Saturday, January 23, 2010

Will Domino 7 corrupt my Notes 8.5.1 databases?

I was asked by Alberto whether he would have a problem installing Notes 8.5.1 client and then using it against Notes databases on his Domino 7.0.3 server. Is there the worrying possibility of database corruption, for example during replication?

See Alberto’s question and my short response both dated 23 January 2010 at the foot of my earlier blog post: Coexistence of Lotus Notes releases 7 and 8 on the same Windows 7 system (using the new Windows XP Mode)

Once you’ve read that, please add your comments and share your experiences about applications (databases) installed on Notes Clients and Domino Servers running on various combinations of Notes/Domino releases (release 8.x and prior).

Was my brief answer to Alberto correct and/or adequate?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What is missing in Domino Designer? – Reminder to add your thoughts

Don’t forget to add your opinions about what is missing from Domino Designer (DDE) to the list started off by Jake Ochs’ CMTI blog, at

A couple that I just added are:

#1. Ability to read and write Image Resources directly (in @Formula language at least, LotusScript also would be good, perhaps Java too) -- see more details IdeaJam .........

#2. A pet hate of mine ...
The LotusScript debugger (and possibly also the Java debugger, I haven't checked) still has the extremely annoying and time-wasting behavior of always rolling the highlighted statement [the statement being executed] to the bottom of the display panel. You always have to SCROLL DOWNWARDS AGAIN AFTER EACH STATEMENT IS EXECUTED to get a view of the statements that are next in line for execution, which is VERY counterproductive. It would be far, far better if the highlighted statement were kept around about the middle of the panel, so that you can see what statements follow it and have a much better idea of where you are in the instruction stream. Fixing this would be a great time saver!

I restrained from mentioning the speeding up by a factor of 5 to 10 for certain actions that were more or less sub-second the the prior DDE and now are taking tens of seconds (opening the Designer, adding/removing databases to/from the design list, etc). I want to see these coming down from around 40 seconds (on my quite fast development system) at least to 10 seconds or under! I’m sure these are already under focus and hope for a BIG improvement in DDE 8.5.2 (has this been mentioned at Lotusphere 2010 by Maureen Leland or anybody else?)

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

NotesTracker Version 5.1 Guide – minor update available

The NotesTracker Guide has been updated with a change related to the “Open In New Window” capability being re-implemented in Notes 8.5.1 at last!

This capability is recommended for opening windows on the side (outside the main Notes window),  for keeping a watch on NotesTracker-generated “breaking news” auto-refresh style views. Such Notes views are quite similar to RSS in functionality,  but with regular Notes data (from one or more Notes databases) and viewed via the Notes Client rather than a web browser.

The opportunity was taken also to make a few minor layout changes that should improve its readability. And a correction to the heading level of the Administrator Topics section ensures that this section now appears correctly in the overall table of contents and the PDF bookmarks column.

You can download the NotesTracker Guide PDF file from either or and also from

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lotus Domino Designer at last gets a well-behaved properties box

What’s wrong with this Lotus Notes properties box?

Well, nothing in particular! But I just wanted to talk about a little-if-ever-mentioned fact that prior to Notes 8.x if you used multiple monitors the box could not be dragged onto secondary monitors.

This was a real pain, especially for Notes developers and administrators who had the Domino Designer or administration windows open on one of their Windows secondary monitors. Below is my own set-up:


In the image above you can notice the Properties Box on the right-hand side of the bottom right monitor, just where I wanted it at the time. Thanks, Lotus, for at last eliminating this quirk!

Up to and including Notes 7, the properties could only be moved half-way off the Windows primary monitor, which apart from being bizarre was was of no use whatsoever!

Before ending, it behoves me to point out that --  from bitter experience -- I’m aware of quite a few other software vendors that have let loose on an unsuspecting customers software products in which secondary monitors either are not supported at all or various other types of quirkiness occurs. In most of these few cases it has caused me not to purchase their products, for which they only have themselves to  blame.

Windows 7 “network discovery” may solve your connectivity problem

I’ve been using Windows 7 since July 2009, and generally like it a lot, bypassing Windows Vista and going direct from Windows XP, which I’d been using since it was first released.

Being out of my comfort zone with Windows 7, I didn’t always immediately latch on to some of the new features and way of doing things. One of these is a change in setting up office networking (not referring here to the new “Home Network” feature of Windows 7, just to the old-style regular office networking).

Without going in to the intricacies, I found that it was necessary to configure network discovery before I could connect to my other systems in the domain/workgroup.

That was back in July last year, and I had already forgotten the details when I set up a new Windows 7 system a few weeks ago. So I’ve decided to outline the steps here for my own future benefit, and this will doubtless help a few others too!

You can get there via the Control Panel’s “Network and Sharing Center” pathway, but I’ve found the quickest way to reach the appropriate configuration panel is to type the word “advanced” into the search bar just above the Windows orb, like this:


Wait a second or two, and select Manage advanced sharing settings, like so:


And here’s the panel that you’re after, notice the “Advanced sharing settings” breadcrumb in the address bar:

imageClick on one or other of the twisties (highlighted in green) to expand the either “Home and Work” or “Public” section of this configuration panel, as you best decide to suit your requirements.

Be careful of the implications for “Public” networking, but there’s deliberately no motherhood about this here, it’s out of scope, so refer to other places for comprehensive security guidance. Here’s a Google search that might start you off on the right track.

In the case of “Public” network sharing, it would look like the following:


Select the radio button (from the default of “Turn off network discovery”) to “Turn on network discovery” and after that you should be able to connect to other systems in your workgroup/domain. And, presumably, you’ll also select “Turn on file and printer sharing” -- this being the whole point of the exercise [to share files across your internal network].

Further comments are welcomed from those who understand Windows 7 networking better than I do. I’m not sure what changes Microsoft made between Windows XP and Windows 7, and for all I know this “network discovery” behavior might have been introduced in Windows Vista.

Monday, January 11, 2010

IBM Lotus Notes – Featuritis under control?

Around the mid-1970s at IBM I attended my first ever Design for Usability training session, and the lessons learned then have stuck with me ever since.

I’ve maintained a very keen interest in Design and Usability, see a page crammed full with usability resource links on my web site here (or backup/mirror site here). Also one of my other blogs: Leave Good Enough Alone for a different perspective.

I was prompted to write this short post while updating my web site for a changed link to Featuritis vs. the Happy User Peak:

“Continuing to pile on new features eventually leads to an endless downhill slide toward poor usability and maintenance. A negative spiral of incremental improvements. Fighting and clawing for market share by competing solely on features is an unhealthy, unsustainable, and unfun way to live.”


Image attribution: Creating Passionate Users blog

I wonder where Lotus Notes is on the featuritis curve, or Windows 7, or the Apple iPhone, or … you name it!

What about “open systems”, are they past their peak? See Every open system develops towards the unusable (the article with a changed URL that led me to write this post in the first place).

IBM is obviously still trying very hard. For example, listen to the recent Taking Notes Episode 105 - An Interview with Mary Beth Raven and Julie Forgo from the IBM Lotus UX Team (01 January 2010).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Softly killing Lotus Notes – the hard way, via NSD

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softy with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

I heard he sang a good song, I heard he had a style
and so I came to see him, and listen for a while …
     Listen to Roberta Flack’s rendition

Mostly in life you can choose to do things the hard, harsh way or the soft, gentle way.

Jake Howlett started off a discussion about What do do when Notes crashes back in April 2001, with a few comments including one by Mark Peters in January 2007 explaining what NSD (the Notes System Diagnostics) service that was introduced some years later (in Notes/Domino Release 6.0 or 6.5 was it?).

The other day Jake raised another issue with NSD, see Domino 8.5.1 on Windows 7 64 Bit Annoyance where he pines about the “Ask me later” option of NSD and about needing to restart his laptop. (As commenters point out, you don’t really have to restart Windows.) But obviously the NSD experience is undesirable, even for gurus like Jake much less your average Notes user.

I understand that NSD might be good and fine in some situations, but I’ve come to dislike intensely it’s pathetic user interface (a UX that truly SUX). This has led me to disable the service so as to avoid being faced with its appalling interaction.

image(Disabling the NSD service - click to view a larger image)

The big usability issue for me is that, on your Notes Client (8.5.1 for me), whenever NSD is triggered your screen goes entirely BLACK except for the dreaded NSD dialog box:


Everything else that’s happening on your PC gets shoved into the black void aside and becomes unreachable until the NSD procedure is completed and disposed with. Urgent things (like incoming Skype calls) can’t be handled until then.  At least that’s what I’ve been experiencing under 64-bit Windows 7 (but it may differ for other OS versions).

It’s quite unacceptable for this to happen. It’s even worse than what occurs with the Windows Vista and Windows 7 UAC dialog, where at least you can see what else is on the screen even if it’s greyed out. (And, of course, you can opt out of this disruptive UAC dialog if you want to risk it.)

As an aside, I actually work with four monitors, and the ALL go black, which makes the NSD process more heart-stopping than with a single monitor! See a picture of my monitor configuration at Coexistence of Lotus Notes releases 7 and 8 on the same Windows 7 system (using the new Windows XP Mode) or here’s another picture:

This great white shark has its eyes on you for a snack! (Click to enlarge.)(click to view a larger image)

Hey now IBM, when there’s a Notes crash causing NSD to fire up, I expect to retain full concurrent access to all other Windows applications and not to be shut out of them. Get rid of those terrible blackouts, for goodness sake. Kill Notes softly!

I’ve just listened to the latest Taking Notes podcast -- Episode 105: 2010.01.07 - An Interview with Mary Beth Raven and Julie Forgo from the IBM Lotus UX Team and I don’t recall this ugly and intolerable NSD behavior getting a mention. It’s something that IBM Lotus UX teams needs to address ASAP.

What do the rest of you Notes aficionados think about the way that NSD interacts?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

This laptop accessory has so many possible uses

You simply MUST read through all of the user comments to appreciate the vast number of applications for this novel accessory.

Get it from Amazon: Laptop Steering Wheel Desk or go to Wheelmate Laptop Steering Wheel Desk WM-4106 at Cyberguys!

It’s probably quite popular with the auto repair industry, I’d say.

Lotus Notes documentation no-shows

I continue to come across Lotus Notes applications (databases) which have no “Help About” or “Help Using” documentation. To me, this is unforgivable, gross negligence almost!

I absolutely loathe the following error when I try to view Help About (or Help Using):


Some of you do the right thing, I know. But as for the rest of you, please spend a minute or two and and tell us in as little as a meaningful a sentence or two what your application is all about and how to use it. (If you have some other way of providing Help documentation, at least provide a link to this in these two design elements.)

I’m expecting too much, I suppose. Shouldn’t still be so idealistic, eh? … Consider the following recent observation, then:

Click the thumbnail to see a larger image.

Attribution: Geek & Poke – We All Had Our Dreams

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

IT has been forty years for me!

Where were you forty years ago, on 5th January 1970?

For me, it was my first day with IBM Australia, a big switch from high school chemistry teaching. I stayed with IBM into the 1990s, long enough to join the Quarter Century Club, before voluntarily accepting an early retirement package.

None of my kids were born, but the eldest was on her way, so 1970 was an auspicious year for me and my wife.

Over the years at IBM I worked with a wide range of industries and IBM systems: time sharing, mainframe, real-time process control, enterprise networking (SNA), AIX (in the mid-1980s -- IBM’s version of UNIX, before Linux ever appeared on the scene), the IBM PC, and more.

I was longest  involved with small business systems: the IBM Rochester, Minnesota, line of products: System/3, System/34, System/36, and especially the fabulous System/38 plus its follow-on the AS/400 (which I supported throughout the Asia/Pacific region).

I didn’t give up the IT industry after retiring from IBM and since the mid-1990s have been an “independent  consultant” -- which is something of an oxymoron -- working with Lotus Notes (mainly) plus assorted other technologies.

What does the future hold? Well, things are still looking rosy: (^o^)

hope and expect to spend a few more years in the IT industry, before finishing up in that great Recycle Bin in the sky.

The only thing about the future of IT that I can be sure about is that it will be considerably different from the present. Hardware will inevitably continue to get cheaper and yet more powerful.

For example, in 1970 the IBM System/3 was released worldwide (in 1969 in the USA). It came with 4 Kb of magnetic core memory (that’s Kilobytes, nit Megabytes), optionally expandable to 8, 12, 16 Kb. There was a fixed 12-inch single disk platter with 2.5 Mb capacity, or you could opt for 5.0, 7,5 or a missive total of 10.0 Mb of disk. It hade a revolutionary 96-column card reader-punch (three rows of 32 columns, and was about one-third the size of the original generation of 80-column Hollerith-style cards).

And it was very expensive, I can't remember exactly how much but it was tens of thousands of 1970-value dollars. Crikey, even an entry-level $50 mobile phone probably has greater processing power than that! So I expect that forty years from today a similar comparison will be able to be made: quantum computing at enormous speeds, petabytes of storage capacity in ultra-tiny devices (able to be misplaced with ever-increasing ease), and who knows what other advances?

On the other hand, and being pragmatic (not cynical), it’s on the people/software side where I reckon things won’t improve so much. It’s the human interface that will forever remain the weakest and most fragile.

So I confidently predict that a large proportion of applications will continue to be poorly designed and programmed. IT projects will continue to underdeliver or fail at an alarming rate – but unfortunately those responsible will continue to wriggle their way out of responsibility and move on to other projects where they’ll can apply the same mismanagement techniques!

Ah well, ‘nuff said, you've gotta always look on the bright side of life

What do YOU think the IT industry will be like in forty years from now?

What triumphs (and catastrophes) are coming down the track? Microsoft versus Apple versus Google versus IBM versus who knows what?

Will we make it past 2014?

If we get past the point of Google domination in this second decade, will we survive 2038 or any other future stumbling points?

Anyway, whatever turns up make sure that you “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” won’t you! … Watch Bobby McFerrin’s famous rendition here. (Try here for a completely different song on the same theme, if you’re a fan of The aliens.)

Whatever happens, don’t feel blue: (^o^)

UPDATE: Worried about what the future might hold?  Here’s a good set of tips by Josh Kaufman, over at The Personal MBA: Don’t Make Predictions – Be Prepared for Anything