Lt Gorman, you need this software!

How can I be grumpy at a tech conference? Well, it’s not one of my familiar conferences. That one’s next week, but I’m not going. We’re moving off of Notes, though a part of me continues to bleed yellow. So, I’ve been stomping around, feeling a little grumpy about having to give up my familiar technology and attending conferences with my friends.

The best thing about technology conference is… technology! So, I saw a session with the relatively boring title of “Real Time Data Analytics to the Edge”. OK, I admit, tossing in the word “Analytics” is what caught my eye, because it’s a buzzword. When I look at horse racing, I dive deeply into the data and use analytics to help me understand the possible outcomes and their likelihood. The description sold it a bit better:

Speed of command and safety is a top priority for governments. Delivering on the intelligent edge is made possible by Microsoft Azure. The “edge” is where the operational action lives and is ever present at the very skin of an organization. It’s the convergence of compute, connectivity, and cloud. The intelligent edge is about enabling operations, collaboration, and IoT sensor fusion amongst responders and far forward commanders yet leverages centralized services to augment decision making where the decision space is measured in minutes and in worst case scenarios, seconds. Blueforce Development and Dejero will show how sensor fusion, cognitive services, and mobile connectivity put the power of actionable intelligence in the hands of the frontline users, powered by Microsoft Azure, in real-time.

This still doesn’t convey the coolness of the technology involved.

Go back with me, if you will, to Aliens and sit down with Lieutenant Gorman, commanding his squad of Colonial Marines. Each of your Marines is wearing cameras and sensors to feed back information to their commander. Unfortunately, there’s too much data for him to handle and his lack of experience contributes to his failure. Nonetheless, what cool tech! He can see what any of his Marines can see. He can monitor all of their vitals. He should even be able to pick up movement around them from the sensors.

What BlueForce does is take all that data and make it manageable. I remember taking a course in management way back in the day and among the best ideas was “management by exception”. I use this all the time in software development – I want the system to only notify me when something’s broken. I also like to get occasional messages that just remind me that the system is running (since it might not be able to send a notice if a whole lot is broken!) BlueForce lets the user, in this case our neophyte Lieutenant, take the feeds he wants and arrange them the way he wants to know what’s going on.

In the “It’s a small world” category, the CEO of BlueForce Development is Michael Helfrich, who was Director of Product Development for Knowledge Management at Lotus. So, we were able to share stories about Raven, which I was never able to get any of my customers to buy, since no one could afford $100,000 in 1999!

Among the feeds was the Virtual Surveillance Partner (VSP) by 6-Watch. It uses a combination of Lidar and video to perform threat detection (helping sort out what’s important and what’s not) and provide audio cues about those threats. There are far more applications to this set of tools than just providing our Colonial Marine Lieutenant with real-time threat assessment and asset management, but I suspect anyone reading this is going to hop onto their website to see more about it. (Think “law enforcement” and “forensic evidence”.)

So, the good Lieutenant would have been able to put his VSP up on the screen, select which video feeds matter, perhaps enabling alerts for various vital stats feeds from his Marines and figure out how best to command the situation. After all, he had 38 drops (simulated) to practice it.


The command center screens that Lt Gorman would be able to drag-and-drop to configure his feeds to best command those Colonial Marines

It’s some pretty cool stuff and the President of 6-Watch, Eric Gahagan, took some time to chat with me as I was looking at their system in action on the conference floor. Eric spent a long time with the Massachusetts State Police, so the implementation of their products is near and dear to his heart.


The Lidar for 6-Watch is atop that tripod. The crate below is just for packing it up for shipping. So, it’s somewhat portable – a Special Forces team could easily mount it on a vehicle.

As much as I struggle with being an “outgoing introvert”, meeting the people who are behind the technologies and making connections has always been the great benefit of going to tech conferences. I can’t say that I’ll ever personally have a use for the technology, but it’s pretty cool.

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Get excited about learning all over again! #IBMThink #IBMChampion

Do you remember when learning was exciting? If it isn’t anymore, you need to start listening to John Jardin. He’s got a session coming up at IBM Think and the excitement explodes from his blog. If you haven’t registered yet, DO IT NOW!

See you in Las Vegas, March 19-22.

Read about John’s session —

p.s. Ask me for a discount code!

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Proud to be an #IBMChampion

In one of the many jobs that I held, I remember someone telling me that they weren’t sharing knowledge of something because being the only person who knew that gave them job security. I’ve always felt that was foolish. If you’re the only person who knows something, you get stuck doing that same stupid, repetitive task whenever it needs doing. I can think of nothing more boring for a developer than hoarding knowledge. I don’t ever want to have to do the same thing twice – unless doing it the second time is showing someone else how to do it or demonstrating the way things “used to get done” before I automated the task.

So, it’s no surprise that I’ve always wanted to share whatever knowledge I’ve acquired. Sometimes, the knowledge I’ve got to share is so esoteric that people’s eyes glaze over and they ask me to stop talking. (Like the time I was about to talk for 30 minutes about Miljenko Grgich’s life story and how that related to the wine I’d poured, when my best man, Stu Shelton intervened…) Fortunately, in the IBM ICS community, among committed “Lotus” Notes professionals, any short or long blog post, knowledge sharing session or roundtables veritably demands the sharing of esoterica.

Now, here’s the thing. It’s not only encouraged – it is REWARDED.

I really wasn’t good at sharing outside my own work groups until about 2013. I was at Lotusphere (whatever it was called that year) and Marky Roden saw me singing karaoke. As horrid a singer as I am, I believe his thinking had to be ‘anyone who can risk that kind of humiliation can be a conference speaker’. He’d seen me answering questions on Stack Overflow (I’d gotten over a few hundred reputation points and he was shocked that he didn’t know who I was – no one did!) So, he told me I needed to become a speaker.

I’ve worked on that, but not made the breakthrough to the big time. I’ve blogged over the years, helped out with the DC Lotus Users Group (presented once!), participated in more IBM calls/sessions and gotten very involved in MWLUG. I even was on a panel at Connect 2017, talking to executives about technology trends. Then, when Richard Moy asked, I jumped at the chance to be the local host for MWLUG 2017, here in Alexandria, VA.

Nonetheless, I still have felt like I wasn’t doing all that much. I was living with The Imposter Syndrome. So, when time for IBM Champion nominations came round, I would nominate a few people and then cringe at the idea of nominating myself. I’d been nominated by others, but couldn’t get myself to fill out the paperwork. Howard Greenberg was the first to push me toward this. In 2016, Kathy Brown nominated me and pushed me to nominate myself. I wilted when looking at the paperwork, even though it was something I really wanted.

This year, I finally filled out the paperwork, to go with nominations from a few community members and, to my shock, I didn’t need to write a “it was an honor to be nominated” speech while talking about the great stable of Champions out there. I’m swollen with pride. I was named an IBM Champion.

I’ll get some swag. I’ll get a chance to participate more fully in our community. I’ll have a chance for some recognition at the various conferences. I’m excited about it and vowing to put even more effort into our community.

I want to thank everyone who has encouraged me along the way and those who played a particular role in this process. I hope that I can be your humble and obedient servant, sharing knowledge and helping build our community.

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Breweries and tap rooms for #MWLUG

OK, so we’ve discussed restaurants nearby, but MWLUG includes so many beer lovers that I know some of you will be eager to venture further afield for interesting beer. None of these are in walking distance.

What we already know

In Friday’s post, I mentioned the Cap City Brewing Company in Shirlington as a viable dinner option in the midst of a good restaurant scene. Shirlington is either a short Uber/Lyft ride from the hotel or just across the footbridge out the back of Wednesday night’s brewery tour at New District Brewing.

Where everyone knows your name

OK, at Fat City Kitchen, they won’t already know YOUR name, but they know mine. There are a dozen taps, mostly microbrews (the others are Guiness and Yuengling, IIRC) and probably 80 other beers by the bottle or can. Matt can mix anything you can think of (I go for the ‘City 75’, which is similar to the French 75, while Melissa digs the Grapefruit Collins), Farrah and the rest of the staff keep you smiling with full glasses. The food is excellent and we love about half a mile from it.

Where I can get some beers to bring to the hotel

Our favorite wine shop, Unwined, is just across the highway off King Street. Besides the excellent wine selection, they have a large selection of beers, including a growler filling station. Yes, bring your own growler in and fill it up, or buy a growler there. According to the link , they’ve got a saison and 3 IPAs on tap right now. Another place where mentioning that you know Dave and Melissa will make them smile!

Where else could we have gone for a brewery tour

Another place that’s near my house (stumbling distance?) is Port City Brewing Company. Way back in the day, Alexandria was actually nicknamed “the Port City” because so much trade came in over it’s docks. Then the 19th century started…. The brewery was named Small Brewery of the Year in 2015, so likely worthy of a pilgrimage. I love their Porter, though it’s not exactly an August beer. The tap list is less heavily weighted towards IPAs than it was a few years ago, but they’ve got 11 beers on it.

Arlington, please!

Some of the fellows that I’ve played softball and baseball with are into beer as much as I’m into wine. They had a happy hour at Crafthouse over in Arlington and the draft beer selection was very nice.

Maybe not yet

Earlier this year, Portner Brewhouse opened about a mile from our house. We went during the ‘soft opening’ and loved the food. The brewery inside seems to have been a gimmick or something that they thought “couldn’t be that hard”. Sitting next to a fellow who sells brewing equipment, he let us know that what he could see wasn’t the top grade equipment. No, that’s too polite. He said that he thought they did it on the cheap. He heartily recommended New District, so we’re on the right path for Wednesday night.

Final thoughts

Of course, there are other options further afield, but I generally haven’t been there, so wouldn’t have useful input. The best beer spot in the DC area closed recently. The Brickskellar in Dupont Circle had hundreds of beers on their menu and they even had live music on the weekends. Feel free to questions about certain parts of town, as I’ve been here for 27 years and used to go everywhere in Arlington, Alexandria and DC.

I’ll be out of town before MWLUG, returning on Monday night. If you’re interested in some assistance with getting beer and wine from Unwined or beer from Port City (they do have Sixtels, which are only 41 pints), I may be able to help. Otherwise, or for evening adventures, getting to any of these should be easy via Uber, Lyft, or some other conveyance.

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So where can I go for dinner near #MWLUG?

For MWLUG 2017, we’re in my lovely city of Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. Some folks will come early, some will stay late, some will choose to dine out while they’re here. So, I wanted to offer some mild advice to make your search for a good meal easier.

Man, I want it to be close

Well, the easiest is right in the hotel. I’ve heard good things about Finn & Porter, but I’ve not eaten there. I’m sure everyone will stop in for a drink, so while you consider your options elsewhere, check the menu. Remember to tip your bartenders and waitresses well! The next closest is one I’ve been to very often. Well, a few times a year. Clyde’s is on the way home from my mother-in-law’s house, so we have stopped for a drink on the way home occasionally. The food is outstanding. If you like oysters, they always have a good list. There are good wines available and the bartenders mix up some fine cocktails. You can walk to and from Clyde’s (0.4 miles).

I really wish I hadn’t left home

Yes, there is a TGI Friday’s and I have heard they do wear the appropriate amount of flair. It’s a mile, so you could walk.

Beer, beer and more beer

I really like Cap City Brewing in Shirlington. Get yourself some pretzels and enjoy a few cold ones. Cap City opened early on in the micro-brew era, so it may not be ‘different’ enough if that’s important to you. On the other hand, longevity does indicate a certain level of quality. Take an Uber over to Shirlington, or wander over after our time at New District Brewing. (Half a mile from New District, 10 minute drive from the hotel to Shirlington).

I want to open a cheese shop

Nearby in Shirlington, Cheesetique started as a cheese shop that had some wines and snacks. Then, they morphed into a cheese and wine shop where you could have a meal. Now, it is really a good restaurant with amazing cheese and pretty good wine.

Everything seems to be headed to Shirlington, but I want something different

If you’re seeking something other than beer and wine as the draw, Shirlington has many restaurants these days. Busboys & Poets will always fill you up with delicious comfort food and also has some literature or might even have a poetry reading. Carlyle is an old standby – a little pricey for me. We’ve loved eating at every location of Cafe Pizzaiolo, including the one that they had right in our neighborhood for a few years. Guapo’s is great for Mexican food. There are a bunch of other restaurants, so it’s a good area to choose — keeping in mind it is just a half mile from Wednesday night’s brewery.

It has to be French, bien sur!

Two choices if time, distance and money aren’t real priorities: Le Diplomate in DC or La Cote d’Or in Falls Church. Great for me, because the wine lists are very good (longer and more expensive downtown, shorter and more reasonable in Fall Church) and the food is unbeatable.

Other ideas

You could head to Crystal City or Pentagon Row, which are near the Crystal City and Pentagon Row metro stops. Another good choice is the Clarendon areas in Arlington, which is very walkable once you’re there. Old Town Alexandria has dozens of restaurants and true nightlife.

Hope these ideas help!

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An apparent theme: application agnosticism

As always, I’m enjoying learning new things and seeing old friends (and some new ones!) at MWLUG. There have been sessions that talked about accessing and displaying data from within Notes without using Notes or XPages and sessions about accessing non-Notes data using XPages. Much of the excitement is about having data exposed via a REST service and using a good front end tool to display it. So, in some senses, we are talking about not needing Notes at all.

Earlier this summer, our company’s Vice President of the Office of Information Management and Technology announced that we’re actually moving away from the Notes client for mail. While I knew that this was a possibility, I’d thought we were still just looking at allowing folks to choose other mail applications to access their mail. Of course, allowing multiple mail applications either tosses some of your users to the wolves of ‘no support’ or complicates things immeasurably for support. So, it does make sense and was not particularly unexpected. Nonetheless, it still surprised me.

The core of our Notes use has always applications anyway. Our business relies on a lot of people working disconnected and, as such, the Notes replication model has been key to our need for Notes. So, we’ll be keeping the Notes client on machines for all those people who work disconnected, but much of our access had already moved to the browser. So, in a sense the work I do was moving in this direction as well.

So, the agnosticism is where we’re all going, it seems. I guess the mantra remains — use the best tool for the job.

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Sessions for #MWLUG2016

Looking over the announced sessions for MWLUG 2016 down in Austin, I’m excited. There’s a good mix of things you can use today and road maps you can apply in the future. I’m a developer, so all the Development and Best Practices sessions look interesting. The tough part will be picking which ones to attend (and record!)

Five sessions that jumped off the page at me are, in no particular order:

Debugging Java In Your Domino Applications with Julian Robichaux — Java just kills me sometimes. Heck, all of XPages does, but learning more about how to debug and troubleshoot is always useful.

Extreme Development: Pair Programming with Devin Olson and Mike McGarel — Now that Elvis Lezcano is aboard at DAI, we might have a chance to do some of this. He’s the smartest developer I’ve worked with, which I why this is the third job we’ve had together.

Think Outside The Box with Karl-Henry Martinsson — We’ve just been breaking into using REST services with jQuery and Bootstrap to present data, so getting someone else’s take on it will expand my ability to combine data from multiple databases to dazzle our users. (see Kathy’s session on dashboards for ideas she’s using for us)

Getting Your Hands on Graphs with Nathan Freeman — I have loved all the conceptual sessions and want to learn more. If Nathan can get me to understand, there’s no telling how far we can go!

A Modernized Developer’s Workflow with Domino/XPages with Eric McCormick — Workflow has always been a great strength of Notes, so getting modernized by someone who’s not spouting theory, but displaying methods in practice is exciting.

Now, before anyone complains about me not mentioning their sessions…. I’d like to sit in on about… 27 sessions. Since Marky has made no progress on the time machine and IBM doesn’t have anyone working replication of people instead of just data and design, I think I only get about a dozen sessions.

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Austin, Texas hosts #MWLUG2016 in August

While the definition of “Midwest” may be getting broader, there is no denying the huge value of the largest Notes user conference in the US, MWLUG. This year, we venture to Texas, holding our conference in one of the premier hotels in Austin, while keeping lodging affordable.

We are please to officially announce that MWLUG 2016 will be held on August 17-19, 2016 at the Four Seasons in Austin, Texas. We have secured a special rate for this premier ICS conference. With all the new innovations that IBM and IBM Business Partners are creating with our favorite technologies, we are “Defining the Art of Collaboration” which is our theme for MWLUG 2016.

We are expecting an even greater turnout this year at MWLUG 2016. We are planning many activities and new formats to make this a special event. For attendees that are interesting in coming earlier, we are also working on a special event on Tuesday, August 16, 2016. We will need to determine if there is enough interest before we book this event. More information will be coming soon.

The Four Seasons location in downtown Austin is rated as one of the best hotels in the United States. We have made special arrangements with the Four Seasons for a special discount of $189.00/night for attendees of MWLUG 2016.

If you are interested in being a sponsor of MWLUG 2016, sponsorship will start next week. Stay tuned for announcements.

Ready to share your knowledge and skills, abstract submission for MWLUG 2016 will start on April 15, 2016 so get your ideas ready. As always, we reserve 25% of the speaking slots to new speakers. So don’t be shy.

Registration for MWLUG 2016 will start on May 1, 2016.

MWLUG 2016 session tracks include:

  • Application Development
  • Best Practices in Social Collaboration
  • Customer Business Cases
  • Innovation
  • System Administration

MWLUG 2016 is made possible by the generous MWLUG 2016 sponsors whom not only pay for the majority of the cost for MWLUG 2016, but also donate their time in organizing and providing technical sessions on critical topics that are important to our ICS community.

  • Close to 50 business and technical sessions
  • Breakfast and Lunch for Thursday and Friday
  • Wednesday Evening Showcase Reception that include drinks and hors d’oeuvres
  • Thursday Evening Social Event
  • Networking with your colleagues in the ICS community
  • And a whole lot more

While I will again be videotaping the session I attend (like my videos from MWLUG 2014 and MWLUG 2015) but it’s nothing like seeing it in person. Your session choices might be different from mine and there’s really no substitute for seeing it in person. Additionally, all of us also end up learning from each other in between sessions, over meals and in the evenings. You get to make connections that will be useful when you hit a roadblock or…. when you’re looking for a new job or trying to find a new employee. Since the cost of the conference itself is nominal and lodging is reasonable, I can’t see a reason you wouldn’t attend.

Note that session proposals can be pitched starting April 15th!

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Pause to breathe: a note from Lotusphere ’16

I have to be honest. I never knew that I was an introvert. I was always puzzled by the times in my life when I was afraid of people or just wanted to go somewhere quiet. I love reading and my ‘alone time’ reading has always given me that … space. On the other hand, I was in the drama club and on the debate team in high school. I even ran, very unsuccessfully, for student government. So, it was not until I was giving Kathy Brown a ride back to the airport from our offices (PSC is doing some work for us), that I learned about ‘outgoing introverts’. From what I understand, being an extrovert or an introvert is all about whether you gain or lose energy by interacting with others. So, while those of us who are outgoing introverts enjoy interacting with others, it can be draining. Someone who is an extrovert would be gaining energy through the interaction, but not me. I enjoy it, but it does wear me out.

Because we had lunch with James Weru, Clive Lightfoot and Roman Weber, I’ll have a post about their case story that they shared during the Opening General Session. It hits so close to what our company does, working toward the same purposes that I simply had to meet them and learn more.

So, having just spent a few hours being very social at lunch and between sessions, I just needed a quiet break. Just as I need to recharge my laptop and my phone right now, I need to recharge my personal energy banks. It’s easy to forget when attending conferences, that in order to ensure you get the most out of it – knowledge, contacts, tools and relaxation – you have to take care of yourself.

It’s been an incredible conference so far. Having stopped to write this, I feel ready to go back to shaking hands and telling stories.

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Videotapes of #MWLUG2015

The whirlwind of MWLUG has passed for 2015. It was an outstanding conference, giving me an opportunity to explore a lot of new technologies, to learn some new techniques and to spend time with the peers that I usually only encounter online. I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, the greatest benefit of these conferences is sharing ideas and discussing issues outside the sessions. While you can get a good exposure to the information watching the videos, it’s never as much as you get from everyone being there. Additionally, my video list is subject to my own tastes. As such, it leans heavily toward development. I won’t apologize for that, but encourage anyone else who wants to start videotaping the administration sessions to do so.

I took my trusty video camera along, remembering to pack my best tripod this time. I’m not sure it’s so evident with the 2014 videos, but I’m not a good self-leveling cameraman. My Sunpak 70″ Ultra 7000TM Tripod has two bubble-levels and rises above the crowd, even when they’re standing. This is most helpful when I’m at the back of a big room and people need to walk in front of the camera. It probably also helps a little in assuring a better angle for the footage – nothing worse than staring up at the speaker. My Canon DM-50 Directional Stereo Microphone might actually be the coolest piece of equipment in the bundle (the Canon HG10 AVCHD video camera is old, but not cheap) and having found the back cover, it worked like a champ in Atlanta. The vaulted ceilings in Grand Rapids last year may have hindered the quality of the sound, but missing the cover couldn’t have helped. I might look at adding wireless microphones or getting some lights, since I know I can improve the image and sound quality further, though I be better served by buying some books and getting a steadier hand! Checking a few videos, I know I need more attention to lighting for certain, if not actual lights of my own.

The important thing today is to share our whole suite of videos from the conference. You could jump right to the entire MWLUG playlist, which includes some sessions from 2014, or use the chronological list here:

Wednesday sessions

CS101: Entrepreneurs Roundtable – What “They” Never Tell You About Owning a Business panel moderated by Lisa Duke
BP103: Let the Phoenix Rise: Rationalise your IBM Domino environment by Arshad Khalid and Stephanie Heit
AD108: Move Your XPages to the Fast Lane by Howard Greenberg

Opening General Session
“Everything Starts From A Dot”: The Elements and Principles of Design as the Visual Link to Innovation by Katherine Rhodes Fields
Establishing a New Culture of Design by Adam Cutler
IBM ESS Strategy Roadmap and Radar: A New Way to Work by Kramer Reeves and Peter Janzen

Thursday sessions

AD109: Navigating the Jungle of Modern Web Development by Shean McManus
The Greater Good of Social Collaboration by Louis Richardson
AD101: App.Next: The Future of Domino Application Development by Pete Janzen
AD107: Maven: An Exhortation and Apology by Jesse Gallagher
IV102: Graphs in Action by Nathan T Freeman

Friday sessions

AD117: Web Sockets – “Pushing” the web forward by Mark Roden
AD106: Just a View: An Introduction To Model-View-Controller Pattern by Ulrich Krause
AD114:Take Your XPages Development to the Next Level by Brad Balassaitis and Paul Calhoun
AD112: Real World Experience: Integrating DB2 with XPages by Steve Zavocki and Dwain Wuerfel
AD101: Design Matters by Keith Strickland and Bob Kadrie

All 16 videos published within a week. Last Wednesday at this time, Howard was wrapping up his session so that we could head down to the Exhibitors’ Showcase Reception. While all of these have gone out on twitter, there will be more postings and linkings to come. I think most of the slide decks are on people’s sites and some them have linked directly to the videos already. So, almost all of the 2015 work is done.

Spoke to my boss about MWLUG 2016 in Austin and she’s all in favor of it. Looking forward to seeing 250 of you there and many more of you in Orlando at the end of January. Now, if I can just get some work done on a session for Connect by the end of next week, I’ll be golden!

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