Category Archives: Lotusphere
Lotusphere, IBM Connect, IBM ConnectED. Whatever you call it, There is a 4 question Anonymous survey asking for your feedback on what you would like to see in 2016.
It is done by Survey Monkey. Go Here and speak your opinion. My opinion is not so anonymous. I find Las Vegas to be the most useless city in the country.
Each year I bring with me a large collection of questions and enhancement requests that I first vet in the Meet the Developers lab. Those questions which I either don’t get a satisfactory answer or get an answer that I think others would like to hear, I will bring them to the Ask the Product Managers or Ask the Developers sessions. Often questions would be asked in one session that really needed to be answered by someone in the other session. That wasted time. This year they combined the two sessions, which was great for streamlining the process and more people got to hear all the questions (and answers). One other change on my part: I tried to provide most of my questions in advance, so they could have time to research the answer or at least make sure the right person was on stage to answer it. (often the person who would have the answer wasn’t present.) Yes, it does mean IBM isn’t so much “in the hot seat”, but this got more complete answers as a result, which is what we really want.
The room was smaller too, with only one aisle and thus, only one microphone. I like this because it makes it easier for people to queue up to ask their questions. While I asked the first question, I made it a point to let others go ahead of me whenever they got in line. This worked well as I was able to keep the conversation going with questions while waiting for people to come to the microphone to ask a question. Here is a list of my questions from this year and the responses I got for them. (as best I remember, anyway)
1. Can we get a roadmap published for Connections Cloud? (See this article for a detailed explanation)
I was able to provide this article in advance and the response was that they definitely see the point to my request and the value it would provide. Expect to see this one addressed soon.
2. We need a migration path to Connections Cloud that removes all servers from on-site. This requires a solution to 3 items:
– Mail-in databases and Rooms & Resources
– Importing Holidays
– A Relay Host service to route mail from on-site applications to the Internet
RESPONSE: We have had these requests by others and are actively working to address them. The relay host presents additional challenges and may be more difficult to resolve.
3. The administrator console for Connections Cloud is fragmented and awkward to work with. Authentication occurs in three places. Can this be made more seamless and provide improved functionality for administrators, including such things as Message Tracking?
RESPONSE: The request for Message Tracking had not been seen before, but that should be possible and makes sense to have. We are going to work to improve the administration console too.
5. Once moved to Connections Cloud, the client version information is no longer maintained in the Domino Directory and there is no way to make Smart Upgrade work in SmartCloud Notes environment. Can these please be addressed?
RESPONSE: We should be able to capture and push back the client version information. As for the Smart Upgrade, they are using a new upgrade process with the browser plugin and expect to port that over so it will be available as a method for upgrading Notes clients in the future.
6. A fix is needed for overlaying Google calendars on the Notes calendar. This broke several months ago when Google pushed out their new process for accessing calendars. They had warned this was coming more than a year ago.
RESPONSE: We have a fix, but it did not make it into the next Fix Pack. We are in the process of determining how to make this available.
7. We need the ability to use groups from the Domino directory in the contact list in Connections Cloud Chat.
RESPONSE: Great recommendation. The developers will look into making that happen. (I also spoke with the developer on this and was already thinking of how to solve this issue)
(asked in the lab only) 8. Administrators need a way to change the mail/calendar delegates for users in Connections Cloud. Currently the process is very awkward and involves the admin logging in as the user to perform the delegation. The developer flagged this one as a critical item and we should see a fix soon, so I did not ask this in the session.)
9. We need a graphical user interface for administering Connections (Thank you Ray Bilyk for asking this question!)
RESPONSE: I forgot exactly what they said. If you remember, please post it in a comment.
10. When will it be possible to launch the video chat from the embedded Sametime client in Notes?
RESPONSE: I just don’t remember what was said here. I got to ask so many questions this year, I felt like I was co-hosting the session. That may be the closest I get to presenting at this conference. I thought the overall attitude in the room was warmer and IBM was more receptive of the feedback from the people asking questions than in years past. Next time I will be sure to record the audio of the session so I can give a more accurate recap. If anyone has a recording of the session, please let me know.
Here are a few more questions I didn’t get to ask.
10. Allow voting down ideas in Connections
11. Allow viewing all ideas posted by a particular person in Connections
12. Provide a Top Innovators list in Connections, similar to IdeaJam.net
If you like these ideas and want to see them implemented, be sure to log into Greenhouse.lotus.com and find them and vote them up. Also (and more importantly) open a PMR and ask that they add your company to the request for the SPR that I have already created for these.
Tim, your passing is felt around the world, even here in Washington state. Your genius only eclipsed by your humble nature. So much more I want to say, but I’m without words.
(Long article. Jump to the meat at the end if you don’t want the full story) If you left before the end of the conference, you missed the best part. Thursday always holds the crown jewels: GURUpalooza, Ask the Product Managers, and Ask the Developers. Each of these sessions have a panel on stage and give attendees a chance to ask any question they wish or give their suggestions. If you were there, you already know this is my favorite day of the conference. No surprise given my love for product design and chronic divergent thinking (I don’t think outside the box. It’s more like there is no box.) This can be a curse at times, but on Thursday I revel in it.
At GURUpalooza, the panel consists of all the conference speakers who are not IBMers (not counting Susan Bulloch who hosts the session and Mat Newman who recently transcended the independents to become an IBMer). The big selling point of this session is you won’t get marketing fluff and they won’t skirt the question; just direct, truthful answers. And if they don’t know, they will candidly say “I don’t know.”
Then comes Ask the Product Managers. Originally started at Connect 2013 by Ed Brill, probably in response to the many questions that were more befitting of the product managers than the developers, as they were more about product direction than specific bugs or features. This is where all the hard questions are asked that the audience tries to put the panel on the hot seat. Since Ed started his new role in Mobile at the end of the conference last year, this session was hosted by Kramer Reeves, Director, Product Management, Messaging and Collaboration.
Third comes Ask the Developers. This session has a long tradition of being the final session before the closing session. It has taken on a more light-hearted atmosphere as most of the toughest questions have already been fielded in the Ask the Product Managers session, hosted by John Woods, Director of Development, Domino and SmartCloud Notes.
To paint the picture, these Q&A sessions are all held in the Swan. they open up the 5 large conference rooms to make one large, wide room. There are 4 wide isles between the chairs and at the front of each isle they set a microphone for anyone in the audience to line up in front of and take a turn to ask their question. The rules for these sessions are all the same: Each person gets to ask one and only one question and must then go back to the end of the line at one of the mics again to ask another question. Questions are taken from each mic in a round robin format. I took my usual spot at the mic in the isle directly in front of the stage.
I believe these sessions were recorded this year and are available for replay on the web. I am working on getting a complete list of all questions asked in each of the sessions. Meanwhile, here are the questions I asked this year. I am hoping that by publishing it, next year we can reflect back on what happened over the year and see if our input made a difference.
1. Roaming is not officially supported by SmartCloud, even with the data stored on a local server. Do any of the Gurus have personal experience using Roaming with SmartCloud that can speak to any issues using it in a SmartCloud environment?
A: No one on the panel has experience with it yet.
2: What is your opinion of the impact adding Kenexa to Lotusphere has had on the conference?
A: As expected, the responses spanned the board. Great that it draws people from line of business (HR users and decision-makers) so they can see what solutions are available and not rely on IT staff to spread the word. Bad that the Opening General Session had all the technical details of substance removed to appeal to the non-technical audience. Interesting to see them focus on the solution and not the technology behind it, but unfortunate that they made no references whatsoever to what software was used in the case studies they showcased. Also disappointed that the party at a park was moved to Tuesday night because the kenexa sessions only ran through Tuesday. I expect there will be much controversy on this conference merger for a long time to come.
Ask the Product Managers
1. While the “Hollywood Squares” style multi-camera web conferencing is a great stride forward, most of us still operate our web conferences from a meeting room with a group of people. When will Sametime support a roundt able camera like the competitors have?
2. We need SAML to work with Sametime and Traveler.
3. The Notes admin client hasn’t been updated since R6.5. Can the UI be updated and possibly include integrated tools to administer SmartCloud?
4. When will we see migration tools to move from Microsoft Outlook and Office 365 to SmartCloud?
Ask the Developers:
1. In the user preferences on the Basic Notes Client Configuration tab, Additional Options list, Can you add numbers to the list so it is easier to find and to refer to the items?
2. SmartCloud web mail has a button to mark messages as SPAM. Can this function be added to the Notes client experience?
3. SmartCloud does not update the person documents with the users’ client version. Can this functionality be added?
4. The Notes Workspace originally designed by Ray Ozzie has proven to be a great design by being copied by iOS and Android. Can the workspace be revitalized and clean up the functionality? Dragging and dropping icons between tabs and 5. adding applications to the workspace are examples. (This one actually got HUGE applause and was noted by the team.)
6. Add official support in SmartCloud to use Roaming with the data stored on local servers.
7. Add support for middle initials in SmartCloud.
8. Allow the customer full control over all SmartCloud system-generated emails sent to users.
9. Improve the SmartCloud administration website and consider integrating it into the Notes Admin client.
Here are more suggestions I made in the Meet the Developers lab during the week:
1. Provide functionality to remove the icons of the old mail files when a user is migrated to SmartCloud.
2. In the SmartCloud OPT tool, add the test to count the number of messages in the inbox and the number of folders in the mail file before migrating to alert to possible performance problems.
I’m sure I offered many more ideas, but this it what I remember. What are your thoughts about these? Do you have ideas of your own? Please share them here. Or better yet, Call IBM technical support and open a PMR for it. From that they will create an SPR and if enough people request it, you will almost certainly see it in the product. You should also post them on IdeaJam to get more visibility. Just know that IBM doesn’t monitor that website. They only listen to PMRs and Lotusphere attendees. Don’t think they are listening? Think again. The Purge Interval Replication Control is just one example of a feature I pushed for that made it into the product (after presenting it in the Meet the Developers lab and at Ask the Developers session).
If you’re attending IBM Connect 2014 next week you can get much more out of the experience by taking the time to get set up in the community on the conference Connections community well in advance of arriving in Orlando. This will give you access to the session information, allow you to create your own schedule, connect with other attendees, and get a more socially interactive experience at the conference.
First, you should have received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org with your login credentials. Your credentials for logging in should consist of long numbers. Secure, but difficult to remember if you’re trying to log into the website. My advice: don’t. Instead, go to the app store on your mobile device and download the IBM Connections app. I actually like using the app better than viewing it in a browser. The website is great, but in the app everything just flows a bit more smoothly. But best of all, you don’t have to keep logging in. Enter your credentials once and you’re done.
1. Download and install the app on your mobile device.
2. Launch the app.
3. Add your account credentials for the Connect 2014 Connections server. (The app allows configuring for multiple Connections servers)
Enter a title: Connect 2014
Server URL: https://connections.connect2014.com
Username: <your user ID from the email>
Password: <your password from the email>
You’re good to go. Start by entering your profile information so people know more about you. Be sure to post a photo of yourself (a photo or bitmap of anything other than you is really quite useless. A simple head shot is perfect.) Add tags about yourself to indicate your areas of interest. Next, go into the profiles and search for people you already know and add them to your network. After you connect, tag them with relevant tags that will help define who they are. Then go into the schedule area and add the sessions to your schedule so you have a plan.
Unfortunately, the forums do not appear to be available via the app. This is disappointing given that most people will want to interact on the forums via their mobile device. Who wants to log into a website to get to the forums, especially with those numeric credentials? Still, I think you will find the app very handy for getting the most out of the conference.
See you at IBM Connect O’Sphere 2014!
Lotus IBM professionals, have you made plans to attend IamLUG? Perhaps you never get to attend Lotusphere / IBM Connect because it’s so expensive for the travel and the conference fee? This is your chance to get all of the meat of the Big conference without all of the fluff. You won’t get an evening trip to one of the theme parks. You won’t have all the hoopla and grandeur of the Opening General Session or the intellectual entertainment of the Closing Session. But you’ll get all the same great, useful insightful presentations from many of the same speakers. And the cost is…
You just have to get there. Costs would include travel to/from St Louis, a ride from the airport to the hotel, Room for 2 nights at $100/night. (Split it with someone else attending and that’s $50/night!) Eat cheap while you’re there and you can get 2 days of intense professional development for next to nothing. Throw in the extra day of TackItOn sessions for just $500 and you get a complete trip of 3 days of training for a fraction of the cost of IBM Connect. Do whatever it takes to be there. When it comes to conferences outside of Lotusphere/IBM Connect, it doesn’t get any better than this. Did I mention many of the same speakers who presented at IBM Connect this year will be at IamLUG sharing all the now-released version of Notes 9 Social Edition?
Actually, there will be at least one new presenter: me. Yes, for the first time I will officially have my own microphone. In the past, you may have seen me at a mic in the audience at Lotusphere/Connect, asking pointed questions during the “Ask the Product Managers” session or in the “Ask the Developers” session when I was made an honorary developer and brought on stage, handed a laptop, and put to work. Well I finally decided to put my mouth where my blog is, to step up to the podium and give back to the community live and in person. I’m diving in with both feet too. I submitted two abstracts and they were BOTH accepted. This will be a true test of my Toastmasters training. If you’re in the audience, be kind, please.
Both sessions are on system administrator topics. The first session, “Be a Domino Detective: Hunting the Gremlins” is all about finding the problems hiding in your systems. I am so lucky to be sharing the stage with Kim Greene, a seasoned presenter! She will be hunting the gremlins that are constantly at work gnawing at your system’s performance while I will be hunting the ones that are quietly lying in the shadows, waiting for the worst time to jump out and bite you. I’m hoping this session will be both fun AND educational.
The second session, “What’s in it for me? How Your Life as an Administrator will Improve When Your Company Moves to the Cloud” is intended to provide a bit of insight into what you can expect as a system administrator if you migrate to IBM SmartCloud for Social Business. Really, the cloud can be your friend, not the end of your career. Speaking of friends, I will be co-presenting this session with my longtime friend and administrator of a broad range of systems, Greg Walrath. I look forward to seeing you in the audience!
This user group conference has grown dramatically in just 4 years. Most of the speakers you have seen many times before and know them for their expertise. IBM will even be there presenting an entire track on Social Business. This one is truly becoming one of the biggest and best. I am humbled to get a chance to share time at the podium among such rock stars in our profession. It will be fun! See you in St. Louis!
In August 2011 I posted an article giving a detailed analysis of the design of the IBM Passport Advantage website. That article received a great deal of attention, not only from the Lotus user community, but also from executives at IBM. I was even contacted by the person who oversaw the team responsible for the site. Finally, I thought, we would see some relief in our pain dealing with this website.
It’s nearly 2 years later. There have been some changes to the IBM websites, but Passport Advantage has had no significant changes. I’m here at IBM Connect 2013 to once again ask the question “When will you fix this website?” If you’re here, watch for it at “Ask the Product Managers” session. I will report the results later.
As I review my flight itinerary, I’m looking forward to the Alaska Air non-stop from Seattle to Orlando, fondly known as…The Disney Flight. No lie. See the photo.
This time there will be no missing B.A.L.D. due to missed connections, flight cancellations or delays because of a storm blanketing the center of the country. Wuhoo!
As I added my IBM Connect (Lotusphere) Conference travel plans to my IBM Lotus Notes calendar, Alaska Airlines graciously pointed out on their website yet another limitation of Outlook. They have a handy “Add to Calendar” feature. When you click it, it gives the option to add each flight to the calendar as a separate entry with the stipulation: “(not compatible with Outlook)”. See below. Just more proof that popularity does not equate to quality. In a way, I’m thankful. If everyone used IBM Lotus Notes, that would be one less advantage my clients had over their competition.
See Y’all in Orlando! If you’re going, tweet me @davehabz and let me know so we can meet up!
Every year at Lotusphere in the Ask the Developers session someone will ask IBM “When are you going to make the Passport Advantage website user-friendly?!” And every year the response from IBM is “What are you talking about? It’s fine!” Apparently usability studies are unnecessary. After all, this is IBM. How could the world’s second or third largest software company NOT know how to build a website? Who are we to give them advice, right? We’re just customers, not experts on web development, right? We are mere ersatz of IBM’s erudite web developers.
Well recently I have been refreshing my web development skills in a degree program at Bellevue College and I would like to think I have become more than just a dilettante of web design. As part of my studies, I am using the Passport Advantage website as a case study in best (and worst) practices in web design. I would like to bring you along for the lesson. Please join me in this discussion of what does and doesn’t work in web design, particularly as it relates to the success of the IBM Passport Advantage website in achieving its goal. Hopefully by this vetting, all of us can learn something from this world class international website representing the third most valuable brand in the world.
My classmates don’t have access to log into this website. So I will include some screen shots. Hopefully this does not infringe on any copyrights. This is intended for review by my classmates in the web design class and web authoring program for educational purposes only.
First, let’s find the URL. If I were to guess at it so I could go directly to it, I would expect something like http://www.ibm.com/passportadvantage . But that doesn’t work. So let’s go to the IBM home page, http://www.ibm.com and look for a link. You can find it on IBM’s home page, though with some effort. You won’t find it in any of the menus at the top of the page, but if you scroll down, you can find it “below the fold” under the Popular Links list. For that reason, I expect most people just use a search engine to find the site. I searched for “Passport Advantage” on Google.com and it came up as the first link. It was the second link listed on both yahoo.com and bing.com. It was also the first link in the results list when searched directly on the IBM website. Here is the landing page for all of these. The URL is http://www-01.ibm.com/software/howtobuy/passportadvantage/
(click image to enlarge)
Not exactly an intuitive URL. Note in the screen shot that it already knows who I am. Am I logged in? Well, no. I need to click on the Customer sign in link in the box on the right labeled “Fast Access”.
Note that it instructs to use my email address for the user name. Not exactly. Some accounts (like mine) require the username that was created, NOT the email address.
(click image to enlarge)
By the way, if I click on the link that says “Not you?” beside my name in the top right, I get this error page with no way back but to close the browser and start over:
(click image to enlarge)
After logging in, you get to what I will call the “homepage” of Passport Advantage. Actually there is no home page for Passport Advantage and there is never an obvious path back to this page. I could find no links that lead back to this page except by logging in. The Home link on this page goes to the home page of ibm.com and once you go there, good luck trying to get back to Passport Advantage. Assuming you know about the link at the bottom of the page, you’ll get back fairly easily. But most people just google it again. (even if you call customer support, they will direct you to find it this way!)
(click image to enlarge)
Great now you’re on the “homepage”. There are primarily 2 reasons most Lotus professionals visit this site: 1. To open a PMR with technical support or 2. To download software. Let’s start with getting technical support. Look closely. There are no less than 7 links to get some kind of help, not counting the phone number listed in the bottom right corner, which by the way, is NOT the number to call to reach technical support. Each of these 7 links go to different pages. The one to open a ticket with technical support (called a PMR) happens to be the last one in the left pane, labeled “Online technical support”. This would seem obvious but for the 6 other links to support on the page. By the way, if you visit a page and then hit the Back button, you will occasionally get an error instead and it will prompt you to log in again.
(click image to enlarge)
Once you get to the place to enter a PMR with technical support, you may want to get back to the “homepage”. Which link on this page do you think you should select?
(click image to enlarge)
If you chose Home you would be wrong and once there you would not be able to use the back button to return here.
If you chose Return to the IBM Support Portal you would also be wrong. (See the next screen shot.)
The correct link is actually under related links. Go figure.
(click image to enlarge)
Now let’s look at the second common reason to visit this site: downloading software. For this function you “only” have 5 choices. Again, they all go to different places. Choose carefully. You may navigate through several lengthy steps before realizing you’re in the wrong place to find what you’re looking for.
(click image to enlarge)
The downloads process continues through several confusing steps including prompting TWICE that you accept the software agreement, before actually getting to download the software. And you had better know exactly what you are looking for. There are no useful descriptions of the purpose of each software and many have very similar names.
In our classroom discussion the class agreed when it comes to usability, this site fails miserably, It is laden with many confusing links that are not organized in any obvious, meaningful grouping. There are way too many links without any form of structure or organization to the navigation. One of the class exercises is to create a site map identifying the navigation, but this website proved too complex to create a site map at all. The arrangement of the navigation did not help to identify the relevance of the links either. And why does it have 2 places to select a language? (one at the extreme top of the page, the other in the right column beside the banner image)
Well, there you have it. So far we have examined the pages leading up to the main page of the Passport Advantage site and the main page itself. What do you think? Is this analysis off the mark? If you regularly navigate this site, what has your experience been with it?
Up next if I have the time and patience: Stepping through the website to download software – no trivial task.
Before you pass final judgement on this website, check out what truly BAD websites look like at WebPagesThatSuck
Footnote: After writing this article, I noticed there is now a tutorial for Passport advantage on the landing page (you do not need to log in to view it.)
After a few minutes of frustration I had to quit viewing it. The wizard was tiny. The navigators to advance the slides are so small I had trouble getting my mouse in just the right spot to click it. There are pages and pages of blah, blah, blah. It isn’t a tutorial about USING the website. It’s about 45 minutes of reading all about WHY you should BUY it.
An amazing thing is about to happen at IdeaJam.net! (Where Lotus software ideas are promoted by you)
IdeaJam.net is a great forum for the Lotus community to share their ideas on improving the Lotus software and voting on your favorites. It gives IBM great feedback for what we really want. And as smart as the few dozen developers at IBM are, most of the best ideas are bound to come from the thousands of us who use the software in ways they never considered.
So what’s about to happen there that is so amazing? First, it just surpassed 4,000 ideas submitted! Over 10,000 comments have been made on those ideas. With a mindshare like that, IBM has an incredible resource that no other software or software company has — FREE. It’s combining the innovation of open source with the financial strength of private industry. Wow!
Next amazing point: IdeaJam is approaching 100,000 votes by all of us! It is currently at 98,907 votes. Check out the stats here: http://ideajam.net/IdeaJam/P/ij.nsf/welcome?readform
Now here’s the bad part: It looks like people aren’t contributing as much lately as they have in the past. Why aren’t you voting? Are you disillusioned because you don’t think ideas posted there are making it into the product or having any influence? Well, yeah. Me too. And I think it’s because IBM is not participating in those discussions. IBM, we need to know you’re listening. Just being lurkers that read but don’t respond leaves us guessing if you care or if you are paying attention at all. IBM, if you value this rare input from your customers, then show it.
If you have been to the last two Lotuspheres and attended the “Ask the Developers” or the new session titled “Ask the Product Managers”, then you’ve heard me present ideas that got good applause from the audience. Those ideas came from IdeaJam. They were already proven to be very popular. Several of those ideas have been added to the product. One in particular is the feature to block replication if a replica has not replicated within the purge interval. This is coming in 8.5.3.
Check out the ideas of the top innovators and take the time to vote. IBM, you need to step up to the plate too and start being more responsive to your community or people will abandon it and you can kiss this great asset goodbye.