Blog Archives

Why Use Domino & Notes for collaborating among teams: A Customer Testimonial


My recap of CollabSphere is coming soon.  Meanwhile, my friend Bernd Gewehr is featured on IBM’s website right now, and he does a great job of explaining the benefit of using Notes for app development for his company.

Small companies do big things with Notes apps.

 

Learn more about what is coming in Domino V10 in just a few months: https://www.ibm.com/collaboration/ibm-domino

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Some tips are worth revisiting each year: Holidays in Dom Dir and Inbox Cleanup


Some topics are worth revisiting every year. Here are two of my favorites:

How to create holidays in the Domino Directory for importing into calendars

Clearing your inbox for a productive start to the new year

You asked. IBM responds: Interim Fix for Domino to support SHA-2 and TLS fix for POODLE attack.


All the information you need is in these two technotes:
http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg21418982
http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg21687167
Watch for the fix to be posted on Fix Central soon.  Then this can be marked Completed in Greenhouse and IdeaJam.net
Note that one of these will only be supported on Domino 9.0.1.  The 8.5 code can’t support SHA-2 encryption.

What does this mean? This addresses the issue that web browsers will soon no longer support connecting to websites that use the older encryption due to its weaker algorithms that can be broken with today’s faster computers.  So Domino servers using https will need this update to allow web browsers to be able to connect after they drop support for the old security.

Quick Tip: Fix for unexplainable common crashes of Lotus Notes 8.x with Eclipse


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:

Basic Mode

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

SmartCloud Tip #01 Using the Notes admin client to compliment the SmartCloud web admin screens


This is my first in a series of tips regarding SmartCloud Hybrid Notes migrations and administering SmartCloud Hybrid Notes environments that aren’t always obvious.

First, as a user, I will say that the more I use SmartCloud Notes, the more I like it.  Yes, when doing administration tasks I keep bumping into walls that, as an experienced administrator, I wish weren’t there.  But I have seen the problems that a bad or malicious administrator can reek on a system given the opportunity and I am thankful for the excessively tight security.  After all, one of the biggest reasons to go to SmartCloud is so you don’t have to administer mail servers, right?

Tip #01 – How to use the Notes Administrator client to compliment the SmartCloud Web administration screens:
As usual, the system administrators are the last ones to get a UI that makes sense.  No surprise since there is only 1 administrator for every few thousand end users.  The SmartCloud Web Administration screens aren’t very efficient and can be downright frustrating to use at times, especially when you are accustomed to using the Notes Administrator client.

For example, let’s say you have a mixture of mail templates in use and you need to move everyone using one template to a different one.  There is no way to see what template is applied to each mail file via the web admin interface.  At this time it simply can’t be done.  But you can use your Notes Admin client to find them.  While the SmartCloud servers won’t show up in the list of servers in your domain and you can’t view the directory in SmartCloud to add those servers in bulk, from the pulldown menu select File – Open Server and enter the server name to gain limited access to the server.  The SmartCloud servers will even appear in the Open Server dialog list if you have opened mail files on them already.  Be sure to bookmark your SmartCloud servers in your favorites too, so you don’t have to go through this process every time.

Now that you have the server open, you can go to the Files tab and see more details on your users’ mail files including the templates applied.  The directory structure they use in SmartCloud is designed to accommodate a multi-tenant environment.  So you will want to know where to find your mail files.  It’s not too hard because you can’t see any databases you shouldn’t have access to.  The directory structure works like this:  In the root there will be the directories Data0, Data1, Data2, Data3.  You can ignore the Data0 directory as no mail files are in there.  Each of these directories contain the following subdirectories:

12345678 (your customer ID) – location of the mail files for users that have this server designated as their mail server
lost+found – used for maintenance
s\12345678 – location of mail files where this server is the user’s secondary server in the cluster

While there aren’t many actions you can take here, it does make it easier to do tasks like open mail files for troubleshooting, view the database properties, see who is approaching their quota, etc.

Preparing for IBM Connect 2013 (Lotusphere) and another “Outlook can’t do that” moment


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.

20130122-6 disney flight

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!

Click Add to Calendar

Click Add to Calendar

Click Add to Calendar
Too bad Outlook users...

Too bad Outlook users…

But if you use IBM Lotus Notes...

But if you use IBM Lotus Notes…

Import the entries so they are available when offline.

Import the entries so they are available when offline.

Voila', individual entries for each flight.

Voila’, individual entries for each flight.

_____________________________________________________________

The Single biggest cause of Lotus Notes client crashes and how to avoid 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     : 8.5.23.1132 (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).

Fault Reports by Hour of Day

Fault Reports by Hour of Day

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.

Crashes occurring at 5:00 PM daily

Crashes occurring at 5:00 PM daily

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.

Microsoft hires Lotus Professionals for Cloud Computing at Office 365


That’s right.  You read the headline correctly.  I’m not the only Lotus professional working on the Office 365 project.  My friend, a fellow Lotus professional just joined the team.  Surprisingly, I didn’t know anything about it until a week before he started.  Now you might be asking yourself:  “What would Microsoft need Lotus professionals for?”  No, it has nothing to do with things like mail migrations.  It’s all about BlackBerry Enterprise Servers and messaging.  I think this illustrates more than ever that if you have universal skills, like understanding the concepts of messaging or troubleshooting, you are highly marketable, regardless of the details of what product those skills are used on.  It’s not about being a professional of a particular brand.  It’s about being an expert of a process.  Conceptual understanding transcends the syntactic details.  Demonstrate that and you will display higher value (DHV).

Now for some quotes you might hear among us Lotus experts  at the Microsoft:

“What do you mean, I can’t paste a screen shot in a Lync IM chat?”
“Where is the ‘Send and File’ feature?”
“You mean if I want to file a message into multiple folders, I have to make copies of it?”
“Why does everybody CC everyone on the team for every email?  Don’t they have discussion Dbs for that?”
“What do you mean, we don’t have a knowledge base?  How do we collaborate?  Oh, CC everybody.”
“I’ll just Google that, uh, I mean Bing it.”
“I could do this so easy in a Notes app!”
“How do I create a reminder on my calendar?”
“Notepad++ ?  Don’t let anyone see you using that.”
“Where is the workflow in this app?”

Yes, my friend, welcome to the team.

Grand Canyon Day 2: Jackass Creek to North Canyon


Next Post: Day 3
Previous Post: Day 1

(If you’re just checking in for the first time, I am posting my daily journal entries from my month-long rafting trip leading 16 friends down the Grand Canyon.  You may want to go back and start at the first post of the series and work your way forward.)

An exciting day!  I got up around 5:30 AM, just before sunrise.  Around 6:30 AM the wind suddenly picked up, gusting over 20 mph.  Then the rain came and it poured.  Ariel put on her drysuit before she even got out of the tent.  Best rain gear you could have!  It’s a good thing I had packed the gear back in the drybags before going to bed.  A few people left stuff outside and it’s soaked.  David C. didn’t fair so well.  Yesterday evening his tent blew down the hill in a wind gust like a tumbleweed.  Someone recovered it just before it went into the river, but it got torn up a bit.  He’s gonna get wet if we get more rain on this trip.  It’s a good thing everything dries so quickly in the Canyon.

We packed up camp in the wind and rain and were ready to go by 9:00.  Then the rain and wind suddenly stopped.  This is so much like those Florida summer rain showers.  The big difference is you can’t see what’s coming because the Canyon walls block the view of most of the sky.  You don’t know what’s coming until it is right over you. Then just as we prepared to push off from shore, red-brown water started flowing down the far bank of the river in the main current.

Watching the river turn brown as we prepare to depart Jackass Camp

Watching the river turn brown as we prepare to depart Jackass Camp

It gradually started filling in the eddy where we were parked, then finally filling in the middle of the river until it all ran brown.  A flash flood had come pouring down the Badger Canyon just across the river from us.  Amazing how the muddy water shows how the water flows within the river like smoke does in a wind tunnel.

Muddy water coming in from the Badger Canyon

Muddy water coming in from the Badger Canyon

Fortunately breakfast didn’t require any cooking.  I stuffed myself last night on stir-fry dinner, so I just had a bagel.  We skipped lunch because we were so close to the intended camp that we thought we would just push on and do lunch at camp.

This afternoon we ran our first class 7 rapid of the trip: House Rock.

Scouting House Rock Rapid at river mile 17

Scouting House Rock Rapid at river mile 17

I thought I was far enough right as I entered at the top, but I still got drawn into the big wave-hole at the bottom on the left.  the current really pushes hard into the left wall.  As I hit the last wave just before the wave-hole, I lost my grip on one oar and ended up hitting it sideways!  As vertical as we got, I’m not sure how we didn’t flip.

Commodore running House Rock Rapid

Commodore running House Rock Rapid

The grips on these oars are just a bit too fat.  I’ll try rowing without the gloves and see how that goes.  We reached our target camp at Upper North Canyon by 2:30 PM, River mile 20.8.  Some people rushed off to set up their own gear before the rafts were unloaded.  In the end it worked out OK.  I know they were anxious to get things dried out from the rain this morning.  Before dinner we all hiked up the side canyon.  I remember doing this hike at lunchtime last time I was here.  A big group of us did the hike.  I got a group photo at the upper end.

Hiking North Canyon - r to l: Lucy, Gary, Craig, Kika, Kevin, Captain Natalia, Ariel, & Commodore Dave

Hiking North Canyon - r to l: Lucy, Gary, Craig, Kika, Kevin, Captain Natalia, Ariel, & Commodore Dave

North Canyon

North Canyon

Dinner was at 6:00 PM, just as it got dark.  I want to eat earlier so we aren’t eating and cleaning up in the dark.  After a dinner of salmon and salad, we had a campfire and some guitar music.  I have been having a meeting in the evening for everyone to share stories about the day and talk about what we want to do the next day.  The veterans tell me they like the AM & PM meetings.  Good to know.  I am finding my Toastmasters skills quite useful too.

Last night I woke up when it rained briefly around 3:30 AM.  Never really got to sleep after that.  It’s not quite 9:00 PM and I’m falling asleep while writing.  Good night.

Next Post: Day 3
Previous Post: Day 1

A sneak peek into the upcoming announcement about the Lotus brand and IBM’s 100-year philosophy


Is Lotus Notes the next Selectric Typewriter?  This USAToday article about IBM turning 100  reveals some clues into the motivations that drive IBM which might tell us about their plans for the future.

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking IBM is a corporate old-timer that just watched technology evolve. It has remained at the forefront through the decades and tops several of its whippersnapper rivals in some regards. “

Of course we’re talking about the same company that totally missed some opportunities like the operating system for their personal computers that has gone on to become their nemesis.  We’re talking about a company that has taken the once-famous brand of Lotus and made it disappear from the public eye better than a Harry Houdini magic act.

“This isn’t like the auto industry, where the combustible engine still exists, or oil, where many parts of the business are the same,” Iwata says. “We have to let go of what we have invented. We stopped making typewriters, punch-card machines, PCs. We had to move on.”

Hmm.  Is this foreshadowing?  When I was 8 years old I saw the movie “Old Yeller”.  In spite of all the clues, I did not did not see that coming.  I thought that dog would live forever.  Have I gotten any better at reading the clues?  Probably not.  But here’s another one:

“•Ability to move into new businesses without abandoning core tenets. IBM is a classic example of a company that had to get into entirely new businesses, without turning its back on what got it to where it is, Collins says. If you consider what IBM’s mission is, it’s not about computers or technology. It’s about allowing its individual employees to create ways for its customers to solve operational problems, Collins says. Whether that’s a task best done with scales, typewriters or computers doesn’t matter; what matters is that customers’ needs are answered, Collins says. “

I don’t know how this movie will end.  Maybe we’ll learn more on the Greenhouse webcast about the future of the Lotus brand June 28 at 10:00AM ET.

Meeanwhile, let’s get some popcorn and watch a few movie trailers.


Quiet, but not Idle. Latest news from The Notes Guy in Seattle.


I’ve been quiet lately on my website, but I haven’t been idle. I just wrapped up another semester of higher education. I’m doing a bit better this time around. I didn’t fully appreciate how tuff the University of Florida was until now. I’m sure the the keg parties had something to do with it too.  Also working on a special assignment to redesign a website.  I think you’ll like what I’m putting together.

I am working with a new client here in the Seattle area. It’s nice working with a non-profit organization that makes a real difference in the world.
I gave two presentations on social media and it’s impact on recent world events.  Several more possible engagements in the next few months too.
I joined FourSquare. If you’re there, be sure to friend me. You can also follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/davehabz

If you follow IdeaJam, you might have noticed my numerous posts there as well. Be sure to go check them out and vote for them. This month’s posts include:

1. Lotus Forgot Series: Make MTBF an integral part of the server software (was in the Sandbox)

2. Lotus Forgot Series: Bring back the Diff tool (from R4) that compared two documents selected in a view

3. During server configuration, let me name the group added to template ACLs instead of assuming it is LocalDomainAdmins

4. Add a button for Access Control to the database properties dialog

5. Give the option to pull system templates from another server when configuring a new server in the domain.

6. Lotus Forgot Series: Add basic development functionality back into the Notes client.

7. Do not require being logged into Sametime to use screen capture tool

For a complete list of ideas, visit IdeaJam

 

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