Less is more – more or less

Recently I have been involved in something that has occupied my mind in calm moments; living with less. Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking for an ascetic lifestyle like what is becoming en vogue right now with just 100 things or tiny houses. Just a lot less than what I have now, which I feel becomes more of a burden than joy. So, when I had the chance to help a friend standing around at a design exposition near Zürich, promoting a mini house, I jumped to it. And men did we make an impact in three days.

That is a whole house. 25 square meters and everything a single person (or two) needs. How we happened to end up building a house in a old industrial building is a long story, I will tell you another time.

We did not know, what would happen on this first day but let me tell you, I did rarely sit or shut up during the 9 hours the exposition was open on the first day.
People were streaming in and out and we had some very interesting discussion. Some awkward ones, too, with Tiny-House fans, who did not or did not want to understand the concept behind this, because it is not a solution for the cash strapped or cheapskate. It is not luxurious either. It’s something for people who want to live with less without compromising. The best description I heard for this is:

„It is better to have a few precious things, than many mediocre.“

And I think we hit a nerve. People commented on the building quality, which is first class, the materials, the colours used, the feeling of space and like that it went the whole time.
We are not the first with a mini house, but after quite a bit of research, this is by far the best I have seen. Simply because the design is … well … simple. But how to make things look simple without looking boring or stupid, is a sign of great design. Other mini houses I have seen are much more cluttered. Trying to cramp as many things as possible in the tiniest possible space. In the process loosing space. This concept is different. Almost the whole back wall is storage space and kitchen. There is a bath with a very big shower and a wardrobe on the other side of the single wall. That’s it. It works. Brilliantly.
And that is only the smallest concept. There are in total 10 concept houses in different sizes up to 95 square meters that can be build by this team of master craftsmen in the blink of an eye. And you are not limited by anything. You want another roof or building regulations are too strict? These houses are easily adaptable. Having seen, what modern wood building technique can do (you can have bricks, if you prefer), the house made of fix modules is a thing of the past. But you should let yourselves be guided by the basic concept and change just details. Otherwise you end up with something you actually wanted to avoid. Another too big house.

HCL World Premiere Live from Tokyo

First things first, how cool is Domino Volt. Too bad it is an extra license. Well, it will depend on the price, if it will have an impact. I would have thought, since HCL wants to win the citizen developer back, they would not make him pay extra. We will see how it works out. I personally do not have a lot of hope, that this citizen developer comes back. My (very limited) impression is, that most have already problems using a spread sheet correctly, but Volt would be right beyond the scope of most people. I may be wrong, no, I hope I am wrong because I think that thing is mighty cool. I really would like to know, if it is possible to create your own components.

Connections I did not get. Probably because I have not seen Connections for a while now, but the demo was somewhat strange and much too fast, as was the one for Domino Volt. On the other hand, it looks like that they did a huge step forward in terms of usability and flexibility. But I still don’t like WebSphere.

Now the things that made me blink. The quality of the video and sound was awful. Like in the early days of internet with ISDN modems. I tried browser and app on an iPad. Same very bad experience. Except the app was quite a bit ahead of Firefox.
Well, they said it was live, but all that could have been recorded before. Having watched part of the recording in a much better quality again, it probably was live. It sounded there where about 20 people at the live event somewhere in a Japanese shed and after 30 minutes that was it. 90 Minutes had been blocked by the calendar entry. Frankly, I looked at the blank screen for a minute or so and waited for an encore and others apparently had the same feelings. Somebody asked if that was it and the answer was „yes“. Did I miss anything?

All in all, cool products, strange presentation.

Apple TV+ – I like the content

A lot of things have been written about Apple TV+, positive and negative. I have used it from day one and I quite like the Apple Originals. Really. On the other hand, the app has potential. Or to be honest: The app is crap. But let’s first look at the bright side. I have watched The Morning Show, See, and For all Mankind and like all of them. I was never a fan of Jennifer Aniston (and neither „Friends“), but now in TMS I find her fascinating. Reese Witherspoon is a delight. Well some things are a bit cheesy but once in while, why not. It has a lot of surprising characters and I am very curious how Mitch Kessler develops during the show.
For all Mankind is fun. Well I am a space geek and therefore I will watch that show until it ends, no matter what. What is amazing how much they smoke. There is smoke and full ashtrays everywhere. Ninety percent of the cast probably had to start smoking. I have seen lots and lots of different hints about things you do not do either today or where a problem then. Sometimes it seems, that they want to hit us over the head every five minutes to be more tolerant and less political correct. The only thing that annoys me a bit is the lack of reduced gravity inside the moon station or the LM. But that’s just me the geek. Otherwise they really excel in the CGI department. For a series with real people and objects we have seen a thousand times, that is. Sure, marvel does it better, but they have less budget restraints and let’s face it, who knows how Asgard looks in reality.
„See“ is my least favourite, despite liking Jason Momoa since Stargate Atlantis (Aquaman was a bit of a low). Still it is an interesting story to tell and we will see how it develops.
I like the concept of releasing not all episodes at once, but rather every Friday. Prevents me from binge watching.
I also watched the Elephant Queen and I am amazed about the images they took. Really nice. Walt Disney could not have made that better.
Some critics say, that Apple will fail, because they don’t have enough content, like Netflix. Please, get real. Netflix started streaming 12 years ago. Disney has warehouses full of content.
Apple haters will never be happy with anything Apple does, therefore please shut up and watch Netflix.

The app. Now that’s a big, very big problem. It might be due to the fact that I use it on my iPad Air 2 but frankly that thing isn’t finished. What is Apple thinking. It is full of bugs and it isn’t intuitive at all. In general, I never know where I am. The navigation is weird, to say the least.
When I leave a film and come back later, there is a button to continue watching, unfortunately that does not work. It always starts at the beginning. Really Apple? I have a few episodes that hang on the continue watching screen with one or two minutes left. I can not get rid of them, even if I let them run to the end. They are stuck there. The page with the new episodes is broken, too. The new episodes just do not show.
If I don’t close the app completely, it sucks the battery dry (again, Apple really?).
I hope I am not alone with my problems and Apple will fix them. There is one thing I find good; Since I live in Switzerland, Apple offers content in English, German, French and Italian, without switching the apps language or making any changes in the settings. Since there are not a lot of movies in Rumantsch, Apple is excused for forgetting our forth official language. I think Apple excels at the content but really has the worst app to deliver it. Who would have thought that.

Well here we are. Hello HCL

I know, everybody is now talking about what HCL has to do to make Notes and Domino a renewed success. Let me just sum it up:
Fix a lot of things that need fixing now. Everybody has his opinion here which things need to be fixed right NOW. Or better yesterday. Me too, but I will not tell you which.
Fix a lot of things until the next version, that have been a neglected by IBM. Again, which one’s?
I could go on for a while and write a lot of stuff what I believe is the right way. Probably pretty useless, because HCL does know it. All of it. The community told them. Some of the HCL team will probably even read this gibberish. And here comes the point where I have to ask myself, what can I do with the new situation. The last few years I had my focus on other things, but I never really lost track of what was going on. Somehow I miss the time, when I was deeply involved with Notes. The time, when I was working on the edge, of what was possible with it. The time when I helped more people in the forums but my questions were not answered, because nobody knew how to do it then. Some solutions worked, but were really bad ideas with undocumented code. Some became long used software products, some never left the prototype state, like the aircraft-maintenance application that stored every part of an aircraft as an object (learned a lot about OO then) and all the parts made up the aircraft with different times for different components. Was nice. Never made it into the world.
Living in the past does not help and right now I have the urge to be more involved with Notes and Domino again (it is fun), because I see light at the end of the tunnel, but it might be quite a long tunnel. The last year has certainly slowed down the exodus and with a bit of luck, HCL might even realise that there are companies with less than 10’000 seats that are worth talking to. The community certainly embraces the change. Everybody is happy that IBM is history. While I have heard rumours that HCL is a software cemetery, I have also seen the dynamic the last year and that does not look like a bunch of zombies falling apart slowly.
I am really looking forward to the change (and I still have the urge to tell HCL what I want, but I am going to take a deep breath now … better, got over it) and no, I don’t want the old Notes/Domino/Connections/etc. back.

Dear HCL (I used this phrase often sarcastically with IBM, but not this time)
I am happy you took this step. I am looking forward, how Notes and Domino (and some other quite exciting software packages) will come back into the light. I hope we will see new versions that will have the WOW-factor I was missing the last ten years. Products that excite even the most snobbish twitter-snapchat-What’sApp-millennials. I wish you the stamina to get to the end of the tunnel. It is not going to be easy and I hope it is worth it for you.
I wish us all the best for the ride and who knows, one day we see each other at a party like Lotus used to throw. Missed that, too.

Heeeeelp! What should I buy…

Here is the problem. My daughter will start the Gymnasium next fall and has opted for the computer only option. No books, only downloads. What is the best option for her?

The school recommends something with a touch screen. I would have said iPad Pro, but that does not fly, because the school wants that they use software like OpenOffice, VCL or Gimp and only accepts certain types of files like .ods or .pdf. It looks like we are stuck with Windows. Now I am running around to find something that isn’t too expensive (think greed at school and she does not like to stand out) but will with a high probability work flawlessly for three years heavy duty (kids, you know!).

We looked at a few 2in1 computers and tablets from HP and Lenovo at Mediamarkt and I was rather shocked about the bad screens, compared to iPad or Surface Pro. What we know already, Surface Go is too small. It should be something in the size of the Surface Pro (daughter’s choice anyway).

Here are the questions:
Which machines should I look at?
Where else should I look except Amazon and Mediamarkt in Switzerland (Amazon is not cheaper as Mediamarkt as far as I can see)?
Is the pen a useful tool with the mentioned open source software?

DHL or what is a delivery time

Sometimes I do wonder what is going on in the minds of people who built processes in certain companies.

I had to order a new throne for my drum kit and DHL would deliver it. In all these confirmation emails were three important informations: the delivery date: Monday the … The need for a signature on delivery AND – drum roll – the delivery time: „BIS ZUM TAGESENDE“ (until the end of the day). Frankly DHL, that’s not a time, that’s a date.
Since they needed a signature, somebody had to be available at all time. No trip to the loo for 24h, because the delivery person does not have the patience (or just too much pressure) to ring twice.

Here I was, waiting the whole day for the delivery but in the afternoon, I had to leave the house for a while, but my wife promised to be there. When I came back, what do I find? The package in front of the garage. Nobody ever rang the door bell.

Dear DHL, what is the point of asking me for a signature beforehand, if you don’t really need it? And frankly „bis zum Tagesende“ is as inaccurate as one can be in 24 hours.

As an end note: My throne was picked up in Basel, then went to Zürich, then back to Basel and from there to me in the middle of Switzerland. In this day and age of computing power and global warming, shouldn’t it be possible to eliminate at least the most useless transport from Basel to Zürich and back?
On the website of DHL is an email address to the CEO of DHL Switzerland and since I find that a rather good idea (and playing naive) I wrote him a message, asking him about this situation. I got back an email from somebody else or even a bot (who is excused for not having any sense of humour) who had obviously not read my email.
Dear CEO of DHL Switzerland, why do you pretend to be interested in the customers opinion. Just do it like everybody else, don’t bother. OK, that was mean. The problem is, that you pretend to do something, which you obviously can’t do. It is impossible, that you read and answer all the mails about problems that arrive. You have better, more important things to do. Therefore be honest. Tell people that there is somebody, who will take care the customers problem. That’s OK. We understand.

Hello HCL (Lotus?) Notes – Bye IBM Notes

Well, that was a surprise … or not? From the beginning of the first IBM – HCL Deal, I wondered, what the point is. For both. Why would HCL take over the development of those products and let IBM do the marketing and sales, when – I think that most will agree – the other way round would have made much more sense. IBM s….. – ahem – wasn’t on top of the game selling Notes and also the other products, but it clearly had the brains on the developing side. They just did not use them lately.

Now what? C Vijayakumar (CVK), the CEO of HCL, is apparently not a Gini. He has been voted one of the best CEOs by some British magazine. So let us assume, that he knows what he is doing and he cares about HCLs products, not just the buyback of shares. In the often linked interview, he talks a bit about the deal, without mentioning a specific product. What he does, is talking about his 1,2,3 strategy and that mode 3 has the highest value for his company.
More about mode 3:

Mode 3 – this is unique to us and is about using the ecosystem to future-proof our business. Building a products and platform business, by creating innovations enabled by creative partnerships. The products are stable, long-standing products and we make them relevant for the new world. This is different from creating products from scratch. You buy the IP and see how you can modernize and make them relevant. A good example would be our work with Workload Automation, we bought the source code license from IBM and created a cloud Workload Automation solution which is very relevant in data centers, which are becoming hybrid cloud solutions. This strategy is working very well. We have numerous products in the pipeline, they are all traditional products but they are being reinvented to be relevant in the modern world. That’s the Mode 3 strategy, we not only have this on the technology side, we are doing this on the business functionality as well. We have a few things in the pipeline that we will announce shortly. We are building a strong products and platform business. This is an in-depth answer, but technically this is what is keeping us up at night.

Read the whole thing here….

It is HCLs strategy to buy products and infuse new life in them. If that works, happy days are ahead … I hope.
I can not imagine HCL just selling licences. They want up- and cross-selling. Which makes sense for HCL, but probably a bit less for partners.
CVK mentions a few numbers, 650m revenue, 5000 customers, 1.77 billion as a price, about half of it due on the conclusion of the deal.
Paying off 1.77 billion with 650m revenue over a not too long time, at the same time investing in new versions of these seven products, does not seem sustainable. The share holders agree apparently. After the announcement HCLs stock price dropped quite a bit.
CVK must have an idea, how he will boost revenue to a much higher level.

CVK said ….
It’s a mix of products, some of them are cash cows and some of them will keep growing,” Vijayakumar said. “Some of the products will need some infusion of fresh life to allow them to grow faster.”

Read the rest here…

Question is, which product is which?

Finding new customers for these products, isn’t going to work in the short term. First there have to be new and very, very exciting versions of the products, second there must be the very positive reviews and articles about these products, to make CIOs look in the right direction and third, HCL still has to convince companies to invest or even migrate. Not an easy task. Not many decision makers will change course again, after migrating to Exchange/Outlook.
I think there is something else CVK has in mind. That would be services, especially remote management. On premises hardware and software with kinda cloud management capabilities. IBM always wanted to go to the cloud with everything and never really made it and HCL might achieve something almost as good, by letting companies having their hard- and software on premises, but managing them remotely. That is an interesting approach for HCL and certainly something that appeals to many European customers, who still don’t want to go to the cloud. Especially not, if the cloud is elsewhere than in Europe. But will these customers be ready to pay more after waiting a decade for a new Notes version? The whole deal could work against HCLs, if it does not deliever enough Wow factor to keep all those customers who are not sure right now, what to think about HCL.

What does that mean for partners? At the moment, HCL must get the partners in the boat. They have the customers, not all and not the biggest, but many interesting accounts. Many good solutions come from partners. Many good ideas come from partners. IBM almost completely relied on partners, but will they still be needed in 5 years with HCL? As a partner dedicated to any of these products, it might be a good idea to get in the boat with HCL as early as possible. Actively working with HCL could give you an advantage as soon as HCL is in command. Waiting for HCL to get to you, could end in being left out. Think about it. HCL has to pay IBM for these seven products and the future development, which will be very expensive, too, because IBM just did not do that job for the last few years.
As a partner, you are either a part of the solution for HCL, or you are out. I expect the partner ecosystem to change quite a bit.
We will see soon enough, what is coming our way, but HCL Places looks very promising.

Yep, got the new certification

Since everybody does it, I had to do it. I am now …

IBM Notes & Domino V10 Sales Advisor v1

IBM couldn’t come up with a shorter name, couldn’t they? That will not fit in an acceptable font size on the average business card. What does a Sales Advisor do anyway?

Well I am getting old. I really find – and that is in now way a critique against IBM but rather the current hip way of certification – that thing with the badges a tinsy winsy bit childish. Will any customer or employer ever ask for the right badges? Should I put them on my business card? On the back for example? Or convert an old stamps collection to a badges collection to bring to my business meetings? Would „Can I show you my collection of badges“ qualify as sexual harassment? It would certainly get me not  any more dates than the „Kaffirahmdeckeli“-collection(*). I could live with just the certificate. But who knows, one day I may find a use for the first badge I ever received. Until then I have yet another account on a website I will with pretty high probability never use again – Acclaim. I am stupid.
Since we are on it, there is another strange development I never understood. Ten years ago, when you attended any conference you got a credit card sized identification with a clip you could attach to your shirt, skirt, blouse, west, shoe, whatever. Then they had the great idea to use these lanyards, but still with credit card size identification. I found that barely acceptable. The darn thing is always in my way. Normally I tuck it in my breast pocket.
Now some use postcard size or bigger identifications to hang around your neck. That’s insane. The name just takes up a fraction of the space, the rest is advertising for a company I normally know, because I am at their conference. I feel like a cow on the alps, but the bells have a purpose (fog, difficult terrain), A5 sized boards around my neck do not.

BTW: The new Gutenberg-Editor of WordPress is pretty nice.

(*)If you don’t know what that is, please stay ignorant. It is somewhat embarrassing.

And another one from „Microsoft Security“

I get these scam calls regularly. Most of the time I am not in the right mood and hang up, sometimes I let them talk until they come to the Windows Key, which I can not find on my mac. Today I was in a rather playful mood and when the nice Lady told me, that my computer informed Microsoft it was infected, I said „I know“. „How do you know“ she asked? „I wrote the Virus myself“. „It wasn’t a Virus, but your HD is infected“, „I know“ I said, „I wrote all that myself, that computer is made for it, it’s a honey top“. Unfortunately now she had hung up, but she sounded a bit perplexed. I think my answers where not in their book.
Yes, should have said „honey pot“, but I was so excited to get that far. With that good deed of the day done, – I might have saved an old lady’s egg money – I leave you to it.
Just one question: Do you get these scam calls?

Update: Had other calls from the same scammers. The nasty words they know, my my. One was speechless when I told her, that from my side the tests are done and that everything works as predicted and I would send them the bill now. At the end she thanked me for the information.
If I only knew their adress …

This changes everything …

I have thrown out one carrier and changed to another. I went from Swisscom to Sunrise. For all of you – especially those who have entertained us with horror stories from Germany – who now think that I am going to explain how horrific the experience was, it wasn’t. It just worked. I got an SMS from Sunrise, when I would be able to start connecting the boxes and from there it was smooth sailing. TV, land line and internet came online, boxes responded, phones got their connection. Obviously I have done everything by the book step by step (not something digital Neanderthals  like me are famous for).
I have thrown out three more boxes than I had to install and I had to replace a single wlan router. That trusty at least 12 year old Netgear, was replaced by a Netgear AC 1200 router and here is where a little rant starts.

Netgear, really, is it absolutely necessary that your Netgear Genie app installs in way the app starts automatically when I start my Mac? No it isn’t. That’s the first sign of crapware. The next sign is, that I can do way more things with the administration web page, than with the app (or I just can’t find it). Should it not be the other way round? It was helpful, when the web page was in an endless loop (!) and therefore it gained the right to stay. Otherwise it would have gone to the great cemetery of Bits And Bytes in hell.
I specifically bought this box, because it promised a high range. Well, my old Netgear lived under a cupboard and served internet with two bars under a layer of dust through the whole hut. The new one I had to place strategically on top of the cupboard, near the stairs to get enough strength. The 5 GHz is even weaker. Well, that makes sense since the wavelength is much shorter than the 2.4 GHz and therefore the range suffers, but still. My old router didn’t even have antennas, only annoying rotating LEDs I had to cover with a special cap, which was standard equipment.
Netgear could work on a setup wizard that does a bit more than just asking you to register with Netgear and downloads and installs that stupid app. I have the impression, that was my last Netgear product. I should have bought an Airport Express.

After a week of using the services I can say the following. We have more TV channels, especially we have now all the French, the German and more English channels, which is important in a in this French and German speaking household and it is more stable, it seems.
The Swisscom TV App for the iPad is more stable and easier to use. I have the feeling the Sunrise App needs a bit more bandwidth (or I have to blame Netgear).
The land line installation from Sunrise is better, except that I can’t not block phone numbers anymore. I would have opted for a FritzBox, if that was still an option, but Sunrise has its own box now. Pity!
The Internet Box from Sunrise offers more settings options.
Sunrise has more bandwidth for a better price.

But anyway, I want to thank Swisscom here and now for their service over the years. I especially remember the moment, when we forgot to pay my fathers phone bill after he died. Swisscom did not send the usual reminder, they sent a very personal and nicely written letter which stated, that they knew about my fathers death and where sorry to remind us, that there was still a bill open. Sunrise on the other hand was quite different. They sent three reminders and I sent, no sorry, FAXED them three times the death certificate and they still did not get it and I had to phone them again and again until somebody finally fixed it. Seeing how Swisscom changed over the years, I doubt that this thoughtfulness is still a thing, but it was something, I will not forget.