Say Thank You To Someone

I’ve been involved in lots of conversations recently with people wondering how to keep the “IBM Collaboration” community vibrant and alive as we face fewer and fewer meet ups in real life and more diverse technologies.  I’ve been working in this Community since the mid 90s and watched it grow off the hard work and selfless contributions of people who just wanted to share ideas and knowledge with each other. Even without as many real life connections, this community thrives on people sharing their time, ideas and knowledge.

Do you ever go searching for a problem and find someone’s blog with an answer?

Do you ever go to a conference and sit in a presentation and finally realise how to do something?

Do you ever find a posted presentation online that gives you an idea of something you can do in your own environment?

Do you ever bounce ideas with someone online about technology that helps you nudge a step forward in your own work?

Do you ever find yourself grateful someone else found and solved that problem so you didn’t have to?

Do you ever go to a conference or user group and find yourself energised by the people and information there?

The IBM Champion program is upon us once more.  Each year IBM open up nominations for their Champion program that allow us to put forward people we think have added value to the community, sharing expertise, innovation, ideas or support for instance.  It’s not for people who are just doing their job, it’s for people who do so much more than they need to for no other reason than they want to create and be part of  a better community.

The IBM Champion program recognizes innovative thought leaders in the technical community. An IBM Champion is an IT professional, business leader, or educator who influences and mentors others to help them make the best use of IBM software, solutions, and services, shares knowledge and expertise, and helps nurture and grow the community.

As well as nominating others, you can nominate yourself as a Champion – after all no-one knows better than you what you actually contribute, however I’ve had people who I want to nominate say to me they can’t think what they would put on their own nomination. If you would like to be nominated but you aren’t sure what you would put on the form try speaking to a friend who can help you tease out the things you may not consider important but others will.

Don’t assume someone else will nominate the person you are thinking of.  They might do and then again they might not. More nominations doesn’t increase a person’s chances of becoming a Champion but more information about them does.  You may nominate them for something that’s important to you that no-one else has picked up upon.

Nominations forms are here and IBMs (Amanda Baumann’s) announcement about the program and how to apply is here.  If right now you can think of someone who you think should be a Champion then please take 5 minutues and nominate them.  They won’t know you did so unless you tell them but they will be very grateful.

As for me.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have been made a Champion in previous years but each year is a new application and only work done in 2015 would count.  I haven’t yet decided if I will nominate myself, I”m one of those people who feel uncomfortable about doing that but then again that’s how the program works.  However I do have in mind at least 5 others who richly deserve thanks and recognition so i’m off to do those now…

Nominations close October 31st.

Icon UK, Upgrading Connections and Adapting To Technology

This week I was at Icon UK at IBM’s offices on South Bank and as usual it was a great event.  Lots of technical and non technical content, attendees, speakers and sponsors and it gave me the chance to talk to people I rarely get to see (some I hadn’t seen since January).  It always give me a boost to attend a community event and reconnect in person with everyone.  There were several sessions I missed and wished I could have attended so I’ll keep an eye out for the the published slides.  In the meantime I thought I’d share the slides from my two sessions.

The first one is on upgrading Connections – this is a new session and I tried to take a lot of content and present it in a more accessible way.  I’d be interested in feedback on whether you think it’s useful though

My second session was with Mark Myers and we talked about the importance of learning to change your technology.  There aren’t many slides because it was an informal talk but the point I certainly wanted to make was that as technologists or engineers we need to stop identifying ourselves with a brand or a product or a system and instead identify ourselves around our areas of expertise which can cross into lots of technologies.  Once you take a step back and do that you realise things like “Cloud” are not a threat, they are an opportunity to bring the skills you already have into play.

Living iOS9 For A Few Days

I upgraded both my phone and iPad to iOS9 a few days’ ago but I was in a hurry and I really haven’t had a chance to review the features so I’ve just been living with the new OS and seeing what works for me and what doesn’t.  I use my iPad for Citrix, SSH & RDP, reading, watching TV and playing games.  My iPhone I use for managing my day, emails, reminders, tasks and photos.

I’d be interested to know anyone else’s favourite features that you’re actually using

The Good

  1. Popup blocker in a browser.  Yes I know blah blah editorial sites need to make money blah blah.  It makes my browser faster and sites more interesting.  I do pay for some sites to access but if the sites didn’t overdo the ads then I’d tolerate them.  But they don’t, they overdo and make the entire site unreadable.  I’ve tried Blockr and Peace (now withdrawn) and i’m definitely noticing improvements
  2. Swipe in.  On my iPad I can swipe in from the right to look at my mail whatever else i’m doing
  3. Picture in Picture – i absolutely love the PIP feature that Hulu, iPlayer, Netflix all have.  Now when I’m exercising and watching a program or cooking and watching a program I can come out of the app and do other things whilst the app shows in a small window.  LOVE

    PIP

  4. Photo syncing.  Finally my photos auto sync immediately across devices – previously it was hit and miss and could take a while for photos from my phone to reach any other device. That may have just been me because Tim never had that problem
  5. Spotlight search – customised searching across apps including streaming services.
  6. Mobile data failover when wifi is weak.  The idea is that if you are connected to wifi but it’s not strong it will switch to using mobile data instead.  I do have one dead spot in my house and usually I have to disconnect wifi so it uses data there but this fixed that problem.  It only works if you have unlimited data though.
  7. Siri seems improved, at least it seems to understand me better and write emails / texts more accurately
  8. Public transport in Apple Maps.  I’ve already used this a few times – asking for a route home last night from Hampton Court it showed me the nearest bus stops, stations , bus numbers to take and when they were due.  It only works right now in London and a few other cities but luckily that’s where i live.

The Bad

  1. Swipe In.  When reading a book every time I go to turn the page it swipes in and shows me my inbox. No Apple BAD. I don’t want to be checking my inbox when I”m trying to read.  There’s no way to turn off right in swipe so I need to reprogram my fingers to touch for page turn slightly further in from the right or use the left touch to turn the page. It’s annoying but I wouldn’t give up swipe, I just wish I could turn it off when in iBooks
  2. Spotlight search – by default all apps are included in spotlight search including “Spotlight suggestions” and “Bing Search” both of which send your query to a remote site.  I disabled those.  Also by default when I go to search it shows what book i’m reading and how far i’ve progressed.  Not a fan.  I had to go through and turn off all the apps I didn’t want searched. I would have preferred to turn “on” rather than turn “off” so another one where the feature is good but the implementation doesn’t work for me
  3. Tim absolutely HATES the new keyboard which I don’t notice at all so that’s his problem 🙂

A Statement From IBM On El Capitan and iOS9 Support

IBM have today released a statement explaining why some applications will be unable to connect to Domino servers from iOS9 and El Capitan devices due to Apple removing support for Elliptic curve technology (no – me either) and enhanced transport security.  This doesn’t affect only IBM but it’s something you need to be aware of.  There will be an interim fix for Domino 9.0.1 FP4 and also a new FP5 to resolve these issues (eta end Sept) but there will be no fix for Domino 8.5.x servers.

The full statement and explanation is here but the key summary is

Additionally, IBM is working on an Interim Fix for 9.0.1 Fix Pack 4 (and the upcoming 9.0.1 Fix Pack 5) that will implement Elliptic Curve cipher support for TLS 1.2 and TLS 1.0 that remedies this issue and implements Elliptic Curve support for the following protocols: HTTP/HTTPS, LDAP/LDAPS, SMTP, IMAP, and POP3. Currently, the ETA for the Interim Fix posting is end of September 2015.

Elliptic Curve support will not be available for Domino 8.5.x releases since the specification requires updated cryptographic libraries that are available only in Domino 9.0 and above.

Icon UK – One Week Away

Icon UK starts in London this time next week and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to see friends and talk about new ideas and new technologies.  I’m also doing two sessions this year both of which I’m really pleased with

On Tuesday at 10.20 I’m presenting “Planning and Completing An IBM Connections Upgrade” – this covers everything from patching DB2 to completing a side by side Connections 4.5 – 5 Upgrade.  It could easily run to 300 pages as a detailed technical presentation but instead I’m going to talk about how to plan, how to backup, in what order to do things and most of all – the things that can trip you up.  I tried a similar presentation at MWLUG for the first time and decided it was too wordy so I’ve taken another run at it in a different style –

Then straight after that – because I assume this is some kind of test – I’m presenting, with Mark Myers, a discussion around adapting to changes in technology  This session is about my experiences as an admin, Mark’s as a developer and both of ours as consultants in embracing the “new”.

A Consultant’s Story – Changing Your Technology
The Domino community is a vibrant, passionate world, but the market reality is now hard to ignore. You may be looking at the marketplace as it stands and thinking about the future. You may have spent a long time becoming well known in a technology set, only know to find it is going away. In this informal session come share your stories and here why you’re a lot more valuable than you may think you are. Expect a love of the Domino platform, a good dollop of positivity and a bit of painful honesty.

Plus it’s a great location on London’s South Bank and the Gala Party on Tuesday night (free to all attendees) is at the amazing 1918 HMS President currently decorated as a Dazzle Ship on Embankment.

All profits from Icon UK go to the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity so if you haven’t registered yet,  go here to sign up and join us.

See you there

Getting Ready For El Capitan (OSX 10.11) and iOS9

Apple are getting ready to ship both iOS9 (sometime next week is rumoured) and the latest version of OSX called El Capitan. Already people have downloaded and are using beta versions of the software and finding things don’t work – small things like Notes won’t install or run and iOS devices won’t connect to Traveler!  So here’s what you need to do (and with thanks to the king of all things Apple OS Rene Winkelmeyer)

Your Traveler server must be upgraded to the latest version which was released last week – 9.0.1.7.  That version adds support for iOS9 and without it your devices won’t be able to connect.  All those BYOD users with iPhones are sure to be updating the second the OS is released so you really need to stay ahead of the game and get your server upgraded.  And whilst you’re at it , make sure you get your SSL certificates updated to SHA2 if you haven’t already.

Amendment: Rene would like me to make it clearer that not having a SHA2 certificate from a public CA will absolutely positively stop Traveler from working as of iOS9 right now.  He’s right – I wasn’t clear enough on that. Your Traveler server must have a SHA2 SSL certificate and really must be Domino 9.0.1 FP4

IBM have announced there will be a new 64bit (yay!) version of Notes 9.0.1 for the Mac to be released prior to the shipping of El Capitan.  There are no declared dates but I’m hoping that means “September”.  More details of that here but basically until the new 64bit client is available, don’t upgrade to OSX 10.11

So. Traveler first. In fact Traveler NOW and then wait… 🙂

External User Registration Application – Some Screenshots And Details

Thank you everyone for the great feedback and interest in our external users registration app.  I had hoped that people would find it useful and I think we have a way of distributing it at no cost to anyone interested.

The app is a single Domino database which has two versions depending on whether you want users to be able to register themselves or be invited to register by your internal users.  I’ve tried to show both below

The Notes menu is very simple because it’s not intended to be used by anyone other than the occasional administrator.  Everything else is done via a web interface

The Notes client menu

The Notes client menu

First you need to set up the configuration telling the app where the Directory that will contain external user names is.  This the directory that TDI will reference when creating policies but user accounts aren’t copied into it until the registration process is entirely complete.

This setup is for the internal registration app

Setup

This is the registration page for the public registration where anyone can sign up for access. Obviously you could modify this to have further checks in place but bear in mind Connections only allows access for external users to Communities they are invited into so if I did register myself and login, I wouldn’t be able to see or do anything without a further invite.

We ask for an email address and confirm the registration back to that address asking the external user to click a link to activate – that way we ensure the email addresses are valid and monitored.  The code also checks that no one else has registered with the address already

RegistrationPublic

An external user would then receive an email with an activation link to click on

ConfirmationEmail

The registration page used for the internal invite model is slightly different but still checks the email address being registered is not already being used.

RegisterInternal

Then generates a unique registration code that can be emailed out to the external user manually (or automated if you want to add that code)

RegisterInternalConfirm

In each case the activation screen resulting from clicking on the link is the same. The password requirements can be modified by changing the code.

Activation And finally when the external user creates a valid password they get the following screen

Confirmation

So how do you get hold of a version of the app?  Obviously this is only part of the external user registration process which also includes LDAP and TDI configuration.  I would be very happy to quote on helping you with those pieces too but it’s not a requirement you use my consultancy to get access to the app, we are happy to make it available. I believe the setup can be completed in 2 – 3 hrs at most and again I’m happy to bill you to do that if you need me to or you can ask another Business Partner. You are welcome to take the app and support it yourself but in all cases our copyright remains in place (and is everywhere 🙂

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

Please email Mike Smith (mikes @ turtlepartnership.com) or myself if you need more information or a copy of either the public registration or internal registration app. Bear with us and we’ll get it out to you as soon as we can.

Domino 9.0.1 FP4 Crashes With HTTP On Linux and AIX

I discovered this on a customer site this weekend.  Their servers are running SLES Linux 64bit and already had Domino 9.0.1 FP2 on them.  I upgraded to  FP4 but only one of the clustered mail servers runs iNotes – that server kept crashing as soon as someone tried to access their mail.  The other server was stable and if I disabled HTTP the crashing server stayed up.

Turns out the IBM installer for FP4 on Linux and AIX is setting the ownership of the dojo folder incorrectly which causes the crash.  The dojo folder is under <notesdatadirectory>/domino/js and the ownership was set to invalid names.  From the js directory (which just has the dojo folder in it) I ran

chown notes:notes * -R

which told Linux to change the ownership of the dojo folder and everything beneath to the account / group used to run Domino.

There is a technote dated 28th August that i’ll post here but the fix on the technote is incorrect.  On their fix they say the permissions are wrong and need changing to 755 using chmod but that’s not true, they are already 755 in my installs but the actual ownership is wrong.  Maybe they’ll fix the technote but the background is here http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg21964549

Adding External Users To Connections – A Nice Simple Tool

Ever since Connections 5 gave us the ability to add external users to Communities it has been the number one requested feature from customers. The problem is that external users must exist in a LDAP source and also must have a profile in Connections that is created via TDI.

There are lots of ways to do this but few that are end user friendly and simple.  For that reason, some time ago we started to use our own XPages application that we make available to customers that automates the onboarding of external users into Connections.  The application is very simple and has two possible modes you can run in

  1. User self registration.  An external user can go to your website and create their own name / pw and email address. The system then sends an email to confirm the address is valid and asks them to click to activate.  On activation they create their own password that is checked against password requirements in the app (such as length, upper case, special character etc).  Once created the user can also self service a password reset via an email request sent to their account.
  2. User invite.  In this mode external users cannot create their own accounts but are instead invited by someone inside the company who again – goes to a webpage, creates a request and emails an activation link to their contact.  The rest of the process, activation, password checking, password reset remains the same.

It’s a single Domino database and can be set up in only a couple of hours.  Of course you still have to create the TDI sync but that’s a requirement no matter what you do.  For some time we’ve been considering how to make this tool available to the community at large since every customer we work with struggles with the same issue and we now have several good iterations of it we could share. We aren’t a product company and don’t want to sell it but we also can’t afford to commit to free support for a free download.

I’m not entirely sure of the answer. So far it’s been a non-issue since I’ve given it to customers we already do consultancy for or who ask us for consultancy. We’ve only charged for custom changes if required.  If you’d be interested in a copy of the database, seeing or testing it let me know and we’ll work something out.  It’s not open source, the code is our copyright but If you have any suggestions as to how we can make it more available without committing a lot of resource to productise it (which I would have to do for OpenNTF) I’d be very happy to hear them.