I hope I don’t have to see THAT again. Adobe Reader messes up my Mac big time.

I would almost go as far to call Adobe Reader XI „Crap Ware“. And I am not even alone. What are they thinking.

Here is the scenario:
Yesterday I had to fill out a pdf form. Unfortunately the Apple preview app can’t do that. Hey, no problem, I am just going to install the latest Adobe Reader and off we go. That worked for the form … apart from the sending by email button with Notes … and I got it done eventually. But I should have taken the problem with Notes and sending the email as a hint. When I clicked on the icon, Notes would not come in front. Other things started to behave awkward, too. In the afternoon my Mac was blocked on the screen safer. I had to kill it. Can you imagine? A Mac completely blocked? (just kidding)
It was slow before and I thought, give it a bit of time and it will sort things out eventually. Not so, it looks like it filled up in the background with tasks, until it slowed to a crawl. Not nice. This morning, Time Machine informed me, that it could not back up. The volume was already in use. Sorry, what? Restart Mac, restart Airport Extreme … nothing! Notes still behaved funny and since Adobe Reader was the last thing I changed, it was the first thing to go. Oh wonder, now the backup works again, Notes is back to its old beauty.
Normally I want two proofs for conviction (I probably could find one in the log), but this time I will make an exception. That thing will not come to my trusty old MacBook Pro again.

RIP Jens

One of the best developers I know isn’t anymore.
He introduced me to OO programming with Lotus Script.
I found solutions were I ran into walls (and I found some for him).
We installed Workplace together and that was a long day.We build the first server chalet ever.

Rest in peace Jens.
My thoughts are with the family.

Christian Tillmanns

I need feedback! Do you know how to explain social business?

I don’t. Whenever I am asked, what Connections is made for, I get in to trouble. I know what it does and I know pretty much how I can use it, but explaining that, is rather difficult. Lot’s of „imagine“, „well“, „ah“ will be included the next 15 minutes of a roller coaster ride around the different elements of Connections, with a bit of Notes thrown in … you can see I make a complete mess of it. While the mess get’s bigger I am still talking, desperately trying to get less messy, with the obvious result. I just have bored the listener to death. Interestingly it looks that others have the same problem. Nobody I have met was able to explain it to me in a simple way.
Whenever I explain something with success, I paint a mental picture.
Having recently read the book of Kelly Johnson, somebody you all know, I am sure, I think I can now explain, what social business software does to people.

Apart from being one of the best aircraft designer of all time, Kelly Johnson was also a genius in organisation and project management (he wouldn’t have made a mess of the Obamacare website). Fortunately he had an employer, Lockheed, who saw this and let him have his way.
Now that picture:
Lockheed Skunk Works was known for its ability to get extremely complex airplanes in the air within time and budget. Many times even below budget and well before deadline. Something many project managers are struggling with. How did they do it? First, they were all in one building. Every engineer was working as close as possible to the project he was assigned to. Which means, that they had their plotting boards literally below the wing of the airplane they were working on. Everybody was working so close together, that a formal hierarchy was something on paper, but not lived. The informal hierarchy was much more important. Decisions were often taken right on the spot, not in endless meetings, and with input from everybody. Kelly Johnson himself wanted almost absolute control about the project and would only report to the top management.
Kelly Johnson also treated his employees in that way. If you worked for him, you got the absolute control about your part of the project, but if you disappointed him, somebody else would take your job. But not in a sense of hire and fire, and that is in response to what I have discussed with Grant Osborne on Palmi Lord’s blog. Kelly was well aware, that Lockheed owned its employees some sort of job security. Just as a side note.
In aviation paperwork is important. Everything has to be documented. The 747 probably can’t carry its own documentation. Kelly Johnson wanted only the absolute minimum and no redundancy, but thoroughly. He never accepted a standard report longer than 20 pages. Everything that already had been reported or somehow written down, was referenced, but not copied.
Kelly Johnson cut down the time for the whole project by encouraging collaboration and communication, eliminating endless meetings and useless reporting and paperwork being sent around.
Now isn’t that exactly what social software does? By pulling down formal hierarchy and encouraging people to bring in their own ideas? Cutting down lost time in endless meetings by using ad hoc web meetings and discussion portals? Replacing endless one-to-many reporting done by eMail by a self-serving documentation in one place that is always up to date? Finding expertise everywhere, even on the shop floor? Getting people engaged in project, which also means, that they feel more responsibility.
All that in a fashion that makes access easy and less time-consuming.
Social Business Software encourages many of Kelly’s 14 management rules, which still are true today, although a bit modified if you don’t work with the Government or in aviation.
What do you think, is that a picture that works?

Another one of my silly ideas …

Yes, yes, we have chewn through that several times. I just have to get it out of my head, otherwise it will bother me for days. Now bear with me, if you are interested, otherwise you may like this. Right now we (here I mean partners and customers, IBM must know more than we do) face some problems, we think are important to us. Notes customers are fading away, as are partners and capable developers and admins. The yellow bubble is leaking somewhere. Nothing new.
Palmi Lord came up with the idea of free Notes and SmartCloud for schools. He isn’t the first, but this made me think it over. Is this „free stuff from IBM for everybody“ really a good idea?

I understand Mr. Lords idea of having more young people use Notes and SmartCloud. I had Notes at my university and apart from me, nobody cared what they used, as long as the thing could send mail. I was the only one to use document db’s to communicate with other students (now they had to use it, too). Nobody else ever tried to explore it. My personal experience is, that this strategy to get young people on it, fails, too. Which is sad, because it looks so simple and logic. Even if you add SmartCloud, where Notes Social Edition really begins to make sense, you absolutely have to do training. If you just throw it at them, it will not be adopted. And we haven’t even talked about the teachers.
Then there comes the time, were the kids leave school and start working. They will not have the authority from the start, to ask for SmartCloud. If they do, some lower management with years of experience, will point out, that they have a formidable IT system, that just fits their needs and that the folder structure has been refined over the years, not to loose too many documents. The mail system is common industrial standard (everybody else he knows uses it, too) and sending everything around with huge groups in the cc: field, keeps everybody informed. Using a word processor to compose documents that are sent as attachments to other users, just looks nicer and eases the archiving and having it redundant x-times, is some natural form of backup.
After a few years our kid believes all that, too and is happy to get the next industrial standard web application, that mimics the folder structure perfectly but looks much fancier. Until then Kid has forgotten everything it ever learned in school. Outside the school Kid is involved in several communities and does all that social stuff. But Kid does not make the connection, because, as somebody else pointed out, Connections is NOT Facebook for Enterprise.

By the way, giving away software is cheap, running it for free is rather expensive. And we didn’t even talk about all the special wishes that come up suddenly, which should certainly delivered for free, too.

Let me recap some other events of the last five years were we thought many times about a free edition of an IBM product. Lotus Foundations is a school book example for failing. My short list for the reasons it failed and other solutions (ClearOS and so on) do not, despite an IBM in the back are the following:

  1. Lack of funding for marketing
  2. Lack of a community (free) edition
  3. Lack of understanding the Geeks/SMB/Micro Companies/Student Groups/“about-anything-outside-enterprise“ market.

Oh, the hours I endured in meetings with IBMers, trying to explain, that you need make people know about the product, otherwise it will fail (damn, how I hate to be right sometimes). I even got personally humiliated by some M. from IBM UK, while everybody else agreed with me (they told me afterwards). Thing of the past, I eventually will get over it and throw away that voodoo doll of M. lying on my shelf, crushed by a small anvil.
Now, what if we really got a Notes Community edition? What should be given away, that does not punch another whole in the bubble?
Not Domino, that’s for sure, but if you got several POP/IMAP mail accounts just having Notes is a really lousy solution.
Now how about NOTHING? I mean the bare Eclipse Client with the Notes part without anything else. Not even an address book. Instead establishing a kinda code exchange. Hey, we have that already, it’s called OpenNTF. The Developer Client is kinda free, too. How about adding an easy to use application management? Oh, we have that, too. Now we are set. Probably someone should start to build a good looking mail client with the option for several accounts.

That base client didn’t even have to be called Notes. Call it Papa Smurfs NonSQL Collaboration Stack (PSNCS: typical IBM acronym, what you think?).

And now the news. It will fail. Miserably!

  1. Geeks/SMB/Micro Companies/Student Groups/“about anything outside enterprise“ and IBM do not understand each other. They talk different languages.
  2. There isn’t a community of geeks. Sure there is the yellow bubble, but we are pros and not after hours geeks (Well, some of us are). So who should use the free edtion?
  3. Lack of funding for making the darn thing known to enough people to get it started.

See? Why bother? We can really set this idea aside, even if it worked to a certain extent in Germany with Notes 5.
IBM (or rather the amazingly stupid group of owners: ASGOO. I know that 434’245 IBMer are capable and nice people) doesn’t even play the good citizen card, pointing out to the general public, what great products they have done, which are free and used everywhere. Postfix anybody? Apache? Eclipse? See!
As long as ASGOO does not agree to change the strategy of IBM, it just will not work.

PS: Why didn’t I responded on Mr. Lords blog? I did, but the subject was different and sometimes it takes days for me to get a text together. Can’t have that in a response form, can we.