Seeking questions for the “Ask IBM” session at Connect 2016

Each year I like to gather questions from the IBM Collaboration Software community that I think would have widespread interest and ask them at the “Ask IBM” session at IBM Connect.  (In the past it was Lotusphere and the “Ask the Developers” and “Ask the Product Managers” sessions.)  This is a call for submissions from you, the community, to share with me any questions you would like to have asked, but you are not able to attend and ask yourself or don’t want to stand at the mic.  Please post them as a comment to this post.  I will gather them up and try to get the answers to as many as I can.  One of the things about being an IBM Champion for Social Business is a commitment to contributing to the community.  Watch for the answers shortly after the conference.

Here is a sample of questions from last year:
Recap of Ask IBM session (Ask the Developers and Ask the PMs) at IBM ConnectED / Lotusphere 2015

Changes in DeveloperWorks leading demise of GreenHouse?

As posted by Gabriella Davis and Chris Miller, it appears that Greenhouse is going away.  The content, or at least some of it, is moving to DeveloperWorks.  But it appears that the changes reach further than that.  DeveloperWorks is also undergoing major changes as announced by Sandy Carter.

DeveloperWorks Premium.

You get $1700 worth of stuff for the low price of $399 per year. That includes access to Bluemix, softlayer, and even a free voucher for a certification test (usually $200).  If you’re going to be taking a certification test soon, you might consider spending the extra $200 and getting a premium DeveloperWorks account too.

(CORRECTION: The website has since been updated to describe the certification test as “Complimentary certification test for IBM Certified Application Developer Certification”, not simply a test voucher for any test.)

I see the long term goal of combining Greenhouse and DeveloperWorks. But I’m wondering what will be lost in the process vs. what will be gained.  Change is great when it is an improvement, but learning to navigate a new site can frustrate and lose users.

As they say, a rolling stone gathers no moss; also a frequently moving website gathers no followers.  GreenHouse has been growing by about 1500 new users per month.  How many of the 150,000 Greenhouse members will be lost in the transition?

OK IBM, be sure to tell me when I need to update my article on instructions for downloading the Connections Plugins and when I will need to update my Greenhouse Sametime Community configuration settings.

A migration to Google: week 1

I will follow up later with more details on the migration experience, but here is a quick glimpse into the users’ reactions the first week after switching a company from Notes to Google.
How do I know if my reply has the history or not?
How do I reply with the attachments and then edit the attachment before sending it back?
Do I have mail? It doesn’t really tell me when I have mail? I keep having to hit Refresh to see if I have mail.
Why do I have to go to the tab with my email to see my instant messages?
How do I see if someone is online in Hangouts?
I keep missing when people IM me in Hangouts. How do I make it pop to the front?
Where did you migrate my journal entries that I kept in my Notes journal?
My todos (tasks) were migrated, but now they all show up on the date they are due instead of the date they are supposed to start. Can you fix that?
All I see is a Send button. There isn’t a Send and File.. How do I Send a message and File it into a folder (label) at the same time?
I really like the search. But how do I sort the inbox by sender?
How do I know if I am in my personal gmail account or my work account? This is confusing.

If I get a meeting invitation, how do I counter with another time?
The “View on Google Calendar” link within a meeting invitation just opens the invitation details. How do I check my calendar to see my availability before accepting a meeting invitation?
How do I make files on my computer open in Google Docs when I double-click them?
How do I recall a message?
How do I send an attachment over 25MB to an external recipient?

In general, the users say it works OK for mail. That is the core of what they are using.  The file sharing via Drive is a new process for them, but being adopted for internal sharing. Not well received for external sharing. Calendaring & Scheduling and instant messaging are getting the biggest complaints. More questions keep coming. The answers to most of these are not what they want to hear.  If you are planning a migration of any sort, be sure to thoroughly test the edge cases. That has proven to be where most of the issues are coming from and impacting business processes.  This makes sense. I have often heard executives refer to email as a commodity.  And the core of delivering messages from sender to recipient is just that. The question that should be asked is how complete and fine-tuned are the portfolio of services incorporated into that core?

Exactly what does it mean to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean?

The Shell oil rig Polar Pioneer left the Port of Seattle yesterday after being briefly delayed by the Kayaktivists who attempted to block it (King5 News video).

Protestors blocking Polar Pioneer from leaving Seattle.

Protestors blocking Polar Pioneer from leaving Seattle.

A month ago, protestors gathered to protest Shell Oil docking the oil rig Polar Pioneer at the Port of Seattle where they made preparations to go to the Arctic Ocean to drill for oil.

Shell NO! protestors

Shell NO! protestors

I attended that event, not so much to protest as to get an understanding of the issue and to get a chance to see the behemoth rig up close. At 400 feet tall, it towers over everything else in the port.  What I came away with was an Oh Sh*t! moment.

Crab fishing ship

Crab fishing ship “Wizard” from “Deadliest Catch” docked in Seattle.

Picture this scene:
It’s early September.  Fall is just beginning to arrive for most of us. But in the Arctic Ocean it is a different story.  Winter is never far away there. In the Bering Sea, The Discovery Channel’s  “Deadliest Catch” is about to begin filming its next season. Wikipedia describes this TV show as “[This] series … documents the dangers of being on a boat in the Bering Sea, in the midst of some of the coldest and stormiest waters on earth, where even a minor problem may become complex with the nearest port often hundreds of miles away.”

Crabbing ship

Crabbing ship “Wizard” of “Deadliest Catch” docked in Seattle

Meanwhile, 1000 miles to the North, in the Chukchi Sea, the storms are already raging as the Shell oil rig Polar Pioneer prepares to shut down drilling operations and head back to Seattle, WA before the ice traps it there. The ice pack is already quickly growing, making navigation more and more hazardous.  Soon the Chukchi Sea will be completely impassable until next June.

Area of Polar ice cap

Arctic Ocean is covered with ice most of the year.

The Chukchi Sea is the sea just north of the Bering Strait that separates Russia and Alaska. This part of the Arctic Ocean is only navigable 4 months of the year.  Winter is fast approaching and already the pack ice is making the ocean treacherous for ships, particularly oil rigs.

Polar Pioneer oil rig heading to Chukchi Sea

Polar Pioneer oil rig heading to Chukchi Sea

The stakes are high for Shell Oil Company and they want to stay for as long as they can. But an early-season storm rolls in and the driving storm rips the Polar Pioneer from its oil well.   Oil begins gushing out of the open well and into the sea much like what happened in the Gulf of Mexico with the Deepwater Horizon.  But unlike the Deepwater Horizon which was only 50 miles offshore in the calm, warm waters of the Gulf, the Polar Pioneer is in the remotest reaches of the Arctic Ocean. The US Coast Guard ship, Healy,

their only ice breaker in the North Pacific, is stationed in Seattle, WA, over 3000 miles away. It took 3 months to cap the oil well in the Deepwater Horizon disaster which released 210 million gallons of oil.  But here in the Arctic, it will be at least another 8 months before crews can even attempt to return to cap the oil well drilled by the Polar Pioneer.


Icebreaker “Healy” in the foreground docked in Seattle this weekend.

Once they finally begin the cleanup, the effort needed is overwhelming. Over that 8+ month period, crude oil would permeate the frozen sea ice and get carried far off before the ice melts and releases the oil into the ocean once again. And that oil would be released from the melting ice at a time when sea life is most vulnerable – just as the whales and other migratory species are returning to raise their young in the otherwise nutrient-rich Arctic waters.

Some species of whales go without food for as much as 5 months while they wait out the winter in the warmer Southern waters and give birth.  They will be depending on the food to be there when they return to the Arctic in the Spring.  Other whale species, like the narwhal and the beluga, stay in the Arctic all winter long, surviving by finding the fractures in the ice to reach the surface for air.  At times they may be confined to one small rift in the ice for months, unable to swim to another as they are too far apart.  If the oil spill gathers in these fractures, the whales will all be killed, having no place to escape.  Similarly, ringed seals survive the winter by constantly carving and maintaining a hole in the ice so they have a place to breathe.  And the polar bears that eat the ringed seals would also suffer the consequences.  An oil spill under the winter Arctic ice would be catastrophic by orders of magnitude worse than anything we have experienced before.

Unlike the Deepwater Horizon spill, where the oil well was much deeper underwater and “confined” within the protected waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Chukchi Sea is relatively shallow with much stronger currents and violent weather, quickly dispersing the oil over a much broader area. It would choke the relatively narrow Bering Strait, the single entry point for all life migrating from the Pacific Ocean into the Arctic.  The devastation of a spill there would make the Deepwater Horizon spill insignificant by comparison. And no amount of fines imposed on Shell Oil could compensate for the destruction. Even Lloyd’s of London warns against the risk.

The scenario I described here is not at all far-fetched and there are many more scenarios that they are unprepared to handle.  It may take 5 or 10 or even 20 years for a major spill to occur.  But when it eventually does, the consequences will be catastrophic.  Like Adam and Eve with the apple, just because oil may be there doesn’t mean it should be taken. The Kayaktivists have done well to draw attention to this issue and begin to get the message out. Awareness is the first step. The Sierra Club is working with Congress to get this activity banned. Visit their pages to see how you can help support the cause.

Related topics:
Garbage Island: An ocean full of Plastic –
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

End of the Line: How Overfishing is changing the World

Footnote: Applications used to manage the complex data gathered in the cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon spill were created in IBM Lotus Notes.

IBM Connect 2016 (Lotusphere 2016) Has been announced

Back in Orlando, just a few miles from our usual spot!

What do Apple, Twitter and Facebook all have in common?

appletwitterfacebook                    linkedin

IBM is doing some interesting things to blur the line between consumer and business computing and the pace they are moving at has accelerated like a Mad Max roadster on nitro.  In the past year they have joined forces with Twitter, Facebook, and most notably, Apple.  The partnerships all bring together complimentary products and services. The venture with Apple, in particular, is worth paying attention to. Apple has virtually no formal enterprise solutions, yet they still dominate the business world with mobile devices. IBM on the other hand, has MobileFirst, their set of mobile solutions for business.  Meanwhile, IBM  has no mobile or desktop hardware and OS, so it must rely on other vendors to provide that foundation. Combining the solutions from Apple and IBM makes for a compelling case against against Microsoft and Google. The one partnership that seems to be missing is LinkedIn.

Add to these partnerships with consumer-focused companies, IBM is doing some consumer focus of its own. They have just released IBM Verse, a new online email application intended to compete with the likes of Hotmail and Gmail, at least to get consumer adoption, with the intentions that it will become the first choice for business too.  While Verse is in the early stages, a steady stream of features are being added on a weekly or monthly basis.
All of these signs lead me to believe that after all these years of analysts and business partners urging and pleading, IBM finally recognizes that it needs to win the consumer first in order to win the business.
They have stepped up their marketing efforts at the same time, which is a treat for business partners.  Who knew that for several years now IBM has posted the largest revenue of  cloud services? (even over Amazon Web Services)
Yes, they still have work to do in marketing their web services.  Often I give demonstrations of IBM Connections Cloud, an ecosystem of software services comparable to Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Work, and I always get several people in the group asking “Why are they keeping this a secret?”

One final step IBM is taking is in making their solutions more attractive to small business, not just enterprise-scale organizations. Their solutions make a powerful case for businesses of all sizes now. I think the next year is going to be game-changing for IBM.  The surveys from 3 years ago are actually proving out.  IBM is proving why it was named one of the Four Horsemen of technology companies.

IBM partners with Twitter
IBM partners with Facebook
IBM expands partnership with Apple

New Mayor of Bothell follows old Mayor’s corrupt habits

Fellow Bothell, WA residents, Once again there are more signs of corruption within our city council, specifically surrounding Mayor Joshua Freed and his friend and business partner, current council member and Former Mayor Mark Lamb.

In case people have forgotten, in 2012, Lamb lied to us denying the allegations of having a 2-year-long affair with his secretary.

then later admitted to it.

At that time I posted that if he can’t be trusted to uphold his solemn oath of marriage, how could he possibly be expected to uphold his oath of political office?

Now Joshua Freed is recusing himself of matters of the city trying to purchase the Wayne golf course he and Mark Lamb have teamed up to try to buy and develop that property themselves.  The ongoing evidence of a lack of integrity and using their public office for personal gain is chronic and abhorrent.

Fortunately the citizens of Bothell have organized to see that this golf course becomes a protected greenway rather than a housing development.  See

Here are more links of interest regarding this issue:

Mark Lamb is a real estate attorney as stated in his Linkedin profile.
He represents clients in transactional and litigation matters in real estate and venture capital. Joshua Freed is a real estate developer as stated in his Linkedin profile.

It would appear that together they are doing business from the Bothell City Council dais.  This is not an isolated incident of not acting in Bothell’s best interests.  Let’s consider the purchase of a superfluous $52 million city hall with so much extra office space that the city doesn’t expect to need one entire floor of the 4 story building for decades to come (and by law can’t be leased out).  That purchase was driven through without a taxpayer vote.  Or the McMenamins project downtown where these two drove a vote to accept the several-hundred-page contract in less than 48 hours of receiving it.  Later it was revealed the “aquatic center” (which is desperately needed by the Northshore School District swimming & diving programs) was replaced with a wading pool in the contract.  I’m having trouble seeing how these two are on the Bothell City Council for altruistic reasons. Legitimate leadership would not allow these things to happen.

If you drive on any roads in the Bothell area, you will see what at first look like Joshua Freed campaign signs. But quickly you will notice it says “Impeach Joshua Freed for Conflict of Interest”.  There are two problems with this sign.  First, we don’t impeach him. We have a Recall.  Second, it should also include council member and Former Mayor Mark Lamb.

Be sure to visit for more details and show up at the city council meetings Tuesday nights to voice your opinion during the public input.

New versions of Connections plugins for Windows Desktop and Notes

If you work with IBM Connections or Connections Cloud Social, there are two cool plugins to install on your Computer. I have posted about these before, but new updates were published February 6, 2015. It’s time to download and distribute updates to your users. (BTW, you can use the Smart Upgrade tool to do this.)  There are two plugins.  The first one gives access to Connections from your Windows PC as if it were just another disk drive.  Check out the details and download from Greenhouse.

The second plugin is for your Notes client.  This one works on all Notes clients regardless of the operating system (Linux, Mac, Windows).

This gives you access to various components of Connections from within your Notes client.  Functionality is different for Connections Cloud Social users vs. Connections on-site.  Read the description on Greenhouse for details.

Get Out the Vote…For your pick of the 2016 edition of Lotusphere

Lotusphere, IBM Connect, IBM ConnectED.  Whatever you call it, There is a 4 question Anonymous survey asking for your feedback on what you would like to see in 2016.

It is done by Survey Monkey.  Go Here and speak your opinion.  My opinion is not so anonymous.  I find Las Vegas to be the most useless city in the country.

Recap of Ask IBM session (Ask the Developers and Ask the PMs) at IBM ConnectED / Lotusphere 2015

Each year I bring with me a large collection of questions and enhancement requests that I first vet in the Meet the Developers lab.  Those questions which I either don’t get a satisfactory answer or get an answer that I think others would like to hear, I will bring them to the Ask the Product Managers or Ask the Developers sessions.  Often questions would be asked in one session that really needed to be answered by someone in the other session.  That wasted time.  This year they combined the two sessions, which was great for streamlining the process and more people got to hear all the questions (and answers).  One other change on my part: I tried to provide most of my questions in advance, so they could have time to research the answer or at least make sure the right person was on stage to answer it.  (often the person who would have the answer wasn’t present.)  Yes, it does mean IBM isn’t so much “in the hot seat”, but this got more complete answers as a result, which is what we really want.

The room was smaller too, with only one aisle and thus, only one microphone.  I like this because it makes it easier for people to queue up to ask their questions. While I asked the first question, I made it a point to let others go ahead of me whenever they got in line.  This worked well as I was able to keep the conversation going with questions while waiting for people to come to the microphone to ask a question. Here is a list of my questions from this year and the responses I got for them. (as best I remember, anyway)

1.  Can we get a roadmap published for Connections Cloud?  (See this article for a detailed explanation)
I was able to provide this article in advance and the response was that they definitely see the point to my request and the value it would provide.  Expect to see this one addressed soon.

2. We need a migration path to Connections Cloud that removes all servers from on-site.  This requires a solution to 3 items:
– Mail-in databases and Rooms & Resources
– Importing Holidays
– A Relay Host service to route mail from on-site applications to the Internet
RESPONSE: We have had these requests by others and are actively working to address them.  The relay host presents additional challenges and may be more difficult to resolve.

3. The administrator console for Connections Cloud is fragmented and awkward to work with.  Authentication occurs in three places.  Can this be made more seamless and provide improved functionality for administrators, including such things as Message Tracking?
RESPONSE:  The request for Message Tracking had not been seen before, but that should be possible and makes sense to have.  We are going to work to improve the administration console too.

5. Once moved to Connections Cloud, the client version information is no longer maintained in the Domino Directory and there is no way to make Smart Upgrade work in SmartCloud Notes environment. Can these please be addressed?
RESPONSE:  We should be able to capture and push back the client version information.  As for the Smart Upgrade, they are using a new upgrade process with the browser plugin and expect to port that over so it will be available as a method for upgrading Notes clients in the future.

6. A fix is needed for overlaying Google calendars on the Notes calendar.  This broke several months ago when Google pushed out their new process for accessing calendars.  They had warned this was coming more than a year ago.
RESPONSE:  We have a fix, but it did not make it into the next Fix Pack.  We are in the process of determining how to make this available.

7. We need the ability to use groups from the Domino directory in the contact list in Connections Cloud Chat.
RESPONSE: Great recommendation.  The developers will look into making that happen. (I also spoke with the developer on this and was already thinking of how to solve this issue)

(asked in the lab only)  8. Administrators need a way to change the mail/calendar delegates for users in Connections Cloud.  Currently the process is very awkward and involves the admin logging in as the user to perform the delegation.  The developer flagged this one as a critical item and we should see a fix soon, so I did not ask this in the session.)

9. We need a graphical user interface for administering Connections (Thank you Ray Bilyk for asking this question!)
RESPONSE: I forgot exactly what they said.  If you remember, please post it in a comment.

10.  When will it be possible to launch the video chat from the embedded Sametime client in Notes?
RESPONSE:  I just don’t remember what was said here.  I got to ask so many questions this year, I felt like I was co-hosting the session.  That may be the closest I get to presenting at this conference.  I thought the overall attitude in the room was warmer and IBM was more receptive of the feedback from the people asking questions than in years past.  Next time I will be sure to record the audio of the session so I can give a more accurate recap.  If anyone has a recording of the session, please let me know.

Here are a few more questions I didn’t get to ask.

10. Allow voting down ideas in Connections
11. Allow viewing all ideas posted by a particular person in Connections
12. Provide a Top Innovators list in Connections, similar to

If you like these ideas and want to see them implemented, be sure to log into and find them and vote them up.  Also (and more importantly) open a PMR and ask that they add your company to the request for the SPR that I have already created for these.

SmartCloud Tip #8: When Person Docs don’t synch

I have encountered occasions in a hybrid environment where some person documents don’t appear in SmartCloud so they are not available for addressing mail and are not available for provisioning, as in the case of creating a new user.  The issue turned out to be that the entry in the Manager field on the Home/Work tab of the person document contained a long string of characters (about 40).  This prevented the document from getting synchronized with the directory in SmartCloud.  SmartCloud is designed so to avoid other problems, if there are any fields that can’t be synchronized, the whole document doesn’t.

So if names in your Domino Directory don’t appear in SmartCloud, review the fields for any unusual content that may be preventing it from synchronizing properly.

SmartCloud Tip #7: Notes BUILT-IN tool for migrating to SmartCloud

Want a simple method for migrating mail to SmartCloud? Maybe you are interested in moving to a Service-Only configuration, but were told you couldn’t migrate the data? Maybe you already completed a migration in a hybrid environment only to find one mailbox that was missed and needs to be migrated after the migration specialist is gone?
This process is embarrassingly simple and could make migration tools obsolete, at least for smaller environments. This puts self-service migrations in the hands of the end user. It could eliminate many billable hours transferring mail for Certified Data Transfer Managers (DTM) like myself. But I believe in things like Open Source software and Sharing Knowledge for the greater good.

Use Archiving. It’s that simple.

The steps are so easy an end user could do it. Here are the details:

Adjust the ACLs of the mail files as necessary.
Create local replicas of the old mail file and the new mail file.
Setup Archive settings in the old mail file to archive into the local new mail file.
Archive Now. (This step will delete everything from the local replica of the old mail file, so don’t let it replicate back to the server in case you need it for some reason.)
Replicate the new mail file back to SmartCloud.
Review the old mail file to ensure all documents were archived.

The details:
1. If you are going to switch to a Service-only environment, you will be getting a new Notes ID. Make sure it has access to your old mail file. This step may need to be done by the system administrator.
2. Open your old mail.
3. Create a local replica of it. It Must not be encrypted. If you already have a local replica that is encrypted, you will need to make a new one.
4. Uncheck the box on the replicator page to replicate it. This will keep it from replicating the deletions back to the server after you archive.
5. Repeat steps 2,3, & 4 for your new mail file in SmartCloud.
6. Open the local replica of your old mail file.
7. Pull down Actions – Archive – Settings…

8. Click on the Criteria tab. Disable any criteria that have a check mark indicating they are enabled.
9. Click the Create… button.
10. Enter a name for this criteria, something like “Move to SmartCloud”.
11. Check the box to Enable this Criteria.
12. In the field to select what should happen, browse to and select the local replica of your new SmartCloud mail file. The dialog will look like this:

10. Click the Selection Criteria button.
12. Leave the setting to “not modified in more than”, and change the period to 0 days.

13. Click on OK to all of the boxes. If the following dialog pops up, click yes.

14. The Scheduling settings will be displayed. Click OK without enabling the schedule.

15. You are now ready to perform the archiving. From the inbox of your old mail file, Pull down Actions – Archive – Archive Now.
16. When it is complete, you can check the document count in the database properties. It should be close to zero.Check the All documents view and in your calendar check the Lists – Calendar Entries view for documents that didn’t get brought over. It may be easiest to just re-create calendar entries.
17. Review the folders and calendar in the new mail file. When you are satisfied with the documents in the new mail file, go back to the replicator page and enable it so it can replicate to the SmartCloud server.

That is the whole process in a nutshell. There are some potential obstacles, like connection speed to the Internet, mail file size and Private folders. Also, you may also prefer to have someone with experience to turn on and configure your SmartCloud environment and address some other architectural details, but the act of moving your data can be incredibly simple. I have helped companies use this method very successfully. If you want help with the process, contact me at Divergent Solutions.

See the full list of tips HERE.


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