Ben Langhinrichs

August, 2014
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Genii Weblog

Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.

Fri 29 Aug 2014, 04:06 PM
Tom Duff tweeted the following today. I had no idea, but it is exciting/scary/disturbing to think that my software has been running continuously in that application since Bill Clinton was in office, before hanging chads and 9/11 and so many things. 15 years. The sad thing is, Hard Copy Reporter was an abject failure in business terms. Technically, it worked well, but we were far out of our league selling reporting software. Of course, the Midas LSX itself is still selling well, but many, many, many versions have been released since then. Anyway, I just had to share. 
Thanks for sharing, Tom.

Copyright © 2014 Genii Software Ltd.

Fri 29 Aug 2014, 12:50 PM
Every once in a while, I get a reminder about why it is worth spending the time to create your own Closed Captions for a video. My most recent, AutoCheck - Technique to verify LSX installation in database , is just a brief video showing a technique, so I didn't worry about it. But when I happened to check the Automatic captions created, I remembered why I should always take the time. See screenshot below. Ouch.
If you are making videos to put on Youtube, you might want to watch my demo on how to fix this, Caption This - Create your own Closed Captions for Youtube. Just a word to the wise.
Update: I have now added corrected subtitles. Took a little longer because I forgot that the new 3 second branding video would be counted in the times file, so had to add 3 seconds to all times and re-upload. Duh!

Copyright © 2014 Genii Software Ltd.

Wed 27 Aug 2014, 10:03 AM
In my previous post,  In which I kick myself, I pointed out the rather obvious but belated point that databases, especially samples, that use the Midas LSX should recognize whether Midas is installed and make that point rather than simply failing. That may be a simple realization, but it took a lot of work to fix in a reasonably elegant and comprehensive way. Fortunately, the code may be useful to others, especially those who have an LSX to install. One thing I don't show in the video is that the page with instructions could easily include the appropriate files to install. That would not make sense for the samples, but might make a lot of sense for a customer who wanted to add the script and page to a database using Midas or another LSX.
The video is only a minute and a half, or you can download the Export to CSV sample from the Midas LSX samples page to see this in action, or check out the code at
Best viewed in HD. Closed captions will be provided shortly for following in English or improved auto-translation.

Copyright © 2014 Genii Software Ltd.

Mon 25 Aug 2014, 03:42 PM
I fancy myself to be fairly good at listening to customers and solving their problems. But that is not always a good thing.
One of the hardest things to do when supporting users is to stop and really listen to both them and to yourself. It is relatively easy to simply answer the question or address the concern, basically to "fix" the problem. Honestly, it is very much the same experience men often have in relationships. How do you step away from identifying and trying to fix "the problem" and instead think about the underlying situation and what it really means? What are the underlying causes and currents you are missing which led to the issue, as that is often more important that "the problem" itself.
A Midas customer wrote today with a problem running the Export to CSV database, basically due to a version issue. I gave her a solution, and she wrote back to say it worked. Case closed, right? Well, not really. We are working very hard to make the Midas LSX, and particularly the export functionality, easy enough to use for non-developers, and by that measure we failed. The person who wrote was perfectly capable of re-compiling the agent, but shouldn't have needed to. In looking at the situation, I realized that the approach we take with samples assumes that the user has already solved the problem of getting the software, getting the evaluation license and installing them. But what of the developer who downloads the sample and tries it without getting an evaluation license.
This is where I kick myself. It should be insanely obvious that if the user doesn't have the Midas LSX installed, the sample should inform them of that and show them how to get the software and evaluation license. How can we not do that?
So, mea culpa, mea culpa. We are on it, and soon the sample databases will identify whether the software, and the correct version of the software at that, is installed. It may take a few days or longer to develop the right code and roll it out, but we'll get there. In the meantime, <ouch>.

Copyright © 2014 Genii Software Ltd.

Thu 21 Aug 2014, 08:48 AM
At Genii Software, we usually promote our products using simple videos or straightforward blog posts. But it occurred to me, what if we promoted software like Buzzfeed?

So, let's see what it might look like.
6 Questions You Didn't Know To Ask About Genii Software's Products
1. How many Notes developers does it take to export your whole database to CSV using Midas?

2) What will your customer do if you send a printed catalog instead of an eBook he can read on his tablet? (Midas can make customized eBooks instantly)

3) When might your CEO realize his/her email looks embarrassing to clients? When should you get CoexLinks Fidelity to fix that?

4) How will IBM respond if you demand they fix email rendering (like CoexLinks Fidelity does)?

5) How will your boss respond if you waste time trying to export rich text without Midas?

6) What is it like for Notes shops migrating email systems without CoexLinks Fidelity?

On second thought, perhaps we'll stick to blog posts and video demos.

Copyright © 2014 Genii Software Ltd.

Wed 20 Aug 2014, 12:14 PM
There is a philosophy called YAGNI that many software developers and programmers will recognize. The acronym stands for You Aren't Gonna Need It, and it has been popularized along with the ideas of extreme programming and continuous refactoring (see YAGNI definition). The basic idea is that you shouldn't build anything until you actually need it. It probably even helps a lot of developers and teams, but at Genii Software, we go the opposite direction. A good part of what we build is not currently necessary, is purely speculative, or is sufficiently far ahead of what customers want that it could be considered a waste of time.
Yet we virtually always need it, and we seldom have to the time to create it at the time it becomes necessary. While this is mostly true of smaller parts of the code which nobody externally will see, it can also be seen in the larger, more visible efforts, such as:
CoexLinks Fidelity: Most of the functionality and development was done in 2009 as part of iFidelity, but the world wasn't ready. Now, after more enhancements protecting against data loss (see 4 minute demo) and the addition of the Message Store (see 3 minute demo), companies large and small are lining up to take advantage of the product whether because they are moving to Outlook or Gmail and need better rendering of application emails, or simply have the budget available now to enhance their outbound email without a huge commitment. If we were to recognize that need now and start development, a finished product would be two years away.
Exporting to EPUB - Building on even earlier work to manipulate and process XML and zip files for Open Document Format, we put a lot of time in 2011 to export rich content to EPUB format so that a customer could make an instant eBook. I posted the results of this a few times in 2011 in posts such as Viewing Notes/Domino fixes on a mobile device, though the functionality was not released until Midas LSX V5.00 in November 2013. We kept working on it, winding up with a fairly elegant and powerful solution (see 5 minute demo). At first, nobody paid attention. The video only has 65 views, yet we have had five companies buy Midas for the Export to EPUB feature in the past three months, and three more are evaluating it. The main reason seems to be that the mobile devices, especially iPhone/iPad, have added native support for EPUB files, so sending customized on-the-fly polished eBooks to customers is more and more appealing. Again, if we saw that need now, we'd be years away from a polished product.
So, YAGNI? Not so much. More of IYBITWCE (IYou Build It, They Will Come... Eventually)

Copyright © 2014 Genii Software Ltd.