Heads Up For UK Amazon Echo Buyers

After spending far too long (i.e. more than 10 mins) on tech support with my Amazon Echo today I finally rang them.  My problem was that it refused to acknowledge I had Amazon Prime and that TuneIn radio didn’t work so I couldn’t say “Alexa, play BBC Radio 4” for instance.

Calling Amazon UK support and I’m told they entirely messed up the UK Echo devices which ship to auto register with amazon.com.  Apparently tech support have to manually change your Echo registration on their end to force it to connect to the UK site instead of the US and they are “rushed off their feet” doing that as each person calls.  It should be sorted by tomorrow.

  1. The setup was a pain and far too confusing for anyone not technically savvy (say my mother in law)
  2. There is no remote control supplied although one exists they are just too cheap to supply it with the device
  3. They shipped it with the wrong configuration assuming there is no other country other than the US.
  4. You have to call them to get it manually fixed

Amazon is definitely no Apple …

Mac OS Sierra and VPN Problems

I upgraded my Mac at the weekend to Sierra, which went beautifully.  Fast and no problems at all.  Until this morning.  This morning I went to connect to a customer VPN and it has disappeared from my list of VPNs on my Mac.  On further checking I realised that customer ran their VPN as PPTP and PPTP is no longer supported as a VPN option on Mac OS.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-11-51-20

I can use 3rd party VPN software and I guess removing it was Apple’s best option – leaving it in place but disabling it would have just led me into trying to make it work not realising it was no longer supported.  Still a warning pre-install of “if you upgrade the following services and applications will no longer work” would have been nice if a bit much to ask for.

Consider this your warning*

*And yes I know PPTP isn’t secure and the customer shouldn’t be using it but that one isn’t my decision.  

Hello IBM? Your Sametime Requirements are borked

The first thing I do when building any product is go check the latest system requirements in case they have changed.  That’s a bit of a challenge with Sametime since the system requirements are (and have been for some time) nonsense.  No reference to WebSphere 8.5.5 and definitely no reference to the fixpacks or even the individual servers.

Try it yourself.  Go here http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg27007792 and click on any of the requirements for 9.0.1 Complete, Communicate or Conference to see what I mean.

Buried in the actual help documentation is the phrase “Restriction: Most of the Sametime 9.0.1 servers that run IBM WebSphere® Application Server require version 8.5.5.8” but that doesn’t help anyone wanting detailed system requirements or who doesn’t find that page.

If anyone from the ST or documentation team sees this – please fix it.

Icon UK – UI, Sparks and Changing Technologies

Icon UK starts tomorrow, well officially tonight / late this afternoon.  I have a busy week of presenting and helping others present but I wanted to share some of that here

Tomorrow I have a presentation called “Domino in the Front, Party in the Back” which is about all the client options available to you if you’re using Domino for mail.  All 10+ of them.  Including Verse on Premise….

The Icon UK site is down right now but on the agenda I believe I am just after lunch on Thursday http://iconuk.org/iconuk.nsf/agenda.html

Talking of lunch.. that will run from 12.35 – 1.15 and then please come and join Nerd Girls who will be running Spark Ideas from 1.15 – 2pm.  Our speakers are

Amanda Baumann – embracing being a performer
Devin Olsen – Gas, Tires, Oil, and Smoke: Living fast and loud with your hair on fire
Femke Goedhart – The happy pilgram – adventures with strangers on the Camino Portugues
Ben Poole – It’s just twigs and dust isn’t it? Vegan cooking by a meat-eating newbie
Rene Winkelmeyer – pledge1percent

.. this year we will be taking questions for the speakers after their 6 minute talks so come prepared🙂

Anyone who is at Icon UK and can volunteer to video the sessions for me , please get in touch.

On Thursday night in speedsponsoring I will be talking about how to a maximise your investment in Domino as a mail server including talking to the business about client options.

Finally on Friday, again just after lunch, Mark Myers and I will be holding an open forum discussion on “Changing Your Technology” – how to highlight your skills, work out what to learn and position yourself as a technologist.  I hope you can join us.

So lots of things for me to do , none of them as deeply technical as my usual sessions so that’s a bit scary for me and outside my comfort zone.  It’s going to hopefully be a fun few days

 

Before second guessing IBM try a CTRL-F

A new press release just appeared from IBM announcing extending support for Domino 9, Notes 9, Traveler 9, Sametime 9.0 and Designer 9.0.1 amongst others.

Now do me a favour, before you do anything else,  press CTRL-F and look for the word “END”.  You won’t find it.  This is extending not ending support.

Now could IBM have done better by using the words “at least” – in my opinion yes but since I assume the document was minutely inspected by IBM lawyers, it can’t make any open ended promises.

We live in a world of fast changing technology and many of us work with technologies that are 20+ years old.  Who knows what will happen next year, in 2 years or in 5 years.  That’s a good thing.  We should embrace changing technologies that match how we, our environment and our work evolves. Every change offers an opportunity but today and for the foreseeable future it should be enough that Notes and Domino aren’t dead and they aren’t predicted to die anytime soon.

Not even in 2021.

 

From F to A In A Day

As I went to bed last night I set the alarm early, I have a lot to do this week especially since I’ll be at Icon UK for 2 days of it and I wanted to get started early.  So of course today was the day my work went out of the window and I lost 10 hrs debugging one of my own servers. Let’s back up…

This weekend I was prepping my presentations for Icon UK this Thursday.  One is called “Domino In The Back, Party In The Front” so I’m going to be talking about all the client options available to you using Domino as a back end.

On Sunday I had the idea of installing IMSMO (IBM Mail Services For Microsoft Outlook) on one of my lab machines.  I had a customer wanting to deploy and I wanted to try and mirror their setup, plus it meant I’d have something to demo from.  The lab server was already running 9.0.1 FP6 with a SHA2 SSL certificate delivering TLS1.2.  I hadn’t used any web services on it in a couple of weeks so I went ahead and added IF3 (required by IMSMO) and installed the application addin service.  It actually installs as a variant of Traveler (and I’ll be blogging on that later).  I completed the install and Outlook worked fine.  Unfortunately it was the only HTTPS service that worked.  Everything failed.  By failed I mean the browser – any browser – refused to connect.

So off I went to investigate why the browsers wouldn’t connect.  I started with testing via SSLLabs and that reported AN F as apparently the server was demanding SSLv3 instead of TLS 1.2   Of course just about every browser will refuse to accept a negotiation of SSLV3.  But why was the server suddenly demanding it when it had never done so before?

Well 10 hrs later I’d exhausted everything I could think of:

  • verified notes.ini had no additional unexpected settings
  • forced Disable_SSLV3=1 even though that server had been fine serving TLS 1.2 previously
  • disabled internet site documents and reproduced using web configuration
  • recreated the internet site and web rule documents
  • generated a new keyfile from my wildcard certificates
  • uninstalled IF3
  • uninstalled IMSMO including all the cleanup
  • scanned for anything that could be hijacking HTTPS
  • restarted and restarted and restarted http and clear cache upon cache upon cache
  • bothered Darren Duke for a sanity check – I believe the words “I don’t know what the hell is going on” came up
  • uninstalled Domino (around hour 8) because I couldn’t spend any more time troubleshooting

After uninstalling Domino. Reinstalling up to FP6, copying in the databases and templates and restarting.  I was back with TLS 1.2 again and suddenly SSLLabs was giving me an A+. 

Of course then I did what I should have done in the first place (saving time is never a time saver), I built a new lab server purely for IMSMO.  Installed FP6 and IF3 and the addin and everything worked perfectly including TLS1.2.

I have no idea what part of the IMSMO install , the addin or IF3, conflicted with my existing lab server configuration or what it did to force the server to only serve SSLV3 no matter how I tried to push it otherwise – but an uninstall and clean install ended up being my only fix in the time I had.  Someone somewhere knows the setting that made it do that.  I’d love to know what.

Now it’s 4.15am and I’m back where I thought I was at 11pm Sunday night.  The 4 days work I had to fit in 2 days , I have to fit in 1 day.  This week’s lesson. Never start something new when you barely have time to get the existing things completed.

See you at Icon UK

 

 

Icon UK & Spark Ideas

I’m very pleased to say that i’ll be speaking at Icon UK being held in London from Sept 15th – 16th at IBM South Bank.  The only user group event all year I get to travel to from home..

I have two sessions, plus Nerd Girls are doing a combination Sparks and panel on the first day and I’ve signed up to do speedsponsoring which may be about Traveler performance. Or Domino tips.  Or something…

Domino at the back, party in the front – choosing the right UI for mail
Day 1 @ 2.50pm
How often do you hear that the business is discussing moving mail platforms because “our users want X” where X is nothing to do with the server and everything to do with the client UI. Domino remains the best mail server available but often user dissatisfaction drives a move and that comes from being asked to use the wrong client or from a bad deployment. If you’re using Domino you have an ever expanding range of clients to choose from browsers, iNotes, Verse, Traveler with iOS integration, Android applications, POP3 and IMAP. Come to this session to learn how to find the right client to fit the business and keep your Domino infrastructure.  

Choosing The Right Path – What Kind Of Technologist Are You?
Day 2 @ 11.50am
How do you present yourself and your skills to others? Do you talk about products you work with or your technical skills? You may consider yourself an IBM developer or admin but the brand is less important to your career than the knowledge you have. In this freeform session we’ll discuss how to identify and highlight the skills you use every day that make you stand out and then use that understanding to decide what to learn next. Come along and join in the discussion

Nerd Girls – Spark Ideas
Day 1 @ 1.15pm
We are bringing  the very popular Spark Ideas to Icon UK, celebrating everyone’s uniqueness , what drives us to create our own path. We are once more looking for  people who want to talk on any subject important to them, that’s interesting, fun and hopefully inspirational. Oh and that lasts 6 minutes🙂   We hope you will grab the opportunity to  speak especially if you never have before.

If you want to see what Sparks is all about,  take a look at our Vimeo channel of previous sessions

Contact me with your ideas or if you need help deciding what might work or just if you wonder what this is all about.  

I hope to see you there ..