Ben Langhinrichs

October, 2009
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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.


Thu 15 Oct 2009, 11:16 AM
I just got an error in Lotus Notes that I have never seen before.  It has a wonderful Zen quality to it, and even though I am pretty sure how I got it, I have no idea what it thinks it is communicating.



From what I see, I think I got this because I passed an array into Cstr in LotusScript.  I just love the beauty of "Unknown found, Unknown expected." 

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Wed 14 Oct 2009, 05:10 PM
One of the most intriguing, and irritating, aspects of writing software extensions to Lotus Notes is the way people line up and beg IBM to release features that are readily available in external tools.  Sometimes their companies won't let them buy an external tool.  Sometimes the price is not what they can spend.  Sometimes they just don't know.  But year after year, I see people request certain features and functions related to rich text, whether in the Business Partner forum or the LDD forums or IdeaJam or at Ask the Developers or in the Lotusphere labs or on their blogs.  And year after year, they seem to not really notice that IBM isn't adding new functionality to the Notes rich text classes, or at least precious little in the ND 8/8.5/8.5.1 versions.  At best, IBM will point you towards DXL, as if it really makes sense to dump everything to XML, find and process the tiny attribute you need, and then import it all back.

So, here I give you another great idea.  Imagine, the ability to change a table cell background color in LotusScript.  You can certainly vote to promote it, as I did.  But you could also read my first comment, which points out that this feature has been commercially available since Feb. 9, 1998 in our Midas Rich Text LSX.  It will cost you something, but this is only one of hundreds of properties and methods available in Midas that you could propose and vote on in IdeaJam.  Perhaps it is time to vote with your money instead of your mouse, as companies on 47 countries have already done.

You could wait another 11.5 years and see if IBM catches on.  Or, our newest version of Midas, officially supporting all ND releases from ND6 to ND8.5.1, will be here Monday.  Isn't it time to vote?


Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Mon 12 Oct 2009, 04:27 PM
Well, this started off poorly (see my previous post), and I thought it might continue poorly, as I called the number suggested, and they couldn't help, but sent me to another person, who couldn't help and sent me to a third.  At least the first two calls were fairly quick without either long holds or confusion.

But then I hit gold.  I was sent to a person in Pre-Sales who was terrific.  She understood my questions, then directed me to the exact page I needed, explained what I needed to buy, why I needed the licenses, and how to proceed.  She made sure I knew who to call if I had any trouble with the purchase, with the download or with anything afterwards.  Simply the most efficient and knowledgeable person I have ever dealt with in IBM (outside of the people I actually know).  I was actually glad that they had am optional "one minute survey" afterwards, which I gladly took so that I could rave about how great she was.  I didn't feel the least bit rushed by her, but I think I had all the answers I needed in less time than it took me to fill out the survey.

Unfortunately, I don't know her name, but it was a true pleasure.  Good work, IBM!

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Mon 12 Oct 2009, 03:47 PM
I went to the IBM website today, hoping to buy myself a copy of Lotus Notes and an Enterprise CAL so I could be a real customer  (OK, not as large as GM, but more profitable).  It was relatively clear how to find my way, so kudos to IBM for that.  As I got into the inner sanctum and was just about to click on a link, I got a popup asking if I would like to chat live with an IBM representative.  Sure thing, I thought, so I agreed and Shannon asked if she could help.

Here's the chat:


Please wait for your IBM representative to respond.
You are now chatting with 'Shanon'
Shanon: 
Welcome to IBM.com. Before we get started, please provide your full-name and company name.
you: 
Benjamin Langhinrichs, Genii Software
you: 
I have a small (one person) company, and I want to use Lotus Notes with a small internal-use-only Domino server.
you: 
Is it correct that I can buy an Express license for just me and use those two?
Shanon: 
Passport Advantage: http://www.ibm.com/software/howtobuy/passportadvantage/pao_customers.htm 
Shanon: 
yes you can
you: 
How much is an Express license for one person?
Shanon: 
Click here
you: 
OK, that looks clear. Now, if I want to use Domino Designer, I will also need a single Enterprise CAL, I think. What would that cost be?
you: 
I will need to connect to a server and sell solutions built with it, so I know I'll need the CAL.
you: 
Or is that what the IBM Lotus Notes with Collaboration Authorized User License + SW license is?

[5 minutes of silence]

you: 
Is my question unclear, or are you looking for an answer?
[5 more minutes of silence]

you: Hello?
Shanon: 
One moment while I research that for you.
you: 
OK, thanks

[15 minutes of silence]

you: 
Any luck?

[15 minutes more of silence]

Shanon: Unfortunately not
Shanon: 
Let me provide you with our technical staff's contact number
Shanon: 
IBM Serv 1800-IBM-SERV (1800-426-7378) or email (support@us.ibm.com) 

Well, there's a productive use of time.  Here I am, a customer who actually knows a heck of a lot about what I'm talking about, and I still can't get an answer to what should be simple.  Of course, I could call any of a dozen BP friends and handle this easily, but I do hope IBM provides a bit more information to the people who get on these chats.  It may just be because the situation is new, but wouldn't that be when you would need your reps to know the answers?

Update:  I had a good deal more luck later in the day with My chat with sales (trying to buy Notes), so don't miss that update

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Sun 11 Oct 2009, 06:56 PM
My wife and I went out to a production of Twelfth Night, a delightful comedy by William Shakespeare, if you don't know.  We were aware that Tom Hanks was in town to do a benefit for the Hanna Theater (where the production was staged) and Great Lakes Theater Festival (where he started as an intern many years ago), but were thrilled when he was introduced before the show.  We were even more excited to see him sitting right behind, or rather, just far enough to the side that we could see him without gawking oddly.

There are other celebrities who I would blog about seeing, but few who I would personally care about seeing.  It was quite a thrill.  It was especially thrilling because he was really into the production, hooting and whistling (along with the rest of the very enthusiastic audience).  It made an excellent performance even better.

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

Fri 9 Oct 2009, 11:25 AM
I am getting past the flu, and have a number of projects to finish before 8.5.1 comes out, but I couldn't resist jumping in on the FTC ruling about bloggers disclosing when they have received payment or free products in exchange for reviewing a product or service.  There are lots of different angles, but I am going to take on one I haven't seen discussed much.

When is a product considered free, and when is it not?

This may seem obvious in the case of a laptop or other product that has a specific cost for anybody who wants to buy it, but software products and services may be less clear.  For example, is Twitter free?  Does a blogger or advertiser need to disclose that they got the Twitter service for free when blogging about Twitter?  Sound ridiculous?  Sure, because Twitter is always free, right?  

So, let's up the ante a bit.  Is GMail free?  Does a blogger or advertiser need to disclose that they got the GMail service for free when blogging about GMail?  At first glance, that is the same, but many companies do pay for GMail as part of GAPE.  So, can we say that if the product is free to some but not to others, those for whom it is not free should disclose that fact?  Still, some would argue that it is quite clear that GMail accounts are available for free.

So, let's up the ante again.  Is Domino Designer free?  Does a blogger or advertiser need to disclose that they got the Domino Designer software for free when blogging about Lotus Notes?  How about our iFidelity product, or any other software product that has a free license for IBM Business Partners?  What if a product was free for any bloggers, or for any company smaller than 10 people?  And, to make matters even worse, what about beta copies of software? How do you distinguish what is free when it is sometimes free and sometimes not? 

These, by the way, are not just idle questions.  To protect my customers, I'd like to advise the 50+ companies who are using a free iFidelity license whether they need to disclose that if they happen to blog about it or write about it.  How do I advise them?

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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