About Duffbert...

Duffbert's Random Musings is a blog where I talk about whatever happens to be running through my head at any given moment... I'm Thomas Duff, and you can find out more about me here...

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Co-author of the book IBM Lotus Sametime 8 Essentials: A User's Guide

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Co-author of the book IBM Sametime 8.5.2 Administration Guide

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HTML cleanup tools?

Category Software Development

Good morning, everyone...  I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions on HTML "clean up" tools (for lack of a better name).  Let me explain...

We have an application written in PHP and MySQL that has an embedded HTML editor in it.  You can cut and paste text from Microsoft Word documents (which is how we get the changes from the user), and the HTML is automagically generated.  But when you switch over to the HTML view, you see the most horrendous HTML in the world.  Word puts all sorts of MS-specific tags out there, and it makes it a PITA to try and find what you need to update.

Does anyone know of any tools that you can use to paste in HTML code and easily clean it up?  I'm trying to remove the MS Word garbage whenever possible, but it's time-consuming...


Great ESPN SportsCenter program this evening...

Category Everything Else

On ESPN, they did an hour show prior to SportsCenter showing how the nightly show comes together.  Very interesting to watch everyone working under the deadlines of live TV.  Then during the actual SportsCenter show, they used ESPN2 to show the regular broadcast and ESPN to show the control room and behind-the-scenes activity of what is occuring during the show.  All the while SportsCenter was in a small corner of the screen.

Live TV has always amazed me.  There's no "do-overs", no time to correct your mistakes.  You just go with the flow and do whatever you have to in order to keep the show going.  

Great stuff...


And a minor change to the blog...

Category Blogging

I reworked the Google referrers section to also include searches from Yahoo, as that seems to be growing in popularity.  If Declan's interested, I'll forward the changes to the two Google views to him to be included in the next version of Blogsphere.  


Is unionization of IT workers the answer to offshore outsourcing?

Category Everything Else

e-Pro recently ran an article titled
Unions May Be The Answer To IT Workers' Outsourcing Woes.  I'm really torn on this subject...

To start off, I know that offshore outsourcing is nothing new.  It's been talked about and executed successfully for many years now.  But it seems like it's been a major subject as of late.  Of course, IBM didn't help matters with the episode referred to in the article...  Nearly every industry magazine has some story each week about the loss of IT jobs to the economy and/or lower-priced offshore programmers.

I'm also not a big fan of unions.  Growing up on the west coast in a nonunion family, I have always viewed unions in a less-than-flattering light.  My impressions are that unions are used to protect jobs that perhaps are over-priced in today's global economy.  While I'm sympathetic about an entire town losing their jobs when an auto maker ships jobs to Mexico, I also feel that you can't compete with a global labor force that earns a fraction of current wages of US workers.  I guess since I'm in IT, I felt that if you wanted a better job, you need to learn different skills.  It's all up to you...

Now I'm not so sure any more...

The dot-bomb bust in combination with the global recession has seriously hindered the IT industry.  Wages are down, jobs are scarce, and hiring is not nearly where it was three years ago.  Companies that were major IT hotbeds (Oracle, IBM, etc.) are laying off workers and shipping other jobs offshore.  And suddenly the pat answer of "learn new skills" isn't quite as easy now.  There will always be the need for on-site IT work in most companies (I would think small companies more so than large ones).  But the glory days of IT might well be over, as least as we've come to know them.

Do I feel that IT workers are in need of unionization to protect their livelihoods?  It might protect some jobs, but that still doesn't sit well with me.  Should government step in and protect the industry?  I've never been fond of government protection, either.  I think that over time, you will find a shakeout of the industry.  People that were in it "for the money" will look elsewhere.  This will help out the people (like myself) who do this because it's who we are.  I have no doubt that we as a group have to accept the fact that our salaries will be hard-pressed to match the numbers we have been used to in the past.  I don't know that I will ever again see the money I made as part of Enron.

So what do you think?  Bail out if you don't enjoy it?  Do what you love and let the money fall where it may?  Or is this just another industry fad that will run its course in a couple of years, and then return to some level of equilibrium in the future?


Couple of general items...

Category Book Reviews

First...  I just love this story...  
Rubber Ducks Wash Up After 11 Years At Sea...  I can just imagine sitting on the beach, overlooking the ocean, and seeing a flock of rubber bath toys on the attack...

Second, I finished a book a few days ago called
Coastal Disturbance by Jessica Speart.  It's one of those "emergency paperbacks" I had on hand for when I ran out of recreational reading material.  Fish And Wildlife field agent Rachel Porter once again finds herself at odds with her bosses when she pushes too hard on a couple of cases involving some political bigwigs.  In the course of the cases she discovers an illegal manatee park where the animals are showing signs of mercury poisoning.  When she discovers the source of the poison, she also finds herself the target of murder.  I'm not a tree-hugging environmentalist, and this type of book normally doesn't do much for me.  But the story was pretty good, and I would be apt to pick up another book by this author...

Next, our XP project is still going fine.  Tomorrow is our first meeting with the users so that we can show the results of the first two stories.  We were under on our time estimate for the first story, and I think we're over on the second.  Not surprising, as the second story had most of the "plumbing" of the system (view timesheets, enter timesheets, and edit timesheets).  We ran into a strange issue with the portal server yesterday when Alex tried to add himself to the administrator's group.  Somehow the authentication got messed up and it took Alex a lot of time and effort to track down the error.  He's an ace when it comes to researching out these issues!   We finally got back on track this morning, and did some more coding for tomorrow morning.  That's one thing we are finding with Websphere Portal (and Websphere Application Server in general).  There are a lot of moving parts that can easy break things when you least expect it.  It makes you appreciate how far Domino has come.

It was SO hot in the office yesterday and today!  It hit 100 degrees today, and the poor air conditioners just can't keep up.  Four of the seven people in the office were wearing shorts.  Tomorrow is supposed to be 97, so I need to open the windows up when I get in at 7 or so.  Anything to get the office "cool" before the afternoon heat.  I've never enjoyed driving home in air conditioned cars so much as I have over the last two days...


I think I need new friends...

Category Humor

I get an email from Joe Litton mentioning that he thought he saw me last night when he was taking a walk with friends...  Here was the picture he sent along with the email...

A picture named M2


General Sunday stuff...

Category Everything Else
  • Still don't have a lead on wi-fi access in Penticton, but I have emails out to a number of local sources up there to see if I can find out more detail.  Two of the emails were sent to local ISP's in that area, so I'm hoping that pans out.  They also have a public library, and I guess I can use that once a day if necessary to at least keep my email accounts cleaned up...
  • My oldest son (Ian) got his first real job on Friday.  He's being hired at the ice rink where he does most of his skating.  It should be a great first job for him.  Once he gets going on the job and can afford his car insurance, then he'll be able to get his license...  The kids are growing up...
  • It's supposed to be in the mid- to high 90's most of the upcoming week here in Portland...  I'm wondering if Libby's travel plans have changed, and if she's headed to Portland early...  A picture named M2
  • The subject of XP in the Domino world picked up some real traction over the last week.  There were a number of bloggers who are showing an interest in the subject, specifically in the testing area.  The tools for automated Domino application testing don't seem to exist the way they do for other languages/platforms, so it will be interesting to see where this discussion goes (if anywhere).


Wi-fi access in Penticton, British Columbia?

Category Everything Else

In a few weeks, I'll be transporting my kids up to Penticton for the Okanagan Hockey School for a week.  While I'm not looking forward to sitting in an ice arena for 10 hours a day, 5 straight days, I do plan on getting a lot of writing and book reviews done.

What I'd love to find out is if there is any way to hook into a free high-speed internet hookup while I'm up there.  It could be wi-fi (Starbucks, anyone?) or anything else.  I just don't want to be net-less during that time...

Anyone have ideas on how to check it out?


Update on the XP experience...

Category Software Development

Alex and I have now been pair programming for nearly three full days now, and we both feel it's been a success.  It seems to be a more intense programming expereience, as there's less tendancy to take the two or three minute break to head off and check a web site or email.  You're pushing each other and there's a real focus on the task at hand.

We've evolved into a routine where Alex does a lot of the "driving" since he's got more experience in Java/portlet development than I do.  I'm trying to force myself to pitch in more in coding, keeping in mind that it's not as fluid for me as it is for Alex.  What's really great is to have two sets of eyes looking for things that appear strange.  For instance, we ran some unit tests yesterday and one of them seemed to take significantly longer than the rest.  I spotted that since I was concentrating more on overall direction and was less focused on specific lines of code.  That led to a 45 minute experience trying to nail down what was taking all the time, and determining whether this was going to be a problem on the server.  We found that 1) it ran much faster on the server due to not having to use the wireless network to communicate with other servers, and 2) a design change allowed us to mitigate a lot of overhead if the full data object was not needed.  And speaking of testing...

The automated unit testing using JUnit is incredible.  There were two times yesterday (one of them being what happened in the prior paragraph) when we had to make significant changes to all the modules for a design modification.  We were able to make them with no fear of breaking things as we already had the unit tests defined.  We just kept running the tests and making fixes until the tests ran clean.  This is probably our biggest joy with XP.  There's no reason to live with bad code because you don't want to "break" anything.  You make your changes and run the test.  If the tests pass, then your code works.  Of course, you have to make sure your tests cover everything, but you get the idea...

Richard Schwartz is looking at the XP process within Domino to see what can be incorporated for testing Domino apps.  I'll be responding (hopefully with some intelligence) over there on that item...

I'll have more observations as we continue to move forward.  But so far, it's all positive...


A couple of books finished over the last couple days...

Category Book Reviews

The first was The Art Of War by Sun-tzu with the translation by John Minford.  A classic text, and well arranged in this volume with commentary from ancient Chinese philosophers, current commentators, and the translator himself.  I end up reading this every two or three years as it always draws me back with the strategies and how they can apply to so many walks of life.  And no, I didn't read through this in a couple of days.  I've had it for a couple of weeks or so...

And on the entertainment side, there's Tietam Brown by Mick Foley.  Some of you might recognize Foley as a professional wrestler who has portrayed various characters over the years.   He's a rather unique person with a writing style that comes across as a written conversation.  For someone who's not a professional writer, he does a great job.  Now having said all that, I'm still not sure I would recommend this book.  I loved the writing style as I have with his other books.  The story is rather raw and intense, though.   And while there's a moral of forgiveness and change at the end, there were still some rather large holes in the story that made me wonder what had just happened.  I think my recommendation would be to check out Amazon's site and read the reviews.  Based on that and the content matter, decide whether you want to venture down that path.  Depending on what life dealt you while growing up, you may not want to go here.



Category Software Development

A well-written document on programming techniques!



It's been a long, strange week...

Category Book Reviews

With my wife being gone on a trip this week, it's been rather strange.  Normally when I head off to work in the morning before everyone gets up, I don't have to think about home or the kids until I get back.  This week, I had to make sure the kids weren't up to anything during the day.  Overall, things went relatively well, but there were adventures and phone calls that didn't do much for my well-being...

Monday - I get home to find Ian (my 17 year old) with a messed-up lip.  Turns out some friends were over and they were wrestling around in the backyard.  He took a shot to the mouth which hurt his tooth.  Had to keep an eye on him to see if we needed to go to the dentist...

Tuesday - he's up when I get up at 4:15 am, and he asks me to make a dental appointment for him.  I end up working a 1/2 day from home so that I can coordinate that.  Tooth seems to be OK, but we'll keep an eye on it.

Wednesday - I get a phone call from home...  "You know the neighbor's garage?  The side that faces our backyard?"  I really didn't want to hear the rest.  Turns out Ian was just calling to tell me there were some wasp nests near the roof there, and that I needed to spray them when I got home.  Bullet dodged there...

Thursday - I call home to make sure they are up and moving.  Cam (my 15 year old) says, "Oh, by the way, the toilet's broken..."  Sigh...  Turns out the chain between the handle and the stopper had fallen off.  That's within my marginal home repair skills, so another bullet is dodged...

Friday - I wake up feeling less-than-wonderful, but I have a couple of meetings I need to attend.  After meeting with a client, I decide to head home.  While stopping at the store on the way home, I get a call from Cam.  He's asking if it's OK for Ian to give him a buzz cut.  Why me???  When Ian was around 8, he tried to give himself a haircut after a bubblegum incident.  It wasn't pretty.  There was NO way I was going to explain that to Sue when she gets back tomorrow...

I made it to the weekend, so let's hope the last two days just drift along with no surprises...

And of course, what would a weekend posting be without a couple of book notes?

The first book is
Good To Great by Jim Collins.  This book was recommended by the two top guys at Boom Vang Consulting.  Collins studied eleven companies that outperformed comparison companies over a fifteen year period, and distilled some behaviors that were common to all these companies.  These are covered in the following principles:  Level 5 Leadership, First Who...  Then What, Confront The Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith), The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity Within The Three Circles), A Culture Of Discipline, Technology Accelerators, and The Flywheel And The Doom Loop.  I learned a lot from this study, and I'm impressed that we are trying to model these behaviors in our company.  I'm not convinced that there is any single "right" program or business book out there.  What I am convinced of is that it's very important to have some direction in mind, and to get everyone on the same page.  Good stuff here...

And on the entertainment side, there was Janet Evanovich's
To The Nines.  I was able to get onto the hold list at the library very early for this one, so I didn't have to wait long.  I'm man enough to admit I like the female detective/bounty hunter genre.  Janet Evanovich and Sue Grafton are two of my favorite authors.  I was looking forward to this one, and it didn't disappoint.  Stephanie Plum is sent out to track down a person who has apparently skipped out on a visa bond.  The leads are pretty sparse, and there's no clear trace of the guy.  But as she starts to follow up on what does exist, people start getting killed.  Then she starts getting flowers and emails that point to her being the next victim.  All the normal characters in her novels are there, and it's a good recreational read...  Recommended.


Update on our eXtreme Programming (XP) project...

Category Software Development

I thought it might be of interest to share some on-going experiences with our application project using the XP methodology at work...

We spent the first week or so getting acquainted with the project lead, as well as reviewing the requirements from user interviews and learning a bit about XP.  While some of the techniques of XP seem to be intuitive (like user stories for requirements), some aren't quite as comfortable at first glance (like pair programming).  And while you can take bits and pieces of XP and apply them with some success, it's best to use all the methods in order to experience the "synergy" of XP.  Alex and I are committed to giving it a fair try, so we're trying to do everything "by the book".

Last week was "user story" time.  User stories are short two to three line descriptions of what the user needs to be able to do in a single task.  This (at least for us) took the form of "As a [role, such as Customer], I need to be able to approve an invoice that has been submitted."  In addition to this, there's a business reason as to why the user needs to be able to do this, and what a successful test of this would be.  Since Alex and I are users as well as developers of this system, we played the role of the users and wrote the stories.  Once those stories got finished, we placed them into high/medium/low categories and concentrated on listing the development tasks involved for the high priority stories.  The final outcome of that process ended yesterday, when we came up with estimates as to how long it would take to develop each story.

The next step is tomorrow, when we have a planning session to determine what stories will constitute phase 1 of the system, and what stories will make up the first iteration.  Iterations should be short (one to two weeks), so that feedback as to the direction of the system is constant.  It also means that there is always a workable version of the system with some level of functionality being delivered every week or so.  It definitely beats the "analyze for six months, code for six months, and end up with a system after a year that doesn't meet the new business environment when delivered" situation...  The short iterations also allow for the system to change direction rapidly based on what the user sees and experiences.  If after an iteration the user senses a new direction, then you write up new user stories, estimate them, prioritize them, and plan the next iteration cycle...

Now comes the confession...  Alex and I cheated a little today...  We started some pair programming and unit testing based on what we've come up with so far.  We wanted to get started with one of the more unusual aspects of XP.  XP states that you should devise your tests before you code, and then you should do pair programming to write the system.  Pair programming is two developers sharing a single keyboard and screen.  What sounds wasteful on the surface actually has some merit.  While one person codes, the other is thinking about the direction that the code is taken.  You have two minds solving the same problem, with the result being more solid code that isn't likely to end up in dead ends.  We were both a little hesitant about this activity, as we both are more comfortable working alone.  But after two hours of programming today, we are quickly becoming sold on it.  A lot of good discussion came out of it, and we actually have tested, functional code to build on now.

The other part was unit testing...  XP is built on the belief of "test early, test often".  You are supposed to have automated tests that will run repeatedly so that you know all the code is functioning as designed.  This testing allows you to refactor your code whenever necessary without fear of breaking code.  If you refactor and the code still tests out OK, you're good to go.  The most common tool is JUnit, which integrates into Websphere Studio Application Developer (WSAD) VERY nicely.  We built tests to prove the connection classes, and it was great to get the "green bar" showing all tests ran successful.  We're both pretty stoked that the combo of this type of testing linked with pair programming will lead to a very solid design.

OK...  I've rambled on a lot here.  I plan on updating the learning experiences here as we go along, so that you can get an idea as to how XP might work in the real world.  Now that we've actually done some of the techie parts of XP, we're thinking this is gonna be fun!


A new toy for you to play with...

Category Everything Else

If you look over at the top of the right side of this blog page, you'll see a link to weBValet.  weBValet is
Boom Vang Consulting's Sametime "bot" which is programmed to return a variety of information to the user.  I thought it might be fun to include it here in addition to our home page.  

Feel free to click away...


What makes a weblog a weblog?

Category Blogging

Yesterday I got an email from Kathy Sierra, one of the co-authors of the outstanding book Head First Java (are you all getting tired of me pushing this book yet?)  A picture named M2  She's considering the possibility of starting a blog, and was wondering if I knew of any articles/books that discussed less of the "how" and more of the "what" to do when blogging.  

This morning, I received an email from DominoPower highlighting an article on Domino blogging.  In there was a link to Dave Winer's article What Makes A Weblog A Weblog?  I thought Dave's article (along with the links at the end of the piece) was a great intro to the subject.

Do any of you have other resources that you'd like to point out for Kathy's benefit?  The comment lines are now open...


Saturday morning Random Musings...

Category Book Reviews

Been awhile since I did one of these Saturday morning random thought dumps...  
  • During the week, I finished a novel called Money For Nothing by Donald E. Westlake.  This was based on a recommendation from someone based on a prior post.  Good author, and good story.  This guy has been getting checks for $1000 each month for a number of years, and they come from a group called United States Agent.  He is never able to figure out who or what that is, so he just cashes the checks.  Then one day out of the blue, he is contacted by a foreign agent and is told that he has been "activated".  He is now an official "spy" and needs to figure out how to save his life and thwart an international incident in which he is targeted to be the fall guy.  Very good read...
  • I have REALLY got to do something around the house today.  Last weekend I was a total slug, so I need to make up for it this weekend...
  • My wife leaves for Arizona at dark:30 tomorrow morning in order to participate in some "quilting camp".  She likes to quilt, and this is apparently some popular event held once a year in Flagstaff.  I just hope it's air-conditioned down there, as it's been between 90 - 115 each day this last week...  As for me and the boys, it's a weeklong "BOYS NIGHT OUT"!!!!  
  • One of the things I like checking out on my blog is what Google/Yahoo searches hit my site.  It's always interesting to see what people are searching for, and to see what combination of terms brought them here.  Today's latest entry was "stealing blog templates".  I must be good at it, as I'm 9th on the list for Google with that one.  Once I get the concept of stealing open-source blog templates down, I'll let you all know...  
  • And a follow-up to the new logo for the blog site...  As you've noticed I have an animated logo at the top that morphs into the new name.  I'll be switching that to the regular banner here in the next day or so.  I did get actual logos from Joe Litton and jonvon.  I plan on using jonvon's in an About page that I'll write some day.  I plan on seeking revenge for Joe's logo...  :-)
    A picture named M2 A picture named M3


Ooohh... the dirt I could spread!

Category Blogging

From Wired News on June 30th,
Bloggers Gain Libel Protection....  

"The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Tuesday that Web loggers, website operators and e-mail list editors can't be held responsible for libel for information they republish, extending crucial First Amendment protections to do-it-yourself online publishers."

Since I'm not selling anything, I guess it's fair for me to spread rumors!  Oh, the things I could make u...  TELL you about

Other than this, I just have nothing worthwhile to blog about...  Work is busy, I'm being lazy at home, next week I play a single dad while my wife goes to a quilting event, blah, blah, blah...

Though I do wonder...  one of the referrers on my list today was the
Popdex site.  I would REALLY like to know how I made it there!


A couple more books to wrap up the long weekend...

Category Book Reviews

I was pretty busy on the 4th getting the house in shape for our company, along with the gathering we had with my parents.  The rest of the weekend was pretty laid back, and I tried to get caught up on a number of books that all came in from the library at once.  So, here are the two that got finished last night and this morning...

The first is John Sandford's Naked Prey.  This is a series involving a detective named Lucas Davenport based in Minnesota.  In the latest installment, he's been moved into a governmental position when his boss gets promoted and takes him along.  He's called in to assist on a crime where a racially mixed couple is found naked and hanged in the country.  The governor wants this wrapped up quickly as he doesn't want the media to start treating this as a lynching.  Davenport starts poking around but has a hard time trying to figure out who in the small town might be involved, although it looks like there are things going on that no one is 'fessing up to.  For whatever reason, I didn't get real excited by this novel.  I normall like Sandford's work, but this one just seemed "flat".  Oh, well...

The other book I finished was pretty short but a lot of fun.  It's called The Flying Book - Everything You've Ever Wondered About Flying In Airplanes by David Blatner.  I saw this one in the Orlando airport coming back from DisneyWorld, and I picked it up at our local library.  It's a well-written book that covers all the aspects of travel by plane.  A sample of the chapter titles:  How Do Airplanes Work?; The Skyways; Things That Go Bump In The Flight; and Behind The Scenes At The Airline.  If you travel a lot and have just taken air travel for granted, this is a nice read to bring back some of the wonder of how it all comes together.  This is a recommended read.


Book review - Enterprise JavaBeans (and associated workbook)

Category Book Reviews

I wrote up a review today for the book Enterprise JavaBeans by Richard Monson-Haefel.  This also comes with an associated workbook titled Websphere 4.0 AEs Workbook by Kyle Brown.  If you care to read my review of it, head on over to our Portland Notes/Domino User Group website under the Discussions area.  

Bottom line...  It's a pretty good set if you're already well-grounded in Java technology and need to learn EJBs.  If you're just starting out in Java, this book will be over your head.  It certainly was for me!  :-)


Interesting book for you gamer geeks...

Category Book Reviews

I've had about three books going on over the last few days, and I finished one of them last night.  It's called Masters Of Doom: How Two Guys Created An Empire And Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner.  It tells the story of John Carmack and John Romero who started the gaming company id.  These were the two guys who created games such as Doom, Quake, Commander Keen, and many other titles so familiar to those of us getting into computers in the late 80's and early 90's.  It follows their lives from their time they met up at a small tech company and decided to go it alone, through the explosion of the shareware gaming phenomenon that they helped create, through the crash and burn of their relationship and the efforts to run their own companies.

It's an interesting study in the dynamics of a small company who strikes it big but doesn't handle the transformation well.  It also is interesting to read how personalities that seemed to be so compatible can end up being so poisonous to the welfare of the company.  

I'd recommend the book if you're into gaming and want to read about how the industry has evolved, or if you're the owner of a small business.  Lots of lessons to learn here.


Getting eXtreme...

Category Software Development

I'm doing something that is rather interesting at work.  We're kicking off an internal project using the eXtreme Programming methodology, also known as XP.  This is a very popular project methodology that is characterized by, among other things, pair programming, constant customer involvement, and short release cycles.  Some of the features are very common sense (such as testing early and often), but some are rather counter-intuitive (such as pair programming, where two programmers are coding at a single computer as a team).  Experience has shown some very positive results using these methods.  I'm excited to be trying this in an official project that can touch most all of the XP tenents.  

There are a number of XP resources out there for you to use to learn more about it.  The "bible" on the subject is a book called
eXtreme Programming Explained, Embrace Change by Kent Beck.  Beck is the "father" of XP, and this book is a great overview of the complete process.  There are a number of books that focus on particular parts of the process, but you gotta walk before you can run.

Another good resource is the Extreme Programming
website.  This is another great resource to understand the overall process in order to get started.  I highly recommed it.

And finally, there was an article in the latest IBM DeveloperWorks newsletter about XP.  Better yet, it pointed to a list of all the articles so far in the series.  Check
here to see the list of subjects.  I'll be reading this stuff over the weekend.

Finally, I wrote an article on my experience using parts of XP on a Domino-based project.  Not all XP features work well with Domino, but far more parts mesh VERY well with Domino development.  I'll let you know if/when that article gets published.


Countdown to 10000...

Category Blogging

If normal traffic patterns hold steady today and tomorrow, I should reach the 10000 mark on my hit counter for the main page sometime mid-day on Thursday.  Granted, probably 7500 of these hits have been my own when I hit refresh to see if I have any readers since I last checked, but hey!  It's still 10000!  A picture named M2

I remember when
Joe Litton and I started blogging earlier this year.  We both started out on Blogspot as a quick way to get going.  We then started tweaking our templates to be "different".  Of course, Joe would add something and I'd do the same.  Then I'd add something and Joe would steal it.  The high point of our "R&D" efforts (Rob & Duplicate) was when I added a bCentral hit counter.  I was happy to see the first time it rolled past 100.  I then went over to Joe's page.  Guess who else had added a hit counter?  And guess who's hit counter was already up at 1962?  When confronted with the deception, he explained that it was totally unacceptable to have a lower hit count than Duffbert, so he set the seed number to be his year of birth...  I would have liked to have been mad at him, but I was just ticked that I didn't think of it first!

On the serious side, thank you to all who have helped me get the blog up and going, for all who have left comments and suggestions, and for all who have just dropped by for an occasional visit.  It's been a fun ride, and I look forward to continuing to be a part of this blogging community.


So what's your favorite resource for Notes/Domino help?

Category Software Development

Partly as a result of last night's blog post about group knowledge available over the web, I started wondering what other Notes/Domino developers use when they are trying to solve their sticky problems that go beyond their own experience and/or level of knowledge?

For me, there are two resources I turn to quite often.  The first one is to hit F1 when I'm in the Designer client to get the online Notes Designer Help files.  I've never been too fond of the actual yellow books for reference.  Perhaps it's just because I'm too used to clicking on the Index view and then searching for the command I need.  I can't count the number of times I've copied an example file from there to paste into my code in order to tweak my own example.  I also appreciate the cross-references to other similar items at the bottom of most of the entries.

The second most useful item for me (but not by much) is MartinScott's SuperSearch site.  This feature of MartinScott's website allows you to search multiple Notes discussion forums from a single interface.  You enter your search criteria, select which sites you want to search, and then click Search.  Multiple browser windows then kick off to each of the sites you've selected, and your search is automagically executed for you.  This site has bailed me out SO many times!  And one of the principals there, Jamie Mcgee, is extremely responsive to feedback.  If you've never used this site before, I highly recommend that you check it out.  It's my goal to be the 1,000,000th search executed at the site...  :-)

So, what's your favorite Notes resource for help?


One thing I miss when trying to do portal work...

Category Software Development

... is the incredible amount of knowledge that exists in the form of discussion forums, web sites, and newsgroups (not necessarily in that order).  

I know when I run into a Notes/Domino problem, the issue has almost surely happened to someone else, it has almost surely been asked about in a forum, and the answer (or lack thereof) is out there if you keep looking.  Having a decade of postings available at your fingertips helps solve SO many problems so quickly.  If it weren't for
MartinScott's SuperSearch, I'd be lost.

But when doing Websphere Portal work, the accumulated experience isn't there yet.  Either that, or I just don't know all the good places to look.  When I have ended up in certain posting areas, it seems like there are many questions asked but not an overabundance of answers.  It feels like we're all trying to solve the same problems and we're all running into the same issues.

I will be much happier when I 1) know more, and 2) see more shared knowledge become part of the collective "brain" of the development community.

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Thomas "Duffbert" Duff

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