Filed Under (Lotusphere) by Marc Champoux on February-3-2011

The End Is Nigh! Lotusphere 2011 is Almost Over…

Each and every Lotusphere is the same: Wednesday marks the “beginning of the end” of yet another Lotusphere. In the morning if you attend any sessions, you’ll notice people that are either half awake (because they party’ed too late on Tuesday night) and/or people that are still half drunk from the previous night’s party (and never went to bed)!

I for one did neither … I actually had to log back into work to reply to a bunch of emails but at least I was able to work [outside] from my hotel room balcony while connected to the amazingly horrible Wi-Fi in the Disney Yacth Club hotel! I can’t do that in Canada for now (temperatures are getting dangerously close to “Hell Has Frozen Over” lows). Unfortunately, I worked late so I didn’t get much sleep and I missed the 1st session in the morning that I wanted to attend “AdminBlast 2011 by Paul Mooney”.

Anyhow, here’s my Wednesday recap …

BP101 – Adminblast 2011 by Paul Mooney

I missed it … dang! I really like to attend Paul’s AdminBlast, not only because he’s a really funny speaker but also because he does have really good tips and tricks. Oh well, I’ll pick up the slides to see if anything changed from last year’s session.

SHOW105 – Assemble’n'Go: Integrate Data and Directories with Tivoli Directory Integrator by Marie Scott and Thomas Duff

I had attended this session last year but at that point Tivoli Directory Integrator was kinda new. So I decided to re-attend this session to re-learn what I had forgotten from last year. I also am being asked by my manager, Patrick Darke, to deploy that piece of software into our own environment and truth be told: I’m beyond afraid that I will trash our AD and Notes directories … so a refresh is/was in order.

At the beginning of their Show’N'Tell, Thomas highlighted that starting in R8.5.2, the TDI license wording is kidna weird and it’s now “free for directory purposes only”! So this means that if you use it to move other kinds of data, you might need to purchase TDI licenses. But the good news is that IBM is still confused (as usual) on the wording and are still working on this! So, basically, their point was “ask ask ask” your sales rep” to make sure before you start using it to sync data other than directories. Thanks for the tip on this!

Before jumping into the demo, the definitions and concepts of AssemblyLine, Data Source and Connector were well explained – which was important because it’s the basis for a lot of the tasks in the demo.

In the ”Installation” part of their demo, the tip to skip the “launchpad.exe” and going straight to the .exe to install the product was nice and so was the warning about the weird message if you had previously installed Tivoli. They also stressed the fact that we should download patches for TDI from Fix Central and install them (they are up to Fix Pack 6 now for TDI 7.0). I was surprised however when they explained how to install Fix Packs on TDI: it’s with batch files! Ouch! Oh and let’s not forget the fact that you need to manually copy the notes.jar file from your server down to your TDI directory if you don’t want to get Java errors when you create assembly lines! Seriously, they should automate all this.

One thing that struck me was how “Eclipsy” TDI 7.0 is now compared to last year (it was 6.1) … I feel like I’m looking at some sort of Domino Designer clone.

Their first demo was about reading data from a Notes database and export it to XML along with some data scrubbing … and it was an interesting 1st demo. I thought it was odd they said that when using the Lotus Domino Connector, it does not discover the fields used in the database like they do with the Active Directory and LDAP connector … maybe they’ll change that in another version?

Their second demo was about getting data out of SharePoint to Notes! However, you basically export the data in SharePoint to CSV first … so you are not really connecting straight into SharePoint when doing this. So, in reality, it was a CSV file to Notes demo of TDI. The demo was nice however because the CSV connector appears to be smart enough to read 1 line from the CSV file and tell you right away the fields that are in it. No more importing of data using a .COL file in Lotus Notes (anybody old enough to remember that?)!

The rest of the demos were about synching Active Directory to Domino and vice-versa.  Right out of the gate, Marie tried to talk us out of the “Password Synchronization” feature of TDI. Why? Because in her amazingly large environment (70000 to 90000 users), she ran into problems.

During her Active Directory vs. Lotus Domino Assesmbly Line demo, Marie told us to always try with an “Iterator” mode on your connector first: that way you can test your connection to LDAP and use the “Connect” and “Next” buttons to review if you can connect and get a feel for what’s in the entries when you are pulling them. 

Her demo was quite complicated: she had a 7 point list of things that her Assembly Line was going to do and … it was a tall order if you ask me! In her demo she introduced the concept of “template” connectors so that you don’t have to re-key your connectors user id/passwords/configuration so that you can re-use them in multiple Assembly Lines. And in regards to connector she had a good “gotcha” in regards some of the connectors which require the HTTP password of the user id … not the id file password!

Once the connectors were created, she started on her Assembly Lines and it was very complicated but well explained. I will positively get her slides and use them as I am creating the same Assembly Lines when I start working with TDI.

But one of the most important tip they gave us is to use the “Run with Options” feature to select “Simulation Mode” to run your Assembly Line as if you were performing the work without actually writing any back. That way, you can check what it would have modified and you can “sanity check” your work. I’m sure this will save my [lower-back-part] later down the road!

So, in the end, all I can say after attending both last year and this year presentation is that they have improved it! Thank you Thomas and Marie for another great Show’N'Tell session to demo/teach us what  TDI can do as well as a lot of tips and tricks!

Virtual Desktop Solutions Lab

Since we are a VMware shop nowadays, I decided to go there to see what I could learn about the Lotus/IBM solution for Virtual Desktop.

Unfortunately, maybe it’s an awesome product … but the demo I got did not impress me … and the vendors were not really hyped/passionate about it. 

Also the fact that you can only run a maximum of 25-50 users per server they had on the demo struck me as … un-impressive. So I left that room quite … disappointed.

Alloy Booth in the Product Showcase

I wanted to see if they could tell me anything about any future “Alloy” versions for Oracle … at least the guy over there was an IBM rep so I did not get the same blank stares as last year when the booth was covered by SAP folks.

Unfortunately, the IBM rep said that he could not answer that particular question and that he would have his manager call me. I am going to set my expectations for a call back somewhere between “none and when-hell-freezes-over” and my expectation for an actual product to “when pigs fly”.

LotusLive Hybrid Booth in the Product Showcase

Since I did not have much chance at the Allow Booth, I decided to head over to the LotusLive Hybrid booth to ask a question that I thought about after one of the sessions that I attended. It was a bit of at technical question and unfortunately for me the booth was not manned by a technical person but rather a pure-sales-only guy. I was prompted redirected to the “Meet the Developers” lab by that sales reps … so …

Meet the Developers Lab – LotusLive Hybrid

So I went to the Meet the Developers Lab, more specifically to the area where the LotusLive crew was located: they were 3 of them talking with customers. I was ignored for about 1 or 2 minutes until one of them realized that my all-black polo shirt was not an “IBM Employee” shirt but rather a Nike shirt! Oups … I was wearing the same color and style as the IBM folks so that’s why I was being ignored – they thought I was an IBM’er. Anyhow, I asked my question and … as luck would have it, I was told that the guy who could really answer my question was not in the lab at that time and to come back later. Just my luck …

Meeting with Steve Mateer our new IBM Representative

Lotusphere is an amazing place to meet and greet people. In my case, almost every year I meet my excellent license rep, Mr. Steve Churchill to catch up in-person instead of over the phone. However, he left the conference early this year so I missed my chance to get him to pay for beer. However, he did setup a quick meeting with our new IBM Account Rep, Mr. Steve Mateer and it was nice to finally put a face on a name and a voice! Lotusphere is great for those kinds of last-minute meetings.

ID902 – Occam’s Razor: An Introduction to Holistic Troubleshooting by Wes Morgan

Since this is the weirdest title in the entire Lotusphere 2011, I had to attend. But, troubleshooting is something you have or you don’t and I wanted to see/hear what Wes had to talk about. 

There were a lot of good points in Wes’s presentations like:

  • The number of people on a conference call to fix a problem is directly proportional to the amount of time it will take to fix the problem (i.e. the more people, the longer it will take).
  • His session title comes from the quote “Plurality should not be posited without necessity” (William of Ockham, c. 1285-1349). It’s also known nowadays as “KISS”, i.e. Keep It Simple Stupid. So don’t introduce more people to the troubleshooting process without any good reason.

Wes also mentioned an important concept: there is a big danger of an “all hands-on-deck” conference call with a large technical team to troubleshoot a problem because you will have more possibility of “Well it could be …” and when that happens you are scattering your team and are chasing rabbits.

Wes had some good tips and tricks *before* problems happen like:

  • Know your data path (hardware, OS, network, etc).
  • Profile your systems (both off and on peak times).
  • Kown the limits of your systems (CPU, RAM, etc).

And when the thing hits the fan … he had a couple tips like:

  • First and foremost: ask your neighbors to see if they systems are also having problems … if it’s a big problem with the network/wan … they will also have problems.
  • Identify/Refine the Target and look for common factors. 
  • Compare the problem with the off-peak/peak profile you created. Check the logs 10 minutes before the system “gave up and crashed”.
  • Check the logs 10 minutes before the system “gave up and crashed”.
  • Resist the urge of turning on *all* the debugging feature. Only exception: when support tells you to do that!
  • Check the change logs for recent changes or even for new stuff!

In the end, the presentation was good and drove home certain points about the dark-art of troubleshooting…

BP106 – Where is the Love? How to Get Your Users to Fall in Love with IBM Lotus Notes by Matt Newman

I went to this session because although my rollout of R8.5.1 was quasi-smooth … there was a certain “resistance to change” amongst the end user community. And I can understand them: nobody likes change. It’s worse when you’ve been a product for years and the interface changes a lot (has anyone had someone scream at them after an upgrade to MS Office 2007 because of the new “Ribbon Interface”?) .

So, I came to this session to see what the speaker had to say about “getting my users to fall in love with Lotus Notes” … hopefully, I could pick up a few tips and trick. Right out of the gate, I was a bit worried: the presenter is dressed in a yellow suit … it’s not something that we don’t see every day at Lotusphere… but he was quite energetic and funny!

According to the presenter, 99.9% of the time is a combo of lack of Training, lack of Knowledge, lack of Experience and Desire to use the product. And his comparison to Lotus Notes to the Chevy Volt was interesting too.

One of the quotes he had that I liked very much was “Many users equate the lack of an obvious feature with a perceived lack of functionality“.

When he switched to the “user driven revolution” topic he drove home the point that Lotus Notes applications can ”tame” unstructured processes and bring a unified collaboration experience for them … when that happens they will love Notes!

To bring back the feeling …

  • Introduce Notes PROPERLY (not as an email problem – it’s a collaboration tool).
  • Unleash the POWER (do a 10 minute presentation – like he did in the presentation).
  • Show users the MAGIC (Notes is more than email).
  • Give them the EXTRAS (widgets, rss reader, live text, plug-in’s, etc).
  • Be prepared to answer questions!

His 10 minute presentation in the Demo part was quite good … I wish he could just record himself and post it on a web site somewhere so that I could tell me users to watch this! Thanks for the nice presentation Mr. Newman!

Wednesday Night Party – Islands of Adventure

The party at Islands of Adventure was nice. I headed straight to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter after entering the park and … I guess I wasn’t the only one with the same idea in mind because the place was jammed pack.

Oddly enough, I had imagined it as a bigger place … it’s not that big but it should make for enough fun for kids and adults who actually pay to go there.

One funny thing is that I asked a store clerk if she had seen kids freak out in the store. She said “Yes … but adults too! In fact, I have seen several adults start to cry when they are in this part of the park!”.

Other Rambling & Thoughts

  • Sometimes, I swear someone is walking around with one of them Wi-Fi nuker devices ! it’s sooooooooo slow to connect back to work, blog or plainly surf the web in the Swan that I can’t believe it. Modem speeds anyone? Oddly enough, it’s just a tiny bit better in the Dolphin but nothing to write home about.
  • Don’t walk on/near areas with grass around midnight – the sprinklers kick-in at that time… don’t ask why I’m writing this.
  • I really like the fact that there is a ceiling fan in the rooms at the Yacth Club: it circulates the air and it just makes life a little bit better (in my opinion) for someone living in his suitcase (the air isn’t as stale as it is in other hotels).

Conclusion …

Well, Lotusphere 2011 is *almost* over … time to pack our suitcases and head back home slowly but surely … one more half day and we can all say “So Long & Thanks For All The Fish!”

Thanks for reading!



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