Monday, September 20, 2010

The Lotus Sandbox is available again, with bananas

Users of the decommissioned Lotus Sandbox need lament no more, it has been brought back to life and is available for downloads once again (no thanks to IBM).

I recently commented about its passing and yesterday there was a reply posted with the good news.

You’ll find that it has a new “banana home” courtesy of Peter von Stöckel and you can see the Sandbox again here.

Go read Peter’s blog posts about it at Notes.Net Sandbox and Notes.Net Sandbox, part 2

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Big Blue’s Lotus sandbox blues? Give us back our biscuits!

Add to the list of unfathomable corporate decisions IBM’s recent making unavailable the much-loved Lotus Sandbox archive, see here, please go read it.

I do refer to the Sandbox several times per year but haven’t visited for a month or two, and was only alerted to this sad action by Thierry Cayla’s R.I.P posting and I agree with him that it’s not one of IBM’s smartest moves.

So I sent of the following via the developerWorks feedback link on the Sandbox page and maybe you’ll consider doing so too if you’d like to see the Sandbox archive revived.

Here’s my developerWorks feedback to IBM (why not have a go yourself?) …

Bring back the Lotus Sandbox. There were still valuable downloads on it that aren't available elsewhere (such as Consequently  decommissioning the Sandbox will prove to be a disservice to the Lotus Notes/Domino community. Even if you don't actively maintain but merely leave it there as a "legacy" resource, it will remain of value to the Notes community. Could you not afford the trivial expense of leaving it there? Surely your budget is not so constrained that you can't afford the disk space and download bandwidth?
- - - - - - - - - - -

With the boilerplate response: Thank you for giving developerWorks your feedback. Your comments give developerWorks important information that we will use to further improve our design.

Time will tell if they do anything positive about this unimpressive decision.

This reminds me a bit of IBM Australia’s decision, back around  1989 or 1990 -- when admittedly the economy was getting a bit tough, and the usual aggressive annual sales growth targets were being missed -- to stop supplying free biscuits (cookies, if you prefer) in the IBM coffee rooms across the nation. Rumour had it that the biscuits were costing IBM Australia the not inconsiderable amount of some $150,000 per annum (or maybe it was $250,000), so it was probably an understandable decision for the times.

But I can’t see how merely keeping online the Lotus Sandbox could be imposing any such unbearable cost on IBM Corporation.

So IBM,  please reconsider, and make available again the “knowledge biscuits” stored in the Lotus Sandbox.

Help me, concerning the Lotus Domino Designer 8.5.2 Help database

I remain puzzled about the Domino Designer 8.5.2 Help database, which only seems to mention the previous 8.5.1 point release. This is what I found when I opened it:


This is the file help85_designer.nsf that I opened from the Help folder.

Thinking that somehow I might have “stuffed up” the installation (even though I deliberately installed the new release into a brand new folder and not simply overwritten the folder that I had used for release 8.5.1), I contacted one of my clients and he reported the same.

Is this a faux pas on my part, or were there simply no new application design features in the Notes/Domino 8.5.2 release which the IBM information developers found worthy of writing about?

Am I going crazy? … The answer to that rhetorical question is undoubtedly a resounding “Yes!” … But maybe I’m not the only one?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Is there an offline version of The Lotus XPages Domino Object Maps (for v 8.5.2 and 8.5.1)?

The online interactive Domino Object Maps for versions 8.5.1 and 8.5.2 are very useful Help resources for the for Lotus Notes/Domino developer.

In case you missed it, they’re accessible here:

I wanted to make a offline copy, mainly to get snapper performance, by downloading each of the above-referenced pages and all their sub-pages. But this didn’t work, with many of the sub-URLs pointing to other pages external to the base URLs.

Can anybody provide a method for making/obtaining a working offline copy of each map structure in its entirety?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Installing Lotus Notes 8.5.2 on Windows 7 – a cautionary tale

I wonder what Pseudolus would have thought if he had encountered this “gotcha” while installing Lotus Notes 8.5.2 (assuming that they had PCs in ancient Rome, of course).

If you’re not sure who Pseudolus is, go take a look into A funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and have a giggle or two, because you shouldn’t take life seriously all the time. There are some video snippets listed on this Google search results page, here’s one of them:

Anyway, let me now amuse and divert you. Here’s something for everybody, comedy tonight! …
Last weekend I eagerly downloaded IBM Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5.2, uninstalled version 8.5.1 and proceeded to install the new version of each.

The Lotus Domino 8.5.2 server installed like a dream, in the usual 5 minutes or so that it takes – it certainly is painlessly easy, a dream ride (especially compared with installing many other server products).

Then I moved on to installing Lotus Notes Client, Designer, Administrator desktop product. I expected this to take a little longer, perhaps ten minutes or so (including the Lotus Symphony productivity suite). I had no problems with any of the beta versions of 8.5.2 and expected no issues with the gold code version. But this is where I suspect Pseudolus or one of his zany associates must have decided to add a bit of spice to my weekend!

The normal initial dialog box showed up, namely:

As an aside, this is one of the very few installer panels out there which clearly and explicitly explains what it’s going to do with the extracted files. There are some installers which do not make it clear whether they’re merely going to extract the files into a program directory from which they are executable without any further ado, or whether the extracted files will be used to install the software (and also what will happen to the extracted files once the installation is over, for example automatically cleaning up by deleting these files). So congratulations to IBM for coming up with a perfect example of how this installer dialog box should be worded. Other developers of installer dialogs should take note.

As you can see, I decided that I wanted to keep the installer files and replaced the default generic name with a meaningful name (LotusNotesDesignerAdmin852) for the folder where I could finf then for subsequent installations. Note that my Windows temporary directory is on the F: drive and this drive has about 50 GB of free space, far more than the Notes installation should require, so I expected no dramas to ensue.

But guess what? I was wrong! A few seconds later I got this:

At this stage, clicking the OK button caused the installer to exit.

Now, I simply couldn’t understand why the installer wanted to use the C: drive when I had told it to extract the files to the F: drive, but took a look at the C: drive nevertheless. It’s a logical drive (on a far bigger physical drive) which currently has more than 23 GB free of its total 80 GB size.

So why on earth did the installer claim “There is not enough space on drive C:\ to extract this package” since the extracted package is much smaller than this?

Still very puzzled, and in no mood to spend more time that Saturday trying work out why this contradictory fatal error had occurred, I went to my secondary Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit) system and extracted the package there. As I had hoped and expected, this time the very same extraction phase proceed to completion, so I copied the extracted files over the network and was able to install the Lotus Notes 8.5.2 clients (with Lotus Symphony) in the expected ten minutes or so without further drama, and get on with some development/testing work. I’m still not sure why it worked on the secondary Windows 7 system but not the primary one (a subtle difference in Windows security configuration has crept in, or some such thing, I suppose).

Later on, I examined the C: drive’s contents for any possible cause for the wayward drive space claim. While this has nothing to do with Lotus Notes, I discovered to my chagrin that there’s a folder C:\Windows\winsxs that holds more than 30 GB of executables. I kid you not. Talk about Windows systems becoming  bloated!

It turns out that this folder, introduced with Windows XP, is the container for the “side-by-side” assemblies used to ameliorate the “DLL hell” issue for which Windows is infamous. Read more at Wikipedia or here. And mine holds over 20 GB in total contents. ... Crikey, fair crack of the whip, and stone the flaming crows (to coin three Australian sayings).

But this still didn’t explain why the “not enough space on drive C:\” error message was raised, and I remained puzzled. Until this morning, that is, when it suddenly hit me that this is one of those misleading messages, the wording being a “red herring” that causes you to waste time looking for causation in the wrong places.

It wasn’t an “out of space” error, but an authorization problem. It’s one of those situations, all too common with Windows 7 (and I suspect Windows Vista too, but I skipped over this Windows release so have no direct experience).

I find that Windows 7 can be extremely fussy about what you can do with folders and files on the C: drive, and any software you develop should be careful about what you expect your users to do with the C: drive (actually, with the Windows “system drive” which might not always be the C: drive). Always carefully check that you application will work properly (without failing due to authorization issues) if it touches a Windows 7 system drive!

The solution to quite a few Windows 7 errors is to execute a program using the “Run as administrator” capability, like this:


If you encounter the same error, this is all you have to do to get back on track. I hope this tip saves you some heartburn -- and that you enjoyed a look at “A funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” too.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Best desktop search tools (reviews - NetworkWorld, July 2010)


I’ve been flat out and haven’t had a chance to work on my Searching for Desktop Search blog for ages and ages.

I thought that I’d mention that NetworkWorld has recently published some desktop search reviews:

Best desktop search tools

I’ve tested many (at least a dozen) desktop search programs for Windows over the last five or more years, including X1 and Copernic search, and I could really tell some stories about them!

But at the moment only have dtSearch Desktop installed on my 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate. Currently, I’m actively using only Windows 7 search (when I migrated from Windows XP as soon as Windows 7 was released in August last year, I discarded some of the other desktop search programs).

While Windows 7 search has many good features, one thing that I really dislike about it the ability to readily enter advanced searches (with Boolean search arguments, etc), as  you can using dtSearch like this:


All that Windows 7 gives you is this:


or this inscrutable nonsense at the top right of Windows Explorer:


What Windows 7 desktop search badly needs is an approachable query interface, say like Google’s “Advanced Search” form:


But one distinct advantage for Windows 7 is that it’s built in, and the indexer works unobtrusively and continuously in the background. I find its performance impact to be unnoticeable, and due to the continuous “on the fly” indexing you can query documents added just a few seconds ago.

More about this, and the some distinct advantages of dtSearch, some other time when I have a moment or two to put down my findings.

Laptops in Love – Portables Amoureux

A classical tale of love, hardware-wise, in the French style. … “L’amour toujours” as experienced by two laptop computers.

It’s been out at YouTube for a couple of years, but is quite cute and worth a view. Be forewarned that the tragic conclusion may cause a little weeping!

Catch it here or watch it below: