For all of you who did not like my captcha (and some marketing thoughts)

… would you please test the new one? Actually it isn’t a captcha and let’s see if that works.
I do wonder though, after how many installed and deinstalled plugins wordpress will finally be broken.

To make you life easier, I give you something to comment on. Last week, the power supply of my MBP started to make funny noises as if a firework display was imminent. It still loaded, but not very good. This morning I went shopping for a new one and realized, how – and don’t tell me you knew that already – silly I am. I was standing in this stupid Media Markt and was all exited to buy a new Apple Power Supply for my Mac Book Pro. I need professional help. I am exited because I bought a new POWER SUPPLY.
Listen up IBM.
Watch and learn from Apple.

The thing is, Apple cares about every single detail.

We can compare the technical features of Apple products endlessly, but one has to admit, they have an extremely good marketing. Every single product comes in a nice box, not some cheap carton. The corporate identity goes from A to Z. The shop displays are easy to recognise in every shop with Apple products. If I had bought a power supply for any other notebook, I would have searched all over the place and some sales person would probably have to go through drawers to find one. Not with Apple, you go there, you find the stuff and you have time watch other products (I looked at the new MBP … boy it’s fast and the display is amazing). Got it? The shopping experience is great, you want to come back. Compare that with IBMs software catalogue … if you ever find it again after the x-ieme change of the link.
It’s the attention to details, that makes Apple successful. Its software may not have all the bells and whistles of other products, but it works for 99% of the tasks, it is user friendly and it looks good.
I never had a lot of problems with Notes, but there are some annoying bugs (or features) that make the user experience on a Mac not always a pleasure. I would say, it is a lack of attention to details from IBM, to make Notes on Mac an even better experience, than on Windows and we don’t have to talk about the marketing part.
Dear IBM, if you want to be as successful with Notes as Apple, copy them. Apple just knows the human mind better. Think less about the features, think about ease of use, think less about technology, think about what the normal user actually needs. The social client could be a step in the right direction (don’t know exactly, I am still ignored by Jan Kennedy), but can IBM pull it off, that in the end we have an extremely stable and easy to use product, with more performance and less bugs, with the buttons in the right place?
Again, attention to details!
Call me a dreamer, but at least I do realise, that I am as susceptible to good marketing as anybody else out there and something silly as buying a new power supply makes my life better. Anybody knows a good AA (Apple Addicted) self help community?

The new XNotes … or something like that in 18 month. The sequel

Wow, the comments on my last post were, let’s say, interesting (at least I got some for once). Henning Heinz let out his frustration and I would say, he had some points there. In his first post he said, that XPages is my future, the old development model is dead and Notes could be just another web development technology. My answer to this is, yes you are right, but you missed the point I was trying to make (or I my way to make the point wasn’t clear enough).
I believe, there is nothing wrong with quick and dirty development as long as it helps somebody to be more productive and here the old model shines. With XPages you could probably do quick and dirty stuff, but that is not the purpose. With the flexibility and the incredible versatility comes a much higher complexity, which makes it almost impossible to master for the average part time programmer.
Are XPages just another web development platform? Sure they are. We always wanted something that did not reveal the backend, because we don’t want to be bothered by those I-hate-Domino-because-it’s-Domino guys anymore. Hence the X Work Server which serves exactly this purpose. Here you have the other side of the coin.
Now Tim Tripcony comes on stage. While he is rather annoyed by Henning, he apologises in the end, something not everybody would do ( and therefore he get’s a star in his carnet de devoirs). Now Tim claims the huge impact of the extension library on user and developer productivity. That is right, but nobody sees where this increased productivity comes from. For the user it is just another PHP/HTML/Java/JavaScript/.Net site, assuming those are the buzzwords he/she knows. We can be proud of cheating the user to believe that they have finally left that horrible (that’s irony) Notes behind and are on modern technology, but that does not help to change the common knowledge (irony again) that Notes is old, bad, ugly, expensive, a memory hog and dead anyway. I am guilty here, too, avoiding to say Lotus, Notes or Domino in any conversation that could remotely result in a new contract.
Back to Henning who spills out his frustration. He has seen IBM Partner being not loyal to IBM, but Henning, is IBM loyal to us? I had my share of frustrations in that departement, too. IBM openly claims the right to take away customers from you, if they want. That’s not very loyal. If BPs make more money in selling Exchange and Sharepoint, that’s the way to go. Nothing wrong with that model. The BP is not responsible for the stupidity feeling of the customer who want’s to go mainstream, even at the price of much higher administrative cost and lower productivity. You can’t help people who buy Microsoft Office, even if OpenOffice would fit their needs perfectly. Funny thing is they know it and do it anyway, because they fear the risk of being different. That has nothing to do with logic or stupidity, it’s only human.
I think the license cost isn’t a big problem and some people even think that something that does not cost anything, is not worth anything. If IBM had a absolute superb, easy to learn, easy to use, WYSIWYG development suite that could do anything from DB2, PHP, HTML, to XPages (and makes coffee and brings in the croissants in the morning), they could sell it for a premium price (like 5 bucks in the Apple store), but that isn’t the case. You are right Henning, out there are enough free tools that are very good and the user does not care what you are using, as long as it works, but making XPages free – which it is, at least for developers – wouldn’t change the game.
Now back to Tim. IBM responsive and they listen, yeah right. That might be true for you, working for GBS, but little Christian Tillmanns here in the from IBM long time forgotten Switzerland or Henning in Germany, where just about half of the IBM staff got THE LETTER, we do not make a very deep impact. Even though Ed once in a while honors my blog with a response (normally when I got something wrong, but I still feel like a teenager who touched the heels of Lady Gaga … OK middle aged women that got a glance from George Clooney), but I am not even on the radar for the Notes beta program. Oh, I did register and I get the code drop mails from Jan Kennedy, but I still do not have the permission to enter the site. Pretty hard on my health, that. I get the mail, get all excited, sweat drops from my feet, heart beat at 180 and then „Christian Tillmanns, you are not authorized to access ldd/beta/nd80xbetas.nsf/DateAllThreadedWeb/c8f41bfbd706d6f086257d280058b1a2.„, Ha Ha, Jan, my widow will sue you for emotional cruelty.
When there was still Lotus Foundations, I really tried to work together with IBM. Cutting a long story short, I met a whole lot of people in endless meetings, many of them probably groan today when the see my name somewhere for various reasons, but whenever I tried to get IBM to work with me (or any BP for the matter) to market LF with something outside the conventional co-marketing schema, I did run into a rubber wall. The whole thing was highly frustrating. In the end I went to meetings without being prepared with a why-am-I-doing-this feeling, because I wasn’t able to achieve anything. Tim, IBM might listen to you, because it is GBS, but not to me or Henning and seeing the frustration level in Hennings post, I would say, he cares about Notes, otherwise he would have moved on long time ago.
Henning, can IBM do miracles? Don’t know, but I hope though. The idea behind Connections is brilliant and if they can pull this of again with a new Notes, probably by leaving behind this annoying uphill battle against Outlook/Exchange by delivering out of the box more than just mail – in the eye of the user, WE know better – all the better. Otherwise I dont‘ know, but I might come up with a prediction once in a while with a good chance to be proven wrong later.

18 month to wait … What the heck is IBM working on?

In a recent post Ed said, that the next major release of Notes will come in about 18 month. That is a long time … a very long time, probably too long for many companies where „I-want-Outlook“ type of CIOs are on the helm. I do have faith in the hardcore Notes guys, but the decline in installations will continue, even though Notes is hot in some countries, even in Europe.
Just lately I had an example of the power of Notes. I had a stupid thing to do, a mailing. Which means checking addresses of old contacts, who is where, who is new, doing a serial letter (snail mail) and so on. A lot of manual work. I thought a Notes application (or is it database again?) would help me. Took me just a few hours (I am out of training) and I had a tool ready that is ugly, but does the trick. Others have asked to use it, too. It’s just a form (you never see), a view and some code. That reduces the time from a few minutes of work per address, to a few seconds. If that does not show the power of Notes, I don’t know what does (and no, before my political correct readers go into overdrive and need their blood pressure medication, it’s not a spam database, all nice and legal).
BUUUUUUUT. Who is allowed to write his/her own Notes application in a company today? Admins get dermatological problems (die kriegen Pickel) only thinking about it. Eyes twitch on the thought of massif overload on servers, because users actually use the stuff. CIOs fear the decline of their departments relevance if anybody could build tools that do not require a complete project and the evaluation of 10 different tools over several month.
And do not forget the security implications. Malicious code could come inside the precious corporate network and infest the ERP. Governments could be overthrown, volcanoes erupt, revolutions and anarchy everywhere. That must not happen. Therefore the only sensible solution to prevent such suspicious behavior, is doing what everybody does. Use ready to use tools that everybody else uses. Be as good as your competitor. Go mainstream (no joke, I have heard this from CIOs). Don’t allow any creative solutions of your employees which probably could make their life and work better, that’s not what we want, do we? We want them to suffer on earth, otherwise they end up in hell, as any christian fundamentalist will tell you. We do them a favor, actually. Looking at the app isn’t an option, because it would not reach any standard set by independent boards.
If you are seriously thinking about building tools that fits your way of work and makes you more productive, look for professional help. You are close to the loony bin and your teacher, who always said, that you will end up in the gutters, will be right. You may be allowed to write some formulas in Excel or even do a little macro, but not a inherently evil tool like Notes. It is a database after all. The summit of the IT universe. The pride of any administrator (just for those with a irony recognition disorder, that was irony, if not sarcasm).
But back to IBMs Ed. The new client could have a name with X in it. Oh my, not another one. That marketing departement should get more time outside the cubicle.
Citation X, X-Files, XServer, X Work Server, X Series, Generation X, Xtra, Xing, X Tools, Sikorsky X2, Eurocopter X3 and any adult site out there. Does it have to be X again? I would think about it. You have 18 month. But desbite of the name, I eXpect something great … and a public beta like „Hannover“. 18 month should be plenty of time for something that brings tears to my eyes and lets me dribble over my keyboard.
Yes, I know, I said about 6 month ago, that if there isn’t something new at LotuSphere, I think about moving on. I did actually. I looked at other products but could not find anything that gives me the flexibility and the ease of changing it to my needs other than Notes. I even dug out an old Notes CRM (sort of) I wrote not so long time ago for an architect and a medical company and use it for me again (I am thinking about giving it to OpenNTF), replacing a much too big tool from another vendor. That’s what it is all about. Using tools, changing it to my needs without a lot of hassle, using Mac, Windows or Linux. Another reason is certainly that I know Notes better than anything else, but still, the flexibility argument stays valid. Looks like I stay with Notes for the time being. So much for intentions (and idle threats).

I am back!

OK, this blog was hacked. I have reinstalled it. End of Story.
It looks different, because I use the standard template, which I like actually.
I tried a few other things, but in the end I stayed with wordpress. Let’s see how long it works.