Monday, January 30, 2006

Lotus Notes UK User Group []

Ben Rose has created a user group for folks that use, sell, promote, love, administer or develop on Lotus Notes and Domino. Lotus has always been about people working together so if you fall into any of the above and are in the UK then you should join The UK Lotus Notes User Group. There are already over 50 members and it only went live a couple of days ago. It doesn't cost any money to join either which is nice. There are 125 Million Lotus Notes users Worldwide so I know you are out there!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Blogging a dead horse

I'm here in Orlando this week for Lotusphere 2006, the premier technical conference for all things Lotus. There have been loads of announcements about new products and new partnerships but I don't propose to write about them here. That is partly because others in the community are far better at doing it than me, for example Ed Brill, Rocky Oliver, IBM,
Computer World, The Register and Information Week. There is no point me repeating that stuff here.

However, I did attend two sessions today on the topic of writing a Web Log, how they can create virtual communities and what the cultural and sociological implications are. The discursions were wide ranging and interesting covering topics as diverse as gender balance between web loggers, the difference geography can make to acceptance and the futility of trying to hide your true identity on the web. What I found most interesting was a discussion on whether the ability of anyone to create a Web Log will result in the democratisation of our society or will it result in the Web being saturated by everyone prattling on about their own opinions leaving no one left to actually do anything. I have heard this argument about many things in the past. If everyone becomes a critic who is left to create the art? If everyone owns a hotel where will the guests come from? But that doesn't happen does it! Society has a way of organising itself and there is no reason to think that won't happen on the web. People will read interesting web logs and ignore the rest. Which might not bode well for this one :-)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Las Vegas

For the third year in a row, I have just spent a week in Las Vegas at IBM's Software University. As the name implies, this is where IBMers go at the beginning of the year to get educated on our software portfolio, strategies and even do a bit of personal development. I really can't make my mind up about Vegas. On the one hand there are things that really make me laugh like having slot machines in the airport just next to the gates in the airport.

On the other hand there are so many things that drive me nuts. Not least being in the middle of a desert. It is rather annoying having people (always short for some reason) flicking prostitutes cards in your face every time you walk down The Strip. I get sick of the sea of neon within seconds and there is incredible peer pressure to party too hard. It isn't the most conducive venue for learning but amazingly the play hard, work hard rule seems to kick in. I did have a couple of therapeutic ales during the course of the week but I also attended loads of great sessions. Unfortunately I cannot share the great news about what is happening to Lotus Notes over the next year or what is in the awesome new version of Lotus Sametime 7.5 because we are announcing them at Lotusphere 2006 next week and I would be in deep trouble if I were to spill the beans early.

So whilst the Jury is still out on Vegas, this year is the first one where I had the Sunday free so myself and a few frollegues got a JetCopter (yes - no mere Helicopter for us) out over the Hoover Damn and then out to the Grand Canyon where we landed to sip some chilled champagne. Expensive, Decadent and totally worth it. The Canyon was unbelievable and the JetCopter was pretty cool too.

So I have just arrived in Orlando for the afore mentioned Lotusphere after 14 hours travelling so I'm a bit travelled out but looking forward to a further week of education and hopefully a few laughs. Loads of great announcements about Lotus Software and there will be 1000 more delegates than last year so it shows that the Lotus community is thriving and expanding.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

It's Alive!

Oh what fun I have had recovering our home PC. I wrote a few days ago how I managed to create a XP install CD which didn't require me to supply device drivers through a none existent floppy drive. What I didn't mention is that both trying to recover and install a new version of XP failed with an error message that lasted on the screen for about a nano second. So it was repeatedly failing but I couldn't see why! The problem was caused by a dodgy disk drive that had errors and the fact that XP didn't just give up and die is a tribute to it's design. But it is a real bugger that it displays the error for such a short period and that it isn't written into any of the log files.

Fortunately, in the past I spent many years working in IT Support, so have learned that often whining about a problem is just wasting your time and it is more productive to figure out a work around. The answer in this case was to spot the pattern of when the error occurred (when the installer said it was installing devices and there was 34 minutes left) and in the nano second that the Blue Screen error was displayed - take a photo of it. It took me a couple of goes because of the delay in digital cameras and I also had to disable the flash (not by going through the setup - I just put my finger over it). But that gave me the image you see here.

Once I discovered that it was complaining about vobid.sys I was motoring. A good search of t'internet showed that this was the driver for the virtual CD in Pinnacle Instant CD. This was a software package that came with the PC that I have never used (I use Ahead Nero for CD/DVD burning). Booting the PC into DOS from a CD and running NTFS from Winternals allowed me to delete all of Pinnacle and low and behold the XP Upgrade worked and I was back in business.

Even though the PC is back from the dead, there was still one corruption remaining. All wobble headed muppet David Gray's MP3's have been deleted from the system. Ah well, every cloud ...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Have you got a floppy?

I can't remember the last computer that I had that still had a 1.44Mb floppy drive built in. A few years ago IBM Thinkpads would come with an optional floppy drive that would connect through the serial port but even this has stopped now since floppies are now pretty much redundant. When you can get a multi gigabyte USB key for just a few quid there is no need for the old fella any more. Or so I thought!

My pretty but problematic home PC suffered a serious hard disk failure a couple of days ago. It caused the PC to refuse to boot. Of course I have a recovery CD that came with my machine so in it goes and it brings up the Windows XP Professional installation utility. There is one minor complication though. Despite having been out for a few of years, Windows XP SP2 doesn't have built in drivers for SATA disks. This shouldn't be a problem because the installation routine allows you to add new drivers by pressing F6. The problem is that it will only allow the drivers to be loaded from a floppy disc. But my machine doesn't have a floppy disk drive and the drivers are on my motherboard CD! Snookered. It is unbelievable that the very latest version of Windows is still restricted to this archaic technology. A quick search of forums on the Interweb shows countless poor souls who are stuck because of this.

Fortunately I also have my work Thinkpad which has a built in CD Writer so I was able to create a new XP install CD with the drivers Slipstreamed so they would be automatically installed. I can't imagine many home users would know how to do this though, I certainly didn't know 2 days ago and I'm an IT professional.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Goodbye 2005 and Welcome 2006

So the festive season is now over and we are glad to be back at work right? So what have I learned?

Christmas in London for the first time was a roaring success. Stew and Pink sure know how to throw a party.
Unlike previous years, following hints from my family, I made a Christmas list. I got loads of presents that I want! I think there may be a connection.
Thanks to the kittens, for the first time ever we didn't put up a Christmas Tree. Mixing Barney and Boo's love of climbing and general mischief with a pointy green thing with dangly bits seemed a bit stupid.
The new series of Doctor Who is cracking and the Christmas Invasion episode was the only decent thing on TV over Christmas. Great story, great acting, amazing special effects and not a bad new Doctor!
27th of December was exactly 6 months since I stopped smoking. Been tempted a couple of times but happily I've stuck with it.
First trip to a Korean restaurant with Marcus and Ellen. Not in Korea obviously. It was in Staines. Excellent food and service.
Tube Workers. What a load of greedy kill joys for striking (over nothing) on New Years Eve while their smug git of a union leader was on holiday in Egypt.
New Year Eve with Tom and Neil was lovely
The fourth Harry Potter film is the best by miles. At one point Daniel Radcliff almost started acting which was quite a shock.

So a very Happy New Year to y'all - bring it on 2006!