Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lotus Connections and Telephony Integration

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Recently, I was directed to this very cool demo. It shows a Telephony iWidget that was developed and deployed on the Lotus Connections Home page. This widget was recently shown at VoiceCon 2 weeks ago.

Here you will see how you search for expertise based on a keyword (or tag). Once you find that person, you can initiate a call right from the Lotus Connections user interface.

This is very exciting for the following reasons:

  • More people are developing on the Lotus Connections Platform
  • Shows the extensibility of the person card
  • Shows the extensibility of the Home page
  • Shows the extensibility and integration capabilities with UC² tools

Enjoy!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Learning Experiences: A Successful Social Software PoC

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The following is a summary of a successful social software PoC that I participated on for a customer in Texas. I'm sharing it here so that you can compare how this company did things right, as opposed to that other PoC that went downhill.

Customer Y is an account I have been working closely with around Quickr and Connections. We've successfully setup a PoC for both products - the IT Manager signed off on a formal PoC Closure to ensure that it met his criteria. Technically it is successful, but it wasn't sold in our eyes - some understood the value immediately while it didn't seem of much value to others. Connections, just like any other social software, is really a product which should have content to understand its potential and value. Think of the early days of Facebook when none of your friends were there... how useful was that?

Last Friday we held a "user-adoption" or "getting started" workshop around Connections and Quickr (promoted internally by the customer and content/material/prizes provided by IBM).

The Goal

  • Pump their environment with relative and pertinent content
  • Have attendees "invite colleagues", share Dogear'd bookmarks, added to a Community, Team place or Activity so even those that do not come are notified about the products
  • Have users understand that they don't have to be content authors to benefit from the value - you can take advantage of the info in Connections to gain business value
  • Walk away with a simple understanding of what it is and have them access it from their desk the next time they work.

The Challenge

  • We had 1 room with 10 workstations, for 4 hours - only have web browser to interface the products (do not have the chance to expose connectors and integration capabilities).
  • Users will be coming in and out at their convenience, so no formal presentation that can reach everyone at once.
  • Expose as much of Connections and Quickr as possible in 15 minutes max.
  • Have them use the pilot environment again from their desk after they walk away from the workshop.

What Did We Do To Make This A Success?

We secured funding for prizes to attract attendees. I worked with the customer's resource to create a promo flyer which he posted on their digital bulletin board and printed flyers for distribution/posting within the customer site.

Laurisa Rodriguez created content titled "Getting Started with Lotus Connections". However, it covers each service in great detail - to complete all labs it would take a user at least an hour. I revised the material to the idea of "jump start" users. I took the easiest pieces they would find immediate value for in each Lotus Connections Service, and if they really like it, they can always come back and explore further from at their own convenience. In addition, knowing that we cannot reach the masses by attendance, I geared the material so they share and connect with folks that were not present. The authentication was against their real LDAP server and both products were configured to their production SMTP servers.

Even with the material reduced in content, we faced an issue of reaching the time limit, so we improvised and made 4 labs mandatory and 2 optional - it would change for users based on a discussion of what they wanted to walk away with.


Last, knowing that anyone who walks away with a 10-15 page packet will probably place it on a shelf and never look at it again - had to come up with an idea of how they would remember this even and hopefully access it again. I took existing slideware and created double-sided postcards (4 prints per sheet on stock card that was cut afterwards); it had the key message of "what is?" with links to their internal PoC environment and the other side had details to each of the services of Connections and Quickr so they know what might fit their use case if they forget.

Results Of This Effort

We had a turn out of 66 users (after only promoting the event for 2 days) from different lines of businesses (IT [including Directors], Marketing, R&D, Service Desk, Business Analysts, Sales, Customer Operations, and a few more). Within the first 20 minutes of the start, all workstations were occupied with folks waiting in the back to participate (3 more workstations were added to handle the additional users). Each person sent an invite from Profiles to at least 5 others to be their "colleague", expanding the network to 330 users from this event! More users were exposed from the other services as well. And folks were asking to take more than one postcard to distribute and share with their peers as they think it is very powerful or very cool. The feedback was great and the product sells itself when it's exposed in the right manner.

We met with the admin Monday ~1 PM after event, and he said 2 comments that really stuck:

  • "My inbox is getting full with messages of attendees sending emails to their teams saying they didn't realized this was setup with real email integration and now telling their teammate about it."
  • "It's growing virally since the introduction on Friday afternoon and I think we're going to have to give the VM's more resource as it gains popularity"
  • "I'm surprised how the PoC environment was stable to handle this surge of data and run smoothly"

The best part is so many folks were exposed to it and if it gains popularity by different lines of businesses, it makes it that much more easier for the product to stick. And even if people do not contribute content, they will consume just from the Profiles service as it was pre-populated with real data. I think it was a real success and please feel free to re-use the material to help push the value further.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lotus Connections Sessions at Lotusphere

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So here it, the highly awaited list of Lotus Connections sessions at Lotusphere. Although, none of my sessions got accepted, I do see that some of my ideas will be presented by other people. For example, remember when I blogged about the session for "Social Software Adoption" and put the idea on IdeaJam? Well, that idea got accepted!!!! I would like to personally (through this blog) thank you all who voted for the idea. I can't wait to see you all at Lotusphere!

Without much futher a do:

Breakout Sessions:

The Birds of a Feather sessions haven't been posted yet. I'll keep you updated when I do.

P.S. This is not Lotus Connections related, but looks cool: "Mac to the Future": Lotus Notes 8.5 and Lotus Offerings for Mac OS X

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to enable STLinks in Lotus Connections v2

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200811171102.jpgThis is a question that I often get: "How do I enable STLinks in Lotus Connections v2"? In fact, it's one of the most discussed questions in the Lotus Connections Forum.

This functionaity works in v2 just like it did in v1. Therefore, to enable this in v2, it's as simple as following the instructions in the v1 InfoCenter.

I'm not sure why the instructions haven't been copied to the v2 InfoCenter, but maye they'll do it now ! In any case, I wanted to make sure that this would work on a Lotus Connection v2.0.1 environment before blogging about this. Therefore, I successfully tested the v1 instructions on my own 2.0.1 environment.

But a little background first. In my test environment, I have two servers:

  1. Connections and DB2 (http://connections.demoibm.com)
  2. Sametime and Domino LDAP (http://collab.demoibm.com)

So here's what I did:

  1. Enabled SSO between Sametime and Connections
  2. Copied the contents of c:/lotus/domino/data/domino/html/sametime/stlinks (from the Sametime server) to c:/ibm/httpserver/htdocs/en_US (in the Connections server)
  3. Modified LotusConnections-config.xml to specify the STLinks URL (http://collab.demoibm.com/sametime/stlinks) as documented in the InfoCenter
  4. Restarted the server
  5. Voilá

After restarting the server, here's how it looks when I click on someone's name that's connected at this moment:


200811171121.jpg

The beauty of this is that it does not require Notes v8.5 or Sametime Client v8.0.2 to be installed and running on someone's machine. As long as the browser supports JavaScript, it works!

Note: While this works, it is not officially supported by IBM

Enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Social Software for Higher Learning: a second look!

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You may remember that last week I blogged about how a university in Brazil is using social software to enhance both the formal and informal learning aspects of their education environment. You can go here to review that blog entry and see a video of the customer explaining why they chose Lotus Connections.

As you may have seen in my tweets, this week I was working on a local Learning 2.0 event that was hosted by Interamerican University. I was invited to speak on "Social Software for Higher Learning and Community Collaboration". Long title, huh ?

Challenges

By now, you know that when I first started at IBM, I worked as one of the developers for IBM's eLearning product. For 5 years, I concentrated on eLearning and had specific focus in the Education industry. For the past 2 years though, I've been working with social software across many industries. Therefore, I got myself up to speed with some of the references and success stories, such as the one that I blogged about last week.

But by far, the biggest challenge was getting ready to present in Spanish. While I deliver the Value of Social Software almost twice a day, it's always in English. Words such as 'leverage', 'enable', 'empower', 'key', 'deliver', 'pervasive', etc have become part of my lingo (even with my family!!), but that's because Spanglish is accepted in our household. Spanglish at an all-Spanish conference just looks unprofessional.

Luckily, my good friend and co-worker Laurisa had blogged about this same challenge internally. I referenced that blog and off I went!

Socializing and Presenting

I relied heavily on the Keynote speech at the Borough of Manhattan Community College's Tech Day when I created my presentation. My next challenge? Trying to fit a demo of all our offerings and talk about in 45 minutes!! I clearly wanted to showcase as much of our technology as possible, but at the same time give sufficient context to the CIOs, CTOs, and professors in the room.

As the attendees came in, I introduced myself and asked about their challenges and frustrations. One dean told me that his biggest frustration is that discussion in the classroom is null. He does use an online forum, and that's where all the "classroom" discussion happens. Interesting!!

Another professor shared his biggest pain: search. "Oh what I surprise I have for you..." (though Dogear doesn't translate well into Spanish).

Another dean expressed that usability was her biggest challenge. Today's students try an application once. If it doesn't work and it doesn't adapt to their needs, they won't use it again.

At first, I was planning for a 20 minute presentation and 25 minute demo. However, as I talked to the faculty in the room prior to my turn, it was clear that they understood today's students. They knew what the pains were. They knew they needed something to improve the learning experience. Therefore, I cut my presentation short to 15 minutes and spent 45 minutes demoing.

That's right, the interest was so big, that I overran my time for 15 minutes (with the permission of the audience).

Demo'ing

When demoing our social software solution, I used an integrated environment of Portal, Instant Messaging, Quickr, and Lotus Connections. I spent a considerable amount of time populating data that was specific to the audience, even using the names and pictures of the people in the audience! (I asked the registration desk to take a picture of each attendee and I loaded them up into Profiles while the other presentations were going on).

Next Steps

The event generated tons of interest and we have scheduled several follow-up meetings with deans and other faculty members. Woo Hoo!!!!

P.S. I was going to post the slides here. The presentation, however, is a new one that I created and it's mostly pictures and I didn't have time to add the speaker notes. When I get some time, do expect to see it here, though!

Nominate Lotus Connections as the best Social Networking Application

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I recently picked this up in a blog by an ex-IBMer and thought it was a fantastic idea. Therefore, I wanted to share it with you all!!!

Simply enter your email address to nominate Lotus Connections as the best Social Networking Application.

And once you do, spread the word!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lotus Connections and Sametime Awareness on UID

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I know I've been a bit quiet lately. Yes, I know I haven't published anything since Friday. Here's the thing, tomorrow I'm presenting on "Social Software for Higher Learning" at a Learning 2.0 event that's happening here. CIO's and CTO's from all the different colleges and universities on the island are going to be at the event. But I'll blog more about that later.

Today, I just want to share a quick tip with you. Recently, we were working on a customer to enable Instant Messaging within Lotus Connections with Sametime. By now, you already know that the integration works seamlessly if you have Notes 8.5 or Sametime 8.0.2. You can also get it to work with Sametime v7.5+ and Notes v8+ by installing a special plugin.

By default, the awareness lookup happens via the user's email address. However, at this particular customer, Sametime was configured to only allow lookups via uid and not email. The usual solution to this is to configure Sametime to do lookups via email. This, however, was not an option for this customer.

Therefore, we had to customize Lotus Connections to do lookups via uid. With the help of super awesome Firebug, we were able to figure this out. Here are the steps we followed:

  1. Go to <WAS_PROFILE_ROOT>/installedApps/<cellName>/Profiles.ear/peoplepages.war/js_build/dojo
  2. Save a copy of profiles.js and profiles.js.uncompress.js
  3. Open profiles.js with your favorite text editor
  4. Search for the following text:

    getstatus/";url+=profilesData.displayedUser.email+"?jsonp=lconn.profiles
    


    and replace it with this text:

    getstatus/";url+=profilesData.displayedUser.uid+"?jsonp=lconn.profiles
    


  5. Save profiles.js
  6. Open profiles.js.uncompress.js with your favorite text editor
  7. Search for the following text:

    url += profilesData.displayedUser.email + "?jsonp=lconn.profiles.PersonTag.loadIMStatusCallBack&time=" + new Date().getTime();


    and replace it with this text:

    url += profilesData.displayedUser.uid + "?jsonp=lconn.profiles.PersonTag.loadIMStatusCallBack&time=" + new Date().getTime();


  8. Save profiles.js.uncompress.js
  9. Restart the HTTP server and the Lotus Connections server
Enjoy!

Friday, November 7, 2008

How to upgrade to Lotus Connections 2.0.1

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Well, I'm finally done. I'm sad to say that it took ~12 hours to upgrade from Lotus Connections 2.0.0.1 to 2.0.1. It seems that there are some problems with the Update Installer. Apparently, shipping a product on Halloween (like trying an underwater escape) is not a good idea. Or maybe one of our competitors hacked into our servers and broke it for us??

Anyway, here's the steps that I had to take to upgrade my Lotus Connections 2.0.0.1 server to 2.0.1:

  1. Download the Lotus Connections 2.0.1 Fix Pack from Fix Central (select Lotus, Lotus Connections, 2.0.0.0, <your platform>) 200811061420.jpg
  2. Download the 2.0.1 Update Installer from Fix Central (select Lotus, Lotus Connections, 2.0.1.0, <your platform>)200811061422.jpg
  3. Download the Lotus Connections 2.0.1 Database Wizards from Passport Advantage
  4. Stop the Lotus Connections server
  5. Upgrade the DB silently (you can use the wizard, but then you will have to upgrade the Blogs DB manually)
  6. Upgrade the product from 2.0.0.1 to 2.0.1 silently (the wizard didn't work for me). I used the following command:
    updateLC.bat -installDir c:\ibm\WebSphere\LotusConnections -fixpack -install -fixpackDir c:\ibm\WebSphere\LotusConnections\update\fixpacks -fixpackID LC201_Fixpack -wasUserid lcadmin -wasPassword passw0rd
    
  7. Perform step 10 as listed here. (It's listed as an Optional step, but it's really a Required step)
  8. Start the Lotus Connections server
  9. Run the following wsadmin command
    1. Start the wsadmin interface
    2. Type the following command: execfile("blogsAdmin.py")
    3. Type the following command: BlogsMigrationService.populateLoginNames()
    4. Type exit to quit the wsadmin interface
  10. Stop the Lotus Connections server
  11. Download the latest fixes from the page where you downloaded the 2.0.1 Fixpack (see step 1 above)
  12. Install the iFixes silently. I used this command:
    updateLC.bat -fix -installDir "C:\ibm\websphere\lotusconnections" -fixdir "c:\ibm\websphere\lotusconnections\update\fixes" -install -fixes LO34540 LO34604 LO34631 LO34638 LO34665 LO34676 -wasUserId lcadmin -wasPassword passw0rd
    
  13. Re-do your changes to the <WAS_PROFILE_ROOT>/config/cells/<cellname>/LotusConnections-Config/*.xml files
  14. Delete your Dogear index
  15. Start your Lotus Connections server!

And there you have it. I'm giving this to the documentation folks so they can fix the InfoCenter.

Note: Updated on Nov 11, 2008 to fix the order of the steps.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I own the world!

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Well, a piece of it, anyway. Let me explain. Yesterday was a big day for me, in my opinion. I closed a loan to buy my first piece of the world. My first piece of "real" property.

While I already own my condo, I don't consider that to be "real" since I don't actually own the land where the condo sits. But now, finally, I own a piece of this world. This is sure the first step in my plans for global domination!

Nah, while I don't plan to rule the world, I do feel a sense of responsibility. Now that I'm expanding my family, I want to make sure that I set an example for them. I definitely want to focus on designing and building a house that's environment friendly and try to do my part so that my kids have a clean, safe world to play in.

Here's the area where I bought. You can see several lots here. In order to protect preserve keep some privacy, I won't tell you which one, or how much I paid for it .

View Larger Map

I've heard horror stories about contractors and the such. I'm sure it's going to be a fun and stressful situation. Let the adventure begin!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Lotus Connections for Higher Learning

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Remember that story that I told you a while ago on how a university displaced their eLearning software and is now using Lotus Connections? Well, here's a video that was recently posted on YouTube and explains the rationale behind that decision and why Lotus Connections and social software fits better.


Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lotus Connections v2.0.1 is here!

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Each quarter, there's a new version of Lotus Connections out there. This quarter we shipped Lotus Connections 2.0.1 (on Halloween). I didn't post anything on Friday, 'cause I thought sharing some baby pictures in his costume was a tad more important. Also, the new version was very well covered by Stuart and Mitch.200811040533.jpg

If you are upgrading, you can download it from IBM's Fix Central. One question that I'm continuously asked is: "what's new in Lotus Connections v2.0.1?". Well, here's a list of what I've gathered:

  • Quickr integration with Activities - Push-button publication from an Activity into one of your Quickr Places for permanent document storage
  • Quickr integration with Communities - Allows communities to use Quickr as their content repository and document collaboration platform.
  • Enhanced person card
  • E-mail is no longer a required attribute (great for external implementations)
  • New feeds inside of Communities
  • New feeds for forums
  • New APIs for Activities, Blogs, Communities, Homepage (federated search), Profiles
  • Hidden support for STLinks (more about this tomorrow)
  • User Interface and Usability enhancements, for example:
    • Can now save members as part of an activity template
    • Drag-n-drop activities entries
    • Uploading images to a blog is now easier
    • Improvements in the Activities widget
    • Easier way to work with multiple bookmarks
  • A couple of bug fixes

Monday, November 3, 2008

What's Going on in My Network? A Recommendation From a Customer

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A potential customer sent me this on Friday so that I could share with the UX team. Since I know the Lotus Connections UI Designers follow this blog, I thought I would share this here instead of emailing them.

Aden Davies, who I met through Twitter and the Lotus Connections Twitter Feed, works as an "Innovation Technician at a large bank". We were talking about some of the new features in 2.0.1 and he shared his vision of a great addition to our widgets. He actually sat down and spent the time developing this mockup.

I actually liked this a lot. I even suggested something like this be added because it's very similar to the home page feed you would see in Facebook.

The idea is to provide a better feed as to what's going on around you.

I think this is also a great example of how Twitter can be used to improve collaboration with your customers and drive innovation into products faster!