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Not waving, but drinking

Actually, we will be waving: waving from afar, that is. Because for the first time in many years – and we’ve racked up 40+ visits between us – none of LDC Via will be at IBM Connect 2017 next week.

However, not to be outdone, we are marking the conference in our own way. Specifically, the first (and possibly only, who knows) IBM Connect Goes To The Pub event.

Important details:

  • In London, upstairs at the Castle pub next to Farringdon tube station
  • On Tuesday 21st from 5:30pm
  • The food and drink are on us (up to a point, but feel free to see if you can push the bar tab that far)
  • Open invitation to anybody in the UK ‘Lotus’ community who wants to come along
  • No sales pitches from us.
  • We will be live-streaming the conference OGS onto a screen.
  • There may or may not be pretzel cookies as well as more, um, ‘traditional’ pub food options.
  • If you’re coming it would help us if you emailed, or signed up.  Please 🙂

 

Exciting times

It’s been a busy few weeks in LDC Via towers, with more to come.

First, we had the announcement that we have been accepted as a G-Cloud 8 supplier, on our first attempt. That means that LDC Via is available on the UK government’s centralised buying portal for cloud services.

Hot on the heels of that, while Mark Myers was at MWLUG we went public with our strategic partnership with PSC Group for Domino migrations and collaborative application development. There’s more to follow on that, but the session by John Head went down really well.

A week later we announced our new product, KEEP.WORKS.  We then explained a little more about it,  and published an invitation to a private beta test, which starts in a few days. All the slots are taken, but if you are interested in going on a waiting list, or in being the first to know when we go ‘live’, do register here.

Coming up to date now, this week we will be at ICON UK. We are speaking, sponsoring and exhibiting. And, of course, giving lots of demos of KEEP.WORKS and getting your feedback – so do drop in and see us.

 

 

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There’s a first time for everything

Two firsts, in fact.

Next Tuesday, LDC Via are giving our first webinar. Called “Introducing LDC Via”, it will cover

  • What LDC Via is
  • How you can use it to extend or replace a Notes/Domino infrastructure
  • How to move data out of Domino, but still retain Domino ‘magic sauce’ features like readers/authors fields, rich text, and response hierarchies
  • How to build Domino-style collaborative applications without Domino Designer
  • What’s on the roadmap for LDC Via

Tuesday 12th January, 4pm GMT (11am EST).

And the second “first”? Well, my colleague Matt White, veteran of many webinars, will be doing much of the talking, so you’re in safe hands there. But for the first time I will be co-hosting the webinar. Be nice, throw ePeanuts, ask difficult questions, whatever … but mainly be there – it’s going to be fun* 🙂

 

 

* For a given definition of “fun”, of course

 

IBMLotusConnectOSphereED 2015/2016 thoughts

As I said in my previous post, I think ConnectED was a Surprisingly Good Conference. Here’s why….

THE GOOD

  • The smaller scope of the conference worked well. The bulk of attendees have always been primarily interested in the “Lotus” stable of products, but in recent years IBM has tried to force peripheral products (SUT, Kenexa for god’s sake, Portal, Customer Experience Thingummy) down our throats, and forced out, in particular out of the OGS, most of the content that the bulk of attendees, who have PAID TO BE THERE, are interested in. The pendulum swung back this year. Whether it landed in quite the right place is open to debate, but it was definitely a better place.
  • The OGS was full of content. This relates to the above, of course, but there was far less sniping and bitching about the OGS because it was genuinely good. Moving the speaker to the end worked well, and also he was one of the best and most genuine speakers I’ve seen in that context: a great choice.
  • Condensing everything into the Swan worked well. The rooms were busy, the corridors were packed, everything felt buzzy and alive. Much better this than rattling around in a too-large venue, or having the event padded out with 1000s of IBMers and irrelevant HR people as has happened in recent years.
  • Taking into account that this was a “new” conference in some ways, there weren’t too many scheduling SNAFUs.
  • Despite cost-cutting on the badge holders, having a proper neck strap on them, instead of the cheese-wire we’ve had a couple of times recently, was a good choice. Thank you.
  • The organisation of this conference was clearly a somewhat seat-of-the-pants affair, and many feared it would be a shadow of its former self, but actually it came into its own and in my opinion was the best “non-Lotusphere Lotusphere” yet. The King is dead, long live the King.
  • Great closing session. Okay, we know IBM couldn’t commit to 2016 plans, but even the vague statement of intent we got was a welcome and positive sign for the future.
  • Verse. This, with its detailed design work, and Watson-fuelled trickery, and seemingly (from what I’ve seen) well-done integration between email and parts of Connections, is probably the most exciting and innovative thing IBM has produced in the “Collaboration” space since it first released QuickPlace and SameTime. Those two were, as was Notes, years ahead of their time upon release, but IBM then didn’t push them forward fast enough and paid the price. With Verse I believe from a technology standpoint they have an opportunity to reset, to learn from their mistakes, and to move ahead confidently. It’s a pretty compelling product. Will they be able to unseat “out of my cold dead hands” Outlook? I’m not sure. But Google are managing, here and there, and Verse stacks up pretty well against gmail, and blows it away UI-wise. Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so I’ve signed up for a beta account and will put it through its paces. I am unclear as to how the business partner ecosystem can feed off Verse, but there is definitely talk of extensibility, and there’s BlueMix xPages+Domino happening… so can IBM pull this all together, with the right ambition and delivery, to create something that will sustain both itself and the after-market for the next 5 or 10 years? Are we seeing “the next Lotus Notes” here? Perhaps. I hope so. I have an open mind.

THE BAD

  • Charging full price for a conference that was a day shorter was rude. I understand the reasons why, but it’s still rude.
  • Stripping out the park party: well, actually I don’t care, as I’ve not bothered with that for years, but from what I hear the replacement wasn’t up to much.
  • Drinks tokens? Really?! Are we students FFS? I’m glad it was dropped, but it was pretty damned insulting to have come up with that in the first place, and then to use cheap Staples ticket rolls … just plain stupid.
  • It feels that at some point the “Experience” people waded in and start throwing their weight around. Otherwise why would their stuff have been put into larger rooms than, for example, Marky Roden and Mark Leusink’s superb Angular.JS session which then had to repeated and was still at capacity second time around? Conference organisers need to get this: play to the audience you have, not the one you wanted.
  • Print on both sides of the conference badge. Please.
  • Don’t schedule anything against Gurupalooza. Ever. Not even a repeat. Not even a brilliant repeat by Louis Richardson. Just don’t.

THE FUTURE

This is an interesting one, is it not. What will IBM do? There was a commitment at the (excellent) closing session to do something.

There are voices saying that the Swolphin has had its day. It’s certainly old, and quite shabby, and very expensive to stay in. But we love it. It’s like an old pair of slippers, or a favourite armchair: sure, one can and possibly should replace it, but comfort and nostalgia and familiarity shouldn’t be discarded lightly. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.

So I sincerely hope that when IBM weighs up its options it keeps an open mind on having an event at the Swan again. Ditch the Dolphin completely. Hold everything in the Swan, with a dining tent outside as in ye olden days. Cap the numbers if necessary. Who knows, it might even sell out.

That said, if the future is to merge with a larger IBM conference, InterConnect being widely believed to be the most likely candidate, IBM has some challenges.

  • Firstly, getting this existing die-hard loyal audience to attend (we did this year despite the shambolic up-front messaging about the event, but mainly because it was the “same event” in a sense).
  • Secondly, most of the sponsors and exhibitors at Lotusphere/ConnectED are already straining to justify the cost: if it’s made more expensive, many will simply bow out. Please don’t make that mistake.
  • Thirdly, having it on the East coast makes it easily do-able for Europeans: a Vegas event is that much harder in terms of time difference, which may put some people off (value for money is the key here – if it’s a must-attend because of the content, that objection is easily overcome).
  • Fourthly, it needs to be a self-contained conference-within-a-conference, rather than just a track. The latter was tried with Connect, and we end up with a bad compromise and a crappy irrelevant OGS that set a bad tone for the rest of the event. Give it its own name, and its own OGS.
  • Finally, the name: we’ve had Connect and then ConnectED, neither of which make logical linguistic sense as a sub-event within InterConnect. How about “Lotusphere”? If that’s too backward-looking and not down with the IBM cool kids, perhaps drop the Lotus bit but keep the “sphere” bit: it’s different, and distinct, and pays due homage to our joint heritage. It’s been pointed out to me that “Versesphere” doesn’t play too well in German, but use some imagination. Crowd source it, even.

The main point about all this is, of course, the community. Many in IBM don’t “get” this, because they’ve never been a part of it. I did speak to one new IBMer last week who was stunned by the warmth and depth of our little world. Truly ‘social’. This community is strong, but not strong enough to survive unending wilful neglect.

Please, IBM, just when you’re producing something that could – if directed and delivered right – be “the next Lotus Notes” we’ve all been after, don’t pull the rug out from under your own feet by stamping on the very community that made Notes a success in the first: you need them (us) as much as they (we) need you. Give us what we need in 2016, not just what you want.

Thoughts on not trying to nail jelly to the wall

For a number of years now I’ve been a keen user of some of Ytria‘s tools. If you’re a Notes/Domino developer you’re probably already familiar with some of them: ScanEZ is the best known, and particularly for Notes client development (yes, I still do a fair bit of that) some of the others like ViewEZ are indispensable.

However, a couple of weeks ago I had the occasion to explore further. The scenario was this: a large suite of databases, thousands of them in fact, was being consolidated from a global network into a reduced number of servers. As part of this process, the server on which most (not all) of the scheduled agents run needed to be changed, some agents enabled, and some others disabled. “Easy“, you might say, “just go into the agent properties and change the server it runs on and do your disabling/enabling“. Not so fast, sunshine! I knew that there were multiple databases containing scheduled agents, and quite a few in each. It would take a long time to do by hand, and I would be bound to lose attention and make a mistake, because, well, I’m human (honestly). Enter AgentEZ!

Using AgentEZ I was able to quickly select all of the agent-containing databases, and get it to scan them for scheduled agents. 30 databases scanned, and 451 scheduled agents found. Four hundred and fifty one! Then I was able to select them in groups, search for them by name, filter them by whether or not they’re currently enabled, etc etc. And, then, change the run-on server, and do my enabling and disabling in bulk. AgentEZ even lets you then save the selection of databases as an XML file, and reload it later.

The five minutes I spent learning my way around ScanEZ’s interface were repaid many times over. No only was I able to make all the changes I needed in minutes, rather than hours, I was also as sure as possible that it was all done right, every agent that should be running was running, every agent that should no longer be running had been disabled, and they were all running on the correct servers.

Not a tool you’re necessarily going to need every day. But when it does fit the bill, worth its weight in gold.*

 

 

 

* Metaphorically, of course. Software generally doesn’t weigh very much at all. Except WebSphere, of course.

London is the only place to be on 21st March

In case you’d not picked up on it, the good folks at Turtle, and we of London Developer Co-op, are running a new type of event in central London next Friday 21st March.

Its called the Collaboration Stack Community Event. We have a wide range of speakers, many of international standing, who will be giving short insights into a given topic. However, this is not an event that’s about being lectured to from the front of the room. Instead it’s designed to be much more interactive. All sessions will have time set aside for discussion. Some sessions will be entirely about discussion (albeit with some moderation and leading). And there will be plenty of opportunities to talk with the speakers and each other informally outside the session times.

For both practical reasons (size of venue, new format) and financial reasons (we are footing the bill ourselves – no registration fees, sponsors, product pitches or exhibition space) we’re limiting the numbers on this occasion. And the good news is that it’s filling up fast – we’re over 80% booked up.

Some links for you, if you want to register or find out more:
CSCEvent site
Agenda page
Registration link

Did I mention that this is a free event? 🙂

Hope to see you there.

PS If you’ve registered but you’re not going to be able to make it, please let us know so that
[a] we can free up your space for somebody else and
[b] we don’t hate you 😉