Beating a dead horse or rather a dead cash cow

The latest Notes & Domino fix pack is out and some news from IBM about the future.
There are some really good articles about it:
Peter Presnell: Was that it?
It probably was. Peter’s insight and thinking are as usual spot on. But are there really still 50’000 ND customers? I heard that number years ago and it must have changed since then. What I would really like to know is, how many developers in IBM are still working full time on ND? Five? Ten? How many do you need to make 81 fixes? Not a hundred, I am sure. Most will probably work on Verse anway.

Richard Moy: The Future of Domino from the POV of an ISV
I always liked Richard’s way to look forward and not back. He sums it up quite nicely, why Domino is such a good database system and why it is difficult to replace it with anything else. And he is prepared for a live without ND.

David Leedy: No More
The view of a developer. Also spot on. I agree, that ND would be better of and kicking, would OpenNTF get the whole thing.
I am looking forward to his next article.

Do you remember ND 8.5.4? Never happened. It became ND 9. Too many features for a point release they said. Now it’s the other way round. Not enough features for a point release. Just fix packs … until at least 2021. By then it will be Version 9.0.1 FP 27. Does that sound like a vibrant product? No. Does that sound like a product IBM is actively looking for new customers? No. Does that sound about a product where IBM is looking for happy partners? No. Even if IBM is continuing support beyond 21, do you really want FP 397? No. And IBM can call this a „Feature Pack“ until the cows come home, it does not replace a Notes Version 9.0.2. For everybody the naming speaks volumes, there are going to be mostly fixes and not many features. Apart from those that fix something.
While IBMers claim they hear customers loud and clear about what they want from IBM, what did the customers actually say?
„We need the following features (fill in what you like) from you and we need them quick, because our whole ecosystem of thousands of suppliers and customers depend on you.“ Probably not. It is more like:
„Dear IBM, we would really like you to continue developing ND, otherwise we are forced to look for an alternative“.
Then IBM responds: „Well dear customer, I am glad that you mention this, we have a nice new cloud product called …“.
„But IBM, we like Notes, it does what we want for a reasonable price, but it just isn’t modern enough“.
„The new cloud product will have all the design features you like and …“.
„But IBM, we would really like you to continue to develop Notes“.
„But dear customer, you just said you look for an alternative? Look here on these screen shoots …“.
„But IBM, we have our own developers who do a great job with Notes …“.
„In that case you might want to do a resource balancing. We have great training possibilities where your new developers will learn all they need about …“.
„Look IBM, there are a few things that need to be fixed in Notes ASAP, otherwise we run into problems.“
„I see, why don’t you open a PMR and I will see what I can do. On the other hand, our new product is cloud based and will always be on the latest release with the latest fixes installed.“
„Sorry IBM, but we don’t want to go cloud. We need our data in house, regulations, you know“.
„In that case, we have wonderful on premises solutions and we have the perfect service offering for the migration of your legacy apps … what was it again … a yes, Lotus Notes …“

For all those who absolutely want to see ND as a product with a future … there could be a future, but in that case we would have to get rid of IBM’s hold on ND. But right now … well imagine this picture. It is not about beating a dead horse anymore, by now we are cocking glue out of the carcass. Still useful but this is about the last thing you can do with it. And stuffing the head for the memories.

Dooooom … not again!

Notes is doomed … again. Or for good this time? What happened lately is interesting.

Well, first something on a personal note. I am not affiliated with a IBM Partner anymore or with IBM in general. I don’t have to be considerate to anybody anymore. Not that I ever really was.

There are more and more of us who talk about the end of Notes/Domino lately. We see signs on the wall. Where is the road map? Slow (well, glacial) update cycle and so on …
Notes/Domino is in decline. It has been a long time. Since IBM bought Lotus I would say. It was always the foster child. Something for the end user, IBM never really wanted to do. Gerstner bought Lotus not for of its products, but for its people (he said so).
In the beginning it worked, but after Notes 6 it turned around.
Let’s face it. Notes the fat client is old. Very old. Eclipse as the RCP did not make it to the future.

For years IBM had one resource action after another and it isn’t over. Expensive employees are replaced by younger ones, lacking experience and knowledge about anything IBM does. While IBM says, this is part of a strategy to turn the ship around, one gets the impression of the Titanic building its own icebergs.
It buys back shares just to keep the share holder value afloat. If loans would not as cheap, as they are right now, IBM would be in a much worse state. Or rather the stock price. The outrageous thought that investing in new products with less money could have made a better and more sustainable impact, I wouldn’t dare to mention.
Where is Notes here? Nowhere. It isn’t important anymore for IBM, if it ever was. While financially it might still bring in a few bucks, it isn’t a strategic product. You may argue that you are convinced, that IBM is dedicated to IBM/Domino, I would argue IBM is very good at pulling the wool over our eyes. Whatever you might hope, Notes/Domino is not part of the long term turn around strategy (if this even exists) of IBM and I think not even Verse.
OK, all this is lame and not really news. What I never understood is, why nobody came up with a real competing product? Not some apple/oranges competition like SharePoint/Exchange.
Domino/Notes is basically a database. An object based/oriented NoSQL document database (that’s my definition in easy to understand, modern terms. Apply your own if you wish). What I thought was rather cool, is the combination of design and data. Something many experts sneer on, for whatever reason. There are lots of reasons not to do this, especially if things get bigger, but it works rather well in ND. The replication is another point, but many can do this today. The rapid development thing is a rather fine tool, too and one of the main reasons of ND’s early success.
I always thought about ND like the Volkswagen Golf. It never really excels in anything, but it does a lot things very good. It is most of the time just the best package. There are a lot of good cars around but they can’t beat the Golf in units sold. Unfortunately Volkswagen knows that, IBM does not. Pitty, but such is life.
So why isn’t there an Astra or Punto in regard of ND? Frankly I don’t know. I wish there was something out there that could replace ND one to one. The ease of development and installation, the ingenious data/design storage system, the stability and so on. Many other solutions are better in in some respect, non comes even close as a whole package.
Something has amazed me lately: not even the mail server war ended as expected. It is a pretty vibrant market. I frankly thought that Exchange is everywhere, but that isn’t the case. Linux has won the server war and with that came new possibilities. For a long time different Linux distros had a bunch of different – sometimes more than one – mail server options. Today it looks like Dovecot/Openexchange dominates the IMAP server market. Sure, Exchange probably does all the internal stuff, but IMAP still serves the needs of billions of users. And here comes the thing, IMAP works for most of us just fine. We don’t need Verse. Though, the next new thing must be something really special, mindblowing, galactic (not a quantum leap, which is the smallest possible leap).
If anybody had told me 10 years ago Linux is going to be the server of choice and some small finish company would dominate the IMAP market, I would have discretely ordered one of those nice jackets that help you keep your arms crossed. But ND is still the closest of a multipurpose communication system out there. Everybody else is just mail.
The conclusion is, IBM has given up on the mail war way to early.

I can think one of the reasons IBM fails is, that while ND scales up extremely well, it scales down even better. It was the perfect tool for small companies that grow fast. Connections based on Domino would be a game changer for many companies. IBM does not want small companies. They are just a pain in the a.. and not worth the effort. Unfortunately, the big companies of the future are small today.

Migrating from ND today will always end with more stuff than what you had and a lot more administrative headache. Or you go cloud. But that does not change the problem of getting more different applications with in many times not the same functionality and a lot of things you don’t need, but you still pay for. To get to the point of where you were with ND before the migration, you have to do a lot of customisation and that makes updating again a nightmare. Provided you did use ND as more as a mail server. Otherwise I don’t understand you anyway.

Well, wonders happen once in a while, but most of the time they happen to others. There isn’t just an accident chain (or the more modern swiss cheese mechanism), there is also the wonders chain. We might see wonders coming, if we look close enough or in the right direction.

Let’s just fantasise for a moment.
Wonder No. One.
IBM comes up with the message of an all new Notes/Domino set. A lighter client and full web and mobile capabilities with a new development client that brings back the best of all that we had and kills everything we don’t really need. Fit for the future.
What is the probability of that?

Wonder No. Two
Partners and Customers are fed up with IBM and decide to stick together. „If you want to have it done correctly, do it yourself!“
An initial group builds the core of a modern replacement for ND, using a graph database and just one modern programming language with a stripped Linux server as part of the whole thing. More Customers and Partners join over time and build the most modern communication/social/RAD/whatever tool available. (I stop here, because I could go on about what would for me be the best possible solution. I have a pretty concrete idea about it and it would take a lot more time and space. And you probably would be bored to death or get a sore neck from all the shaking.)
Anyone care for an estimation of probability?

See.
With all those estimations flying around, partners and customers now have between 5 and 7 years to find a solution. Locking back 5 to seven years, apart from the mobile hype, not a lot changed (still Exchange, still RDB, almost anything from then is still around). I suspect not a lot will change in the next 5 to 7 years either. Partners and customers now have the choice to
a) move to a new platform with all the pain that is known today will inevitably come (except you had only mail on Notes – see above)
b) take the bull by its horns and make the future happen yourself (make wonder No two). Not entirely painless but what a blast.
c) hope for wonder No one.

a) is the conventional and sensible solution for everyone who does not seek to stand out. b) is for the pioneers among us. c) is just – sorry about that – stupid.
It’s up to you.

By by IBM Verse Basic

I don’t think anybody is interested in this information but I give it to you anyway.

IBM Verse Basic Users,

Thank you for your use and feedback of IBM Verse Basic. Now that IBM Verse has been in market for a year and we’ve matured the product, IBM will be withdrawing Verse Basic from service on June 15 2016, after which you won’t be able to log in. To continue to enjoy the benefits of IBM Verse, we encourage you to visit http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/en/ibm-connections-cloud to purchase a subscription to IBM Verse or IBM Connections Cloud S1.

If you have any additional questions please refer to our support forum.

Thank you,
The IBM Verse Team

That was it then. So much for „Taking on Google“ or any other quote about something IBM has never done before. Same old, same old.

Is that the „first 100 days“ Vowe talked about last week? Wow, what a bold move.

I just shut down the last IBM box I had. Probably the last Lotus Foundation box in active service. Now I don’t have any IBM product in use anymore. Kinda sad, but live moves on.

Heeelp…. needed … badly.

This is a completely private problem.
My monster number one got a camcorder for Christmas. Nothing special there, but she needs a possibility to cut her movies. She knows by now iMovie for iOS pretty well and would like to transfer her movies to my old iPad 2 and cut them there (which isn’t a very good idea, I admit, but I don’t want her to borrow my Mac all the time either, neither does my wife). And we have the connection kit for the SD card.
The video standard is:

AVCHD standard
Video: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264

That is something the iPad does not recognise and will not import it when connected to the SD card.
There was once an app that did it called Splice, but that does not work any longer.
Does anybody of you know an app that lets me import videos in the above format directly from a SD card to the iPad? A converter or something like that?
I know that this can be done by various apps on the mac. I only look for a solution, that does work on the iPad alone.

An idea anyone? Otherwise there will be a lot of tears, shouting and general misbehaviour around me in the next few years.

PS: The stuff she does with an iPod alone is pretty amazing….

The ghost of the iPad Repair Man

I can’t change electronic devices like my underpants. I always wait till things really break and then I change. My iPhone 4 still does the trick. This blog still runs on Lotus Foundations and my Mac Book Pro is a mid 2009. I had a hard disk crash lately but with Time Machine changing the disk is painless … provided one has all the passwords ready on paper and not only in the Key Chain (hint hint). By the way, an SSD does wonders to an old Mac. The speed gain is amazing.
A week ago my iPad 2 gave up the ghost. Suddenly the screen was black and that was it. I was able to make a backup, therefore I suspected the screen was done. Happily I went and bought a shiny new iPad Air 2. No, not the gold one (yuck). Space grey.
With the backup, the setup was almost painless. Apart from a few orphaned apps and some not so nice apps, which wanted money, for stuff I had already bought.
Just a thing. If possible restrict all the purchases on your iPad to one Apple ID. Makes life a lot easier, because somehow it accepts for a certain time – 90 days? – only one Apple ID per device. I was a bit confused with all these pop ups about the Apple ID.

The old iPad then started to collect dust and I went with my ex girlfriend – I am married to her now – to Lyon. Nice, very nice. I like it much better than Paris. Food is in general way better than any other place I have been in France. Even for Swiss standards, it is a very clean town (much less dog poo than Paris). I like the stone they used to build the town and the public transport system is extremely good.
Actually we went there, because I had something to tick of on my bucket list. I always wanted to learn how to drive a rally car. Sideways that is. On gravel or snow. Therefore I booked a one day course for me and my wife with Team Pilotage 42 about 50 minutes west of Lyon. Luck wanted it, that we were only 3 students. One young man, my wife and me. The guys father has been a rally driver, therefore we suspected, he would drive circles around us. Damien, our instructor, holds an official diploma as a racing instructor from the department of sports of france. I love France for things like that. In a time where political correctness almost forbids to like driving cars fast, France is still proud of its long tradition of racing and shows it.
After a bit of theory we went out to the tarmac track for a first training session. It was all about how to sit and hold and turn the steering wheel. It is pretty hard to unlearn something one did wrong for so many years. Years ago during another safety training with BMW, they showed me an other technique which does not work on a track apparently. At least my seating position was right and I got the first point against my wife who mentioned once in a while for the last twenty years, that I am sitting to close to the steering wheel. I don’t.
Next thing, the foot rest. That is not what it is called, it is the „call pieds“, which keeps you firmly in your seat and holding that with force isn’t restful at all. But it works. The morning was spent almost entirely driving around the track and unlearning stuff. How to hold and turn the steering wheel, where to look, where to start your turn, where to hit the apex and so on.
Lunch was again a reminder, why one should take life not so serious. In Switzerland we would have had some sandwiches or other „light“ (speak „cheap“) stuff. In France one gets fed with a mille feuille au saumon and some kind of boeuf bourguignon. All inclusive. No wine though. But a dessert.
The afternoon was spent on the dirt. Now things got serious. Finally driving sideways. The Citroen C2 isn’t a powerful car. Especially not the diesel version with 90 bhp. But it is plenty, if you know what to do. Now the funny bit. My wife, who never drove anything fast around a track before, was a second faster than the boys. Which isn’t so hard for me, because I am used to it. My mother was faster than me 25 years ago, when we drove slalom races for fun (still hurts a bit). It wasn’t so easy for our young friend who pushed hard to beat my wife, which was exactly the wrong thing to do. It is all about finesse, not power and a heavy feet on the throttle. It really looked damn good when my wife came screaming around the corner sliding sideways through the apex almost perfectly. Unfortunately she broke two cars within 5 minutes and that was it for the day. Just punctures. Happens all the time on this track. And it was anyway at the end of the course. No harm done, but a good story to tell.
After a few more days sightseeing in Lyon without the monsters, we picked them up and drove home. One of the first things daughter no. 2 did when she came home, was trying the old iPad. Lo and behold the damn thing showed on the screen, who wouldn’t budge a week ago, that the battery was almost empty. The darn thing repaired itself while we were away. That isn’t the first time it happened. A year ago our Casio (do not buy) piano had one key that lost all its dynamic and sounded awful. We sent it away but the service center said that they could not find anything. It had mended itself while en route. We must have some really good feng shui for electronic devices here. I almost start to believe in higher powers. There is certainly a perfectly natural explanation, but that does not make a good story. A house haunted by an ancient computer expert who has to fix things before getting eternal live, is much more interesting. Actually, I know a few people, who when they die, should roam the earth in search of equipment they fixed badly during their live and do them correctly until they are allowed to IT paradise: a place full of Exchange servers with strange error messages, active directories with corrupted databases, Fortran and Visual Basic programs with syntax errors one can not find. Or is this rather hell?

For me at least, the bucket list is one item shorter. Wait, probably half an item. Have to do that rally driving stuff again. Next time when something breaks here, we just go and do something fun and political incorrect and that should do it for fixing anything electronic here at home. Can’t wait.

Anything new in ibmverse.com? Yes, the IBM Verse Beta Trial

I think most of you have done the same thing. We just abandoned ibmverse.com.
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 ibmverse.com 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 ibmverse.com?
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 ibmverse.com 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) ibmverse.com? 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.