Thursday, December 11, 2008

Did you know?

A really insightful video celebrating the exponential progress of Information Technology researched by Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod, and Jeff Bronman. It also contains some interesting metrics comparing the United States with some large emerging nations such as China and India. I don't know if all the statistics are accurate but it all seems very credible.

Did You Know? from Amybeth on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lotus iNotes on the Nintendo Wii

There have been a few people talking about the new Lotus iNotes Ultralite and specifically how well it works on the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. Less comment has been made about the fact that iNotes Ultralite works very well in a browser on a PC. What I haven't seen mentioned so far was if iNotes Ultralite works on a Nintendo Wii. So I thought I would give it a go.

First I type in the URL and see if the Wii version of Opera will be able to handle it.

Not surprisingly iNotes brings up a dialog saying that it is not certified to use this browser. But offers a link to use Ultralite mode.

And it works perfectly. It looks pretty stunning on my 40 inch Sony LCD TV.

As you see, here is my Inbox.

Even complicated emails (this is a calender invite) all render perfectly, Obviously IBM will most likely not be certifying iNotes for the Wii any time soon, but so far I have yet to find any functionality that works on the iPhone that doesn't work on the Wii. So if you want to check your email between rounds of Mario Kart Wii you now have an excellent solution.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Double Click attachments in Lotus Notes

Receiving attachments via email is a bit of a two edged sword. On the one hand it is quite an easy way to get stuff, but on the other hand you don't necessarily know if the attachment contains wondrous information which will transform your life or viruses and other malware which will destroy your computer.

In order to help users, when they double clicked on an attachment Lotus Notes would bring up a dialog box warning the user of the possible perils and offering some alternatives including "viewing" the attachment to check that it was safe before launching it. But these days most computers and particularly those ones that are used for business have Anti Virus software installed to watch your back. In which case if you add AttachmentActionDefault=1 to your notes.ini file then double clicking an attachment will launch it in the native application with no dialog box.

More details are here:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

F5 Refresh in Lotus Notes 8.5

There are some debates about IT products which are far more like religious arguments rather than technical discussions because there really are no right or wrong answers, just opinions.

Obvious examples are the two button "PC Mouse" vs. the single button "Mac Mouse", coding using "Multi Threading" vs "Multi Process" techniques, using images in GIF, JPG or PNG format or perhaps the ultimate in cosmetic comparisons, the Black Thinkpad vs the White Macbook

One such debate has revolved around what key should be used to refresh a view or page or in the case of a mail client, check for new mail. As with most things in the PC Software world, there has never been a standard for such things. Each developer does what they think best. However, over time "De facto" standards sometimes emerge. In the case of the refresh key, it became the key F9 since this was what was used by Lotus 123, the dominant application at the beginning of the PC age. As 123 was gradually overtaken by Microsoft Excel it also used F9 for refreshing. Lotus Notes has followed this convention and has used F9 for refresh for nearly 20 years.

However, in more recent years Microsoft started using the F5 key for refresh in some (but by no means all) applications, most notably Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer. Confusingly Microsoft Outlook 2003 uses F5 to refresh the view but F9 to check for new mail.

So what to do with Lotus Notes? Clearly it wouldn't be fair on our current customers to change the behaviour of F9, but on the other hand many new Lotus Notes users expect refresh to be F5 because of their experience with Microsoft Windows. So in version 8.5 of Lotus Notes either F5 or F9 can be used to refresh a view and check for new mail. It also means that F5 can be used in Symphony Presentations to start a slide show. A very pragmatic solution I think.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Honda Whites

I had the pleasure of visiting a Lotus Notes customer today and briefing them on what is coming up in the forthcoming Notes/Domino 8.5 as well as Quickr, Sametime and Connections. That isn't particularly unusual, I spend a lot of my time ensuring that our customers are aware of upcoming features in new versions of our software and indeed our new collaborative and social offerings.

But what I really enjoy is finding out about our customers. They are all unique and vary from International Airlines to 5 people Internet start ups, film makers to police forces, Universities to chocolate makers. Today I was at a manufacturing plant of a well known worldwide car maker based in Swindon. The main thing that struck me was that all the employees were wearing identical white uniforms.

This would not normally be worthy of comment. Many manufacturing sites mandate that their staff wear protective uniforms. What was unusual here was that everyone from engineers, secretary's to Senior Management all wear the same white uniforms. So in my meeting today all the IT staff were wearing the same white uniform with their name on the left and the company name on the right. It made it very easy to be able to identify the IBMers from the Customers :-)

It was really interesting to walk down a corridor and see some folks who were clearly very hands on in the manufacturing process wearing the same clothes as some executive carrying a laptop and a briefcase. Apparently the uniform is referred to as Honda Whites. And before you think that this uniformity stifles individually I can tell you that the folks I met were full of character, and also one of the guys name badge read "Gadget". "Funny name" I said. "It's my nic name" he replied. "I like Gadgets".

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cloud Burst

A few days ago my friend Ed Brill was writing about the suitability of services such as Gmail in the Enterprise. Despite the vogue for services such as Google Apps and other "Software as a Service" and "Cloud" computing, he points out that they simply aren't as reliable as on premises solutions (or hosted ones for that matter). However, one of the biggest challenges with these solutions is "who you gonna call" when there is a problem. If you can't access Gmail you won't get very far phoning Google. However, these free services are normally deemed to be fine for consumer use.

Well I have just had a personal experience that even makes me question that. Since around 2000 I have been maintaining a web site for the band that I'm in. Being a cheap skate I just grabbed a free site at Tripod. It was a bit spoiled by the adverts but it worked fine. Tripod was subsequently purchased by Lycos but it didn't seem to change anything. It only got a thousand or so hits per year and I didn't update it particularly frequently but it was a nice place to keep all the band related stuff together and to inform our vanishingly small fan base about gigs and such.

A little while ago I made a music video of one of our songs and so I popped over to the site to provide a link. To my surprise all the content had vanished. When I tried to log in to my account I got an error message stating that my account had been suspended because of suspected abuse! It directed me to a Lycos troubleshooting and reporting site where it asked me to create a problem report promising a response within 72 hours. Several weeks later and despite me repeatedly emailing they have stubbornly refused to contact me other than an automated confirmation that they had received my report.

My account has subsequently been re enabled but all the content on the site is gone for good. Now being a paranoid sort of chap I have always saved copies of everything I uploaded to the site - but I would imagine many people are not so careful. Interestingly I have never bothered to save the contents of this blog. What could I do if I came here and found it blank? Even worse would be if I found the Blog that I write for my daughter was gone. Who would I ring? When I restart my bands page it will not be on a free service but rather with a host who provides a support number so I can talk to someone if problems occur. Not a vast anonymous blob.

As we sometimes say, free software is worth every penny! Incidentally, remember that nothing is ever really deleted from the internet. The Internet Archive still has a copy of my site.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic BSOD

OK - so it is kinda like shooting fish in a barrel poking fun at MS Windows for crashing. I'm sure that we have all seen the famous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) on airport monitors and ATM machines, not to mention our home and work PCs. But it is rare to see one as high profile as this - during the climax of the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics. More ironic because PC suppler Lenovo ditched Windows Vista for the supposedly more stable Windows XP. Full story Here

Friday, August 08, 2008

Matt and Alexis' Wedding

Matt and Alexis looking ravishing seconds after tying the knot.

Matt and Alexis on Kew green

The bride and groom with the bridesmaids and page boy.

Matt with some of his family

Alexis and some of her family

Matt and Alexis on the back of a vintage Routemaster bus which was used to transport all the guest from Kew to the reception in Soho.

Matt's Mum and Dad with Akira and Junji

Traditional cheesy self service shot of Mr and Mrs Ports

Alexis and her daughter Tracy

The fantastic wedding cake made up of loads of tiny cakes

Matt and Alexis have their first dance as a married couple

Ali cuts a rug on the dance floor

Alexis opens the card from Lucy

Alexis and Ali

Matt and his Best Man.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Tom and Laura's Wedding

Tom poses with his Best Men, brothers Olly and Ben, before the ceremony.

The ceremony itself was beautiful being held in the back garden of Laura's Parents house overlooking the glorious Gloustershire countryside.

After the ceremony the normal festivities kicked off. Ian was looking particularly racy in his white suit.

The core of legendary band Sideburner. Al, Tom and Ports pose together.

Ports and Ali take a traditional self service picture.

The happy couple at the reception

He might be married but Tom is still a ladies man.

The traditional cheesy wedding band

Ali and Lynne compare shoes

Ali and Laura

Ali with the Happy couple

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Matt's Stag Night

As my best friend Matt's Best Man I had to organize his stag night. The first thing we did was go for a superb champagne flight on the London Eye. Not only did a couple of glasses of bubbly make the flight more decadent but the other advantage of a champagne flight is that you get to jump the long queue. Even better the long queue of people get to see you jumping the queue.

Next up it was a trip to the excellent Benihana Japanese restaurant in Piccadilly. This is great place to dine as they mix excellent surf and turf style cuisine with with what can only be described as a performance chef who practically juggles the food in front of you as he cooks it on your tables personal hot plate.

The over to the The Comedy Store for some fine stand up comedy. Finally we all piled back to my place. I take my Best Man duties very seriously so this is how I had prepared the fridge. Full of Lager, Guinness and Wine with just enough room left for sausages, bacon and eggs for a fry up in the morning. (And a bit of friable Halumi cheese because Jason is a filthy vegetarian).

Jason looking in remarkably good health despite being a vegetarian.

Alex starts off with a Guinness.

And then in a rather strange move for a stag night - we start playing chess!

Chess might seem an odd way to finish a stag night but as you can see - the stag enjoyed it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Matt Graduates as a Security Don

Completing any degree is hard work, but it is especially challenging when you are doing it in your spare time whilst also having a full time job. So I was very proud when my buddy Matt invited me to attend his graduation ceremony after gaining a distinction in his Masters degree in Information Security from Royal Holloway. Interestingly the degree is part of the school of mathematics rather than the school of computing. Here are Matt with his Mum, Dad and Fiance looking appropriately chuffed.

Time for the group photo. Matt is in the middle.

What could be more traditional that the Mortar Board (hat) throwing ceremony.

After spending 4 years earning his Masters, Matt decides to continue wearing his mortar board to the amusement of many passers by.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tom's Stag Night

For Tom's stag night his brothers Olly and Ben first arranged for us to got to the famous Ice Bar where you are provided with a very fetching smock, locked in a sub zero room and plied with vodka cocktails. An interesting experience.

Stag Tom sits on his ice throne.

Obviously being a stag night we had to have a couple of ales.

Olly and Ben had also provided fine Cuban cigars and champagne outside.

Al is no expert on smoking cigars.

Ports has got the idea.

Back at the pub Neil and Ian plot strippers (not really)

Olly and Ben congratulate themselves on being excellent Best Men who laid on a cracking stag night for their brother.