Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More BlackBerry Plugins for Lotus Connections

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Just before Lotusphere, someone commented on one of my previous blog entries that talked about some of the capabilities of Lotus Connections in the BlackBerry. Unfortunately, with all the excitement around the new features in Lotus Connections v2.5 and getting that blog post ready, I just didn't have time to read that comment until late last week.

After the Birds of a Feather session that I helped deliver last Monday, a business partner stopped me and showed me some of the stuff that they had developed. Basically, it was an enhanced version of the BlackBery Client for Lotus Connections.

The application is available today for FREE. I'm actually pretty excited to see how more and more business partners keep building solutions for Lotus Connections (especially when they are free!!). It has already been tested and known to work with some of the extranet Connections sites such as BleedYellow, Greenhouse, BlueExtend, and One of the cool things about this application is that you can actually configure multiple Lotus Connections environments and are not tied to just 1 environment.

Here are some screenshots for your viewing pleasure:

Are you ready to start blogging from your BlackBerry ?

For those of you IBMers reading this, I couldn't get this working internally, but if you do, let me know!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Lotusphere 2009 - A Look Back

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This year's experience at my 2nd Lotusphere was very different from my first Lotusphere last year. Last year, I was regularly stopped by IBMers who just wanted to say hi and thank me for internal blog. Last year, I ditched my politically oriented external blog and created a new one. In my new external blog, I wanted to share with the external world the same things that I was already sharing with IBMers.

Looking back, it was probably all the feedback that I got from IBMers at Lotusphere 2008 that motivated me to share more with the external world. And I think it paid off. At this year's Lotusphere, it was mostly business partners and customers who looked for me and said hi.

Also, this year I missed some of my teammates that had been hit by Resource Actions last year. Now on to a quick summary:

  • I live blogged the Opening General Session and the Social Software Keynote
  • Met with the great majority of business partners that I'd been working with last year through Twitter and the discussion forums
  • Had several customer meetings
  • Met the Director of Microsoft Sharepoint. Actually, he introduced himself after the Birds of a Feather session I did with Stuart McIntyre and Luis Suarez. I noticed that he went to a lot of the Lotus Connections sessions. I think it's interesting how they send "spies" over, but I'm pretty sure we do the same thing
  • Created a deeper relationship with the Lotus Connections Development team
  • Organized the Lotus Social Software Meetup and handed out all the give-aways! Got some good feedback from the community members
  • Got to learn a bunch of tricks on how to more effectively use Notes 8.5 on my Mac (more on this later)
  • Saw some cool stuff at the Innovation and Meet the Developer labs such as: Voyage/Sojourn, Sametime on the iPhone, and Microsoft Sharepoint web parts for Lotus Connections (more on this later)
  • Learned more about Lotus Foundations; that's a really nice/cool product! I need to sell it more in Puerto Rico
  • I got certified as a Lotus Connections v2 Administrator. I need to send some feedback to the CertFx people though
  • Had some great conversations on social software adoption and ROI
  • Got to see a preview of Sametime v8.5 on the Mac -- application sharing will soon be here! And Notes 8.5.1 will have deeper integration with the Mac
  • After missing him in previous trips, I finally was able to catch up with Ed Brill
  • I missed the Blogger Open and the Closing General Session, but I plan to attend those next year!
  • I tried using BrighKite to locate other people, but it was too confusing. Even using Twitter and text messages wasn't too helpful.
  • Didn't get to meet everyone I wanted, but I hope I do next year

One of the best moments was when Suzanne Minassian gave me a backstage tour of the Opening General Session hall. I could not believe all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. I hate my BlackBerry for not having a camera. I would have loved to take some pictures.

Oh and it was VERY cold on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Anyway, from what I've been able to gather from the Blogosphere the reaction has been mostly positive. I need to keep going through my feed reader now to see what else happened while I was away. Here's hoping that I get to see you all at Lotusphere 2010!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

KEY103 - Social Software Keynote Live Blog

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Here's a live blog of today's Keynote by Jeff Schick. Enjoy:

Monday, January 19, 2009

What's New In Lotus Connections v2.5

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As just announced at the Lotusphere Opening General Session, Lotus Connections v2.5 will be released in mid 2009. Lots of new features will be added. The Profiles, Communities, and Home page modules of Lotus Connections are the ones that are getting the bulk of the changes. Here you'll find a summary of the new features announced at the Opening General Session.


Communities gets the bulk of new features added in v2.5. Based on customer feedback, the communities component will be more customizable to meet each community's need.

  • Personalize the look-n-feel of your community by choosing one of the out-of-the-box theme templates or creating your own
  • Communities pages are now based on widgets. This means that it's easy to to drag-n-drop widgets around, add/remove widgets as needed, or add external widgets (e.g. Google Gadgets)
  • Re-designed Forums
    • Surfaces relevant statistics (e.g. top contributors)
    • Surfaces popular discussions
    • etc
  • Allow community members to upload, store, and share files
  • Define which tools will be available to members:
    • Wikis
    • Community Blogs
    • File Sharing
    • Bookmarks
    • Feeds
    • Discussion Forum
    • Activities, which include to-do's and events
  • View community members
  • Complements Lotus Connections' person-centric approach with this new community-centric approach






This will be a brand new module of Lotus Connections! Yes, based on popular demand, Lotus Connections will now have a full-featured Wiki engine. As such you will be able to:

  • Forward-create new pages
  • Rich-text editor or wiki markup editor
  • Supports document uploads
  • Easily add new wiki pages and child pages and re-organize the hiearchy
  • Integrated seamlessly with Communities and the rest of the Lotus Connections suite
  • and a lot more!


I'm pretty excited that this new Wiki capability has been added to Lotus Connections. Now, let's see what other new features have been added to the other modules.


There are also many new features in Profiles. Many of the most successful features of our internal research project (Beehive) will be available in Lotus Connections v2.5. Here's a summary of what's in plan right now:

  • A tag cloud across all Profiles which would make searching easier (a feature that a lot of customers have asked for)
  • A new wall component so others can leave messages for you in your profile
  • A new status widget so you can specify what you are up to ( a la Twitter )
  • Recent updates are shown in the 'Recent Updates' section

The 'Buzz' and Status widgets:


Home Page

The Home Page has been redesigned to include a stream of updates in addition to the widgets that are available in v2.0. The stream of news gives you a quick list of what's happened in and outside your network. Widgets allow end-users to customize their home page with content they want to see and add additional gadgets (perhaps one of the 45,000+ Google Gadgets). There is also search here which allows users to do a global search across the Connections components.

So here's a summary of what's new in Homepage:

  • Global search will also search across the new Wiki and Files component
  • News updates with a single stream of what's been happening around your social network (a la Facebook)
  • Ability to filter the news based on tags, people, and type


New mobile browser user interface for iPhone and a variety of other mobile devices. Additionally, RIM has announced an updated application for the BlackBerry!

Mobile Browser theme:


Some BlackBerry Snapshots:



That's a lot, huh ? I've seen demos of the code internally and I'm pretty impressed that we were able to add so many new features in just 6 months (since the last major release in June '08).

P.S. These are the current product plans and this information is as of Lotusphere. The plans are always subject to change and the screenshots are not final designs.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lotusphere 2009 Opening General Session Live Blog

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And here we go!!! We are just a few minutes away from the Opening General Session at 2009's Lotusphere. For those of you who registered for this Live Blog, you should receive an email soon as a reminder.

Another Lotusphere Live Blog is located here.

Unlike last year's live blog, this year you do NOT have to refresh your screen. Simply stay put and you'll receive updates as we go along. You should see updates coming through at 8am EST (GMT - 5) on Monday January 19th.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sharepoint iWidget for Lotus Connections

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Recently, I started working with the CorasWorks team to develop an iWidget for Lotus Connections that would display data from a Microsoft Sharepoint server. If the name CorasWorks sounds familiar, is because I blogged about them a couple months back. They are a Microsoft Gold Certified Business Partner and have created a solution to bring some of the Lotus Connections components into Sharepoint.

What we wanted to do was develop an iWidget for Lotus Connections so that we could surface SharePoint data within Lotus Connections. More specifically, we wanted to show all the sites that a user has access to. Since CorasWorks provides a very nice API on top of Sharepoint this was very easily done.

I think it's also worth noting how this mashup was created:

  • The iWidget is running on my domain:
  • Lotus Connections is running on
  • Sharepoint is running on

Therefore, we are using 3 separate platforms and integrating these seamlessly! I think it really shows the power and flexibility of iWidgets and Lotus Connections. Here's a screenshot of how it looks:



Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How Social Tools Make Me More Productive, Efficient, and Innovative

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Just before 2008 ended, I had the chance to meet a colleague of mine for dinner while he was here in Puerto Rico. I originally met David as I was learning Tivoli Directory Integrator (TDI). Our conversation was mostly about the stuff that I do and the value that I get from social tools such as Twitter, Lotus Connections, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. He asked me to send him an email with all the resources that I mentioned (feed readers, blog clients, twitter clients, etc). However, I figured that by sharing it through a blog post the entire community benefits, instead of just 1 person. I'll probably end up sending an email to David anyway, but I will only include a link to this blog entry (and maybe a 'Happy New Year').

Dear David,

So why (and how) do I blog ?

A while back I blogged about Why I Love Blogs and it's because of that true story that you may say that I'm addicted to blogs. Not only do I get to share my knowledge, but when people comment in my blogs it helps me think out of the box. It helps me see another perspective. It helps me have that human contact that I mostly lack since I work the majority of the time from home. And the best part ? I'm not only getting the perspective of my fellow Lotus peers, but I get to hear from any of the 300,000 other IBMers (and anyone else who reads my blog externally).

If you are pressed for time, take a peek at this 1 minute video created based on my story of the business value of blogs.

To make it easier on me and because I travel so much, I use ecto as my blog client. In this blog entry, I demonstrate how to configure ecto to work with Lotus Connections . There's a Windows, iPhone and Mac version of it. The great thing about ecto is that I can write a blog once, and cross post it internally and externally.

You may be afraid of sharing knowledge because "knowledge is power". I had this same fear as well. However, by sharing my knowledge others can consume freely and at their own pace and I believe this has significantly helped me reduce the number of emails that I get on a daily basis (~20-30 down from ~150!!!). Additionally, now I have more executive visibility throughout the organization, which (I hope) is good for career advancement.

So why do I use Dogear and Social Bookmarking?

Social Bookmarking is by far my favorite social tool. Why? Well, let me quickly tell you how I got hooked on it. I found the real business value of social bookmarking when I was desperate. As you read that blog entry, you'll see that my productivity was simply 0. Dogear changed all of that in seconds and made me productive again!!

I also realized that I had over 300 or so bookmarks in my browser. I had them all somewhat organized in folders, sub-folders, and sub-sub-folders. This presented 2 challenges:

  1. When I wanted to bookmark something, I had to find the best place for it, or create the right folder structure for it
  2. When I wanted to find a bookmark, it often took too long because my folder structure wasn't the best. Plus, I had so many that it was cumbersome trying to find it. Thus, I often found myself re-Googling for whatever it was that I needed.

Therefore, I figured, "if I'm always going to search for my answer, why not use Dogear to search my bookmarks instead of spending the effort re-Googling what I need??" ! As an added benefit, I was not only searching through my bookmarks, but I was searching across what other IBMers thought was the best of the best. I was searching through the content that they had selected as the best Google result for what I need. Consequently, the time I spent searching Google, got reduced from 30-50 mins/week to 2-3 mins/week. (especially now that I can search Google and Dogear at the same time).

Moreover, bookmarking (something that I do at least twice a day) takes about 3-5 clicks on your browser. It only takes 2 clicks to bookmark something in Dogear.

As if that wasn't enough, Dogear also solves the problem of accessing my bookmarks from different computers.

And I'm not done!!! I also use Dogear to adverstise myself. You see, I like to share. Not sure, why, but I like it. Anyway, before I found Dogear I had another challenge with knowledge sharing within IBM. As you know, there are dozens (if not hundreds or thousands) of 'databases' at IBM for people to share their intellectual capital. Again this presents 2 challenges:

  1. Where should I put my stuff so people can find it... ? (or put another way, where are people searching for information??) I often ended up putting my intellectual capital in multiple places hoping that people would find it and re-use it.
  2. Some databases required a formal process for submitting the intellectual capital (i.e. it must have an abstract, summary, intro, conclusion, approved by somebody, and properly categorized in the existing topic list -- and if your topic wasn't listed, you were doomed!!)

Now, with Dogear, I can post my file anywhere (an FTP server, a Quick place, a Quickr room, a Notes database, a Sharepoint site, anywhere!!) and just Dogear it. And/or I can blog about the intellectual capital that I just created, put a link to it, and Dogear my blog entry. That way people will not only find the intellectual capital, but also my story/context as to why I created it... perhaps my recommendations to enhancing it... etc.

So Dogear addressed 6 of my day-to-day challenges and has enabled me to be more productive. It also encourages me to generate even more intellectual capital than before. Therefore, IBM also wins!

So why (and how) do I Twitter?

Personally, I see Twitter as one big asynchoronous chat room. So what's the big deal ?

Just recently I blogged about how IBM gets more value from me using Twitter than I do personally. Definitely read that blog entry first because I think it definitely explains the why I use Twitter.

As I mentioned there, I use Twitter partly to subscribe to a feed of updates that talk about Lotus Connections. That way, I can monitor all Twitter users (regardless if I know them or not) and address any issues, FUD, or perhaps answer a question from a potential customer. (we'll talk more about feeds later). For TDI, you may want to subscribe to this feed of TDI search results.

So why (and how) do I Facebook?

Facebook is my personal social network. I only add people that I trust and mostly use it to connect with my high school and college buddies by sharing pictures, commenting on their wall, and planning events.

If you do start using Facebook, I recommend that you set your privacy settings. This is where you can control who can see your information. Be careful with selecting 'Your Networks' as that means that anyone in your network can see your information. So, for example, if you are part of the New York, NY network, 10 million people potentially have access to your information. The good thing about Facebook security-wise, in my opinion, is that you have very granular controls on security. You can specify, for example, that people in your network can see your name but not any other details about you.

Finally, if you plan to use Twitter more than 1-2 times a day, do not configure Twitter to update your Facebook status. I was doing that and my Facebook friends didn't like it. Instead, use a service like when you want to update all sites at the same time.

So why (and how) do I use LinkedIn?

To be honest, I'm not a big LinkedIn user. So far, I've used LinkedIn solely for business purposes. I don't post anything personal there, except perhaps 1-2 status updates a month. I think one of the reasons that I don't use LinkedIn much is because it requires me (as far as I know) to use a web browser.

How do I stay up to date with all this stuff ?

Finally, we get to the most important tool: feed readers. Late last year, I blogged about my love-hate relationship with feed readers. However, I strongly suggest that you read my blog entry on how I effectively use 2 feed readers. In there, you will also discover which feed readers I use and what criteria I utilize to separate and/or classify my feeds.

In short, I use a feed reader installed locally on my Mac. The feeds that go there are the business critical feeds that I need to know about quickly and/or those that I want to have available offline. When I have some free time, then I would go into my web-based feed reader to see what other things are going on.

This should get you started...

And there you have it!! Hope this helps. Let me know if you found this information valuable!

Monday, January 12, 2009

When I Use Twitter, IBM Wins...

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As I was having dinner with a colleague recently, it occurred to me that IBM gets more value out of me using Twitter, than I do. Now, I know in some cases as with Comcast, they actually pay people to use Twitter. Why ? Well, because it helps improve customer satisfaction and it's an easier/cheaper way to solicit customer input.

In my case, however, I'm not (officially) paid to Twitter on behalf of IBM. So, why do I think that IBM gets more value out of me using Twitter than I do personally? It's all about how I use Twitter.

How I use Twitter

I believe Twitter lets me build and maintain relationships with the external IBM community. Additionally, Twitter helps me collaborate effectively with customers, business partners, and even potential new customers. In fact, just recently I used Twitter to connect with a business partner and create a new iWidget for Lotus Connections in minutes! Again, in this case I'm helping IBM build a community and a set of solutions for their product.

A big part of Twitter is posting updates to your timeline. I send my updates to Twitter in different ways:

  • 75% of the time I use Twhirl to read and send status updates
  • 20% of the time I use TwitterBerry from my BlackBerry 8830 to read and post status updates
  • 5% of the time I use (via Google Talk) to update my status in Twitter (and Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, etc...)

The second way I use Twitter is to study what people are saying about Lotus Connections. By subscribing to a feed of updates that talk about Lotus Connections, I can monitor all Twitter users (regardless if I know them or not) and address any issues, FUD, or perhaps answer a question from a potential customer. For example, last month I saw a tweet by a Lotus Connections user and I responded offering my assistance. Here's what he had to say:


I've also discovered potential new opportunities for Lotus Connections using this feed.

Therefore, I'm helping IBM in the following ways:

  1. build a community around their product
  2. build a brand around their product
  3. provide free support for their product
  4. innovate, collaborate, and help business partners be successful (in turn making IBM successful)
  5. build awareness of the product
  6. provide more marketing of the product

Value to Me

Twitter certainly helps me stay on top of new fads and trends. I also get to exchange and discuss ideas with thought leaders from the Enterprise 2.0 world.

IBM > Me

Don't get me wrong. I'm not frustrated or mad that IBM gets more value out of it. I think this is a wonderful example of how social tools used by employees are a great value-add to the organization. Typically, organizations tell me that they are afraid of social tools: "they are just a waste of time and do not provide any value". I hope this example, is just another one that helps them see how social tools can be very powerful and constructive.

Next Step: Calculate the ROI for this use case! Any ideas on where to start?

How about you? How do you use Twitter? And do you feel like your employer gets more value out of it than you personally?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Final Update from MacWorld

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web.jpgMacWorld ended today. What a sad day! On the positive side, Lotusphere is just around the corner! I am currently stuck at San Francisco's airport where I tried to do standby for an earlier flight with no luck. Now, I have to wait 4 hrs before my plane leaves towards Miami, I have a 3 hr layover in Miami and make it home around 2:30pm tomorrow. But it was a great week overall!

Today, I covered the South Hall Expo. This was by far the best Hall! Based on the sizes of the booths and the vendors that were there, this was the main expo hall. I saw a LOT of cool apps for the iPhone and I'm so tempted to buy one! I also got to talk to the Intuit folks to see what's up with Quicken for Mac. Turns out that a new version is scheduled for this summer and they gave me a CD with the Beta (it's called Financial Life). It looks GREAT! Apple, of course, had tons of floor space there and I caught a very nice demo of iMovie '09! I can't wait for it to ship later this month.

The other Mac application that really caught my attention was Garage Sale. This tool lets you create eBay listings that are very pretty, easily!! And the iPhone that I thought was the best was Smule. If you want to see more pictures that I took at MacWorld, check out my MobileMe page.

This week wasn't all about MacWorld though. I also got a chance to meetup with a fellow Twitter follower and IBM colleague, @saradelekta. I visited a nearby customer to talk about Lotus Connections and social software adoption recommended practices.

Moreover, I participated in two IBM internal meetings. The first was on how to team effectively when positioning social software and the second was on best practices for Lotus Connections.

And just like before, I found out that working from the west coast is exhausting. I was up most days by 5:30am to handle calls with my east coast colleagues. I think next time I'm going to be more strict with myself and do not take calls before 8:00am!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Update from MacWorld

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So now that people have digested this week's Apple KeyNote and Microsoft has tried to steal the thunder by announcing tomorrow's release of Windows 7 Beta, I wanted to give you an update to what I've been up to at MacWorld Expo.

First, let's start with the IBM booth. Just like Ed Brill had commented, the comments have varied a lot, and were mostly what we expected. Here are some of the comments that I've heard from customers that have stopped by:

  • Why is IBM here ?
  • I still don't see why IBM is here?
  • What kind of software does IBM make that's worthy of the Mac ? ( the sarcasm of this comment cracked me up.. )
  • Didn't Lotus go bankrupt 10 years ago ?
  • I can't believe Big Blue is here!!

Interestingly, some people have stopped more than once and have even brought their colleagues, friends, family to see what we've done with Lotus Notes v8. One of them was heavily impressed when I showed the Facebook Google Gadget inside of Notes!

I also got a chance to meet the Rational and Informix IBMers that were there and helped them get up and running with Notes 8.5 by recommending some must-have plug-ins!

Now on to the floor. I don't consider myself a Mac fanboy. I've been using a Mac for less than a year and must admit that so far I'm pretty impressed by what it can do. What I've really apprecciated is getting to know all the products and software that are available for the Mac and the iPhone.

Here are some of my favorites after visiting 50% of the Expo Hall:

Third, it was really cool being able to take a 3D Lenticular Imaging Photoshop Class with Russell Brown (Adobe's Creative Director). If only I could afford Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.

Fourth, I got to meet Michael Rowe in person, one of the co-hosts of the Dogear Nation podcast. He showed me some great apps and games for the iPhone. My favorite ? A flight simulator running in the iPhone!!! Last time I ran a flight simulator, my computer crashed cause I didn't have enough power to run the software!!! Yet, he can run a flight simulator in the iPhone?? Wow!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lotus Notes v8.5 released at MacWorld!

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As you may have heard already, Lotus Notes v8.5 has been officially released! AND it was released at Apple's last MacWorld conference. Customers and business partners can start downloading the Notes v8.5 client NOW! I'm glad to say that I already have it installed on my Mac OSX (Leopard).

Additionally, for the first time in many years, IBM has a kiosk there showing all of their software that works on Mac. I am lucky enough to have an Exhibitor Pass to MacWorld and will be here at the MacWorld Expo until Friday night! I'm also surprised that there are several IBM software brands will be at MacWorld: Lotus, IM, and Informix.

As a Lotus on Mac user, I'm thrilled that Lotus decided to announce Notes v8.5 today instead of waiting two more weeks for Lotusphere! With this announcement "out of the way" (so to speak), this leaves room for even bigger announcements at Lotusphere less than two weeks from today! Honestly, when Ed Brill announced they were going to wait after the Christmas holiday to ship Lotus Notes v8.5, I thought he meant they were going to wait until Lotusphere!

Here are some of the new features that I like the most:

  • Includes Lotus Symphony 1.2.1 beta for Mac embedded
  • Ability to add Calendars from Lotus Connections Activities, Google Calendar, and iCal feeds
  • Ability to take Lotus Connections Activities offline!
  • Ability to bookmark any document, database, and/or view in Lotus Connections Dogear
  • Includes Sametime v8.0.1 with the WebAPI plug-in (important to show ST awareness in web applications such as Lotus Connections)
  • Drag-n-drop emails into Sametime to add contacts to your Sametime list
  • Photos/Screenshots embedded into emails are automatically compressed when sending
  • File attachments are now shown at the top of each email (so that they are easier to find)
  • New support for LiveText on the Mac
  • Performance! Lotus Notes v8.5 on my Mac starts about 70% faster than Public Beta 2

Now, I know that you are wondering... "When can I get the Lotus Connections Activities sidebar to work on my Mac?" Well, the wait is over! Just like I hacked Public Beta 1 and Public Beta 2 to add the Activities sidebar to Notes v8.5 on the Mac, I've hacked the Gold release of Notes v8.5 so that you can add the Activities sidebar to your Notes v8.5 whether you are on Linux or Mac!!!

Once you download and install Notes v8.5 on your Mac, follow these instructions to add the Activities sidebar to it:

  1. Uninstall the previous hack if you had it installed. (File > Application > Application Management)
  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 (Note: New URL)
  7. Click Ok and then Finish
  8. Follow the remaining steps and restart Notes for the changes to go into effect

Note: You will see several categories listed. Make sure you select the category named: Notes 8.5 Gold.


Monday, January 5, 2009

How To Update Strings in the Homepage

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Happy 2009. Today's blog post is a quick tip on Lotus Connections. Later this week I have a big post coming so I don't want to take too much of your time today.

In Lotus Connections, there are several *.properties files which allow administrators to easily change field labels. For example, you can change "IP Phone Number" to "VoIP Telephone Number". This has become really valuable for a lot of customers because it lets them change the field labels to something their end-users (employees) are used to. This, in turn, helps drive adoption.

The Lotus Connections InfoCenter documents how to make changes to the field labels. However, for some reason the Homepage instructions were left out.

After digging around and asking Adrian Spender, I got the answer: