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Archive for April, 2012

midrange.com - In My Humble Opinion › Justin Porter — COMMON BoD Candidate 2012

April 15th, 2012 Comments off
Editors note: The following is a post by guest author Justin Porter who is a candidate for the COMMON Board of Directors. COMMON has survived quite well through the financial crisis—in no small part due to the dedication of its members, volunteers and staff who wish to see COMMON continue providing top quality education into […]


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Steve Pitcher › Two Ways to Stomp the Toxicity Potential of Anti-Lotus Notes Users

April 9th, 2012 Comments off
I tend to search Twitter from time to time, seeing if I can assist people having trouble with technology areas I'm familiar with (i.e., Lotus Notes, Domino and IBM i).

When I search for "Lotus Notes" a lot of times I'll see things like this:

"I hate Lotus Notes #withallmyheart"
"I am sure there is a special circle in hell for the inventor of lotus notes"

Just toxic baloney.  Most of what you read is unspecific ranting that doesn't describe the real root of the problem.  A problem isn't really being asked to be solved.  It's users complaining for the sake of complaining.  Like the Hatfield's and the McCoy's, there's no real reason behind the hate.

I replied to a tweet a few days ago that said that selling and training "wasn't an IT department's job."  I strongly disagree.  I'm not a professional trainer.  I have limited sales experience from maybe 10 years ago and wasn't very good at it.  I tend to get loud and drop an occasional curse word.  But what I bring to the table is enthusiasm, excitement and a willingness to offer education to our users.  I need to generate a buzz about our technology.  If I don't, then who else is going to do it?  They didn't see the Opening General Session at Lotusphere.  I did.  And it's my responsibility as an employee to bring that electricity, that vibe, that positivity back to our users.

Administrators, I'm talking to you here.  Here are two ways to help curb the nonsense and spread positivity about Notes in your company.

1. Make sure you have adequate horsepower

If your users complain about Lotus Notes being slow, here's the solution:  Fix. The. Slow. Problem.

Chase down bad network connections.  Add liberal memory to computers.  Make sure they're not running old garbage hardware that YOU wouldn't use.  Check DNS issues.  Use virus protection that isn't a pig.  Notes isn't slow!  If you run this enterprise level collaboration tool on a Pentium 3 with 512 MB of RAM, the problem is the hardware!  Not Notes!

This is probably the easiest thing to do because it's technical.  If Bob in accounting has three 8-port hubs in his office and complains about losing connection to the server, then put your technician hat on and fix it for him.

It's no secret that Notes loves resources.  So what?  I'd assume it takes a bit of fuel to push a rocket into orbit, right?  Notes does so many things behind the scenes compared to Outlook that it's no surprise it may take a little horsepower.  Memory is so cheap now anyway that it's no big deal to buy and install.  Give it resources and make it fly for your users. A little infrastructure investment will pay for itself over and over again in increased user productivity.


2. Sales, Training and Enthusiasm

Lotus Notes needs to be sold to your users.  You know why?  They're not stupid.  They hear things.  They see things.  They use Gmail at home and see the simplicity.  They have co-workers who are partial to Outlook, ill-informed about Lotus Notes and then spread toxic misinformation.  Like a rumor, misinformation travels until it's corrected.  Even then, the damage is already done.  A reputation wrongly ruined in the 9th grade will still haunt a kid until they graduate high school. 

In my company, I can point to only a few people out of 200 or so who are vehemently anti-Lotus Notes. If I were looking at it from another angle I'll tell you I have 99% happy Notes users!  The two or three anti-Notes people a hard sell and I welcome the challenge.  However, their dislike of the product isn't toxic.  They simply haven't been trained enough with the product and have preconceived notions about what the product should do.  It's a matter of hearing those complaints, finding the solutions and educating the user.  In the end, those few users may not "love" Lotus Notes (although many of mine do), but they will know how to use the product to be hopefully more productive than with what product they used to have. 

I've been holding two-hour training sessions for my users now 24 months after our initial migration from Outlook.  I explain why we use Lotus Notes.  I explain the power of Lotus Notes.  I explain the strength and security of the IBM i on Power Systems platform, which our Lotus Domino servers are running on.  I get excited and energized about the whole thing.  You bring that enthusiasm and positivity to the users and good things will happen.

I show them screen shots of what they'll have with Lotus Notes 8.5.3.  I show them simple tips and tricks like how to book a meeting room and a projector.  I demo Sametime Meetings on my iPad.  I tell them we're doing Sametime Unified Telephony soon and explain how it will be rolled out.  I tell them how and why they'll be more productive and how our company will save money by implementing these solutions.  You know why I know it works for me?  Users tell me how happy they are that they can color code their mail.  I'm serious.  We take that for granted because we already learned it in a presentation a long time ago.  But something that simple just breeds more positivity. 

Stomp the toxicity.  Get positive.  Users will be much more productive if they learn a bit about the product. 


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Simply 'i' › New features we are working on for HA4i

April 3rd, 2012 Comments off
Things are still changing and we are releasing updates to the HA4i product on a regular basis. As customers use the products they ask for changes to existing processes or ask for new ones to be added, we are also always looking for better ways to carry out some of the tasks already built into [...]


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Steve Pitcher › No-charge Lotus Notes Traveler Gives Me Exactly What I Want…But Is It Free For Everyone?

April 3rd, 2012 Comments off
I've invested more time/money/resources installing Lotus Notes Traveler then need be, considering I am a loyal IBM i customer.

This is not to say Traveler isn't a great product. It is. In fact, it's probably IBM's best example of "doing more with less." Traveler is a small piece of software that packs a major punch to enable customers to do mobile by using smart devices to access mail.  Many companies are going mobile with iPad, Android, iPhone, etc., not just for mail, but for the simplicity/size of these devices and the ability to access web services.  Traveler can make mail access simple for these mobile users at companies using Linux and Windows servers on x86-64 hardware.  It may be a "free" offering for those companies with a significant investment in x86-64, Windows or Linux, but it's certainly not free for companies who run big iron (Power Systems and System z).

The problem lies in the fundamental understanding of how an IBM i (and predecessors System i, iSeries and AS/400) shop works. Many of these companies do not have Windows/Linux expertise in-house and are not comfortable running applications on anything other than IBM i (nor do they want to or should need to.)

I work for a stereotypical IBM i customer.  We have mostly IBM i-based applications.  We do so little Windows/Linux that we have no relevant expertise in-house.  


In order to install a Traveler server, I'd have to:

1. Hire a resource to install a Windows virtual machine. This resource will charge me probably 5-6 hours of labour in order to install the VM, download Windows updates and prepare it to be a fully functional Windows server on our domain. Of course, I don't have this resource on demand. I have to wait for the resource to become available. Tack on telephone time and email time with scheduling this resource.
2. Download the Lotus Domino server code to the Windows VM.
3. Download the Lotus Notes Traveler code to the Windows VM.
4. Install the Lotus Domino server.
5. Install the Lotus Notes Traveler server.

6. I'm sure there's a reboot somewhere in there...it's Windows.

Now, if I were able to have Traveler running on IBM i, the process becomes much simpler.

1. Create a Lotus Domino server. I don't have to download/install any server code because I already run Domino 8.5.1, 8.5.2 and 8.5.3 servers on my single IBM i partition so the code is pre-loaded. Creating the server is a single step and literally takes less than 2 minutes.
2. Download the Lotus Notes Traveler code to IBM i.
3. Install the Lotus Notes Traveler server on IBM i.

As a customer, I could save money because I wouldn't have to hire a consultant to do my Windows work.
And I'd have what I want faster.
And it's simpler.
And it's more effective.
And it's less messy without more Windows licensing.
And it's more powerful, stable, secure and scalable because it's running on IBM i on Power Systems!

IBM has four operating systems (IBM i, Power Linux, AIX and z/OS) across their two major IBM hardware platforms (Power Systems and System z). None of these operating systems and hardware support Lotus Notes Traveler, which certainly alienates midrange and mainframe customers. It's discouraging to invest in big iron and then NEED x86-64 to do mobile.  With mobile becoming a major part of all organizations, this is truly unacceptable. 






IBM customers running midrange or mainframe could be touting the power of Lotus Notes Traveler IF they were actually allowed to run it on their preferred systems.  In an age of social media promotion, customers can be flag waving, chest beating IBM supporters from their mobile devices if only given the opportunity.  

If you give an IBM i customer access to their Lotus Notes on an iPad, you instantly make their users more productive. You instantly make their investment in Lotus Notes more attractive to younger people.  You instantly take any preconceived notion of what Lotus Notes was 15 years ago and throw it to the wind. 

Notes is current. 
Notes is modern.  
Notes is on my mobile device. 

This next generation of users could be so positively vocal about how much they love Lotus Notes on their mobile devices.  IBM, please give your true bread and butter customers what they want: Lotus Notes Traveler on IBM i.

If you are interested in asking IBM to support Lotus Notes Traveler for IBM i on Power Systems, please go to this website and let your voice be heard:
http://spitcher.wufoo.com/forms/make-ibm-i-your-social-collaboration-platform/


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