tc-soft.com is dead, long live tc-soft.com

Welcome back to my blog. A bit of a website relaunch in time for the new year and the relaunch of TC Soft Consulting.

I've been busy since leaving IBM working for a software company as their global technical services manager and getting officially certified in ITIL v3 and PRINCE2. Both of these certifications were skills I already had, but didn't have the time or money to get certified in. I have managed to find both the time and money to do both and I'm so glad I did.

itil-logo.jpg

ITIL has solidified some of my thinking around delivering IT services to the organisations I work for. It has added the framework of structure to all of my thoughts, beliefs and experience that I have gained since starting out in the IT industry in 1987.

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PRINCE2 has been a bit of a revelation to me as I have realised that I was already wanting to do all the elements and principals that PRINCE2 specifies. Now I have another framework to fit all that stuff into. It's been great to get other peoples opinions too on the way that things should be run, but mostly it's just added structure to what I did already.

Both of these skills have refreshed me and speaking to lots of people from lots of different industries has also made me realise we have the same challenges in most organisations, just different names for them.

So it's onwards and upwards with a new website and new frameworks to work through. I still use Getting Things Done (GTD) as my task management methodology so a least one thing is staying constant here.

Mobile device week of shame

Let's start with Blackberry. I have the wonderful Bold 9900, lovely phone, great mix of touch screen and keyboard, great size, nice screen. Shame it's connected to the Blackberry BES service that can be down for 3 days, including the Blackberry innovation Forum in London.  Oooops!

 

And then on to Apple.

YES Apple. Who'd have thought that releasing a new iPhone, new iOS and iCloud service all on the same day would bring their download servers to their knees? My iPhone 4 has been a trusty partner that just works. Like all Apple devices the user interface is simple and normally a pleasure to use. The only fly in this ointment has always been iTunes. Needed to start your phone up (activate it) and last night it proceded to brick my iPhone trying to upgrade to iOS5. Apparently the Apple servers were too busy and my update failed half way through. Thus I have a blank iPhone with the "Connect to iTunes" image on it.

So not the best week for mobile devices then!

GSX are looking for a Junior Support Analyst in UK

I am currently recruiting for the following position in the UK. If this could be you, or someone you know, then please apply with your CV/Resumé to tclark at gsx dot com

Job Title Junior Support Analyst
Location  Farnborough, Hampshire. UK
Description Junior Support Analyst wanted for rapidly expanding Collaboration Software management vendor.

The role will involve Post Sales technical support, working with customers to identify and resolve issues and also working with development in identifying and resolving any code issues.

GSX's suite of products operate across multiple collaboration technologies and in many disparate architectures so this is a very challenging technical role with exposure to multiple environments and technologies.

The successful candidate will be required to work closely with customers, support team, sales team and development team to ensure that customer expectations and product quality is upheld to the highest possible quality.

Roles and Responsibility
  • Closely monitoring all inboud tickets, managing all customer communications through resolution
  • Work closely with account management, senior technical services team and Development team to identify and resolve issues
  • Ability to work alternate hours as needed
Experience
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Windows operating system
  • 1-3 years experience with any of the following
    • IBM Domino / Lotus Notes, Traveller, Quickr, Sametime
    • Blackberry, RIM
  • Microsoft Exchange Messaging, a bonus but not required.
Skills
  • French an advantage
  • German an advantage
  • Spanish an advantage
  • Able to monitor and rapidly resolve issues in a an Exchange and Blackberry Server environment
  • Soft Skills
    • Conscientious and dedicated work ethic
    • Methodical and logical thinker
    • Autonomous self managing and self starter
    • Experienced in handling difficult or sensitive issues
  • Any of the following accreditation's would be highly desirable: IBM Specialist Microsoft MCP Blackberry Certified Support Specialist Blackberry Certified Systems Administrator

 

Time to move on.....

,,,, to a couple of new challenges. Monday 22nd August will see me depart from IBM. My business home for the past 17 years 7 months and 12 days. I started working for Lotus Development UK Limited for a chap called Graham Jons (he's still in IBM somewhere) in the spreadsheet and database support team. Back in the days when we had a UK call centre for Lotus support and we still wrote software like Lotus 1-2-3, Improv, Approach, AmiPro and Freelance Graphics. I remember once whilst on the Approach hotline talking to an old chap about database joins, but he just wasn't getting it. So I asked him if he had thought of getting some training as it's not easy to explain over the phone. He told me that he had been on a training course, at which point I hit the mute button and suggest that he ask for a refund. The manager that was ear-wigging from the cubicle behind me almost fell off her chair. I un-muted and then went on to explain all about joins and we had another happy customer who's database worked again.

I could go on for ages with support line stories, but that's for another time.

I'm going to join GSX (www.gsx.com) a business partner from Switzerland, although I will be working from home in the UK. My role will be Technical Services Manager and I'm really looking forward to the new challenges this new role will bring.

The other new challenge in our lives at the moment is adopting two children who were placed with us earlier this month. So learning to live with two new people in the house, leaving IBM and starting a new job has made August a very interesting month and one I will never forget.

If I've worked with you or met you during my time at Lotus / IBM, then I would like to say a huge "thank you" for making my time there so enjoyable.

A trip to Manchester for UKLUG

Sunday morning started with an early run up the M40/M6 to Manchester for the set up of UKLUG (United Kingdom Lotus User Group). I say early because 8am is not a time I normally witness most Sundays, well for now anyway. I was surprised at the amount of Red Kites that I saw all looking for prey along the M40 corridor from High Wycombe up to Banbury. They are close to the endangered list so it was good to count about 50 of them up the motorway. Arriving in Manchester I made my way to the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and found some of the team in full swing preparing the various rooms with sound/projection/lights, all the normal stuff that needs doing for a conference like this. I got to work setting up the wifi access points and running 25m ethernet cables in the ceiling space to the 2 access points we had. This is seemed to work fine so we moved on to taking a few pictures around the place while the rest of set up was happening. The bag stuffers were in full swing collecting all the bits of marketing material for each of the conference bags. It takes quite a while to put 20 bits of 'stuff' into 250 bags.

With the set up done in a really good amount of time we all set off for our hotels by about 6pm. The speaker dinner event was happening later that evening with a canal boat tour on the Manchester ship canal. It was a great evening and quite a few drinks were consumed.

Monday morning came around and we were there early to await the arrival of the guests. Everything was as smooth as silk, apart from the wifi that I set up. It turns out that Netgear in it's infinite wisdom would only allow 50 DHCP addresses to be assigned through it's tiny little wifi router. Grrrrrr. Luckily one of the sponsors had a Linksys router that would allow us 220 addresses so we set that up instead and cut down the lease time to about 3 minutes. Luckily for me, Warren Elsmore and Chris Miller helped me sort this out and work out what the best time was. We are also looking at ways to make this work in a much more stable way in future.

Tuesday was fun and we managed to attend sessions and get everything sorted for the XPages taster morning before everyone came in. The wifi needed rebooting again mid-morning so we really know that it's something we have to fix before the next event.

The closing session was the usual prize-fest from the sponsors, and as usual, those who didn't stay until the end didn't get their prizes.

All in all it was an outstanding event. Great attendees, awesome sponsors and a fantastic venue. The only thing that makes all this work is the volunteers who run it and the speakers who spend coutnless hours distilling their knowledge into consumable chunks in the form of presentations. I for one am very grateful to Kitty and Warren for organising it and to the speakers who turn up, unpaid, to impart their wisdom.

So this is the week that is, or will be, or something....

So today I'm in IBM Southbank all day with my good friend Matt White working on our presentations for Lotusphere 2011. Tomorrow will be spent driving to and from Birmingham to see a customer about Lotus Quickr.

Wednesday I will mostly be in hospital fixing my atrial fibrillation (I hope)

Thursday will be recovering from Wednesday and packing for Lotusphere

Friday will be mostly on an aeroplane heading towards Orlando, FL for Lotusphere.

So a most relaxing week coming up then. :-s

The X Cast is shocked back into life. ;o)

I have just published episode 4 of the X Cast over at http://thexcast.net and it's been a great podcast to record and publish. Mainly because I have two new friends helping me out with it and they are offering all sorts of advice and opinions, which is great news. This means that they will pester me to do some more with it and keep it going. Long may it continue. As a side note, for anyone who read my last post about atrial fibrillation, a date has been set for my electro-cardioversion (electric shock) to reset my heart rhythm. It's the 26th of January and only 2 days before I fly to the USA to present at Lotusphere 2011. Let's hope it works.

Lotus Notes upgrade workshops

My colleague Matt Newton is running a series of Notes upgrade workshops during September and October. With Notes / Domino 8.5.2, now available, there’s never been a better time to look at upgrading a back-version infrastructure, to take advantage of the attractive and highly-functional Notes client and the many improvements on the Domino server (many of which will contribute to lowering the cost of ownership). To quote the invite…

The Notes & Domino 8.5.x upgrade workshop is intended to provide the customer with an in-depth examination of the new capabilities of version 8.5.x. For existing customers, this exploration will help them assess the additional value and potential impact to their existing environment. For new customers, this exploration will give them an invaluable insight into Notes & Domino 8.5.x.  At the conclusion of the workshop, the customer will leave with an excitement about the business problems this new version can help solve.

Sounds good? Okay, here’s the dates and locations for these free-of-charge events…

  • Wednesday 29th September – IBM Warwick
  • Tuesday 5th October – IBM Staines
  • Wednesday 6th October – IBM Manchester
  • Tuesday 12th October – IBM Edinburgh

Interested? E-mail me using tim dot clark at uk.ibm.com – or leave a comment here and I’ll book you in.

TLA day, BMW + GTD

Using the iPhone application AppBox Lite I've managed to calculate that it is 80 days since my BMW 320d touring went bang. I was called on Friday last week and informed by the company replacing the engine that they have a replacement engine that has done less than 10,000 miles and that my car should be ready later this week. I'm not holding my breathe as I'd be blue by now. On the GTD front I have managed to get to an empty inbox today. YIPEEEEEE. This momentous event occurred on a flight from LHR (London Heathrow, UK) to CPH (Copenhagen, Denmark) this morning. I am in Denmark to present, what might be my last, XPages workshop. So now I have finally finished the collection phase, it's time to start on the action phase. Time to start calling people back and using this eProductivity mail template for really GTD (Getting Things Done). I have a huge list of stuff to do so I'd better get on with it. ;o)

Day 69 and counting.....

On Feb 19th the engine in my BMW 320d decided to stop working. Something to do with a bent crank shaft, 2 bent con rods, cylinder leakage from 1, 2 and 3, a piston loose in the in the cylinder, pitting on all four piston heads, marking and scoring on all 4 cylinder sleeves. So just a couple of minor niggles really. ;o) The BMW garage said it needed a new engine and the leasing company, naturally, took a very sharp intake of breathe at this point. And I don't blame them. £9,000 for a replacement engine is a lot for a car that's just two years old.

After much tooing and froing, and tooing and froing and some more tooing, just for good measure, the car is with a garage that are going to replace the engine.

I rang them just after lunch today to find out what is happening. I remember something about "the engine is out of the car and we don't have an engine that works yet to put back in" before my brain melted and ran out of me nose.

So it's not going to be back tomorrow (day 70) and then it's a bank holiday weekend. So that's going to be up to day 74 at the earliest and if they work on it over the holiday weekend. (not going to happen)

I think I might get to day 80, but not as far as day 100 before I lose it completely and scream at someone down the phone about this.

Anyone want to guess on the what date I'll get the BMW back? Day 80 onwards........

GTD Stage 1 - Collection

So after a quick flurry of email and a chat with Ian in support I have eProductivity† set up and everything showing as it should be. Now I can start on the GTD process stage one. This involves getting EVERYTHING into a trusted system, in this case eProductivity, and clearing it from my mind. Then I will be one step closer to David Allen's goal of 'mind like water'.

So I will spend the rest of day and tomorrow collecting everything into eProductivity and then working through what the next actions are for each thing I have collected.

The collection process is made really simple in eProductivity as you can drag and drop any emails into a context (more on these later on) and you can also "MindSweep" and collect your thoughts about projects or stuff that you are thinking about but don't have email about. My inbox stands at 704 emails right now and I want to have that down to none either by the end of today or tomorrow lunch time.

I'd best stop writing about it now and actually go do some of it.

More updates on the next 4 steps will follow.

Spring cleaning

So I've been challenged in my Open University course to try and understand a bunch more about time management and how it can help me.Being a Lotus bod I decided to take another look at eProductivity that I saw demonstrated at Lotusphere 2009, but Erick Mack and David Allen of GTD fame.

Having listened to David Allen read his Getting Things Done (GTD) book a bunch of times (I have it as an audio book), I think I get the process. I have no decided to take the plunge and investigate integrating that into my Lotus Notes mail file to get the full effect of what it can do for me. eProductivity is just such an application that will change the look, feel and functionality of my mail file. It's safe for me as I know how to control the security in Notes (ECL) and I have complete control over my mail file (Manager Access). If after evaluating this on a 4 week trial I discover that it's not for me then I can revert back to the Lotus designed mail file and nothing will be lost. You have to love Notes for it's flexibility.

So here goes, downloading the template now and replacing the design of my mail file this morning. Then it's off to lunch for a stiff drink. ;o) When I come back I'll start the spring clean with a trawl through my existing inbox and work out what needs to go where.

I'll post my progress and let you all know how I'm getting on as I get into this. I'll also share any tips and tricks I find along the way.

Full Disclosure I feel it only fair to inform everyone that I will not be hiding anything in these blog posts, but if I like eProductivity, they have offered me a free license if I want to continue using it. All I have to do is blog about it. But I want you all to know that if it's bad, needs changing, crashes my mail file, revolutionizes my life or annoys the life out of me, I'll be telling everyone. My thanks go to Erik Mack and Ryan Heathers for offering this opportunity to me.

I hate Jetlag

So I woke up yesterday at 4:30am after finally getting to bed at 1:00am. So that's a total of 3 hours 30 minutes for Friday night. Last night I curled up at midnight and then woke up at 3:00am with slides running through my mind. Every time I closed my eyes, back the slides came and that's the way it's been since. Do you think I have something on my mind? Possible

So after 6 hours and 30 minutes sleep in the past 48 hours, I get to present at 1:30pm today. Then I'm going to bed. If I don't see you at the beach party tonight I apologise in advance. ;o)

SOTM and The X Cast

I have appeared on the "Someone Once Told Me" website in this entry. This is a great daily inspiration site where Mario takes pictures or gets them from his flickr group and posts them. They are all black and white and all have something that the person in the photograph has been told by someone. Simple idea and very well executed. It was a pleasure being "shot" for this even if it was bitterly cold, dark and nearly raining. I intend to shoot some of these for Mario at Lotusphere, so if you see me walking around with my camera and have something that you might want to share with the world, then please stop me and ask. The next big announcement is that I have published my podcast called "The X Cast". This is all to do with XPages and can be found here. We are waiting for Apple to come back with an iTunes subscription so I will tell everyone when that happens. In the mean time you can listen from the website or download the MP3 file.

Please tell me what you think about both topics.

I will be speaking at Lotusphere 2010

WOW, I still can't really believe that my session has been selected to be part of Lotusphere 2010 in Orlando, FL. Out of over 1000 session abstracts that were submitted Matt White and myself have had ours selected.Can you guess what it's going to be about? If you can't then where have you been for the last 18 months?

Here is my abstract.

How to build an XPages Application from start to finish Join us as we take you step by step and click by click through building an XPages application. Learn the basics and then grow the complexity as you expand the application. Including; XPages, Custom Controls, server side JavaScript, single UI methodology, using existing Notes data and adding unlisted dojo objects. Watch the application being built live on stage with everything you need to know condensed into 2 hours.

Interview with Bob Picciano @ UKLUG

This morning I had chance to get 10 minutes of Bob Picciano's time at the UKLUG event in Edinburgh.Bob is the General Manager for Lotus Software and just after he delivered his keynote speech at the Opening General Session I got to talk to him about why he was here, what is important right now to Lotus Software and what he's going to do while he's here in Edinburgh.

Here is what he had to say.

Listen!

p.s. During Ron Sebastian's demo during the keynote he asked for a show of hands as to who still uses the workspace in Lotus Notes. Bob raised his hand too. ;o)

Lotus Knows awareness campaign discussion with Kristen Lauria, Sandy Carter and Shaun Jones

Mon, 14 Sep 2009, 11:30 AM EDT US/3:30 PM GMT/11:30 PM EST AU. Join Kristen Lauria, Lotus/WebSphere Portal Software Vice President, Marketing and Channels; Sandy Carter, IBM Software Group, Worldwide Sales Vice President, IBM Software Group Channels; and Shaun Jones, IBM Software Group, Marketing Vice President - WW Channel and General Business Marketing, to hear about an exciting upcoming campaign and understand how together we can amplify the "Lotus Knows" awareness campaign within companies worldwide - large and small. We'll discuss how you can leverage resources from across IBM in your local marketing and social media efforts to drive awareness and results in your market! Please register here

Elguji are at it again.

So Bruce, Gayle and Matt at Elguji have taken another idea and managed to shoehorn it into the JAM format. IQJam is a great looking tool that will allow you to create a question and answer forum. As is synonymous with IdeaJam the community can vote on the questions and the person who asked can mark the question answered. Add to all this that Bruce has decided to openly publish iqjam.net for the benefit of the Lotus community, just like they have with ideajam.net. Another XPages application from the Elguji stud that looks to be as good as the rest of the stable. It will only run on a Domino 8.5.1 server so we have a little while to wait to try it for ourselves. I'm sure the wait will be worth it.

It's very rewarding for me to be involved with Elguji and see them working with the new technologies Lotus is creating. Watching the products go from ideas to alpha testing, beta testing and then on release to the market is extremely interesting. I can't wait to see this product and try it out for myself.

UKLUG agenda has been released

So the folks running the UKLUG must have been drinking some pretty hard stuff recently. They have put out the agenda and I'm on it. I mean come on. I know they weren't hard up for session abstracts. I guess I had better get on with writing something to show now. ;o)I have been writing something anyway and I did know that they accepted my submission. I'm working on a small XPages application that I can build in front of everyone and explain it as I go along. The target is 45 minutes for the demo and 10 minutes for intro and questions. The other plan is to get a whole bunch of screen shots or a screen video of some kind that I can post after the session. Here are the things that I will hoping to show.

  • Simple data binding to a notes doc and notes view
  • Creating a single UI to use again and again
  • Using an unlisted dojo control in an XPage (dojox.image.Lightbox)
  • Taking all that and showing it in the Notes client
  • Incorporating that into a Composite Application and wiring it to a Google search gadget

So if you think you like the sound of that session then come find me on day 1 of UKLUG (8-Oct-09) 3pm-4pm in room #4. The rest of the agenda can be found HERE