Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Goodbye 2008

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And with this, I'll close this blog for 2008. I'll be back at work on January 2nd, 2009! At that time, I'll first go through my feed reader to see what has happened while I was away, and then I will go through my email to tackle the new year!

As I say my good bye to 2008, I wanted to recap my accomplishments. This will also help me summarize what I've done when I have my one-on-one with my manager later on to discuss my contributions to IBM.

  • Moved from Social Software Services (consulting) to a new job as Social Software Technical Evangelist for IBM
  • Attended Lotusphere for the first time ever!
  • Got Certified as an I/T Specialist by the IBM Certification Board
  • Switched to RedHat Linux from Windows XP for a couple of months as my primary workstation
  • Switched to Mac from Linux in April as my primary workstation
  • My wife had our first baby
  • I got promoted
  • I was (one of?) the first blogger to report on IBM's victory over Microsoft at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference face-off
  • Published an article in developerWorks
  • Started my first BizTech project about a social software project
  • Hacked Notes v8.5 for the Mac to add the Lotus Connections Activities sidebar
  • Served as stakeholder for the Lotus Connections RedWiki
  • Mentored 3 IBMers and helped them get published in developerWorks
  • Submitted my first HackDay entry and won 1st place in the Connections category!
  • Learned Dojo
  • Contibuted to a social software book via a Wiki
  • Was interviewed twice for a social software book
  • Met with over 70 customers to talk about the business value of social software
  • Served as a reviewer for two different books
  • Travelled to some cities for the first time: Seattle, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo
  • Created various TDI videos that were also published in tdi-users.org
  • Got featured in IBM's home page (w3) twice this year!
  • Continued leading the WW Lotus Social Software Community


DSC_1382.JPG

I hope you have a very merry holiday season and a Happy New Year! Stay safe!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Register for Lotusphere Opening General Session Live Blog

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We are about 24 days away for Lotusphere 2009. At Lotusphere 2008 I live blogged the Lotusphere Opening General Session. I got some great feedback from people that were not attending that it was valuable for them to stay informed as to what was going on and what was being announced. At Lotusphere 2009, I plan to do the same thing.

This time, however, I'm going to use CoverItLive, a live blogging platform. What does this mean to you? Well, once you get to my blog, you won't have to refresh your screen every couple of minutes. It will just automatically refresh.

Interested? Well, enter your email address below, and a reminder will be sent to come back to this blog when the Opening General Sessions is about to start.


If you'll be live Tweeting, post a comment and let me know. I'll include your tweets as part of the live blog.

Alternatively, if you want to see what other people are saying, you can also use Twitter's search mechanism to view a feed of comments from the Lotusphere Opening General Session. If you want to use Twitter (It's free and you don't have to register), use these URLs:

IdeaJam iWidget for Lotus Connections

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Last night Bruce Elgort, from our friends over at Elguji, used Twitter to see if anyone could answer some questions he had about Lotus Connections and iWidgets. A couple of minutes later, I responded to Bruce offering my assistance. We used Twitter to coordinate whether we could speak over the phone (a.k.a Skype) and minutes later we were Skyping away! (Is "Skyping" that the right word?? I'm still new to Skype...)

Anyway, he wanted to know what the effort would be to create an IdeaJam iWidget for the Lotus Connections Homepage and what would be the easiest approach. I told him that if he could get me a very simple HTML page, I could do an iWidget that would call that HTML page via an IFRAME. We agreed that we would follow up today in the morning to see how much progress he'd made.

Turns out that about 1/2 hour later, he lets me know that his side is done. To say the least, I was very impressed! You see, IdeaJam is a Notes/Domino application. Therefore, all he had to do was create a new 'View' that provided just the data that he wanted and rendered that as HTML. (Don't ask me what a View is.. I know very little about Notes/Domino applications, but I'm sure Bruce will discuss more at his blog later today).

Now that he had his View rendering the data, I had to create the actual iWidget to be deployed onto Lotus Connections. This process took about 2-3 minutes! The iWidget is very simple and only has about 4 lines of XML in it. If you want to take a look at the iWidget XML, click here. I then went into the Lotus Connections Administration interface, added the iWidget to the Homepage (which I have already proven that it takes less than 30 seconds) and voilá!

We then spent some time playing with the CSS to get the look-n-feel right and produced this:


The iWidget displays the 5 most recent ideas and the IdeaSpace they belong to. If you want to use this iWidget on your own Lotus Connections deployment, simply point to this URL: http://blog.lbenitez.com/widgets/IdeaJamWidget.xml

I think that what's also impressive about this story is that Twitter enabled this collaboration. I've only met Bruce (recently) via Twitter and had never collaborated with him before! Yet, we were able to get together and quickly create this nice piece of integration!

Very cool, right? What do you think ?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lotus Connections Mobility Video

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I was recently directed to this video which talks about the Lotus Strategy and its mobility capabilities. Mobile access to your applications is key, especially for social software. I, for one, use Twitter, Facebook, and Lotus Connections Dogear because I have free native applications that run on my BlackBerry. When I'm at a customer site and I'm stumped with a question, I turn to my trusty Dogear to find the answer. When I'm travelling to/from said customer, I like to see what's going on in my personal social network by turning to Facebook. Then, I like to see what's going on in my semi-personal/semi-professional network at Twitter.

By the way, my constant access to Twitter means I can be more responsive to my customers and business partners. And recently a light bulb went off in my head: IBM gets more value from me using Twitter, than I personally do. I think I need to expand on that in a future blog post.

Anyway, here's a quick video showing the different Lotus products in a mobile world. I like Kristen:

Feel free to share it!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How To Allow Anonymous Comments in Lotus Connections Blogs

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Well, sort of. A customer this week asked me how to modify the blog template so that anonymous users could click on the 'Add a Link' comment. By default, the link is completely disabled until the user clicks on 'Log In', authenticates, and returns back to the blog entry.

I took it upon myself to look at the blog theme and figure out how to make this change. Since the themes for blogs are created using Velocity (an open source template engine), I took a quick peek of the Apache site to learn some things about how Velocity works.

Below are the steps I followed to get this working:

  1. Go to <WAS_PROFILE_ROOT>/installedApps/<cell_name>/Blogs.ear/blogs.war/themes/<theme name>
  2. Save a backup of _header.vm and Weblog.vm
  3. Open _header.vm with your favorite text editor
  4. Find the following line

    #if($utils.isJapanese())
    <script type="text/javascript">
    <!--
    {
    var func = window.onload;
    window.onload = function() {
    if(func) {
    func();
    }
    document.body.className = document.body.className + " lotusJapanese";
    }
    }
    //-->
    </script>
    #end


    and replace it with:

    #if($utils.isJapanese())
    <script type="text/javascript">
    <!--
    {
    var func = window.onload;
    window.onload = function() {
        if(func) {
            func();
        }
        document.body.className = document.body.className + " lotusJapanese";
    }
    }
    //-->
    </script>
    #else
    <script type="text/javascript">
    <!--
    {
    var func = window.onload;
    window.onload = function() {
        if(func) {
            func();
        }
            
        var luisBlogsUser = getCookie("blogsUser");
        if (null != luisBlogsUser && luisBlogsUser != '') {
            hideAllActionForms();
            AddWeblogEntryCommentForm.toggle('show');
            Field.focus('commentContent');
        }
    }
    }
    //-->
    </script>
    #end
    



  5. Save _header.vm
  6. Open Weblog.vm with your favorite text editor
  7. Find the following line


    <a class="disabledLink" id="AddWeblogEntryCommentLink" title="$text.get('entryview.actionmenu.loginHint')">$text.get("entryview.actionmenu.add_a_comment")</a>
    


    and replace it with:


    <a class="lotusAction" id="AddWeblogEntryCommentLink" title="$text.get('entryview.actionmenu.loginHint')" href="$url.site/roller-ui/login-redirect.jsp?redirect=$entry.permalink">$text.get("entryview.actionmenu.add_a_comment")</a>
    


  8. Save Weblog.vm
  9. Restart the Blogs server and voilá

And here's how it looks.


200812172151.jpg

When you do this change, the 'Add a Comment' link appears for anonymous users. When they click the link, they will be sent to the login page. After successfully authenticating, they are re-directed back to the blog entry with the comment form automatically expanded.

Enjoy!


Friday, December 12, 2008

Google OneBox: Integrate Lotus Connections with Google Search Appliance

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Lately, there's been a lot of buzz around Lotus Connections and Google integration. More specifically, around Dogear and Google and the integration that I did a while ago. Earlier this week, I announced that this integration won 2nd place in the Lotus HackDay contest under the 'Web Applications' category. Yesterday, it was announced that this integration won 1st place in the HackDay Global Connections category! If you want to see what all the hype is about and start using this integration, follow these instructions.

Now, stuff just keeps getting better. With great timing, a business partner, Persistent Systems, has just released Google OneBox, a connector that can be deployed to your Google Search Appliance to automatically index Lotus Connections data and show it embedded in the Google search results. No browser plug-in required!

These slides explain a bit more about the solution:

Lotus Connections One Box
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: lotus connections)

I believe integration with enterprise search is extremely important for successful social software adoption. At IBM, we have driven adoption of social software partly by integrating enterprise search results with Lotus Connections search results. In fact, there's a trend now were most IBMers end up clicking on the Lotus Connections search results that are embedded and shown side-by-side the enterprise search results. In fact, IBM did a case study and was able to calculate a yearly multi-million dollar savings thanks to social bookmarking and enterprise search integration.

If you want to learn more about this solution, see the Google OneBox for Lotus Connections page. (it's not yet part of the Lotus Connections Solutions Catalog, but it will be soon).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lotus Quickr and Connections Connector Is Now Available

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Last month I discussed some of the new features in Lotus Connections v2.0.1. More specifically, you now have the following capabilities:

The IBM® Lotus® Connections Connector for Lotus® Quickr™ allows users to create associated Lotus Quickr team places for their Lotus Connections Communities. In Lotus Quickr, they can organize, share files, and collaborate on documents from a central location. When a new Connections Community is created, the associated Quickr team place is also created and the access control and membership of the Quickr place will be determined by the often fluctuating Connections Community membership. Communities associated with a team place in Lotus Quickr can aggregate updates in the community overview page, making it easier to stay current with projects and work collaboratively.

Here's a couple of screenshots of how that looks like:


200812111324.jpg


200812111325.jpg


200812111325.jpg

You can download this new connector from here. This connector works with Lotus Connections v2.0.1 and Quickr J2EE (a.k.a. Quickr Portal) v8.1.1 which I understand is already available for download.

Monday, December 8, 2008

How to Allow Lotus Connections Profiles to Accept PNG Images

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A customer recently reached out and told me that Lotus Connections Profiles was only accepting images (or photos) in GIF and JPEG format. He had a need, however, to allow end users to upload their photos in PNG format.

You may be thinking that in order to allow this, I had to hack away the code, change some JSPs files, add a lot of Java code, and the such. Au contraire, my friend! Here's what I had to do to enable PNG photo uploads in Profiles:

  1. Go to <WAS_PROFILE_ROOT>/installedApps/<CELL_NAME>/Profiles.ear/peoplepages.war/WEB-INF
  2. Save a backup of validation.xml
  3. Open validation.xml with your favorite text editor
  4. Find this line (it's there twice):

    <var-value>image/jpeg,image/pjpeg,image/gif</var-value>
    


    and add the following lines after it:

    <var-value>image/jpeg,image/pjpeg,image/gif,image/png,image/x-png</var-value>
    


  5. Remember, this line appears in two places so make sure you edit both lines
  6. Save the file
  7. Restart the system

Don't you love it when the architecture for a product allows you to do easy things like this ? I do..

P.S. In case you are wondering about the two MIME types.. Firefox uses image/png and IE uses image/x-png. Go figure ...

Dogear and Google Integration Gets 2nd Prize in Lotus HackDay

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Woo Hoo!!!!. That's right, late last week I got an email from Bob Picciano, Lotus' General Manager. In it, I was informed that Dogle (a.k.a. Google Dogeared) has won 2nd place in the Web Applications category of the Lotus HackDay contest. The price? Some cash which is very timely given the holiday season that's quickly approaching!

Dogle is a hack I did in which Google and Dogear results are shown side-by-side. It's a hack that I coded in a couple of hours. If you want to install it and give it a try, you can follow the instructions here.

For those of you, non-IBMers, HackDay is a one-day competition challenging IBMers to come up with the most interesting "Hack". "Hack", in this case refers to ability to come up with a solution to a problem or an interesting idea you've been thinking about.

200810072104.jpg

Thanks to all who took the time to vote for my hack and participate in this process.

Sametime Unyte Has Been Upgraded

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Over this past weekend, Lotus Sametime Unyte has been upgraded to version 8.2b.

The enhancements that have been added are very timely. I was just going to post a blog entry on my "Sametime Unyte Wish List For The Holidays", but everything that I was going to ask for has already been added. Take a peek at some of the new features that have been added to Sametime Unyte:

  • Support of PDF & ODF (OpenOffice and Lotus Symphony) document formats in addition to Microsoft formats
  • Firefox 3.0 support
  • A waiting room for attendees who join a conference prior to the host
  • Performance acceleration for international customers so all attendees, regardless of location can count on consistent, fast response rates
  • Multi-language support so individuals can host and join conferences in their preferred G1 language.
  • One-click start of a Web conference from Lotus Sametime messaging service via a shelf

Are you ready to start hosting a meeting? It's easy, just head out to http://www.sametimeunyte.com and off you go!

Quick Tip: Want to send out an invite with a one-click meeting URL? Use this format: http://www.sametimeunyte.com/join/?schedid=xxxxxxx (and replace xxxxxx with your meeting's passcode).

Friday, December 5, 2008

Lotus Connections goes 3D !

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While I'm supposed to be officially on vacation today, these news couldn't wait until Monday to be published. I recently ran into a press release detailing how Lotus Connections now works in a 3D virtual environment. Cool, huh? So what's the deal? Well, Forterra has just released OLIVE (On-Line Interactive Virtual Environment) v2.2 and with it come new collaboration features and integration with Lotus Connections and Lotus Sametime. Lotus Connections can serve the user's profile and avatar information to OLIVE. Here's a preview of some of the new features: The key OLIVE capabilities being released this month include:
  • A Virtual Meeting Reservation System that allows a meeting organizer to reserve a 3D room type (ex, auditorium, board room, classroom), room equipment (ex, projector screen size, chairs, and podiums), and to invite mandatory and optional attendees.
  • Invitations are sent out through the user's native email system (e.g. Lotus Notes), and if accepted display in their native calendaring system.
  • Presenting on 3D screens and viewing by all participants a spectrum of media including MS Powerpoint files, streaming videos (Windows Media Player® based), any software application running on a Windows desktop, and collaborative whiteboards.
  • A Lotus Sametime plug-in so users can achieve single sign-on to OLIVE from Lotus Sametime, instantly invite colleagues to join a 3D meeting directly from their Lotus Sametime client, or schedule a future meeting through the Virtual Meeting Reservation System.
  • Presence awareness of other OLIVE or Sametime users logged in. Users can quickly join a colleague in a virtual environment by teleporting to their location.
  • Avatar profiles through integration with any social networking system like LinkedIn, Facebook, Lotus Connections, a Learning Management System or enterprise HR system so users can view the profile of another meeting attendee by right clicking on their avatar.
  • Simplified firewall port configuration and compatibility so IT departments can set the communications for OLIVE to work through two firewall ports. OLIVE has always supported being able to deploy entirely behind a firewall.
  • Support for 3D model import into OLIVE for Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya, Google Sketchup, Blender, Poser Pro, FaceGen, and Softimage, and other content authoring tools which provide COLLADA file export options.
Here's a demo of the Lotus Sametime and OLIVE integration:

For more information, check out the entire press release here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One-Way Adaptability is Key in Social Software

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I forget now how I got this link, but I was recently notified of a report published by Accenture. The report, "New-Generation Workers" Want Technology Their Way, was published last month. The report has already been reviewed widely in the blogsphere, for example, here. I, however, wanted to add my two cents because I think it summarizes and emphasizes what I evangelize the most: social software should adapt to your needs, and not the other way around!

Now, Accenture's survey wasn't social software specific. It was about technology in general. However, I would like to point out the needs of this new workforce. And attracting this new workforce is often one of the business needs I hear from my customers. And that's one of the business needs that drive them to look at social software.

The needs of the new workforce:

  • Millennials want to choose their technology
  • Younger employees insist on state-of-the-art technology
  • Organizations will need to provide new communication and collaboration channels. Millenials expect employers to provide communication channels such as online chat, instant messaging, mobile text messaging, and RSS feeds to communicate with their customers and clients.
  • Coming to the end of e-mail as we know it. [...] High school and young college students spend less than two hours a week e-mailing, instead preferring text, instant messaging, and communicating on social networking sites.

In my opinion, this new workforce has figured out ways to be productive. They have a system. They know how to collaborate. And, they expect their employers to provide these same collaboration tools. I guess it's like taking away email for those of you addicted to email. How will you ever collaborate ?

Here are the preferred communication methods of these Millenials (graphic from Social Computing Magazine):


I'm actually surprised that they prefer mobile text messages over RSS feeds. But that's why it's important that when you are reviewing and selecting social software, you choose a platform that adapts to a user's needs. That way, the end user decides how to use the software, how to better take advantage of it, how to make the best of it.

Adaptability is also the sum of Principle 5 and Principle 8 of the Principles of Social Software.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

According to the News: Social Software Increases Productivity

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I've been quiet. I know. There are several reasons for that:

  • I'm working on a BizTech project and I can't say much more than that. For now, just know that I'm coding something that will soon be offered by IBM as part of our social software offerings! Oh and if you are following my Tweets, then you know that I'm using Dojo for that
  • Lotusphere is around the corner (46 days) and can't spill the beans on the surprises to come (yet)
  • Working on several opportunities that we are trying to close (including several million users!!! wow!!)
  • Running the World Wide Social Software Community. As the leader for the IBM Social Software Community (1000+ members) I've been busy lately planning out the schedules for our upcoming speakers, putting together the newsletters, and planning the events for Lotusphere. Running a community is a lot of work! I may have to blog more about this later...
  • Learning a bit about .NET development for a project I have in Toronto next week

But trust me. I've not forgotten about you! I still have a couple of blog posts queued up that I have to review and post. In the meantime, I wanted to share the following piece of GREAT news (pun intended). My good buddy, Adrian Spender just blogged about this. RTE News, based out of Dublin, yesterday visited the IBM Dublin office where about 50% of IBM's social software development team is located.

After interviewing several IBMers, including my good old friend Mike Roche, RTE News put together the following news clip on yesterday's nightly news. Here you will learn a little bit more about IBM's Beehive, a proving grounds for social software where the most interesting and useful features would then make it into Lotus Connections.


In the video, the reporter emphasizes how IBM is using social software to make their employees more productive. This is great timing, given IBM's CEO Sam Palmisano's recent comments that:

IBMers are figuring out how best to incorporate social networking into their work, at a pretty good pace. They're figuring out that collaboration isn't a productivity hit, it makes them smarter.

Enjoy!