Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jumping cursor when typing on Thinkpad

I have been suffering from a most infuriating problem for the last few months. Every now and again when I'm typing my cursor will jump to the beginning of the line. Since I don't touch type I spend quite a lot of time looking at my clumsy fingers and not at the screen so when this cursor jumping happens and I don't notice it can cause carnage to my document. At other times it was causing a seemingly random word to be selected and as I continued to type would overwrite it. As you can imagine this weird behaviour started messing with my head.

Having worked in IT Support in a previous life I am well aware of the need to find a reproducible set of circumstances in order to trouble shoot a problem. Since I spend most of my life in my beloved Lotus Notes client that was where I first spotted the problem. My initial thought was that it could be a bug in the editor since there had been loads of improvements to it in recent releases (drag and drop stuff mainly). However, it didn't take long to spot the problem happening in other applications including Firefox and even Notepad. With my support head on I might have suspected "Finger Trouble" but even though my typing is not great it isn't that bad.

However, I just had a stoke of luck. For no particularly good reason whilst in an web based editor I just happened to tap my Trackpoint and witnessed my cursor moving to the beginning of the previous line! But that is dumb - since when have trackpoints behaved like mouse buttons? Well after a bit of research I found out that this behaviour is called "Press-to-Select" and can be configured in the Control Panel/Mouse. I have been using Thinkpads for 13 years and I am sure that it has never been turned on in any of my previous machines - I wonder why the default has changed to on now. Whatever, at least I understand what is happening so now I need to decide whether to turn it off or to take advantage if it.

From the Trackpoint tab in the Mouse menu you can configure your trackpoint.

Ticking enable Press-to-Select allows you to configure that particular function.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Multiple Domino instances on a single machine.

Although it is completely unsupported, I have a requirement to have two Lotus Domino server installed on my Thinkpad at the same time. One is my super stable environment for performing standard cusotomer demonstrations which includes Domino, Quickr, Traveler, iNotes and Sametime. This is currently using Domino 8.0.2. Then I have a more experimental server which is running the latest build of the code I can get my hands on which I use for playing with the new toys like DAOS, Xpages, ID Vault, DCT etc. The problem I am having is that when I now upgrade either of the servers (they are just installed locally on my C:\ drive) it causes the other to show the following error when started:

This is a known issues and you can see the Technote here. The problem is easy enough to fix, just reinstall the code and the server is fine again. The problem is that in fixing one you have knocked out the other. This has only just started happening to me in the last month or so - prior to that I could have as many servers as I like installed and they would all work fine independently of each other. I am pretty much sure that the problem relates to how Domino reads or writes to the windows registry.

A similar scenario happens with the Notes client. IBM do not support having multiple versions installed on a machine at the same time. But clever folks in the Lotus community have found ways to get it working. The best description I have found is this one from Thomas Bahn which even allows the versions to be running simultaneously. So my question to the community is has anyone found a similar workaround for having multiple versions of Domino installed on a Windows laptop (not running simultaneously of course!).

p.s. I know I could use VMware workstation and the problem goes away but I hate using VM's for customer demos. I don't like introducing additional moving parts.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Windows 7 Beta: How well does Lotus Software work?

When I first tried installing Windows Vista I used a Thinkpad T41. The results were very poor. Whist the operating system did install it was pretty much incapable of doing anything useful. I quickly reverted to using Windows XP again. With the launch of the Windows 7 Beta1 I thought I would try the same test again. And I am very encouraged by the results. It is clearly a step up from Vista both in terms of stability and performance.

From downloading the code (over 2GB) to burning it onto a DVD to installing it onto my venerable Thinkpad only took a few short hours. Within a couple of reboots it was recognising my Wireless Lan, Graphics Card and the other computers on my network. Impressive although nothing you wouldn't expect from a Mac or Ubuntu.

But the big question is does Lotus Software work on it? The answer is a resounding yes. The first thing I installed was Lotus Mobile Connect to get VPN access to IBM's internal systems. Then of course it was Lotus Notes. It installed a treat and after I copied my bookmarks, workspace (OK I'm occasionally old school) and ID file it was like working on my main PC. As you can see, Lotus Sametime also works brilliantly as well.

I also checked out the Lotus Symphony editors and they all worked faultlessly.

All in all you would have to conclude that Windows 7 is a massive improvement on Vista. I happen to know that IBM Lotus Quality Engineering always test out latest software on older hardware. Specifically, they have used a Thinkpad T30 which is over 5 years old to ensure that performance would be fine. Despite a slow start with Notes 8.0 the performance optimisation in 8.0.2 and 8.5 is really impressive.

So in conclusion, Lotus Notes 8.5, Sametime, Symphony, Quickr and Portal all work fine on Windows 7 Beta 1 on a three year old computer. But beware if you want to edit a picture, watch a video or play a simple card game!

Update: The first version of Lotus Notes that officially supports Windows 7 is release 8.5.1 Fixpack 1. See Here