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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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OK... are the Windows games REALLY necessary to run Windows?

Category Microsoft

Over the last few weeks, I've deleted some of the Windows games that tend to suck time away from things I really *should* be doing.  So Hearts, Spider Solitare, and regular Solitare have been deleted from my hard drive.

But I just LOVE how when I delete those, Windows XP comes up with a message telling me that essential files necessary for running Windows have been deleted, and I should restore them from my backup CDs.  

Yeah, right...


Book Review - Damien the Man: The Son of Perdition by Ralph D. Nybakken

Category Book Review Ralph D. Nybakken Damien the Man

In the mail the other day, a copy of Damien the Man: The Son of Perdition by Ralph D. Nybakken showed up.  The best way to describe it would be that it's similar to the Left Behind series if all those volumes were to be condensed down to about 350 pages.  And being how tedious some of those volumes became, Nybakken's work is in many ways much more enjoyable to read.

The basic plot revolves around Christian end-time prophecies involving the Rapture, the Tribulation, and Armageddon.  Michael Nelson has designed a system that will gather massive amounts of data on every person in the world.  While at first he is pleased with his creation, he slowly starts to question the motives and direction of the United Nations leader who is implementing it.  This foreboding grows after a couple of friends disappear in front of his eyes, and they leave behind a Bible and an explanation of end-time prophecy.  Michael and his wife start to understand and anticipate the events that are putting the entire world under the leadership and domination of a single ruler and his ever-present assistant.  Nelson draws the line at receiving the identification mark that has been mandated by the leadership, and becomes an international fugitive as he tries to disappear and hold out until the anticipated final war in the Middle East.

If you've read any Tribulation novels, you pretty much know the general plot, events, and timing.  The only real difference is in the quality of the writer in terms of how he brings those events to pass with his characters.  Nybakken does a good job in covering a seven year timespan in a relatively condensed number of pages.  At first, the time jumps seemed to be rather large and unexpected.  But the longer I read, the more I realized that these gaps were necessary to tell the whole story without becoming bogged down in details.  And as mentioned in the opening few lines, this approach worked FAR better than the uneven pacing of many of the Left Behind books.  

Damien is a solid read given the self-published nature of the book.  Given how some of those turn out, I wasn't expecting a whole lot up front.  In this case, I was pleasantly surprised.


I wondered if we'd finally get to this particular slant on the Microsoft Vista/Intel chipset controversy...

Category Microsoft Intel

From Microsoft Watch:  Intel-Microsoft Graphicsgate, Part 1

News Analysis. How serious could be Intel's and Microsoft's mutually beneficial, apparent collusion over Windows Vista and integrated graphics chip sets? Criminal.

This morning, I asked Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, if there might be violations under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission, Justice Department or Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Yes, to all of the above," he answered. "Maybe, we haven't exhausted the universe of possible problems here."

Quick recap of this week's events: As part of the discovery process for the Windows Vista Capable lawsuit, on Wednesday the court publicly disclosed 158 pages of internal Microsoft documents. On page 30, unidentified Microsoft employee John Kalkman writes in an e-mail about Vista certification for an Intel chip set: "We lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with the 915 graphics embedded." Later, after explaining some of the negative market results, he admits: "It was a mistake on our part to change the original graphics requirements."

Goldman hadn't yet reviewed all the released documents, when we first spoke. Clearly stunned, he asked me to reread the Kalkman quote about Microsoft helping Intel earnings.

The statement is "very serious" if straightforward as it appears, "with life-changing consequences for the individuals involved," he emphasized.

Later, after becoming more familiar with the case, he e-mailed and expressed how news stories "shockingly haven't been getting into the legal consequences.

Having been part of Enron Broadband during the hyped years, I understand a bit about how things can be made to "fit" for Wall Street.  Turns out that many of those "deals" that were closed right before quarterly earnings reports were done primarily to juice the reported earnings, when in reality they were washes or cover-ups with little real substance behind them.  They all looked and sounded great to us employees at the lower levels, but little did we know the amount of smoke and mirrors that were really being used.

Fast forward to Microsoft and Intel...  We apparently have Microsoft making false statements (the Vista-capable certification) in order to sell their software on Intel chipsets that were not up to the task.  And if it's proved that Microsoft did this in order to help Intel make quarterly earnings numbers, then I don't see how the feds *can't* get involved in terms of potential criminal violations of financial security laws.  One of the charges that seemed to be part and parcel of the indictments of Enron executives was the intent to defraud the market in terms of earnings based on written financial reports and quarterly conference calls.  While not a pure apples-to-apples comparison, it's not a huge leap to see either Intel or Microsoft (or *both*) executives having to answer for this apparent collusion in a court of criminal justice, not just a class-action civil case.

The monopoly aspect of Microsoft has been well-established over the years.  Their financial reports have always shown an incredible amount of free cash-flow.  But I've always wondered what might happen if somehow it was proved that the statements were not all they appeared to be, and that the financial results were somehow manipulated in some way, shape, or form.  They wouldn't be the first company to do so, and they wouldn't be the last.  But an event like that would definitely send tremors through the tech industry, and would rock the very foundations of the company...


Book Review - Count Zero by William Gibson

Category Book Review William Gibson Count Zero

I don't know why I keep doing this to myself.  I run across a William Gibson novel, this time Count Zero.  It's cyberpunk, so I know I like the genre.  I remembered long ago liking Neuromancer.  But then I check back on my last ten years of reading logs and find that I've consistently given Gibson 2's and 3's on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high).  But I'm sure it'll be different this time...  And once again, the answer is no.  Love the writing, love the images, and am absolutely and totally lost when it comes to the plot (or what passes for one).  I guess I'm just not sophisticated enough to "get it".

This mercenary is brought back into play by an agent to recover a coveted scientist from a rival company.  The mercenary is actually "regrown" as he was blown to bits in a prior mission.  But now he's back and pretty much a new person.  But at the time the scientist is supposed to rendezvous with the extraction team, things go to pieces.  And instead of the scientist, he actually sent out his daughter.  Meanwhile in plotline #2, a woman is hired by an extremely rich individual to trace down the maker of a certain art item...  a box of seemingly random items.  But the rich guy is actually kept alive in an ever-expanding vat of chemicals while he apparently tries to figure out a way to inhabit a healthy body.  And plotline #3 involves some guy who is a cowboy hacker and nearly gets killed running an online incursion using some unfamiliar security software that a friend asked him to try out.  During his escape, he lost the software in his software deck when he was mugged.  And now a number of murky characters really need to get that software back before bad things happen.  And somehow, all three of these plotlines come together at the end.  Just don't ask me to explain it, as it was beyond me...

Gibson can paint a cyperpunk scene better than nearly anyone.  His contraptions and constructs aren't always explained, so you often have to keep reading, assuming that you'll piece it together later.  Where I consistently come up short with his writing is with the story-line.  As in, I don't get them, they're extremely obtuse, and you have to be either way smarter than I am or a complete sci-fi geek to understand.  I'll admit to not doing "subtle" well, but "subtle" would be a step up in clarity for this book.  I kept reading as I loved the imagery, but I knew about halfway through that I wasn't going to understand one of the plots at all, nor was I likely to get the ending, whatever it may turn out to be.  I was right...

I won't argue with the conventional wisdom that Gibson is a master of the cyberpunk genre.  I'm just sorry that, at least for me, the story-lines don't match up with the quality of the imagery.


Book Review - Condi: The Life of a Steel Magnolia by Mary Beth Brown

Category Book Review Mary Beth Brown Condi: The Life of a Steel Magnolia

I was recently given the opportunity to read and review the book Condi: The Life of a Steel Magnolia by Mary Beth Brown.  There are a number of things that will factor into whether you end up liking this book or not.  All things considered, I ended up thinking this was around an "average" book...

Transforming America; Entering a New World; A Strong Family Heritage; Childhood Matters; Becoming a Steel Magnolia; Not Your Average Teenager; Education Is the Way to Success; Professor Rice; Dealing with the Soviet Union; Tackling a Monstrous Deficit; Condi the Campaigner; Advising a President; The Most Powerful Woman in the World; Epilogue; Bibliography; Notes; Index; Acknowledgments; About the Author

On the positive side...  This book goes into a fair amount of detail about how she grew up in the segregated South, an only child who was taught that nothing should stand in her way to achieve whatever she could dream.  Her ancestors placed great importance on education, and that emphasis carried down to her.  As a result, she was way ahead of the curve when it came to academic achievement, regardless of color and gender.  She was also well-versed in the arts, and is an accomplished pianist who still plays regularly for herself and the occasional public performance.  Her Christian faith is also integral to her attitude and philosophy in life, and that's something that can't be sectioned off and dealt with as a compartment.  Based on the way the author presents the material, you realize that Rice places critical importance on her relationship with God.  When you're done with the book, you know that she has accomplished more in her life than any number of people combined.  She truly is an example of overcoming obstacles and hurdles in life to become a success.

On the negative side...  You'd think that Rice has never made a mistake in her life based on the author's often gushing portrayal of her.  Little if any time is spent analyzing her decisions made as "the most powerful woman in the world" in terms of foreign policy, terrorism, and other issues facing the American people both here and abroad.  I almost got the impression that Rice may not necessarily be setting policy as she would have it, but rather serving the president and promoting the Administration views as a good soldier.  This lack of impartial or even critical analysis taints what otherwise could be a decent biography of Rice.  Without that analysis, it's hard not to view this as a rather one-sided pro-Condi book put out by people who would like to see her run for President or something.

From my perspective, I learned much about Rice, and she's someone who I admire.  I *do* have a hard time reconciling that view of her with the current administration she works for.  If you approach the book from a purely political viewpoint, there's not much here that would satisfy you.  If you're more interested in a human interest portrayal of someone who has succeeded in life, then you'll get more out of it.  I would have preferred a portrayal that was more realistic, complete with flaws and mistakes.  Instead, it's more of a rah-rah read that may leave you still wondering who the real Condi is...


This Java Sametime abend dump was rather amusing...

Category IBM/Lotus

I was doing a Sametime presentation today, and somewhere near the end I realized that I had lost my Sametime IE session somewhere (the session was pretty well done at that point).  I didn't think anything about it, until I found the dump file sitting on my Windows desktop.

# An unexpected error has been detected by Java Runtime Environment:
#  Internal Error (0xe06d7363), pid=2320, tid=2216
# Java VM: Java HotSpot(TM) Client VM (1.6.0_03-b05 mixed mode, sharing)
# Problematic frame:
# C  [kernel32.dll+0x12a5b]

Fine...  whatever...  I guess I really did have a Sametime crash, and I wasn't hallucinating about it.  But these following lines were rather strange...

Java Threads: ( => current thread )
  0x08662000 JavaThread "STTimerManager" daemon [_thread_blocked, id=3420]
  0x0865fc00 JavaThread "STTimerManager" daemon [_thread_blocked, id=1968]
  0x0865d800 JavaThread "SlowPool" [_thread_in_native, id=3768]
=>0x0865e800 JavaThread "FastPool" [_thread_in_native, id=2216]
  0x096cb800 JavaThread "Shared Conflet Queue" [_thread_blocked, id=588]
  0x0964a000 JavaThread "Connection Thread" [_thread_blocked, id=2420]
  0x09649400 JavaThread "STConnectionAuto(Inbound) " [_thread_blocked, id=2700]
  0x096cb400 JavaThread "STTimerManager" daemon [_thread_blocked, id=3800]
  0x09648000 JavaThread "STConnectionAuto(Outbound) " [_thread_blocked, id=4048]
  0x0964c000 JavaThread "STTimerManager" daemon [_thread_blocked, id=1308]
  0x085fe400 JavaThread "Thread-22" [_thread_blocked, id=3188]
  0x085f2400 JavaThread "JavaScript Service Thread" [_thread_blocked, id=3136]
  0x08648400 JavaThread "Uncle Egad's VP Sender 2" [_thread_blocked, id=2956]
  0x085f2000 JavaThread "Aunt Zelma's VP Listener 2" [_thread_blocked, id=468]
  0x0853a400 JavaThread "Uncle Egad's VP Sender 1" [_thread_blocked, id=2920]
  0x07943c00 JavaThread "Aunt Zelma's VP Listener 1" [_thread_in_native, id=864]
  0x086e3400 JavaThread "Thread-11" [_thread_in_native, id=3308]
  0x085e1000 JavaThread "Chuck the postman's dispatching thread.1" [_thread_blocked, id=3640]
  0x0855f400 JavaThread "STTimerManager" daemon [_thread_blocked, id=3316]
  0x08518400 JavaThread "JavaScript Service Thread" [_thread_blocked, id=1612]
  0x07936400 JavaThread "Pacfile Thread #0" [_thread_blocked, id=1180]
  0x0868b000 JavaThread "AWT-EventQueue-3" [_thread_blocked, id=3564]
  0x08510000 JavaThread "AWT-EventQueue-2" [_thread_blocked, id=3520]
  0x08689400 JavaThread "thread applet-com.lotus.sametime.mrc.STMeetingRoomApplet" [_thread_blocked, id=1796]

Uncle Egad, Aunt Zelma, and Chuck the postman???

Some programmer was having some fun in there...  :)


RUN! RUN! Registration for ILUG 2008 is open NOW!

Category ILUG2008

Registration is NOW OFFICIALLY OPEN!

Move quickly!

ILUG 2008


Less than one more day before you can register for ILUG 2008!

Category ILUG2008

Keep an eye out at the ILUG 2008 website tomorrow...


I have 3 more months to practice...

Category ILUG2008

A picture named M2

3 more days until open registration for ILUG 2008!


I had the best Notes/Domino phone call at work today... :)

Category IBM/Lotus

I do my fair share to promote the use of Notes/Domino in our company, and as such I tend to get phone calls asking questions about "can Notes do <whatever>?"  I got one of those calls today, but it was the follow-up the person shared that made my day...

This person called to ask me about how they could print an email to a PDF document.  They had Adobe Writer installed, so I asked them to select the Print option when they were in their email.  I then asked if they had a "PDF" option as a printer.  They did, and all was well...  

Ah, but then the follow-up...

They proceeded to share with me that they had recently talked with someone who had gone to another company where Outlook Express was being used.  Unprompted, the person shared that they HATED Outlook Express, it didn't have nearly the functionality they had come to rely on, and they wished they could go back to using Notes/Domino.

Sometimes the grass that's greener on the other side of the fence just means there's a leaking septic tank underneath...  :)


Cool... he even got his own press release! Binary Tree Appoints New Vice President of Research / Development

Category Everything Else

 Binary Tree Appoints New Vice President of Research & Development

NEWARK, N.J., Feb. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Binary Tree announced today the appointment of their new Vice President of Research and Development. Mr. Bob Balaban comes to Binary Tree after a long and successful career as a technical expert on IBM and other collaboration technologies.

Most recently, Mr. Balaban worked for IBM's Lotus Notes and Domino development organization as Programming Services Architect, where he led efforts to revitalize Domino Web application development. Mr. Balaban was also lead architect for Notes/SAP integration.

Prior to his stint at IBM, Mr. Balaban spent 8 years as President of Looseleaf Software, Inc., an IBM Business Partner specializing in advanced development work for Notes/Domino add-ons and for J2EE product integration. While at Looseleaf, Mr. Balaban was responsible for a number of innovative products and advanced training courses, and he was also the author of a book, 'Programming Domino With Java.'

Before founding Looseleaf Software, he spent 10 years as a Senior Developer with Lotus Development Corp. and Iris Associates, creators of Lotus Notes and Domino. Among other things, Mr. Balaban created the Notes object model, and was the author of the Notes 'back-end classes.' He was also the lead architect for the Notes Agent Manager.

Mr. Balaban's role as the new Vice President of Research and Development at Binary Tree will allow him to focus on new product development, refining internal development processes, and contributing to overall company development and business strategy.

"As the first Vice President of Research & Development in Binary Tree's 15-year history, Mr. Balaban brings rich experience in helping Binary Tree expand its presence in the market-place through the establishment of a professionally-designed and executed Research & Development program," states Henry Bestritsky, Co-CEO of Binary Tree. "We are honored to have Bob join Binary Tree. He is an excellent fit for assisting us in taking Binary Tree to the next level."

Go, Bob!


Book Review - Facebook: The Missing Manual by E. A. Vander Veer

Category Book Review E. A. Vander Veer Facebook: The Missing Manual

So let's say you're someone who hasn't dabbled much in the Web 2.0 world, and you're wondering what all this talk of Facebook is about.  Or, you're a parent and you've heard media reports of how dangerous Facebook can be for your kids if they're not careful.  If you want to get a overview of the site without getting totally bogged down in the details once you log on, Facebook: The Missing Manual is a good option to pursue.  You'll find out the reality of what Facebook offers, why people find it appealing, and what sort of security matters you should keep in mind as you (or your kids) establish a presence there.

Part 1 - From Signing Up to Staying Connected: Getting Started; Joining a Network; Finding and Adding Friends; Sending Messages to Friends; Exchanging Automatic Updates
Part 2 - Interest Groups and Shopping: Participating in Groups; Facebook and the Real World - In-person Events; Going Shopping
Part 3 - Doing Business with Facebook: Hiring and Getting Hired; Collaborating on Projects via Facebook; Advertising on Facebook
Part 4 - Privacy and Power Tools: Customizing Facebook and Adding Applications; Playing It Safe - Facebook Privacy; Facebook Mobile
Part 5 - Appendix: Getting Help; Index

The book starts off with the basics...  how to sign up, create your identity, and what sort of groups you could join.  I immediately learned something in that area when it came to what groups you're allowed to join in terms of locations and schools.  I didn't realize there were the restrictions that required you to have an email address from the school you were associating with.  There's also the information on how to send messages to others you know on Facebook.  All that's pretty basic, and you could likely get most of that from just logging in and going for it.  It's when you get to the following parts that you start to see some of the additional power that may not be readily apparent unless you dig deep on your own.  For instance, I wasn't aware of being able to place ads, setting up group collaboration, or looking at Facebook as being a portfolio of your work that a prospective employer might see.  Probably the most important part of the book is the section on privacy.  It's tempting to want to load up all sorts of details on yourself, but it's really not a wise idea.  Vander Veer does a good job in outlining where you should be drawing the line, as well as what risks you take by adding Facebook applications or not restricting your profile properly.

While I do have a Facebook presence already, I came away from this book with a greater understanding of how you could use the tool for more than just "poking" your friends.  Many of the features of Facebook have stand-alone equivalents (such as blogs, picture storage, etc.), but you may choose to want to keep everything in one single place for easier integration.  And if you're the parent who wants to know what your kids are up to, you'll be able to discuss Facebook with them without all the associated hype and hysteria so often present in media reports.

One thing to keep in mind, however...  Sites like Facebook change often with little tweaks and new enhancements.  While this book will cover the basics well, don't be surprised if there's a new feature that's not covered at all by the time you read it, or if the screen shots don't match exactly.  Such is life in the world of Web 2.0.


Yahoo's Chinese partner concerned about Microsoft bid

Category Microsoft

From San Jose Business Journal: Yahoo's Chinese partner concerned about Microsoft bid

 The Chinese Internet company part-owned by Yahoo Inc. is exploring becoming more independent if Microsoft Corp. succeeds in acquiring its U.S. partner, according to a report on Monday.

Alibaba Group is concerned about how the Chinese government will view a combination of Sunnyvale-based Yahoo and Microsoft, the Wall Street Journal reported citing an unnamed source.

The paper said Chinese regulators have already contacted Alibaba, which is 39 percent owned by Yahoo.

Yet another potentially valuable asset of Yahoo that will likely "not play well" with Microsoft should the acquisition actually happen.  

Now, it could be said that Alibaba hasn't got much to say about the merger as they don't control that 39% of the company.  But getting on China's doghouse list wouldn't be a good way to approach a huge potential market that everyone is trying to get a piece of.  And who's to say that the Chinese government wouldn't either legally stop any merger activities on their own shores, or just flat-out buy out that 39%?

Either way, it's yet another piece of the $40 billion price tag that will either never return value or will be a one-time sale price and that's it.

Remind me again why this is a great idea for Microsoft?


Book Review - The Short Book by Zachary Kanin

Category Book Review Zachary Kanin The Short Book

When I saw the book The Short Book: Tall Stories, Freakish Facts, and the Long and Short of Being Small in a Great Big World by Zachary Kanin, I figured it was a must-read for me.  Being a statuesque 5' 4", I would say I resemble this title.  Short Book is a fun read that has plenty of laughs while also pointing out that being six feet tall is not a prerequisite for success in today's society.

Forward; Shortspective; Smallotry; Profiles in Shortage; Suppshort; A Neat Little Package

This is one of those books that is a mix of off-beat humor, facts, and outright fiction that doesn't give any indicator of where the author might go next.  For instance, the reason you're short is that your parents didn't love you and would do anything to make sure you weren't happy in life (fiction!).  Job interviews are far different if you're short than if you're tall (humor).  There are actual surgical procedures to make you taller (fact), but it doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun to have your legs broken and continually stretched as new bone forms.  I'll take my current height, thank you very much...  Profiles in Shortage is probably one of the more interesting chapters, where Kanin lists a number of people from various walks of life who are aren't known for their vertical superiority.  All in all (which isn't much at our height), you'll find that "being short" is far more normal than the common view that the media leads you to believe.

Other than for the fun of reading the book, this might be a nice choice for someone who is overly fixated on their height.  While it doesn't bother me now, I know it was difficult growing up as the shortest person at school.  This book wouldn't have changed that, but it would have gone far to give me role models to look up to (or over at)...  Then when you finally grow up (or just get old), you can choose to ignore all those giant freaks of nature.  :)


Book Review - Business Transformed by Paul Gossen

Category Book Review Paul Gossen Business Transformed

It would seem that a promise to show you 17 questions that would transform your business would be a bit of an oversell.  But in Business Transformed, Paul Gossen does indeed show that these questions can, if seriously asked and answered, can turn around your working relationships.  They'll also do wonders for  your personal transformation, too...

Contract - Can we talk?; Relationship - How are you?; Engagement - What do you want?; Purpose - Why is this important to you?; Accomplishment - How will you know when you have it?; Perception - What do you believe is possible?; Energy - What would be the breakthrough?; Performance - Who would you have to be?; Strategy - How could you produce this result?; Focus - How will you stay on track?; Reality - When will you do this?; Action - What if you don't do this?; Certainty - Is that a promise?; Accountability - Can I count on you?; Presence - Where was the breakdown?; Development - What did you learn?; Renewal - What's next?

These questions are divided into five stages: Relationship; Purpose; Transformation; Accountability; and Growth.  On the surface, these questions look pretty basic and ordinary.  For instance, asking someone "can we talk?" is pretty much a standard opening for a conversation.  But what does it really mean?  It's a contract to enter into an exchange of information, a request to take time to listen to each other.  Without this basic commitment, any agreement will be forced and not well-thought-out.  Same thing with "how will you stay on track?".  It's really easy to say you'll do something, and then to get sidetracked with other commitments.  This question forces you to deeply consider what is being requested, and how honest you have to be to deliver a result within  your committed timeframe.  One of the keys to all these questions is to have someone who has the permission to ask these tough questions and keep pushing you until you're able to answer them.  

In addition to the main business orientation, these questions can also do wonders for your personal life.  Having someone push you to think through what you really want, why it's important to you, and how will you know when you're there would be extremely valuable in transforming your personal effectiveness.  Even asking them of yourself and honestly trying to answer them will take you further than most people go.

This is a book that looks deceptively simple on the outside, but can change things in ways you couldn't imagine.  Well worth reading...


Book Review - The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking by Roger Martin

Category Book Review The Opposable Mind Roger Martin

All too often, we're faced with choices where we have to settle for the best possible alternative given the situation.  But what if you could synthesize new solutions from the conflicting options?  That's the premise of the book The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking by Roger Martin.  He looks at successful business leaders who have the ability to hold two conflicting, or opposing, ideas at once and then formulate a new solution that blends the best of both worlds.

Choices, Conflict, and the Creative Spark; No Stomach for Second-Best; Reality, Resistance, and Resolution; Dancing Through Complexity; Mapping the Mind; The Construction Project; A Leap of the Mind; A Wealth of Experience; Notes; Index; About The Author

Martin looks at the business world, specifically at leaders who were faced with difficult decisions with conceivably no good options.  Using the concept of an opposable mind, he shows how the eventual outcome was a blend of available options, which often opened up a new reality that wasn't there on first glance.  One example is Lee-Chin and his investment firm AIC Limited.  He almost went broke in 1999 when his model for investment was under attack from the press and financial "experts".  The typical outcome of this situation would be to fold the fund as redemptions were outpacing investments.  But rather than follow the conventional wisdom for retrenching, he decided to take the exact opposite approach.  He focused his investment on a single financial stock who had solid fundamentals.  This decision, the "wrong" one according to the experts, ended up making AIC the largest privately held mutual fund company in Canada.  The same type of situation faced Isadore Sharp and his Four Seasons hotels.  Conventional wisdom said you had to be low-end or high-end, but you couldn't try to accommodate both.  But through offering an entirely different level of service, he was able to establish his hotels as medium sized building with luxury offerings, and people were willing to pay the extra price for that level of service.

This is a very readable book that dives into the mindset of an opposable mind and steps that allow anyone to become an opposable thinker.  By understanding the thought processes involved, you can go from an attitude of "either/or" to an attitude of "both".  What I took away is the importance of not seeing the solution in the way things are, but looking for the solution in the way things could be.  If you can imagine a new reality instead of conforming to the existing one, you can often find answers that weren't there before...


Book Review - 3:16: The Numbers of Hope by Max Lucado

Category Book Review Max Lucado 3:16

Max Lucado is one of my favorite Christian authors, in that he has a style of writing that takes you beyond the words and into the emotions of people and places.  In 3:16: The Numbers of Hope, he uses the verse John 3:16 for a number of mini-sermons that place emphasis on each word and phrase of the verse.  It's an excellent read, and forced me to stop and actually contemplate all that the verse means again...

The Most Famous Conversation in the Bible; No One Like Him; Hope for the Hard Heart; When You Get Booted Out; The Only One and Only; The Heart He Offers; Heaven's "Whoever" Policy; Believe and Receive; God's Gracious Grip; Hell's Supreme Surprise; What Makes Heaven Heavenly; The Last Word on Life; The 3:16ed Life; Only Jesus - 40 Days with the Son; Notes

Lucado is able to break down the verse in ways that you might never think of.  Each chapter starts off with a story from his life or some illustration from life that anyone can relate to.  From there, he turns the illustration in a spiritual direction and shows how the words of John 3:16 in many ways encapsulates everything that the Bible teaches and stands for.  To me, the best value comes from his ability to paint color with his words, to give us a scene from the Bible and bring the characters and the message to life in a way that brings fresh perspective.  I guess since I've always had a hard time doing that on my own, I appreciate and value it all the more when I come across it in someone's writing.  For non-Christians, this book will succinctly provide the message of the Gospel.  For Christians, you'll once again be reminded in fresh ways of God's love...

An excellent read...


Book Review - Black Man Under The Deep Blue Sea by Tony Wells

Category Book Review Tony Wells Black Man Under The Deep Blue Sea

Black Man Under The Deep Blue Sea by Tony Wells is probably best classified as a journal of Wells' experiences as a commercial diver.  What makes the story unusual is that there are very, very few blacks in this particular line of work.  In here, you read about his childhood and adolescence, along with the move to Hawaii that first brought him face-to-face with the possibility of learning to dive.  After becoming SCUBA-certified (despite not initially being able to pass the swimming test), he enrolled in a commercial diving school to learn how to work underwater.  This certification eventually led him all over the world as an independent diver, hooking on with companies when they had diving jobs available.  As a black diver, he shares how his color rarely came into play when it came to getting jobs.  Basically, success talks and reputations are quickly gained (or lost) in the industry.  Because he knew his job well and performed at a high standard, he had little trouble in finding work when there were open jobs.  At the end of the book, he talks about how color and race should never be a barrier to going after your dreams.  Of course, he can hold himself out as a prime example of that.

As a self-published title, you shouldn't expect that Black Man will be a slick, highly polished story.  Tony tells his story as if he was sitting across from you, complete with humor, danger, pain, and anger.  But actually, that's what makes the book most compelling.  Unless you're a diver interested in the technical details of the job (and he provides those in great measure), you probably wouldn't be inclined to pick up the book and give it a read.  But shortly after starting to read, you'll feel as if you're sitting across the table from a new friend, sharing a beer and being regaled with stories and experiences that are fascinating.

If you have the chance to read Black Man Under The Deep Blue Sea, it'd be worth your time.  At the very least, it'll give you a greater appreciation for those who work underwater to keep the oil flowing through the pipelines and into your lives.


OK... Lotusphere 2008 is now over for me. My Lotusphere 2008 session database has been updated with...

Category Lotusphere2008

... all the MP3 files that IBM notified us about yesterday.  I renamed them to the session name, added them to the Journal file, and now I have about as comprehensive a Lotusphere 2008 as I can expect...


Interesting new virus/trojan/whatever delivery technique met me at home today...

Category Everything Else

I had this sitting on my Skype client when I came home from work...

A picture named M2


I see out on Google that a few others have started getting this from onlinemon.info also...


Hadn't seen or heard about the Vista "Capable" class action lawsuit...

Category Microsoft

From Preston Gralla's ComputerWorld blog: Microsoft exec: Vista-Capable PCs are "junk"

Top Microsoft execs have admitted that "Windows Vista Capable" PCs, which can run only the most basic version of Vista, are "junk," with Jim Allchin, then co-president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division, saying in an email, "We really botched this."

So reported the Seattle Post-Intelligencer last week in a report about a class action suit, which charges that Microsoft misled consumers into buying the Windows Vista Capable PCs, even though the PCs couldn't run the most important features of the then-new operating system.

And the hits just keep on coming.

Is it no wonder that the public is so cynical and skeptical any more about companies?  Granted, due to the lawsuit-happy society we've become, it's nearly impossible for a company to come right out and say "we blew it" without incurring a nearly-guaranteed lawsuit in the process.  Instead, they have to spin everything to make it appear positive, while at the same time they're acknowledging internally that they have a disaster brewing.  Meanwhile, we the public immediately discount any and everything said by the organization, and attribute evil motive and intent behind anything they do.

This happens to be yet another instance of a Microsoft blunder, but by no means is it isolated to Redmond.  Pharmaceutical companies, auto manufacturers, food distributors...  the list is endless.

When did we lose all sense of ethics?  The courage to act on what is right and what is wrong?



So what would Microhoo do to my blog search engine referrals?

Category Microsoft

Using StatCounter, here's the "Search Engine War" graph for the most recent 500 hits to my blog:

A picture named M2

So for $44 billion, the score will go from Google - 148, Microsoft - 5 to Google - 148, Microsoft - 11.

Yeah, sign me up for *that* acquisition...  :)


Google and Domino - Part 4 - Overall impressions

Category Google IBM/Lotus

Wrapping up (at least until/unless I get questions), I would say that the Google Search Appliance has been a great addition to our Domino applications.  The results are *far* better than the Notes search engine results, and there are many more opportunities to add value to search results.  Is it as easy as the brochureware would lead you to believe?  No, but rarely is *any* software as easy as it sounds in the sales pitch.  The devil is in the details...

Expect that your GSA server setup will be pretty easy.  Expect that your first default search page and results will give you something, and you'll think this is pretty cool.  Know that anything beyond here will take time and effort.  You'll need to spend time reading the Google documentation at the site you'll get access to as a customer.  It'll all seem pretty overwhelming at first, and you may wonder if you'll ever be able to move on to a new project.  But eventually you'll build your base knowledge and then build on it.  Once you get to that point, you'll be able to contemplate some things like OneBox modules that give you highly customized results based on the data you enter...  think what happens when you type in a flight number on Google and it gives you real-time flight status.

If you have any specific questions on things I didn't cover, let me know in the comments or via email.  So long as I can keep it general, I'll try to answer them in a follow-up post.


Google and Domino - Part 3 - Day-to-day administration

Category Google IBM/Lotus

So you have your Google Search Appliance (the GSA), you're getting great search results back (and yes, your results probably *will* be really good), and life is grand.

But what do you need to do on a day-to-day basis?  It depends...

The GSA has an administration console that allows you to modify the templates, set up related queries, and otherwise control features that affect what you get back.  It's also how you get reports on what's been searched for, how many searches have occurred, etc.  In my opinion, this is where Google needs to focus their effort on improvement...

There is no API for the administration console.  If you want to add related queries or acronyms and abbreviations, you have to use the console to do it manually.  Your other option is to build a "screen scraper" application that attempts to simulate the HTTP POST of a console submission.  Obviously that's risky, but it's also one of the few options you have if you want to maintain a tight rein on GSA console access.  

Why would you want to control console access?  Well, there are only two access roles in the GSA console:  administrator and manager.  Administrators have access to everything.  Managers are the ones you'd want to have running reports or updating abbreviations on a particular set of templates.  Unfortunately, some of the things that a manager has access to are *not* a good thing.  For instance, they can modify (or even delete) the template design.  If you do that, your search results are completely broken.  I hope you had backups.  Of course, you can train these selected individuals NOT to touch the templates, but it's a bad thing any way you look at it.  It'd be much nicer if you could define a role with granular levels of access to specific parts of the console, and then assign those roles as necessary.  I'm sure Google will get there some day, but they're not there yet.

If you don't have a high volume of dynamic abbreviation/acronym changes, or if you aren't going to have a lot of situations where you return a given search result for a specific keyword, then you may not have to do much of anything with the console.  On the other hand, if you're actively wanting to return particular pages when certain key terms are searched for, you may be living in the console.  Just something to keep in mind...


Google and Domino - Part 2 - Development skills you'll need

Category Google IBM/Lotus

Out of the box, you can point the Google Search Appliance (the GSA) at your Domino website, let it crawl and index everything, and then try your new search toy.  The search result pages you get back look eerily similar to the Google search pages you get back on any Internet search.  Imagine that...  :)

Ah, but what if you want the search results to blend into your existing site design without making it look like you've gone somewhere else?  That's where your development skills come into play...

The search results are controlled by the use of "templates".  These templates are made up of a LOT of XSLT that controls the look and feel (and everything else) of what appears after  you click "Search".  If you have no XSLT skills, you will be extremely limited in what you can do in the way of customized modifications.  Even if you do have XSLT skills, figure that it will take you some time to get comfortable with the base template.  It goes on for pages.  There is a point not too far into the template where the comments say, in effect, "we don't recommend you touch anything from this point forward".  Unfortunately, it's all *that* code that allows you to do major manipulation of the result layout.  Just remember that backups are your friend.  :)  And yes, you can define multiple templates for a GSA.  

When you construct your search URL, you specify the collection to search, as well as the template that should be used for the results.  Collections are a defined set of pages based on a starting URL and/or filters of the URL formats.  So say that you have five Domino databases.  You want each database to be able to search just the single database as well as all five databases combined.  You'd define six collections, one for each database and one that has all the databases listed.  Then when you search from your Domino application, you can specify which collection should be searched for the results.  Think of it like a radio button choice that allowed you to choose whether the search should be "focused" or "comprehensive".  Based on that choice, you'd build the URL with the appropriate collection.

Getting back to the multiple templates...  This allows you to have one GSA administering the search functionality for multiple Domino applications that may not be related to each other.  So when I search in application "A", the results can be formatted to blend into the application "A" GUI.  Domino application "B" can also be using the same GSA, but the search results will have an entirely different GUI.  This template selection for the results is also part of the search URL you pass to the GSA.

Other skills you'll want to know are HTML formatting as well as JavaScript.  Basically, your XSLT template is building the returned search result HTML page.  That's why you'll need to understand all three of those to get the maximum benefit from your GSA.  Oh, and remember...  Metatags are your best friend from now on.

Next installment: GSA administration on a day-to-day basis...


Google and Domino - Part 1 - The 50000 foot view

Category Google IBM/Lotus

Yesterday, Cristian DAloisio had a posting on Google and Domino integration.  As I've had some experience with that (and have the scars and facial tics to prove it), I thought it might help the Notes/Domino community a bit if I shared a little perspective from the front lines...

Upfront disclaimer:  I will be discussing things "in general", but I won't go into any details on my specific project.  There are plenty of concepts I can share that will help you out, but detailed war stories will remain private and personal.  :)

The Google Search Appliance (also known as the GSA) is touted as a "plug and play" box that gives you Google-quality searches on your corporate site with very little effort needed in terms of configuration.  It's a relatively cheap alternative for a configured server that you can pop into your data center to get enterprise-level searching.  Obviously, pricing is dependent on licensing configuration.  If you're going to be crawling millions of documents, the cost will be more than if you're going to index 100,000 pages.  Still, compared to other enterprise search software-only packages, it's at the low end of the pricing spectrum.  The thing to remember is that "you get what you pay for".  

While cheaper than other options, you do give up a level of configurability when it comes to being able to fully control and influence the search results.  Other software options give you more control over ranking, weighting, and other details.  Google tends more towards the "secret sauce/black box" approach.  Their search algorithms are proprietary, and you won't get any level of detail as to exactly how they work (nor would I expect them to give up the crown jewels).  Just be prepared to "trust" their search results based on their experience with search technology.  If you try to fight it, the implementation is much more difficult than it needs to be.  Having had the appliance in production use now for quite a few months, I can say that their results *are* exceptionally good, and the customers are much happier with the Google search results than they were with the Notes search engine results.

Google indexes Domino content via HTTP.  In other words, the GSA as it ships to you will index your Domino web site just like any other website.  So if you have ordinary Notes documents being served up via the browser, the GSA may be all that you need.  But with most software and technology, the promise and the reality differ to some degree.  For instance, we have Notes documents that make use of sections that are initially collapsed when the browser first displays them.  If you look at the source, you'll see all the content in the collapsed section.  But the GSA was unable to index that collapsed content.  After numerous back-and-forth exchanges with the help desk, nothing really got resolved.  Their contention was that "normal" Notes documents in a browser are indexed with no problem.  Complex documents need a third-party plug-in (more on that later).  I'll contend that collapsed sections in documents are not "complex".  This issue caused us to go the plug-in route...

Persistent Systems makes the Notes plug-in for the GSA that allows for indexing Notes content using the Notes API.  Cost-wise, it's a no-brainer to buy it.  The development staff for the plug-in is based in India, and we had a number of calls with them during our implementation and testing.  They were exceptionally helpful and put in some long hours answering our questions.  The plug-in uses DIIOP to crawl the content on specified Notes databases, and returns the content to the GSA as an XML feed.  From there, the GSA can index it as normal content.  This got us around our collapsed section issue, and ended up being the preferred method of crawling for us.  Google fully endorses the plug-in, so you won't have any issues with it being unsupported or "use at your own risk".

In the next installment, I'll cover the skills you'll need to get the most out of your GSA...


Why Ray Ozzie can't save Microsoft

Category Microsoft

From the ComputerWorld blog of Preston Gralla:  Why Ray Ozzie can't save Microsoft

When Ray Ozzie took over as Microsoft's chief software architect in 2006, he was hailed as a visionary who would save Microsoft by bringing it out of the doldrums and into the Internet age. But based on his poor stewardship of the "Live" brand, and Microsoft's ham-handed attempt to take over Yahoo, it's clear he's not the one to save the company. Maybe nobody can.

Finally, someone questioning whether the emperor has clothes...

I have a lot of respect for Ray Ozzie.  You can't argue with what he did with the concept of Notes...  still essentially the same solid architecture after all this time.  Groove was another interesting idea, and I know that Microsoft was touting it big time when they bought Ray and his company.  But let's face it...  Groove is pretty much a non-starter and a niche software offering now.  I won't blame that entirely on Microsoft, as Groove would have died completely a long time ago if not for MS buying them out.  Think IBM rescuing Lotus, only with *that* story having a far better outcome (but not without some rough patches, either).

The expectations of Ozzie were extremely high when he was absorbed into the Borg.  His quiet, behind-the-scenes style has had everyone wondering what he was up to...  what revolutionary ideas would he come up with to take Microsoft to the next level.  Personally, I've had my doubts.  Is his silence because he's hard at work, or is there another element in play here?  If he *is* the architect of the Microsoft Live concept and brand, then it's either been less than successful, or corporate bureaucracy has badly executed on his technical concept.  Perhaps it's a bit of both...

He was put in charge of the company's Internet push, through its "Live" brand. And now, more than two years later, Microsoft has done such a poor job with the Live brand under Ozzie, and found itself so far behind Google, that it's trying to bail itself out by buying Yahoo.

It's the same point I made in a posting yesterday...  On top of the billions they've spent trying to succeed on their own (and failed), they're now trying to throw more than $40 billion at the problem in hopes of winning.  Not a good track record there...

Ozzie hasn't been able to change the overall outlook and direction of Microsoft. If the Live brand was supposed to compete against Google, it's been a failure. Microsoft remains a company that sells software that lives on people's PCs. That brings it in plenty of revenue today, and for years to come. But ultimately, it's yesterday's business plan.

Ozzie's memo of several years ago was prescient. "Our business as we know it is at risk," he said then. That's true even more so today. And it's because Ozzie has overseen a Live brand that hasn't done a thing to help Microsoft compete.

Yes, elephants can be taught how to dance.  IBM pulled it off under Gerstner.  But it's for sure that the current crop of management at Microsoft don't have a degree in choreography...


OK... Loved this Microsoft Watch column about Yahoo rejecting the Microsoft bid...

Category Microsoft

Yahoo Squeaks, Microsoft Squawks

They say trapped animals fight more fiercely. But what happens when two animals are cornered?

Microsoft's unsolicited—and unwanted—$44.6 billion bid backed Yahoo into a place from which there was seemingly no escape. But rather than die, Yahoo is fighting back. Earlier today, Yahoo rejected Microsoft's offer.

Microsoft feels cornered, too, but by Google. Microsoft sees no escape without Yahoo, and the company will fight fiercely to get its prey. From Microsoft's perspective, there are two losers without the merger. Yahoo must die so that Microsoft will survive.

So, it is no surprise that Microsoft is fighting back too. After U.S. stock markets closed, Microsoft issued a rather long response to Yahoo, but more to shareholders than to the board of directors. Microsoft's strategy now will be divide and conquer, to rally a mutiny among Yahoo's ranks.

As I pretty much expected, Microsoft has decided to push on with its Yahoo bid.  Based on the market's reaction over the last two weeks, you'd think that Microsoft would have found some way to spin it so that they could step away and perhaps regain that $40 billion market cap hit that they took in their stock.  But I think ego and testosterone is making the decisions now.

There will be two losers from any hostile takeover. Then Google will take everything else. Not that it really matters. Microsoft's bid, assuming that it is sincere, reveals that the services platform is vaporware. Sure, Microsoft has built out something, but it's not nearly enough to compete with Google. Microsoft has tacitly admitted that it's even farther behind Google than anyone suspected. Surely Google can smell that blood. Yum!

This is the thing that surprises me...  If  you listen to the company spin, Microsoft's Live offerings will be the biggest driver in the company's portfolio in the next few years.  But there's nothing to indicate that now.  We've been told how many times that MSN Search is *the* critical driver for Microsoft, and that they will be the dominant player?  But yet no one seems to question that they are now looking at spending over $44 billion dollars to become a distant second.  FAIL?  

Ah, but my favorite part is Wilcox's parting line...

Microsoft's Yahoo takeover is now unequivocally hostile. Today, the companies gave each other an upraised middle finger. Each has one hand still free. There's another birdie coming.

Even if Yahoo is successful in fending off Microsoft (and that's a *big* if), I wonder how much of a hit they've taken with people migrating away from their services based on users not wanting anything to do with Microsoft.  I know I've started that move, and there'll be no reason to go back regardless of how it turns out.  Home page portals, email, instant messaging...  I can get those commodities anywhere, and in fact already have non-Yahoo alternatives that I've given more weight to.  Flickr is about the only Yahoo property that I feel still has value due to critical user mass and quality of service.  I'm not sure that "MSN Flickr Live" wouldn't kill that off too...


CD Review - Spirit Of The Glen by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

Category CD Review The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Spirit Of The Glen

I've always loved the sound of bagpipes, but I've never taken the opportunity to get a CD that focuses on them.  I changed that by getting a Vine review copy of Spirit Of The Glen by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.  It's a wonderful CD that mixes bagpipes with vocals and celtic sounds, and the songs have a presence that make you feel like you're watching an epic film.

Amazing Grace 2007; Sailing; Highland Cathedral; Last Of The Mohicans; Hector The Hero; Mull Of Kintyre; Dances With Wolves; Scottish Medley; Pachelbel's Canon; The Day Thou Gavest; Caledonia; Over The Hills & Far Away; Your Love Echoes Around The World; The Green Hills Of Tyrol

I won't profess to be someone who could discuss the nuances of music or provide critical analysis of a particular CD.  But I can certainly say I know what I like when I hear it.  And I like this.  The pieces that consist of pure bagpipe music have a haunting quality to them.  When combined with vocals and a full orchestra, the pieces are unlike anything I've ever thought of as bagpipe music.  What I find even more amazing is that these pipers are all full-time military men who have spent time in hotspots like Irag.  It just goes to prove that it's possible to be successful at both a job *and* a hobby.

I'll be adding these tracks to my iPhone for on-demand listening throughout my day....  a great CD.


I have often lamented that cars today all look the same...

Category Everything Else

Nearly every sedan looks like every other sedan.  Even Cadillacs have downsized and have started to take on the look of everything else.

But as this picture from Shorpy shows, it's not a new phenomenon...  :)

A picture named M2


So it looks like Yahoo is going to reject Microsoft's offer...

Category Microsoft

From an InformationWeek blog: Yahoo To Reject Microsoft Offer, But Deal's Hardly Dead

The Wall Street Journal on Saturday reported that Yahoo's board will formally reject Microsoft's $44.6 billion bid to buy the company. The report says the board feels the offer "massively undervalues" Yahoo. So where does that leave the prospect of a Microhoo?

Paul McDougall goes on to conjecture that Microsoft might well be prepared to up their offer, or that someone on Yahoo's board might force them to accept Microsoft's bid at some point.  Either way, it'll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Does Microsoft look at this as an opportunity to back away from the deal after it was so widely panned by many?  It seems like that'd be the smart thing to do, but who said common sense rules?  The market has punished their stock price of late, and the risks of taking on debt for such a large takeover of clashing cultures seem high.  But if they back away, the market/industry spin will be that Google won, Yahoo is #2, and Microsoft lost (with few to no options to catch up with Google).  You just know *that's* gonna play well with Ballmer come Monday morning...

It's rather tough when you're the 800 pound gorilla, you're losing your lunch to the agile chimp, and you can't make anyone play with you any more...


Loved this posting by new blogger Chuck Dean about joining in the community...

Category IBM/Lotus

I just picked up and loaded into my RSS reader the LotusSMB blog recently started by Chuck Dean.  On his What's It All About post, he makes some points that eloquently touch on a number of things I think are the essence of why we all do this...

I think this year I finally get it. What the whole message is about... collaboration. I know that it might seem stupid to say that... of course it's about collaboration... Lotus Notes/Domino is software built for collaboration... but it goes beyond that Lotusphere is about the collaboration that exists between the administrators, developers, consultants, vendors, bloggers, journalists and Lotus folks who come here every year... and collaboration is not a one way street.... it requires everyone to be engaged.... to give back to the community... and I haven't been giving back the way I should.

I've never seriously thought about starting a blog before. I've read many of the blogs in the Lotus blogging community and I'm proud to call the people who write them my friends. But I always felt I didn't have enough interesting to say. The administrators and developers who participate in the community, the people who present in the best practices track at Lotusphere are seriously talented and I feel very intimidated about my lack of technical depth when I'm around them but I have worked for over 20 years in small businesses, the past 15 for my current employer, where a part of my job is to be the "Lotus Guy" - a roll that has encompassed - administration, development, management and evangelism - so I know something about the pains and problems of small to medium businesses (SMBs).

Collaboration and "giving back"...  To me, this is what makes Lotusphere so much more than "just another conference".  It's a point in time where our virtual community comes together to meet and hang out with each other face-to-face...  a point where we have the opportunity to intensely learn from each other, share what we know with each other, and go back to our "regular" lives with a recharged sense of purpose and focus.  It's why I have a hard time explaining to coworkers exactly what the Lotusphere community means to me (no, it's *not* just a vacation in Florida in January!).

Intimidation...  with rare exception, I think most bloggers struggle with this.  We look at the Paul Mooneys, the Rocky Olivers, the Bill Buchans, and wonder why should we even bother?  What could we possibly say that these experts would be even remotely interested in listening to?  They, on the other hand, probably look at others and think the same thing.  And the reality is, the vast majority of bloggers are ordinary Lotus professionals who struggle the same way you do, and are always looking for that one tip, that one idea that will solve a nagging problem.  And your post might just be that gem.  And even if it's *not* technical, the blog gives us a chance to know you, to learn about you, and to share in your victories and struggles.  And then when we descend upon DisneyWorld for that special week in January, it's as if it's just a continuation of the discussion we all have on a daily basis in the virtual world.

So, Chuck...  welcome to the blogosphere.  There will be those who you never met who will be interested in your perspective of Lotus from the SMB space.  There will be those who you look up to (you foolish man!) who will read your blog to help them round out their perspective of the marketplace.  But ultimately, it will be all of us who benefit from you joining the community, contributing to it, and making it stronger.


Book Review - The Pocket Guide to Mischief by Bart King

Category Book Review Bart King The Pocket Guide to Mischief

A picture named M2

I think that Bart King is my favorite "author you never heard of".  His latest book, The Pocket Guide to Mischief, is one of those entertaining tongue-in-cheek reads that you'll love as an adult, and then you'll hope your kid never finds it.  If they do, you'll become their "nemesis" for sure...

Introduction; Choosing Your Target or Nemesis; Mischief Quiz!; Harmless Trickery 101 - How to Defend Home and Self; Oldies but Goodies; Practical Jokes Inspired by Ancient Rome; Amusing Slights and Friendly Jibes; Spy Games; Mischief of the Rich and Famous; Inspired by the Oxford Dictionary; International Mischief; Mischievous Foods; Sporting Mischief; Duels; Bodily Mischief; Lessons from Stravinsky; Be True to Your School; Careers in Mischief; Acknowledgments; Bibliography

The book starts out with an explanation of "mischief" so that everyone's on the same page when it comes to crossing lines.  Then there's the "warning pledge"...  "I will be safe.  I will not damage or destroy property.  I will be sly.  I will never hurt anyone with a prank. I will never prank anyone for money.  Hail, Cheese Whiz!"  I don't know whether I'm pleased or dismayed that this would play well in the crowds I run with.  :)  Anyway, each chapter is a mix of humor, history, and suggestions on tricks and pranks you can have fun with once you have picked your nemesis.  Like perhaps taking a handful of paper from the copy machine or printer, write a humorous note on the bottom of the page (such as "<name> is a genius!"), and then replace them back in the device.  Make sure your nemesis is the next person to use the machine...  Or see if you can plant one end of a two-way radio somewhere (or even on a pet if you can pull it off), and then "talk" to the people as they walk by.  I also learned how to insult in the Scottish tradition, using such great words as bluntie, dandiprat, muppet, and "muffin top".  I'm sure my Scottish friends will help expand that vocabulary, too.

Bart's writing reminds me in some ways of Dave Barry...  off-beat, a little insane, but a lot of fun if you're willing to go with the flow.  I read his Architectural Guide to Portland (where we both live), expecting something less than riveting.  What I got was the funniest and most informative architecture book I've ever read (it was the first architecture book I ever read, too...  but I digress).  My offer to read and review this one came in an email titled "Bad News".  He even dropped the copy off at my house with an inscription on the inside cover...  "My apologies in advance".  With that kind of interaction, how could I refuse?  

Much fun to be had here, and depending on the types of friends you keep, plenty of material for "enhancing" that friendship.


Book Review - Conquering Adversity by Christopher Novak

Category Book Review Christopher Novak Conquering Adversity

This book came as an unexpected addition to my request for Lead Like A Pirate (also by Christopher Novak)...  Conquering Adversity.  Although the title would indicate that it's more geared towards overcoming adversity in the workplace, I found it much more suited to overcoming adversity in your personal life.  As such, I think the book is much more valuable than one might imagine on first glance...

Forward; August 10th; Strategy #1 - Affirmation; Strategy #2 - Expectation; Strategy #3 - Communication; Strategy #4 - Locomotion; Strategy #5 - Collaboration; Strategy #6 - Celebration; Today; Nuggets of Wisdom; About the Author

The book starts out by relating a moment in time that completely altered Novak's life...  the day his wife and unborn child were killed in a car accident by a drug-impaired driver (who walked away from the crash).  He went from a happily married man with a nine year-old son and a second child on the way to a single parent who had to bear a burden that's a worst case scenario in so many ways.  I don't think there's any question that Novak has seen and experienced more than his share of adversity.

Through that incident, he explains six strategies that can help you to get your feet back on solid ground and make it through the dark times.  By using those strategies, you won't take away the pain and suffering, but you won't be paralyzed by the loss, unable to pick up the pieces and move on.  Each strategy has three steps that help you to apply it to your situation.  For instance, Affirmation has the three steps of identifying your bedrock values, acknowledging what is and isn't lost, and accepting a healthy "selfishness".  Each chapter also has a number of exercises at the end that you should work through to solidify the strategy in your life.  Those exercises are ones that you can (and should) do now while you (hopefully) are not in the midst of despair.  If you can establish these habits and mindsets during the "normal" times, then it'll be much easier to keep a certain level of mental clarity during the bad times.

I mentioned that it seems to be targeted at the workplace, and that's true.  There's an application portion in each chapter that relates the strategies to how they would work with your team.  That makes sense, as Novak teaches this in corporate settings.  But the story and the pain is so personal, that I was getting the most value when he was talking about how YOU need to do something to get through YOUR crisis.  Others might see it exactly the opposite, and that's good.  It's rare that an author can write something that speaks to two often separate parts of a person's life, and effectively delivers a message to both.

Again...  it's a small volume (93 pages) that returns far more value than the time and dollars spent reading it.  This is a book that instead of loaning to a friend, I'd just buy them their own copy.  Otherwise, you may never see it again.


Yes, you'd make a *wonderful* ILUG 2008 sponsor!

Category ILUG2008

Where else can you get the complete and total attention of 450 to 500 Notes/Domino developers, admins, and other assorted IT influencers all to yourself for three whole days???

OK...  where could you get them all to yourself without 500 *other* vendors competing for their attention?

Dublin, Ireland...  ILUG 2008...  June 4th through June 6th, 2008.

The sponsorship proposal for the Irish Lotus User Group has just been posted on the ILUG site.  If you are interested in sponsoring this event, read the proposal page and email sponsors@ilug2008.org with any questions you might have.  The speaker list is still growing, but we already have an impressive list of names who attendees *pay* to see at conferences like Lotusphere, Advisor, and View.  It should give you an idea of their commitment and passion to this event in that they are volunteering their time and skills to travel and speak here.

As the event is free to the attendees (their payment is the commitment in time and attention to attend), it's only through sponsorship that we can afford to make this happen!


Book Review - Lead Like A Pirate by Christopher Novak

Category Book Review Christopher Novak Lead Like A Pirate

On the surface, the book Lead Like a Pirate! Leadership Secrets of the Pirates of St. Croix by Christopher Novak appears to be yet another leadership book where the author takes some character from history and attributes a leadership system to them.  But having said that, I have to admit that I really enjoyed this short read on solid leadership and teamwork skills.  And if you've never read a book or taken any courses on leadership and teamwork, this will serve as a decent starting point for you.

Leaders, Legends, and Loot; Pirate Team Leadership Model; Secret 1 - The Captain; Secret 2 - The Crew; Secret 3 - The Mission; Secret 4 - The Strategy; Secret 5 - The Treasure; Scorecard; Extended Insights; Lead Like A Pirate! Training Ideas; Notes from the Captain's Log; About the Author; Bring Pirates to your Next Event

Novak approaches the topic of leadership from the perspective of a fictitious pirate captain named Tiger Eye Taylor.  Taylor shares his secrets and philosophy on leading a crew, getting them to focus on the mission, bringing them together as a cohesive group for the success of all, and how the crew should be rewarded.  At the end of each chapter/secret, the reader is presented with the option of three different choices of people to bring aboard (or reactions to situations).  Each one is described in detail in terms of their pros and cons, and you should then make your choice as to which one would work best for the team.  Then at the end of the book, the real author explains the proper choices in each case, while also showing how the other two "wrong" choices would affect the crew and the mission.  

If you've read more than a couple business leadership books, there shouldn't be any new deep insights for you here.  The choices of who you should pick or how you should react *should* be clearly obvious after reading what makes a good leader or follower.  However, if you're working with a group that already show signs of major dysfunctional behavior, presenting these common sense ideas in a pirate theme might be what it takes to get people to shift their normal reactions a bit.  From there, you can build on the small improvements and see where you can go.

Personally, I saw the book as interesting in terms of how a team of pirates might be compared to a successful business unit.  It's not the normal analogy you'd make, and I don't think I'll ever view Captain Jack Sparrow in quite the same way again.  :)  For the short time investment involved, this is a good book to consider to get your "crew" formed and your leadership established.


OK... I'll bite. Gary's "congrats" posting is in very poor taste...

Category Microsoft

So Gary Devendorf posts a blog entry titled Rocky and now Bob Balaban, "congratulating" them for their new jobs.  In it, he goes into detail about "why they left", i.e. the poor working environment at IBM, the stupid way the company treats developers, etc.  I found that posting to be in very bad taste, and proceeded to reply in the comments.  Then when I clicked the Submit button, I get taken to this URL:  http://german-58826326439.spampoison.com/

So, Gary has either misconfigured his blog ("surprising" for someone who knows Domino so well...) or I'm banned from commenting.  I'll accept either as a valid reason.  As such, I'll post my comment here, where I *know* it will be saved and posted...

I'm stunned that you would post something like this, Gary...

If you know the reasons they left (as in they actually *told* you), then I don't think they would appreciate you airing their laundry for them.

If you don't know the reasons they left (as in this is all conjecture on your part), then you put them in an awkward position of having to defend their choices against rumor and innuendo.

If there's a third option, then I'm open to suggestions as to what it might be.  Either way, I don't think you'll be getting a "Thanks, Gary" response from either of them.

And based on how you have your blog configured, you may not get a response from them anyway.  Which could explain how come all your blog entries on Lotusphere plans never showed up in my RSS feed until *after* Lotusphere...  replication issues?


Product Review - Logitech AudioHub Notebook Speakers

Category Product Review Logitech AudioHub Notebook Speakers

While I was off at Lotusphere, one of my Vine review packages got delivered...  It's the Logitech AudioHub Notebook Speakers, and I finally got a chance to hook them up and take them for a spin.  In short, I'm impressed...

A picture named M2

Once you take them out of the package, you're only about two minutes away from ditching the sound from your normal laptop speakers.  You plug in the speakers to a power source, attach the USB plug into one of your laptop ports, and that's it.  The speakers on the side slide in and out to adapt to the width of your laptop screen, so you don't have to worry about multiple components finding a place on your desk.  There's an extension stand you can clip on the back in order to place  your webcam at eye level as part of your whole speaker system.  Volume knob is on the side of the right speaker, and it's absolutely no problem to adjust the sound to meet your needs.

A nice touch is the additional USB ports that come on the speaker unit.  Since you have to take up one of your laptop ports for the speaker, the other alternative would be to get a small USB port of some sort.  But fortunately, you have three more ports once you plug in the speakers.  In some ways, you can almost treat this unit as a laptop docking station when it comes to having all your peripherals plugged in.  When  you leave and come back, just plug in the USB speaker ports, and  you'll have everything back for your desktop configuration.

Of course, the important thing in a speaker system is sound.  And this unit has it.  The side speakers deliver clear, crisp sound rivaling most desktop speaker systems you'd normally use.  Add in the base coming out of the center unit, and you have a system that will make your music and games sound like you're right there.  

There are some gadgets that I get that don't become part of my normal daily workflow.  The Logitech AudioHub Notebook Speakers will avoid that fate, as I've got the space cleared off on my desk and there's no reason to have to move it.  Now I can use my laptop as a music system while I'm using my desktop for real work.  Can't beat a setup like that...


Book Review - Big Think Strategy by Bernd H. Schmitt

Category Book Review Bernd H. Schmitt Big Think Strategy

While it's possible to run a successful business by incrementally improving your product and service, you'll forever be trying to defend your turf from others doing the same thing.  The way to break free and win big is to "think big".  Bernd H. Schmitt takes a look at that strategy in his book Big Think Strategy: How to Leverage Bold Ideas and Leave Small Thinking Behind.  It's an unconventional style business book to create unconventional products and services.

Big Think and the Trojan Horse
Sourcing Ideas - Steaks and Sacred Cows
Evaluating Ideas - How to Dig for the Gems
Turning Ideas into Strategy - What Would Mahler Do?
Executing Big Think - How to Pull the Ship over the Mountain
Leading Big Think - Guts, Passion - or Just a Robot?
Sustaining Big Think - From Sisyphus to Odysseus
About Schmitt

The first thing you notice about this book is that it's not the typical scholarly look at some management theory that sounds good on paper but probably wouldn't translate to real life.  Schmitt digs right in and relates his ideas and actions that have been developed from many years of working with companies.  Many of the applications of these ideas weren't part of some strategy session or formal "brainstorming" gathering, but rather the result of conversations on the train or over steaks with the leaders of companies that were struggling with these very issues.  As such, the whole presentation of the concepts has a "real" feel to them.  I liked that...

The book centers around three leadership qualities and four strategy types you can use to move your company from small think to Big Think.  The styles involve guts, passion, and perseverance.  You have to stick with your ideas even though others might be against you.  Your passion over the idea needs to translate into persuading others to buy into it.  And most of all, you can't be the type to throw in the towel at the first sign of resistance.  The strategy types are opposition, integration, essence, and transcendence.  Opposition involves looking at the market and trying something that is in direct contrast to where others are blindly following.  Integration is the art of bringing together ideas that on the surface may not seem to be complementary, but that once combined causes a whole new market paradigm.  Essence means taking the core of an idea and taking it further than anyone else has.  And finally, transcendence seeks to destroy the boundaries that current define the industry or market that you're in.  But Schmitt doesn't just throw out ideas without examples.  He brings together companies that embody these ideas.  Look at companies and brands like Dove, Apple, Whole Foods, etc.  It's really good stuff...

Most anyone in business can easily read and benefit from this book.  You owe it to your business and yourself to really think about what you're doing and where you're going.  It may be that by changing your mindset, you may well become the next company that defines your industry.


Book Review - Darwin's Paradox by Nina Munteanu

Category Book Review Darwin's Paradox Nina Minteanu

I received an interesting sci-fi novel for review awhile back...  Darwin's Paradox by Nina Munteanu.  I loved the color and flavor of the writing, although it took me awhile before I could really figure out what the background story was.  Still, an enjoyable read with plenty of areas for thought and imagination.

The main plotline revolves around Julie Crane.  According to the history as written, she's the person who started the spread of Darwin's disease.  It was meant to be a beneficial virus that would work in conjunction with humans to improve them.  But it didn't quite work out that way, and millions died as a result.  She was also accused of the murder of a government official, so she took off with her husband and child to live in the wilderness and avoid those who were after her.  Unfortunately, she doesn't stay hidden forever, and she's eventually lured back to the city to address the virus' effect on the artificial intelligence entities that run everything.  Unless she can kill the AI and the virus, it's thought that the city is doomed to destruction.  But Julie has some other ideas and issues she needs to address, including trying to clear her name from all the false charges she's had against her.

Overall, I liked the book.  I'm a pushover for a good near-earth cybernovel, and this falls into that realm.  The only thing that bugged me was that it look quite awhile  before you really understood what Darwin's disease was, why it was considered a failure, and how Julie figured into the mix.  Had that been explained a bit more clearly to start, I think I would have spent less time questioning the plot and more time getting immersed in it.  Still, having said all that, it's a great work for a first-time novelist (if Amazon's listings are correct).  I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another one of Munteanu's books when and if it comes out...


Book Review - Spend It Backward: A Lifetime Perspective on Money, Its Management, and Ultimate Rewards by Dave Curkendall

Category Book Review Spend It Backward Dave Curkendall

This little self-published title, Spend It Backward: A Lifetime Perspective on Money, Its Management, and Ultimate Rewards by Dave Curkendall, PhD, is a very different way to look at the age-old question of "how much do I need to save for my retirement?".  Using a fair number of graphs and formulas, Curkendall seeks to find the balance between spending money now and spending money later.  The trick is to figure how long you're going to live and what level of "joy" you want to have in your life.

Spend It Backward?; The Zen of Money Management - Recognizing You Won't Live Forever - But Then Again You Might; Turning The Retirement Plan Into a Life Plan - Now We're Getting Somewhere; Variations on the Theme - Determining Flexibility & Sensitivity to Changes; Getting Realistic - Taxes & Social Security; Some Crucial Details - On Being Female and Getting Married; The Biggies - Your Car, Your House, & Your Kids' Education; The Tao of Investments - That 4% is Both Harder To Make and Better for You Than You Think.

Curkendall uses optimization theory to work on determining the balance between spending now and having savings for later.  The goal is to optimize the Joy of your money by having enough to enjoy and live on from now until you die.  Living on the bare edge while you save big for your retirement is just as wrong in his book as spending it all now and living on food stamps at 65.  This is done by the use of graphs and formulas that can be constantly readjusted based on your ever-changing reality.  Perhaps you had a banner year in terms of pay.  Those higher amounts could be used to boost up the savings curve and see how it increases the spendable money available down the road.  Conversely, a financial bad patch can also be factored in and studied for future effects.  What it means is that at any given time, your estimated amount of money you'll have available for retirement (as well as how much of it you can spend each year) should be easily seen.  It definitely beats the normal "save everything you can and hope it's enough for later" approach that most people take.

While some parts are easy to read, the author does go into his formulas and graphs somewhat deeply.  I think that people with a math or financial background would get the most out of this book without suffering from math anxiety.  But if you're willing to work hard at the formula pieces, you really will see a different take on the "saving for retirement" argument.


Book Review - Painting Do-It-Yourself For Dummies

Category Book Review Katharine Kaye McMillan Patricia Hart McMillan Painting Do-It-Yourself For Dummies

Painting Do-It-Yourself For Dummies by Katharine Kay McMillan, PhD and Patricia Hart McMillan is one of those books that you probably look at and say, "I already know how to paint a wall!."  But if you're anything like me (and I hope not for your sake), your skill in doing more than slopping paint around is not all it could be.  This book uses the traditional Dummies style to show both the basics and a number of techniques you may never have considered in your decorating plans.  My wife and I will be trying some of these out this summer as we gear up for some bigger redecorating chores.

Part 1 - Preparing for Your Painting Project: Gathering What You Need; Readying Your Room and Surface; Making Necessary Wall Repairs; Brushing Up on Painting Basics
Part 2 - Painting Walls Like a Pro: Faux Finishes with Shapes and Patterns; Faux Finishes Using Glaze; More Fun Decorative Techniques
Part 3 - Covering Other Areas of Your Home: Coating Ceilings and Floors; Turning Your Brush to Trim, Windows, and Doors
Part 4 - The Part of Tens: Ten Tips for a Practically Perfect Paint Job; Ten Tips for Picking the Best Color

The first part covers all those things about painting that seems to take all the time and are no fun at all...  the prep work.  Tools are explained, as well as how to properly prepare the surfaces for painting and how to make the necessary repairs involving those gouges and cracks that tend to occur over time.  Even though you've done all these things before if you've painted, it's a good refresher on just why it's important and what you gain by doing it correctly.  Then it's on to the fun stuff...  actually putting paint on the wall!  The authors show you, complete with plenty of pictures, how to try some of the things that you usually only see in houses that have decorators on hand.  There's horizontal and vertical striping, clouds, color blocking, and tone-on-tone checkerboarding.  They are very striking techniques, and obviously would not work in every room in every house.  Still, it'll give you ideas you may have never had the courage to contemplate before.  Personally, I was most excited about the glaze and texture ideas.  If I can talk my wife into it, I'd really like to try the painted tissue wallpaper.  Texture for the wall, coverage for the lathe/plaster cracks and irregularities, and something really "different".  The part on covering other surfaces is not quite as long or perhaps exciting, but again you'll get the proper technique for doing things so that the results come out looking professional.

This is one of the few books I sat my wife down and went through with her.  While we might not agree on actual colors and styles, we at least had a shared perspective that was more than her giving ideas and me saying "whatever".  I look forward to actually painting a room or two this year (did I actually write that?), and this book will help me improve the outcome dramatically.


Book Review - The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno

Category Book Review Tosca Reno The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook

When I read the Eat-Clean Diet by Tosca Reno awhile back, I was somewhat confused over the definition of "eat clean".  It was explained by the end of the book, but it took awhile to get there.  The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook: Great-Tasting Recipes That Keep you Lean goes a long way towards understanding what eating clean looks like in practice.  The cookbook is well-designed, easy to follow, and filled with side tips that will keep your diet from becoming just a bland preparation of food.

Introduction; Breakfast; Soup; Grains; Sauces, Spreads and Salsas; One-Dish & Easy Meals; Proteins; Vegetables; Pasta; Sweets; A Festive Occasion; Q&A; Index; Credits

I think the first thing that came to mind as I was going through the book is that this is best used in conjunction with the main Eat-Clean book.  Eating clean does not solely mean "lower calories", so this isn't a cookbook with nothing but low-cal concoctions.  Instead, it uses the concepts of healthy food and proper nutrition to deliver dishes that will help you lean out and power up your body.  So instead of settling for the breakfast of some sugar cereal or toaster waffles, you could try the Oh-My-Gosh Egg-White Omelet.  Easy to make, and looks delicious.  Or perhaps you do some pre-bed prep so that you have Eat-Clean Breakfast Burritos waiting for you in the morning. Dinner dishes like Turkey Breast with Leek and Oatmeal Stuffing, White Chicken Chili, and Slow-Cooker Chicken Cassoulet also have me ready to hit the stores to buy the proper ingredients.

I appreciate the fact that each recipe has a full nutritional breakdown, as well as how many servings it makes, how long it'll take, and how long it'll need to cook/chill before it's ready to eat.  There's also indicators to help you pick out dishes that conform to a gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan eating style.  Even for people like me who don't spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, it's an easy-to-follow way to get far more value out of  your food choices when it comes to nutrition.

Bottom line...  if you buy this book at the same time as the main Eat-Clean Diet book, you'll have everything you need to make the transition to eat-clean living.  If you don't quite "get" what is involved in eat-clean food, the cookbook will clarify it for you.


So does the potential MicroHoo takeover change anything in your computing world right now?

Category Microsoft

I have had my Yahoo mail account for many, many years.  I switched it to a paid account back when average mail service offerings were a whopping four to six megabytes per account.  With a paid Yahoo account, I got something like 20 megabytes, no advertising on the email, etc.  Even though mail account sizes for free offerings are virtually limitless now, I've left the paid account in place to take advantage of the ad removal, advanced spam-guard, etc.

Earlier this week I got the notice saying the service would be renewed at the end of February if I did nothing.  I've been thinking about migrating the Yahoo account more to the Google side, but I figured I'd leave the paid service in place until I got around to seriously addressing migration.

Today, I cancelled the paid service.  I dropped Hotmail quite some time back because it was nothing but a spam magnet.  The thought of Microsoft having involvement in my personal online mail account again doesn't do much for me.  Rather than help MS with another $20 (I know...  stop the merger, right?), I decided to just cut the service now, deal with "reduced" functionality or features, and slowly start weaning myself away from the Yahoo account.  Nothing drastic, and it will still be there (I'm sure) for many, many months to come.  But visiting the Yahoo mail account may become a "few times a week" event rather than "many times a day".

Guess I also need to look at my home page, which is currently My Yahoo.  Even on that front, I've toyed with the Google homepage a bit.  But there's one stock portfolio module on the Yahoo side that doesn't seem to have any decent replacement on the Google side.  If that changed, I'd switch with no regrets at all.  Time to start looking again.

And as a side note...  I don't expect Grandma Mabel or Uncle Joe to have the same reaction to dropping any Yahoo features because they're now run by Microsoft.  But I'm sure I won't be the only technology-inclined person who will bail on Yahoo if Microsoft takes it over.  Does that have any impact on the value of Yahoo in terms of what Microsoft is (over-)paying for it?


So what do I think about the MicroHoo announcement?

Category Microsoft

I'm doing this more for the humor of looking back five years from now and either being 1) impressed by my own wisdom, or 2) amused by my total stupidity.

First off, I've read more than enough business books to know this...  there is NO way to tell right now how this will play out.  The people who claim that this will propel Microsoft past Google have just as much credibility as those who are saying that this will be the death of Microsoft *and* Yahoo.  Books and articles will be written two to three years from now, and every decision made between now and then will be given a far greater level of importance and meaning than it had at the time.  Hindsight is 20/20.  Look how many people were fooled/were wrong about Enron.  :)

Having gotten that caveat out of the way...

Personally, I see this as a huge risk for Microsoft.  While it does give them a large infrastructure and content, it also presents problems on branding.  Does Yahoo mail cease to exist?  Yahoo Instant Messenger?  Do those people who chose Yahoo-branded products over Microsoft stay the course, or do they jump over to Google (or other alternatives) because they didn't want to use Microsoft stuff to begin with?  Will Microsoft be smart enough to leave successes like Flickr alone, or will they attempt to rebrand and control it to be another forgettable entry in the list of "Live" offerings?

As an IT guy, I'm *really* curious to see how they'll handle the culture and infrastructure issues.  While Google has "out-Yahoo'd" Yahoo in terms of working environments, Yahoo still has that free and independent spirit.  Microsoft used to have it, but that was long, long ago.  How will Yahoo talent react to the process-heavy Microsoft management style?  Or, given the deteriorating economy, will people just be happy to still have a job?  And just how many people will be laid off from various areas of Yahoo and Microsoft as the integration process begins?  Will Yahoo's long-time support for open source/open standards become support for *Microsoft's* version of source/standards?  Or will Microsoft finally have to admit that there are more platforms than Windows, and they should start using them?

Finally, is this a purchase to compete in the race that's in the rear view mirror, or an attempt to shape and define where things are going from here?  Paying $44 billion to become a somewhat close second in monthly search engine stats is rather steep.  I know the Microsoft press machine will say that this purchase will propel them to new ideas and areas of leadership, blah, blah, blah.  And Bill Gates tells us every year that the paperless office is right there on the horizon...  Telling the market where things will go, and getting them to actually go there are two entirely different things.

If I had to make a general statement of success or failure, I'd tend to place money more towards the failure side.  Major acquisitions are notorious for delivering less than promised (AOL/Time Warner, anyone?), and I don't think that MicroHoo will be any different.  It *does* change the landscape, and it *does* mean that Google has a lot more competition.  But whether Microsoft can successfully take that change and build on it is still up for discussion.  Things like XBox and IPTV haven't exactly become revenue streams to be proud of.  And now with $44 billion less on the balance sheet, the room to support money pits for long periods of time may be at an end.


Time to start submitting abstracts for ILUG 2008!

Category ILUG2008

A picture named M2

Face it...  where else would you rather be the first week of June than with hundreds of your closest friends, learning about Lotus, and consuming large quantities of beverages (often on someone else's tab)?

I can tell you from personal experience that being part of ILUG 2008 rivals the community feeling you get at Lotusphere...  At least the parts you remember.

But in order to make this a great event, we need great speakers!  And wouldn't you like to be one of those?  I certainly hope to be one some day...  :)

If you'd like to take that next jump in your professional career (either to greater heights or career suicide, your choice), submit an abstract to speak during the event.  Send a session abstract (or tree) to speakers@ilug2008.org and let us know what you'd like to talk about for an hour.  We promise not to let Paul make decisions on developer topics, nor will Bill get to choose admin sessions.  But we all agree that user sessions are banned, so don't even try...

Conditions?  They are:
  • Funky and cool
  • No suits or ties allowed
  • Ability to handle heckling under pressure

That's not so bad, is it?

And don't stress out about the format of the abstract...  Title of the session, and three or four sentences describing the topic.  Go look at any Lotusphere session description and you'll get the idea.

And don't delay...  While we don't expect the volume of abstracts that IBM sees for Lotusphere, there *are* limited slots available.  

And remember...  if you're chosen to speak, your session registration cost is free!  Actually, if you sign up to attend, it's also free.  But it sounds better the first way...

Want to support this blog or just say thanks?

When you shop Amazon, start your shopping experience here.

When you do that, all your purchases during that session earn me an affiliate commission via the Amazon Affiliate program. You don't have to buy the book I linked you to (although I wouldn't complain!). Simply use that as your starting point.


Thomas "Duffbert" Duff

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