Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Activity-based Collaboration (a new issue of the IBM Systems Journal)

I used to spend many happy hours soaking up the fascinating contents of the IBM Systems Journal during my decades as a Systems Engineer at IBM. I sometimes even read selected articles (those I could comprehend) the more formidable IBM Journal of Research and Development. They were print-only publications in those days and it was a little hard for me to get my hands on some issues. How much easier it is these days, getting access to them via the Web!

The excellent trend continues ...

The December 2006 issue (Volume 45 no 4) is focused on Business Collaboration, which is the focus of the Workplace Portal and Collaborative (WPLC) software division. WPLC is responsible for all Lotus branded products as well as WebSphere Portal. A common theme in several papers in this issue is activity-based collaboration, which is an important research focus for continued development. You can learn more about activity-based collaboration in this exciting issue of the IBM Systems Journal:

Nine papers of this issue deal with business collaboration, and they cover activity-centered collaboration with customers, the use of patterns for capturing best practices, tools for supporting activity-based collaboration, user studies, and collaboration-related analytics and visualization. A tenth, non-topical paper deals with the use of ontology in the development of software architectures.

It's a sobering thought that the Systems Journal goes back to 1957. Hey, that was well before Microsoft appeared on the scene, and my final high school year!

Since I went on to major in Chemistry at university, perhaps (if I had known about the Journal in those days) I'd have found the very first article of some interest: Domain Orientation in Barium Titanate Single Crystals ("An acid etching technique makes visible the domain structure of barium titanate crystals as reported by Hooton and Merz. Earlier observations by Merz of the mechanism of switching are confirmed by experiments using this technique. A discussion of domain wall formation in the orthorhombic state leads to the explanation of observed domain patterns. Photomicrographs are shown and discussed.") -- then again, perhaps not.

Everyone regards Microsoft to be the "biggest software maker", which might be true in terms of licenses and revenue, but by no means so in terms of software/hardware/research/consulting history and variety. IBM has been developing systems software since 1964 at the very least, that being the year of that the System/360 architecture was announced. And its successor, the System/370 was announced in 1970 (the year that I joined IBM), the first widely-adopted virtual system. But such tales and the argument about "who's biggest" is better left for another time.

A fog-shrouded Vista?

The question going through many peoples' minds at the moment is when to upgrade from Windows 2000 or XP to Windows Vista. There's much opportunity for Sturm und Drang here!

Certainly there are lots of goodies in Vista. But my own approach will be to keep using Windows XP Professional as my production system long enough (which could be quite a few some months) for all those third-party software developers out there to update their products to operate under Vista. Meanwhile, I'll be happy enough to run Vista as a secondary non-production system underneath Microsoft Virtual PC (or similar) and go through the painful learning stages without threatening my income-generating production work.

I suspect that some of the lesser players will take a long time to master some of the more esoteric differences in Vista, and some of them will not be up to the task (so I suspect that that some of my favorite tools may never become available in Vista-compatible versions).

You only have to look at Java Software on Vista - Yes, it works to see all the sorts of things that Sun Microsystems had to do to get Java functioning properly under Vista:
People have been wondering lately: How does Java software work on Windows Vista? The short answer is: Java software works great on Vista. In fact, the entire Sun engineering team working on Java Platform Standard Edition has been tuned into Vista and making Java software work on it since it was named after a breed of cattle. ...

Windows Vista is not just XP++; there are fundamentally new things about the system that makes older software break. Is all software broken? Probably not. But the more of the system an application uses, the more likely it is to run into issues in which the system has changed. In our case, Java software is not just a simple Win32 GUI application; it's a runtime platform with deep-rooted needs in the operating system, the networking stack, the security model, the graphics system, etc. If any of these subsystems change significantly, we need to adjust our software accordingly. In the case of Vista, it has been an ongoing process of learning, testing, debugging, filing bugs with Microsoft, fixing our bugs, and repeating the whole process. Since Vista has been a moving platform during the Java Platform Standard Edition 6 (Java SE 6) development process, we have been in an ongoing cycle with every new drop of Vista.
When a major player like Sun has had to do so much intricate software engineering work, I shudder to think what some of the minor players will come up with!

Web Services, Specifications, and Interoperability

Keeping up with the goings-on in the IT industry is a big challenge. Here's a short but informative article that might help you:

Web Services, WS-* Specifications, and Interoperability

"Interoperability is an important factor in the success of solutions that are based on Web Services and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), along with other key factors such as contracts, loose coupling, and reuse.

Interoperability is generally accomplished by developing your Web Services using the well-established guidelines for implementing Web services and by following industry standards such as XML, WSDL, SOAP, and UDDI. However, just following Web Services standards and guidelines during the development phase of a project isn't sufficient to achieve interoperability.

As the Web Services industry evolves, it embraces new specifications like WS-Security, WS-ReliableMessaging (WS-RM), and WS-AtomicTransactions (WS-AT) to provide advanced functionalities such as security, reliability, and transactions that are not provided by the basic specifications. These specifications are generally referred to as the WS-* (pronounced WS-Star) specifications. As they are relatively new and have not been so widely agreed on by the industry, achieving interoperability between Web Services that use WS-* specifications is much more difficult and the WS-* specifications may not even be supported in many products."

This SYS-CON SOA Web Services Journal article by Sanjay Narang "provides a set of guidelines and best practices that you can follow to accomplish interoperability when developing web services that make use of the WS-* specifications across products provided by different vendors. It also provides insight into the Web Services specifications situation that contains a large number of WS-* specifications that are being developed by different groups."

Microsoft to get the VAPORs in 2007?

Read this JDJ article to find out:
Where's i-Technology Headed in 2007?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

SOA means Business!

One of the major trends in IT these days is, as you would probably be aware, that of SOA ... Service-Oriented Architecture

I'm certainly no expert in this field, just an interested observer. Keeping my eyes open, yesterday I came across two interesting insights into the business aspects of SOA.
- - - - - - - - -

Firstly, in a recent survey by GCR Custom Research (sponsored by BEA Systems) over 150 SOA decision-makers and influencers across North America and Europe were asked to give their input on SOA costs, and benefits. Below are some of the key findings:

  • The CIO is the main SOA sponsor and business-case approver
  • IT cost savings are the main driver of SOA adoption in Europe, while North America’s focus is on business agility
  • 22 percent of SOA funding comes from SOA money, while 59 percent?comes from business-solution money
  • Almost 40 percent of SOA projects are impeded due to difficulty with financial justification
  • The most significant cost in the business case is for software infrastructure
Secondly, at the CBDI Service Oriented Practice Portal there's an article by David Sprott titled Explaining SOA to the Business Audience where he makes the point (amongst other things) that:
Much has been said about the way SOA can deliver agility and I continue to observe comments that suggest everything can change constantly in an SOA. Frankly this is dangerous nonsense. In a large enterprise change needs to be controlled both from a technical and business perspective in order to manage quality and regulatory compliance. But what SOA does give us is an enhanced ability to cleanly separate the things that do need to change from the things that don’t.

As an outside observer, it seems to me that far too many discussions of SOA focus on the technical side, but business considerations such as those covered in the above two references need always to be kept foremost.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Choosing the right server virtualization solution

I'm interested in too many things for my own good -- ah, what a dissipated person I am!

One of those things is system virtualization, and here I merely wish to point you towards a short and to=the-point four-part series of articles by Andrew Kutz, over at Techtarget's (you may have to carry out a free registration to view these and other Techtarget articles).
Just keep in mind that these articles were published early 2006, and new virtualization product versions and pricing are sure to have been announced since then. But the methodology used by Andrew to compare and contrast the various offerings is nice., and there's always new stiff being added to

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Workplace" software -- from IBM, and from O3Spaces too!

I participated a week or two ago in an online survey being conducted on IBM's behalf. I remember that one of the questions was something like "What is your impression of the 'IBM Workplace' product name?"

I commented that the name was quite acceptable, except possibly down here in Australia where there's some contentious federal legislation about "Workplace relations" -- in general, the workers and particularly the trade unions don't like it at all. If you're interested, try a Google search such as and browse some of the items, such as Catholic Bishops call for changes to workplace legislation to get one point of view.

It surprised me a little to find that the name "Workplace" is used for another software product, and wonder what IBM thinks of it: take a look at O3Spaces - "The way to extend" which has as its opening paragraph:

O3Spaces technology enhances and StarOffice with an integrated solution for Collaboration, Document Management and Document Retention within teams and small businesses. O3Spaces provides the OpenOffice 2.0 and StarOffice user community with a professional out-of-the-box extension for team and project collaboration, O3Spaces means an affordable and integrated alternative for MS Office Sharepoint.
Pricing options are given at where it states: "The O3Spaces Workplace software is licensed on a 'per user' basis in 5 user bundles for accounts from 5-100 users. From 100 users up, a per (virtual) cpu licensing model applies which is available on request. Base prices include a one year subscription for product updates, five direct support calls (3 day response), forum and wiki support."

It seems that the folks behind O3Spaces are going after Microsoft's Sharepoint marketplace ... that is, document-centric collaboration. Now, isn't this the playing field of IBM Lotus Notes/Domino and IBM Workplace? I wonder why I couldn't find any reference to either of them on the site. (The site search was in "coming soon" mode so I could have missed any such references.)

Would anyone care to comment or offer enlightenment?

A presentation on Architecture and Design

I just came across a nice presentation ... Architecture and Design by John Klein, guest lecture for COMP 180: Software Engineering, at Tufts University, Fall 2006.

It's only 24 pages, and well worth a look. A couple of cautionary quotations from it that tickled my fancy:
  • "Software architecture is the set of decisions which, if made incorrectly, may cause your project to be cancelled.” – Eoin Woods

  • (Under the heading "Reality Check") ... Conway’s Law – The structure of the system reflects the structure of the organization that builds it - “…[an] organization had eight people who were to produce a COBOL and an ALGOL compiler…five people were assigned to the COBOL job and three to the ALGOL job. The resulting COBOL compiler ran in five phases, the ALGOL compile ran in three.”

Friday, December 01, 2006

Good form is hard to come by (in America)!

I've been using the Internet since the early 1990s, and have subscribed for many Web sites and e-mail newsletters over the years.

One thing that really annoys me is poorly designed web forms. There are far too many of them. Why don't form designers put them selves into the mindset of those who will be filling? Is that too much to be asking for?

Apart from the horror of forms that lose all your carefully-entered information if you hit the Back button, which can be rather a programming challenge to handle appropriately (and a fundamental browser architecture shortcoming that needs to be resolved), it continues to disappoint and amaze me that even elementary usability faults still abound.

Simple things like:
  • Fields that are too short for the field contents to be visible with horizontal scrolling
  • Comment fields that are just a few rows in depth
  • Check boxes used where radio buttons should have been [for multiple-choice questions where only a single response is valid]
  • And a particular annoyance of mine -- form fields that handle North American postal and telephone values but do not cope with international values
  • I was reminded of this when today I came across a form that was designed quite well, and I'd like to pass on my compliments to for the good form design! Having received an newsletter from them inviting me to subscribe to yet another nice service of theirs (

    I decided to take up their offer, and launched the specified registration page:

    If you open it yourself, you will be able to view the source code and see what they've coded. In this discussion, I'm interested in the Member Profile section at the bottom of the form, the type of form that you would get for just about any registration, which looks like this:

(click to see a larger image)
My e-mail address was automatically placed into the form and I have deliberately obfuscated it.

I'd like to focus on on that part of the form which is surrounded by the green rectangle. It's here that very many web forms on other USA-centric web sites are deficient, and this is an excellent example of how to do it properly:
  • Selection of states, provinces, regions, zones outside the USA.
    Most us-designed web forms provide a selection list for US states and dependencies, but just have "Other" or "Non-US' or "Not in USA" for all other parts of the world. If I live in a country like Australia that has states, there's absolutely no excuse for them to be listed in the form, like this:
    (click to view a larger image)(As you can see, also has the "other" option, anyway.)
  • Postal/zip codes should be catered for. Make sure that the field is long enough. Why not allows, say, twenty characters?(click to view a larger image)
    The Techtarget form also has a link labelled International Formatting Requirements that opens a separate window to provide some background guidance about the proper entry of postal codes and zip codes. On top of this, there are some examples (albeit for the USA and Canada only). In Australia we have four-digit postcodes, but I've used some forms that give an error message insisting on five digits (the minimum for US zip codes) so I've been forced to enter an unnecessary leading zero!

  • Telephone number formats vary quite a bit from country to country, so it's probably best/easiest to just have a single field (say, twenty characters long). But many US-designed forms have three separate fields that allow only for a 3-digit area code followed by the number broken onto a 3-digit field plus a 4-digit field.

    Such a filed layout is not good at all. Firstly, it makes no allowance for country dialling codes, such as +61 for Australia or +44 for the United Kingdom. Here I'm using the "+" convention for country code prefix, of which some people are ignorant and this presumably includes some insular web form designers! (Which is strange, since if you want to call an overseas number on your mobile/cell phone you need to use the "+" button to signify that the country code follows.)

    A further complication is that some countries -- Australia and the United Kingdom being two of them -- use a "0" (zero) prefix for long distance non-international calls. We have the situation where some people signify that this zero must be dropped for calling them internationally by enclosing the zero in parentheses. Therefore they would represent my office number as +61 (0) 3 9888 7772 which might be meaningful to them but can confuse anybody not familiar with this convention. My preference is to always omit the zero and hope that intra-country callers have enough nous to realize that they have to insert the zero if they're calling long distance. So, my recommendation for the entry of telephone numbers is s single text field of twenty characters (enabling me to enter my number simply and unambiguously as: +61 3 9888 7772).

    The Techtarget form has this:

    (click to view a larger image)At least the phone (and fax) field isn't broken into three separate areas, but it's too short to cater for some numbers -- why didn't they allow, say, twenty characters? But at least they give some examples, even if they're USA- and Canada-centric (no "+1" for country code). And they have that link labelled International Formatting Requirements that opens window giving additional guidance for the formatting of telephone numbers.
Enough said!

To sum up, my message to all web form designers is: There's absolutely no excuse to do it poorly. Use some of the above tips (including the sample Techtarget form) to improve your registration forms and bring them up to a standard that caters for international users and isn't that what the Web is all about? I feel that the worst offenders are Web form designers in North America, or that probably should be just the USA (apologies to fellow British Commonwealth members in Canada)!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dead Peasants, and Dead Poets

Last Saturday evening I watched yet another episode of one my favorite British TV series: it was The Last Detective - Dead Peasants Society in which members of a secret lodge take insurance out against members who then subsequently die, and detective "Dangerous" Davies gets to the bottom of the mystery in his inimitable fashion.

This episode introduced to me the concept of "dead peasants' insurance" and only today did I find time to research it.

No, it's not something that many of us would regard as benevolent, like the similarly-named Dead Poets Society but something far more sinister!

If it's new to you too, scan some of the following articles to get a feel for it:

  • Does your boss want you dead? ... Hundreds of companies -- including Dow Chemical, Procter & Gamble, Wal-Mart, Walt Disney and Winn-Dixie -- have purchased this insurance on more than 6 million rank-and-file workers. These policies, nicknamed “dead janitors” or “dead peasants” insurance, soared in popularity after many states cleared the way for them in the 1980s. [USA] Congress recently tried to crack down on the practice, to the howls of the insurance industry -- which earlier this year managed to derail reforms.

  • And lots more via the following Google Search:
Well now, are you covered by dead peasant insurance without your knowledge? Check up now!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Let's be professional about this!

I just came across a few web posts that caused me to contemplate again what exactly is a "profession" and thence what is a "professional" -- questions that have been posed in one form or another for centuries!

To start with, there's "the oldest profession" of which I have no direct knowledge so can only presume/assume that it has practitioners with quite different levels of experience, skill, customer satisfaction, and income levels!

I just came across this very recent (November 22) article in the Architecture and Design section of Dr. Dobb's Portal: Split Brains and Half-baked Architects -- and interestingly it makes the point "Depth is not enough, you also need breadth of knowledge" (italics mine). Maybe it's breadth of knowledge (and a dash of "wisdom") that distinguishes a mere practitioner from a "true professional" no matter how extensive is the experience that the practitioner has.

An also at Dr. Dobb's there's When is enough modeling enough? which in reviewing Jane Jacobs' book Dark Age Ahead quotes here as describing describes "five pillars" that our society depends on: Community and family, higher education, the effective practice of science and science-based technology, effective taxation, and self-policing by the learned professions. So here's another term: the learned professions -- whichever they are, presumably those that have been practiced for centuries or millennia: the likes of medicine, law and engineering.

Where does that leave "information technology" as a profession, and who if any are its professionals?

What is an IT architect? What is is an analyst, an analyst/programmer, a programmer, ...?

For example, there's the popular topic: "Is a programmer different from a developer?" See for yourself by trying a Google search like this:

RELATED LINKS (added 19 December 2006):
There's an article over at TheServerSide that to an extent impinges on the above topic: "He's Just a Techie" - Image and Impact of the Software Developer (December 2003).

And for a different perspective on experience and professionalism there's How to be a genius ... in only ten years, no less!

Monday, November 27, 2006 Browser Share, late November 2006 - impact of IE7 launch

Well folks, Microsoft officially launched Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) several weeks ago, and I have been watching for any change in visitor traffic that might be associated with this event. Here's a snapshot taken less than an hour ago:

(Click to view a larger image, on a new page)
Only in the last few days have I detected a trend for IE7 to have increased enough to be able to say that Firefox might be losing out to IE7. Instead of ranging between 15-25% it seems to have dropped to around 10-15% and I guess that time will tell whether it's a temporary effect, while people experiment with IE7's new features.

But then, just two days later, Firefox resumed its 20-25% visitor share. I guess that I don't have enough visitors to my sites to smooth out the traffic pattern:
(Click to view a larger image, on a new page)

For comparison, here's the chart for Browser Share as at October 2006.

While I agree that IE7 has some important enhancements (after a long, long wait) such as better CSS standards adherence and major security features, I'm not at all a wildly enthusiastic IE7 fan and in particular dislike its limited configurability and its "dog's breakfast" of a user interface.

I earlier commented that Microsoft IE7 will be sub-standard and will probably have more to say on this in future. I've been using IE7 betas since early 2007, and installed the gold version as soon as it was released. While I was happy enough with IE6, I simply cannot tolerate the native IE7 user interface so clumsy and inflexible do I find it, and instead use the excellent Avant Browser shell as a far superior way to drive the underlying IE7 rendering engine. (I must stress that this is for me, the way that I work. The "great unwashed" mass of many millions of IE7 users will probably be quite happy with it. And I also use Firefox every day, for specific tasks that it handles better than IE7. And Opera occasionally too, just to keep in touch with its features. Plus, there are quite a few other IE shells out there, and I've probably tried most of them, with Maxthon and Enigma Browser for me coming in second behind Avant. I'm happy to swath between browsers to suit the task in hand, but I suppose that most Windows users will just use what version of IE is installed on their system.)

Also, I issued a warning to Web site content managers that Tabbed Browsing can be a Performance Crippler (When you have multiple tabs open on pages that have those annoying endlessly-looping dynamic advertisements that each use a little CPU processing power, but when you add up this effect across even as few as four or five concurrently open tabs it can really gobble up lots of CPU and noticeably slow down your system.) Now that IE7 is spreading out across the vast Windows user community, I think there will be lots of concern about this effect and negative vibes for content managers plus advertisers alike. My strong recommendation for both content managers and advertisers alike is to use only advertisements that loop once (with a button to initiate replay) and to banish forever those endlessly-looping horrors!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Heads I win, tails you lose?

There's a rather scary article over at SecurityFocus that contains lots of interesting commentary and questions about software licencing in general, and the EULA (End User License Agreement) for Microsoft's Windows Vista in particular.

Summon up your courage, and read it carefully:
Vista's EULA Product Activation Worries

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Using Junction Points or SoftGrid for Installing multiple Lotus Notes releases on a single system?

A while ago I posted a Tips for installing multiple Notes client releases on a single system

Then Alain Romedenne added a comment suggesting the use of substituted symbolic directories. This led me off on an interesting tangent. Yet another diversion, Oh will I ever get any real work done?

I had never considered using "symbolic folders/directories" before this. It turns out that UNIX and therefore Linux (I presume) has had this capability for ages, and that Microsoft Windows has had it since the time of Windows 2000 with NTFS and NT Server 4.0 (not FAT or FAT32). I'll leave UNIX/Linux out of this discussion, as the great bulk of Notes/Domino installations are windows based.

This is NOT going to be a tutorial! Instead, here are some background resources that will help you get the picture. Lots of food for thought:

  • How to create and manipulate NTFS junction points
    (Microsoft support: Article ID 205524 -- may require registration)
    "You can surpass the 26 drive letter limitation by using NTFS junction points. By using junction points, you can graft a target folder onto another NTFS folder or "mount" a volume onto an NTFS junction point. Junction points are transparent to programs. "
  • Symbolic link (Wikipedia) - "Symbolic links operate transparently, which means that their implementation remains invisible to applications. When a program opens, reads, or writes a symbolic link, the operating system will automatically redirect the relevant action to the target of the symlink. Functions do, however, exist to detect symbolic links, so that applications may find and manipulate them."
  • NTFS symbolic link (Wikipedia) - "an NTFS symbolic link (symlink) is a file-system object that points to another file system object. The object being pointed to is called the target. Symbolic links should be transparent to users; the links appear as normal files or directories, and can be acted upon by the user or application in exactly the same manner."
  • Over at shell-shocked there's Windows Symbolic and Hard Links - Windows has had symbolic links since Windows 2000, or more specifically, NTFS 5.0. This used to be called "junction point" functionality, and was renamed "reparse point" functionality by the time Windows XP came out. ... To some of you, the age of this functionality, or even its existence, may come as a surprise. This is itself not a surprise. More than four years after this functionality became available, it seems Microsoft still has barely documented it, and hasn't exposed it in Windows except in the most cursory way. It is still a far bigger chore than necessary finding information about this functionality in Microsoft's knowledge base. Anyone who want to learn about it can only resort to scrounging across the web. Links on Windows exist, but they are useable only due to the efforts of a handful of third party tools developers. That's the Windows story on symlinks. ... This article is an attempt to present a comprehensive and authoritative user's view of Windows links, particularly symlinks.
  • Scott Hanselman ... How do you organize your code? and Windows Vista, Junctions and moving My Documents to another drive
  • Junfeng Huang's Windows Programming Notes ... Symbolic link in Windows Vista which explains the the MKLINK command (new in Vista), with examples.
Prior to Vista, Windows did not provide a simple way to create/edit/delete these "junction points", but there are two FREE tools that provide an interface to do so:
  • Junction v1.04 - a command-line tool from from Sysinternals (recently acquired by Microsoft) ... "Windows 2000 and higher supports directory symbolic links, where a directory serves as a symbolic link to another directory on the computer. For example, if the directory D:\SYMLINK specified C:\WINNT\SYSTEM as its target, then an application accessing D:\SYMLINK\DRIVERS would in reality be accessing C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS. Directory symbolic links are known as NTFS junctions in Windows. Unfortunately, Windows comes with no tools for creating junctions - you have to purchase the Win2K Resource Kit, which comes with the linked program for creating junctions. I therefore decided to write my own junction-creating tool: Junction. Junction not only allows you to create NTFS junctions, it allows you to see if files or directories are actually reparse points. Reparse points are the mechanism on which NTFS junctions are based, and they are used by Windows' Remote Storage Service (RSS), as well as volume mount points."
  • Junction Link Magic (or just "Link Magic") - a nice Windows GUI interface by Mikael Nordell, available from Rekerwonder Software

    When you launch this program it starts scanning all of your drives, presumably to build a list of all the existing folders and their junction points in oder for you to be able to edit/delete existing junction points. In my case this would have taken many minutes since I have many tens gigabytes of folders, so I clicked the Cancel button to abort the scan because I only wanted to experiment with creating a junction point to get the feel of things.

    TIP: if you click the More info... button you are served up with several screens of useful help text, such as (with slight reformatting to appear better in this post):

    What can you do with junction points? - By using junction points, you can graft a target folder onto another NTFS folder or "mount" a volume onto an NTFS junction point. You could think of using junction points in the following cases: (1) When moving programs from one place to another. E.g. moving your "Program Files" directory to another drive, and linking the original "Program Files" directory to this new location. (2) When your hard disk is becoming too small. Just add another disk, move the contents of one or more large folders to it, and link them with a junction point. (3) When you want to surpass the 26 drive letter limitation.

    But you also get some salutary warning information ... Where can junction points be used? - Junction points can not be used just anywhere. These are the conditions:
    (1) The source (host) folder: (a) Must be located on a volume formatted with NTFS 5.0 or higher. NTFS 5.0 is supported on computers with Windows 2000, Windows XP and higher. Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 4 can read from and write to NTFS 5.0 volumes, but the new features in NTFS 5.0 are disabled under Windows NT 4.0. (b) Must be an empty folder, if not the creation of a junction point would make its contents unreachable.
    (2) The destination (target) folder: (a) Can be a folder on a FAT or NTFS volume. (b) Should not be located on a network volume or on a removable disk. (c) Junction points work best when they are mounted on the same volume. (d) If a junction point is mounted such that the target folder and host folder are on different physical disk resources, the resources must be in the same cluster group. The physical disk resource that contains the host folder should be dependent on the physical disk resource that contains the target folder. If the drive that contains the target folder does not come online, the drive that contains the host folder does not start.
    (3) Junction point precautions - Junction points have to be used with care. If you are not sure of what you are doing, DO NOT CREATE JUNCTION POINTS! Microsoft is so scared of it that it doesn't offer ready access to junction point creation in Windows 2000 and XP. We recommend you follow these rules closely when using junction points:
    (a) Use NTFS security to protect junction points from inadvertent deletion. (b) Use NTFS security to protect files and directories targeted by junction points from inadvertent deletion or other file system operations. (c) Never delete a junction point using Explorer, a del /s command, or other file system utilities that walk recursively into directory trees. These utilities will affect the target directory and all subdirectories. Instead, use Junction Link Magic to delete junction points. (d) Use caution when applying security ACLs or changing file compression in a directory tree that includes NTFS junction points. (e) Do not create namespace cycles with NTFS junction points. (f) Place all your junction points at a secure location in a namespace where you can test them out in safety, and other users will not mistakenly delete them or walk through them.

In light of all these warnings, I've come to the conclusion that using junction points is definitely NOT the way to go for multiple versions of Lotus Notes/Domino on a single system! However, junction points definitely would be useful in certain circumstances, such as when you've run out of Windows drive letters.

- - - - -

Quite coincidentally, a few days ago I also discovered the existence of SoftGrid which was originally developed by Softricity. They were and acquired several months ago by Microsoft, and at the moment there is a hiatus in sales/support for SoftGrid: I tried getting info about pricing from the Local Microsoft Australia office, and was pointed to the international web site but filling out an information request form on that site has led to no answer after a week or so!

You'll find some general info at How SoftGrid Works and Video Demonstrations and System Architecture and The Soft Grid: The Future of Software

I found the SoftGrid Flash Tour illuminating enough for me to decide that SoftGrid would be extreme overkill for a lone (and lonesome?) Notes/Domino developer. However I could see that SoftGrid would be an excellent solution for Windows application sharing in a corporate environment.

How safe is your PIN?

Early this year I asked my bank to cancel my main credit card and issue me with a brand new card having a completely different card number. This was because an unauthorized transaction had occurred, which seemed to be somehow related to an overseas software purchase, and I no longer had confidence in the security of my old card.

I've been purchasing software like this for years, and this was the first time anything like this had happened. It really got me thinking about credit card security for online transactions. I absolutely NEVER use my card on anything but secured web pages (having the "locked padlock"), and continually scan for malware (keylogging trojans, etc).

My best guess was that in this case somewhere overseas a scoundrel somehow got access to transaction details and was able to generate a bogus transaction. My bank refunded the transaction amount, but didn't (or perhaps as a matter of policy wouldn't) tell me what their investigation into the matter turned up.

This all bubbled to the surface when I just came across the following report -
The unbearable lightness of PIN cracking by Omer Bergman and Odelia Moshe Dostoevsky. Take a look at it yourself:
Abstract. We describe new attacks on the financial PIN processing API. The attacks apply to switches as well as to verification facilities. The attacks are extremely severe allowing an attacker to expose customer PINs by executing only one or two API calls per exposed PIN. One of the attacks uses only the translate function which is a required function in every switch. The other attacks abuse functions that are used to allow customers to select their PINs online. Some of the attacks can be applied on a switch even though the attacked functions require issuer’s keys which do not exist on a switch. This is particularly disturbing as it was widely believed that functions requiring issuer’s keys cannot do any harm if the respective keys are unavailable.
Your own local bank's systems and processes might be totally secure, but think of all the stages in a transaction and all the chances for a rogue to somehow tap into the transaction ... and shudder!

Security expert Bruce Schneier discusses this report too in Attacking Bank-Card PINs and this post includes some interesting comments by others.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Life Begins at Requirements (not at 40)

"Few people have the same notion of what requirements are and where they fit into the big picture" writes Richard M. Marshall, in Life Begins at Requirements (an article for FTP Online in October 2003).

He goes on to say:
"Most people agree that an application's life begins with its requirements. Requirements tell the developer what the end user wants the app to do. But that's about all folks will agree on. Beyond the high-level objective of defining an application's purpose, few people have the same notion of what requirements are and where they fit into the big picture."

And further on: "As with many things in IT, and despite what some gurus might say, there is no "right" form of requirements. The correct form for requirements will vary from project to project. You can use two simple criteria, however, that will tell you if a set of requirements is right for a given project."

And even later: "So what comes first: the requirements, or a notion of an implemented system? Neither, actually. A business need comes first — a source of irritation, an opportunity, a way to do things more efficiently. Doesn't really matter, but it is important to realize that any app worth building must meet a need."
So, go and read his short article to get the entire message!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Get knotted!

Hey, you might find any topic discussed on this blog!

These days, I tend to dress very formally and don't have all that much use for the my collection of business suits.

But every now and then, I do have to get dolled up in shirt and tie.

Here's an illustrated tutorial that some day I might need for myself -- and perhaps you too -- showing how to "tie the knot" ...

The Classic Tie Knots

How to be a genius -- after ten years

I won't comment!

Just go and read this article:

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Firefox outfoxed by Microsoft?

Would you believe it, there's an incredible -- and I really mean incredible -- new browser now available; see the following web site:
Microsoft Firefox 2007 Professional Edition
Its amazing feature set is listed here: Avances Microsoft has made in the interpolation of IE and Firefox.

Is this Microsoft's attempt to get its browser share back up again? See

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Peeling off the layers

Over at Life Training - Online there's a series of three articles you should benefit from reading:

1. Preparing Yourself to Read People ... describing how to mentally prepare yourself to become an effective people reader.

2. Beyond Words - what people are really saying ... the techniques and mindset needed to develop the art of reading people.

3. How to Tell if Someone is Lying to You ... the techniques professional interrogators and body-language experts use to catch someone in a lie.
The third article point out the following great link from the BBC which provides a test to determine if you can determine a genuine smile from a fake one through recognizing these micro expressions: Spot the fake smile ... I encourage you to go take this test yourself (I only managed 13 out of 20).

And while you're at the Life Training site you'll probably be drawn into reading some of their other articles, too!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Half-witted Design Arithmetic

Matt Inman, CTO & Web Developer at, discusses How to Ruin a Web Design - The Design Curve talking about the sorts of people who get involved in the design process:

As a professional web designer I've noticed a consistent trend in the majority of the projects I've worked on: The more time that is spent dissecting, analyzing, and critiquing a design by the wrong kinds of people the worse that design gets. The same trend applies to the number of people involved in the design process.
He then discusses what I would term "half-wit arithmetic" and puts up two design curves that he thinks demonstrate the effect of the above [the wrong kinds and the number of people] on the resulting quality of design. It's well worth taking a look at Matt's article!

It reminds me of the old classic ...

Click the image to see an enlargment (in a new page).
It's pertinent to mention that I've assembled a page crammed full of links to a wide range of design resources. See either or

In a somewhat similar vein, Reg Braithwaite in his raganwald 2.0 blog discusses What I've learned from failure and gives his views on such things as why failure matters, the four most important causes of failure, and more. Much food for thought here, that should help you avoid being involved in failed projects -- or at least recognizing before too long that you're enmeshed in one!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Sysinternals rocks, at Microsoft

The fantastic Sysinternals tools are alive and well at Microsoft!

You'll find them at their new Windows Sysinternals home page.

I've just downloaded and carried out a brief check of the powerful new Process Monitor which -- via its extended logging function -- I'm hoping just might be able to help me get to the bottom of my Lotus Domino 7.0.2 server crash problem. This is a Blue Screen Of Death crash that occurs soon after the server is started, as mentioned in several earlier posts. Its cause so far has been inscrutable and elusive: using the Microsoft Online Crash Analysis (OCA) got me nowhere at all, the Microsoft report effectively saying that it was in the "too hard basket" to provide any insights as to the cause.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Windows Vista might force a flight to Linux? We'll see.

Launch dates and prices have been announced by Microsoft for their next generation of breadwinners, Windows Vista and Office 2007.

I've detected a drawing of breath -- or even a feeling of shock from some -- at the fairly steep prices being asked for these new versions, and not everybody is happy about the cost and inconvenience involved in the purchase of new systems (or upgrading of hardware) and time to learn all the new stuff. For example, see Vista in slow lane for Aussie CIOs and it's likely to be the same worldwide.

A fairly typical reaction would seem to be that of Aussie IT journalist Stan Beer: Vista goes gold and Wintel rides again ... He hopes that "As for all of our old XP boxes, one would hope that there is a good recycling program in a neighbourhood not too far from you."

Could this be the great opportunity for Linux to start making inroads, for those resisting the Microsoft advance?

Not everybody thinks so, and here's a pertinent view recently posted by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes:

The world just isn’t ready for Linux

What They Forgot - Part 1

Click the above to see a larger image.

What's wrong in the above two examples?

What feature or capability did they (their designers/developers) omit? (Both happen to be from Microsoft Windows XP, but I'm pretty sure behaved the same in earlier versions of Windows bak as far as Windows 95.)

Reply by adding a comment to this post, and I'll provide the "correct answer" in a subsequent post.

1 candidate fixes a Zero Divide problem

Read through the following to work out what I mean ...
House of IT Horrors

And while I'm at it, here's another perspective of IT things past, but not to be forgotten (a series of illustrations):
Peter Coffee's Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Banzai, Bonza, Bonsai? ... But not Bonzai!

Shock and horror reigned amongst the local natives here yesterday afternoon, when two upstart Japanese horses were first past the winning post in the fabulous Melbourne Cup (Melbourne's and Australia's premier horse race, run on the first Tuesday in November each year). This "race that stops a nation" is the peak event of Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne, and rightly deserves its place as one of the main thoroughbred racing events worldwide.

I was highly amused to see the souvenir cover page of this morning's edition of the local Herald Sun newspaper. It has a huge photograph of the two horses (winner Delta Blues and runner-up Pop Rock) with a top banner proclaiming "Japanese raiders go 1-2 in The Cup" and emblazoned across the centre of the page in bold type the headline BONZAI!

See the report Blues brothers steal our Cup in the Herald Sun (articles like this typically have a short lifespan, so don't be surprised if the link fails).

Truly a case of "They stole our Cup" mentality, but that's not what tickled my fancy.

Now, I just might be totally wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure there's no such word as BONZAI.

Being quite interested in spoken languages, I decided to carry out a little bit of research, with the following outcome...

  • Bonsai - the Japanese art of growing tiny trees and other plants.

  • Bonza - an Australian slang word -- not used much these days -- meaning excellent, attractive, pleasing, etc. Apparently also a variety of apple (and don't miss the definition of "Bondi cigar" nearby)!

  • Banzai - of ancient Chinese derivation, and literally meaning "ten thousand years" signifying "have a long life" (typically when lauding one's emperor, used at the start of a battle charge).

  • Bonzai - No such word (Google asks "Did you mean Bonsai?")
Therefore I reckon that (rather than Bonzai!) they didn't do a bonza job at the Herald Sun, and should have used the headline TORA! TORA! TORA! to signify a surprise attack -- on our horse racing fraternity, in this case.

Why, Robot?

Here's a nice little article (by David Mollert, Mechanical Engineer, FANUC Robotics) in Dr Dobb's Portal. It's quite short and to the point.

If like me you're interested in the applications of technology in general, you should find it interesting. Maybe we're not quite up to the stage represented in the movie (and book) I, Robot but nevertheless robotics certainly has come a long way.
Robotics: Making the Right Choices for Automation - A robotics tutorial ... Robotics technology marks a major stept forward in factory automation. See how robots' flexibility and programming bring benefits to industrial control nvironments.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Quantum Quandary?

Being ignorant gives one enormous scope for making incredibly ridulous statements. Thus, one field where I've done only a slight amount of reading is that of quantum physics, but that's not going to hold me back from saying a few thigs.

This was brought on by an article I've just come across in The Register (motto: "Biting the hand that feeds IT") ... Quantum attacks worry computer scientists it says:
In the weird world of quantum computing, the state of computer systems networked together is so fragile that a read access to a single quantum bit, or qubit, on one machine would require a network-wide reset.

It's no wonder, then, that two researchers who are working on ways of defending against the future possibility of malicious attack assume that any unauthorised access to a quantum computer constitutes a catastrophic failure.

Wow! And here was I thinking that quantum computing and quantum networking were going to solve all of our IT problems, by providing immeasurably fast computing speeds and data transfer feeds, so that we would never have anythong to worry about any more.

Not so, it would seem. It's just going to be more of the same sorts of issues, but at considerably higher speeds!

Here are my (totally unscientific. non-quantifiable) predictions...
  • Miquosoft releases their Quista operating system, and many users become acquainted with a new phenomenon: the QSOD (Quantum Screen Of Death), but luckily your system reboots so fast that you only make out a brief blue flash out of the corner of your eye. This is marketed as "superior recovery technology" that is not available to users of the Qinux operating system.
  • Spammers send you not dozens, not just hundreds, not even thousands, but millions of unsolicited messages each and every day. Luckily, your superfast computer can bounce them back at hyperspeed.

SDMS V4.0 and CAPTURE V2.0 released

CAPTURE Version 2.0 example, with merged mail memo highlighted. (Click to see enlarged image.)
Yesterday -- 06 November 2006, Melbourne, Australia time -- enhanced versions of two of our free Lotus Notes applications were released. They have been in beta testing release mode for a month or so.

CAPTURE Version 2.0 is a free CRM database. The name stands for "Customer And Project Tracking plus Usage Reporting Extensions" with the usage reporting being via a built-in copy of our unique NotesTracker database usage reporting tool.

As well as numerous smaller changes, this new version of CAPTURE includes a "mail merge" function so that you can now easily merge any of your mail memo documents (from your Notes mail Inbox view) anywhere into the hierarchy of CAPTURE documents. This is a significant new way to incorporate information about your customers and prospects into a CAPTURE database.

As well as this, CAPTURE Version 2.0 also has a full set of NotesTracker views built in, so that you can now choose the "internal logging" capability of NotesTracker to store all your tracking documents into the CAPTURE database itself rather than in an external NotesTracker Repository database.

Example of the SDMS Version 4.0 document publishing cycle view. (Click for a larger image.)SDMS -- the Simple Document Management System -- now also has the same handy "mail merge" function, together with a major new "publishing life cycle" capability so that instead of just (as previously) being able to create/edit/submit documents, they must now be approved and finally be released for publishing.

According to the SDMS design philosophy, the publishing steps are designed to be simple to carry out.

Of course, as before SDMS has our powerful NotesTracker usage tracking capability built in.

Note: If you happened to download SDMS Version 4.0 yesterday, please be aware that there's already an updated version 4.01 available! It released this less than an hour ago this morning (07 November 2006, Melbourne time). An enhancement was made to the way that editing of the SDMS Database Profile Document is managed.

You'll find links to both the SDMS and the CAPTURE download pages on our web site's home page: that is, either or its mirror

Monday, November 06, 2006

SOA's Business Value (three articles)

Neil Ward-Dutton (Research Director at Macehiter Ward-Dutton) has penned three useful articles about Service Oriented Architecture:
  • SOA’s Business Value (Part I of III) - Understanding the “S” and the “A” of SOA ...
    In order to kick things off, I want to start from first principles. But I won’t bore you with talk of SOAP, WSDL, UDDI or any one of a hundred other acronyms. Instead I want to concentrate on a broader perspective of what the “S” and the “A” in SOA mean. In my mind, both “service” and “architecture” have meaning far beyond the context within which most discussion of SOA is taking place. ... SOA makes most sense as a way of thinking about IT which explicitly recognises that all IT organisations are service providers, with customers which have a variety of needs. And SOA should help IT organisations act in a systematic way which improves the overall quality of the service that they provide to those customers.

  • SOA’s Business Value (Part II of III) - SOA is about much more than integration using Web services technologies – it has the potential to enable IT and the business to start to talk and collaborate using a common language. In our research, we’ve found that there are four steps involved in getting to this common language: using SOA to increase software flexibility; increase software reuse; increase the comprehensibility of IT to the business; and lastly, increase the visibility of the value of IT.

  • SOA's Business Value (Part III of III) - SOA, done right, can show the way for IT organisations to clearly demonstrate the value they provide to their "customers" - the businesses they work within.

STWebContact -- a nice alternative to Sametime Links

Andrei Kouvchinnikov
-- a Lotus Sametime and Java enthusiast and now a Web buddy of mine, or "mate" as we prefer to say here Down Under -- a few days ago gave me the opportunity to test his new baby "Wimbo" or STWebContact to use its official product name. Andrei writes:
STWebContact is a web application for Sametime text messaging and presence awareness. It can be used from web browsers which support AJAX, such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera.

STWebContact has functionality similar to Sametime Links (STLinks). In difference to STLinks, this web client does not require Java or additional ActiveX components installed on the user's computer.

So if you've got Sametime installed and would like people to access its functions via the Web you owe it to yourself to consider STWebContact.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A slash with some "dash"

Another tip for improving Web performance. It might only have a marginal or imperceptible effect, but as they say Every little counts.

I've been doing this for years and couldn't for the life of me remember why until I recently came across the explanation in this Internet Explorer blog article.

When entering hyperlinks -- in a browser's address bar, or when editing hyperlinks in a web page -- you should always put a trailing backslash if possible (where it is allowable).

The example given in the article is:

For instance, navigating to takes one more roundtrip than When the browser navigates to the /ie url, the server merely sends down a 301 to the /ie/ url. Both links work, but the second version is faster.
So when you omit the trailing slash the server has a bit more work to do, there's a bit more network traffic, and you have to wait a bit longer (perhaps only a tiny bit, but it all counts). All in all, this means some amount of increased overhead.

Didja know that?

Increasing your Internet Explorer concurrent connections - and optimizing Page Load time

Here's a time-saving tip that will work to some peoples' advantage ...

Once upon a time, Internet connections used to be ever so slow, via slow dial-up or leased telephone lines: in the 1970s and 1980s 8 Kbps (kilobits per second) to 14.4 Kbps, later 28.8 Kbps or 34 Kbps. And in the late 1980s to mid-to-late 1970s -- with modem compression -- even up to a "blazingly fast" 64 Kbps (this was a nominal rate, but in practice it usually averaged around 40 to 50 Kbps).

In those days, when Internet Explorer came out [with Windows 95] it seems that Microsoft decided to strictly follow the standard for HTTP V1.1 (as laid out in RFC2616) and restricted an IE session to a maximum of two connections with any one server.

The effect of this wasn't too noticeable with those old, slow line speeds. Web browsing and file transfers were generally held back by the line speed rather than the connection limit.

But these days, with far faster broadband speeds, the effects of this connection limit are much more noticeable: once you have two downloads running, the next (third) one is suspended until one of the two active downloads finishes.

There's a tip at Microsoft for increasing the connection limit (to, say, 10 concurrent connections), but only use it if you're comfortable with editing the Windows registry. Refer to Microsoft support article 183110 ... WinInet limits connections per server

The article warns:

By changing these settings, you cause WinInet to go against the HTTP protocol specification recommendation. You should only do this if absolutely necessary and then you should avoid doing standard Web browsing while these settings are in effect.

However since I made the change several months ago I haven't noticed any detrimental effects -- but your mileage might vary! I can now run quite a few more than two downloads at once, which interleave nicely with each other thus reducing the overall elapsed file transfer time.

You will find other articles discussing this topic by doing a Web search such as:

UPDATE, 14 November 2006:
I just came across the following article by Aaron Hopkins: Optimizing Page Load Time which mentions the above (about the number of connections) but covers a much broader field, aimed at web developers. It starts off:

"It is widely accepted that fast-loading pages improve the user experience. In recent years, many sites have started using AJAX techniques to reduce latency. Rather than round-trip through the server retrieving a completely new page with every click, often the browser can either alter the layout of the page instantly or fetch a small amount of HTML, XML, or javascript from the server and alter the existing page. In either case, this significantly decreases the amount of time between a user click and the browser finishing rendering the new content.

While working on optimizing page load times for a high-profile AJAX application, I had a chance to investigate how much I could reduce latency due to external objects. Specifically, I looked into how the HTTP client implementation in common browsers and characteristics of common Internet connections affect page load time for pages with many small objects."
Aaron then gives quite a few tips, and finishes off with:
While the tips above are intended to improve your page load times, a side benefit of many of them is a reduction in server bandwidth and CPU needed for the average page view. Reducing your costs while improving your user experience seems it should be worth spending some time on.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Recommending ... Paint.NET

Just in case you haven't come across it before, and are in need of a very competent graphics package for the Windows environment, I thought that I'd mention Paint.NET which is a free download (a donation of US 5.00 or more is welcomed). Considering the wide range of features, Paint.NET is a bargain to say the least!

Click to view an enlarged image, in a new window.

You could easily use Paint.NET instead of the likes of Corel Paint Shop Pro (which I have purchased) and Adobe Paintshop (which I haven't).

All the same, basic as it is I still find myself regularly using Windows Paint for those "quick and dirty" little jobs, and hope that there's an equivalent lightweight graphics program in Windows Vista -- can anybody tell me about this?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Tips for installing multiple Lotus Notes Client releases on a single system

Bill Buchan has a handy tip on configuring multiple Lotus Notes clients to run on a single workstation, which prompted me to add my own tips on this topic.

This is goodness for those of us (developers, consultants, ISVs, administrators, Help Desk staff, testers, etc) who need to support multiple customers/users running IBM Lotus Notes/Domino at different release levels.

I've been using a similar set-up for many years too. It seems to work quite well, without the considerable overheads and slowdowns that ensue if you choose to install them using a virtualization approach (say, using VMware or Microsoft Virtual PC).

In the following, I'm assuming that "Notes" -- by which I meant the Lotus Notes client, the Lotus Domino Designer, and the Domino Administrator client, rather than the Domino Server -- are being used in a Microsoft Windows environment. This will be the majority (and will probably remain so for quite a few years).

There's a caveat that Bill didn't mention: if you're working on an application that relies upon Windows OLE/COM (say, to interact with and update fields in a Microsoft Word or Excel document) then you can only expect the most-recently-installed version of Notes to behave properly. This is because each successive Notes installation will make changes to the dreaded Windows Registry, such that the only reliable access to the OLE/COM classes will be via the most recent Notes installation.

The versions of Notes that I currently have installed on my main development machine are R5.0.11 and R6.5.4 and (as of a few weeks ago) R7.0.2. (I've only recently decided that it's fairly safe not to bother with actively supporting Notes R4, otherwise I'd have installed R4.6.4 as the very first one. I know of a few places still on R5. Surely there aren't any still on R4?)

I was careful to install them in increasing release number sequence: 5.0.11 followed by 6.5.4 with 7.0.2 being the final install. Naturally, they're all installed in their respective separate Notes and Domino directories.

My main reason for writing this article is that there's a check done early in the R6 installation process -- related, I think, to the "multi-user install" option that first appeared with R6.0 -- which can prevent you from installing such consecutive releases on a single system. (Note that, as per Bill's tip, they're all going into separate directories.)

For related background info, including the multi-user support (against a single Notes release) and "roaming user" capabilities, see the following IBM support articles: Unable to Upgrade 4.x or 5.x Single-user Install to a 6 and Is a Multi-user Installation of Notes/Domino 6.x Needed as well as Where is the option for a Multi-user Install of the Notes Client? and also Error: 'You are attempting to upgrade a multi-user installation' when upgrading to a single-user install. There's also the IBM Redbook Upgrading to Lotus Notes and Domino 6 -- download the PDF (or the online HTML edition) and examine Chapter 16.1.2 Multi-user workstations in particular.

Now, you might have arrived at this particular blog posting after doing a search for "Notes and multiple" or something like that. So just to make it crystal clear, I'm not here intending to discuss the ability for multiple users to share the same Notes release on a single workstation, but for a single user (such as a developer, administrator or tester) to run different releases of Notes on the same workstation.

This check didn't happen in the days before R6 came out. And because of the addition of this check, it seems that to accomplish your objective (running multiple releases of Notes on the same workstation) you have to now fiddle with settings in the Windows registry -- some people would call it the Windows "resistry" -- to allow R7 to be installed on top of R6.

The way that I did it after a little trial and error is shown inside the red-colored rectangle in the accompanying illustration. (The blue colored rectangle happens to indicate that multiple versions of the Domino Server are also installed on the same machine.)

(Click to view a larger image in a new page)
In order to enable R7 to install after R6, I had to experiment for a while, eventually going to the \HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Lotus\Notes section of the registry and renaming the folder labelled "6.0" to anything different (I chose the name "6.0_OLD"), after which R7 installed without any further complaints.

After all that, Notes Client and Domino Designer R6.5.4 seems still to work okay. Any comments/suggestions?

UPDATE - 08 January 2007:
I have installed multiple releases once again, on a new desktop system, and this time took the opportunity to document the above procedure more carefully, so you should refer to the following more recent post:
Steps for installing multiple Notes/Domino releases on a single system

If like me you're the only user of Notes on your system, you can try editing the MultiUser doubleword entry, setting it to zero in order to eliminate some minor issues/complications related to this feature.

There's another article on this topic, over at the Lotus Notes FAQ website: Can you keep multiple versions of Notes on the same system? (Note: this older article describes work done with Notes R4 and R5, and the author mentions at the end "I have not had the opportunity yet to try out this procedure involving ND6.")

Here's a tip for installing multiple Notes releases using Citrix AIE (Application Isolation Environment) ... Lotus notes installation in Application Isolation mode

Wolcott Group's Configuration Manager for Lotus Notes may help in this too. "Easily manage the contents of multiple Lotus Notes configuration files on a single system" they say. "Developers typically install multiple versions of the Lotus Notes client on their computer systems so they can develop and test applications on multiple clients. There are often times where a developer will want to review the configuration of the different versions or even compare individual parameters between versions. For developers, CM is most useful when you need to verify (view or set) parameters that were modified by an application or process being tested. Administrators and help desk personnel need to be able to view the differences between a configuration that works properly vs. one that does not." (I've never seen their CM in action, so can't vouch for it one way or the other.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Web 2.0 approaches

In a few earlier posts about Web 2.0 I've shown some skepticism, or you might even call it even cynicism.

You might recall my very own hyperbolic concept of Web Pi -- where Pi represents the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, which (being transcendental) is a number which you can never quite reach!

In a well-balanced article, Web 2.0 and New Approaches to Software, Peter Varhols comments:
"Web 2.0 is about more than the technology and coding. ... You have to integrate technology with community and business innovations in order to have a valid Web 2.0 application concept. Without the community and business innovation, you might have a useful application, but you almost certainly lack an application that dramatically changes your business. ... That is the key to Web 2.0. Not the technology, which is by itself not particularly innovative. The innovation is how that technology is applied to problems in business and society. In other words, it is not enough to write a Web application that uses Ajax, REST design, and scripting languages; it is about using these technologies in pursuit of innovation."

By my reckoning, Peter's article nicely positions Web 2.0 and then finishes off with:
"To paraphrase former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, who wrote that he couldn't describe pornography but knew it when he saw it, it may not be possible to fully describe Web 2.0, but you will know it when you see it."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Programmer -- or Developer?

Ever been puzzled about the difference between a "programmer" and a "developer" and/or been accused of being one or the other? Is there any justification in distinguishing between these two handles?

Not too sure?

Then scoot across to Hacknot for a clarifying article (published 09 October 2006) called Developers are from Mars, Programmers are from Venus

Sunday, October 15, 2006 Browser Share - as at October 2006

Every few months I've been reporting on the browser share for visits to (also including its mirror/backup site

Here's the report for 13 October 2006. Keep in mind that the various browser shares fluctuate a bit from day to day, but this snapshot is quite representative ...

(Click to view an enlarged image, on a new page)

With the official release of Microsoft's "Windows Internet Explorer 7" (a.k.a. IE7) due within the next week or two, it will be quite interesting to see if this changes the continuing loss of share -- mostly to Firefox -- that IE has been showing for the last year or so.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A perspective on Lotus Notes views

IBM's inimitable Alan Lepofsky has recently posted two articles that will help users of IBM Lotus Notes better understand the behavior of views and folders:

Both of these have a tendency to trip up new Notes users.

Alan's expostions are a model of clarity, as is everything else in his highly-recommmended weblog.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Puttin' Putin in Perspective

INSEAD -- who unselfconsciously dub themselves "The Business School for the World" -- release some very interesting publications across a diverse range of topics that I find quite fascinating.

Quite a few of their publications are available for for free viewing and download, including one of the latest:

Vladimir Putin - Evaluating the 'CEO of Russia Inc.' ... Is it sensible to evaluate the leader of a former superpower using many of the same the same criteria one might use for a leading CEO? Manfred Kets de Vries, the Raoul de Vitry d'Avaucourt Clinical Professor in Leadership Development, and Affiliate Professor of Entrepreneurship Stanislav Shekshnia certainly think so. Vladmir Putin, "CEO of Russia Inc.," is in the last of the three-phase "life cycle" described by the authors. But what might all that mean for his country and the world?

It's rather a good read, even for a geek like me. From now on, I'll be looking at leaders in all sorts of organizations and pondering how far they've progressed in their "three phases" and how long they've got left!

I encourage you to read this report. To further whet your appetite, here's the first paragraph of the Introduction:
In studying leaders in the business world—our particular area of expertise—we have foundthat many CEOs, on attaining the position of top leadership, go through a three-stage “lifecycle”: a distinct period of entry, a period of consolidation, and a period of decline. The period of entry is typically characterized by a high degree of uncertainty as the fledgling leaders struggle to understand what their new position entails, deal with the legacy of their predecessors, and search for business themes that will take the organization forward. Once their power is consolidated, the environment in which they operate is understood, and the key themes are identified, the new CEOs concentrate on pursuing these themes to make their mark on the organization. In most instances, it is during this period of consolidation that they reach their highest performance and build a solid foundation for the organization’s future. In the final stage, the period of decline, CEOs begin to lose their interest in doing new things (though they typically retain their interest in preserving their power base!), often becoming myopic, complacent, and stuck in their ways. They may even engage in paranoid thinking, fearful (frequently with good reason) that others are trying to get rid of them. Leaders in this end stage can become real threats to companies they have led successfully for many years. A dramatic example is the first Henry Ford, who rejected all proposed changes to the famous Ford Model T for 20 years, in spite of changing consumer tastes and a shrinking market share. Ken Olsen, the former CEO of Digital Equipment Company (a firm that no longer exists), was likewise out of touch with market reality, a failing that contributed to the decline and fall of his organization.
And then a bit later on:
Putin does not seem to be functioning well in his leadership role—but why? Given his many positive qualities and the favorable timing of his ascendancy, why has he failed to fully fulfill the relatively simple expectations of his shareholders? The answer is simple: he has not done what effective CEOs do.
So, do go read the article: Vladimir Putin - Evaluating the 'CEO of Russia Inc.' ...

The mysterious and pervasive "Rule Number 10"

Jason Mawdsley has written nicely about Coding Conventions: Make Them Agile ... These are simple rules to let your team deliver high-quality code as efficiently as possible.

Jason's agile coding convention is as follows:
  1. Make your code look like other people's code.
  2. Use the simplest design possible.
  3. Don't re-invent the wheel.
  4. Document your code.
  5. Keep security in mind.
  6. Work in increments.
  7. Work in iterations.
  8. Have your code reviewed.
  9. Don't stay blocked.
  10. (You'll have to read the article to find out)