Category Archives: Quick Tip
Here is a slide deck of a presentation given by Kim Greene and me at IamLUG. Just realized we didn’t share it, so here it is. Still very applicable.
I have encountered occasions in a hybrid environment where some person documents don’t appear in SmartCloud so they are not available for addressing mail and are not available for provisioning, as in the case of creating a new user. The issue turned out to be that the entry in the Manager field on the Home/Work tab of the person document contained a long string of characters (about 40). This prevented the document from getting synchronized with the directory in SmartCloud. SmartCloud is designed so to avoid other problems, if there are any fields that can’t be synchronized, the whole document doesn’t.
So if names in your Domino Directory don’t appear in SmartCloud, review the fields for any unusual content that may be preventing it from synchronizing properly.
Want a simple method for migrating mail to SmartCloud? Maybe you are interested in moving to a Service-Only configuration, but were told you couldn’t migrate the data? Maybe you already completed a migration in a hybrid environment only to find one mailbox that was missed and needs to be migrated after the migration specialist is gone?
This process is embarrassingly simple and could make migration tools obsolete, at least for smaller environments. This puts self-service migrations in the hands of the end user. It could eliminate many billable hours transferring mail for Certified Data Transfer Managers (DTM) like myself. But I believe in things like Open Source software and Sharing Knowledge for the greater good.
Use Archiving. It’s that simple.
The steps are so easy an end user could do it. Here are the details:
Adjust the ACLs of the mail files as necessary.
Create local replicas of the old mail file and the new mail file.
Setup Archive settings in the old mail file to archive into the local new mail file.
Archive Now. (This step will delete everything from the local replica of the old mail file, so don’t let it replicate back to the server in case you need it for some reason.)
Replicate the new mail file back to SmartCloud.
Review the old mail file to ensure all documents were archived.
1. If you are going to switch to a Service-only environment, you will be getting a new Notes ID. Make sure it has access to your old mail file. This step may need to be done by the system administrator.
2. Open your old mail.
3. Create a local replica of it. It Must not be encrypted. If you already have a local replica that is encrypted, you will need to make a new one.
4. Uncheck the box on the replicator page to replicate it. This will keep it from replicating the deletions back to the server after you archive.
5. Repeat steps 2,3, & 4 for your new mail file in SmartCloud.
6. Open the local replica of your old mail file.
7. Pull down Actions – Archive – Settings…
8. Click on the Criteria tab. Disable any criteria that have a check mark indicating they are enabled.
9. Click the Create… button.
10. Enter a name for this criteria, something like “Move to SmartCloud”.
11. Check the box to Enable this Criteria.
12. In the field to select what should happen, browse to and select the local replica of your new SmartCloud mail file. The dialog will look like this:
15. You are now ready to perform the archiving. From the inbox of your old mail file, Pull down Actions – Archive – Archive Now.
16. When it is complete, you can check the document count in the database properties. It should be close to zero.Check the All documents view and in your calendar check the Lists – Calendar Entries view for documents that didn’t get brought over. It may be easiest to just re-create calendar entries.
17. Review the folders and calendar in the new mail file. When you are satisfied with the documents in the new mail file, go back to the replicator page and enable it so it can replicate to the SmartCloud server.
That is the whole process in a nutshell. There are some potential obstacles, like connection speed to the Internet, mail file size and Private folders. Also, you may also prefer to have someone with experience to turn on and configure your SmartCloud environment and address some other architectural details, but the act of moving your data can be incredibly simple. I have helped companies use this method very successfully. If you want help with the process, contact me at Divergent Solutions.
See the full list of tips HERE.
Some topics are worth revisiting every year. Here are two of my favorites:
The Like feature in IBM Connections is a great way to show you “Like” a file that has been posted. But don’t get caught up in the mindset of Facebook “likes”. This feature can also be a shortcut for a document review cycle. Instead of creating todos in an Activity and assigning it to each person, you can just send them all the link and ask them to “Like” it when they finish their review. Sounds almost too obvious, but I see people overlooking shortcuts like this often. This applies to the “home” edition of IBM Connections as well as in IBM SmartCloud Connections.
The SmartCloud administration panel has a setting for how long deleted messages are in the trash. From the administration screen, in the left navigation click on IBM SmartCloud Notes, Click Account Settings…
Click Email Management.
If your users are using Managed Mail Replicas (MMR), then they have a local replica and the Notes client will still process soft deletions on that local replica according to the database setting. So if the database setting is set shorter than what you have in the SmartCloud admin settings, the trash will be emptied locally and then replicated to the server and it will appear as though the server setting isn’t working.
Normally the administrator could change this database setting, but not for mail files in SmartCloud because no one has manager access to the database, not even to the local replica.
To avoid this problem, simply make sure to set the value of the soft deletions database property to something longer than the time you have set in SmartCloud up to 2160 hours (90 days) before you migrate the mail file to SmartCloud. Don’t exceed that as excessively high values create other problems. Also do this to the mail template you are using for new users.
The beauty of cloud-based software is the speed that updates are deployed and I expect this will change soon. IBM is working on refinements to managing the soft deletions with MMRs, but it is still best to deal with this pro-actively before migrating.
Read these articles for more tips on preparing mail files for migration to SmartCloud Notes:
SmartCloud Tip #02: Best Practices to get mail files ready to move to SmartCloud
SmartCloud Tip #03: Important Details to Setting the ACL on your Mail Files
When you move to SmartCloud Notes, you get many great benefits, but of course there are a few tradeoffs. One of those is giving up Manager access to the mail files. Whether you’re the mail file owner or the system administrator, the best access you’ll ever have is Editor. And unless you explicitly configure it otherwise, by default only the mail file owner will have any access at all. This is actually great for enforcing best practices. Users should never have more than editor access anyway, and in countries like France, the law prohibits administrators from accessing a user’s mail without their permission. Yes, the owner can always use delegation to grant others access to their mail file, but that only works if they are available to give that access. That doesn’t help for employees that are out sick or no longer employed at your company.
If you want anything other than the default, you need to plan ahead because once the mail file has been migrated, you can’t change the ACL. This means adding certain groups and roles to the ACL of the existing mail files as well as to the template for any future mail files.
There are typically 3 groups you will want to add to the ACL. The first is your administrator group. Without this, administrators can’t perform some basic administrator tasks, like opening the mail file to do troubleshooting.
The second group that may need access are support personnel who may need access to the mail files, but should not be included in your administrator group. For example, this may be regional administrators, or designated people on the help desk, or HR, or the legal department. How you organize these groups will vary depending on the organization and size of your company. Note that you need a different mail template in SmartCloud for each different ACL. For example, you will need a different template for each region if each region will have a different group of regional administrators.
The third consideration is providing access for your application servers in the event you have applications that run agents that directly touch the mail files. Keep in mind that no agents can run on directly on the SmartCloud mail servers so any agents will need to be run on a server you maintain on site. Typically databases use mail routing to get things into your mail file, but I have encountered a few applications that add entries directly to the calendar. The process of assigning access to these groups is simple, but must be done in advance of migrating the mail files into SmartCloud and also requires modifying the ACL of your mail template that will be posted in SmartCloud so future accounts created in the cloud will have them.
First, create a role called ExcludeDelegate in the ACL of the mail files, then create the three groups mentioned above as you need and apply that role to them. (More on exactly how to do this later.) The following screen shot was taken from the database catalog and shows these ACL entries framed in red boxes. Note that regardless of what level of access you give these groups in the mail file on site, it will not have more than Editor when it is moved to the cloud. But if those entries do not have the ExcludeDelegate role applied, they will be removed entirely from the ACL upon migration.
So how do you get these settings applied to all of your mail files in advance? You could add the entries using the administrator client. On the files tab, select a set databases then right click and choose Access Control – Manage. A dialog box displays that allows adding, modifying, or deleting ACL entries. It also allows creating roles. But the ability to actually applying those roles to ACL entries is missed. (I say BUG, IBM says “functioning as designed”) So the only way to assign a role to an ACL entry via the Administrator UI is to manually open each database one at a time and add the role to the entry. Not exactly convenient when trying to assign the [ExcludeDelegate] role to entries in hundreds or thousands of mail files before migrating them to SmartCloud.
Footnote: An SPR# GPKS6TNBN4 is a request to fix the admin client to mass-update roles in ACLs. Read this article for more details:
Please take a moment to open a ticket with IBM technical support and request that your company be added to this SPR. The more companies that request an enhancement, the more urgent they consider it.
Meanwhile, you can accomplish this using third party tools, such as Ytria EZ ACL tool, a module in the suite of useful admin tools. (Contact me for a discount code) or you can write an agent to accomplish this task.
Prepare your environment with these steps well in advance of migrating and things will be much less complicated at the time of migration.
If you found this tip helpful, you might also be interested in my other tips:
SmartCloud Tip #01 Using the Notes admin client to compliment the SmartCloud web admin screens
SmartCloud Tip #02: Best Practices to get mail files ready to move to SmartCloud
Here are several essential tips to avoid users having problems after migrating users’ mail to SmartCloud and to avoid having problems during the migration.
1. First, make an initial pass with the Onboarding Planning Tool (OPT) as early in the migration planning process as possible. You will want to get a jumpstart on fixing all the errors it is going to find that you never knew you had. This will also help to identify all those orphaned accounts no longer in use so you can get a more accurate count of how many licenses you need.
2. Look at the mail files on your server with the admin client. Sort them by size. If you have any over 5 GB, then open each and see how many documents are in the inbox. If you have a lot of these, make an agent to scan them all and create a report. For any that have more than about 1000 messages in the inbox you should have the owner clean it up before they are migrated. This is a performance issue.
3. Identify all mail files that have more than 400 folders. These will need to be reduced to under 400. Again, it is a performance issue and can also cause errors. Finding these isn’t as easy. If you are a glutton for punishment, you can do it manually. Open the server log, go to the view Usage – By Size. Open the document for one of the mail databases and you will find a list of all the folders. An easy way to count them is to copy the list and paste it into a spreadsheet or into an editor that will display line numbers, like Notepad++, a great, free editor. I recommend creating an agent or using a 3rd party tool like Ytria tools instead. (Contact me and I can get you a discount.)
In case you’re wondering, I’ve already asked IBM to add processing counting the inbox documents and the number of folders to the OPT. It is more likely to happen sooner if others request it too.
4. If you aren’t already using local mail replicas and managing them with MMR, then you are best off getting this setup on all users before you start migrating. You can do it after the migration as well, but creating the replicas will take longer because it is pulling it down from the Internet instead of from servers in your data center. Do NOT try to do it at the same time you migrate users. You will inevitably have problems and it will give the impression the migration was the cause. For users with excessively large mail files or with a high document count in their inbox, create the local replica first and have them do their clean up work locally. If you use the MMR settings on the Mail tab of the Desktop Policy settings, you can also tell it to create the full text index automatically too. Your users will be thankful. Be sure to teach them how to use it too!
These tips aren’t documented in the IBM SmartCloud Wiki.
But there are many good lessons to learn there if you are considering making the move. Check out the Learning Center pages on the SmartCloud wiki
Lotus Notes Version 8.x introduced the Eclipse-based extension with many new features and functions possible. But along with that came a world of new opportunities for software failures. The introduction of the Fault Reports database made it easier to gather crash information, but still doesn’t provide any tools for fixing the issues or identifying the cause of many errors in the Eclipse configuration information that is stored in the \Workspace directory located in the Notes data directory. It could present a variety of errors from the client closing as soon as it is launched to crashing whenever the user tries to send an email with an attachment. The first step is to identify if the problem is related to Eclipse. An easy test for this is to launch the Notes client in basic mode. This can be done two ways:
1. Add this line to the notes.ini: UseBasicNotes=1
I prefer not to use this method since this is only being used temporarily.
2. The preferred method for this use is to edit the properties of the icon used to launch Notes and append ” -sa” (without the quotes) to the end of the command line that has notes.exe so it looks like this:
If you cannot reproduce the error while running in basic mode, the problem is probably due to an Eclipse configuration issue.
In such cases, the brute-force method of solving the problem would be to delete the \Workspace folder and cache.ndk and maybe even the bookmarks.nsf. This may work, but it also deletes many settings that have been customized for that client. A less drastic, but not publicly documented method is to launch the Notes client with parameters that will clear the Eclipse cache or reset the configuration.
1. Click the Windows Start button, type cmd and press enter. This will launch a command prompt.
2. Change the current path to the Notes Program directory.
3. Launch Notes using the following command:
> Notes -RPARAMS -clean
or to reset the configuration, Launch Notes using the following command:
> Notes -RPARAMS -resetconfig
Each of these commands has a specific impact on the Eclipse files. The full impact is not publicly documented, so you may want to make a backup of the \Workspace folder first and if you have access to IBM technical support, it is best to open a ticket with them before using these commands. But this is another tool to add to your Notes client repair kit.
For a related article describing an example of using the Fault Reports data to troubleshoot client crashes, check out my post titled: The Single biggest cause of Lotus Notes client crashes and how to avoid them
(New versions of these plugins are now available. Read here.)
Summer vacation is over. I was deliberately taking a break from my blog to enjoy the fantastic summer and give focus on the business. While I was quiet on the surface, I’ve been very busy in the background. More on that later, but for now, some useful content…
IBM Connections with Sametime is amazing. It’s like a useful combination of features you will find on Linkedin, facebook, WebEx or GotoMeeting, Skype, dropbox, wordpress and IdeaJam and it’s ideal for any business larger than 1 person. And it is no more dependent on your email client than any of those apps are. But if you use IBM Lotus Notes, as many Connections customers do, you will get even more value with your Notes client by using the IBM Connections Plug-ins for IBM Lotus Notes. There is a version for Windows, Mac, and Linux. So where do you find this cool plug-in? How do you install it? Here are step-by-step instructions. And while you’re in the application catalog, be sure to look around at the other useful plug-ins, like the IBM Connections Desktop Plug-in for Microsoft Windows, or the IBM Connections Widget interface to LinkedIn. Have an iPad? Cool. Be sure to go to the App store and search for the IBM Connections app. In some ways I find it even better than the website. Here is a screen shot of the app. It will give you an idea of the features in IBM Connections:
Now here are the instructions for getting the IBM Connections plug-in for IBM Lotus Notes:
1. Click on this link: http://greenhouse.lotus.com . The following website will appear:
(Addendum: If you don’t already have a Greenhouse account, go ahead and click the Sign Up link now and get the process started. You will need an account before you can complete the download. Among other things it will prompt for an IBM contact. If you don’t have one, mention me and this article. They use this to validate accounts as real people.)
12. After printing and reading the agreement and getting written approval from your legal department, select to accept the license agreement and click Next. It will remind you that Notes must be closed before continuing.
15. Fill in the info for your Connections server. If you want to test it out on Greenhouse to see everything it can do, enter the server URL of https://greenhouse.lotus.com and use your username and password for your Greenhouse account. (You should have had to create one before you could download the plug-in. Don’t have one? Go back to that browser window where you downloaded the plug-in and click Sign Up in the top right corner.)
16. Click on Status Updates, Files or Activities to expand the section and see content from Connections. Note that when it is first expanded it may take a bit longer to load the content. So be patient.
That’s it. Be sure to search for me in Greenhouse and connect with me there and I can share some communities and activities I have already made to demonstrate how they work within connections. And don’t forget to go back and browse all the other cool apps at Greenhouse as well as the iTunes app store for iPhone/iPad apps on Connections, Sametime, and more!
Let me know if this was helpful. I am considering doing these as a video. Would you prefer that format over an article?
ADDENDUM: If you get the following error:
Then recheck the User Preferences. Click on the Advanced button and make sure it is using the Java Form with the authentication URL of:
If that doesn’t fix it, there are several knowledgebase articles on the topic. Search for that error message to find them.
(For a related article, see my post titled Quick Tip: Fix for unexplainable common crashes of Lotus Notes 8.x with Eclipse )
While reviewing an environment with about 3000 users, I discovered an extremely high number of fault reports occurring. On a daily basis there were from 100 to 200 faults reported. Some users were crashing every single day. Clearly this points to a systemic problem, probably due to some software conflict or other configuration issue widely used within this organization. Yet for all these crashes, the users were not reporting any problems. While they weren’t reporting problems, this was likely to lead to bigger problems from file corruption if it wasn’t already. I needed to find the cause. One catch though: I had limited access to the computers or contact with the users. This can make troubleshooting very difficult.
The first step was to examine the data submitted in the Fault Reports database. Unfortunately, the crashes were not reporting much, if any, useful data, including only partial .NSD files. Fewer than 10% of the crashes even reported a version, but of those that did, they were all either Release 8.5.2 or 8.5.3 with various Fix Packs. While we were only about half way through an upgrade from 7.0.x to 8.5.3, none of the crashes reported a version of 7.x. If all the crashes are 8.5.x, then that makes the fault rate even worse; about 10% per day for fifteen hundred 8.5.x users! Yet no one was reporting any problems. Quite the mystery.
The next logical step would be to run Fault Analyzer against the Fault Reports database to look for trends in the fault reports and to examine whatever is available in the .NSD files for any clues. The .NSD files were mostly empty and Fault Analyzer proved useless because there wasn’t enough data reported in the fault reports. For those crashes that did report some data, examining them manually, I found a common thread among some of the crashes:
Host Name : LAPTOP1234
User Name : SYSTEM
Date : Thu Oct 11 10:33:24 2012
Windows Dir : C:\Windows
Arguments : “C:\Program Files (x86)\IBM\Lotus\Notes\nsd.exe” -dumpandkill -termstatus 1 -dlgopts showwait -wctpid 5292 -wctexitcode 1073807364 -panicdirect -crashpid 3940 -crashtid 516 -runtime 300 -ini “C:\Program Files (x86)\IBM\Lotus\Notes\notes.ini” -svcreq 128
NSD Version : 220.127.116.112 (Release 8.5.2FP3)
OS Version : Windows/7 6.1 [64-bit] (Build 7601), PlatID=2, Service Pack 1 (8 Processors)
Running as 32-bit Windows application on 64-bit Windows
Build time : Mon Jul 11 03:15:18 2011
Latest file mod : Fri May 13 09:03:31 2011
Notes Version : (32-bit client)
ERROR (79): the directory () does not exist – (22) Invalid argument
ERROR (44): unable to open file ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\IBM\Lotus\Notes\Data\formats.ini’ – (2) No such file or directory
This is an odd error, but searching the web I did find others who reported a similar problem and they solved it by getting a copy of the formats.ini file from a good installation and adding it to their computer. Could it be that our customized installation kit was missing this file? If so, it would be a straightforward fix, though it would have to be applied to all computers already upgraded. However, an inspection of one of the computers that had been crashing revealed the file is right where it should be. This was a dead end.
Finally I was able to work with one user on the issue. She had been crashing several times a week for the past few months though she never noticed. The crash reports were time stamped fairly consistently at around 7:30 AM correlating with the time she came in to work. The user did not report any unusual behavior when she started her computer, though occasionally Lotus Notes did “take a long time to start”. So one morning I watched her go through her morning routine of starting up and logging in. There was nothing unusual. No crash report posted either. Time to do more trend analysis.
I created several views in the Fault Reports database trying to identify any other trends using different categorized sorts: by date, by user, by hour of the day. When categorized by the hour of day, the crashes revealed a trend. The majority of crashes were in the afternoon between 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM (hours 13 – 16).
I sorted this view further by user. From this I noticed that, while the crashes were scattered throughout the afternoon, for any given person they were usually crashing in the same hour almost every time. I re-sorted the view so it was first categorized by user and then by hour and added a column with the exact time of crash. Now I could see all the crashes for one person grouped together and categorized by hour. Then scanning through the users with very high crash counts, I found the final clue: One user crashed at precisely 5:00 PM every single day. This user was crashing at precisely 5:00 PM every day and the crashes were being submitted consistently at 8:02 AM the next day.
This person happened to be the receptionist. Her work hours are precisely from 8 to 5. Looking more closely at the other users I could see the crashes were typically occurring about 8 hours after the previous crash report was submitted by each person. It is important to note here that the crash report is reported (Creation date/time) at the next restart of Notes. In other words, Notes would crash at the end of their day and they didn’t restart Notes until the next morning.
I called the receptionist and asked how she shuts down her computer at the end of the day. I expected to hear her say she just hits the power button, but that was not the case. It turns out she clicks the X in the top right corner of Notes to close the window, then clicks Log Off on the Start menu immediately after. Apparently Notes 8.5.x takes longer to close than 7.x and it was not able to close before the OS dumped it from memory during shutdown, thus causing it to not close cleanly.
With a bit of user training, this problem has been resolved. They were told to give Notes an extra minute to shut down before logging out or just lock or hibernate the computer instead of logging off.
I think this is a flaw in the interaction between the OS and Notes, but until that is fixed, this is a clean, simple work-around. What are your ideas and experiences with this?
Lotus Notes Quick Tip: Hold the Ctrl key while opening a different view to jump to the same document in that view
Mat Newman’s tip about a clever use of categories reminds me of another useful but little-known feature. First, put the focus on a document in a view (click once on it.) Now hold down the control key and click on another view or folder where that document also exists. The view will be opened with the focus on that same document rather than where it was the last time the view was opened. One example of how this is useful is if you want to see other documents that are related and appear near the document in the other view. For example, in your mail file, find a document in the All Documents view. Now hold down the control key and click on the folder where it is filed. Another valuable effect is that if the document doesn’t exist in the second view, the view will be opened in the same place it was when last opened, so you can tell that the document doesn’t exist in the view.
Another place that this used to be helpful was in the help files. If you found a topic in a search, you could switch to the Table of Contents view and it would jump to that same document so you could read all the related documents in the chapter. Unfortunately, that broke with the new navigation format of Help.