Anything new in Yes, the IBM Verse Beta Trial

I think most of you have done the same thing. We just abandoned
Once in a while, I have a look: Anything new? “First Steps” is still entirely in English. Way better than the Polish, Swedish and I don’t know what mix at the beginning, but still not in German. Help is, but that isn’t the point for showing of to prospective customers, or is it?

New features? Not that I have seen anything. Still as crippled as in the beginning. After my first review – which I did not publish for several reasons – I thought, things would change with time. Nope.

No new mails. Not even news about Verse or IBM in general. That I find rather strange. Wouldn’t that be the channel of choice of the Verse-Team to provide us with news fresh from the press or even some insider things?

I wondered how many users are in the directory. A search through the alphabet revealed 26’849. Everybody shows up twice and tags are found, too. Let’s say there are about 12’000 individuals. Wouldn’t that make up quite a big fraction of IBM partners and customers that still have IBM Notes in the portfolio? Alright, a lot of IBMers are probably in there, too. Still, could be worse.

So, what’s the purpose of
It is too limited to be a sensible marketing tool for prospective customers.
It is too limited to be an alternative for any free mail tool.
It isn’t used as a marketing tool for IBM Partners.
It does not look like the latest screen shots anymore.
The term “preview” had been dropped, just because an outcry of all those waiting for a real free version, made IBM a bit nervous. But that was just a coat of paint. Most limitations remained. For any practical purposes it is still a preview but serves the only to of showing of the fancy web design.
No “taking on Google”.
Not even close to half a million users.
I tried the “Sign up now” link on the IBM Verse page: TIMEOUT!
I tried a “Try and buy” from twitter: TIMEOUT!
I scrolled through #NewWayToWork for a while. It is just me or is it the same stuff retweeted over and over again? I tried several links for a white paper. It was always the same. By far most of the tweeters are IBMers anyway. It almost looks like an IBM internal twitter feed. Talk about inbreeding.
Then I found this link, where you can sign up for the Verse Beta Trial. Err, what? Beta Trial?
Dutifully I tried it immediately. I want to see where this leads. Let’s see how long it will take to either get a message, that I am already a user, get a new shiny Verse account with hopefully all the bells and whistles or a beta account with questionable usefullness. Or nothing at all.
IBM either thinks that is a bad thing and should be left rotting in an abandoned server rack or it was renamed to Beta Trial. We will see.

It’s not about Verse, but about MyWatch.

After long hours thinking about what to write about Verse Basic, I decided not to write any review about it. It just does not help anybody.

But I would like to talk about My Watch.
Amazing piece of technology. It is pretty straight forward to use and does not have any clutter to find your way through. My best features are:It tells me exactly how much time I have left, until my train departs.
Even during the night.
The illumination for the dark phases of my life is solar-powered.
The actual date is right there. It does not tell me the month, but I can easily deduct that by using my feet. If they are cold, It must be something around january. Hot feet: summer.
It can tell me the speed of my car just by using the stop watch. (1 km in 60 seconds = 60 km/h. 1 km in 1 second = 3600 km/h. That should be sufficient, since I do not have the possibility to reach escape velocity. The designers were certainly aware of it and did not overengineer it).
Battery life is amazing. About three years.
All these features come at a price. Not money wise, but intellectually. I do have to extrapolate the minutes from the actual time until – for example – my train leaves. But at birth, I got a brain. Why not using it? Five minutes walking time to the train station is easy to deduct from ETD. Even complicated things work quite nicely. If I know, when my next meeting will take place, a simple glance on My Watch and bang, I know if I am still on time.
And it’s light. I hate heavy watches. I hate big watches, too. I hate to carry a phone in my trouser pocket. Looks like I am pretty much a minority today. But there is one watch I think I could like if I change profession again.

The Garmin D2 Pilot Watch

It’s not a very nice looking watch (therefore no picture to protect me from your comments about my taste) but for a pilot it has about anything one would like to have.

Fly Direct-to or Nearest When You Need It

With D2, you can access our signature Direct-to and Nearest routing with a simple press of a button. D2 has a worldwide airport database so you can fly straight to the airport or waypoint of your choice. Or you can find the nearest airport if you need to land quickly. You can view your route on a moving map display, or follow the HSI to your destination. By setting your own waypoints, you can also easily navigate to any location not included in the database. You can even create Mark on Target waypoints so you can easily reference locations you fly over.

Never get lost again. Pretty cool. Especially if you are a renter pilot.
Battery life? Ahaaaa….

Up to 50 hours (GPS mode); 2 weeks (sensor mode); 5 weeks (watch mode)

Not bad eh? OK, no fancy color display. But who cares, if you just need the nearest airport with a toilet.

That’s how you do it. Thanks Nikon

It does make sense to buy good stuff. I am too poor to buy crap.
My daughter No. 2 had a Nikon Coolpix 2700 for about not even two years. As it happens with kids, she dropped it. Boing. No more pictures. Big tears.
I am not going to buy another one, just to keep her happy. Nope, but who knows, it would be probably repairable. Therefore I contacted the Nikon service center here in Switzerland and told them my problem. They said, that for this model and the problem I described, the price of the repair would be about 70% to 80% of a new model. See above, no new camera for the brat. I believe, if something is repairable, let’s fix it. Should also be a lesson for the offspring. No new things, just because she broke it, even by accident. Most things don’t grow on trees and I hate this trend in society to throw things away, just because it isn’t the latest and greatest.
I dutifully went to the Nikon website and registered the camera for repair. You get an address sticker (I had to provide the glue) and the postage is free. First surprise. There is even the possibility to include the maximum amount for the repair. In that case a quote would still cost 45 CHF, but I can live with that. Two days after I sent it, Nikon confirmed the arrival at the service center and then nothing happened until today.
A packaged arrived, containing a new Coolpix 2700 (luckily same color and not pink – my kids don’t like pink, which often leads to long faces when gifts arrive that were chosen by women). Price of the new camera: ZERO.
Even though I told Nikon, that she dropped it, they replaced it for free, claiming it was warranty.
Nikon certainly still had a few of the older Coolpix in stock and since they can not sell them anymore, they use it as good marketing tools to make people happy. Hence the blog post.
Therefore: A big round of applause for Nikon who:
… has a useful and easy to navigate service website… for free shipping
… very short turnaround time of about one week
… a good sense for customer relationship
… and the new camera
It posed a bit of a problem to explain to daughter No. 2, why she got a new camera and not the old one back. My whole pedagogical approach is down the tube. But this is normally as it goes.
Next camera will probably be a Nikon again.

***** Using Nikon for almost 40 years now *****

PS: If you are waiting for a Verse Basic review, I can’t make up my mind. Tested a lot, but….

You will not believe this. I am on Verse? Need your help.

Now I got my account and I am playing around with it.
First impressions:

  • It does look better than iNotes, or not? I am not sure.
  • I can’t figure out, how to add a sender to my address book?
  • Does anybody know, how to change the initials in the circles?
  • When I compose an email and start typing the address, it get’s ugly. Way too slow.

I really want to get into it and see how it works. If you are game, would you send me please emails to christian.tillmanns (at) I will not respond to you, if you don’t include your consent in your mail. Therefore you can send me whatever you want without fear, that I will be a troll in your inbox. A few connections would still be nice.
I want to see, how that concept holds up.
I have two dummy projects: “One To One” and “One To Many” (Yes, I might lack a bit of imagination here). If you want you can include them in the mail.
Chat connections would be nice, too.


Verse one step forward, one to the left, one back, two ….

What do we have today? Since ConnectED a lot of things have happened, but for me it all started at the Connect 2015 in Zürich. As every year, I did a long blog post about it. I took 14 pages of notes and still managed to get it somehow wrong. Or did I really?
The thing that made me “famous” was, that I said, that Scott said, that Jeff said IBM wants half a billion IBM Verse users. That was on 9 of march. On the 17th Volker Weber had a meeting with Jeff, who said, that somebody (me) got it all wrong. It was half a million. I am not deaf (yet) and I was sitting in the second row. Jeff said before, that IBM wants to take on Google with Verse. If IBM plans half a million free mail users, would anybody mention that? Remember, at that moment everybody – including Scott – thought we get a real free thing. Let’s leave it at that.
A week later the much-anticipated Verse Preview version … wait, Preview? On Scotts slide in Zürich was written “Free” and there was the word that it would not be crippled (for a given value of crippled). Within a week IBM got cold feet about the free version. Something they bragged about for month. No wait. Got it wrong again. After a week of … I would not say shit storm, rather a collective frustration of the yellow bubble, in the aforementioned meeting Jeff said … or hinted … that there will be a real free version. They just did not like the word freemium. But did I read wrong? In the support forum IBM stated, that the preview version will replace the free version (3-24-15). Now we have apparently turned 180 degrees. It might be possible, that for the first time, IBM actually listened. Jeff told Volker Weber, that the limitations will be much higher. Happy days … we thought.
A week later came this infamous video, which I will not share here in the hope, that it will just disappear, if we ignore it. I resist the urge to give you a link to Vowe’s post with all the comments. Youtube has just three comments and they are not favorable either. I just want to look at one comment from Vowe’s post:

in 2015 no piece of video can be limited just to it’s “target audience”

From a marketing perspective, this is two-fold. While you can not limit the audience that watches (you never could really, not even in 1950), you still have to target a specific audience. No matter what you do, videos, pictures, texts, anything to carry your message, at the receiving end is your target audience … hopefully. The people you want to buy your things. You can not please everybody. Budweiser ads are made for beer drinkers. Everybody else either does not care about beer in general or does not buy Budweiser as a matter of principle. It is just that part of the audience that a) likes beer and b) would try a(nother) Budweiser, that is the target. Forget about the rest, but some in that rest will still like the ad anyway and talk about it. In our case unfortunately, the potential Verse drinkers a) did not get what is was all about or b) just hated the ad. The rest was sitting there with their mouth open, believing they were in the wrong universe. I am sure, that there is a target audience for this video, I just could not get the address.

After that our always thoughtful and clever Ben came up with three questions.

#1 is the most interesting: Do those of us in the IBM Partner community believe in Verse and want it to succeed?

Accidentally, Luis Richardson asked us in Zürich almost the same question. Do we as partners want to be part of it? He sees it almost as the time, when partners did all these incredible applications for Notes and Domino. I do have my own questions a) What is in there for me? b) is it about selling Verse or Verse apps?
Looking back, I see the Notes Designer. An almost elegant developement environment. Easy to learn languages. A simple and stable database system. Something that made starting developing a joy, because you were able to do so much with so little knowledge. XPages are not in the same category, even though, IBM tries hard to make it as easy as possible. Will Verse give us the same possibilities as we had with Notes to repeat the success we had? Forget it. The technology behind it is much more complicated and in recent years IBM wasn’t the poster child for great documentation for developers. IBM would have to create a shop for the cloud version, where customers would be able to try and buy things from partners. Well others can do things like that, but I doubt that IBM is willing to let us build “plugins” or whatever it is called today (“Extensions” anyone?).

Next step. On April first the final version should have been there. Some people  got it few days later and were disappointed. The promised new limitations just were not there. Instead there is now a Verse Basic, which is exactly like Verse Preview, but one can send 100 mails a day, instead of 25. Wow. But at least one can see all the other Verse Basic users, which disqualifies it as an alternative to any other web mail service.
Now let us do a little list:

  • The idea of Mail Next got us all excited for over a year now.
  • They called it Verse
  • We were promised a free version and we hoped, that would be something we could actually use and IBM wants to take on Google with it.
  • What we first got was a free version that was called a preview version that was so crippled it wasn’t even good enough for testing the most important features.
  • The preview version was killed for a promised new free version with much higher limitations. That never saw the light of the day.
  • The new version is called Verse Basic version and is in fact the Verse Preview. It isn’t intended to be used as a production mail client.
  • It isn’t even finished (for a given value of finished).

IBM could have kept the “Preview” in the Name. At least it describes correctly what it is. From a basic product I expect at least that I can use it.

I am still waiting for my Verse Preview/Basic account, but I am not the least motivated to do any sensible testing anymore.
But I get emails about Verse webcasts where they say that they missed me. The kind of webcast were everybody is always “so excited”. Apparently tomorrow is the next one. I got the confirmation about registering for it. Don’t remember.


IBM Verse Freemium is DEAD

What can change in a week. Last week in Zürich Scott Souder said IBM Verse Freemium will not be a crippled version. So much for that. Nice move from IBM to stab Scott in the back. Now it is a preview version that is so useless, that IBM might what to turn that server of again. That would save a few bucks in electricity.

IBM Verse Support Forum (thank’s to Karl-Henry Martinsson)

IBM really does not get it (… again). Somehow Vowes comment about the Village Idiot comes to mind.
Let’s recapitulate what IBM wants to achieve with Verse:
Take on Gmail
With what? A preview version? 24 mails in 24 hours? 500 MB quota? An unfinished product? No migration tool? No signature? 500 MB files? Oh, you say, that is only for the “Enterprise” version, not for freemium – ups sorry – preview? And with what they want to convince people to move? With a preview version that isn’t even powerful enough to show the really cool bits?
IBM you just made Google very happy. But I doubt, that they ever took you very serious.

500’000’000 users
OK, I suppose somehow the zeros got multiplied due to the bad acoustics in Zürich. 5’000’000 users would be less unrealistic target, but a failure. With this preview version IBM will not even get those.

And than we have that:
Jeff Schick says that mail would be CO-HOSTED in Europe. And where is the other server? I suppose, were it is convenient to read all the mails.

It is really depressing. Every time I think IBM might starts to understand a few things how the world works, they blow it in the end. Every time. Amazing.

Right, it’s over. They might move a few existing customers to Verse. A few million seats, that’s it. Just like any other small hoster. We can move on now. The revolution has never happened.

Soul or Numbers – Sports for Developers

A year ago Vowe started walking. Today he is doing at least a hundred kilometers a week.
This is great. It certainly changed his life. If you are a “numbers athlete” you can do that, too. I am not.
Also a year ago I felt I had to do something. I sensed, that I wasn’t up to speed anymore while moguls skiing. I have never been really fat. 10 years ago I was at my worst with slightly over 80 kilo, today I am down to 75 again. My BMI was never out of the normal range. Therefore I never had the urge to do a lot … until my belly started to wobble in the moguls. Eeeeeeks. My friends suggestion to buy other higher skiing trousers to hold it, wasn’t actually the solution I was looking for.
About 5 years ago I started to do more and more mountain biking tours. Even in winter. Not when it is really hot. I am not the hardcore biker who is looking for the hardest tours he can find. I just enjoy the ride and look at the country side.
Since the monsters are old enough now, that they not need constant supervision, my wife and I started windsurfing again. But in Switzerland, that isn’t a sport we can do on a regular basis. Windsurfing is limited to holidays and is the only reason anyone can make me go to a beach for more than a few hours. No lying in the sun for me. I hate this with a passion you can only dream of and with my skin I rather stay in the shadow.
Biking going up is boring and it isn’t using the whole body. Downward it does, but only for a short time.

I never measure anything. Every time I tried to clock my biking rounds, I forgot to turn the stopwatch off. It isn’t for me and anyway, I always try to find new routes. I don’t like repetitive movements like jogging either and I definitely can’t imagine to run on a conveyor belt in a gym (outside are roads and trails in woods, go there). One day somebody I talked to about biking, asked me, if I also liked it, when everything starts to hurt. Hell, NO! I don’t go into trance either.
You will not see me with any smart device that tracks anything I do. I am not interested in that. When I go skiing, I even “forget” my phone. Leave me alone when I am doing what I love. I can’t explain what it does to me, if you don’t do it yourself and in that case we would not need words anyway. I am totally outside the world of “I beat my own record”.
When I go skiing with people who do all that endurance stuff and brag about their latest marathon, it’s always them, who crawl back to the car on all fours because they are exhausted, never me. I always have to wait for them. I don’t need a break after only 90 minutes of skiing. They do. I don’t complain about the thin air at 3300m. Though my physical fitness isn’t as bad it seems, but most of my advantage comes from the thousands of hours I invested to become a technically better skier. Something that is hard to measure.
I am a soul athlete (the words of a friend). I cherish the movement of my legs going as fast as possible through the moguls or going down that really steep slope on Mont Gelé in Verbier in fresh powder (the front side towards Atlas I). I love it when I go over rocks on single trails (downward – fast – biking). I am in heaven when I am sliding over small waves and all the forces are in balance (windsurfing). I want my brain completely focussed on that moment. Not thinking about anything else.
(BTW, all the fitness does not save you from sleep deprivation. You can not train to use less sleep. You might feel strong like King Kong Friday afternoon, but you still have the mental capacity of a legally drunk).
But still, I needed something to fill the gaps between winter and summer holidays and something where I am forced to go. And I wanted to learn something new.

Kung Fu!

To be exact, Chin Woo Kung Fu. That was the thing I started a year ago. And since I am a bit timid (stop laughing, Pierre), I asked monster no. 1, if she wanted to come. And this is really cool. My daughter and I are learning something new together. Not father-shows-child-how-to-do and he get’s it all wrong, because he never learned it correctly. I don’t teach my kids skiing, I am not a ski instructor. I wouldn’t even teach my kids flying and I am a CFI. My daughter is certainly better than I, but I passed the last test, too.
Kung Fu as we do it, isn’t about fighting … mostly. It is more like athletic dancing which happens to be a fighting style. It is all about the movement. When the whole class does a form together, that looks rather cool. It trains every single muscle I know of. It stretches everything. It trains the sense of balance. It uses my brain, because I have to remember all the details of every move, which isn’t as easy as it may sound (sometimes I see the pain of desperation in our trainers eyes). Apparently after 10’000 times doing a move, you don’t have to concentrate as much anymore and can start to learn the move correctly.
Kung Fu is something for everyone. In my class we range from 7 or 8-year-old kids to old geezers like me. In between is everything and every gender. We even have handicapped people. There is no “who has the nicest outfit” because we have all the same clothes.
After one year I can say it is worth every penny (or “Rappen” as they say north of me).
I have less problems with my back. My belly fat moves slowly upwards. My joints do way better. My knees are stronger and most important – I ski better again.
It also gave me a few insights into society. Did you know, that above a certain age, you fade into the background? You become invisible to younger people? Let me explain.
Last autumn, another guy from my age group was missing for three weeks. I asked the trainer if he knew anything about it. One girl (age about 18) asked who we were talking about. We describe him to her. Name, height, shoe size and so on. She had never seen him. The next week he was back again and I pointed him out to her. She just said, that the two of us looked the same (certainly not!). That means, the other geezer and I are just some three-dimensional shadows she avoids to run into, otherwise we do not exist. Thank you very much. And the theory is consistent. The female age group between 16 and 25 does not even talk to us or does the partner exercises with us. That brings me to the inevitable conclusion, that I am old now. I can shovel my grave and order the tombstone.

If you are like me a soul athlete, interested in the movement and not into counting and you need something that gets you going, try Kung Fu. And at my age you can even claim that you are so fast, some only see your shadow. And in your CV Kung Fu just looks cool.