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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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08/31/2012

There's a new blog in (my) town... SharePointDuffbert.com

Category SharePoint
I have a new blog in my small collection of content I offer up to the world at large... SharePointDuffbert.com.

SharePointDuffbert will not be replacing this blog, nor will I cease to talk about SharePoint on this one.  It's more of case of recognizing that I write to remember stuff, and a lot of the stuff I need to remember revolves around my ever-increasing focus on SharePoint in my day job.  Duffbert's Random Musings was started out of a focus on Notes and Domino technology, and picked up a number of other facets over the years.... book reviews, outlooks on life, etc.  I don't plan on stopping any of that, but I recognize that many of my readers are here NOT for SharePoint information.  As such, I'm going to try and separate out that material into a home of its own.

Where Notes/SharePoint/Duffbert overlap, Duffbert's Random Musings will still muse.  But for those "today I learned how to remove a web part from a page where..." things, SharePointDuffbert will be the point of reference.

And with that, carry on... Enjoy your Friday...

08/28/2012

Yes, Virginia... There *is* still a Lotusphere...

Category IBM/Lotus Lotusphere IBM Connect
Kristin Keene commented today on my blog post about Lotusphere becoming IBM Connect, and my concern that the Lotusphere content of prior years might get lost in the "new"...

Hi everyone! Here is some positioning we put front and center :) on the site today.

"Why the name change? The new name reflects an EXPANDED focus on the broader IBM social business story. The technical content for which Lotusphere is known is still predominately featured through hundreds of deep dive technology enablement sessions for all technical roles and in fact, is called the Lotusphere program within IBM Connect". 

Does this help? Deep, deep, DEEP tech sessions --- including the beloved Best Practices and Show n Tell's will be back with a vengeance!


As it now reads on the front page of the Lotusphere/IBM Connect site:

In January 2013, we're joining two 'places' — long-standing Lotusphere and last year's Connect conferences — and making them one.

Why the name change? The conference has a new name to reflect an expanded focus, the broader IBM social business story. The technical content for which Lotusphere is known is still predominately featured through hundreds of deep dive technology enablement sessions for all technical roles and in fact, is called the Lotusphere program within IBM Connect.

IBM Connect 2013. Familiar, yet with a whole new twist. What many of you have looked forward to for the past nineteen years and what many of you will look forward to for at least the next nineteen ---- Lotusphere with a new name that reflects the broader story of IBM's market leadership in the social business arena.

Yes, Kristin... it helps a lot.

I think that is *exactly* what the Lotus/IBM/Yellow/Blue community needed to hear.  I'm sure there will still be arguments over technical vs. strategic sessions, software A vs. software B sessions... but that's part of *every* "Connectosphere" event.  What's important is that IBM listened to concerns about the changes, and quickly made the changes *on the front page of the site* to address them.

Shout out also to Susan Bulloch for her continued "behind the scenes" support of the work that goes on to pull off that one week in January, and for assuring us that we'd be pleasantly surprised... and to just wait for things to unfold.  :)

08/26/2012

Book Review - The Storm by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown

Category Book Review Clive Cussler Graham Brown The Storm
The Storm (The Numa Files)

I used to read all of Clive Cussler's books as soon as they came out.  I liked the characters (Dirk Pitt was great), I liked the edge-of-your-seat cliffhanger chapters... it was an escape from reality in 350 pages.  But once he started "franchising" his name to various series with co-authors, I got a bit burned out.  Most were still OK, but it felt like I was beginning to read the same story over and over.  After a hiatus of a couple of years, I decided to jump back into the Cussler stream with The Storm written with Graham Brown.  I think the break helped, as I was able to enjoy this installment without the "been there, done that" feelings.

The Storm uses nanotechnology as the central focus of the story.  Plans for a nanobot, created by a brilliant but eccentric scientist, have been stolen and are in the hands of a power-hungry terrorist.  He's created a form of the device that's been dumped in the ocean and can effect changes in ocean temperatures.  This in turn alters weather patterns in the Middle East and Asia, and a number of leaders are willing to pay him huge sums of money to turn deserts into fertile land (and just the opposite for their enemies).  Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala, the main characters in the NUMA series, stumble into the middle of this plan just prior to full-fledged implementation, and they have to shut it down before global weather patterns are permanently altered.

This has most of the elements of a good Cussler novel.  Austin and Zavala are willing to do anything to stop the bad guys, they should be dead multiple times throughout the story, and of course there's a beautiful woman involved.  :)  Each chapter ends in such a way that I ended up doing the "just one more chapter" routine until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.  Needless to say, the book didn't last very long...

The Storm wouldn't win any awards as subtle and nuanced literature.  It is exactly what you'd expect... an escape from reality with plenty of action that requires some degree of suspension of belief.  But that's OK.  It was entertaining, it was what I expected, and it got me back to the point where I think I can once again enjoy Cussler novels for what they should be... fun.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

08/26/2012

Book Review - You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself by David McRaney

Category Book Review David McRaney You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself
You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself

This is one of those rare books that force you (if you're honest) to confess that everything you thought you knew may well not be as true as you belived... You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself by David McRaney.  What's worse is that even after knowing about these influencing factors, you'll still likely make the same mistakes.  It's a fascinating look into how we think and process "reality"...

Contents:
Priming; Confabulation; Confirmation Bias; Hindsight Bias; The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy; Procrastination; Normalcy Bias; Introspection; The Availability Heuristic; The Bystander Effect; The Dunning-Kruger Effect; Apophenia; Brand Loyalty; The Argument from Authority; The Argument from Ignorance; The Straw Man Fallacy; The Ad Hominem Fallacy; The Just-World Fallacy; The Public Goods Game; The Ultimatum Game; Subjective Validation; Cult Indoctrination ; Groupthink; Supernormal Releasers; The Affect Heuristic; Dunbar's Number; Selling Out; Self-Serving Bias; The Spotlight Effect; The Third Person Effect; Catharsis; The Misinformation Effect; Conformity; Extinction Burst; Social Loafing; The Illusion of Transparency; Learned Helplessness; Embodied Cognition; The Anchoring Effect; Attention; Self-Handicapping; Self-Fulfilling Prophecies; The Moment; Consistency Bias; The Representativeness Heuristic; Expectation; The Illusion of Control; The Fundamental Attribution Error; Acknowledgments; Bibliography

McRaney writes in a humorous, irreverent style that points out the fallacies in our thinking without underselling the hard science and psychology behind why these patterns exist.  Given that he covers such a wide array of mental errors and assumptions, there should be no possibility that a reader could *honestly* finish this book and declare that they don't fall prey to any of the issues.  Um, sure...

It's also an interesting read in that while you are taking in his information and examining your own actions, you need to be aware that you could be falling into the same error (or one of the *other* errors listed).  For instance, once you know about confirmation bias, you may feel you understand why political party <insert the one you aren't part of> are all idiots who miss and ignore all the real facts about their beliefs.  But aren't you glad that you can see through that and can point out all their fallacies with stories and news that's right there in plain view? :)

One of my favorites is the Spotlight Effect.  That's where you think that everyone is viewing and judging everything you say and do.  If you're in a gathering of people, you're imagining that everyone is talking about you or taking notes for later comparison.  In reality, no one cares and few are even paying attention.  That's a good reminder to me to just let things go and realize that unless I'm working really hard at it, few people will notice a blunder and fewer still will even remember five minutes later.  There is no spotlight.  That is, unless you're running for President... in which case, there *is* a spotlight. :)

You Are Not So Smart may take a bit of time to get through (the font is really small), but it's a fascinating read and look into the human mind and what it does to get us through the day.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

08/24/2012

Lotusphere2013 gives way to Connect2013...

Category IBM/Lotus
So if you head to lotusphere.com, you'll find out that "Lotusphere" is no more...

A picture named M2

morphs into...

A picture named M3

Here's the explanation...

con-nect: verb - to become joined, as in ideas that connect easily to form a theory. To join two places, making it possible for people and things to move between them.
This definition of the word "connect" couldn't be more appropriate.
In January 2013, we're joining two 'places' — long-standing Lotusphere and last year's Connect conferences — and making them one.
IBM Connect 2013. Familiar, yet with a whole new twist. What many of you have looked forward to for the past nineteen years and what many of you will look forward to for at least the next nineteen ---- Lotusphere with a new name that reflects the broader story of IBM's market leadership in the social business arena.

In short, I "get it" in terms of what IBM wants to do (or at least what it looks like to me).  The "Lotus" name has been deprecated for nearly all products, "social" is the current big thing for IBM, and "IBM Connections" is the product darling of the social portfolio.  "Lotus"phere is a name that doesn't really reflect the reality of IBM's branding any longer.  Yes, it means a lot to us old-timers, but it also has the baggage of the Lotus name (and that's been discussed ad nauseam over the years).  "IBM Connect" aligns more accurately to what the emphasis is these days.

I get it... I really do.

But... (you just knew that was coming...)

Attendance drives the size of the conference.  The days of sessions in the Swan, Dolphin, Y&B, and the Boardwalk are over.  Session slots are limited.  Every group in IBM wants more sessions for their product or topic as it's "critical" or "strategic".  With the changing of the name from Lotusphere to Connect, I think it's a fair expectation that "social" and Connections will get a large number of sessions.  Also, if the session topics of last year's Connect add-on become dominant, then the tone of the conference will make a definite swing from technical to "strategic" (or "marketing" or "conceptual"... take your pick).  I didn't attend any of the Connect sessions last year, but I did not hear any encouraging observations in terms of the draw for that track/add-on.  To be clear... that is not personal feedback... it's what I heard from various non-IBM sources.  Take my assessment however you'd like, and your mileage could very well vary based on having your butt in a chair for that track.

I have always approached Lotusphere as my technical training/attitude refresher of the year.  There's never a perfect balance of technical and marketing/strategic content that will make everyone happy... it can't be done.  Furthermore, there will never be a perfect balance of technical content to suit all attendees.  I'll always want more Notes/Domino development topics, and others will want more Sametime, Portal, Connections, Workplace (yes, I used that word), Quickr, etc.  Having said all that, I think the organizers have done a pretty good job in recent years to strike a reasonable balance.  

I'm not overly sure that's going to be the case for 2013 for a number of people...

The answers will become more clear in a couple of months when an actual agenda takes shape.  It may even become more clear when the call for abstracts is made.  The track names and groupings should give everyone a clue as to what to expect in terms of content weighting.  For me, a key will be the Best Practices and Show &Tell tracks.  Those have been among the most heavily technical (and well received) sessions at Lotusphere.  If those tracks contract, it'll lessen the value in the eyes of many.  I see the conference appeal tilting towards those who are associated/interested in IBM Connections, as well as those who are heavily invested in the "social" message.  

The next month or two should be interesting, to say the least.  It seems like we haven't had a lot to get hot and bothered about of late.  I think we might have fixed that... :)

08/10/2012

Book Review - Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See by FranCoise Mouly

Category Book Review FranCoise Mouly Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See
Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See

While I don't read the magazine, I have always appreciated the covers of The New Yorker magazine.  To me, they rank with Life and Saturday Evening Post magazine covers in terms of telling a story without needing a single word of text.  Our library recently purchased Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See by FranCoise Mouly, and I finally got to the top of the hold list.  It was an entertaining read that added a great deal of background information into how covers get chosen, how difficult it is to make a point with no text, and how, no matter what you do, you will always infuriate some part of the overall group that follows you.  Definitely a number of lessons to be learned there...

Contents: Introduction - Covers Uncovered; Race & Ethnicity; Sex; Religion; Politics; Celebrities; War & Disasters; Is Nothing Taboo?; Biographies & Index

Mouly has been the art director for The New Yorker magazine since 1993, and needless to say, she's seen countless sketches and ideas for covers during that time.  She has an area on her wall dedicated to the covers that made it, as well as great ideas that didn't get that far.  One of her illustrator colleagues was looking over the various drawings and simply said "You have a book here."  The result was Blown Covers.  

On a superficial level, the book is interesting in that it shows various cover ideas (both fully illustrated and rough sketches) that were either chosen for an issue or held back for various reasons.  Just sit back and enjoy the artwork.  However, if you slow down and consider the explanations behind the decisions, the whole world of editorial artwork comes alive.  Mouly sounds like she gives her artists a high degree of latitude and protection for ideas that are far from "politically correct".  Those ideas and rough sketches have to be sold to her first, and then sold to the editorial board.  Quite literally, some artwork was chosen five minutes before a cover had to be at the presses.  Other very good covers were pulled at the last minute when a late-breaking story focused the world's attention in a different direction.  The original cover quite often never makes it back into the mix, as the message is old news by then.  The balance between message, meaning, impact, and emotion is precarious... especially when you can't use any words to lead people in the right direction.  The image has to carry it all.

And here I thought it was just a drawing...

Blown Covers is a good read that destroys the "it's just a cartoon" mentality that most readers probably assume when they see The New Yorker on a newsstand.  It's really so much more than that, and Mouly and her artists do an excellent job in showing you what really happens on a weekly basis when it comes to telling stories without words.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

08/08/2012

Book Review - The Past, Present, and Future of JavaScript by Dr. Axel Rauschmayer

Category Book Review Dr. Axel Rauschmayer The Past Present and Future of JavaScript
The Past, Present, and Future of JavaScript

I apparently haven't been keeping up with what's going on in the JavaScript world, as I learned a fair amount from the O'Reilly ebook The Past, Present, and Future of JavaScript by Dr. Axel Rauschmayer.  I was doing pretty well on the past and present, but the future was all new material to me.  And Dr. Rauschmayer makes the future look pretty good...

Contents: The Past; The Present; The Future; Evolving The Language; JavaScript As A Compilation Target; Writing Non-Web Applications In JavaScript; A JavaScript Wish List; Conclusion; References

At around 52 pages, it doesn't take long to read through the material being covered, but Dr. Rauschmayer does a good job in making the most of those pages.  The past and present sections give a concise overview of where JavaScript started, and how it got to where we are now.  Most of the space is taken with coverage of where things are going in the future.  I'll admit I hadn't been following the progress of ECMAScript standards... Fine, I wasn't even aware there *was* work going on for a next version of JavaScript.  Fortunately, new features are planned in various areas, and it seems like the standards group is spending a lot of time to make sure the proposed changes are focused, well designed (by content experts), and practical.  There are short coding examples to show off the new features (such as new iteration options and raw strings that preserve white space and non-escaped characters).  All in all, a lot of good information in an overview format, perfect for getting up to speed with the concepts and directions of where JavaScript is headed.

As with many of the O'Reilly ebooks of this fashion, Amazon has it priced as free.  That's hard to beat.  I definitely recommend downloading The Past, Present, and Future of JavaScript.  It'll be 30 minutes of your time well spent.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Publisher
Payment: Free

08/08/2012

Book Review - What is DevOps? - Infrastructure as Code by Mike Loukides

Category Book Review Mike Loukides What is DevOps? - Infrastructure as Code
What is DevOps?

O'Reilly produces some useful (and short) ebook reports that help clarify and educate those of us in the tech industry.  I just finished What is DevOps? - Infrastructure as Code by Mike Loukides, and it fits squarely in that "short ebook" category.  In fact, you could make the argument that this is really a long blog post instead of an ebook, since it's only around 16 pages.  But when the price is free, why quibble over semantics?

Loukides makes the argument that the NoOps movement is a misnomer.  The function of Operations in a company such as Netflix or Amazon still continues to exist regardless of what might be inferred otherwise.  The more relevant question is centered around what Operations actually means in the current technology state.  Loukides states that the Operations team and the Development team become more closely allied, so that applications can take full advantage of PaaS (Platform as a Service).  This adds redundancy and resiliency as core elements of an application, as opposed to just tossing the application over the fence for someone else to worry about if something goes wrong.

What Is DevOps? is by no means an exhaustive examination of the DevOps topic.  At 16 pages, it's barely enough to get started.  However, it *is* enough to get you thinking in the right direction, and provides the start of a framework for you to "know what you don't know".  It's worth the few minutes (and no cost) to download and read.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Publisher
Payment: Free

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