Date: Wednesday, February 22
Time: 2:00 PM to 2:45 PM
Location: Moscone West, Level 2 – Room 2006
Come see us!
IBM Connect 2017 starts in exactly one month, and the early bird special ends tomorrow. But I can still save you some money. Reach out to me or any other IBM Champion, and we can give you a special promotion code to use during the registration to save you $100 off the conference fee. If you use the code before the early bird rate expires tomorrow evening (Jan 20) you get $300 off!
If you haven’t registered yet, it is time to do that. The block of rooms at the special conference rate will only be available a few more days. Nearby hotels are also filling up it seems, but you can still score some good deals.
If you go to Connect, don’t miss me co-presenting The Great Code Givaway 11: It’s Back! with my fellow IBM Champion and friend Rob Novak. Our session is currently scheduled for Wednesday February 22 at 2pm in Moscone West, Level 2, Room 2006. I hope to see you in San Francisco in a month!
I will be speaking at IBM Connect in San Francisco now in February. Rob Novak has resurrected “The Great Code Giveaway” and asked me to present it together with him. Who would turn down that opportunity? So some time between February 21 and 23 you can see Rob and me on stage at Moscone West. The exact time and location has not been announced yet.
I hope to see you in San Francisco and that you will find our presentation and code useful!
A few hours ago IBM announced the 2017 IBM Champions for ICS during the Dominopoint conference in Italy. This year 123 were picked, including 44 new Champions. An IBM Champion is a non-IBMer who evangelize IBM solutions and share their knowledge at conferences, on blogs, in forums, and in other ways. Congratulations to everyone picked, and a special welcome to the new Champions!
I was fortunate enough to be picked for a fourth year. It is a huge honor. Thank you Amanda, Libby and of course IBM.
On a related note, Amanda Bauman last week described how she and the IBM team used IBM Connections as a tool to reduce the time needed by the selection committee from 6 weeks to just 3. This is interesting reading, as it shows how Connections can be used for collaboration all over the world and save a lot of time.
This time, I pulled all of the unique nominees into an Ideation Blog in a dedicated IBM Champion selection community on Connections Cloud.
Each nominee had their own entry in the Ideation blog, complete with all of the nomination data received for that nominee. Including twitter handles, blog links, YouTube, and a listing from various people about their contributions. Over 70 IBMers were invited to review, validate contributions, and post their comments to the Ideation Blog. Where an IBMer was listed as a reference, that IBMer was invited to vote, comment, and support your nomination.
Connections is a really powerful tool, and I wish I could have convinced my old workplace to start using it. I pushed for it for years, but it was never adopted, for different reasons.t is a
Registration for IBM Connect 2017 is open. The conference, in the past known and beloved as Lotusphere, has changed some. It takes place a month later than normaland has moved from Orlando where it did take place for the last 20+ years. The new location is the Moscone Center in San Francisco and the dates are February 20-23, 2017.
Another change to the format is that the conference start Monday evening instead of Sunday. Otherwise the agenda looks very similar to what we got used to in the past. The list of session has not been published yet, the final selection of speakers will be made later this month. But I don’t doubt there will be plenty of great sessions woth attending.
I hope to be able to go, this is a great conference not only for learning but also for networking and socializing with other professionals who work with the IBM Collaborative and Watson products.
I hope to see you in San Francisco in February!
I love using the free icon set Font Awesome in my web applications, and I know I am not alone. A new major version is in the works, and the creators are using Kickstarter to help fund it. Font Awesome version 5 will still be free, but as an early backer you get the Pro versions, with over a thousand extra icons, and much more. And the price? Only $20 until the end of the Kickstarter tomorrow Monday at Noon Eastern time. After this the Pro version will be $40 and each of the currently 18 icon packs (each with 30 icons) will be $10. So this is a substantial savings.
If you are doing any kind of web development and not already using it, you should take a closer look at Font Awesome.
The other day I received a packet from Switzerland. Inside I found two calculators from SwissMicros. This is a company who created and sell clones of the famous HP Voyager series (HP-11C, HP-12C, HP-15C and HP-16C) as well as a version to emulate HP-41.
I received one full-size DM-15L (which was introduced just last year) as well as the original credit card sized DM-15. I picked this model as I still have my original HP-15C that I got in 1983 so I could compare them side-by-side.
SwissMicros have made an amazing job. I have just started playing with them, but they work just like the original.
The attention to detail is pretty amazing. On the back of the larger DM-15L there is even the same set of formulas, functions and error messages as on the original. There are of course some differences. The case is not plastic but titanium, and held together by four screws. The keys are flatter that on the classic HP keyboard, but the feel of the keyboard is almost identical, something that really impressed me. On the credit card sized DM-15 the keys are almost totally flat, but still easy to use despite the small size.
There is also a USB port to allow users to connect to the computer to update the firmware or even access the content, something that did not exist back when the orignal calculators were introduced in the early 1980’s. SwissMicros also claim to have fixed some of the bugs found in the original calculators. There is also more memory available by using a special firmware. The fact that you can upgrade the firmware is very nice. These days we are used to that, but back in the 80’s that was unheard of.
Another neat feature is that there are 3 different fonts to choose from. The original of course only had one font. The letters on the display are a little bit larger than the original, making them easy to read. The calculators also run at a much higher speed than the original at 48 MHz, but the speed can be slowed down to 12 MHz with a special key kombination. The batteries used are CR2032 instead of three button cells of the original. The 2011 HP-15C Limited Edition used two CR2032 batteries. You have to open the case (remove the four screws) of the SwissMicros calculators to replace the battery, instead of just popping of a small plastic door. I think it’s a good improvement as that little door was prone to get lost.
Thanks to the metal case the DM-15L is slightly heavier than my old HP-15C, but not by much. It weights 130 gram (4.5 oz) vs 118 gram (4.1 oz), with the credit card sized DM-15 coming in at 57 g (2 oz).
The price is a bargain if you compare with eBay, where the originals often ar sold for $300-400 or even more. The full-size L-models are all 119 CHF (Swiss Francs) and the credit card sized models are 89 CHF. The DM-41 models are each 10 CHF more. This translates to almost exactly the same price in US dollar as I write this.
So what is my verdict? I am pleasantly surprised. Both models are very nice and the quality of engineering is what one would expect from Switzerland. The case of both model feels really nice, and thanks to the titanium they seem almost indestructable. I would not be worried keeping any of them in my pocket for daily use.
The full size models come with a black case very similar to the original one. For the credit card models there are cases available for ordering separately.
Is it worth $90 or $120 to own them? Absolutely. I still use my HP-15C almost daily, and not having to worry about losing it or having it damaged is worth a lot. Or perhaps you got rid or lost your original calculator and feel nostalgic and want to once more experience what many call the best calculator ever made. Yes, it is not the original HP, but it is pretty close and to an acceptable cost. And the credit card sized models are pretty amazing, showing how far we have come in 30 years.
Disclaimer: I got the calculators for review from SwissMicro after they contacted me and offered to send me two samples. If I would have known about them earlier I would probably have purchased at least one.
IBM has opened the nominations for IBM Champions for 2017. This is how they describe the program:
The IBM Champion program recognizes innovative thought leaders in the technical community and rewards these contributors by amplifying their voice and increasing their sphere of influence. An IBM Champion is an IT professional, business leader, developer, or educator who influences and mentors others to help them make best use of IBM software, solutions, and services.
So if you know someone who have helped you or who deserve to be honored for their committment, go and nominate her or him! I have a list of people I plan to nominate myself.
A few weeks ago I visited the town of Antigua in Guatemala for 5 days. My wife used to live in Guatemala, working for a non-profit organization back in the late 1990’s, and she wanted to show me how beautiful the country is.
Of course my wife was absolutely right. The town was colorful and relaxing, people were very nice and the food was delicious. When I in the past heard “Guatemala” I thought of rain forests and hot and humid conditions. But in Antigua the temperature was perfect, about 70° F (21° C) during the day and 55° F (13° C) at night. We slept with open windows every night, with a view of one of the nearby volcanoes. No need for air conditioning, we could just enjoy the clean fresh air.
But what is really amazing is how resourceful people in Guatemala are. They reuse things in a very clever way, with the most striking being the “chicken bus“, the local transportation system between cities.
When American school buses get old they are sold at auctions for a couple of thousand dollars. Many of them are purchased by Guatemalans who drive them down through Mexico to Guatemala. There they are fitted with upgraded powerful diesel engines (often the same ones used to power semi-trucks), repainted and outfitted with additional lights (sometimes neon lights), roof racks for cargo and plenty of chrome. Often they get a new hood from a semi-truck as well.
The US truck manufacturer International used to have a truck manufacturing plant in Guatemala, but it was closed down some years ago. This left the country with an abundance of very competent mechanics, especially diesel engine mechanics. They are now passing their knowledge on to the next generation. On an interesting note, IC Bus, one of the major manufacturer of the yellow American school buses, is a division within International and the school buses share much of the design with the International trucks.
And this is what the end result looks like:
So what does this have to do with IBM Notes and Domino, you may ask? Well, the same way as you can take a boring and generic workhorse like a yellow school bus and give it a second life by converting it into a colorful and useful source of transportation, you can modernize and update your old and perhaps a bit dated Notes application to something new exciting and attractive that your users would like to use.
Just like the mechanics in Guatemala replaces the old worn-out engine with a new powerful truck engine, your Domino data engine can be replaced with a new engine, for example from LDC Via, if you want to get away from Domino as a server platform. But Domino is a very competent and powerful NoSQL database/server and will work well for most users.
So like old worn out yellow school buses, your Notes applications can be given a new life as well and run for many more years, looking attractive and brand new again.
Do you want to modernize your Notes and Domino applications?
Let me and Demand Better Solutions help you!
As some may already know I was recently laid off after 14 years as a Notes and Domino developer at my workplace. I suspected for a while that some staff reduction would be coming soon, but I was a bit surprised that I was included since I am the only Notes developer in the company.
I had for a while considered to do consulting and freelance development. My wife as well as several friends have been encouraging me for years. So this was just the push I needed.
I am starting my own company, Demand Better Solutions, where I will focus on Notes and Domino Development, application modernization and migration as well as building brand new web applications and websites.
I realize that me being laid off is just a business decision. It is not personal. Several of the business critical applications at my former employer are developed using IBM Notes, but the executives have for years been talking about moving away from the platform. Of course they don’t realize the huge amount of work needed to do this, but never the less this was/is their ultimate goal.
The reason is that they feel (based on what they hear from other executives) that Notes is old technology. The fact that IBM has been slow in modernizing the interface, and that many of the templates still look like back in 1999 when version 5.0 was released does not help this perception.
Last fall all our email at my old job was moved to Outlook, and ever since I have heard users complaining about missing Notes and certain functionality they were used to. A lot of integration between Notes applications and Notes mail were also lost, and I had to re-create it in different ways. You often hear stories about people complaining about the Notes client, but most of our users wanted nothing but to get it back…
My old employer also uses Visual FoxPro, a product where the last version was released in 2004. It has officially been discontinued by Microsoft, but we use it for several important applications. So I don’t think that even a product being discontinued is driving a huge number of migrations. It is the perception of how modern the product is that matters. And that perception is almost 100% the way the product looks.
To a user the interface is the product.
Create a modern looking application and nobody will question (or care) what tool was used to build it.
The last 3-4 years I have been learning new web technologies, like jQuery, Bootstrap, Ajax, JSON. I have been able to use much of that at work, as well as in several side projects. I also started learning C# and .net. After the layoff I sat down and started looking at (among others) php and mySQL as well as researched frameworks like AngularJS.
As a developer I have to keep up with new technologies, or I will be left behind. But it is hard when you work full-time, have side work and then have a family and house to take care of. Having some free time the last few weeks enabled me to focus on learning some new things.
I don’t think the Notes client will be developed much more, almost everything is moving towards web applications these days anyway. But IBM Domino is something totally different. It is an very capable and powerful development platform. With some skills in web technologies and a good understanding of the Domino platform one can build some amazing applications.
IBM recently released FixPack 7 and announced that the current version of Notes and Domino will be supported for at least five more years, until September 30, 2021. New functionality will be provided through Feature Packs, not version upgrades.
But Domino is just one tool of many. I am looking at LDC Via as another data store, as it very closely resembles Domino with a MongoDB-based NoSQL backend. Salesforce also has many similarities with Domino. The transition would therefore be fairly easy. AngularJS is another popular technology, with version 2.0 soon to be released. And we of course have IBM’s BlueMix offering, where MongoDB is just one of many technologies offered.
As a developer we need to learn new things constantly, the language or tools we use does really not matter. We should pick the proper tool, whatever fits the project.
Do you want to modernize your Notes and Domino applications?
Let me and Demand Better Solutions help you!