to the public’s eyes at least, never threw it’s support behind the Lotus portfolio.

Now, all of IBM gets that Social Business is indeed the next wave, and I believe that IBM looked at that and said. ‘Hell, we HAVE the best social business portfolio with Lotus, let’s leverage that, and do it now!’ I really don’t think I’m off base here. I think IBM truly now believes in these tools, and the best way to sell these tools is to sell them as IBM-branded products.

As much as I LOVE Lotus, and always have, the word ‘Lotus‘ is sometimes met with disdain and words and phrases like ‘legacy’ or ‘outdated’ or my favorite ‘are people still using that?’ How about IBM? People KNOW IBM, they know Smarter Planet, and will know Watson soon. So even though I’ll miss the moniker of Lotus, I fully understand if we start seeing all the branding go to IBM. And quite frankly, I’m okay with it.

IBM Notes and Domino, IBM Connections, IBM Quickr, IBM Sametime. Looking at that actually looks right to me, and quite frankly strengthens the ability of the company to truly market the products going forward.

Last year I was really excited about Lotus Knows. But I’ll be equally excited by IBM Knows, or ‘Social Business for a Smarter Planet. IBM Notes.’ Now wouldn’t THAT be cool? So who knows if they’ll keep calling it Lotusphere, or it will become SocialSphere or SmarterPlanetWorld or whatever. The event will still be awesome by any name, and now we may finally see the kind of push from IBM we’ve always dreamed about. We’ll see if that comes to fruition, but I, for one, am really excited about the possibility.

So congratulations to Forbes and the Radicati group, looks like those decade-old headlines may now become ‘technically’ right. Too bad for those prognosticators that the software is stronger than ever, it just has a new name.

Lotus is dead. Long Live Lotus!

Customer and Vendor panels CAN be cool

With all of the complaining about the panel discussions at the Lotusphere Opening General Session, imagine my initial thoughts when some of my press and blogger events included customer and vendor panel discussions. It was kind of a ‘oh here we go again’ reaction when I entered a couple of these special events. I was thinking that we might get more of the same generalizations as were seen during the OGS.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The special events were so much better and more engaging than what we saw during the first 90 minutes of the OGS. In one, we got to meet vendors such as Silanis, Genus, Sogeti and Meetrix. They each talked about their products and how they worked with IBM products, and how they made businesses more social. It’s obvious that IBM was hammering home the Social Business theme, but we still got to hear real world examples and got to hear how it really worked with the products we use every day. No generalizations.

Next was a Social Business ROI panel with Jamie Page and Brian Larson from Slumberland Furniture, Kristina Verner from Windsor University and some folks from IBM Trinidad. I spoke personally for a bit with Brian from Slumberland before the panel started, and they were doing some really cool things.

Slumberland Furniture is a family owned business who has both company owned stores and franchise stores. They needed ways to share information between corporate and the stores, but they had a lot of ways they needed to secure that info. So they might have to do it by region, or whether a store is a franchise or corporate, what department a person is in (Sales vs. Warehouse) etc. Well years ago when they were evaluating platforms, they had read the book ‘The World Is Flat’ by Thomas L. Friedman and it lead them to think collaboration was the way to go. They started out with Portal and Notes and quickly added Sametime, then Quickr and recently added Connections. This was a family-owned business who was run much like the company I work for, and it was cool to see how they embraced the same technologies we did, and coped with the same issues we run into. One other cool thing they did that really fit the social business mantra, was that many stores had their own video production teams, and those teams were utilizing technology from Genus integrated with Lotus products to share productions and roll out commercials and such. It was a neat use of the technology.

Next to talk was Kristina. She came from Windsor University in Canada and spoke about how the university worked closely with IBM and the city of Windsor and Essex county to make the region greener, help alleviate asthma attacks in the region, and converting waste from road projects into housing. They were heavy users of Connections, Quickr and Sametime, and used these technologies to coordinate efforts. This helped the region become recognized as one of the Top 7 Most Intelligent Communities in the world by the Intelligent Community Forum. So to see such an accomplishment stem from Lotus products was re-assuring and good to see. You can check out their community portal here.

I think the main complaint from the OGS is that a lot of the talk of Social Business could have revolved around using any tools, not just Lotus. By comparison, these panels were hard core, real world examples of the software brands we love. IBM and Lotus products were being used, and used wonderfully. So panel discussions CAN be cool. Here’s looking forward to some more of these in the future!

Lotusphere 2011 Recap – Be Social. Do Business

Be Social. Do Business.

That was the mantra of Lotusphere 2011. Social Business was the big theme of this year’s Lotusphere. Everything revolved around the Social Interactivity of employees, customers, vendors and how it all impacts the world from a business standpoint. They talked about the major shifts in computing that caused huge disruptions in the ways people worked. Mainframes, Departmental Computing, PC’s, the Internet and now Social Networking. Lotus seems very poised to jump on this wave and ride it to the next level.

And Lotus SHOULD be poised, Lotus has always been about Social. Groupware, the term coined to explain software like Notes years ago, meant working in groups and collaborating and sharing. That’s not much different than the social networking of today. People just finally get it now, and it’s easier than ever to get people using these types of tools.

Alistaire Rennie stated that business today needed to be Engaged, Transparent, Nimble and Successful. Engage with your customers, be transparent about your company, even with it’s faults, and be quick to respond and take action when the social universe demands it. Do these things and it will make your company more successful. According to their statistics, companies that outperform their competition are 57% more likely to be heavily into social media use within their organization.

This year, there weren’t any HUGE announcements on the stage for the OGS. Sametime will get native clients on mobile devices like Android and iPhone, which is very cool. Shared Calendars will finally be a part of NotesNext. LotusLive Symphony is being released. It will give you online collaborative documents a la Google Docs. From all accounts, the Lotus online capabilities are better than Google’s at this point too. So the space should get interesting. And Activity Streams are coming to NotesNext and other products.

They didn’t show a TON on Activity Streams, but I think this will be one of the most important pieces being added to the IBM products. You’ll be able to tailor your streams of information to show you updates from internal social networks, external social networks, email, teamrooms and more. And based on business analytics being baked in, you’ll be able to cull down the stream to just the things that are really important to you. This has me the most excited because live in so many worlds that being able to get the right information in near real time will be a huge help for me.

Like I said, huge announcements were hard to find, but the thing I liked is that they are committed to more versions of all the core Lotus products. Notes, Quickr, Sametime and Connections are all slated to get new ‘Next’ versions, so to me it’s nice to have all of our main tools being worked on and updated without having to take the eye of the ball so to speak.

That said, for everyone I talked to here at Lotusphere, customers, vendors and reporters alike, they all pretty much hated the format of the Opening General Session. Too much time in customer panels, talking generically about social business instead of specifics of their Lotus Software usage. People at Lotusphere want demos in the opening session. They want fire and pizazz, not chit chat. I think that people would have been better if there was some big news released, but without that, all they had for excitement were the demos which were too short compared to the panel discussions.

As a blogger, I got to be part of some panel discussions later on in the week, and those were so much better. Real world use-cases with some fairly in-depth information of how companies were actually using the products to make their businesses perform better. I’ll write more on that in a later blog post.

For me, I’ve moved from developer and admin to Pointy Haired Boss in recent years, so I DID see some of the value in having business leaders get on stage and tell their stories, but they need to limit that a bit in the opening session. You have Keynotes all week long where that works a little better. The majority of the crowd are geeks. They want to see the tech, be wowed by the future, see Lotus be aggressive in marketing efforts, see new innovations. That’s what the opening session should be. Start out the week with excitement and a bang, and it will set the tone for the rest of the week much higher.

Overall the conference was as good technically as I’ve ever seen it. So many times there were two or three sessions at once that I really wanted to be a part of. Unfortunately there’s not enough time to hit them all, but the ones I made it too were such high quality this year. I have to commend the track managers for what they were able to accomplish.

This was my 14th Lotusphere, and like every year, it was like coming to a family reunion with family you actually like. IBM is really in a good position in the marketplace right now, which means I think that Lotusphere 2012 will be even better. Hope to see you there again next year!

Lotusphere 2011 Opening General Session Live Blog

Well that’s it, the OGS is done. Time for the rest of Lotusphere to begin! Stay tuned everyone.

Awards go to Trilog, Group, and ISW. Declan Lynch was a finalist for the Open Source award!!! WOO HOO.

No matter what products you use, you are moving towards Social Business.

LOL, Doug is saying that if you use a ‘legacy’ system for email like Exchange, you can still use it. Will integrate with Sharepoint, Exchange and Office.

Beta releases of the Customer Experience Suite coming later this year.

He is a great high-energy demo guy. Look forward to see him for years to come.

Just showed the activity stream on the iPad. Also very cool…

WOW, just showed dragging and dropping friends from a facebook page right onto a webpage he was creating. Nice.

In-line editing on the in the online files is very cool. Inline previews, easy drag-and-drop.

Brian Cheng back on stage. Great addition to the demo team!

Talking Sametime Unified Telephony. Only need a simple SIP trunk to connect future Sametime to your own phone systems.

Sametime Next being improved and ready later this year too. The mobile access is huge!

Sametime Next mobile support. So Sametime natively on mobile devices. Sametime has a critical role to play in our social business strategy – Kevin Cavanaugh

Suzanne showing sub-communities. Meeting room enabled with video too. New web-based video, embedded, NO CLIENT DOWNLOAD.

Project Concord became LotusLive Symphony with trials available this week and pubically available second half of 2011.

Connections Next: Integrate Social Mail. Will connect to Domino and Exchange. More Open Standards support too. Beta Release in second half of 2011

Doug talking about Social Everywhere and partners to connect Connections with third party products. Cognos and Rational Team Concert to name a few.

Idea Blogs being added to Connections 3. Hrm, kinda like IdeaJam built into Connections and made more social. IBM likes emulating good ideas. Connections 3 available now

Suzanne says ‘on premises’ correctly! YAY. There’s a reason we love her.

LotusLive Symphony announced. Online collaborative documents, going after Google Docs it seems. Nice.

Embedded experience is cool. Embedded previews and comments without having to leave and go to another app or window

Suzanne is now on stage. Showing the Activity Stream again. Shows your internal AND external social networks in the stream. Cool.

Spoke about Lotus Utility Server in the cloud. Notes apps on Lotus Live. Cool.

Kevin Cavanaugh came on stage. Showing Nokia phones like the E7 and announcing support for the new Nokia devices. Cool. Too bad no-one uses Nokia stateside really.

Domino Designer Next will be given ability to connect into the social API’s as well.

IBM Social Business Toolkit helps you pull information into Vulcan, for the activity stream.

Doug back on stage. Talking about elegant experience, contextual information, embedded experiences. BETA later this year of Notes/Domino Next.

Demo was far too short, but Notes Next and the activity stream looks cool. As does some of the mobile stuff

Announcing that better XPage mobile device support coming.

I think they will really stress mobile this year. It’s pretty obvious. Interesting, the activity stream is being shown live on Android too. Cool.

Ron is talking via video now to stress mobile. Doing Sametime native on Android. Very cool.

Shared Calendar is a new feature in Notes Next. Department Calendar might worried right now.

The demo guy is someone named Brian who is actually really good with good eneregy. Surprised not to see Ron Sebastian or Suzanne. Brian is good though.

Notes Next client being shown. An Activity Stream included now. Showing a file sidebar. Showing Hybrid setup with email on LotusLive on files locally so you can combine.

Talking about Vulcan and Northstar. Northstar is the Exceptional Web Experience. IBM Customer Experience Suite is out now. Hrm. Nice to know it’s available on prem as well as the cloud.

Doug Cox, VP of Dev is on stage now and talking about the Next products. Here come the demos.

Larry Bowden saying that the demos are coming got the largest applause of everything so far in the OGS. Heheh.

Check out twitter for the real response from real geeks on this. Not a lot of happy campers right now. 1 hour 27 minutes in. Still no demos, still no announcements, no product talk ups.

Talking about exceptional web experiences. But really. We get it, big customers LOVE Lotus. WE dont need to be fed Kool-Aid. We need demos, and product announcements, and fireworks. This is SO not that…

Now customers AFL, Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts and RBC on stage with Larry Bowden. Back to the old white guys panel. Wheeeee…

Showing a video and putting chairs on stage again. More panel talk coming?? Eeek.

Hour and 17 in, and no demos or new announcements yet. Eeek. Will the students in the audience be turned off?

Outpermorming companies are 57% more likely to be utilizing Social technologies

Social Computing Guidelines by IBM were created way back in 2005. First major company to do so

For every 1% improvement in employee retention saves IBM $50 MILLION dollars… Wow.

Talking about HR usage to getting people more social. Starting by playing social games. Now talking about their W3 intranet. 3 of 4 IBM’s utilize it every day.

Sandy Carter, VP Worldwide Sales now on stage.

‘So Social means sharing the family jewels’ Jeff Schick… LOL

Customer Panels are nice, but it’s not like we get any good info really. It’s just nice to see people who have had success with the Lotus portfolio. It’s a good thing, just not particularly interesting.

They are all talking about how their business has gone social and how important it is. So yes, we get it, social is awesome. If anyone knows that, it’s Notes people!

Jeff Schick on stage with a panel of speakers from BASF, KBC, CSC and AT&T.; Some diversity finally. Not just all old white guys. Nice change

Blackberry Developer program. Top 25 apps on Playbook will be featured at Blackberry World in May. Very cool

Blackberry Bridge securely connects to Domino email and Connections natively. ‘Professional Grade, Consumer Friendly, this is Playbook’

The Playbook looks really cool. Talking about Flash websites, pushing the fact that Flash is embedded. Saying there will be lots of Lotus support

Co CEO of RIM Jim Balsillie on stage now (and he was Malcome Gladwell’s college roomate. Showing off the RIM Playbook right now.

Check out the book Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. WE are the outliers according to Mr. Rennie.

IBM turning 100 years old this year. No party, just want to build a smarter planet.

Dramatically going to increase the Depth of Lotus’ Capability. All of the ‘Next’ products will be talked about later. Notes Next, Connection Next, Quickr Next, etc.

Open Standards more important than ever!

Taking this to it’s full potention? Think of Outcomes, Define the Social Business Framework (which IBM provides) And Catalyze the Community!

New business model is Engaged, Transparent, Nimble and Successful

Alistare saying that this is the fifth major shift in computing. Mainframe, Departmental, PC’s, Internet, and now Social Business. ‘Social software is a continuation of a commitment that began on this stage’ – Alistare

‘This may be the most important Lotusphere EVER’ – Alistaire Rennie

‘It’s important to send the elevator back down’ Kevin Spacey talking about helping those below you and making them successful too!

Talking about Triggerstreet.com

Keynote speaker: KEVIN SPACEY! One of my favorite actors of all time… awesome

Mass Ensemble was the opening band. Awesome.

Alright folks, I’ll be live blogging and putting the newest info at the top of the post, replicating every 2 to 5 minutes or so. Sitting in the Blogger’s Den as they are calling it this year. Couches, power and hard wired connections. We’re ready to rock.

Lotus – Not dead yet!

I love how we always hear the Notes is Dead rhetoric every year, and every year we soldier on. Well, I’m here to tell you that Lotus is very much alive and well within MY organization. We use Notes for email and calendaring, Sametime for IM, Traveler for mobile support, XPages apps for various purposes and old fashioned Notes client and web applications for things including our intranet. I’ve built a Notes team that I am very proud of, and to show you just how MUCH we support Notes, let me give a shout out to my guys for what’s coming up at Lotusphere.

First up is Declan Lynch. You may know him as the developer who built Blogsphere, XTalk, FileSendr and has presented at Lotusphere on several occasions. I can give you ‘turty tree and a turd’ reasons why he’s an awesome asset to our Lotus strategy internally, but advanced XPages knowledge is chief among them. Amazon S3 Integration, PDF Generation, using extLib, and now documenting how to use a source control solution are just a few things he’s accomplished. Last year, his XTalk application was a finalist in the Lotus awards for Best Open Source Contribution by an Individual. This year I happen to know he’s also up for some awards for his open source work on FileSendr. Declan whipped up FileSendr when I asked for the functionality to use internally at work, and we gladly donated it as an open source project to OpenNTF.org. He’s expanded it, and I know there’s more coming. In addition, he has a surprise project that you’ll learn more about at Lotusphere at the OpenNTF session. Last and definitely not least, he now manages my former baby, our Lotus Domino infrastructure.

Next is David Leedy. You may know him from NotesIn9, XPages.tv and from his appearance on the XCast podcast. He’s currently hard at work ripping apart old Lotus Notes client code and preparing the app to move to XPages, all the while supporting our current users who rely on the application on a daily basis. When he’s not podcasting, videocasting or creating XPages cheatsheets, he’s now preparing for another year presenting at Lotusphere. His session: XPages: Enter the Dojo is on Tuesday afternoon, and he’ll be a presenter at SpeedGeeking as well.

Last but not least is Mike McGarel. This year, Mike is one of the contestants on Lotusphere Idol. He’s presented to usergroups like MWLUG and Granite, the Chicago based Notes user group that he was just elected Vice President of. Internally, he’s the keeper of our customer facing Domino based extranet, and several internal tools that help our Designers and Marketing departments.

Me, I’ve morphed most recently from Notes admin and technical author to an IT Director managing our company’s infrastructure, much of which is Lotus based. This Lotusphere I’m happy to once again be part of the Lotus Blogger Program. As such, I’ll be bringing you as much news as I can from the show floor. The rest of the time, I’ll be filling my pointy hair with knowledge of what the future holds for the Lotus portfolio. As a company, we’re OpenNTF Alliance members as well as a Lotus managed beta participant. We were very early adopters of Traveler, running beta versions in production so our employee’s iPhones, iPads and Android phones could talk to our corporate systems. Lotus is integral to what we do, and I foresee that to be the case for a long time to come.

That’s not to say we’re simply fanboys. Sametime meetings have been replaced by GoToMeeting, Quickr has been replaced by Basecamp, and our sales software is Salesforce.com. I believe very strongly in the best tool for the job, and Lotus Domino is that tool for much of what we do, but NOT all. If Lotus makes changes that impact us negatively, I’ll be the first person to say so. For now however, Lotus is very much a thriving force in our daily IT lives, and will be so for the foreseeable future.

So yeah, Notes is Dead? Heard that one before…

Leaving the Bullshit Behind

There’s something I’ve really been trying my damnedest to do over the last while, and that’s simply purge my life of bullshit that I don’t need. Get rid of things that bring me down, and cast away people that are nothing but downers.

Now I know that this might seem like it’s aimed at the Lotus community right now, but it’s not. It’s to everyone. If you get rid of all the bad, you can start to really concentrate on the good. Some people are too quick to tear each other down, or engage in arguments that really aren’t necessary. Why put yourself through that? Why engage with those types of people? I don’t get it.

If you follow someone on Facebook who is always bitching, or making you feel bad in some way, unfriend them. If someone on Twitter consistently makes you angry, unfollow them. If every time you talk to someone, they proceed to bitch about everything wrong with the world, stop taking their calls. If you consistently are angered by what someone writes on their blog, stop reading.

I’m serious, just purge the crap.

Now I’m not saying to simply surround yourself with like-minded automatons who agree with everything you say, that would be boring. But you CAN have people around you who can disagree, but do it in a respectful way, and respect your differences as well. If I always have to walk on eggshells around you in order to not set you off, then you are not the type of person I want to have around me. You’re bad for my energy, you’re bad for me.

Letting those types of people hang around is like not treating a disease. It infests and grows and poisons everything around you. So sharpen your scalpel and cut ‘em loose. I know it’s much easier said than done, but if you really do it, you’ll be far happier I assure you.

I am, and I’ve just gotten started.

Resolutions: Making 2011 My Bitch!

As is the tradition here, every year I come up with resolutions to try to make myself and my life better in some way in the upcoming year. I’ve had varying levels of success in the past, but I’ve also been fairly specific. So this year, I’ll be a little more general. So without further adieu:

  • Nurture my family relationships – This is just making sure I make time to spend with my family without distraction. More Daddy/Daughter dates, more trips to “do stuff” rather than just hanging out at home, and more dates to connect with my wife. Family is important, and they need to know it.
  • Get a little more fit – Not going to go crazy here, but I need to exercise. It won’t be hard to exercise more, as I exercise pretty much nil right now. So I’ll play some Kinect games (which are a surprisingly good workout) ride the elliptical bike, run occasionally when the weather allows, do some situps and pushups once in awhile, and play softball again this spring. Just need to get more active.
  • Eat a little better – Once again, I just need to reduce portions and eat healthier foods a little more often. Nothing major, and I’ll still be able to eat the stuff I love once in awhile, but I just need to eat smarter, and eat less.
  • Hone my photography skills – I just need to continue to work on my passion that is photography. Take more pictures, post more pictures, learn more about Photoshop and Lightroom, and learn how to use my camera like an expert. I’m not committing to a 52 Weeks project or anything like that. I’m just going to try to make more time and do more with it overall.
  • Enjoy what I have – I’m a very fortunate person. I’ve got a good job and a good family but I tend to always want more. This year, I just want to look at what I have and try to enjoy it without worrying about what I don’t have.
  • Reduce spending – This kind of goes hand-in-hand with enjoying what I have, but I’m going to try to spend less overall. Bring my lunch to work more, Cut out unnecessary subscriptions, and spend more time with the things I have instead of spending that cash on new stuff.

So there ya go. I think they are all attainable, but I’ll need some discipline to stick to them. I truly am optimistic about this being a great year, and I think doing the above will only help facilitate that optimism. I will OWN 2011. Here’s hoping you do too!

2010 Wrap-Up

I kick off every year with my resolutions for the new year, and then I recap them here just to keep myself honest. So without further adieu, how did I do?

  • Keep up the Health kick – Well I wanted to keep the weight down, and possibly drop to 175. Well until the end of the summer I did pretty well. I played softball in the spring and really enjoyed it, and can’t wait to play again next summer. My body at 40 takes a little more maintenance, but I can make it happen. Now, this fall, our schedules made it so we ate late at night most nights and didn’t have much time for exercise. So I’ve gone back up in weight now to 200. Annoyed about it, but mark my words, I’ll be back to 190 by Lotusphere for sure.
  • Really do more with my photography THIS year – I did do more, but never kept up the 52 Weeks project. I think I got about half done. On the other hand, I joined NAPP (the National Association of Photoshop Professionals) and joined up for Kelby Training to learn how to do more with Photoshop and Lightroom. In addition, for my birthday I got to upgrade to the Canon 7D camera. It’s got a lot more power, and I’ve already put it to good use photographing my daughters plays and gymnastics meets. So not as much progress as I would have liked, but it did get better than last year.
  • Do NOT let the new managerial responsibilities disrupt my family – I think I did well with this one. I’ve really tried to keep work and family separate, and I feel I’ve done a pretty good job. Now there were some periods that were a little rough, but I think you’ll always have those. I’ll always strive to be better, but as long as all my girls know how much I love them every single day, life is good.
  • Watch a little less TV – I rocked on this one. The wife and I eliminated a ton of shows we watched, and also some of them were cancelled which helped. We resisted the urge to try all the new shows, and some that we did we ditched after a couple episodes. So less TV means more time for other things including family, photography, gaming, etc.
  • Blog more – #FAIL I actually blogged less this year than last year by a couple posts. But including this, I think I was still around 60. Facebook and Twitter have really taken up most of my posting time. So this still is a diary for me, and helps me document a lot of what is going on. You’ll see a good uptick in January/February surrounding Lotusphere again, so we’ll see if I keep it up or not.

So as with most resolutions, I didn’t do very well, but this public shaming will hopefully help motivate me. 2010 had some definite ups and downs, but myself and my family were healthy, I’m gainfully employed at a job I love, and really I can’t ask for much more than that.

This year had a lot of things packed in. Gramps passed away. Project #PDL started off 2010 with a bang, and I ended up in Vegas a couple more times. Once for my fifteenth wedding anniversary, and another for a wonderful Defcon weekend with close friends. I then ended up in St Louis for IAMLUG, where I also met up with some college friends I hadn’t seen in person in about 15 years. My friend’s cigar shop had to move locations, and then the new location lasted about 6 months before being robbed and shutting down. This paved the way for me to set up a man cave in my back house, which was accelerated by flooding due to busted water pipes. I ate a lot of sushi, listened to a lot of music, vacationed in the Wisconsin Dells and got a new tattoo. 2010 had some highs and lows, but I came out the other end a better person, with a better outlook on the future.

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful, safe, healthy, and joyous 2011.

SIUED: Delicious Bookmarks

In the latest installment of Shit I Use Every Day, I give you the bookmarking service Delicious. Delicious is simply a website that allows you to save your internet bookmarks to it’s website. The main thing this does for you, is that it makes your bookmarks available from any web browser. It also serves as a backup for your bookmarks. I’m sure you know people, or have been one of those people, that have all of their bookmarks on a computer, and once that computer crashes they lose them all. Delicious prevents that by storing everything in the cloud.

The thing that makes it special for me is though is the Firefox Bookmarks add-on. Firefox is the web browser I use, and this add-on integrates Delicious into the browser itself. I personally ‘tag’ all of my bookmarks according to their function. So, I have tags such as webmail, travel, social, weather, photography etc. With the add-on I can add a toolbar that shows these tags. So now, if I click the tag for Photography, then I get a drop-down of all of the photography bookmarks I have. This add-on syncs with the website, so every time I add a new site, it shows up on the website and the toolbar.

The nice thing about this, is that I can add the toolbar to any web browser and log in. So the home PC, the home Mac, and the work Mac all have the add-on installed into Firefox. The bookmarks are consistent across each browser, and adding a site on any one of them adds the site everywhere. I use my bookmarks every day, so having them available and backed up at all times is pretty wonderful.

Delicious is free, and can integrate with Chrome and more. Check it out.

Wishes CAN come true

About a year or so ago. The Make-A-Wish foundation granted the wish of a seven year old little girl. This little girl wanted her and her family to go to Disney. Now for those of you that don’t know, Make-A-Wish is a wonderful organization that grants wishes to children who are very sick, many of whom are probably not going to live much longer due to their illness. Well this little girl was stricken with cancer, and she wanted, just for a little while, to enjoy a vacation with her family. She got her wish.

I personally cannot fathom how that was for her parents. They had the joy of seeing their daughter having fun at Disney, but with the knowledge that the trip may be her last, and that they may lose their little girl. It destroys me to even think what that must be like.

Flash forward to last Saturday. My own daughter had her first gymnastics meet ever. She’s been training hard for months, and this was huge for her. She’s just turned seven, and is currently a Level 4 USA Gymnast. Alongside her was one of her her teammates. She looked like any other little girl, ready to compete yet a little nervous.

The difference was that she was now cancer-free.

My daughter’s teammate was also competing in her first-ever gymnastics meet. But for her and her parents, it was a just a little more special. Just a year earlier, she was fighting cancer. Now she simply had to fight to do the perfect round-off flip flop. That’s the way it should be. She did an awesome job, and I could see the joy in her parents eyes. They were emotional, and rightly so, because I’m sure that it was their wish that was granted that day.

My daughter and her teammate did wonderfully, won many medals and their team won first place overall. It was only fitting that it happened at the Make-A-Wish Classic.

Hug your kids today, and realize, that sometimes, wishes can come true.

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