Connect 2017 Plans & Presentations

I’m very excited to confirm that three of us from The Turtle Partnership will be at Connect 2017 in San Francisco in February.  Between us there is some overlap in what we hope to get out of a conference but our interests are very different. My fellow IBM Champion Mike Smith will be attending strategy briefings, client stories and anything to do with futures.  Tim who looks after the development side of Turtle is keen on Monday’s hackathon and the new technology sessions as well as the Workspace and Watson APIs.  For me, as well as technical sessions about new products, I’m working a lot in the hybrid and security spaces so those sessions (including my own) are of interest to me. I also always enjoy the expo and this year the pop up and theater sessions that fall outside the traditional breakouts are something very different I’m suspect I’ll get a lot out of.

I am presenting and hosting three sessions this year:

On Wednesday at 12pm in Moscone West, Level 2 – Room 2009 I am presenting

Benefits and Risks of a Single Identity

What is valuable about a single identity, why is that something people want and how achievable is it? As people work across multiple systems they encounter an equal number of barriers where they must authenticate or otherwise prove their identity in order to gain access. Ideally we always want to be showing the same information about ourselves regardless of where someone searches or how we are found. In this session we’ll discuss the issues behind both creating a single identity and simplifying authentication. We’ll also review the risks you need to be aware of, the technologies available to you and the importance of good and current personal information.

On both Wednesday and Thursday in the Expo Engagement Theaters on the Expo floor we are doing Nerd Girl sessions.  On Wednesday we will have sparks talks around the topic of The Imposter Syndrome and on Thursday around the topic of Relationships IRL.   

The Imposter Syndrome is about the feeling of being unqualified in a situation.  We are looking for only four speakers who can talk to that, either because they live it, have been through it and have lessons to share or have experience of working with or managing people who have it.

Relationships IRL is about how we build and maintain connections with people when many of us work alone, attend web meetings that have no time for small talk or spend the majority of our time looking down at devices and not out into the world.  Again we are looking for 4 people who can speak to those issues or even if you don’t consider it an issue and why.

The Sparks talks do not have to be about your work or career, both the Imposter Syndrome and Relationships IRL can refer to any aspect of your day to day life.

If you are going to be in San Francisco, would be interested in joining us or would consider speaking then please reach out to me or any of the Nerd Girls to discuss.

The really great news is that since both sessions are in a theater room on the Expo floor, anyone with a $89 USD Discover Connect pass can attend.

The Imposter Syndrome is on  Wednesday at 12pm EXPO Engagement Theater # 750

Relationships IRL is on Thursday at 9.20am EXPO Engagement Theater # 300

What Kept Me Busy In 2016 and Where Am I Going Now?

I think this post might be just under the wire for 2016 reviews so let’s talk about what I was working on and learning for the past year.  I always need to be learning, if I’m not I feel like I’m standing still and last year most of my learning moved outside of the core IBM products simply because there was little new to learn.

So what kind of projects did I work on?

  • Security reviews of Domino, Connections, HTTP environments
  • Single Sign On projects including deploying SAML using ADFS and TFIM as well as lots of Kerberos / IWA integration projects
  • Designing hybrid environments for customers moving mail to the cloud
  • Lots of TLS configurations on lots of different products
  • IBM Connections upgrades to 5.5
  • IBM Sametime deployments from sites that had 8.5.2
  • Domino consolidation, maintenance and hardware migrations
  • High Availability for Traveler, Domino HTTP and Sametime

What was I learning?  I’m always looking for interesting and challenging technologies that can make a difference to those smaller customers who need to stretch a tight budget.  It’s how I got involved with Notes originally in the early 90s – It allowed me to make big changes quickly for smaller customers.  This year that has meant staying on top of cloud and hybrid security issues and single sign on products and technologies.  Beyond that I have become really interested in data visualisation and have been working with products like Tableau and some of its cheaper competitors to see what they can offer.

Then in December I signed up for a Lynda.com subscription to ensure I have a good grounding in wider technologies and how they can work together.  Of course signing up and actually making time to learn are two different things so that takes us to 2017.

Goals for 2017

  • More data visualisation tools / learning cool things to do with Tableau
  • Building myself a Lynda training plan
  • Deploying Verse on Premise for existing Domino customers and introducing those without Connections to that integration piece
  • More work with database technologies around performance and security
  • Identify ways to deploy docker solutions with better stability and security
  • Improving my languages (I’ve been working on Italian and want to learn Spanish)
  • Working on interesting projects or ones that make a difference

As you can see my “goals” are fairly loose, I am always open to new ideas for technologies to learn (except development languages – blech).  It may be my review of 2017 will be nothing like my goals list and I won’t consider that a failure.

 

 

So THAT’S what it’s about

“A New Way To Work” – all of us in the IBM mail space have heard the phrase and seen presentations but does it actually mean anything to me – a set in her ways mail and calendar user who just wants mail to work and be fast?

In the past few months I have been using Verse On Premise in its beta form as well as the beta versions of Verse for iOS.  I had previously played around with Verse in the cloud but since my 20 year old mail file is on our Domino servers, the majority of my mail and searching activity was done via Notes and Traveler.  iNotes was never a client of choice for me.  I don’t archive mail very often (alright never) and so there’s a lot of history there.

So what have I found? I absolutely love Verse.  It’s fast and the layout is clean but as promised there are features that are so ridiculously useful** they have literally changed how I work for example

  1. Flagging for “needs action”  via a single click which then lets me set an action date for today, tomorrow, a week or other
  2. At the same time I can add a  personal note to the  message that travels with it,  and is visible when reading it in Verse.
  3. I can then remove the  message from my inbox by clicking on it.
  4. Viewing just those messages that need action which are automatically categorised by “today”, “tomorrow” etc.
  5. All of that, the action, the date, even the private notes transfer to Verse for iOS on my phone and iPad.

Add to all of this is the fact that it’s my same mail file on my same Domino servers. I could and can still open using the Notes client, using iNotes, even using Outlook if I want.  There are lots of things to enjoy about Verse and everyone works differently, but this is one group of features that live up to the hype of having tricked me without noticing into a new way of working 🙂

** no screenshots in here as it’s advanced beta still under NDA but the features have been shown publicly and hopefully will be in final product

You Lie! Error Messages and When To Ignore Them

Building Connections this week and troubleshooting some errors reminded me to share the process I have adopted when dealing with IBM error messages – which is to treat them as hints that can set you on the right path but also send you badly down the wrong one.

Problem 1:

Installing Connections itself via Installation Manager.  One of steps during the install requires you to specify the DB2 server, the database names and credentials to connect to them.  I click validate and it fails  with error CLFRP0030E and launch error!.  That points to this technote which says I left a space after the hostname for the DB2 server.

I absolutely didn’t leave a space and didn’t copy/paste.  Just in case (and working on the assumption that it’s always me and not the product) I cleared it all and typed carefully again. I confirmed the hostname was correct and could be reached.  I also relaunched Installation Manager and started from the beginning.  No luck.

It’s  at this point I have to accept the error is referring to something else and that’s all the information I’m going to get from Installation Manager.  So now I move to asking myself “what if I saw no error but it just failed to connect”.  Well the first answer to that is to check if the connection details, hostname, credentials etc actually work at all.   Having confirmed the hostname and ports (there were no firewalls turned on or virus software), I logged into the DB2 server and checked the LCUSER account. Locked out.  I unlocked the account and the install then completed.

Problem 2

The test server in this environment is one box with everything DB2, TDI and all the applications on it.  My base WebSphere install was WAS 8.5.5 FP10 since Connections System Requirements for WebSphere 8.5.5 says FP8 and higher and I wanted to test that out. Everything installed fine right up to when I went to install Connections Surveys.  That’s when I hit a 2 day brick wall.  Installation Manager couldn’t connect to the Deployment manager despite it being on the same server.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-18-26-10

Well that’s odd.  Deployment manager is running.  The hostname resolves. The port is listening. I try to find out what the system requirements are for Connections Surveys but for 2 days last week and through the weekend the IBM system requirements pages for Survey were down.  I’m stubborn so I won’t let it go.  Even the Forms Experience Builder requirements for earlier versions were down.  So eventually I had to leave it and move onto the production build. The work needs completing and I was suspicious that the issue might have been installing everything on one server.

I build production across 4 servers and this time I stick with WebSphere 8.5.5 FP8 just in case.  When I get to the Surveys install it goes without a hitch.  So back to the test server I go.  Roll back Websphere to 8.5.5.0 and then forwards to FP8 (thank you Installation Manager!).  Surprise surprise Surveys installed perfectly.

So. Not an issue connecting to deployment manager or port or the server running but instead “Connections Surveys cannot install onto WebSphere 8.5.5.10 at all.

 

 

A Sametime Chat Mystery

Today I was contacted urgently by a site I did an install for back in early September.  The install went well and I left them several months ago with working components, but apparently about a week ago people stopped being able to login to the Community server. In fact not even the SSC could access it.

.. and yet no-one had changed anything at all.  I do love a good mystery so I thought it would be useful to someone (or even just future Gab) to document what I did:

  • verified if port 1533 was listening using netstat -an |find /i “1533”.
  • verified there were no running AV services that could interfere with the ports.
  • checked if the ST services were running, in fact only about 6 were.
  • tried to start some of the services that weren’t running and they failed immediately.
  • since no-one touched Sametime my next guess was a Windows update that caused a problem.
  • checked the Windows networking settings hadn’t been overwritten (they had) . Although those settings shouldn’t cause the services to fail completely it was worth resetting them.
  • I then added vp_trace_all=1 to the [Debug] settings in the sametime.ini which creates detailed log files in the \ibm\domino\trace directory.
  • having added that I could see log files being created for every service, even the ones that wouldn’t stay started. In fact those ones recreated every couple of minutes.  So the services were trying to start and failing.
  • reviewing the log files I could see on things like STPlaces there was a JVM error, but I put that aside for the time being in case it was a dependency issue.
  • in other logs such as STDirectory I could see broken networking errors and just before that I could see a comment about switching to TLS.

    A-ha! Well, that’s new.

  • checking the sametime.ini I found:
    VPS_PORT=1516
    VPS_TLS_PORT=1516

    which I changed to:
    VPS_PORT=1516
    #VPS_TLS_PORT=1516

    My guess being an incomplete TLS configuration from the SSC.  Having done that the server restarted perfectly and all services started.  The SSC could then access the server with no problem.

Of course once I had spent 4hrs doing that I then found a technote on it which I never would have found before I saw the TLS entry.  Here’s the technote .

Sometimes it’s a rollercoaster but so long as I get things working  I’m calling that a good day.  Now back to building more Connections servers.

 

A Tip For Submitting A Best Practices Session

If you go to submit a session for Connect 2017 (which you can do here )- you’ll notice there is no specific Best Practices track like we’ve had in the past.   In fact all the tracks have changed and been grouped under themes

Emerging Technologies
Strategy & Business
Development, Design & Tools etc

So how do you submit what you consider a Best Practices session and more importantly how do attendees find those sessions on the agenda considering they have always been the most popular by far at any conference.  Well the way to do it is to use a session tag.

On the session submission form you have a field for “New Tag” where you can categorise your own session.

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-17-38-27

In that field make sure you enter the word “BestPractices” (all one word) and your session will appear as a Best Practices session in the agenda so everyone can find it easily.

 

Domino in the Back, Party in the Front

This is my presentation from Icon UK in September which discusses making client decisions whilst keeping Domino, the best mail server in the world, as your underlying architecture

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. 

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-09-51-18

The full presentation is here