Friday, February 06, 2009

Messing around with OpenNTF.Org’s sign on and download process (updated)

Don’t get me wrong, I reckon that is an absolutely fantastic boon to the Lotus Notes/Domino community. There are lots of excellent tools, frameworks, utilities and applications available for download at the best possible price [free, as in beer].

But right nowOpenNTF.org_reset_password1 I cannot download anything. Frustration… It accepted my long-time password without complaint, but still shows my status as “not logged in” and prevents me from downloading anything.

So I request a new password, which it tells me will arrive shortly, but I have to wait maybe fifteen minutes for it (didn’t take an exact measurement of the elapsed time). Having to wait so long was another frustration, such things should happen within seconds, a minute or two at the very outside.

I signed in using the new password, but it still showed me as being “not logged in” (highlighted in yellow in Figure 1) so I couldn’t download anything. Therefore I repeat the sign-on process a number of times more, sometimes deliberately entering the wrong password and having it knocked back. … Swearwords flowed liberally!

After a few more minutes of puzzlement and messing around, I decide to try the same with Firefox browser, and everything worked fine this time. Then tried to work out what configuration setting (or cookie or whatever) was causing my IE-based Avant Browser session to spit the dummy and prevent downloading [even while accepting the new password].OpenNTF.org_reset_password2

I decided to give up on that quest and, not liking the cryptic new password, wanted to reset it to its old easily-remembered value.

I hoped to find a conventional “Manage your profile” or “Reset Password” function just underneath the “Register” and “Forgot Password” links in the right-hand column (where the green highlighted area is in Figure 1) but it wasn’t there.

Maybe I was just just having a bad morning or am going blind, but having signed in (under Avant Browser) couldn’t see a “reset password” facility anywhere, so it appears that I’m stuck with the cryptic password.

[UPDATE STARTS HERE] But then I look at the Firefox window again and, as shown in Figure 2, see that indeed there is an “Update Profile” option (thought there would be all along, actually).

Now I’m an old-timer in the IT industry – still think that punched cards and print-outs are the most reliable form of input/output devices devised so far!  One of the reasons I have misgivings about new fads like AJAX and cloud computing is that they’re so reliant on HTML and browsers in all their variations, and problems like I experienced this morning with cookies (or whatever it was) are really awful to experience and nightmarish for the web application designer/developer to handle elegantly.

I write regular articles for iTWire which uses Joomla and so I have to use a browser-based editor which I find quite awkward to use. And the built-in browser-based editor for that I originally used for writing posts in this very blog was also quite clumsy and restrictive. even compared with the nice Writely editor they acquired for  Google Docs (which they should adapt for use in, I’d recommend). But now I use Microsoft’s excellent free Windows Live Writer and find it far, far nicer to use for blog content management. It’s a cinch to create everything offline in a familiar GUI (very similar to using Microsoft Word, or Expression Web / FrontPage) and when you’ve finished composing your article you just click on the Publish button and everything (text, images, more) is updated on you blog with no hassles whatsoever. It’s a very nice piece of work, congrats Microsoft.

Browsers do some things nicely, but I find them not at all good – sometimes quite horrible -- for really serious transactional activities of various types. Conceived as a means of displaying web contents, they are now being force-fitted into all sorts of environments where they perform less than ideally.

I find the OpenNTF site (kindly hosted by Prominic) to be a little on the slow side. My impression is that the average response time is around ten seconds or so, just on the borderline of acceptability. It would be nice if it were snappier (and a better advertisement for Prominic’s Lotus Domino hosting offering -- hint, hint).

I implied above that I might possibly be going blind. Being a thorough type, I did further research on the causes of blindness, and just by chance came across the following little gem concerning a form of blindness (in dating)…

Strangely enough, next day the sign on problems that I had experienced under Avant Browser (a front end to IE) went away. I have no idea why.


  1. Tony,

    Thanks for the tip about the performance - we'll be sure to take a look at that with the folks at OpenNTF.

    Jon Schultz

  2. I have been mentioning the poor performance to Vince recently so I am sure it will be looked into. The site will also also get a refresh soon as part of the IBM and openNTF initiative.

  3. We are working with Prominic on clustering to increase performance, but this is a very busy server with lots of downloads.
    Regarding the links on the site, I just downloaded and installed IE7, but I do not see any of the problems you describe.
    When did you experience those problems?


  4. G'day Vince! I already expected that the server was so popular that it was rather overworked, just wanted to put a comment on the record that it was a bit slow and needed a boost (a.k.a. the squeaky wheel approach).

    Thanks for installing IE7 and having a look into my problem. Signing on and downloading under IE have always worked fine for me before today, don't know what's caused the glitches. The fact that I could proceed okay under Firefox indicates to me that my IE security config and/or cookie settings (or whatever) somehow have been altered since the last time. I find this happens every now and then, when you install somebody's software you can never be quite sure if/how they change your browser settings. Par for the course.

    I'm glad to see the recent good news about OpenNTF being given more focus by IBM, it's about time. I've been following OpenNTF since its early days and certainly has blossomed in the last year or two. By getting more "official IBM" focus I'd say it's going to zoom off towards the stars now!

  5. I can vouch for the "going blind" stuff :-)