It's Easter - Let’s discuss the resurrection!

I'm a Christian and we are approaching Easter, so I'd like to discuss the resurrection with you. Not of Jesus, enough has been said about that already, but of something entirely different.

I've just got back from IBM Think 2018 in Las Vegas, USA. Apart from the jet-lag and dehydration from being in the desert and air-conditioning, it was a very inspiring trip. I went out there expecting to.... ....actually, I'm not sure what I was expecting, but what I got was so much more than I could have thought of.

Think 2018

Let’s start with the conference itself. Putting almost 30,000 people in one conference centre was always going to be a bit of a squeeze, but the Mandalay Bay seemed to cope. Well, from Tuesday it coped very well. But not having the expo area open on Monday and masses of people trying to register all at the same time meant that packed corridors quickly became a safety hazard.

The Resurrection

If you are reading this and thinking "Enough already about Think and the hotel! What about this resurrection thing?" then I totally understand.

IBM is trying to resurrect it's Collaboration Solutions brand, There have been some notable changes in leadership in the past 18 months, Jeff Schick, Ronnie Maffa, Inhi Cho Suh & Ed Brill have all moved on. The difference this has made is almost palpable. I'm not going to look in the rearview mirror and blame any one of those people for doing their job or not, but the change in attitude is amazing.

Part of this "New Life" is in some way attributable to the deal done with development and services company HCL, which has seen large numbers of committed but downtrodden IBMers leave Big Blue for the same but new jobs in HCL. Having met with several of them this past week, I couldn't help but comment on how amazing it was to see them smiling again. In the past, they have worn the 'all too familiar' grimace of someone toeing the Big Blue Line.

Notes & Domino v10

Microsoft would have you believe that this was dead and buried years ago by IBM. Well if that was the case then this resurrection will put Jesus' three days in the tomb well out of the record books. Many companies have tried to move from Domino and lots already have for mail, going to Google, Exchange or Office 365. But the applications that they built to run their companies on, they remain for the most part, too expensive to migrate. No fault of Lotus/IBM here, just that no one has since brought to the market a platform to match Domino and Notes.

IBM & HCL are currently pushing on with a development plan to release Domino and Notes V10 in 2018. Now I think I know roughly when they plan to release this, but I can't say for sure. This is not going to be a Dec 39th release date that we have seen in the past. If I'm right, then this will be early Q4.

Why am I talking about resurrection all the time? IBM & HCL are trying to breathe new life into a software product they last released a new version for back in September 2015. By the time v10 hits the download site, it will be well over 3 years between releases. 

IBM showed some great stuff about the direction they are heading with this new release. Native iPad application, think of ICAA on your iPad. No code changes, local replicas, PKI intact and you can see just how important this will be. Not only did they show it, but they let people play with it on iPads they brought along to the show. Impressive start to the new features they are trying to bring in. Add to that the plans to work Node.js Express, NPM, JWT, OAuth2 & OpenID into the mix and they suddenly have a lot of work to do before the end of the year. Coupled with new architecture deployment options in the shape of Docker and this all starts to look and feel like a fresh product set that has not seen it's last days yet.


Nothing to see here, move along. Whilst there was a little talk of Sametime and that they are working on it. Nothing to show and no real announcements were made. It's not dead, was clear though and its ability to be part of the v10 story was also discussed.


Lots of talk in the past about Connections Pink, but not this year. The focus has firmly swung towards Domino and Notes. However, there is still hope that we will get the promise of Connections Pink. It was acknowledged that the very first part of Pink that was released, Orient Me, is difficult to install for small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) customers. No clear statement was made about fixing that problem and that troubles me slightly for the rest of the components that go into making a Connections deployment. Orient Me is a clumsy deployment of a good idea. It's too heavy in its hardware requirements for the majority of IBM's customer base. It also has the reputation of being "Impossible to install if you follow the instructions." when you speak to any seasoned Connections administrator.

Light at the end of the tunnel for Connections comes in the form of the IBM Connections Experience Center (ICEC), which is the IBM wrapping around Time to Act's XCC product. Basically, you can now skin and manipulate Connections into the front end focused intranet you always wanted it to be.

The other components of Connections are still being worked on by IBM, but I wonder how long it will be before HCL get to finish this job.

Watson Workspace

IBM's venture into the space that is currently stocked full of products like Slack and FlowDock. Why bother IBM? Well, the answer is very clear when you start to use Watson Workspace (WW) for your persistent chat client. They've added the power of Watson to it. Not in some hard to explain nuanced feature, but right into the heart of it with a very practical and useful surfacing of Watson's core power.

The biggest single problem people have with persistent chat client's is being away from them for any length of time. Any that are mildly active can have 200+ messages a day pass through them. How do you keep track and find out what's been going on since you last looked? You could read through it all and spend the time catching up. Not with WW. You just have to click on the "Moments" icon and Watson takes the messages in the chat, analyses them and works out what they are for. It contextualises them into conversations so that you can pick up the important conversations and ignore the ones about coffee machines, lunch and how bad the weather was while walking your dog this morning. You can catch up and not be left behind. Awesome!

Not only can you have Watson keep you up to date, but it can also be connected to other systems and act like a chatbot for you too. The example I saw work best, we when someone asked if anyone had a presentation from the Greenwell (IBM's fake demo company) project. Watson jumps right in and tells you it's found some and offers a clickable link to the results. Impressive!

Extending WW is easy with a good set of APIs and also some pre-built integrations for other apps. But the cherry on this cake is the integration with Zoom video conferencing. In any of your chats, you can initiate a 1-on-1 of 1-to-many video conference using Zoom's powerful video conferencing software. Any of the paid for subscriptions come with 1-to-many conferencing, but the Freemium version also comes with 1-to-1 video conferencing. Amazing!

There are plans to use Watson to be able to summarise a call that you are joining late so that you can catch up and be productive as soon as you join.

IBM Collaboration Solutions

With my sick and twisted sense of humour, I think of this as a cross between Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail and Kick-Ass. The "Bring out your dead" scene where Microsoft are telling folks that Notes and Domino is dead. Then switching to the Kick-Ass scene where Hit Girl (ICS) takes out the drug dealers.

The Resurrection is upon us! ICS are all singing from the same hymn sheet and all at the same time. No more singing in the round or different songs.

ICS seems to be finally be working together and all working toward a common goal. 

IBM Think 2018 - T-6days

Las Vegas beckons

Friday will see me at Gatwick airport getting on an aeroplane to the USA for the first time this year.

This is going to be, possibly, the biggest conference I will ever attend, with IBM estimating over 30,000 people being there. So it's going to be interesting trying to find people.

But being an IBM Champion, again for 2018, will give me at least a front row seat for a few of the sessions and a place to call home (Ask the Champions Desk) for the days we are in town.

What am I looking forward to?

  • Finding out what's really on the roadmaps for the products in the IBM Collaboration Space
  • Catching up with customers and seeing what their plans are for 2018
  • Seeing friends and sharing stories from the front lines. (My most valuable type of learning)
  • Meeting new people and IBM Champions from other brands
  • Exercise and closing all 3 rings on my Apple Watch for a whole week
  • Doing something new, by Vlogging the event as far as I am allowed to

What am I not looking forward to?

  • 11 hours in a tin can both ways. But to soften it I get to work with Sharon James along the way and maybe watch a movie or two
  • So much walking. Last time I was in Vegas I got a case of Plantar Fascitis that took 18 months to clear up
  • The exhaustion coupled with jet-lag. This gets worse as I get older, so I need to learn how to handle it
  • Not being able to vlog as much as I want

Next update from Vegas.

Heading to Social Connections 11 in Chicago, USA

The week before any conference is always busy, not just in terms of getting stuff ready to take and not forgetting everything, but also preparing the family for my absence. This time has been no exception to that rule but with the added complication that the children will be off school the week I am away. This has meant that I have to have done all the 'little' jobs around the house and that my wife has anything she needs while I am away.

This year's conferences are being quite painful in their timing (through no fault of the organisers) just that they seem to fall on school break times. IBM Connect in February was during the half term break and is Social Connections. MWLUG will also be during the summer break which makes it hard on the whole family when I've missed 3 weeks of 'schools out' to spend with the kids and help my wife out. Please don't think I'm complaining about my amazing job and the community of friends that I get to see at these events. I'm just being a realist about what is happening at home while I'm not here.

So about Social Connections 11 in Chicago.

I'm really excited to get to this conference as the agenda looks amazing. Some really great speakers and some fantastic topics. My co-worker Sharon James and I are speaking on Thursday 1st June in the Redis Room about upgrading Connections from 5.x to 6.x. I'll be speaking from the project manager side of the equation and Sharon will be highlighting some of the more technical aspects of the projects we have already done.

If you'd like to know more about the work that Sharon and I do, then please take a look at the BCC Services page.

Would be great to see you there if you can make it.


Springtime in Las Vegas

Since 2006 I have attended the Lotus/IBM event known as Lotusphere / Connect / ConnectED / Connect (you'd have though they would chose just one) mostly in Orlando, Florida but this year in San Francisco, California.

The first bunch of years I was there as an IBMer and lately as an IBM Business Partner. The conference numbers have dropped steadily and this year it was kinda sad to see everyone shuffling about in the Moscone West with so much space around.

I have thought for a while that having this as one big conference may make more sense, but now it seems that IBM have thought that too.

It's taken me a while to come around to this way of thinking, but I think it's time to go big for IBM and this seems to be what they are doing. Merging 3-4 conferences into one HUGE / MEGA conference in Las Vegas will be something that may or may not work. We will have to see.

Click on the image below to find out the latest information from IBM

"Unable To Find Valid Target Platform" when installing IBM Connections Plugins for IBM Notes

How frustrating is this? IBM Notes 9.0.1 FP7 on Windows 10 refuses to install the IBM Connections Plugins. I keep getting the following error message in a dialog box that only has an OK button.

"Unable To Find Valid Target Platform"

You are then offered the chance to Finish the install routine.

This appears to be down to a bunch of missing registry entries that get wiped out by who knows what.

To make this work again you need to add back in the registry keys. That's all well and good, so long as you know what they are. Well here they are. (The following code is also in this file)

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00







  • <<<YourNotesPathHERE>>> (two of them) amend them to whatever your path is to your Notes program directory. Be sure to follow the double backslash convention too.
    e.g. if you Notes.exe is in C:\IBM\Notes\ then you would replace <<<YourNotesPathHERE>>> with C:\\IBM\\Notes
  • "xpdHotfixVersion"="FP7" will need to match your current level of FixPack install.

Now to use it.

  • Close down your Notes client and any other IBM client you might have open (e.g. Sametime).
  • Once you have customised your reg file, double click on it and allow it to update your registry.
  • Run the installer again and it should work this time.

YMMV ;o)

<Full Disclosure> I work for BCC who make, sell & give away ClientGenie </Full Disclosure>

So having thought about this a bit more. It would be great for an administrator to be able to automate this process so that you can cater for all the different places that Notes might be installed.

Roll up ClientGenie from BCC. With it's automation for client process you can automate the whole thing. See this useful 'ClientGenie - How it works' article for more information.

Here's the process flow that we are going to implement internally for this.

  • Create a ClientGenie Agent (Lotuscript) to:
    • Find the user in the ClientGenie Inventory database
    • Get their install path information
    • Write a notes9fix.reg to the file system
  • Next shutdown the Notes client but in the shutdown routine fire of the command line below
    • regedit /s notes9fix.reg
  • We can also kick off the setup.exe from the install package.

ClientGenie information can be found at the links above and a FREE ClientGenie Analyser version is available here. Free for a whole year.

Update on standing desk and weight management

So my standing desk (varidesk) that goes up and down, appears to be stuck in the up position. Not through any fault of the desk, just that I have not felt the need to put it into the down position apart from 3 times since I installed it.

One bit of advice I'd give anyone considering a standing desk is this. Either get one of those thick soft rubber mats you see in commercial environments where people are standing up all day on a concrete floor. Or, my preferred option is get a pair of Crocs. I know they are not trendy any more, but they are ½ the price of a mat and travel around the house with you. I have a pair that are lined like slippers and they are great. The can even go in the washing machine if they start to smell.

Weight Management update.

As you will have read in my last update I'm trying to lose weight to get to a reasonable weight before a surgical procedure in mid April. Things have slowed down a bit but I'm a fraction off being 2½ stone lighter. (35lbs or 16kgs) I'm still enjoying the Cambridge Weight Plan and it's varied diet of meal replacements, so that's half the battle won for me. Here is the updated graph, as we all like a fun picture every now and again. 

The benefits of...

Everyone has health issues. No one person has ever gone through life without seeing a doctor and I'm not about to claim to be an exception to this rule. Anyone who has known me for any longer than about 15 minutes will know that I've had a couple of 'episodes' with Atrial Fibrillation (AF) on and off since 2000.

This has led me to visit cardiologists back in November 2015 at my local Frimley Park Hospital. My new cardiologist and I discussed the situation and agreed that we should now do something about these AF episodes and he has booked me in for a 'catheter ablation'. That's in April, so before then I have a whole bunch of weight to lose.

To lose the weight I've been following the Cambridge Weight Plan with my amazing consultant Marissa (Who happens to be my wife). Following this plan is easy for me and I find the variety of options satisfy me. "The proof is in the pudding!" Right? Well the Key Lime Pie shake and the Rice Pudding are amazing tasty and filling.

 Weight loss from 4-Jan-15 - 15-Feb-16 = 28lbs

Weight loss from 4-Jan-15 - 15-Feb-16 = 28lbs

As you can see, I'm on track to get to my goal weight just on time. I've not been that weight since I was teaching judo 5 times a week and working out really hard. This is going to be a challenge but I'm looking forward to it.

I've also found research on the Atrial Fibrillation websites and the British Heart Foundation website about the benefits of standing. So I am now the proud owner of a VariDesk that allows me to sit or stand. I will post more about how I'm getting on with that when I've had more than a couple of days with it.

Since 4-Jan-16 I've also not had any alcohol and I've been cycling. I'm hoping that this lifestyle change has more benefits than just weight loss and that my cardiologist tells me that when we meet in April.

Performing CPR on my Asus Nexus 7

I've started to dig out and play with some older devices that have been laying around and got to my Android tablet and remembered why I'd not bothered charging it up in ages. When I bought the Asus Nexus 7 it was really quick and worked great, but when I upgraded it to Android 5.1.1 it slowed down to a point where I gave up trying to use it.

When I charged it up yesterday I got so hacked off with it running slow that I went off to Google for the answer. And would you believe it. There it was right in front of me.

You have to restart the device into recovery mode
Then you select to wipe the cache partition
Restart the device and it all works great

So it turns out that when you upgrade Android it leaves a bunch of old files in the cache partition and doesn't clean them out.

I followed this post, but your mileage may vary.

Time to dust off this blog and get back to it

It's been a while since I blogged about anything. Not really had much to say, but the world keeps turning and I've come around to the fact that, even though no-one is listening, I find it cathartic to write some of this stuff down.

Wow, it's almost a year to the day since my last blog post. Ha! That's amazing. Well I'm never going to be up for a Pulitzer Prize at this rate.

It's been 360(ish) days since my last blog post and a lot has happened in that time. My mother has passed away, I've been to America a bunch of times, done some speaking at various events, watched my kids grow up some more, got news of an impending medical procedure (more on that some other time) and decided to take this last Christmas off and go on holiday.

The biggest thing that has happened in the recent past is my annual pilgrimage to IBM's Connect conference. I've been attending since 2006, not as long as some, but I'm still thrilled to be there. I remember my first one in 2006 as if it were yesterday. The excitement of attending this legendary conference that I'd only ever heard about with reverence in the halls of Lotus Park in Staines, UK. When I worked for Lotus, no one ever got to go. So when I joined a team that sent people to help run it, boy was I caught up in that. Scroll forward 10 years and I'm there with Teamstudio celebrating 20 years of being in the Lotus/IBM Domino and Notes business.

This year was a very different year as the venue had changed from the Disney Swan and Disney Dolphin (Swolphin) hotels to the Hilton Orlando over near the Orange County Convention Center. As I arrived at the hotel to drop off my boss, Nigel Cheshire, for a meeting, I met a few people that were hard core died in the wall Lotusphere buffs and we were all commenting on how we would miss the Dolphin's rotunda fountain and the lobby bar. We'd miss the walk in the sunshine between the two hotels and Disney's Boardwalk with is familiar fair of bars and restaurants. Don't get me wrong, I was right there with them.

But by the end of Wednesday people had changed their tune totally. Me too.

The Hilton's facilities were more than a match for us Yellow Bubblers. The bars were great and the service I got was outstanding. They coped admirably with the hoards of wifi hungry nerds and I believe that the network was not augmented this year by IBM as in previous years. Yes a bunch of pop-up access points showed up, but they just joined you to an open SSID that was the hotels connection anyway.

The show floor this year was a massive improvement on last years. The massive hall packed with hundreds of vendors for this market is gone, and it was starting to get sad to see the amount of space appearing around everything in the Show Floor. Last year's effort of cramming everyone into a small hall and packing it with everyone from the Yellow Bubble was quite frankly stupid and, at times, dangerous. Over crowded with people, carpets that came up with the foot fall to cause trip hazards, you get the idea. This year was as different as chalk and cheese. There was room to move, but it wasn't cavernous. You could get around the exhibitors and still have had a good walk. It was a great place for coffee and soda breaks and the vendors certainly got some great networking with visitors.

As I said my "fair wells" on Wednesday afternoon I felt that this 'family gathering' had proved to everyone that it doesn't matter which hotel you sit in, so long as you are with family, we can be anywhere.

So long Swolphin, gone but not forgotten. Hello Hilton Orlando, the venue for the next few years.

Why does any of this matter to me? Well mainly because this is how I pay the mortgage/bills, put food in the kids and keep the lights on. Teamstudio work in this space and I work for Teamstudio. I love my job and relish the challenge it brings me.
"Yeah, OK. So what?" I hear you saying. Well to me this conference and the 'community' or 'family' that it highlights and supports every year are massively important to my continued longevity. I'm not being mercenary about why I get connected to this gang of amazing people from all over the globe. I'm truly blessed to be part of this amazing community that have accepted me. I feel part of the family and that's why it's an honour to be around my colleagues, peers, customers and IBM Champions. It's one of the reasons I also help to run the UK user group each September and try to be part of the other user groups around the world. Not for some altruistic need to pay the bills, but that I truly believe that this family needs it's 'gatherings' to keep it running.

The innovation coming from IBM has been slow in past years and, in all honesty, it's not delivered at all on the promises. But this year, the torch at the end of the tunnel appears to have new batteries, we can see some glimmer of light. There's hope on the horizon and I for one, really want to get there before this fresh set of cells run out.

Here's to 2016, the work and projects, the new products and the users groups.

See you at Engage 2016 folks.

Disposable world

Today I called Plantronics about my .Audio 995 headset that I use every day. It's lasted me well but the ear pads are starting to flake and I've been ending up with the black fragments all over my head. I was dismayed to find out that they don't sell replacements for the pads or the head bar pad. So I've ripped off all the 'coating' that is starting to flake away, but when the battery dies (they don't sell them as spares either) the headset is trash.

For a headset that cost nearly £100 that's really wasteful and I'm seriously unimpressed with Plantronics attitude towards it too.

Yes I will have to buy a new headset at this point and I'll switch to one of your competitors. I've already seen great reviews about the Sennheiser version of the same thing.

My criteria are simple. Must be PC & Mac compatible, Wireless & Stereo. Bonus points for open bluetooth and easy charging solution.

I'll let you know how I get on with it when I finally purchase it.

David vs Goliath (part 2)

It would seem that Anna in Virgin Atlantic customer services had managed to come through on behalf of the customer and not the airline.

Here is the email I just received.

Dear Mr Clark

Thank you for calling and speaking with me yesterday.

Once again, I'm sorry for the disruption to your flight.  As you’re aware, the aircraft that was due to fly in from the UK and operate your flight was delayed overnight in Manchester because of heavy snow.  We had no choice but to delay your flight overnight in reaction to this.  I do hope you will accept my sincere apologies for any inconvenience this disruption has caused you.

With regards to your query for compensation, all affected passengers booked in our Economy cabin can receive 12500 miles as an apology for the flight delay.  As such, I’ve arranged for your account to be updated with this number of miles today.

In addition, any food, accommodation or telephone costs incurred can be reimbursed also.  If you have any such costs that you would like to claim, please forward me copies of your receipts.

I know that this experience has created a poor impression, Mr Clark.  However, I hope this hasn’t discouraged you from travelling with us again, and future flights are trouble free and enjoyable in every respect.

With kindest regards

Anna Axxxxxxxx
Customer Relations

So I think that Virgin Atlantic may be on the way to redeeming themselves on this one. I've been a loyal customer for years and really don't like British Airways and their stuck up attitude.

I'll just need to submit my expenses and see if they really will pay them.

I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, thanks to Anna at VA for looking into my case and resolving it so swiftly.

David vs Goliath

Time to take on the big boys again.

Last week I mentioned that I was delayed just over 24 hours on a flight from MCO (Orlando) to LGW (London Gatwick) with Virgin Atlantic (VS016).

The flight was supposed to be on Thursday 29-Jan-15 and it was already delayed when I checked my baggage in at the Downtown Disney location. So I knew something was going on fairly early in the day. Then I get an SMS later in the day to tell me that the flight was cancelled. So being with good friends I stayed over with them and then headed to the airport with them the following morning to spend the day working and waiting for the ticket desks to open.

When I got to the ticket desks I was told that it was a 'weather delay' that caused the flight from Manchester (UK) to MCO to be cancelled the day before and therefore there would be no compensation.

The following day there were two flights to LGW and the Manchester flight go cancelled. If this pattern continues then there will be a complete mess in the schedules and no one will get any compensation due to the first cancelled flight being caused by bad weather at Manchester.

My dispute with Virgin Atlantic is that there was not a weather related delay on my flight route. MCO - LGW was not affected by any adverse weather on Thu 29/Fri 30-Jan-15 as the British Airways flight left MCO on time and landed on time at LGW on Friday morning.

Lack of available aircraft at MCO is not a weather delay on my flight and I think that VA are just trying to avoid compensating it's customers.

I've called VA this morning and raised a customer service case, so I'll let you know what happens.

Introverted retrospective

I find myself sat in a restaurant that I have sat I many times before. It's not the same this time though, because the people I am normally here with are missing. Already home or didn't attend the event this year. I'm also missing the banter and astonishment of reading the reviews of the presentations we have given or watched.
Every year is different but seeing as the best kept non-secret was the end of the IBM contract at the Swan & Dolphin hotels I was surprised when lots of IBMers tried to hide behind denials of this well know fact. So as to whether I'll ever sit in the Outback Steakhouse at MCO again, I don't know. Will the conference formally known as Lotusphere be rolled into one of the other big three IBM events, who knows. It seems that even IBM don't have a clear idea yet either.
I'm also sat here a day late, thanks to Virgin Atlantic cancelling a flight to LGW last night. That's not so bad as I got to spend a great evening with Tanya & Devin Olsen and talked about many things including the LS where we lost a great friend to a motorcycle accident and the power of prayer. I've needed that time with Devin for a long time and didn't know it until we had that conversation. So thank you 'brother' for saving me from my own mind.
It's also been fun seeing the conference from yet another prospective. I've done it as an IBMer, Contractor for GSX, Independent freelancer & now a full time employee for the amazing Teamstudio.
It's an amazing leadership team that keeps innovating, changing and morphing the company into the success it is. I'm privileged to be a small part of that team and it's amazing to see ideas come through a become reality and go on to drive more success. I can't wait to see what happens next here, I'm excited and eager to be a part of it. This job is an amalgamation of all of my previous roles and it feels great to pull all my skills together and bring them to bear in a company like Teamstudio.

Humbled again - IBM Champion 2015

I've been humbled again by my peers in the IBM Collaboration Solutions space by being nominated to be an IBM Champion for ICS, class of 2015. This will be my 3rd year as an IBM Champion and it's no less of an honour than it was the first time. Thank you to anyone who nominated me. I have no way of finding out who you are, but I'm touched that you think what I do matters to the community.

To be an IBM Champion you have to be seen, read and/or heard evangelising for the IBM ICS brand and be an active part of the community that surrounds that brand. This can be anything from suggesting IBM solutions to customers or even customers themselves making sure the right product gets used or is continued to be used.

The class has grown to 96 this year and I'm thrilled to be counted as one of them and to be rubbing shoulders with the superstars of the technical community I work in. Does that make me a superstar? Far from it. I'm still just me, being a bit uppity when people dismiss the old Lotus products as 'legacy' and don't even consider the value they could add to the problem they are trying to solve. Still me running the ICON UK in 2015 where a bunch of folks will gather to hear about what you can do with the IBM ICS products. Still me answering questions in the Linux forum, when they don't go way over my head. And still me thinking that R.A.D. is still alive and well but sad that some companies are taken in by lies, lies and more lies from competitors.

So for me, it's business as usual, but I can't wait to meet as many Champions as possible in Orlando in January. Bring on the Class of '15 photo shoot.

OSX Yosemite upgrade + iTunes 12.0.1 = unhappy child :o(

In the last couple of weeks I have upgraded my MacBook Pro to the latest version of OSX Yosemite (v10.10). This has come with a few little niggles and a couple of things I'm not sure I like, but the biggest problem is that iTunes failed to start up. This was becoming an issue as my daughter had just purchased a new album on the iTunes store and wanted it uploaded to her iPod. Her increasing impatience and my frustration at not having everything working on my MacBook forced me into action and digging a little further into the problem.

Looking in the console (Launch Pad, Other, Console) showed the following error line.[1]: ([10123]) Service exited with abnormal code: 1

When, eventually, I managed to ask Apple about it, having contacted them for something else, they said I should re-install iTunes. Again. (sigh)

So this time I followed this procedure and it's finally working. Your mileage may vary, but this has worked for me.

  1. Open the Activity Monitor (LaunchPad, Other, Activity Monitor)
  2. Force Quit the iTunes Helper app (I had multiply ones running, so quit them all)
  3. Install the iTunes .pkg from the Apple website.
  4. Force Quit the iTunes Helper again after install
  5. Shut Down the MacBook
  6. Start again (watch for the progress bar, that’s the fix for permissions working)
  7. Start iTunes
  8. Breathe a sigh of releif! ;o)

I hope that my daughter will be happy when she gets home from school and her new album is available on her iPod. ;o)

Can you help?

Today I received an email from a good friend of mine who works for a children's charity. I've been involved with this charity since 2006 when I started fundraising to complete the EnduroIndia 2007 challenge.

If you or anyone you know can help, then please let me know and I'll put you in contact.

Hi Tim

The charity has an urgent need for some IT hardware after a spate of our computers coming to the end of their lives and I wondered if you could advise.

We are looking for computers or laptops to be gifted to us – these don’t have to be brand new so I would like you to put your feelers out to your contacts for help.

Here is our minimum specification for PC:
Processor: i3 (or AMD equivalent)
Processor speed: 3Ghz
Hard Drive: 120Gb (minimum)
Network card: yes
USB 2: yes (with USB3 would be great)
VGA: yes

We have our own operating system licences, so not essential that the PC comes with this, but great if does.

This is our minimum spec so anything more powerful would be a bonus.

If this is something you think you can help with, or even advise on the best places to try that would be fantastic.

Many thanks

Support when you need it

I was recently asked about being able to make a 'pretty' and 'modern' web interface for mission critical Domino application. It had to be perform fast, be adaptive to the device running it and work really well on the C-level execs iPads and other gadgets.

You are probably thinking, "That's a no-brainer, it's easy, just use XPages and the mobile controls and blah, blah, blah". Am I right? I thought so, because that's what I was thinking until the customer finishes their requirements list.

You know what's coming next. Right? "And all of this has to work on Domino 6.5 and don't even consider asking us to upgrade because that's too big a job and we can't do that."

As I stifle my laughter and try and compose myself into some semblance of professionalism I find myself wondering what we actually CAN do to help this situation. I start to do some research and find my good friend Stephan Wissel has already talked about how to do the Domino upgrades in the best possible way. So I'm not going to do that, but take a look at the table on the left hand side of that page. The one that shows the number of days since IBM stopped supporting that version of Domino. I checked out the links and one of them takes you to the page where IBM show you all the dates for the releases and when they stopped supporting them. It turns out that this company are running their mission critical enterprise on software that was released almost 11 years ago and has not been supported by the supplier for over 4 years now. I wonder if the board of directors in this company know about that.

All that aside, IBM Domino is a great server and very tolerant of different versions, so we can install a single Domino 9.x server into the environment to surface a pretty and modern interface for their applications.

So there is a way around this with customer's predicament, but in my opinion there is no excuse for not investing in 'mission critical' parts of your business. You would not want to secure your computers with a virus checker that has not been updated in the last 4 years. Would you?

ShellShock linux/unix/bsd/osx bug

This last week has seen one of the biggest security flaws in the linux/unix based operating systems come to light. Pretty much EVERY vendor has been scrabbling around trying to path their particular version of 'bash'.

There are lots of guides on lots of websites about how to get the latest patches, so I'm not going to do that here. But suffice to say that all my systems are now patched.

Bill Malchisky Jr. has good guide if you still need one.

For me just one question remains. "Why did it take Apple so long to release a patch for something that was fixable 4 days ago?"

I guess we'll never know as Apple state on their own support site that they never discuss security issues in public.

Challenge completed (take 2)

This time it was not cycling 100 miles for charity, but organising a conference in the heart of London for a group of very capable and knowledgeable IT folks.

Taking into consideration that I was taking over rather than inventing, it was easier than it could have been. I already had an established format to copy and tweak to my preference and a list of previous speakers/sponsors to approach. But it was still a challenge and there was lots to do making it work.

Here's a small abstract from my list of topics covered:

  • venue
  • food
  • drink
  • session abstracts
  • sponsor levels
  • sponsors
  • banners
  • bags
  • badges
  • name stickers
  • speaker gifts
  • speaker/sponsor dinner
  • keynote speaker
  • registration process
  • website
  • volunteer staff
  • bag filling
  • room set up
  • storage
  • transportation
  • speed sponsoring
  • tear down

Each one of these has a process behind it and that process has lots of inputs, variables dependencies and methods (that sounds dangerously close to being organised to me).

I'm still finalising this years close out with evaluations and collecting speaker slides, but so far the feedback has be mainly positive. There have been a few 'suggestions' for changes to next year, but I'm pleased to say that I'm not surprised by any of them, in fact I agree with all of them.

I could not have done any of this without the support of lots of people and I thank you all. That includes, all the team that volunteered their time, IBM for letting us use the venue and catering for free, the speakers for writing the presentations and turning up to deliver them, the sponsors for believing in the event and paying on time and all the attendees that showed up to see what all the fuss was about.

"So there will be a next year?" I can hear you thinking it as you read this. Well I hope so, I have every intention of running another one.