Ben Langhinrichs

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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.


Mon 30 Apr 2018, 09:24 PM
There's been a lot of talk about modernization, and it has only accelerated with the enthusiasm surrounding Notes/Domino 10 and IBM/HCL's renewed emphasis on getting things done and getting them right. You may have even seen the slew of blog posts and advertisements by various well known, and perhaps less well known, companies. You can webify. You can mobilize. You can move the whole shebang into Mongo DB or another JSON database, and it all sounds spiffy and easy.
 
Now, maybe it is. Let's just say that the software does everything that's been promised. After all, there are many good, solid companies with a ton of tech know how. I'm friends with people in lots of these companies, and they believe in what they have to offer, so I believe them.
 
Now, you may think I'm coming out with yet another modernization tool or service or whizbang framework, but I'm. I encourage you to look at all these options and how they'll work. But remember, they're in the business of selling you planters. They're not so interested in transplanting your plants. If you are starting a whole new garden, that's great, but if you have years worth of carefully cultivated plants, you might give a thought to those.
 
At Genii Software, we can work with any of those companies (or none of them if you just want to export), but our speciality is moving the precious plants. Whether they are taking your data, rich text and otherwise, to Mongo DB or SQL or SharePoint or XPages or mobileFrameworkXQZ, we can help it stay intact and healthy. 
 
So, go shop for modernization tools or services, but no matter which you choose, give us a call and we can make their planters look happy, healthy, intact. Your plants (content) deserve it.
 
Send an email at sales@geniisoft.com or call us at +1 (216) 991‒5220 and see how we can improve your modernization, no matter who you use. Nobody does data conversion better.
 
Nice planters - dead plants (without Genii)
 
Planters with dead plants symbolizing lousy data conversion without Genii's products
 
 
Nice planters - live plants (with Genii)
 
Planters with healthy plants symbolizing great data conversion with Genii's products
 
 
 

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Fri 27 Apr 2018, 10:06 AM
News came out today that the Swedish pop group ABBA is putting out some new music for the first time in 35 years. While I have little interest in new ABBA music, I thought the announcement presaged an interesting technological development we could see more and more in pop culture. Below is part of the announcement:
 
Inline JPEG image
 
Note the three words. Our digital selves. If I read that correctly, instead of seeing the four aging pop stars themselves, we will see "digital versions". ABBA has been represented a lot of ways, including in comic book form, but I am betting that means "our younger, beautiful selves". Now, it isn't new technology to have people digitally added to movies or commercials, for example, but the technology to have extremely well done lip-synched video manipulations of well known figures has been talked a lot about this year. So, it hardly seems a stretch to think that ABBA will show themselves from years earlier (their digital selves) singing their new music.
 
Having watch the increasingly geriatric Rolling Stones, for example, I can sympathize with the concept, but I wonder if what we will see more and more will be synthetic digital selves in pop culture. And if we do, at what point will the artists themselves lose control of their digital selves so that labels or movie studios can have Jodie Foster's younger digital self star opposite Robert Redford's digital self, thus eliminating the need to deal with pesky actors entirely. And in a world that seems all too happy to embrace monoculture, how will new stars break in when the studios can make Avenger movies with the same set of Avengers fifty years from now?
 
Though possibly I worry too much. It may only be our digital selves watching by then.

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Wed 18 Apr 2018, 11:11 AM
ROI reaction gif
 
Way back in 1997, I released the Midas Rich Text LSX, a quirky-as-hell product which made manipulating Notes rich text not only easy, but kind of fun. You could sort tables on the fly, access almost anything, search and replace almost anywhere, lots of stuff, and it didn't think of rich text like IBM did, but like its users did. Fairly quickly, Midas became a hit as developers built all sorts of interesting and dynamic applications. It didn't cost very much, either. Personally, I thought it had a window of opportunity of about four years, if I was lucky, before IBM would swoop in and create something that would put me out of business. 
 
My youngest son was 2, and crawled all over me while I answered support calls. Fast forward 20 years, past a great many enhancements and additions and an eventual rename to the  Midas LSX, because it does so much more. The biggest reason people buy Midas these days is to generate high quality HTML/MIME/EPUB/CSV/etc. Some still use it for generating fancy emails or creating tables on the fly. My youngest is out of college now.
 
But about a half dozen times a year, I get a message from a company who has been using Midas for a decade or more, sometimes almost two decades. They've usually fallen off our radar screen, not on maintenance, not upgrading, just running apps that enhance their business year after year. They call because they switch servers or upgrade software, and manage to lose their Midas software or license or change server names so the license doesn't work. They call because this app which is so important suddenly doesn't work. Sometimes they know it is a problem with Midas, sometimes they've long forgotten they even use the product. I help them out however I can, though sometimes the combination of Notes version and Midas version is not only unsupported but dangerous. I'm helping one now that hasn't been in touch since 2004 for a Midas license they bought in 2002. Sixteen years, that app has been chugging along basically untouched. I wonder how many others like that are still humming away.
 
Sometimes, such customers buy a new license. Sometimes, I give them enough information that they get restarted with the old software and license they already have. The ROI is pretty spectacular, either way. Now, with Notes 10 on the horizon and the Notes/Domino sunset seeming further off, many of these companies are happy to spend a little more money and look forward to another decade or two of use.
 
It's been a long strange trip, as the Grateful Dead might say, and with Notes/Domino 10 on the horizon, it isn't over yet. I sell Midas to new customers, to old customers, perhaps even to you. It is not our most successful product if you simply go by total sales (that would be CoexLinks Fidelity), though it is close, but it is the longest running success story we have.
 
Have you tried Midas yet? There's still time to discover the magic, and even more time to enjoy the return on investment.
 

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Wed 4 Apr 2018, 02:39 PM
Inline JPEG image
 
There's a lot of talk about GDPR and its implications for Domino and other software environments. One frequent reminder is that backups and archives are included in the right to be forgotten. Now, if you are a small shop and have infrequent GDPR requests, anonymizing backup and archive copies might be a tedious but doable task. But what it you are faced with many of these?
 
One possible solution is the idea of pre-anonymizing. Imagine that every named person is given a unique id code, and a lookup table is maintained. Then the backup or archive process itself could include a translation process where the named person was replaced with the unique id code. If there were some later point where the named person needed to be forgotten, the archive itself would be left untouched and the index containing the name to id would have the name removed. Thereafter, the id would return "not found" when anyone tried to retrieve the name.
 
This isn't a perfect solution, and there might need to be a periodic garbage collection where all unknown ids were converted to a single UNKNOWN id, but particularly for difficult to access backups stored in long term storage, it would provide a way to "forget" without altering the storage. It also might require too much effort per backup/archive, though it would also conversion of various names, nicknames, email addresses, etc. to the single code, which would also make retrieval of information on a request easier.
 
I do wonder how referenced but non-specific names in rich text would be handled. If the rich text says "Alan told me we could bill Krangdon and CC it to Krangdon's VP of Operations" would Alan and Krangdon's VP of Operations need to be identified by context for both the purpose of notification and anonymization. I imagine there is some level of specificity beyond which you could not be expected to identify a person (e.g., Jim's wife), but if I am wrong, Watson is going to be needed just to find the references. Interesting times.
 
Note: For what it is worth, it would be possible to pre-anonymize working Notes databases, but it would take more effort than seems worth it. For example, in ACLs and such, you could use the id and then have a group named after the id with a single member for each internal user. But other places would be worse, and there would need to be lookups frequently, so I doubt it is a good idea.

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