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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Friday, December 14, 2007

Want to work with me?

Well...not directly with me, but on the same team (which I guess sometimes could mean directly with me).

Anyway, if you're keen to join me in the wonderful world of technical sales for Lotus Software *AND* you live in either Columbus, Cleveland or Pittsburgh *AND* you have strong Portal skills, then we want to talk to you! :-)

Here's the gist of the job:

Responsible for technical product/solution presentations and demonstrations of IBM's Messaging, Portal and Collaboration solutions, conducting Proof of Concepts and Proof of Technology workshops, responding to RFIs/RFPs, interfacing with IBM Support, development, cross-brand solution teams, and supporting post-sales support situations. Must have a strong track record of effective teaming and leadership, excellent communication and project management skills, hands-on experience with WPLC solutions, and client facing skills.


Cool stuff, eh? If you are interested, please send me an e-mail and we'll talk.

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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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