Monday, September 01, 2008

OK Lotus Geeks, Time To Pump Up!



Hey Everybody...Are you ready for a challenge?  I came across the OneHundredPushUps site a few weeks back and put it on my list of things to explore in more detail.  I finally did this weekend, so I'm ready to get started.  The gist of the program is that you do the required work for six weeks with the goal of being able to do 100 pushups (consecutively) at the end.  I've been running lately and doing a bit of lifting, all in an attempt to get back into prime fighting condition.  I'm lucky enough to be pretty trim and in decent shape (which of course is tough given our profession...we DO sit around a lot), but I want to be more than kind of fit.  Thus, I'm adding this program to my repertoire.  I posted as much on Twitter yesterday, with an invitation for people to join me.  Some folks gave me the thumbs up and agreed to try also.  I thought it would be fun for us to be working on this together.  We can even give encouragement to each other through Twitter (hey...you've been looking for an excuse to sign up...now's your chance).

Here's what I propose.  Sometime this week, do the initial test and then begin the program.  It only takes three days a week and a rather small time commitment.  If you're on Twitter, let us know when you start and provide your numbers if you feel comfortable.  Use the #lotus100pushups hashtag so we can track all of the results.

Just think...if we can all get buff and do 100 pushups, we'll be the bad ass software developers on the block and will make all the other wimpy developers (ahem...MicroSOFT) cower in fear of our brains and our brawn!  ;-D

I hope you'll join me in getting better shape.  I think this will be fun!

UPDATE #1: Joe is on board and proposes that we all be pumped up for Lotusphere. Phil is in too and already posted his results.

UPDATE #2: Sweet...other Lotus folks are joining the challenge! For updates, stay tuned to #lotus100pushups

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Heck Yeah - Of Course I'm Experiencing Cognative Dissonance!

One of the things I love about reading Tim Ferris' blog is that he gets a chance to sit down and talk with many very interesting people. I have to point out his latest post, since it's a dilemma I identify with...how to be a superstar at work (not doing so hot at that right now) while being a superstar at home as well. Usually, such conflicting demands diminish your performance in one or both domains, so the trick is finding the right path to balancing them as best you can.

In today's post, Tim includes several gems from Dr. Stewart Friedman on this issue. I think it's a great read for anyone that is trying to improve their life and I urge you to read it and then follow up with some Dr.Friedman's books. I know I will be...

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Monday, April 28, 2008

The Phantom Agony

Ah...cool orchestration, keyboards, a little Cookie Monster, soaring choir vocals, a beautiful mezzo-soprano, metal guitars. Life is good. :-)


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Monday, April 14, 2008

Let's Help Kick Cancer To The Curb

A few months back, a little site called Planet Lotus appeared and took us all by storm. If you follow Lotus blogs at all, you know about it already, and if you're like many of us, you probably visit it first thing in the morning or several times throughout the day to see what the Lotus Community is up to. Well the incredibly cool guy behind Planet Lotus is also one hell of a dad and is doing something to help his son and indeed society in general. So, please, if you are a fan of Planet Lotus, head on over to charity.planetlotus.org and do what you can to help Yancy's cause. Thanks...you guys rock!

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Free Meeting And Web Conferencing Service

Hi, everybody...Hi, Doctor Nick! (Whoops...another out of place Simpsons reference there)

Bruce was looking for a web conferencing service today and although I got to him too late, I wanted to share a cool alternative for those of you looking for a "personal" web meeting space.

The service is called Dimdim and it's billed as "the world's free web meeting where you can share your desktop, show slides, collaborate, chat, talk and broadcast via webcam with absolutely no download required for attendees." Pretty cool stuff.

Of course, I still think Lotus Sametime and Sametime Unyte are THE tools for true business web conferencing and unified communications, but if you are looking for a no-cost service that will work great for your personal needs, go ahead and check out Dimdim.

I mean, come on...they get points in my book just for a cool name! :-)

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Easily Lookup Books From Amazon At Your Local Library

I occasionally like to share some of the productivity hacks I use. This is one of them.

If you're a book lover, it's likely that you have overflowing shelves of books at home (yes, Tom...this means you! ;-). I decided a few years ago to pare down on my actual book buying and try to utilize the local library more often. Even so, I find myself on Amazon quite a bit (either via a blog link, a suggestion from a friend or just to see what's new). If I find something of interest but I'm not sure I want to purchase it, I'll check if it's available in the library catalog. Being a tech and productivity geek, I don't want to waste time having to lookup these books again. Fortunately, I don't have to. I've got The LibraryLookup Project bookmarklets for the two library systems in my area readily handy in my toolbar. When I find a book I like on Amazon, I simply select the bookmarklet and another window opens, displaying the book in the library catalog (if they have it).


Click to embiggen


If you're interested in the technical aspect of the bookmarklet, it uses regular expressions to retrieve the ISBN from the Amazon page and opens a new browser window to your library's online catalog system, passing the ISBN to the lookup form via the URL. The LibraryLookup Bookmark Generator allows you to set the base URL for your library system and determines how to construct the URL based on the software vendor that the library uses (hint: you can usually find this by going to the library online catalog...it's generally listed on the page somewhere).

Invoking the bookmarklet is a simple process and allows me to do my library browsing from the comfort of home, all while utilizing the Amazon UI, which is really much nicer than the library's own software.

It's a great tool...you should check it out.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Movie Quotes...I Have A Theory

Sometimes, when my mind is on overload, I really enjoy the fact that driving lets me pause and get some good thinking done. Often, I come up with my best ideas in this way (and huzzah to Jott for allowing me to capture these so easily). Today, however, my mind was so blotto (translate: fried, frazzled, ready to blow), that I was just daydreaming. And on the way home from taking my son to drum practice, I hit upon this amazing, and most likely completely correct (;-) theory.

The question at hand: "Why do guys always quote movie lines?". Now except in strange instances, this is purely a guys' domain. Usually, but not always, it drives the girls crazy. Not a good crazy, mind you (like when I do my Antonio Banderas impression), but crazy, crazy. But I think I know why we do this. This skill, like many of our lovable traits, hearkens back to our hunter roots. Early man needed to be a proficient hunter in order to survive, and one aspect of this proficiency was the ability to mimic animal sounds. Sometimes it was the lusty moans of a mate. Other times it was the cry of an injured animal meant to lure the hunter's prey. In any case, a skilled hunter was well-versed in the ways of mimicry. This adaptation, long encoded into our DNA through natural selection and survival of the fittest, still manifests itself today in modern man. And that, my friends, is why guys quote movies.

Ah...that's some good thinking for the day. :-)

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Gathering of Mustangs & Legends - Flag Jump

Cool...

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Direct Note Access...This is Revolutionary!

(Disclaimer...this is not Notes related)

If you are a musician or music geek (or if you want to be fascinated by the things you can do with music on a computer), you have to check this out:



Wow!

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

RIP - Gary Gygax

Dungeons & Dragons Basic SetIt's a sad day for gamers around the world, as Gary Gygax, the creator of Dungeons and Dragons and the man considered the father of the role-playing game, passed away today. He was 69.

When I heard the news, I was surprised by how sad I felt. Although I haven't played the game in many years, it was a big part of my life when I was younger. I still remember the excitement when I saw that red box on the shelf at the toy store in the Foothills Mall. It had an epic picture of a fighter about to engage in a fierce battle with a dragon perched on huge pile of gold and it immediately captured my imagination. I'd heard of D&D before and knew a couple kids that played it, but I had not seen it in person until that moment. I learned from the box that it was a game played in your mind and that you became an active participant, like an actor in a story...AND it had these cool looking dice with all kinds of weird shapes. For a shy, bookworm-ish Junior High kid, this sounded perfect! I went home, scrounged together my money and rode my bike as fast as I could back to the store to buy that set. Little did I know then that it would be my introduction to the fabulous worlds of role-playing.

A short time later, I met some guys that played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Whoa...these were the cool kids (haha...pretty funny when you think back...they were of course the über-nerds to the rest of the school). When I saw the hardcover rulebooks, I was enthralled. There were tables galore and rules to govern every bit of action you could imagine. I was in geek heaven! From that point on I considered myself an AD&D player and spent a good amount of my money purchasing books, adventures, supplements and dice. Oh the dice...in so many cool colors and finishes!

I played Dungeons and Dragons with a core set of friends most of the way through high school (yeah...not a whole lot of dates among our group! :-) It was a great way to spend our spare time and kept us out of trouble. In addition, in my quest to learn as much as I could about the medieval period and to become a top-notch player and DM, I was exposed to a ton of great learning material. I'm convinced that I became a better writer, enjoyed history more and even loved my statistics classes (hmmm...I am a freak!) because of my involvement with the game.

Gary Gygax was the man that invented this craze that kept me penniless (and dateless) for so long, but when I think back to all those games, they were some of the most fun I've ever had. He was also a superbly imaginative writer and all around great person who continued contributing to the hobby all the way up to his death.

So...I failed my saving throw vs. sadness today when I heard about his passing. Here's to Gary. Thanks for all the good times!

Update: What a great tribute at Penny Arcade!

Update 2: Have I completely scared you off with my geekiness yet? :-D

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

I Killed My TV!

Kill Your TVOK...well, I didn't really kill it, but I did do something I've been threatening to do for a couple of years. I cut the hardline. Yep, no more signal getting to any of the TVs in my house unless they are coming via DVD or a related component (I still have my LaserDisc player! :-) We're free of so much of the complete and utter crap being beamed into our house and I have to say it is one of the best things I've ever done. Let me explain.

I've never been a huge TV fan myself. There are certain shows that I think are great, but by and large I've managed to not get sucked into the routine of TV (you know...crashing on the couch and turning on the set to watch anything just because you're tired or bored). DVRs have certainly brought about a great revolution in how people watch TV. I've had one for several years and they've helped filter out a lot of the junk. Even so, in my mind, ever since the advent of the reality show and the preponderance of news programs that seem to focus on nothing but the worst in humanity, TV is like a portal to the land of stress and brain rot.

Don't get me wrong. I think there are some shows that have a lot of value. I always liked stuff on PBS, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, etc. Plus, there are excellent sci-fi shows ("Firefly", anyone?), dramas, and so forth. Hey, I'm far from a prude. I must confess a love for shows like "Family Guy", "South Park" and yes, even "Drawn Together" (oh man does that show try to offend every demographic possible! :-D

But...and this is a big but...I think the majority of what is on is just not worth my time to sit down and consume and this goes double for my kids. As parents, my wife and I never let the kids sit and veg for hours in front of the boob tube, but as they've gotten older, the shows that they want to watch have started straining the limits of what I want them to see. Reality shows are really what broke the camel's back for me. Most of these shows feature completely hollow, vacuous people that are held up as examples of celebrity and success. I am trying to raise intelligent, thoughtful and caring children and most reality shows glamorize the opposite of this. I have no illusions at this point that my influence as a parent is the main one in their lives. Basically, as soon as they hit school, their peers become a huge influence on them and I know this. It becomes my job then to counteract the negative stuff as much as possible and guide them in making appropriate choices. Having these crappy shows readily available at the flick of a switch (and let's face it...they seem to *always* be on) doesn't help, so one motivation for turning TV off is to remove the temptation. Another motivating factor is that TV is addicting (good article
here
). I started to see the kids want to switch on the box whenever they felt like there was nothing to do. Rather than cultivate this behavior, I wanted to teach them to find other ways of entertaining themselves.

Last summer, we did an experiment and disconnected the satellite box for three months. I told the kids that they weren't going to just sit around and watch TV all the time and that they needed to figure out other activities to occupy themselves. Honestly, the first four or five days were hard for them. They kept complaining about how bored they were. We soon started to see, however, a change in what they were doing. Once they realized I was resigned to carrying out my plan, they did start finding new forms of recreation. They started playing games together, they went outdoors a lot more ("I'm going outside to play"...wow, it was great to hear that so much), and they devoured even more books than usual (we're very happy to have instilled in them a love of reading since they were small). It was a great success to have them break the TV habit so quickly and we actually kept it off for longer than just the summer. Once the long, cold winter came, though, they all (my wife included) talked me into hooking it back up. I did so reluctantly, and with a promise that I would be returning to this experiment soon enough.

Unfortunately, I was under contract to Dish Network until the middle of January this year, so I resigned myself to waiting until the time expired. After returning from Lotusphere, I did the deed. A brief call to customer service and then a slightly longer call with the folks that try to retain you did not deter me and soon my goal was achieved...we were TV free!

As expected, there was some initial resistance on the kids' part, but we did avoid an all out mutiny. I do recall comments like "You've ruined my life. Now I can't talk about shows with my friends!", but otherwise it wasn't too bad. :-) We're now a little over a month in and I am very happy. My wife seems happier too. She watched a lot of news before, and like me, the general tone of the various news programs usually left her grumpy, if not all out pissed about a certain news item. We've been making frequent trips to the library to stockpile books and the kids have plenty of time to do homework, play their sports and participate in activities, all without feeling that they are really missing anything.

Oh yeah...one more great benefit. I'm saving about $70 a month not paying for cable or satellite service. Cha-ching!

Lest you think that giving up TV means giving up watching the shows you like, think again. Between internet downloads (iTunes and the like), services like Netflix and the general availability of so many TV programs on DVD, you can still get your fix of quality programming, all without the channel surfing (which tends to waste *a lot* of time) and the insidious commercials. We've been enjoying watching "Firefly", "Buffy", "The Profiler", etc. We also watch movies as a family, something we've always liked doing, especially since I built a home theater in the basement.

To recap...killing off the TV has been a huge success for my household. For those of you that like lists, here are the pros and cons in bullet form:

--Pros--

  • More time to spend on fulfilling activities with the family

  • Less stress from TV news and related programs

  • Immediate monetary savings

  • Less exposure to brain-dead, rich, silicon-enhanced bimbos (for the kids)

  • NO MORE COMMERCIALS!!!

--Cons--

  • NONE Less exposure to brain-dead, rich, silicon-enhanced bimbos (for me ;-)

(Editor's note: Before the advent of the Internet, I might have listed missing out on popular culture/being less aware of the zeitgeist as a con, but being connected in an always on world certainly negates this con).

Wow...I didn't intend to ramble on so much, but I wanted to write this as much to chronicle the experience for my future self as to perhaps inspire some other people to give it a try. It really does feel great to be free of TV and I don't think we'll ever go back!

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

This came in the mail today...

...and made Chris a very happy boy! :-)



If you are a fan, you *NEED* to buy this!!!

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Show Your True Colors...BleedYellow!

It's here kids...

BleedYellow.com is live, thanks to our friends at Lotus911.

Now let's all go and play.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Bleeding Yellow...The Return

Alan seems to enjoy teasing us about Lotusphere as we get closer and closer. His latest post should definitely get people wondering. Head on over and check it out and don't be afraid to comment in an attempt to guess what is going on.

I wrote a post last year entitled "Do You Bleed Yellow", but it's not my site...hmmm...

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

General Geekery

Interface Matters...Geek Style*Warning...this Friday post isn't about user interface design, Lotus Notes, Lotusphere or any of that stuff. Nope. There's more of that to come, but for now this post is just about being a geek. If you don't care or don't want to know more, stop reading now. You've been warned! :-)

It seems to me that now more than ever it is the golden age of geeks. Everywhere you look, so called "normals" are getting into technology, especially the latest gadgets and gizmos, home theater gear and video games. Heck...they're even going to superhero films. I never thought I'd see the day. While waiting to take a horse-drawn carriage ride over the Christmas break, I saw a very attractive girl wearing a shirt that exclaimed..."Geeks are hot". That's when I knew we made it.

It really is cool to be a geek. There are so many flavors of geeks too. It's not just the stereotypical image of the computer guy. No...there are music geeks, video game geeks, cooking geeks. The list goes on and on. Since I happily acknowledge my geekdom and recognize that being a geek has been central to who I am and how I've been successful in life, I just wanted to take a few minutes and share some things I'm currently geeking out about. This post is more for future posterity than anything, but if you are interested, please keep reading. I'd especially love to hear about the geek things you love. Post it on your blog or in the comments.

Looking back, I know I've always been a geek. Besides the fact that I walk funny (this bouncing step thing that is genetic...my brother does it too, even though his twin does not. Didn't make school easy), I've always been really fascinated by typical geek stuff. In my earliest memories, I was always reading comic books. Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Spiderman...everything I could get my hands on. I was fortunate to have a grandfather who loved to spoil me, so I always had a great supply from the local convenience store. I used to spend a lot of weekends staying at my grandparents and I most looked forward to the Friday night ritual of eating Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips and then watching Star Trek reruns and Space: 1999! Star Wars came out when I was seven and boy was that a life defining moment for a kid of that age. From that point on, I was a major Star Wars geek and at one time had collected every one of the Topps Star Wars trading cards. I still love Star Wars and comic books to this day, although at $3.00 a pop, the comic collecting thing is on hold indefinitely!

In junior high and high school, I certainly became something of a music and hi-fi geek. I can name where and when I bought most of the CD/albums in my collection. They were that important to me. I loved gathering as much data on each band as I could and tracking down hard to find items, a task that wasn't easy in the pre-internet days. I also geek out going to live shows and to date have logged over 16,000 miles traveling to shows, the longest being a trip to Gothenburg to watch one of my favorite bands, Evergrey, perform for their first DVD.

I was also a gamer geek. Although I loved video games, role-playing, war gaming and board games were the ones I enjoyed best. In high school, we had a regular AD&D group. I liked the DMing aspect of the game. Something about all the tables, charts and facts to keep track of, coupled with the story-telling aspect, was right up my alley. Magic: The Gathering came out when I was in college, so I really didn't have much time to get into that game. I have played a bit though, and I really enjoyed it.

Well...my incessant babbling gets me this far and I still haven't talked about the few things I started this post about! If you haven't unsubscribed from my blog yet, then feel free to keep reading. :-)

The whole thing that inspired this geek introspection in the first place is my new license plate. I purchased a new car recently and decided to go for some vanity plates. I went through many iterations, cleverly trying variations on some Lotus products (Quickr would have been cool, actually), names of bands I like, Star Wars and sci-fi themes, etc. In the end, I couldn't find one particular plate that I really loved.

As I was sitting there one night reading some blog feeds, it hit me. I'm a geek and a dad and those are really the two major things that define me. And, really...if you're going to have vanity plates, they might as well speak to who you are. Thus, a shiny new Geekdad plate now adorns my car! Of course, since I'm a geekdad, it had to be somewhat leet-ish :-)

Geekdad License Plate


Another thing that brought back some good geek memories are the various games the kids got for Christmas. Sure they received some cool video games for the Wii, but in my opinion the best thing we opened was a game called Heroscape.

Heroscape: The Battle For All Time is a miniature wargaming system manufactured by Hasbro. As I said, I always loved wargaming, but I never really gave Heroscape much of a look in the store since I figured such a game for the mass market would be watered down and boring. Boy was I wrong. This is a really great game! First of all, the build quality of the figures is pretty fantastic. Although they are plastic and not metal, the detail is excellent and they are fully painted. One of the unique features of the game is the set of tiles that make up the gaming battlefield. These hex tiles are made of plastic and slide together and stack on one another to create a 3-D battlemap. Just opening up the box was an impressive experience and my son and I had a lot of fun looking at the various figures included in the box. But the real test of a great game is whether the rules actually provide for a fun, immersive experience. This is where Heroscape really impressed me. The game has both Basic and Advanced rules. The Basic rules are really simple, taking up only 2 pages or so. The game is advertised for ages 8 and up, but I think kids even younger could grasp the general mechanics. We jumped right to the Advanced rules and started playing. It took only about 15 minutes to setup the first scenario and start a game. Although we had to refer back to the rules a few times, the beauty of the Heroscape system is that the Advanced rules are easy to learn but provide for many cool options such as flying, ranged weapons, etc. The game designers really hit a home run, because with the out of the box rules, you have all the fun of other wargames without getting mired down in complex details. They are also so well crafted that I can see creative house rules being added without disrupting the spirit of the game. The only unfortunate part of getting Heroscape is that I actually have a job and bills and all that boring real life stuff, so we didn't get to play nearly as much as we would have liked. Oh yeah...I almost forgot one of the other cool aspects of Heroscape. Unlike many other miniatures games, the "booster" figures aren't limited or scarce in any way, so the game is much more affordable. Plus, you don't really need to buy any additions, as you get plenty of figures and land in the basic set. Bottom line: Cool game, two thumbs up!

Heroscape Rocks


Finally, a geek plan a couple years in the making is finally coming to fruition. I have a small home theater in my basement and I occasionally host movie marathons for some of my friends. We get together and watch a series of movies, have some food and just enjoy hanging out together. After the final Lord of the Rings movie came out on DVD, I knew it was time for a LoTR marathon. The problem with this, if you are familiar with the movies, is that they clock in at over 12 hours total if you watch the extended editions. Yikes! This is obviously not a marathon for the weak willed, and I knew we had to make it special beyond just watching the movies. Thus, I decided on actually serving all of the Hobbit meals during the marathon. We'll start at 8 AM with First Breakfast, and throughout the day have Second Breakfast, Elevensies, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner and Supper. We haven't finalized the menu yet, but it will be simple stuff like eggs, stew, etc. I'm sure some ale will be involved as well. ;-) When all is said and done, we should finish right around midnight!

I've had to put this off last year and the year before due to the fact that there's always too much going on, but this year I am going to really try and make it happen. My birthday is in the beginning of February, so I'm shooting for that first weekend. If we make it out alive, I'll make sure to post the highlights here. How about you guys...anyone done all three Special Editions in one sitting?

Here's the invitation I sent out. There's still some seats available if you want to come to Cleveland...we'd love to have you. It's lovely here in February - really.

Lord of the Rings Movie Marathon

Yep...Looking back and looking forward, I think it's a great time to be a geek.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

A New Year and Some Thank You's

Hello and Happy New Year! It seems like all the cool kids are doing the obligatory end of year review, but I'll spare you from that. :-) Suffice it to say that 2007 was great, the highlights being the times I got to spend interacting with all of you...the people of the Lotus community. I was fortunate enough to speak at Lotusphere, ILUG 2007 and the VIEW conferences in both Boston and Barcelona, and I got to hang out with a lot of really great folks.

The main purpose of this post is just to say Thank You. Thank you to those of you that read this site or come to my sessions at said conferences. In this very hectic world, the gift of attention is one of the greatest things you can give another person and I am extremely grateful that you choose to spend a little bit of your time here. While I'll be learning a lot of new things in my job at IBM and not necessarily be doing development nearly as much, I am still going to try and keep things alive and kicking here.

Looking back on my career in the Lotus Notes world, it's funny to think I'm here now, as I tried to escape several times early on in the first couple of years. I saw a lot of value in the platform, but I wasn't sure if I really wanted to be a developer. I was always more interested in the systems and administration side of things in the beginning and in fact had planned to become an MCSE and leave the Lotus technologies altogether (yikes...that would have been a mistake!). Thankfully, fate stepped in and made sure that I was developing good solutions for my customers, so that every time I tried to pull a Houdini, something conspired to suck me back into Notes! :-) Of course, I've been a true blue yellow believer for many a year now and I don't see that ever changing. One day, I realized there was no other platform on earth that was going to allow me to build the innovative solutions my customers required in such a short time or with such flexibility. Thanks to Steve Birchfield at Automation Centre for throwing me into this Notes stuff! :-)

I love teaching and often think about being a trainer or better even would be a personal technology consultant. Always looking for an outlet to express myself, I actually started a blog shortly after Jake opened Codestore, using a homemade database that was pretty sweet (if I do say so myself ;-) and although I wrote several posts, I never actually put it on the internet. At the time, I guess I still wasn't sure that anyone would be interested in what I had to say, so I threw it on the shelf. A few years later I got the idea of focusing (almost) exclusively on UI topics, since a focus on the interface is what helped me be so successful in my career. And that is how Interface Matters was born.

OK...so that ended up being longer than I wanted it to be. See, I can't shut up once I get going. One other special Thank You I want to give is to those of you who nominated me for the LotusUserGroup.org Best Blogger award. I was quite surprised by this and really think it is deserved by many others out there besides myself. Reading the few representative comments made me blush and feel very honored. Thanks so much for taking the time to write in and nominate this blog!!! If you are a member of LotusUserGroup.org, you can go there and vote and while I'd be thrilled to "win", I don't pretend to be at the same level as the rest of those guys. Of course, if there's a cash prize involved, then by all means vote for me! :-D

Here's to 2008...I wish all of you a happy and successful year!


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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Check Out Lotus Note-ables!

Hi all...Hope you're all enjoying the holidays!

I frequently think of or run across Lotus related things that I'd like to post here, but I tend to hesitate, as I'd really like to keep Interface | Matters focused squarely on a specific topic. Since I'm also often toying with different technologies, I setup a new blog to capture these random thoughts. So, if you want yet another site to add to your RSS reader, head on over to Lotus Note-ables and check it out. :-)



I'll be including little snippets about Lotus Notes, and other Lotus products such as Quickr, Connections, Forms, etc. Sometimes I might include a little code (such as the pseudo-code formula language test post I made today).

The site is hosted on Tumblr, which is more like a micro-blogging site. Thus, there are no comments or fancy gadgets to get in the way...just a method for me to drop in quick thoughts. Hope to see you there.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ultimate Cool Man Bag

After a long search, I finally found a man bag/murse/gadget bag that fit my criteria for a perfect portable utility carrying device. Since a couple of my friends asked, and the general voyeuristic masses on the internet love to see this stuff (and I include myself in that category), I thought I'd share my find.

My general criteria was:

Requirement 1: Manly looking...shouldn't look like a purse! :-)

Requirement 2: Not as big as a messenger bag...not as small as a pouch. Must be able to hold a wallet, Blackberry, Grail diary, small Moleskine notebook, pen, bullwhip, Sony Cybershot digital camera, Dell DJ.

Requirement 3: Over the shoulder only. I'm not secure enough to carry a clutch!

Final Decision: A WWII Mark VII Gas Mask Bag! Just so happens that this is the bag that Indiana Jones had in the movies (although in reality it wasn't yet invented in that time period). If Indiana Jones used it, then it's good enough for me!!!



Unfortunately, finding the real deal at a good price is hard, at least here in the States. I checked out some military surplus stores, but to no avail. I found some on eBay, but they were pretty tattered and dirty. Well, proving once again that you can get anything on the internet, even if it's just a replica, I found a guy in Singapore who creates these new. Doesn't have quite the cachet of the real thing, but it gets the job done.

Manly and functional! :-D

Also cool that I ended up paying around $30 total rather than the $150 I was going to spend on the runner up. I'll include some pictures in a future post. Now if I could just get my autistic daughter to stop telling everyone that "my dad bought a purse!" :-)

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Cleveland Get Together For Ed Brill

My friends at Berbee put together a very nice reception this evening at Shula's in honor of Ed's visit to Cleveland. Noticeably absent from the event was Ed Brill, but we still had a great time! :-)

OK...so Ed was stuck in an airport, but we were getting frequent updates thanks to his colleague Sara Koeth. In the end, it was unfortunate that he couldn't make it. Since Ed was noticeably absent, also noticeably absent was talk of Notes 8, Quickr, Connections or all the other good stuff. Instead, topics of conversation included (but were certainly not limited to):

-High School Musical 2
-5 Card vs 6 Card Euchre (yikes...it got vicious! ;-)
-Spoiled kids
-Dream Theater
-Strip Go Fish (and why no one ever wants to play with me)
-An as yet unheard of musical which will be BIG BIG BIG! :-D

The Cleveland Blogging Contingent was out in force. Bloggers in attendance included Gregg Eldred, Ben Langhinrichs, Phil Randolph, Rory Wohl and yours truly.

It was great company and great conversation all the way around. Say what you will about Cleveland (although it really is a beautiful place), but we've got some of the nicest people you'll ever meet!

Thanks again to the folks at Berbee for inviting us. Have a safe trip back home, Ed...Maybe we'll see ya next time.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Link-O-Rama


The Microsoft Exchange Team Gets Hip (Gee...did you know that the Exchange team originally developed AJAX...*rolls eyes*)

The lovely and talented Francie Whitlock directed me to this great read on "Creating User Friendly 404 Pages". Reminds me of way back in '99 when I created a "De-Nile" page with a picture of the river itself. ;-)

Andrei Herasimchuk discusses the trials of interface designers being limited by the constraints of technology.

Tommy Valand has a Notes-related blog with a lot of great info out there. He pointed out this interesting FieldListener class which details a way to do in LotusScript what I blogged about using JavaScript...Pressing enter in a field and triggering an action.

Hmmm...Telecommute. Kill a career? Given my current situation (all my colleagues and customers are nowhere near me), this might not be such a good thing!

Finally...a must read book if you are interested in design-->Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, by Scott McCloud. Even if you are not a fan of comic books (Geek alert...I am!), there are some powerful concepts in here which I think can be leveraged by designers. Bonus points: It's a book about comic books written and drawn as a comic book...Sweet!

Have a great weekend everyone. And for all those dads watching High School Musical 2 tonight...my condolences! ;-D

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Friday Night Fun



*Sigh* Sometimes, it's hard being a cool dad!!! :-)

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Ed Gave Lotus Notes To You

Gave Lotus Notes To You
Gave Lotus Notes To Everyone...

Not content to just get down with Notes 8, Ed pulls out his spandex and rocks all night and parties everyday...especially today!


Happy Birthday Ed!!!

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Aesthetics matter. Attractive things work better" - Don Norman

Amen!

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Man, I'm Beat! (Or...A Post Of Miscellania)

Wow...between ILUG, Lotus Developer2007, jet lag, and basic lack of sleep for the past two weeks, I am done for. On top of all that, my oldest turns 13 today, so I am now officially the parent of a teenager. THAT is a scary thought! Plus, that means I am getting old!!! :-(

What follows is just a bunch of random thoughts from the past few days...

Thanks to all of the people who attended my sessions at the View conference. I really enjoyed talking with all of you and hope you got some useful content out of it. I think the most fun was my Advanced Interface Techniques presentation on Monday afternoon. It must have been pretty successful, since I got several people to stay around an additional 10 minutes after the end, showing them some stuff I didn't have time for. The kicker was that it was 5:30 and there was FREE BEER available and they still stayed. Way cool! :-D

The conference as a whole was amazing. So many talented speakers and attendees that really seemed happy to be there. The WIS staff does a super job of making things run smoothly. It's always a pleasure to see them all. The one weird thing about the conference...how it just ends. They don't have a closing session of any kind. You just get out of your last class and that's it. I think a short closing session just to wrap things up might be nice. Hanging out after hours is always fun too. I hope to see you all again next year!


Notes Gangstas
(credit: Paul Mooney)

For those of you looking for some of the downloads I promised, please give me a couple of days and they will be available. I plan on adding the non-Domino based javascript and css examples here. Most of the other stuff I showed is in the take-home database. For ease of use, I combined the JavaScript and CSS examples into one database. Also, I ran out of time in the Advanced UI session and didn't get to show the "Super Burrito Configurator". There's some cool ideas there, so check it out!

I got delayed flying from Cleveland to Boston, so I had time to write part 1 of my "intro to usability testing" article. Look for that as soon as I get a chance to type it up (yes...I actually used the ancient art of writing on paper...really nice to do that sometimes, especially in a nice crisp Moleskine with a good pen).

Some very interesting items came to light in the last few weeks that I haven't had a chance to comment on but are certainly worth reviewing from a collaboration perspective, most notably Microsoft Surface and Google Gears. Surface looks amazing...I hope to get some time to jot down my thoughts on this innovative interface. Speaking of "jotting", I love the Jott service. Being able to use my cell phone while driving (with headset, of course)to deliver notes to myself via e-mail has been invaluable. More on that later as well.

I am really drooling over the iPhone and its UI but I am still unsure of a device without physical buttons of any kind. Unless they've got something else up their sleeves, the iPhone is certainly a two hand device, which in some ways reduces its utility. Perhaps this could be rectified with bluetooth-based voice controls or something similar.

Best thing about coming home (besides seeing my family, of course): The new Dream Theater album (see, I'm showing my age by using that term) was waiting for me. The special edition packaging looks sweet and I can't wait to hear the 5.1 version down in my home theater!


Well..I guess that's all the ramblings for today. Almost time to kick off the weekend. Have a great one!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Do You Bleed Yellow?

I've been thinking about evangelism a lot lately, mostly as it pertains to my livelihood...that is, what I do for a living every day. I've been working with Lotus technologies for over 10 years now and I have to wonder sometimes if I need to be looking at other things. I'm certainly not adverse to learning new technologies. In fact, I think it is a great idea to expand your horizons. However, I'm passionate about Lotus because I've seen the transformative effect it can have when used correctly. Microsoft understands the benefits of evangelism. In fact, they have people with this job title...how cool is that! They embrace their community of outspoken advocates and I have to pause and wonder why IBM doesn't seem to do the same.

Merriam-Webster defines an evangelist as "an enthusiastic advocate". I think it is fair to say that many of us in the blogging community (not just those who blog, but those who read and comment as well) are "enthusiastic advocates". In my case, I consider it a personal mission inside my company to "spread the gospel" that is Lotus Notes. It was this zeal that led me to get involved with blogging, take a chance on presenting at professional conferences (despite my fear of public speaking) and basically spend a lot of my free time trying to give back to the community. At work, I started the "Lotus Notes Power Hour", which was a volunteer effort to help people become more proficient with using the Lotus Notes client.

So the reason I've been giving this a lot of thought is the changing nature of the environment at work and what I see out in the business community at large. As many of you know, my company is in the midst of a large merger with a former competitor and with that brings many challenges. One of those challenges is that our technology landscape is morphing and I'm not sure what part Lotus technology will play in that space. Certainly we are evaluating the messaging platform, but this decision then tends to lead to a more thorough examination of the nature of collaboration within the group. Already we have been told that we want to start focusing our energies on building web-based applications (which is something we already do but usually make them client facing as well) and that leaves prospects for bringing in Notes 8 fairly bleak. It's in this time of uncertainly where it becomes even more important to be a "Lotus Evangelist" (boy I'd love to have that as a real job title!). What would thrill me would be some heavy-duty support to go along with my personal drive.

I'd really love to see Lotus reaching out more to the technical community to empower us to fight the good fight. I hate to use them as an example, but Microsoft has a great program called the Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Now just the title itself conveys the idea that "hey...these Microsoft guys think I'm alright". MVPs are "exceptional technical community leaders from around the world who are awarded for voluntarily sharing their high quality, real world expertise in offline and online technical communities. Microsoft MVPs are a highly select group of experts that represents the technical community's best and brightest, and they share a deep commitment to community and a willingness to help others." What an awesome thing to aspire to! I visit several forums and websites that are not IBM/Lotus related (Tablet PCs for one) and it is clear that the MVPs who participate have a wide breadth of knowledge and tools made available to them as a result of the program. They have subscriptions to MSDN, a relationship service that allows them to gain access to other users within and outside of Microsoft and even the MVP Global Summit.

Now I may be completely off base, but I don't know of a similar program from Lotus. I know they provide a lot of support to business partners, but there are still many more of us out here that want to help get the message out. There are wonderful resources like OpenNTF, the Taking Notes podcast and others that are great examples of evangelism in action. Wouldn't it be incredible to see some serious commitment to these efforts from Lotus? How can we help them help us? Even within IBM itself, wouldn't you like to see more people with the title of "Lotus Evangelist"? A quick search on Google reveals 43,000 hits for "microsoft evangelist" (many more if you exclude the quotes) but only 28 for "lotus evangelist" and 237 for "ibm evangelist". Hmmm, that's quite a disconnect. Is it indicative of the industry as a whole? I often tell people that I "bleed yellow", but should I worry about hemorrhaging?

Don't get me wrong. I think many of the things Lotus and IBM have been doing lately are definitely steps in the right direction...giving Mary Beth Raven and her team such prominence in the design of Notes 8, using her blog to reach out to the community during the development process, Bob Balaban wanting to make Notes a "kick-ass appdev platform again". But...these are mostly efforts within IBM/Lotus itself. By enlisting the aid of the loyal masses, I think they could help make Bob's dream a reality in a much more profound and far-reaching way.

What do you think?

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Have You Tried Netflix?

Netflix is an incredible service, offering DVD rentals direct to your home via the U.S. mail. In my opinion, Netflix just does everything right. Their website is a testament to ease of use and creating an enjoyable user experience. They are constantly working on ways to improve all aspects of the customer relationship and the great thing about the company is that they recognize that that relationship extends far beyond the screen and the physical media in your DVD player. From e-mails that are short, sweet and respect my time to a no-brainer way to return movies, the Netflix folks obviously have a passion for making the movie lover's life easy. (Here's a neat short story on the evolution of the Netflix envelope.)

Even if you're not a customer or don't plan to be one, I think it is worth checking out their site to see an example of a company that cares about the user experience.

If you enjoy movies and would like to give the service a test drive (highly recommended), you can try it for free for one month by using this link. This is two weeks longer than the usual free trial period, so it's a pretty nice deal. I don't get any credit or compensation for this, but I love the company enough to pass this along and sing their praises.

Kudos to you, Netflix...I'll be a customer for a long time to come.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Can You Read This?

I have to thank my mother-in-law for this post (thanks, Joyce! :-) It's very cool. Let me know how you make out. I'd be especially interested to see if people with English as a second language have a much harder time with this than native speakers.

fiyuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too. Cna yuo raed tihs ? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg . The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae . The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mn id deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe . Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Out Of Office

Hi All! I'm in Munich this week, hence the radio silence. If you are waiting for an e-mail reply, please bear with me. I will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience! :-)

I'm way behind on blog reading as well, but I did catch what was happening over on 'Creating Passionate Users'. It makes me sick and I hope that swift justice comes to those *#&^% that are causing Kathy such pain.

Ugggh...it's almost 2 AM...time for bed. Cheers!

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