Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lotus Connections RedWiki Residency starts

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This past Monday (yes, I know I'm late, but Monday was a holiday and I took Friday off too) the remote Lotus Connections Customization RedWiki was officially kicked off with a call at 7:30am EDT(to accommodate our international team).

According to the ITSO team, this has been the most popular residency so far, in terms of applicants. A residency had never had so many applicants in so little time before. I believe this goes to show the great interest and passion out there for Lotus Connections. And that feels good!

Here's a snapshot of the introductory note:

The goal of this ITSO project is to create entries in the current online Lotus Connections Wiki that will enable customers and business partners to allow Lotus Connections and 3rd party applications (including IBM and Lotus apps) to interface. We have come up with a list of ideas on how that can be done and you have signed up for working on these. We will finalize that list during a conference call in the first week.

An interesting and unusual aspect of this project is that your work will take place on a live wiki that everyone in the world can view and even edit. (Since people must log in to view and edit, we will have change tracking by ID available, and the wiki has rollback capability.) The project sponsors and I feel that this aspect nicely captures the beauty of a wiki atmosphere, where the world can watch information being created, collected, and stored and even help out as appropriate.

Core team members:

  • Mike Ebbers - ITSO Project Leader, New York
  • Dean Jesson - IT Specialist, Germany
  • Jun Liu - Atlas for Lotus Connections Team Lead, China
  • Torsten Hoffman - IT Specialist Web 2.0 & Social Software, Germany
  • Shu Sia Lukito - Sr. IT Specialis, Maryland
  • Sergio Imperial - IT Specialist, Portugal
  • Marcus Smith - IT Specialist, Illinois
  • Amit Kumar - IT Specialist, India
  • Zhou Lin Dai - Software Engineer, China
  • Jamie O'Leary - Lotus Connections Home page developer, Ireland
  • Chirag Barhate - Software Engineer, India

Key Lotus Sponsors / Stakeholders:

  • Jennifer Heins - Lotus Technical Content Strategist and Architect, Cambridge
  • Sal Mazzotta - Lotus Applications Architect, Cambridge
  • Luis Benitez - Consulting Social Software Specialist, Puerto Rico (but you should know this)
  • Suzanne Minassian - Lotus Connections Product Manager, Boston
  • Jack Downing - Information Architect (Lotus Sametime & Lotus Symphony), Cambridge
  • Mac Guidera - Tech Lead for Lotus Greenhouse, Orlando

Let's get going! Oh and in case you are wondering... yes, we are using Lotus Connections Activities to manage this project.

WAPA está en Twitter!

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Anoche me enteré, por nada mas y nada menos que Twitter, que ahora WAPA TV tiene su propia cuenta en Twitter. Esto me causa mucha alegría porque hasta ahora, con todas las compañías que he hablado en Puerto Rico, todas le tienen miedo a adoptar software social.

Mucho de los miedos que tienen es que piensan que sus empleados "no necesitan otra herramienta mas como para perder el tiempo"! Es mas, una muchacha recientemente me comentó que en su compañía bloquearon el instant messaging! Esto me dejó con la boca abierta. Cómo es posible que en el siglo XXI todavía haya empresas que no le vean el valor al instant messaging.

Como me encantaría que todas las empresas privadas y públicas de Puerto Rico y el resto de Latinoamérica adoptaran software social. Por el momento, voy a seguir 'blogueando' sobre mis historias de por qué me gusta tanto el software social, especialmente al usarlo dentro de una empresa.

Desde que llevo blogging dentro y fuera de mi compañía, asi rápido puedo contar por lo menos 6 casos donde mi blog ayudó a la innovación y a la creación de nuevas ideas (pero lo mas seguro hay muchísimos mas).

Ahora que WAPA TV está adoptando software social, los voy a seguir y van a tener a un 'usuario' fiel (cuando antes yo era mas de Univisión). Y sería interesante si WAPA hace una historia sobre su adopción de software social. A lo mejor eso llevaría a las empresas locales a empezar a considerar el valor que tiene el software social! Felicitaciones a @WAPAtv por ser el primer medio en adoptar Twitter y espero que esto indique que también van a adoptar el software social dentro de su empresa!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I'm sexy in New York

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Last Monday, I took the last flight into New York for a 10am meeting on Tuesday with a customer in Manhattan. That meant that I got into the hotel at about 1am . After checking in, I got into the elevator with two other women who looked like they were just coming from a big party. They were going to the 14th floor. I was going to the 19th floor.

As the door closes, one of them asks me if I'm working and I tell them I'm just getting in from Puerto Rico. They ask me if I'm alone, and I'm like "yes...". As the elevator's door opens on the 14th floor she says "well, if you want to have some fun come down to 14th and we'll be here sexy". "Well, that's a first", I thought. I smiled back, the door closed and I went to get some needed sleep.

The next day, I got to the customer site and to my surprise, the CIO was in the meeting (I thought it was just going to be IT people). As usual, I asked for their expectations. To this the CIO said:

"I've heard/read all the press out of the Enterprise 2.0 conference and want to know what it takes to get Lotus Connections going"

I thought: "Are you kidding me ? !! The customer is already sold!!! What am I even doing here?? ". The CIO continued: "We are a multi-national holding company with multiple subsidiaries. Each subsidiary has its own LDAP/user directory. Can we use Lotus Connections Profiles to aggregate the data?"

Ah, an opportunity for our Tivoli folks, which happens almost every time we talk about Lotus Connections Profiles. I talked about TDI and TIM (Tivoli Identity Manager). I also mentioned what I've done for customers in terms of aggregating data. Specifically, I mentioned a customer I recently worked with where they loaded some data from an LDAP server, some data from a SQL database, and some data from a CSV file.

After the 2 hr meeting was done, the customer asked for pricing information and next steps from IBM to get rolling! Too easy!

Tech Sales folks: Keep sending your customers to the press about the Microsoft fiasco at Enterprise 2.0. It's generating leads for Lotus Connections and bascially selling itself!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

My "Why I love..." social software series

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I've realized that I have a lot of "Why I love..." entries as part of my social software series and it may be hard to find them (even though I'm trying my best to tag them consistently).

I intend to use this blog entry as the catch all for all of my success stories and plan to continuously update it as new stories come up. Enjoy:

And other "Why I love stories..."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How to add Atlas 'Reach Me' link to Lotus Connections Person Card

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2008-07-24_1012This is a "repost" (is that the right term) of How to add a Microsoft Sharepoint MySites link to the Lotus Connections Person card, but for Atlas for Lotus Connections. Once you follow these instructions, you are going to integrate Atlas for Lotus Connections with whatever application renders the Peson Card: Lotus Connections, Confluence, SocialText, Quickr, Microsoft Sharepoint, SAP Portal, WebSphere Portal, and the list goes on and on.

Here's what you need to do: 1. Figure out the URL to a person's 'Reach Me' (usually something like: 2. Save a backup copy of: WAS_HOME>\profiles\<WAS_Profile>\config\cells\<Host_name>\LotusConnections-config \LotusConnections-config.xml 3. Open the file from #2 with your favorite text editor 4. Add the following line (it's 1 line, but it wraps):

<sloc:serviceReference serviceName="atlas" href="" enabled="true" ssl_href="" ssl_enabled="false" person_card_service_url_pattern="/{email}" person_card_service_name_js_eval="'Reach Me'"/>
5. Save and close the file 6. Save a backup copy of: WAS_HOME>\profiles\<WAS_Profile>\config\cells\<Host_name>\LotusConnections-config \service-location.xsd 7. Open the file from #6 with your favorite text editor 8. Add the following line (under <xsd:simpleType name="serviceNames"> --> <xsd:restriction base="xsd:string"> )
<xsd:enumeration value="atlas" />
9. Save and close the file 10. Restart Profiles That's it!! See, I told you!! All it took was TWO LINES OF XML!!! No coding!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Linux/Mac users: Hack Lotus Notes 8 to Add the Activities Sidebar

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Linux and Mac users, if you've been missing your Activities side shelf, I've discovered a hack! Follow my instructionis below to hack Lotus Notes 8 and add the Activities sidebar even if you are a Mac or Linux user!!!!!

How? Well, I simply looked at the Eclipse internals and figured out what plugins are needed and copied the plugins from my Windows Lotus Notes 8 Public Beta 1 client into my Mac. How do you get this? Well, first, let's work through some logistics...:

Disclaimer: This is NOT supported by development and is provided AS-IS .

License Agreement: Before you use this, you agree to the following:

  • Post a comment to this blog entry if you install this and it's successful
  • Will not send me an email/ST with 'support' issues
  • Will not hold me responsible if your Notes client breaks
  • Will test the plug-in and post a comment to this blog entry with stuff that works (see below)

Here's what I've tested successfully with Lotus Notes v8.5 Public Beta on my Mac Leopard 10.5.4.

  • Browse activities
  • Drag-n-drop of emails into an Activity
  • Different view options (To Do's, Sections, Recent, etc)
  • Create an activity
  • Create items for an activity
  • Hover over item --> Item preview

As you can see, I haven't tested the offline capabilities.

Here's how it looks:


Ready to get started ? Here's how to install:

  1. Make sure you are using at least Lotus Notes 8.5 Public Beta 1
  2. Go to File -> Application -> Install
  3. Select Search for new features to install and click Next >
  4. Click on Add Remote Location...
  5. Set the Name to Activities Sidebar
  6. Set the URL to
  7. Click Ok and then Finish
  8. Follow the remaining steps and restart Notes for the changes to go into effect

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lotus Notes 8 on my Mac helps me collaborate without email!

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Weird, huh? How can a mail client help me collaborate without email ? That's the magic of composite applications!

First, a little history. When I joined IBM 6+ years ago, my goal was to always have a "no-scroll inbox" meaning that the inbox within my mail client (i.e. Lotus Notes) could not scroll (even when the application was maximized). I had to read an email and file it immediately into its proper folder (or tag it and archive it if I'm using my personal email over at Gmail).

Anyway, I considered myself pretty successful at that project up until May of this year. With Lotus Connections v2 out the door and all the buzz/press generated after the Microsoft smackdown at Enterprise 2.0, I got too many emails in too little time. Today, I'm finally at that point again. My inbox (with Lotus Notes fully maximized) doesn't scroll!!

I'm looking to follow the footsteps of Luis Suarez and his quest to stop using email. Unlike my counterpart in Spain (or in the Netherlands.. I never know where he is), I'm taking a slightly different approach to this "no email" experiment: I'm not educating people to collaborate with me in a certain way. Instead, I wanted to see if people would follow me.

Unfortunately, I wasn't as smart as my counterpart in Spain. It didn't occur to me to keep hard data on the number of emails I receive on a weekly basis. I can tell you this, however, my email traffic has significantly decreased since I've started using social software, specifically blogs and social bookmarking. I remember when I used to get 100+ emails a day including ~30 over the weekend, and dozens over lunch . 3 months ago I was down to about 35 emails a day. Today, I just got 13 emails and 0 during lunch!! So it's definitely working... social software really does help me replace email!!

To me, it's clear that people know how to get my intellectual capital (mostly through my blogs and bookmarks) and as I keep sharing my success stories, they follow me, without me formerly educating them (although you may argue that I'm educating them through my blog...)

Today, I mostly depend on two main applications: a Feed Reader (NetNewsWire) and my mail client (Lotus Notes v8.5 -- the public beta). My feed reader is my new inbox. Just like my good friend Mr. Suarez, I love the feed reader because I can easily choose what I want to read and what's important to me at any given time. If, after a while, a thread gets boring or doesn't provide any value, I can unsubscribe and off I go. In the meantime, I'm "as smart" as the other person I'm subscribing to, just a couple of minutes later (like my friend Laurisa Rodriguez says).

So, since I'm barely using email, what's the purpose of using an email client? Well, it's for everything else! Lotus Notes 8 is my:

  • Instant messaging client (including for my Gtalk, Yahoo! and AOL friends)
  • Productivity suite (Word processor, Presentation editor, and spreadsheet via the embedded Lotus Symphony)
  • Twitter client (by using a 3rd party plugin)
  • Calendar
  • Address Book
  • Lotus Connections Activities client
  • Connection to fellow community members via the Lotus Connections Communities and Broadcast Suite plug-in
  • Access to my Quickr libraries

Today, I installed 3 very useful plug-ins:

  1. Cisco Unified Messaging - which lets me visualize my voicemail and provides phone awareness (I can literally see if someone has their phone off the hook or is available for a quick call)
  2. BeeAware - Which lets me change my Beehive status
  3. BeeFriend - which lets me easily add my Sametime contacts as friends in Beehive
The best thing about Lotus Notes, in my opinion, is its awesome composite application framework. I can easily add plug-ins (and choose from the thousands that already exist). And as I keep adding plug-ins, I feel that I'll be more and more productive, and my email count will continue to decrease. I believe that this really helps me escape mail jail and transition smoothly to social software. Oh, and this is all from my Mac -- I'm so productive!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Microsoft should buy Google

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You all know how Microsoft is trying to buy Yahoo for its search capabilities. Last night, I was looking at the traffic sources for my blog. The reporting engine tells me that 28% of my traffic for the given time period comes from search engines. As I expand the report to view more details, here's what I see.

Of that 28% of traffic, 99.26% comes from Google and only 0.50% comes from Yahoo. At first I thought, "Oh no, Google is indexing my content, but not Yahoo". So I went on to Yahoo, did a couple of searches (with the same keywords as those being used in Google) and my blog always came up as one of the top 10 results. "Phew!! Yahoo is indexing my blog.. "

While I was doing this analysis, I was also watching CNBC as they discussed all the earnings that were announced yesterday. The conversation got a bit off topic and they started talking about the Microsoft attempt to buy Yahoo, which got me thinking.. Given that Microsoft wants to buy Yahoo for its search capabilities, why spend so much money when it seems like only 0.50% of the population uses Yahoo? Shouldn't Microsoft go after Google? . Or perhaps this is another reflection on how socialites are more tech savvy?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What's the best way to use social software ?

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Right now, there's a heated debate going on internally at IBM over what's the best way to use one of the social features of Lotus Connections. I won't go into detail here, mainly because I don't want to distract you from the point that I want to make. Ready?

Don't you hate it when you get an email with an attachment that's 200TB? I think you will all agree and say yes. It's annoying. So how do we fix it? Easy, modify the mail client so that it allows attachments only up to 1MB. Right ?


Think about how inefficient that would make you, when you really need to send that financial presentation to your colleague in another town, city, state, country, world, universe, well you get the point.

How about instant messaging? Most IM clients have a feature where you can specify that you are 'Away'. And most IM clients also have a feature that automatically puts you 'Away' when the computer has been idle for 'x' number of minutes. Some people "forget" to change the status back to 'Available'. So how do we fix it? Easy, modify the IM client so that users can't put themselves 'Away' and it's only calculated by the computer's idleness. Right?


By now, you are probably picking up the point that I'm going to make: There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to using software.

Humans, by nature, are all unique. We all learn in different ways. We all do things in different ways (kinda like my sister who likes to brush her teeth before eating breakfast... WTF??). We all use software in different ways. And you can be darn sure that when it comes to social software per se, there is no right or wrong way to use it. And because each person is different, you need social software that adapts to those users' needs.

You need social software that works in the context in which users are already working. You need social software that can be molded into your existing processes. Facebook, for example, got a huge bump in daily traffic when they released their mobile application. In a matter of days, users were hooked to Facebook posting pictures on the go, updating their status every 5 minutes, etc.

Adaptability is they key when considering social software. And the more adaptable the software is, the higher the adoption rate. Adaptability is a key principle of web 2.0 and social software.

Now, there are some recommended practices to make your life easier, but that's another post ... Thoughts?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Giving the tools to millenials and letting them innovate

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Today, I spent the whole day at Bank of New York, one of our public references for Lotus Connections. They have partnered with CMU and have interns during the summer whose sole responsibility is to bring Web2.0 capabilities into their existing products. By leveraging Lotus Connections and other Lotus products, they are building new mashups to help Bank of NY employees collaborate more effectively. Of course, I can't go onto too much detail as to what they are doing.

My job was to teach these millenials the basics of Eclipse plugin and REST API development. After introducing the REST concepts, I talked about the Lotus Connections APIs and the different approaches to use them. Basically, since REST is pretty much XML over HTTP, you can pretty use our APIs from anywhere.

So the first example was to create an Eclipse plug-in that fetches data from Lotus Connections using the Abdera Atom Client. The cool thing about an Eclipse plug-in is that, well, you can plug it in into any Eclipse-based application such as Lotus Notes, Lotus Sametime, Lotus Expeditor, Rational Application Developer, etc, etc.

I also talked about WebSphere Portlet Factory and how they could use that to develop portlets. And not only JSR-168 portlets that run on a portal, but also portlets that can be run on Lotus Notes 8! They were really excited to see how they could develop rich client capabilities by writing 0 lines of Java code!!

Now their goal is to innovate and present back to the business side at the end of the summer what they've come up with. I'm extremely proud of this customer because instead of forcing interns to do A,B,C, they are letting their minds run wild and create new mashups that perhaps the business side wouldn' have thought of. I'm very anxious to see what they come up with by the end of the summer!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How to install Lotus Connections FixPack 1

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Yesterday, it was widely announced the availability of Lotus Connections v2 Fix Pack 1 on FixCentral. Unfortunately, the Fix Pack was released before the instructions (oops! ) .

In any case, here's how to install the fixpack. First, since this is a fix pack and not a fix (don't ask me!), you can't use the wizard that comes with the Lotus Connections Update Installer. Instead, you must install the fix pack via the following command:

updateLC -fixpack -installDir E:\IBM\WebSphere\LotusConnections -fixpackDir E:\IBM\WebSphere\LotusConnections\update\fixpacks -install -fixpackID LC2001_Fixpack -wasUserID wasmgr -wasPassword pa55w0rd

Make sure you plugin the right path locations and values for userid and password. Enjoy the new fix pack!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Does the lack of browser support drive you crazy?

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The other day I discovered PlanetLotus via Twitter. By the way, if you are a Lotus employee, evangelist, tech sale, seller, user, fan, etc, you HAVE to bookmark PlanetLotus. The creator of this site is Yancy Lent who has his own external blog.

As I read Yancy's blog, I found an entry called: "A screenshot of your web page from 64 browsers and 4 OS's" and in it I learned about!

The way it works is that you simply enter a URL and the site gives you the screenshots of how it would look like from 64 browsers and 4 different OS's. I entered my external blog's URL and discovered that my blog doesn't quite work well in MSIE v5.5 (but what works in that browser, anyway?). Also, Epiphany on Ubuntu is really bad combination for my blog.


Isn't social software cool ??

Anyway, I really think that all major software companies, Lotus included, should look into this technology so right off the bat we can support 64 browsers on 4 OS's. Currently, when a product ships, it usually supports 2-4 browsers (unless it's a MS product, then only 1 browser is supported), based on what the testers had time to test with. Using this technology, we can quickly and efficiently see how products behave on the different browser and OS combinations that are out there! Food for thought....

Friday, July 11, 2008

Why I love Quickr Entry...

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Ok, this would have to be part 6 (I think) of my "Why I love..." series. Today, I finally get Quickr Entry! (See, sometimes you have to use social software to really understand its value. So let me tell you a brief story.

Several weeks ago, I was asked by a co-worker to present to the TechSales / Lotus Connections community on the Microsoft disaster at Enterprise 2.0. As a good worker bee, I posted my presentation yesterday to one of the IBM internal deployments of Quickr Entry so that I could get feedback from the community leaders. I did this so my pal Luis Suarez would be proud of me for not using anti-social tools like email.

Anyway, today I get an email from Suzanne Minassian, Product Manager for Lotus Connections. In it, she provided some great feedback.

So you see, by being able to use Quickr Entry to socially share my file with two people, I got unwanted feedback. And not in a bad way. In a very good, positive way!! I mean, it didn't even occur to me to run the presentation by Suzanne, even though she was the original zen master who beat Microsoft at the conference!!! It should've occurred to me, but it didn't!!!

Now that's something that wouldn't have happened if I would have used email instead of Quickr Entry to share the file!

Also, see Suzanne's post on the Aftermath of Enterprise 2.0

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I'm the Top Blogger within IBM... for a day!

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One of the cool things of Lotus Connections Blogs is that you can recommend a blog entry by simply clicking one button. By simply clicking on the + sign you mark the blog entry as one of your favorites and the recommendations count increases by one. By recommending a blog entry this way, you can easily go back to your favorite blog entries by going to 'My Recommendations'.

Here's how it would look if a blog entry had 3 recommendations and you haven't recommended it yet. If you hover over the star you get to see who has recommended it so far, easily giving you visibility to other people with your similar interests!

Then, based on the number of recommendations and the number of comments of a particular entry it can become a 'Featured Blog Entry' and is listed right on the Blogs landing page. But as time goes by, a particular blog entry's recommendations may grow to infinity . So that users don't 'hijack' a position in the 'Featured Blog Entries', Lotus Connections Blogs limits this list to the most popular blog entries in the last x days (where x is configured by the Blogs Administrator). Very cool, huh ?

So what is this all leading up to ? Well, inside IBM we have also taken the recommendations and created a list of the Top 100 bloggers within IBM. This list is based solely on the number of recommendations in the last 90 days. This list, therefore, changes on a daily basis.

Yesterday, for the first time, I was listed as the Top Blogger within IBM, finally surpassing a co-worker who was always listed in one of the top 3 positions. Seeing that report felt really good. It actually serves as a motivation for me to keep blogging (I now have to keep finding more content to blog about so I can keep that honor!!). And that's why Lotus Connections Blogs is so powerful when it comes to adoption. Right on the landing page, you get to see:

  • Featured Blog Entries
  • Most Recommended
  • Most Commented
  • Most Visited

And since these lists are so dynamic, users have all the motivation they need to keep blogging away!

Oh... and I wished I would've written this blog entry yesterday. Today, I checked my standing and I'm number 6, that's why I had to add the "for a day" tag line on the title.. Oh, and I wouldn't have been #1 if that co-worker who was constantly in the top 3 positions hadn't left IBM . At least it's good to know that I'm considered one of the Top 10 Bloggers within IBM.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Are socializers simply anti-Microsoft ?

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Everybody who starts their own site usually sets up a counter to see how many visits they are getting. If the site is popular, it's a good motivational element. Though it could also be a turn off if they see they are only getting 1-2 visits per day.

For those of you who don't know, I have another blog and in both that blog and this one, I'm using Google Analytics to count visits to my blog. Similarly, I'm using FeedBurner to count how many people are subscribing to my blog.

Anyway, back to Google Analytics. It's a pretty nifty tool for those of you who have a blog / own a website. firefox_icon.gif It not only gives you the number of users to hit your site, but also some demographics like: browser, operating system, country, etc. The most surprising result yet? Firefox is the most popular browser for this blog!

Almost 60% of my visitors use Firefox while only about 40% use IE! In my other, personal, blog the pattern is completely different: 60% use IE vs 34% Firefox (Safari is also popular).

Looking at operating systems, it's the same story. On this blog, it's about 80% Microsoft Windows vs 20% other (Mac and Linux). On my personal blog, it's 90% Windows vs 10% other.

So what's the deal? Does this indicate that users that are pro-social software tend to be more tech savvy and, thus, know better than to use Microsoft technologies ? Or am I going too far ?

Note: This data covers the period from June 2, 2008 - July 7, 2008.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Firefox makes subscribing to RSS feeds extremely easy!

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I don't know how I missed it. Not sure why it never ocurred to me. Maybe it was too obvious ? Too easy ? I don't know. The important thing is that I discovered it and I want all of you to be in on the fun!

So you all use Firefox, right ? (I think only my father in law uses IE, but perhaps that's another blog post). And since you are all fans of social software (or somewhat interested in it), then you must also know how important feed readers are to socializing! (At least you know I love feed readers)

So what's your typical approach today? Probably something like this:

  1. Go to a site, any site
  2. Notice the RSS icon on your browser's address bar
  3. Click on it
  4. You are re-directed to an XML page
  5. Copy the URL from the address bar
  6. Paste the URL into your feed reader
Tedious? Yes. Cumbersome? Yes. There must be an easier way, right ? Yes!!
The trick is to actually click on the drop-down for the 'Subscribe Now' button!

Since NetNewsWire is my feed reader I selected it, clicked on 'Always use NetNewsWire to subscribe to feeds.' and voilá! Now, this is what you need to do to subscribe to a feed:
  1. Go to a site, any site
  2. Notice the RSS icon on the browser's address bar
  3. Click on it

Beautiful, huh? (sorry, you can tell I'm still in awe that I didn't discover this sooner!)

And if your application doesn't show up in the drop-down, you can browse your computer for your favorite feed reader. Or you can even add it to Google Reader!

Is Microsoft trying to patent all social software?

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A co-worker sent me a link to a patent on the PeerToPatent that Microsoft is attempting to get. The title is "Recommending contacts in a social network" and has the following in the Background section of the application:

A social network consists of individuals and their relationships to other individuals. ... The distance (number of relationships) between two individuals within a social network is commonly referred to as their “degree of separation.” ... Because social networks can have hundreds or thousands of individuals and direct relationships, social networks can be very complex. It would be a difficult and time-consuming task to identify individuals and all their relationships within a large social network.

Fortunately, the identity of individuals and their relationships with other individuals can be automatically derived from data stored by computer systems. Many individuals use their computer systems to store indications of relationships to other individuals. In particular, many software applications allow a user to explicitly store names of others with whom the user has a relationship. .... The ... other users are stored in address lists for electronic mail programs, in contact lists for instant messaging programs, in invitation lists for event organizing programs, and so on. In addition, the names of the other users can be derived from data that is not an explicit list. For example, the names of users can be derived from the to, from, and cc fields of electronic mail messages, from meeting entries within a calendar, from letters stored as electronic documents, and so on. Each of these other users has a relationship, referred to as a direct relationship, with the user regardless of the “closeness” of the relationship.

Hmm.. a system that can analyze my social data, my email, and my chat transcripts to figure out how I am interconnected to others within the company... Where have I heard that before... ???? Oh and the system also gives me a visual path to others I may not know? Hmmm... I swear I've heard this story before!! Seems to me like Microsoft is trying to patent Atlas for Lotus Connections. Hopefully, IBM can take some action before Microsoft steals yet another IBM/Lotus idea.

If you are a member of PeerToPatent, give them a mouthful. If you are not a member, sign up today!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What's the best industry to sell social software to?

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A colleague recently approached me and asked me which industry I thought would be best to sell social software to. He explains that in his region, he has a lot of customers in the education industry and they just didn't get it. I had a similar experience before and blogged about it. The question did take me by surprise, so I told him that I would think about it and then blog about it.

First, I had to figure out what were the industries out there. I found this list, but that was way too long. So then, I decided to look at our customer references and see which industries are covered. Here's a summary of them:

Customer Industry Use Case
Bank of NY Banking Link
Imerys Materials Link
Film Foundation Media Link
Saxion Education Link Federal Government Link
Sprint Telecommunications Link
-Contstruction Group- Construction/Architecture/Engineering Enhance collaboration / discover tacit knowledge faster
-Software Maker- Computer Services/Consumer Products Provide employees better access to company expertise
-Travel company-Moosejaw Retail Link (Note: Updated 9/12/2008 to disclose name)
University in Brazil in partnership with a college in FL Education Link (Note: Updated 9/12/2008 to add this row)
Video (Note: Updated 11/5/2008 to add this row)
FAA Government Link (Note: Updated 12/13/2008 to add this row)
Aerospace / Automotive Rheinmetall AG Link (Note: Updated 5/8/2009 to add this row

Of course, the list goes on, but I wanted to capture at least 1 example per major industry. As I keep reading about all of our references, some patterns evolve:

  • Each industry has a unique need for social software
  • Most seem to want to enable a better end-user experience
  • Most want to improve collaboration processes, specially those with dispersed/mobile employees

So I don't think the question is valid. Seems to me like everyone needs social software. But who needs it more than others? My guess is that these companies need it more:

  • Companies who need better ways to assemble teams allowing innovation and collaboration to happen
  • Companies with a high-level of turnover or high-number of employees who will soon retire
  • Companies with large number of dispersed and/or mobile employees
  • Companies who would like to build customer and employee loyalty
In fact, a Force Management, online Corporate Social Networking Survey (ended June 6) agrees. It finds that the most significant catalysts for implementing corporate social networks are (in order of importance):
  1. Attracting / Retaining Top Talent
  2. Improved Brand and Culture Experience
  3. Improving Workplace Diversity
  4. Better Access to and Location of Enterprise Knowledge and Expertise
  5. New Sources of Revenue

Do you agree? Did I miss something ?