Great Geek Challenge – Connect 2014

If you’ve been to IBM Connect (formerly known as  LotusSphere) in the past 3 years you may have heard of the Great Geek Challenge organised by the Nerd Girls.  On Tuesday night of the conference we take over the Fountain restaurant at the Dolphin hotel (the one that sells Ice Cream) and have a fun, loud, stupid, competitive, quiz evening.  Carl Tyler and Paul Mooney have been hosting the past few years and although we are limited by the capacity of the restaurant and the number of events on a Tuesday night, we’ve packed the place out every year.

If you’ve been you know how much fun it is (hopefully) if not – well trust me , it is.  We provide prizes and free food and drink, courtesy of our sponsors. The GGC has never made a penny in profit in its 3 years.  It’s done purely to give our friends an opportunity to have some fun.

This year I’m  starting off by trying to find out if people would be interested in us doing the GGC again and if sponsors want to contribute*.  I hate asking for money and if there’s no interest in sponsoring or attending I won’t put any of us through that 🙂 I did consider asking for contributions on the door but it just doesn’t feel right.  A quick poll seems like a good idea here..

Hope to see you in Orlando in January

The LDC team – having a good time . No really, they were.

My Webcast With Chris Miller on Sametime 9

Just finished a great couple of days with the Salvation Army team here in Orlando talking about all things ICS and CCM (I do loves me some acronyms.. that’s IBM’s Collaboration products like Connections, Sametime, Notes etc plus Connections Content Manager and the Filenet engine).  I don’t often get the opportunity to talk to an international group all working together on a single strategic direction so both the content and the audience (if not the location 🙂 were new and fun.

Next up tomorrow I am on a live webcast with Chris Miller talking about Sametime 9, what we think, what you need, those licensing changes and how to move forward.  If you haven’t registered you can do so here so I hope you can join us.  You just need to pre-register in advance of 10am CST Thursday 26th.


Some Punny Title With The Word “Abstract” In It..

IBM Call for Abstracts is open as I’m sure you’ve heard from 100 other sources but I wanted to talk a bit about some of the tracks and especially the Show and Tell track that Paul and I have been working on with the track manager Christian Holsing at IBM since its inception.  You’ll notice if you go look (oh go on, here’s a URL if you can’t wait) that the Lotusphere Technical Program at IBM Connect remains a big  component of the overall Kenexa World / IBM Connect event.

As part of the Lotusphere component the content breaks down into tracks some of which are designed for IBM, some for customers and some for BPs.  Getting your abstract accepted is about two things

1. Writing a decent abstract.  I can’t emphasise this enough.  Don’t submit something half thought through or constructed because you think it’s so important you”ll “get to that later”.  First pass, if the abstract isn’t good , you’re out.  Plenty of people in the Community including myself are happy to talk to you about your abstract pre submission, I know I run mine by friends before submitting.  Don’t make the mistake of a bad abstract on a good subject

2. Submit to the right track. Not all of them. The right one.  Last year I was very sorry to see sessions I would have loved to have had in Show and Tell miss us because they were submitted to the wrong track. That’s true of all tracks.  The content team try to share / move abstracts to better tracks but it’s a manual process and 90% will simply get lost in the shuffle.

Do not pass up the opportunity to present at Connect.  I can’t emphasise this enough.  Every year the content team wants new ideas and new speakers and there is no better exposure for yourself or your company than sharing your knowledge with the variety of attendees at Connect.  Plus if you’re weird like me you just like standing on stage to shout “look how cool this is!”.

The Show and Tell has, over the years, gained the reputation for being hard-a** , we take only the most technical sessions. However we recognise that although we want in depth technical detail on a niche aspect of an ICS product, the products and technology themselves have become more complex and the depth of step by step instruction we wanted can become a death march for both presenter and attendee. So this year we’re changing things around, we still want highly technical , we still want demos, but here is the abstract for this year which I hope gives you an idea of the changes in style.

The Show ‘n Tell track brings you the best in live technical education. SNT sessions explain in comprehensive detail a specific technology with detailed instructions, picture screenshots and live demonstrations that show how it can be used and applied for your environment. With 90 minutes per session you can share your expertise with an audience who has come to learn something new.

This year we are interested in technical content on any of the IBM Collaboration Solutions products demonstrating how people can get the best out of them, as well as how combining IBM technology can deliver an integrated Social Experience. Whether you’re an administrator or a developer consider only that our attendees are working with complex technologies and demanding new ideas, at IBM Connect we want to give them content they can’t get anywhere else.

As far as the other tracks are concerned.  If you are a Business Partner or a technical consultant or an individual your best tracks to submit to are Best Practices, Jump Start and Show and Tell.  Not Infrastructure or Application Development which historically are 99% IBM presenters.  In addition if you’re a Customer or Business Partner you have new, what i’d call technical marketing,    tracks to submit to talking about cool things you’ve done. For Customers (“Track Seven: Customer Case Studies (from an IT perspective”) and for Business Partners (“Track Eight: NEW! Spotlight on IBM Business Partners “).

If you have an idea for a session don’t twist yourself in knots trying to decide whether to submit, just write the abstract and submit, you won’t regret it.  I’ll be sending in some submissions myself and keeping my fingers crossed but whatever happens I hope to see you in Orlando in 2014.

IBM Wiki Outage…

IBM Wiki Outages Coming up
“Planned outage Friday October 4 to Monday October 7, 2013

This wiki, along with all other wikis, forums and other applications hosted on,, and are expected to be unavailable from 5:00 PM EDT (9:00 PM GMT) Friday, October 4th 2013 to 9:00 AM EDT (1:00 PM GMT) Monday, October 7th, 2013 due to maintenance work at our facility”

Sametime Launch – Backing Out Of The Race

Today is the launch day for Sametime 9 which means the gold code should be available to download and install.  Usually on gold release day I see a rush on blogs and twitter to download the software get it installed and start talking about it which always makes me feel under pressure.  Added to that is that i’m currently at the airport heading to Florida to do some presentations on Connections Content Management, Quickr migration and Filenet so the chances of me getting a) time and b) decent enough internet to download 15+GB of files is slim.

Once I do get everything downloaded this is the plan

1. Build a new VM with DB2 10 and the System Console on Windows 2008 (because I find DB2 management on Windows easier but that’s just me and it’s changed since we no longer have a control center

2. Build a second VM to install Meetings, ST Advanced code, ST Proxy on RedHat

3.  Build a third VM to install the Media components including the new Video Managers

That should take 2 days from starting download to completing install if all goes well, then I will go back a step, clone my 8.5.2 environment and start testing migration.

I probably won’t blog about my upgrade and migration experiences until the week after next.  Meanwhile I’m focussing in on my Content Management presentations, I’ve learnt a huge amount about Filenet itself as a part of learning CCM in the past few months and I’m excited to be presenting something new (and I hope interesting).  Bring on the 97 degree heat / 90% humidity!

Domino LDAP Insufficient Access

Here’s where you all get to laugh and point at me for not knowing this sooner.  I was setting up Domino for LDAP access on a server with multiple directories in DA.  Everything was working fine until I wanted to write values from another source into the Domino LDAP.  Insufficient access.  OK so let’s check

  1. Account being use to authenticate has Editor access to the ACL in all directories in Directory Assistance
  2. Global Configuration document in Domino is set to allow LDAP write activity
  3. Global Configuration document in Domino is set to allow write activity that doesn’t conform to the schema
  4. I can login to the web interface of Domino using the LDAP credentials and successfully edit the person document I’m trying to change through LDAP

So what was my problem?  Apparently with LDAP write activity the Global Configuration document enabling LDAP to do writes has to appear in every directory used by Directory Assistance !  I finally got there by trial and error but that makes no sense at all, especially because the secondary directory doesn’t even need to use the pubnames.ntf template.  The Global Configuration document by definition controls LDAP activity for the entire domain which surely includes any secondary directories that are set up.  But that’s what it was.

I created a Global Configuration document in my secondary directory and set it to allow LDAP and write activity and my “Insufficient Access” went away.

Ooh look – wordpress has a poll facility , let’s try it.

Adventures in TDI – Connections and Updating Profiles

Recently (well the past couple of months) I have been working on building custom Assemblylines to sync Connections data held in DB2 to LDAP data held in Domino.  I really struggled with finding good documentation for doing this and that’s because the best documentation was written for 3.0.1 and hasn’t been updated since.  Thanks to help from some people at IBM (who I’d name publicly here but I’m not sure they want emails from everyone) I managed to get hold of some draft updated documentation and get answers to some questions as I went along so I thought it would be helpful to share what I’ve learnt although this is a very streamlined description, hopefully it will give you some pointers.

Firstly if you are using Connections you need to populate profiles.  Populating profiles requires you to have installed TDI (and the right fixpack, don’t try it without) but once you have done that you have 3 techniques for population, two of which involve you never seeing a TDI configuration screen.

1. The population wizard which is a graphical tool supplied by IBM for pulling data from LDAP into your Connections data source (DB2 in this case).  The population wizard is easy to use and meets that needs of I’d say 60%+ of users who are working with Connections.  It’s certainly where most people begin to get that information populated in the first instance.

2. Underlying the population wizard are XML and properties files.  If you run the wizard you’ll find it has written to  properties and XML files on the file system and then it uses IBM supplied scripts to run the import.   What you can do is take a copy of the TDISOL directory which contains all the properties, xml files and scripts (and is updated on Fix Central occasionally) and use those to create you own custom syncing.  The files you will be working with are

tdienv.bat/sh  This is where you tell TDI to find its own installed files  This is where you tell TDI how to find the LDAP and DB2 sources as well as how to authenticate with them This is where you tell TDI how and what to map from LDAP (Domino) to Connections (DB2)  This is where you tell TDI how and what to map from DB2 to LDAP if required.

You can then schedule a batch file called sync_all_dns.bat /sh which will bi-directionally update the information according to those files.  I would always recommend a) doing this in a test environment first b) backing up PEOPLEDB before starting c) running collect_dns.bat/sh first to ensure your search scope for LDAP returns the users you expect

3. So if you’re still with me and you want something even more advanced you’ll need to create an Assemblyline using the TDI Configuration Editor. For instance sync_all_dns does a complete bi-directional sync so for 50k users it was taking nearly an hour and for 25k users 20 minutes because it has to check every record in both LDAP and DB2.  That was taking too long so we wanted something that ran faster, in another case we wanted to pull in data from another data source to populate profiles alongside the LDAP data.  Using TDI and creating a custom assemblyline allows you unlimited scope to pull data from any LDAP or JDBC source (amongst others) into your profiles.

You’ll hear a lot of talk about Assemblylines being “real time” but in fact that’s very difficult to do in a Connections environment.  There is no real time monitor of generic LDAP you can use.  There are change control monitors for both Domino and Active Directory if you are using those as your LDAP source you can use them to  continuously monitor the servers and trigger on any change.  I have found however there is a risk associated with a continuously running and monitoring service and, being risk averise,  I prefer to schedule my Assemblylines to run.     There is also a change connector for RDBMS you could use to monitor DB2 but again, I prefer to use the standard Connector with a SQL statement telling it to look for things modified in the past x minutes or whatever.  I then export the project  and create a batch file to call the Assemblylines I want, scheduling that to run repeatedly in Task Scheduler (for Windows) or Linux.

The hard and fast rule when creating an Assemblyline is that you must use IBM’s supplied files.  They have provided Assemblylines that can be copied and modified to do just about anything you need.  To begin with you will need to complete the tdienv.bat/sh and files which will be used by the Configuration Editor when it’s launched.  Once launched you’re going to create a new project by importing the profiles_tdi.xml file and that will present you with all the Connectors and starter Assemblylines you need.  In particular there is a Connector called the ProfilesConnector which contains everything needed to write to a profile.

Without going into 40 pages more detail, I hope this helped.  This paper from IBM is the absolute best source for setting up your environment, although significantly out of date it will set you on the right path .  I am also anonymising a simple Domino – DB2 and DB2 – Domino Assemblyline  that I am happy to share with people once it’s complete.  I can’t support it and you take it at your own risk but it may help you to see something configured.

A Refreshing Dose of Meh..

At Malpensa (Milan) airport and heading home for a few days I really notice the Italian difference. You see although I travel a lot, about 70% is to the US and the rest to Europe but much of that’s driving. I haven’t been to Italy in 3 years since I visited Rome but I remember travelling with only hand baggage and being frustrated I couldn’t buy some perfume in Capri because I’d have to check a bag to get it home. However when we flew back from Rome no-one cared about liquids, laptops, shoes or anything else.

Fast forward to this trip and Tim and I were lucky to get tickets to the Verona Arena which seats 15k people to see Aida. It was only when we were sat in our seats I realised, for the first time in my recent memory going to an event did not involve high security and a bag search – just people checking our tickets and that we were going where we were meant to.

So here we are at Malpensa. Turning up at 3pm for a 7pm flight to find no-one on check in until 5pm and then through fast track security where the first boarding pass check was unmanned and the scanner took my case and bag with liquids, laptops, phones and everything. Not even a shoe check.

What’s my point? I found myself relaxing into it and letting go of the control and the fear that has come to mean travelling through airports for me. Did I feel less safe in the arena knowing no-one had been checked for “dangerous substances” ? No.

The Italians aren’t living in constant fear and maybe we shouldn’t be either.




Still staying within NDA here until Sametime 9 ships, so please bear in mind there are things I can’t talk about in detail until then. I’m not leaving gaps purposefully but did want to post what is public to help people prepare. So let’s get started on what you need to know if you’re an existing Sametime customer.

As I said yesterday the Community Server, which is still based on Domino, runs on Domino 9 and isn’t supported on earlier versions. This may be the time, if you haven’t already, to move your Sametime servers into their own Domino Domain so their server version and updates can be managed outside of the rest of your infrastructure. For those of you who were happily (!) using the old legacy (yes I hate that word too) classic meetings on the Domino server, that’s been removed in Sametime 9. If you want meetings you want the Collaborate license and the WebSphere Meeting server. In the past few years I’ve made sure to tell customers the the classic meetings were purely there for backwards compatibility and transitioning to the new servers but I’m often amazed how many people complain about Sametime Meetings because they don’t realize they are still using the old, applet based, creaky, non-updated codecs – Domino version. I’m glad it’s gone GLAD I TELLS YA! Hopefully that will cut down on confusion.

For those of you not ready to commit to the WAS Meeting server experience, IBM have deployed it into SmartCloud so you can try it out there first if you want

Sametime will not support SAML but will continue to support SPNEGO. SAML would have been nice to streamline the single sign-on technologies we are using with other products but hopefully that’s coming later, support for SAML is still very new within ICS.

The really good news, If you are already experienced in installing Sametime 8.5x then nearly all the components remain the same. You still have a Sametime System Console, a Sametime Proxy Server, a Sametime Meeting Server, a Sametime Advanced Server, etc. All have relatively the same roles as in 8.5x. The big changes are with the Media components where the Packet Switcher has been replaced by two Video components (more when the infrastructure details are completely public but I’ve had this referenced on public calls so we’re good). One important note is that the video components will only be supported on a Linux platform and there is no Windows solution coming. I do understand that the processing and complexity involved in multiperson video requires a lot of development and support so it makes sense thatIBM have opted to focus that on one OS for that one component. Time to brush up your Linux skills people! Again Linux has been my OS of choice for servers for some time now but for some companies wanting video it will require some internal retraining.

The key takeaway is that what you have already learnt and already manage will set you in good stead for Sametime 9.

As far as A/V is concerned, the announcements have been a bit murky so to make it clear – Audio and Video in Sametime Communicate (the IM license) is for 1-to-1 traffic only. Multiperson / Multipoint Video is only available with the Sametime Conference and Complete licenses and the server components that come with those. The server components you install for Communicate will not allow multiperson video (so no installing and accidentally trying it out….).

Lastly I have had 3 people email me today asking about migration strategies and that’s not something I can talk about yet, not least because I haven’t tried myself with gold and I don’t believe in offering advice until I have failed a few times myself :-). Having said that I’m not planning in place upgrades unless I can help it with the exception of the Community server it’s simply easier for me to build in parallel, migrate the Meetings and Advanced data and change the DNS usually. The exception to that would probably be gateway which I never fancy rebuilding from scratch.

So that’s part 2. In Part 3 we’re going to discuss some of the more exciting new features to get you all ready for the big day that’s coming soon.

Icon UK Presentations

Doesn’t time fly? Icon UK is already nearly two weeks’ behind us but here, finally , are my presentation slides.  I did two presentations this year both with great presenters.   My first one was with Mark Myers (who, despite having a genius brain, has not grasped that I understand very little of what he says regarding development).  Our presentation was on how Administrators and Developers have to work together when doing Connections customisations and developments and was based on our experience working together on the SocialBizUG site.  Our presentation is here and was a new idea we’re hoping people liked.


I also did a presentation with Paul which was an update on planning and preparing for Connections 4.5 installs, it’s aimed at anyone wanting to know what’s involved in deploying Connections or who is about to being an install themselves.