Things I can't travel without. (Part 1)

I'm lying in a generic USA hotel room, two double beds, refrigerator, air conditioner, bathroom, etc, etc. You get the picture, I'm on a business trip to see my new employer Teamstudio. But, it's 05:30 in the morning and I've just woken up from a blissful and calm nights sleep even though there is a noisy refrigerator humming, buzzing and gurgling away, the intermittent very load air conditioner unit and this sort of traffic going past the window constantly.

2014-06-10 05.28.54.jpg

Why this calm and blissful state I find myself in, even though I know the jet-lag is going to be hellish later? How have I just slept through all of that?

2014-06-10 05.25.48.jpg

#1 - Simple solutions to simple problems. Earplugs. I don't travel without them. You can pick them up from most pharmacies and some airlines provide them on overnight flights. If you ever try them and they are uncomfortable or feel too big, then get a sampler pack and try some different sizes. (links at the bottom)

Then my mind gets to wandering and wondering and I’m thinking about all the other stuff I can't or won't travel without these days. I've done a bunch of business travel in the last 20 years, but never more than I’ve don in the last 10 months. Regular weekly trips to Dublin on a contract, at least 3 trips to the USA and 1 to the Netherlands and I realise that I have built up a small arsenal of essentials. This gives me great inner peace, knowing that I have the things I need when I need them.

So here are most of the things I won't travel without, why and how to find them.

#2 - Tins from London Developer Co-op give-aways. I had no idea what these are called or how to buy one as I was given both of mine by LDC. These are used by RAF pilots or may even be ration tins, I don't really know. What I do know is that they are made of aircraft grade aluminium and shut tight. I have two but here's what I manage to stuff into one of them.

There is a link at the bottom to Amazon where you can buy one.

At the end of the week and this post series, there will be a competition to win one of the original London Developer Co-op tins that you can then use for all your essential stuff.

2014-06-10 05.20.28.jpg

I want to go through some of the things in the tin with you later in the week, but for now here's the last thing I want to share today.

#3 - This is not only good for travel but very useful at home. I'm going to have to invest in another one of these for my home office I think. These nifty plugs have four USB power outlets on them and they are all 2amps, so can power 4 phones or tablets at the same time. If you are anything like me you have more than one device that needs charging overnight so having to carry just one plug instead of 4 or more is a great saving on space and weight when travelling. It also saves on having to bring loads of adapter plugs for the country you are going to. Don't worry that it's only UK, it works in other countries to and you may be able to find one specific to your country.


Don't forget our competition to win one of the London Developer Co-Op conference survival tins on Friday.


I'm heading to the studio

I am very pleased to announce that, effective June 1st 2014, I am heading to Teamstudio and taking up the position of Director of Professional Services. A very exciting job that will enable me to encompass all of my past 27 years IT work experience into one amazing role. My skills in project management, people management, pre-sales, post sales support, business development and more will be tested to the full in this position.

I'm really excited to be on board and can't wait to get started.

Teamstudio's official posting can be found here.


Teamstudio is a pioneer in mobilizing applications for business efficiency, mobility, and resilience. Through three distinct product lines, Teamstudio serves 2300 customers in 32 countries, providing opportunities to make business operations efficient, flexible and resilient.

Teamstudio is a privately held international company with its HQ in the United States and regional offices in the UK and Japan. 

IBM Collaboration Solutions Linux chat in Skype

Ball Malchisky has summarised this nicely in his blog post here, but there is a new Skype chat you can join if you want to discuss using Linux for IBM Collaboration Solutions.

If you want access, just add me on Skype as a contact (TimsterC) and say you want access to the ICS Linux chat in your contact request.

We have lots of people able to answer questions big or small about Linux, so come join us and ask your questions or add your knowledge. All are welcome.

Announcing ICON UK 2014

This week I had pleasure in announcing that ICON UK 2014 will happen. Plans are very embryonic right now, but becoming more solid as each day passes.

Save the date of Friday 12th September 2014 in your diaries. The venue will be central London.

More details will follow and we will update the iconuk.org site as soon as we can.

We look forward to welcoming you to London in September.

ConnCtrl bash script for IBM Connections

I saw a post from Stewart Hickson and thought that there must be a script already for starting and stopping IBM Connections on RedHat Linux.

Having had a chat with my good friend Sharon Bellamy it turns out that she wasn't aware of one. So necessity being the mother of all invention we created one.

Your Mileage May Vary ;o)

Please download from here -->  connctrl.sh

Install instructions:

Copy to your /etc directory and then make executable

chmod +x /etc/connctrl.sh

Usage

connctrl {start|stop} {0|3|4} {nru}

Start or Stop (fairly obvious really)

0, 3 or 4 (Tha amount of servers you have to start)

nru (Switch to say use the Non Root User variable)

Please post comments for suggestions or feedback

#!/bin/bash

#######################################################
# Authors #
#######################################################
# Tim Clark www.tc-soft.com #
# Sharon Bellamey www.cube-soft.co.uk #
# (c)November 2013 #
# Please copy at will but attribute authors #
#######################################################

#######################################################
# Variables #
#######################################################
# Please ammend these to match your local environment #
#######################################################
WSDM=/opt/IBM/WebSphere/AppServer/profiles/Dmgr01/bin # WebSphere Deployment Manager path
WAS=/opt/IBM/WebSphere/AppServer/profiles/AppSrv01/bin # WebSphere Application Server path
NRU=wasadmin # NonRootUser that owns WebSphere instance if not 'root'
N=ConnCtrl
# Connections Servers #
# This is whatever you called the Connections server instances #
CS=IC45_server1
CS1=pcf_server1
CS2=infra_server1
CS3=apps_server1
CS4=fw_server1

#######################################################
# Start Script #
#######################################################
case "$3" in
nru)
case "$1" in
start)
su - $NRU
cd $WSDM
./startManager.sh
cd $WAS
./startNode.sh
case "$2" in
0)
./startServer.sh $CS
;;
3)
./startServer.sh $CS1
./startServer.sh $CS2
./startServer.sh $CS3
;;
4)
./startServer.sh $CS1
./startServer.sh $CS2
./startServer.sh $CS3
./startServer.sh $CS4
;;
*)
echo "Usage: $N {start|stop} {0|3|4} {nru}"
echo "0=just 1 IC server, 3=3 IC servers & 4=4IC servers"
echo "nru = if you are using a user other than root"
exit 1
;;
esac
;;
stop)
cd $WAS
case "$2" in
0)
./stopServer.sh $CS
;;
3)
./stopServer.sh $CS3
./stopServer.sh $CS2
./stopServer.sh $CS1
;;
4)
./stopServer.sh $CS4
./stopServer.sh $CS3
./stopServer.sh $CS2
./stopServer.sh $CS1
;;
*)
echo "Usage: $N {start|stop} {0|3|4} {nru}"
echo "0=just 1 IC server, 3=3 IC servers & 4=4IC servers"
echo "nru = if you are using a user other than root"
exit 1
;;
esac
./stopNode.sh
cd $WSDM
./stopManager.sh
;;
*)
echo "Usage: $N {start|stop} {0|3|4} {nru}"
echo "0=just 1 IC server, 3=3 IC servers & 4=4IC servers"
echo "nru = if you are using a user other than root"
exit 1
;;
esac
;;
*)
case "$1" in
start)
cd $WSDM
./startManager.sh
cd $WAS
./startNode.sh
case "$2" in
0)
./startServer.sh $CS
;;
3)
./startServer.sh $CS1
./startServer.sh $CS2
./startServer.sh $CS3
;;
4)
./startServer.sh $CS1
./startServer.sh $CS2
./startServer.sh $CS3
./startServer.sh $CS4
;;
*)
echo "Usage: $N {start|stop} {0|3|4} {nru}"
echo "0=just 1 IC server, 3=3 IC servers & 4=4IC servers"
echo "nru = if you are using a user other than root"
exit 1
;;
esac
;;
stop)
cd $WAS
case "$2" in
0)
./stopServer.sh $CS
;;
3)
./stopServer.sh $CS3
./stopServer.sh $CS2
./stopServer.sh $CS1
;;
4)
./stopServer.sh $CS4
./stopServer.sh $CS3
./stopServer.sh $CS2
./stopServer.sh $CS1
;;
*)
echo "Usage: $N {start|stop} {0|3|4} {nru}"
echo "0=just 1 IC server, 3=3 IC servers & 4=4IC servers"
echo "nru = if you are using a user other than root"
exit 1
;;
esac
./stopNode.sh
cd $WSDM
./stopManager.sh
;;
*)
echo "Usage: $N {start|stop} {0|3|4} {nru}"
echo "0=just 1 IC server, 3=3 IC servers & 4=4IC servers"
echo "nru = if you are using a user other than root"
exit 1
;;
esac
;;
esac
exit 0

Tools I can't do without

I have recently started to use the Ytria EZ Admin suite of tools. As a Domino administrator it's a toolset that I simply can't live without now. This morning for example I've managed to find a bunch of issues using ScanEZ and it would have taken me hours without them.

Here's an example. 

User reports that they can't edit a calendar entry and it's complaining (in French, as they are in France) about the time being invalid.
I open up the users mail file and find the entry in the calendar. Open up the entry and all looks fine. Click the ScanEZ icon in the toolbar and it opens up with this one calendar entry open. ScanEZ allows me to quickly scan through the fields in the document and I notice that there is a '@domainname' entry in the recipients list. Not as you would expect 'User Name/Org@domainname'.
Having found that I switch back to Notes and try to fix the issue by removing the ghost user from the meeting. No Dice. Notes thinks that the user is not there as it's not a properly formed user entry.
Back to ScanEZ and I can remove it from all the fileds in the document and then save the changes.
Ask the user to change the calendar entry again and as if by magic it works. 

Thanks ScanEZ and Ytria for just allowing me to do my job. 

<Full Disclosure Mode = on>
Ytria have asked me to be a Ytria Ambassador, and whilst I've acepted this, it does not mean I'm going to be blowing smoke about their tools. If I think it's great, then I'll tell you. If I think it's bad, I'll tell them first and then tell you if Ytria don't fix it.
<Full Disclosure Mode = off>

ambass4.gif

Diary of a travel day

4:30am Alarm goes off, kiss wife, shower, dress and into the car by 4:50

5:15am Arrive a car park and get the shuttle bus to London Heathrow Terminal 1

5:45am 2 minutes into Terminal 1 and told that computer system has failed and that I need a check-in desk printed boarding pass. Online check-ins don't work today. 

6:00am Into security line, where my shoes set off the alarm. And for the 1st time in 10 straight weeks of air travel my "liquids bag" that came with my carry-on luggage is not good enough for security. "It needs to be in one of these, flimsy sandwich bags sir. So can you put all your stuff into one of these please."

"No, you want it in that, you do it." 

"I'll have to call a supervisor", she threatened. 

"Please do, I'd like to know why today my bag is not good enough, having been fine for 10 straight weeks of air travel through this very terminal. What's changed in your policies in the last week?" 

Sheepishly she admits that nothing has changed and that for the past 9 weeks I must have got lucky that no one did their job right. 

So that's all OK then. Airport security not sticking to their own policies for the past 9 weeks is perfect and fine. Really??? 

6:25am rush through the rest of the terminal to be faced with secondary screening in T1 for all those of us lucky enough to not be leaving the UK or Ireland. Yes it's another line to stand in. For no reason at all. They have already seen my boarding card and the airline will see my photo ID along with my boarding card at the gate and the aeroplane door. Why do we need this screening line? It's just an inconvenience and delay for the passengers, or could it be 'jobs for the boys'? There are more people in security than anything else at an airport. I whilst that's a good thing to keep us safe, some things are really over the top. 

6:37am Finally get to gate 84

6:40am Flight starts boarding

7:05am Take off from LHR on flight EI149 to Dublin. 

8:05am Land at Dublin, passport control and luggage pickup. 

8:15am Coach ticket stand only takes cash, so have to dash off to find some. 

8:30am Coach leaves airport to go thorugh the centre of Dublin. 

9:35am Arrive in Leopardstown to walk to the office. 

9:45am Sitting at my desk with first food and drink of the day. 

6:21pm Packing up to leave office and to walk to hotel. 

7:30pm Sleeping........... 

Being a project manager

It's fun. If you can see past all the paperwork. Working with people and getting them to achieve their goals and meet their targets is proving to be very rewarding for me. 

I never thought I would like this role, but it's awesome. I still have a hard time with what is supposed to be the right way to do things, but I'm getting there. 

This week I'm concentrating on catching up with the projects I've been away from for a week. So much work has been done while I've been away and some major roadblocks have been breached. It's great to see the projects moving forwards when I can't be around.

For the rest of this week I'll be sorting out new plans of attack and more project documentation to hand over to clients when the time comes to close out the projects. 

Mac troubles

Just before I went away with the family around Easter my MacBook Pro started acting all weird and started hanging and crashing. This caused me untold distress leading up to the holiday and meant that I had to work while I was away and in the car on the way.

I came back from the holiday refreshed (eventually) and ready to go again, but my poor MacBook Pro was not ready to go at all. The problem started getting worse and I had read a whole bunch of forums and support stuff from Apple before I finally threw in the towel and booked an appointment with an Apple Genius in Reading.

Following this appoint we were no further forward really and the crashes kept on coming. So I booked an appointment with Solution Inc in Guildford and Alex there was very attentive and listened to my diagnostics and attempts to fix this. He tried stress testing the machine and it fail for him the following day. The following day he called Apple and they suggested a minimal install config and running the stress test. This included swapping out my SSD for a HDD. The system did not crash or hang this time during the stress tests.

This led me to think about replacing the SSD for something else, but then I remembered that I'd seen this before. Back when I first got my MacBook Pro I had hangs and stalls but not crashes. It turned out to be the firmware of the SSD from Crucial that was still at version 1.0. So back then (late 2011) I updated it to version 9 of the firmware. None of the data was lost and it worked fine from then on. Install Mac OSX 10.8.3 and it starts to fail again. What's the current version of the firmware (April 2013) 070H. That's at least 61 versions later in decimal or 103 versions hex later. 103 versions of firmware later and my MacBook Pro is running fine again.

I have taken the radical step to wipe it and run a clean install from now on. I had too much rubbish on it anyway, so it's a good thing to spring clean every now and again.

I have to thank;

  • Cole at Apple Reading for listening and trying a bunch of stuff and reasuring me that I'd checked all the right stuff in the first place.
  • Liam from the business team at Apple Reading for calling me to see how things were going and making sure I knew that Apple were there for me if I needed them. He also followed up with me today to find out if it was fixed and has promised to pass on the firmware fix to Cole for me.
  • Alex at Solutions Inc who suffered lots of chasing calls from me, to keep him on his toes and looking at my MacBook Pro rather than anything else he should have been doing.
  • BackBlaze for having a backup solution that is seamless and affordable.

As for now, it's all plain sailing again. I hope I'm not going to regret that statement in the next few days.

Moral of this story?
Check your firmware version on your SSD and keep it up to date.

Social Connections V

I've had the great honour of being approved to speak at Social Connections V in Zurich in June.

I'll be speaking on Project Management and my current role as PM for some IBM Connections projects.

Here is the abstract that I have submitted.

Project Managing a Connections Install
Deploying Connections is easy. 10 days of I.T. effort and then tell the users the url. Right?
Well, No. You are so far away from the truth it might actually be funny.
Let Tim take you through the Project Management (PM) of a Connections project from start to finish and show you all the gory stuff in the middle too.
He’ll explain why you need to PM a Connections project and suggest best practise stages for you too.
Experiences from real world PM from real world Connections install projects.

I look forward to speaking at this event and look forward even more to meeting some new people.

As one door closes, another one opens

As one door closes...

I have had the pleasure of speaking with Matt White since the birth of IBM XPages in 2009. I have made a friend for life in Matt and also learnt lots about creating workshops, materials, presenting, teaching, travel and podcasting along the way.

Stephan Wissel and I took a text file from the very first XPages workshop held in Dublin and turned it to 26 exercises that we delivered in our own regions. Stephan in Asia Pacific and me in Europe. I never did get as far as the Middle East or Africa with it, but I'm sure there are people from those regions that have seen the material.

In January 2010 Matt and I presented at Lotusphere with a Show and Tell session where we created the now infamous 'LOANr' application live on stage in 1hour and 45 minutes. We managed to get through 260 (ish) slides, which I know breaks all the rules about presenting. This presentation was picked up by several people after that and even presented by people inside IBM as their own work. Shame on them. The funniest bit of that little story is a friend of Matt and me asked them 1/4 way through if this was Matt and Tim's presentation from Lotusphere. I wish I'd been there to see that. The LOANr application also turned up on YouTube as part of a competition to build an XPages application that was set for students. This has now been accredited to Matt and I, so that's all good.

For the next Lotusphere we decided to try borrowing an idea from Paul Mooney and created the XPages Blast, as well as another show and tell. We trialled it at ILUG in 2010 and submitted the abstract for Lotusphere 2011 where it got accepted and was an instant hit. 30 top tips on developing XPages applications delivered in 45-60 minutes, seemed to be the way to go. It took us 2-3 days to create the presentation ideas, slides and practise runs. The Show and Tell on the other hand took about 20 man days to come up with the ideas. create the application, tear it down into manageable chunks, rebuild it taking screen shots of everything, creating the slide deck from the hundreds of screen shots and then practising it at the wall 3 or 4 times until we knew it inside-out.

We ran XPages blast at LUGs and again at Lotusphere 2012 and Connect 2013 and each season had a new set of tips and we always got positive comments on the content and presentation style.

Our last presentation together (as far as we know) was last week and it was a webcast for TLCC and Teamstudio of the XPages Blast. It was our first webcast of the XPages Blast and I'm glad it will be our last. Every time that Matt had a slide to present the webcast software would die on his machine and I had to finish the slide and in most cases his sentence. That is an experience I don't want a repeat of as it's way to stressful. But technology has a way of making me think on my feet like nothing else, and that's probably why I'm such a geek/nerd.

So as this door closes on my involvement with XPages I'd like to thank a few people;

Matt White, for all the help, support and good times.
The Dublin Development team (Philippe, Eamon, Tony, Martin, Maureen and others), for the countless questions they have answered from me and the rest of the XPages developers.
Stephan Wissel, for allowing me to tag along and create something useful in the X-Cast.
Paul Withers & David Leedy, for joining me on the X-Cast as co-presenters.
Everyone else that has watched a presentation or workshop I gave about XPages, your comments good and bad have made me smile and get better along the way.

Thanks for watching. It's been a great ride on the XPages Express!

...One door opens.

I'm now a full time project manager and working still around the yellow bubble. I've been asked to present on PM best practises and experiences for an event in June (more on that next week).

So I'm not done with this presenting stuff yet and I'm sure I'll be at many a LUG and/or Connect in the years to come.

Customer service is king

Everyone recognises bad service when they get it, but what make good service good?

In my experience it can be distilled down to a few key points.

Set expectations
Tell people what you are going to do and then do it. If you are going to be late with the delivery of something confess early. It's so much easier to have a conversation about what the new expectations should be rather than apologising all the time for missing deadlines.

Be honest
If you don't know the answer to a question, say so. Go and find then answer and then come back to the person that asked the question.

Go the extra mile
'The extra mile' is very rarely a mile, more often than not, it's reminding someone of something they may have forgotten, or even answering the same question again for the third time with a smile every time.

It's a very simple formula that should keep you and your customers happy.

Speaking at IBM Connect / Lotusphere 2013

I have been honoured with a speaking slot along side my very good friend and XPages guru Matt White at this years IBM Connect / Lotusphere in Orlando, FL.

Matt and I have been speaking together since XPages was first launched. We have done many classes, session and events as a double act as well as on our own. Matt also runs the hugely popular XPages 101 video training site. Ask him for a discount code at Connect and you'll be amazed at the quality and depth of training on offer.

Enough plugging for Matt, this post is supposed to be about me!

Back this year is 'XPages Blast' where Matt and I will be running through 32 top tips and best practise for your continued XPages development success. It ranges from the simple to the insanely brilliant. Working along side Matt sometime I have moments where I feel like an apprentice watching a master craftsman and suddenly the light bulb goes on and I get it. Those insanely brilliant bits of code that I have watch Matt craft are coming your way. AND ALL FOR FREE.

After our session we will post a demo application that has all the goodness from our presentation. As well as a pdf of the slide set that you can take right to your desk and use immediately. Even if you are not going to Connect / Lotusphere you can download it all in one zip file from my presentations page right after the first run of the presentation.

You can download the file here

NEW this year for me is the chance to try a very short 1 slide presentation at the Nerd Girls Spark Idea Sessions.

Spark Ideas is a chance to bring together a group of our colleagues to discuss what inspires us. We’ll share our experiences, inspiration, challenges, etc., during this compilation of five minute talks. Talks could range from how you were inspired by your math teacher to go into computing, how you juggle your busy job and coaching little league soccer, dealing with stress, or describing a hobby or family project.

I'll also be at the Spark Ideas BOF on Wednesday morning, bright and early at 7am. Oh my days, what have I signed up to. ;o)

My speaking agenda

Monday 11:00-12:00 Dolphin Southern Hemisphere IV-V = BP208 XPages Blast
Tuesday 8:15-9:15 Swan 5-6 = BP208 XPages Blast (repeat)
Tuesday 11:15-12:15 Swan Mockingbird 1-2= NERD101 Spark Ideas: Sponsored by Nerd Girls
Wednesday 07:00-08:00 Swan Toucan 2 = BOF
Thursday 10:00-11:00 Swan 5-10 = GURU101 GURUpalooza!

Back to the day job?

Since leaving IBM back in 2011 I've had an easy transition into the life of being a contractor. GSX were gracious in offering me a 1 year contract and I am very grateful for the time and lessons I have learnt from them. Whilst I was finalising my days at GSX I decided to formalise some of the skills I have learnt over the years. Having been in the IT industry since leaving school in 1987 (some 25 years at time of writing), it's been interesting to work with some amazing technologies and see trends come and go and come back around again.

One of the skills that I have learnt is project management and really just by osmosis and watching what others did that worked and didn't work. Learning like that is my preferred method of learning. Watch, try, question, try again and so on. The Open University introduced me to Kolb's cycle of learning which pulled all that together for me nicely.

kolb1.jpg
kolb2.jpg

There is a different version that talks about it being a spiral as you never 'do' the same thing again so you move 'on' from where you were.

I like learning like this, but sometimes you need to formalise your thoughts and experiences into something more solid. This is where PRINCE2 comes in for me. I had heard lots of people say, "You need to have PRINCE2 on your CV or you can't get a job these days". I thought that was pretty harsh and I had no experience of being a formal project manger in the past, although I had led many many projects in my time. Some had been successful and some not. Knowing what had worked and why was beyond me, so I thought that formalising my previous experiential learning couldn't be a bad thing.

I was right. On lots of levels.

  1. Formalising my thinking into a the PRINCE2 structured framework has been beneficial in helping me understand why some things worked and some didn't
  2. The framework is so generic that it can be used on anything
  3. Having it on my CV that I am a certified PRINCE2 practitioner has got me more interest in the job market
  4. It's proving a very useful framework for the current project I am working on for Collaboration Matters

Over all it was a very worthwhile week and two exams to learn this and get certified in it. I would highly recommend anyone taking this course and the exams.

Starbucks relent

So I got this mail back from Starbucks Customer First team.

Dear Tim,
Thank you for sending the email, unfortunately it came without the attachments.
However, I was able to find a co-worker with Strarbucks App and was able to see the incorrect message you were referring to.
I apologise for this inaccurate message, and I have added 35 Stars to your account.
Please be assured that our MSR programme team is working on resolving this issue.
... ... ...
Once again, thank you for getting in touch and we look forward to welcoming you into your local store soon.

Yours sincerely

That looks like an admission of guilt to me. So I urge you all to tell Starbucks that they are wrong and give you back your Stars.

Call the customer support line and ask for them back.

If you would like to speak to our customer care team, you can call us on 020 8834 5050 - We're here to help Monday to Friday 8:30 to 17:30.

Have a nice day! ;o)

Taking on Starbucks and their wooly FAQ

I'm not the world's biggest coffee drinker. I like White Chocolate Mocha, when it's done properly and stirred before the milk is added. I also like technology, so when Starbucks came up with an app to pay for your coffee, by scanning your barcode on your iPhone I was right there at the front of the queue.

starbucks-logo.png

However, Starbucks decided to add some reward levels to this new payment method to reward it's loyal customers how top up their cards/app and therefore gift Starbucks their money before they need to spend it. It's like a savings account with no interest but coffee as your only form of withdraw.

When they instigated this Green and Gold level of reward, they gifted the Gold level to anyone who had an account for the first year. To maintain your gold level you have to get 50 stars (1 star = 1 transaction) before your gold level anniversary date.

I missed the 50 transactions but the anniversary date (I had 35 stars) and I got dropped, quite rightly, back down to green level. I am not complaining about that at all. I think it's right and proper that people who spend lots of money in Starbucks get rewarded for their loyalty to the brand. What I do have a problem with is that on my anniversary date I lost all my transaction stars too. Even more galling is that in the FAQ in the iPhone app (v 2.5.3) it states the following:

Do my Stars expire?
Your Stars will remain on your account as long as you have any activity in the past two years. However, if you do not qualify for the Gold level again by your anniversary date (the date you qualified for the Gold level), your Stars will no longer be applied toward helping you earn free drinks, but they will count toward helping you re-qualify for the Gold level.

So this is a bit different to the experience I have seen in my app.
On the phone to Starbucks customer care and they said that I have experienced what they expect to happen. What? Really? You expect customers to work towards a goal and then have it all taken away from them if they don't make it.

Sure I can earn another 50 Stars to get me back to Gold level, but the 35 I had are gone?
WTF?
How on earth is that good customer service. It's a smack in teeth to anyone who is anywhere near the 50 transaction limit. I bet there will be a lot of pissed off people who have 45+ Stars on their account and have seen them wiped out overnight.

What is more troubling is that when I called to ask what's happening, the member of staff I spoke to, did not have access to the iPhone app, or even the contents of it in a reference book. I've had to send in screen shots of my phone to show them what their FAQ says.

Just one more thing. The website has different wording to the iPhone app and even that is not clear if the Stars expire or not. I'm no legal expert, but this clearly does not say one way or the other what happens to your Stars.

Do my Stars expire?
If you are Green level your stars will remain on your account as long as you have any activity in the past two years.  However, if you are Gold level and you do not qualify for the Gold level again by your anniversary date (12 months after the date you qualified for Gold level), you will revert to the Green level. If you earn 50 stars again within 12 months you’ll move from Green right back to Gold. This does not affect the stars you are collecting for your free beverage, which keep adding up until you get your next free beverage.

So I wait for Starbucks to come back to me and tell me what they are prepared to do about this little disturbance in the space-time continuum. I'll keep you posted.

IBM Connect 2013 - XPages Blast

I will be speaking again this year with my very good friend and XPages guru Matt White. We are in the Best Practises track and we are doing XPages Blast again. This is the 3rd year they have run this very popular session and I hope you find the new content interesting. It is ALL NEW for 2013 and encompasses all the at we think is current best practise for develeoping your XPages applications. As soon as I know which day it's scheduled for and which room we have I'll make sure it's posted here.

Back again this year is the companion application that demonstrates what we will be talking about in the presentation. Whilst we won't have time to demo any of the tips and tricks live we will be posting it to our blogs for you to download after the session.

Matt and I are busy creating the content right now and we look forward to seeing another packed house for 2013

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.

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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.