Saturday, December 13, 2014

Andy's Guide to (dis)ConnectED2015!

Every year about this time, I sit down in front of my computer and bang out my guide and tips for making your yearly journey to the holy land of collaborative awesomeness, Lotusphere.  (You can click here to see all of the past years write-ups.)  Well, it used to be called Lotusphere, but over the past couple of years it's had a bit of an identity crisis.  This coming January it has once again had a change of name and is called ConnectED.  Okay, no problem. But this year for the first time since  I started going in 2003, I will not be able to attend.  There are many reasons why, but none of which I will get into here.  It's not from a lack of wanting to, I can assure you of that.  But, I will be dis-ConnectED.  See what I did there. 
Anyways, from what I am reading on the interwebs, this year's conference is going to be like no other held at the end of January in Orlando.  It's going to be a lot different.  It's going to be more technical and back on point to the ICS stack. That's a good thing.  But, it's going to be a whole lot smaller.  Ends Wednesday instead of Thursday.  Only going to be held in the Swan and not both the Swan and Dolphin.  No big Monday morning OGS production like in years past.  More like a user group then the grandiose event we've come to know.  Not even a big trip to a local theme park.
Like others have speculated and I have been thinking for some time, this will probably be the last time we see a January event in Orlando at the Swan and Dolphin.  Times and things change.  But it's been a good run, hasn't it?  I'm not going to beat my chest and cry foul at IBM over this.  A lot of organizations that have attended over the years have moved on, unfortunately, so the numbers are down and can't support the event like in the past.   So this year, there will be no official guide for this. But I will say this.  If you have a chance to go, drink in all the useful and awesome information that's available there.  Make connections with others.  The Yellowverse is such a dynamic group of individuals that have always been willing to help out without question.  It's a great thing.  I think Mrs. Davis put it VERY properly on a comment on her Facebook this week with regards to Lotusphere and it's attendees:
I think the strength in this community was in the love of the product and what it did - not the blind devotion to a brand.
I can't agree with that more.
So, if you're going, enjoy.  I'll be sitting in Ohio watching from afar and will hoist at least one for y'all during the week.
(But if IBM needs an event photographer and is willing to cover travel, food and lodging expenses, you know who to talk to.  Just sayin.)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Another one bites the dust.

I've been feeling it coming for a long time now.  
The eventuality that my days as a full time Domino Administrator coming to a close.  I've known for some time at work, (past couple of years), that there has been a lot of conversation about migrating away from the Domino stack.  At first I fought it.  Nobody listened.  Nobody cared.  No help from IBM either.  As far as I'm concerned, they gave up on us as a customer a long time ago. Haven't heard from my rep in months.  So why fight it.  My mantra this past year has been, "100 years from now, ain't nobody going to care about who managed an email system at a Fortune 500 company in Ohio." A couple weeks back I tweeted out:
Getting that "I've backed the wrong horse feeling" a lot today.
That horse has been a Yellow one.  I've realized that if I ever wanted to make a change in scenery with the day job, I would have to move.  Either Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Columbus.  Moving is not something that Denise, the kids or I want to do.  We love where we live.  It was odd a couple weeks later after tweeting that that my boss called me into her office.  I was being given an opportunity at work, I took it.  I'm going to train someone new and make the majority of my time at work be on the network side of things.   Don't know a whole lot about the ins and outs of that but there is more room for growth then in my current position and they are willing to train me.  I've spent so much of my professional career dealing with Notes/Domino and mobile messaging, I haven't invested a lot into other areas of my day job career.  So I figure now is a good time.  I'll still have my hands in plenty of Domino from time to time but, I have something else to focus on that if something drastic were to change at the office, I would be in a better place then the one I'm in now.
Am I sad?
A bit.
Would still love to have 6 numbers appear, then I can say to hell with it all and just do the photography thing. But that is unlikely to happen.
It's been a fun ride in the Yellow Bubble.  Made lots of great friends and relationships over the years that have really made me feel that I was a part of something great.  I doubt I will ever find that with another group of passionate people.  That's what I will miss the most.  Well that and Orlando in January singing "I got you babe".
So, that's it for now.  I haven't posted a whole lot of Notes/Domino stuff on this site for a LONG time.  Will likely be even less now.  May just go back and make this a personal blog.  Doubt it though.  The personal stuff usually lands over on the photo site.  So, if you want to see what I'm up to, follow me on Facebook on my personal page or the business site.
So that's it for now.  Onward and upward.

JUST TO BE CLEAR: I have not been involved in any conversations with others at my place of employment about ANY decisions, etc about strategy.  But in my opinion, the writing is on the wall.  So there is no date/time/whatever set about migrating to anything.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

17 years. 16 an honest man.

Back before the turn of the century, I didn't know what I wanted in the world.  I thought I did and that took me down many roads.  But most of the time, it was roads that others had already paved.  I hadn't made any of my own.  I was at a crossroads in life I felt.  I was on the verge of making a decision to either sticking it out in Ohio, or move back to Michigan and live in my parents basement to start over. I was looking for answers on a direction in life and that's when I decided to look upwards for an answer.  I found a 10 day novena online one day and decided to do that.  My prayer was simple: What am I to do?  With Grandma Crowley's rosary in hand, I set out to find the answers.
Those were the days when the Internet was young, new and exciting. This new idea of online personal ads seemed like an interesting concept, so I gave it a try. What would it hurt if I tried this new option in dating while things get sorted out?  I wasn't looking for anything serious after having been in a couple screwy relationships.  So I did.  I answered an ad for a young women who, as the ad said, lived in Canton, OH.  Canton wasn't that far from where I was living in Kent, so why not.  Well, that young women replied. We got to talking over email and that led to phone calls and eventually to meet.
(Sidenote: She lied. She put Canton on there to be general about her location. She lived much further south. Had she not lied, I probably would have passed).
It was a beautiful Friday night, April 25, 1997, when I made the drive down to New Philadelphia from where I was employed near Cleveland.  At the time the drive seemed like it took forever.  We arranged to meet at the mall near where she lived.  We went to dinner, talked, laughed and pretty much feel for each other that night.  We weren't looking for that but ended up finding it.  An answered prayer.  And Klingons.  There were Klingons at Denny's when we stopped later that night.  They were from the Star Trek convention at the hotel that was across the street. A couple days later, I met Alex for the first time and Denise's mother.  I don't know what was scarier.  When you date a person with a child, your not just dating the person.  You're also dating the child.  Sounds weird I know, but go with me on this.  For most normal people with their head on straight, you have to realize that if the relationship is going to work at all it must work on all levels.  Alex needed to accept me as well.  But, I got to a point in our courtship where I got scared.  Who am I to step in and be an influence on this boys life when I don't have my own crap together?  Was I ready to be a father?  I almost ended it, but, we didn't.  Lots of talk and tears were involved there.  It wasn't too much longer after that when I was leaving to go somewhere when Alex said, "Bye, Dad".  No prompting.  No anyone telling him to say it.  He did it on his own.
Well, the rest as you say is history.  Denise and I were married on Saturday, April 25, 1998.  Alex was my honorary best man.  I asked the Monsignor to do me a favor at the wedding.  When it came to the, "I would like to introduce..." part at the end of the wedding, I asked him to say, "I would now like to introduce Mr. and Mrs. Donaldson and son."  He did.  Alex joined us and we all walked down the isle together.  It was a proud moment for me.  (And more Klingons again!  When we passed that same hotel, there were out and heard the horns honking. I may have even gotten a K'plah!)  Even prouder came later that year when I adopted Alex and he took my name. Then in June of the next year, my little peanut Molly was born.
Since then, it's not always been easy.  Anyone who says they have a perfect relationship is just plain wrong.  Nobody does.  But we try.  We are each others best friend.  We can sit there and make crude jokes to one another and laugh.  Lots and lots of laughter. For 16 years and hopefully for many, many more, she has been my wife.
Denise, you made me the person I have become today.  You've made me want to make myself a better person, husband and father.  You've been my muse for many things. You're the inspiration behind me launching my business.  I can never truly put into words what you, Alex and Molly mean to me.  I just hope that I show it through my actions.
Happy Anniversary, darlin.  I love you.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sametime Video Calls on a MacBook Pro - not happening

Okay, blogosphere, I need your ear for a few minutes.
The overlords here at the day job want to start support Macs.  That's a good thing in my opinion.  IBM has had a Notes client for Mac, (but not an Admin or Dev client), for some time now.  But with rolling out new hardware, we have to make sure everything works of course.  What's not working for me right now,  and is reproducible on another like Mac, is that video calls in Sametime won't work.  
We have nice, shiny new MacBook Pro's with Retina, Late 2013 models.  They have 2.4 GHz i5's with 16 GB of RAM and running the latest 10.9.2 OSX and all OSX fixes applied.  I would LOVE one of these for the photo biz.  I've installed 8.5.3FP6 for the Notes client and have gotten all the latest hot fixes from IBM. The problem is, the iSight camera on the Mac will not work with Sametime.  Sametime doesn't even recognize it.
This is the weird part. Sametime allows me to make video calls to another computer, but where the video of me, the caller, is suppose to be there is just a white box.
The camera works fine in Skype, Facetime and Photo Booth, but it won't fire up with Sametime.  Odd, isn't it.  I've had a PMR open on the issue but we can't seem to get anywhere on that.  So I ask you, dear reader, have you seen something like this before?  I'm hoping someone might read this that knows Mac's better then I do.  Frustration level has set in. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Migrating Traveler to HA Error

Today was the day I made the leap to migrate our production Traveler server from running on the Derby database to an SQL database.  While we are not taking full advantage of HA with multiple servers, I wanted to at least get us migrated to a more robust database.  Having walked through the migration steps at this link in our test environment, I felt pretty confident with the task ahead.  
After the server restarted and Traveler launched, the migration process began.  But not too long after the migration started, I started to see errors like this:
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:28452947 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:28452947 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:28884237 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:28884237 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:28884237 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:28884237 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:29766495 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:29766495 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:29766495 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:29766495 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:14930891 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:14930891 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:14930891 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:14930891 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:27175522 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:27175522 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:27506501 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:27506501 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:28452947 
[2144:00D2-1518] 03/15/2014 07:40:54 AM  Notes Traveler: WARNING USER NAME[migration] GUDEX:28452947 

and lots of them for lots of different users.  Of course this didn't show up when I migrated the test environment and I feared the worst.  I opened a severity 1 PMR with IBM just to be sure.  I quickly heard back from them and was informed that:
For the GUDEX warning, it is just a warning and indicates previous data issues.  Traveler has two database tables (GUD and GUDEX (ex =          
extended)).  If the data is too large to fit in GUD, it gets put in GUDEX.  This warning means that data exists in GUDEX that isn't        
referenced by GUD.  The data is essentially orphaned.  It can't be migrated because there is no GUD reference to it, so it is effectively getting cleaned up/fixed as part of the migration.  The warning is just there in case we need to refer back to it and is part of a general path that could have other warning messages.  But this particular WARNING is not a concern.   
So there you have it.  Nothing to get overly concerned about.  At least as far as I've seen.  Didn't see this error message anywhere else after multiple Google's, so I wanted to share out the info in case someone else comes across it.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

My time with the Surface Pro

One change I made this year to the tools I took with to IBM Connect was the computer I carried with me.  This year I was fortunate enough to borrow a 1st generation Windows Surface Pro tablet with keyboard and pen.  I have to say, I have fallen quite smitten for this device.  Not just because it's a new toy to play with but because it is a fully functional laptop and tablet all in one! 
Since the announcement of the iPad several years ago, tablet computing has brought with it the promise of being able to do what you do in the office to these devices that are lightweight and portable.  I bought into that too and did my best to sell it in the organization.  But one thing began to come clear about a year ago.  Yes, you can get your mail, calendar and contact information on there, but when you try to work on Word or Excel, it suddenly becomes obvious that this might not be the tablet you were looking for.  iPads and their Android cousins are GREAT for consuming data.  But producing information on it can be kind of a pain.  Not to mention that if you have an infrastructure that doesn't have a developed tools to connect to the back-end, you have to create them yourself and push those out for people to use.  But companies still appear to be on the bandwagon of dumping capital into development and MDM's to support these tools. Okay, that's fine if that's what you want to do.  So along comes Microsoft and they put out their own tablet.  The Surface.  There are two flavors.  The RT unit is a lower cost and doesn't support Win32 or 64 bit applications or support VPN clients.  It's very reminiscent of Windows CE.  But for what it can do with Office installed, it in my opinion, makes for a GREAT table for a kid that needs to write papers for school and wants to play Angry Birds. 
Then there is the Pro version. 
This is a 100% Intel i5 processor computer.  Able to run all of your corporate desktop applications without having to re-invent the wheel in the process.  For me, the ability to run Notes, Domino Administrator, connect VPN to work and remote into servers, this device is the proverbial bomb in my opinion.  The other HUGE HUGE HUGE draw for me is that I can use my Adobe products on there to work on pictures as well.  The problem with Windows based laptops is the color calibration of the screens.  Macs, (which I still truly want for my photography business), have always excelled with their colors and tones.  The screen on this Surface is just as good as a Mac.  If you look at the pictures I posted to Flickr from Connect, all of them were post processed with the Surface.  I shoot in RAW mode for all my pictures, so most all of them require post-processing to adjust colors, tones, etc.  It can be a processor intensive process.  But this Surface tablet didn't even falter once.  Even with my Notes and Admin clients open, it took the workload and sped right through it.   Okay, the table might not be for everyone.  But here's my pro's and con's run down of this particular device:

Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Powerful. i5 processor and 4 GB of RAM.  Not powerful enough to run games I'm sure, but it was plenty for Adobe, Notes and Domino admin as well as Office apps like One Note running in the background
  • Using One Note to take notes during sessions with the pen was PERFECT.  So many times I've taken notes in a notebook and then lost them.  Now I can save them out and keep better track of them.
  • The pen worked REALLY well for note taking and even editing pictures
  • The keyboard/cover that Microsoft has for the device works REALLY well.  Just about as well as my Apple keyboard I have for my old Mac Mini.  
  • Battery life was pretty good with the brightness turned down.
  • Again, having all my regular day in-day out apps available for me to use was GREAT.  This is a regular computer!
  • VPN.  Having to connect back to the office is important on the go.  Remote desktop is still the best way to do it.
Okay, now the Cons:
  • While the pen is good, it can get lost VERY easily.  It connects to the tablet via magnets situated where the power cord plugs into it.  It's not really secure and can fall out easily.  Other tablets have a way of storing the pen inside of it which I think is better.
  • Only one USB port. So if you want to use a mouse, get a blue tooth one.  But you'll also need a USB hub if you want to connect several things
  • Only 128 GB of storage on the device.  You can run out of space fast.
  • Micro SD slot.  While that can extend storage space, if you use a regular SD card like I do in my camera, you'll need to connect the camera with the USB cable, again needing a hub.
  • It's not a full keyboard on this device.  So doing a Ctrl-Break is impossible with the Microsoft keyboard cover.
  • No VGA port to connect to an external monitor.  You have to use a display adapter like on a Mac.
  • Windows 8.1.  Sure Windows-D is used a lot by me.  I hope Microsoft works out some of the issues it has.
  • If you get one, don't get the touch keyboard.  Get the regular keyboard.  The touch keyboard doesn't work all that great and doesn't give you the typing feel that you're used to.
  • You can't always use this like a laptop.  I like to sit on the couch with a laptop on the arm of it.  It might be hard to balance with on your lap or other surfaces like you are used to with a "normal" laptop.
So there you go.  My 2 cents on a device in a market that is highly volatile and evokes much emotions.  If I had the money, I would still get a MacBook Air or Pro for the photo business.  BUT, if I didn't want to wait, I would likely get one of these Surface Pro tablets for about half the cost.  

All good things..... My week at IBM Connect 2014

Photo courtesy of John Roling.

Back home in Ohio after a long week away in Orlando.  This years Connect conference was different on many levels.  For one, a lot of the normal faces that I've come to know over the years were missing.  Another difference was the tone of the conference.  It's no longer just all about us.  This year, the merging of the Connect theme has truly taken over the Lotusphere themes that we were used to.  To be honest, I'm okay with that.  There was still plenty of sessions, plenty of content and in my opinion, was worth the money my company dished out for me to attend.  But the biggest thorn in my side was the mixed message at the beginning of the week.  In years past, the OGS was where we as a Domino community always found out what the future had in store for the product.  This year, we really didn't find out anything.  We were introduced to IBM's Mail Next.  While it's a genius merging of the Connections platform with mail, no mention whatsoever was made that Domino is still part of the technology.  None.  
So when the OGS was over, I was left wondering if this trip was a waste of time or not.  It wasn't until I attended Scott Souder's sessions on what's next with the Domino server platform and the Notes client that we learned that there is STILL a future for both of them.  While some feel that it will be just "dot" releases and fix packs, I took it to be more of a blended strategy with the Mail Next futures.  In my opinion, some mention of that, just a little tidbit of information like that, would have well served everyone had it been mentioned at the OGS.  The message in the end was clear, Domino and Notes are not going anywhere soon and the future for both is really in the cloud.  Cloud first, on premises secondary.  The only other thing I really wanted to take away from the week was the future of the Hawthorne project that was rumored last fall.  The excitement around that project is using ActiveSync technology to connect Outlook 2013 to a Domino server and have full mail capability.  That will be awesome!  I was hoping that it would be ready for Connect, but, IBM is taking a cautioned approach to it.  Which is good.  They don't want to roll this out, have us all run out and start setting it up and then a Tuesday patch be used from Microsoft and kill it in its tracks.  I hope IBM doesn't drop the ball on this.  This has the potential on being a TRUE game changer in my opinion.
As for other aspects of the conference, there were good and bad as always.  The food this year REALLY was lacking.  I mean, boxed lunches for two of the days and cold breakfasts as well?  At least this year there wasn't one time that I had issues with wifi!  They finally got that one figured out!  Another thing that has always been a stickler for me is the placement of IBM employees or other non-paying attendees at the front during the OGS.  Okay, the press needs to be up front, I get that.  Plus the IBM Champions, they have earned that right.  But putting the Kenexa employees right up there?  Come on, people like us that have our companies pay good money to attend want to be up close to the action.  Take care of your paying attendees first IBM.  Actually, the nice women at the door told me to sit where I wanted when the doors open.  The Kenexa folks were told that if they didn't have a seat when the doors opened, too bad.  So we sat in the midst of a group of Kenexa's and enjoyed the show.  It was funny, when Ron Sebastian appeared on the screen and everyone yelled out his name, the Kenexa people looked at each other and wondered why everyone was excited to see him up there.   Biggest beef of the week was the total lack of any session slides being available for download.  I was really looking forward to taking notes using the Windows Tablet I had borrowed from work and annotating the PDF's as I went.  Only one session Thursday had them available.  To me, that was a fail.
This post is titled, "All good things....". I chose that because on Thursday I really wondered if this would be my last trip on the Lotus fantastic.  If it is, I found myself surprisingly being okay with it.  I mean, this trip each year has become a large part of my professional career as well as a personal journey to see people that have become good friends over the years.  There have been rumors about next years conference not containing a technical track.  I've also remembered back to a Lotusphere from the past where they said that the conference will be held at the Dolphin until 2015.  So what does that mean after 2015?  Will they merge the conference further with other IBM events, change the date and location?  Who knows.  But what I do know that over the past 12 times I've been fortunate enough to travel down to Orlando, I've learned much, grown much and made connections that I will always hold on to and cherish.  But like all things, they do have an end.  And if this is it for me, it's been a hell of a lot of fun.  I made sure not to say goodbye to anyone this year.  It was "see ya on down the road."  

Also in case you missed it, here's my pictures from this year.  
Monday - American Authors at the OGS
Tuesday - Fireworks at Hollywood Studios
Wednesday - Out and about and Great Geek Challange
Thursday - Gurupalooza and CGS

So for all those that took time out of their lives to put together technical content to share with the attendees, THANK YOU!  It people like you in this community that keep it going.  I've done a session before at Lotusphere and know how never-racking it can be trying to get that together, practice and have the nerve to get up in front of a bunch of strangers and talk for an hour or two.  You all are amazing and did a great job!  
We'll see what this year has in store for me.  I'm fine with whatever direction it is as long as I stay employeed ;-)
See y'all down the road.
 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The annoyance that is encrypted internet mail - Answers!

If you read yesterday's post about enabling a Notes client user to send encrypted email from the Notes client to an Internet recipient, I got it to work, but, it did have some issues and unanswered questions.  Today the good folks at Symantec got me the answers that were holding me up, and they were pretty straight forward. 

As I talked about yesterday, I was getting an error when trying to import the certificate from the Symantec/Verisign website to my Internet Explorer browser.  
Symantec informed me that this error will occur when you haven't first installed the Class 1 Intermediate CA certificate and Class 1 Root CA certificate into the browser.  To view the document from Symantec, click here.  So that makes sense why THAT wasn't working.  I also inquired about the fact the I was seeing the message, "Persona Not Validated" when viewing the certificate information in Firefox.  Symantec stated that it is now the way they do it and to quote from the email I got, 
Also, Symantec has recently made a change to the Digital ID for Secure Email certificates due to security best practices.  Going forward, we are placing "Persona Not Validated" in the Common Name field of these certificates.  While this change has no impact to major email applications (e.g. Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc.), you may experience issues with applications that want to use these certificates as part of a log-in process if the Common Name is used as authenticating value.
So there you have it, Notes fans.  Make sure you get the Class 1 Intermediate and Root CA's into your browser first before you start your adventures in encryption.

Okay.  NOW onto Orlando!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The annoyance that is encrypted internet mail

Okay.  To other people in the Domino world, getting an IBM Notes client configured to send encrypted email over the internet to a recipient may not be a big deal.  But to me, it has been a pain in my buttocks.  A royal one at that.  But this week, I was able to finally make some headway and get things working.  How you say?  Well, let me share with you my journey.

It all started a while ago when our director of tax for the company told me that the IRS has a rule that they can only send email back and forth with a client as long as it's encrypted.  Okay, that shouldn't be a big deal, right.  Well, it was.  Off to the Interwebs I dashed to find out how to do it right.  I found this article. If you look at it, it appears to be a VERY straight forward step-by-step. However, there were hidden land mines riddled along the path.

First, getting a certificate from Symantec, (that's who owns Verisign now), is not a big deal.  Go to the site, put in your information and have a cert generated.  You can get a 25 day trial or pay around $21 for a full year.  Once you complete the steps of the request and have it approved, the website then allows you to import that certificate into Internet Explorer and then export the certificate out of there into a file that you can import into your Notes ID file.  Well, that all seemed good until the part where it tried to add that certificate from Symantec/Verisign to the browser.  Regardless of what machine in the office I tried to add it to, I got the following error:
Again, I only tried this on computers in the office, so I'm assuming that something in our security policy is blocking this certificate from being installed.  So, I opened Firefox and was successful there.  Except, when I got the certificate and imported it into my Notes client, I saw this:
The "Issued To" information says Symantec Corporation and not the email address that requested it.  The email is listed in the blacked out email field, but when you look at the certificate in Firefox, you see a "Persona Not Validated" message:
So it's almost like it is and isn't registered to the appropriate email address.  I have a ticket open with Symantec on this so hopefully they can shed some light on it because the internet searches I did didn't come up with anything that looks right.
Well, now that I had gotten the certificate merged with the Notes ID, the steps listed on the link above says to, " Once the certificate is part of the ID file, you will need to send a signed message to the recipient you intend to start sending encrypted mail between."  Okay, tried that.  However, the individual at the IRS didn't get anything in that from that signed document that allowed them to send encrypted mail over to my user.  So after going down the support route, I put out a frustration tweet.  That's when our pal Mitch Cohen came to the rescue.  It appears he has had to do the same setup for his company at one time and he shared with me the key step that they did to get this to work.  The steps are simple:
1.  In the Notes client, select File-Security-User Security
2.  Enter a password if needed.
3. In the User Security windows, expand the Your Identity-Your Certificates and click the drop down to select "Your Internet Certificates"
4.  Select the Other Actions button to the right, and select Export Certificate.
5.  Now this is the tricky part.  There are four options in which to select:

Without going into too much detail here, for security reasons, you have to work with the recipient to find out which certificate you need to send them because one of them may not work.  In my case, it was found out my doing trial and error.
It's also important to note that when you export out the internet certificate from Notes, you MUST include the file extension in the file name.  Notes will not add that in automatically.  To find out the proper extension, just look under the file name and it will give you examples.
6.  So with the cert exported out of Notes, we attached it to an email and sent it along to the IRS person.  Luckily they were on site so I was able to watch the steps she did.
7.  She opened the email and Outlook recognized that the file attachment was a certificate.  She double clicked the file and it merged into the contact information she had for my person.  Once she had it installed, she was able to send him encrypted mail.  Huzzah!   Release the pigeons!
BUT WAIT!  We were able to get her encrypted mail, but we still needed to be able to get a certificate from them to merge into my users address book.  That was actually pretty easy.  I first removed the entry for that recipient from my users local address book.  The IRS agent then sent out a .vcf file.  In that file, it contained the x.509 info that was needed so Notes knew how to encrypt the message.  With that correct entry in the address book, we got encrypted two way communication working!  Whew!
I couldn't have done it without Mitch's help.  Again, a situation where maybe some more documentation on the support site could have helped.  But luckily I have champs like Mitch out there who have my back. If I get any clear information why I was getting that error from Internet Explorer, I will post it so that it may help someone else down the road.
On to Orlando!
UPDATE - I got my answers. Read all about it here!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Andy's Guide to Connect-o-sphere 2014

It's that time of the year again, kids.  January is upon us and for those that are involved with IBM Collaboration technologies, it's our favorite time of the year.  It's the time when we get to head to Orlando from what used to be called Lotusphere but now is a part of the bigger IBM picture and renamed Connect. Connect incorporates both the old Lotusphere technical tracks that we have all come to rely upon over the years but also features sessions on the Kenexa family of technologies.  
This conference has also been an important part of my professional career and this year will mark my 12th trip south for the event.  So, over the years I've complied a list of things tips that have helped me over the years make the trip more pleasant and enjoyable.  Normally I try to go with a theme for this list, but this year, we're going to keep it simple and straight to the point.  So, let's get to it!

First, this year features something that I find pretty interesting. Onsite testing for IBM certifications are FREE.  Yes, FREE.  This is a PERFECT opportunity for someone that possibly has never taken a certification test an opportunity to maybe get over some test anxiety and take one! Give it a shot, it is free after all. I plan on sitting for one or two to see how I do.  What do I have to loose, right?
Okay, so far that's pretty much the big new news that I'm aware of for 2014.  The rest of the post is going to pull heavily from the past years post.  But it still holds a lot of weight in my opinion.

(And now, the yearly disclaimer:)
What you will not find in this blog post is who the secret OGS speaker is.  What you will find here is a somewhat practical guide on what you can do to get yourself prepared and ready for the drinking of the fire-hose of knowledge that is Connect.

Part 1 - The Prep:

Like any good plan to work, preparation is KEY. If you are an Domino administrator, Domino developer, someone that manages a Sametime environment, someone that manages a Connections environment or someone that wants to see that there is other life out there beyond Failpo...I mean Sharepoint, the Connect conference is the place to go to learn from IBM and others what their software CAN do and how people ARE using it. It is also the place to get the inside track on things to come!  So, if you haven't already, GO ASK YOUR BOSS!  I'll wait.
Oh, you're back.  And the answer was...yes!?  Great.  Okay now that you are allowed to go you have to prepare yourself for a week of drinking from the fire-hose of knowledge.  This will be my 12th time at the conference and every year when I get back home it's the same thing.  Soar feet and brain overload.
Here are some of my usual tips that have not failed me yet!  Remember, preparation can save you some time and money later.
 1.  Internet Resources
  • Follow Connect 2014 website for up to date information.
  • Follow PlanetLotus.org.   Many of the sites listed on there will have information regarding the conference. Both posts and podcasts.  
 2.  Go and get yourself a new pair of tennis/walking shoes NOW. Wear them and break them in. If you can, get two pair so you can switch back and forth during the week.  This will save your feet some pain after the first day of walking around the conference. And you will do a LOT of walking around while you are there. You may also want to get a new pack of white socks at Walmart or Target. The real cushy kind. Those help a lot too.  Also, bring multiple shoes to swap out during the week.  Give your other shoes a chance to air out.

3.  Before you leave on your adventure, stop by that section in cosmetics at the Walmart or Target that has all the neat little travel sized stuff and pick up anything you can think of that you may need! Aspirin, Advil, Tylenol, NyQuil, baby powder, Q tips, etc, etc. But most importantly PEPTO-BISMOL. I got REALLY ill once and had to dish out a lot of money at the little store in the Dolphin for supplies. Bringing a small drug store with you can really save you some bucks. It's usually 3-4 times more on site.  After all, you are staying at Walt Disney World.  Also PRESCRIPTIONS! If you have some that you need to maintain your quality of life, make sure you bring them with you!  When you stay on-site and you don't have a car, it can be a real task to get to a pharmacy.

  • Building on that point about bringing your drugs with you, Susan Bulloch, whom you should all know, respect and fear, brings up a great point in last years comments.  GET A FLU SHOT!  Being sick in Orlando sucks.  I know. So get your shot and start slamming the Vitamin's C, D3 and B12 NOW!  
4.  If you need to, order more business cards now, if you still use them. You can go through a lot of them. Downside - Your phone will ring for a couple of weeks afterward.  (Yes, people still use business cards)

5.  Pay attention to the weather forecasts leading up to (insert conference name here). Orlando can be really nice and warm in January but it can also get downright cold at night. Pack appropriately.

6.  Dress for Connectosphere is casual. Jeans, shorts, polos and t shirts seem to be the norm. Even kilts for some! But no mankinis, please.

7.  Bring a plug strip, or two, with you. Most hotel rooms are limited on power outlets and having several outlets extra can always come in handy.

8.  And don't forget all of your accessories power cords for charging your stuff! You don't want to show up Saturday and realize that you are short a power cord for your iPhone. Not that I've ever done something like that, ever.

9.  If you can, get a portable charger like this. I brought one of these with me and saved my phone from running out of charge during the day.


10.  If you have access to a Mi-Fi or cellular wireless card for your laptop, bring it.  Yes, wifi is made available during the conference for your use.  Good luck trying to get on it.  There are several thousand other geeks there with you all trying to get connected at the same time during the day.  Access points can only do so much.  Historically, on Monday, the wifi is usually unusable because of overload.

11.  If you have a tablet...BRING IT.  I have found that carrying a tablet around in a small bag all day is MUCH easier on the body the lugging a huge bag o' stuff with your laptop in it.  This year, I'm going to try to exist on a Surface Pro with my Notes clients and VPN connectivity back to work.  Will be a lot nicer just having to carry that and not my work laptop!

Part 2 - You're There!: 

So now that you packed all your power cords, plug strips and comfy shoes, you arrive in Orlando to hopefully warm, sunny skies and are ready to begin drinking from the fire hose of knowledge that is Connect.

1.  Since Orlando is a tourist mecca, there are several ways to get to and from the airport.  The most expensive option is of course a private car or taxi.  But those can be a little costly.  For $32 (plus tips) round trip, you can take advantage of the Mears Shuttle.  This will get you to the hotel and back relatively easy.  But, you do need the coupon. Click here for coupon.  If you are staying at a Disney property (non-Swan or Dolphin hotel), you can also look into using the Magical Express for free.  See your hotel information for details.  However, I'm not sure about the Swan, but I know the Dolphin has car rental drop offs available which is important to note further down the list.

2.  If you are staying at the Swan or Dolphin, great.  You're right where the action is.  The Yacht and Beach is the next closest official hotel right within walking distance of the event.  If you are staying at one of the other Disney properties, get to know early where the conference shuttle pick up and drop off is at.  It's usually right out front of the hotel and you can always ask an ever helpful Disney cast member where they are.  My first year down there, I missed Saturday night registration by 10 minutes because I used the Disney transportation to get me to Downtown Disney first, then back to the Dolphin.

3.  To go along with point #2, don't be afraid of getting stranded at the Swan or Dolphin after the conference shuttles run.  You can use the Disney buses to get around.  From the hotels, they go to Downtown Disney and from there you can catch a bus back to your hotel. (Disney properties only)

4.  Once you checked into the conference DO NOT LOSE YOUR BADGE!  There are no mulligans.  You are Gollum and that is your precious. You loose it, you either go home or buy a new one.

5.  Meet people and make contacts. Very useful and fun. Sitting in your hotel room at night is no fun. There are not a whole lot of cable channels anyway.  So, get out and mingle, network and collaborate! Get social, dangit! If you arrive on Saturday and have nothing to do, wander on down to the Boardwalk area and stop in to the Big River Grille & Brewing Works. On Saturday afternoon, the Bloggers -and friends- Annual Lotusphere Dinner, BALD, takes place. It's nothing more then a bunch of Lotus geeks hanging out for a few adult soda pops and enjoying each others company. Very family reunion-ish without that odd aunt nobody likes anyway.  Then later in the evening on Saturday, wander on down to the ESPN bar for The Turtles get together. Always a fun time!  The Lotus community is one that is very accepting and social.  Very social. Make some friends, dang it! Seriously, get out and have fun.  You will meet people from ALL over the world and they will become your friends. But watch out for "handsy" Australians.  That's right Mat, I'm still talking to you.

  •  As I was reminded, our pal and all around great guy Bill Malchisky, has set up a fun Saturday  morning event that's free and right out on the sandy beach between the Swan and Dolphin.  Soccer Saturday returns this year and is open for everyone!  Check out the link to Bill's blog with all the details!

6.  While we're on the topic of getting out and having fun, go to the vendor sponsored events usually on Tuesday night's in past years but with the Disney park party on Tuesday this year, I'm sure that may change. They are always a lot of fun! (And saves you from having to find something for dinner that fits your expense account.)  Seriously though, if you are a customer of a vendor there, ask them if they have anything going on that week.  Remember, you are spending money with them normally.
Also, there is always a party or event to be found on either Monday or Tuesday night.  Work the show floor and you can usually score an invite.

7.  If this is your first time at Lotusphere/Connect, it is like your first day at college. You will be wandering around wondering where in the hell SW10 is. Ask people! Or if you look lost enough, (like I did my first year), someone will help you out.

8.  If you are certified take advantage of the Certification Lounge. Hang out, get some eats, and get a chair message (if they have them again.)

9.  Don't miss breakfast and lunch. I've really enjoyed the food that the catering folks put out for us. Especially at breakfast, drink lots of OJ, eat a bran muffin or two and have a bowl of cereal. Really pays off for the rest of the day. Also, be sure to thank the nice folks that are there taking care of us. They are always real nice people and seem to appreciate someone thanking them.  Also, do not be wary of approaching anyone there. Make yourself sit at tables with those you do not know and engage in conversation. Sometimes you meet awesome people. Sometimes it doesn't work. Either way it is how the community grows.

10.  Speaking of food, one thing I did different in recent years was rent a car to get to and from the airport.  One of the reasons why was that I wanted to stop at the store and grab some room snacks.  Pop tarts, pork rinds, green tea, etc.  Just general munchies.  There's nothing worse on one of the nights getting the munchies and not wanting to spend $8 bucks on something that's $2 at Walmart.  The rooms in the Dolphin have a fridge, so there's a plus right there.

11.  During the morning and afternoon, there are break stations set up throughout the conference.  Usually coffee, water/juice and a snack. Grab couple extra waters and snacks and throw them in your bag for either a late night snack (if you don't have a car) or just to have the water around.

12.  Keep yourself hydrated while you are on the go down there.  A full day of sessions and running between hotels can be draining.

13.  Stop into the developer labs and have all your burning questions answered! All of the top folks from IBM are there to help you through all of those tough questions you've been meaning to ask! Also, if they have the User Experience lab again this year, it's really cool! Check them out!  They are there to listen to us, the customer!  Do not be afraid of them, they won't bite, mostly.  You can have some very open and honest dialogue and work through your problems. 

  •  IBM'er Chris Reckling added to the comments - "Yes, there is a UX Lab this year, renamed to the "IBM Design Studio", but same location in Asia 4 (left of the elevators going down to the showcase. I guess I need to post a blog about that soon! The photo booth returns! And yes, we'll be doing research, asking questions, listening, and showing cool, new stuff."

14.   Take Visio's with you of your environment. What better way to explain the layout of your environment than to have the graphical representations of it with you.

  • IBM'er Wes Morgan suggesting the following: "As a longtime staff member, I'd add one to your list:
    "When visiting the labs, be kind to your fellow attendees. Yes, it's a great opportunity to brainstorm with IBMers, but remember that others want to talk with them too! Basically, it comes down to "if a line is forming behind you, wrap it up and give someone else a chance."

15.  When "the conference" is over and you're getting ready to jump a plane home, be sure to check your receipt from the hotel. The Swan and Dolphin are notorious for charging you for things you didn't use, like the mini-bar in the hotel room. They almost got me one year. I'm sorry, $3 for a Snickers bar is just insane!

16.  When you see me, buy me a beer!  Oh wait, that doesn't belong here, moving on.
17.  Now here is the MOST important thing you can take away from this blog entry/guide/manifesto:
Lotusphere, Connect, WHATEVER it is called is what YOU make of it! Take advantage of everything that you can, but pace yourself. You will be absorbing so much knowledge and sometimes by Wednesday, you may start burning out. Take it easy, take care of yourself, but just have fun!  Be Social!  I know it's a year of change for many things.  But sometimes change can be good. 
Like I've said before, this conference has been a huge part to my professional career as a Domino Administrator.  The wealth of knowledge I've picked up from this event over the years has been immeasurable.  But even as important as the technical knowledge is, it's been the personal relationships that I've forged over the years going to this conference.  I've never met a group of more talented, passionate professionals as I have in the "Yellow Bubble".  It's great knowing that if I ever truly need help with an issue, I have a network of experts that if they can, will help be solve my problems and get me working again. 


Stay tuned to this blog post.  As new things become available, I will be updating it.  If you have anything to add, please leave a comment below and I will add it in!

Revision History:
1/5/2014 - Fixed Mears link and added Bill's Soccer Saturday info.
1/5/2014 - Chris Reckling's comments.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Andy's Guide to.......

Okay, I have been a bit of a slacker this year.  I haven't gotten around to my annual "Andy's Guide to Connect-o-sphere" post.  So, until I do, here are the links to years past!  Enjoy!

http://blog.macian.net/2009/12/andys-guide-to-lotusphere-2010.htmlhttp://blog.macian.net/2010/12/andys-guide-to-lotusphere-can-you-dig.html
http://blog.macian.net/2011/11/andys-guide-to-lotusphere-2012-its-end.html
http://blog.macian.net/2012/12/andys-guide-to-whaterver-were-calling-it.html

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A mystery......

So it's that time of the year again when all the good little Domino Admins and Developers get all starry eyed and anxious with the anticipation of going to Lotuspher...I mean Connect.  One of the fun things that goes on at the event is the "Wednesday night party" at one of the local Orlando theme parks.  For me, that's always something I look forward to.  Not much of a thrill ride person myself, but enjoy the themes of the parks.  
In years past, it was a closely guarded secret on which park was on the agenda for the event, but in recent years it's been announced early.  Well this year, there are two changes in store that are confirmed by the @IBMConnect Twitter account.  First, the Wednesday night party is now the Tuesday night party.  I had heard something about that a couple weeks ago because <tongue-in-cheek>I guess there is another conference going on at the same time as ours </tongue-in-cheeck>  and they want those folks to be able to attend.  But also, it seems that the practice of keeping the park a secret is back.  

As you can see, I felt calling shenanigans was an appropriate response.  I had no other option.  

Regardless of where the party is, there is one real reason why all look forward to heading off to Orlando.  Getting together with like minded folks to continue to our growth together as a community.  Both technically and personally.  I'll probably start thinking of a topic for this years "Andy's Guide To..." soon, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Domino Developers in Michigan, listen up!

Our pal Ray Bilyk's company is looking to hire an on-site Domino Developer!  That's right, a job in Domino development is currently up for grabs in Detroit!  Check out Ray's blog for more details!  Good luck!

Friday, October 18, 2013

The 8.1 Upgrade Blues

If you hadn't heard yesterday, Microsoft officially released their latest operating system, Windows 8.1, to the populace.  With much excitement to officially get a "Start" button back, I raced off to the interwebs to try and download the software.  Problem was, I had downloaded and installed the Windows 8.1 preview on my personal laptop.  That was a problem.  Well, not really a problem, but a pain.  You see, to get the latest version I had to go through a refresh process which basically took the 8.1 preview off of the laptop and put core Windows 8 back on.  I didn't loose any files or pictures, but, any applications I had installed were trashed and needed reinstalled.  Okay, I took that hit, but after getting it back to base Win 8, I still couldn't download the full 8.1 upgrade.  I wasn't even getting the option in the store to download it.  After a little Google search I found what I was missing.  If you are running a Windows 8 machine with a base build without any Windows Updates, you won't get prompted to upgrade to 8.1.  Make sure you run through all of the required Windows Updates that it tells you first, reboot, then you will get prompted for the download in the Windows Store.  All in all, it took about 9 hours to get the upgrade finished.  Took forever to download the 3gb's from Microsoft.  I haven't had a whole lot of time to play with the upgraded laptop yet, but it does seem smooth.  Will post my thoughts as time permits.  
Have a good weekend!

Monday, September 16, 2013

The curious case of the Trash folder design

I know.  It's been a while and this post has nothing to do with photography...until I mentioned it just now.  But I wanted to write this one out before I forget.

Had a user call this morning saying that they had created a folder in their mail file and it took the design of a Trash folder.  So when the user tried to drag and drop a message out of that folder, they go a message:

"You cannot drag and drop out of Trash with Soft Deletes enabled.  Please use Restore instead."

Okay, this was a new one I had never seen before.  I went to the knower of all things, Google, and type in the that message.  Luckily, I wasn't the only one to see it. The gang over at RPR Wyatt Support & Collaboration Blog had seen it before and had a fix for it.  The only problem is...I'm an Admin.  Yes, normally we fart lighting and crap thunder and are the masters of all me things, BUT, the steps called for REM'ing out code.  In Domino Designer.  Something I've never done before.  So, I pinged Heidi Weseel on Sametime.  She told me how to fix it.  So for you other Admins out there that are not sure how to REM out code in Domino Designer, the key to using REM is not just putting REM at the beginning of a line of code, but also adding double-quotes and a semi-colon.  So, for example, here is what code looks like without being REM'ed out

Sub Queryaddtofolder(Source As Notesuiview, Target As Variant, Continue As Variant)
   
End Sub

Now, here's what it looks like with it REM'ed for Domino

REM ""Sub Queryaddtofolder(Source As Notesuiview, Target As Variant, Continue As Variant)"";
   
REM ""End Sub"";

As soon as I added all the quotes and the semi-colon, I was able to move the messages out of that folder for the user and then remove the folder.  

Now how the user had the folder design set to $Trash is still beyond me, but, at least with Heidi's I got something solved quickly.  I am now closing Designer before I do any permanent damage to my environment or the space/time continuum in general.