Notes and Domino as Open Source – Is this really a good idea?

Once in a while the call for open sourcing of Notes and Domino comes up. Actually I personally would like that. But would it really boost the use of Notes and Domino? That is the point were I have doubts.
Let’s just forget for a moment some issues that will prevent this, because apparently there is some third-party code in there, IBM can not just give away. That’s a legal problem.
Let’s focus on the other problems, which are huge enough.

While I have no doubt, that there is a great many code that is wonderful, we had some snags in the not so recent past, that annoyed some of the best yellow bleeders so much, that they recoded a whole bunch of things, just to have something that works as it should (I just say Java).
When we would dive in the source, we would probably find quite a few more things, that should be rectified and that does not pay the rent.
While Notes is based on a Non-SQL-Document-Database, which are very en vogue today, the performance of the NSF is not at par with MongoDB or CouchBase (or CouchDB for the matter). Replacing NSF with CouchDB would give a huge performance boost, but that would demand quite a bit of new code. Some logic could certainly be reused, but still, somebody would have to write a few thousand lines in Erlang.
A few other thing were to address, the lousy performance on the Mac, search isn’t that good either in comparison. I think some of us would gladly kill the Eclipse RPC.
Domino becomes more and more expensive to maintain, too. A whole bunch of new code would be required to make administration easy and save. Web Admin comes to mind, too. There isn’t a way around a web admin.
And let’s not forget the slight security problem we have with it. Not addressing this, would be certain death of the whole thing.
We would have to do without Watson, that wouldn’t be a show stopper, but probably we would have to live without Traveller. That would be a show stopper. Developing a Traveler replacement would be quite a task.
Repeat after me: „Migration must be painless“ and let’s not forget updating it should not be rip and replace.
And to round things up; to be a success, it can’t be „the same old“. Feature- and performance wise it would have to be something out of this world.

The one most important thing I hate about Open Office (and Libre Office); it’s ugly. I hate to look at it. It might be technically good, but I still hate it. Notes hasn’t very compelling looks either, but still better. But to be a success, that Open Source Version 1.0 would have to be the best looking email client ever. As an example we have only to look at Android. Only because Google and others have invested in good Design, it became a success. For us geeks, Linux was always the better server choice. But as a desktop, it never really succeed. I think it is because of the desktop design. It just isn’t up to specs. Or better, it never was overwhelmingly better as Windows. Only then it would have seen as a replacement. People hate change.
But who is going to do the design? A real good designer with a vision would be required. John Ive isn’t available and I do not believe in hundreds of designers fiddling around with some design language. For a single product it has to be one person that makes all the design decisions.

While the Apache Foundation does one hell of a job, most of the really important tools are not made for the run of the mill end-user. I doubt, that Apache would be the best way to organise the work. Notes would deserve a dedicated organisation and it probably would need one that works full-time. Therefore it has to make money. Who pays?
Probably Linux could work as a model. Having a few experts who decide where to go, is probably better, than having a democratic vote. These half gods would also be responsible for preventing any attempt of forking.
The Linux model also has the advantage, that it lets companies make money with it.
For our purpose, the initial financing could be done by the highly committed customers. Getting them in the boat and building a project and team based on Kelly Johnson’s 14 principles, is the way to success and fast.
Probably we should only focus on the server anyway. Clients could be the thing to make money. Except for basic client that serves as example and first building block, if a rich client is really needed.
Mobile is without question one of the corner stones that must be included.

Who is going to sell that thing to companies who are absolutely against open source software for their strategic tools? Or the ones that are fed up with Notes anyway? Or those who have only heard terrible things about Notes? Only keeping the few companies that are willing to dedicate time and resources to an open source project, isn’t a viable solution for all the partners and the product. And there is the fear about migration. That should be painless. I mean really. Not just a sales pitch.
Small companies might want to go for a free version, but please in the cloud.
There are tons of ideas, how to build a business model around this and one would certainly be a good one. But is a group of volunteers capable of doing this or will there be an eternal fight between those who want to feed their kids and those who rather starve than going against the higher ideals of open source?

I believe, that IBM rather lets Notes/Domino die, than give it away. But if IBM does it and it becomes a real success and IBM would have to explain that to the greedy share holders.

Having said all that, I believe the better solution would be starting from scratch altogether.
Getting the code and finding out, that more than half of it would have to be rewritten anyway, would be a bad surprise. Starting with a clean sheet gives the opportunity to get the best ideas from the best people and make it happen much faster.
From the start the group could build something that really can change the game. For example a server, that does not care which client it serves. A server that does more than just mail, also chat, SMS and documents. A server that uses Apache as a web server (but carefull: the more third-party code, the more dependencies).
A structure that lets one store anything project AND contact based.
Thinking about it, it should be something like Connections for the poor, only with more features and fewer servers.
Still, it would be a lot of work. But fun. I would help. But frankly, the yellow bleeders are not the open source geeks who flip burgers during the day and do miracles during the night. Somebody would still have to come up with a sustainable organisation that keeps the project going and contributors happy. Even if that means the final product will not be free to use for all.
But since we know by now all the remaining Notes customers, all of them could tell us what they want from the new thing not called Notes at all. That’s a plus.
Oh, and migration should be painless. I did mention it, did I?

I told you, didn’t I?

THIS I wrote almost two years ago and surprise surprise, I was quite close to what happened lately with IBM and Apple. Quick read? I’ll wait.

(Dumdidumdi… have to mow the lawn again. Stupid rain … Oh, the cat (Floh, because he had flees when we got him) under my table is dreaming again. Sounds like a fight with someone. Haven’t heard him growl like that since that stupid orange tom attacked him)

Ready? Good. Overall it seems that I had the same ideas than IBM and Apple. Their products do not overlap, Apple needs, or rather wants more foothold in the B2B market. Only IBM doing something in the customer market, isn’t mentioned at all, which I think is a mistake. But I am getting ahead of things again. Let’s read the Press Info. (Dumdidum and so on)

Does somebody strike something there? Mostly it talks about what IBM is going to do. There is hardly any mention of Apple, bar the enterprise care plan.

The landmark partnership aims to redefine the way work will get done, address key industry mobility challenges and spark true mobile-led business change—grounded in four core capabilities:

  • a new class of more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions including native apps, developed exclusively from the ground up, for iPhone and iPad;
  • unique IBM cloud services optimized for iOS, including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration;
  • new AppleCare® service and support offering tailored to the needs of the enterprise;  and
  • new packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management.

Apart from the selfworshipping in the first part, it’s more or less IBM stuff for iOS. Apple will certainly help with the design – meaning look-and-feel and IBM needs every help it can  get – but otherwise, it’s all about IBM’s cloud offering.

For me, that does not sound like a partnership between equals. Taking in account IBM’s current problems with declining revenue, that looks more like IBM’s grasp at a straw.
If that concept fails Apple has still its consumer market, where it shines and if Apple decides it can do it without IBM in B2B, it will. For IBM it would be a lot of lost money it can’t pay to share holders, a lot of lost time it does not have to turn around and again lots of pissed off customers and partners.
Analytics also comes into play again. I don’t believe in a huge market. Analytics can become quickly much too complicated for most people and specialists in that field are in short supply. Most companies will do without or will try to mimic it by using SQL and spread sheets.
But IBM has 400 mathematicians(!) that can help. That will be the same problem as with business ratios. Most managers do not understand where the numbers come from and with analytics it will even get worse. Ratios and numbers that change with time without any clear meaning because nobody remembers the algorithm. That’s like being on the Titanic. The music is still playing, therefore it can’t be that bad. As of lately it was estimated, that of all companies using analytics, only about 40% of managers or employees understand what they are doing. That isn’t a too good ratio. If the numbers are wrong and management does not know it, they could be in for a surprise. (But hey, if a new product fails, managers now have a new culprit. „Not my fault, Analytics was to 89% positive, couldn’t help it that we happened to be in the last 11%“. And they can never be proven wrong. What a job security mechanism.)

But let’s look at the latest news from Mail Next. Kramer hints that about 60 % of all the stuff on mobile devices is mail and calendar. There is hope for a iOS based mail and calendar client from IBM? And Apple is doing the look and feel? Nice idea, isn’t it.
Somehow the whole story isn’t consistent, regarding Mail Next, Mobile First, Cloud first, Apple and IBM. For the mobile devices, IBM will have to build apps, which are „rich“ clients. On the other hand, there is no mention of any rich client on „traditional“ clients. PCs and Macs should go to the Mail Next web client.
Both IBM and Apple have rich clients for Macs and mobile devices. Logically I would think, something has to go. Apple will not let go of the Apple Mail client, neither on iOS, nor on OSX. Quo vadis Notes? Using Outlook as a front end, the browser plugin for Domino applications and the browser for XPages? That’s a three window hell (And it will not work for me anyway, since there is no browser plugin for anything on the Mac). A mail app from Apple, a mail app from IBM, two calendar apps and two „Notes“ apps. Does that look good for Notes on iOS or OSX?
But what about the applications? It would certainly be nice to have local Domino apps for iOS. Xpages could do it. Is IBM planning on an app for iOS for all these Domino applications out there? About ten million as somebody once estimated?
I don’t see the browser plugin come to iOS, but who knows, but if that app does not happen, Domino will be relegated to what every half backed migration expert out there thinks it is, just a mail server. On the other hand, if IBM comes up with an app for that, happy days, suddenly we would have a whole new market to play with. One, where nobody knows or cares about „Notes is Dead“ rumors. (And if it works on iOS, it could also work on OSX, which would be right down my alley). They just want apps that work and do not require a server farm at home for connections … ups, sorry, we are supposed to move to the cloud.
But again, I am just putting Lego pieces together and completely leave out politics.

Now there is another thing that came up in the last few years with cloud offerings. Today many companies outside the US like the idea of mobile first but not the idea of cloud first. In every webcast about IBM’s cloud offerings questions about on-premises come up. Every single time. Why is that? Do customers not trust IBM? The problem is not limited to IBM, every US cloud service, inside or outside the US, has to provide data to the US government on request (secret judge and everything). It does not matter if IBM (MS, Oracle or whoever) tells you, that the customer always knows where his data is. Neither does it matter if IBM firmly believes, that with its data encryption and with the customer only having the key, the data should be save from everybody. Nobody outside the US does trust it.
If IBM wants to shine in that market, the only solution is to sell (in selling and then they own it, not just selling the usage) the cloud software to european, russian, chinese, japanese, swiss and so on companies. These companies can set up the cloud offerings with IBM’s blessing and help, but no piece of hardware or software can be owned by IBM. There should not be any cloud or data contract between IBM and the customer. Only then, some more companies might be reluctantly be ready to move to the cloud.
(BTW, there is still an unused Yahoo data center around the corner. If anybody wants to set up a data center for anything big, Yahoo might want to be willing to sell. I would help to make it work).
Costwise IBM is in for a hard game. Cloud will become cheaper over time until enough players drop out. IBM will need a lot of money and breath to survive this and become a important player. But if you believe in the latest rumors, cloud isn’t the big money maker as the hype makes us believe.
IBM, how about the on-premises offerings? Probably Apple can help there to, how to make updates without anything crashing.
One big argument for cloud always is, from IBM’s point of view at least, the faster upgrade cycle, because IBM does not have to test on several OS’s and hardware configurations. If IBM would just sell the VM’s it uses anyway in its cloud, that wouldn’t be a problem anymore and we could all continue to use our on premises installations or move to the cloud and back without so much as a mouse click. They had them once. Where are they now? I know, some companies just don’t want shrink wrapped VM’s, but if the price tag is right, many arguments will just disappear into oblivion.
Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see where Notes and Domino goes with iOS… if they are really part of the package.


Question for the experts …

Does anybody out there know, what IBM means with Apple Cocoa support?
Googling only gives the information, that there is Cocoa support, but not what it is all about. Nothing in the Domino 9 wiki either.
The only thing I can find are 4 .jar files with cocoa in the file name.
Lot’s of classes in there for eclipse, but as far as I can see, eclipse does not support cocoa yet and apple does not support the cocoa-java bridge anymore.
I can’t see anything that helps me to understand, what that cocoa support means.
Have you got any idea?

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?

Why you should never buy stuff from Apple

Because it makes you stupid.
It’s three years since I bought my first Mac. Before that, I was like everybody else. Mac was something for fan boys. Discussions were mostly like discussions between two religious extremists with a large population of just run-of-the-mil believers (more or less) who did not care or understood what those „experts“ were talking about (that’s me). I used Windows, because there wasn’t really a choice. Then I met this extremely good looking piece of aluminium (aluminum for the other side). I was attracted to it by it’s looks and by the prospect of something else than Windows. I had looked at Linux distributions but I never found them very appealing and that is true till today (but Linux servers are the way to go).
The next shock came with the iPad. I resisted one year and when I bought it, I wasn’t sure, how I would use it. Today I use it for watching tv, reading books, checking emails while lying on the couch (to relax my back … ahem). Especially for reading I find it perfect, because I can read while my wife sleeps. Unfortunately I have seen the new iPad. The display is so much better. I have to give my iPad more often to my kids in the hope they drop it and I will have a reason to buy the new one.
And then came the time when my old trusty Motorola phone finally gave up the ghost. Since I had all the other stuff, I bought an iPhone. Not the ultimate manager tamagotchi, but still something I sneered at for a long time. I hate phones. People who have their phone with them all the time, even when skiing or biking go on my nerves. Did you know there is a biking app that automatically sends tweets to Twitter and Facebook to inform your friends where you are, how fast you are, your heart beat? This is ridiculous. They even pick up their phone while talking to you.
But I connected the dam thing to the Mac and everything was set up and ready to use. I even read books on that stupid little screen. It is helpful when I connect my iPad to it for browsing, though.
BUT. Since I use a Mac, I lost a lot of skills. I don’t have to interpret cryptic error messages any more. The darn thing just works. I had once a problem with the disk and it told me exactly what I had to do and it worked. Doing administrative task with it is a blast. Connect a Time Machine? Takes not even a minute.
There is never an error message when I connect to another network and it does not find the server it is used to.
It still looks like new. I normally changed my notebooks after about three years, this one will make it a lot longer (except if the retina displays make it to the MacBook Pro).
I do run Windows 7 in Fusion for testing and developing and I find Notes is a lot faster, than on the Mac, but every time I start Windows there are messages everywhere about updates and other stuff. Today it annoyed me with a forced restart because of updates. It is just the way Windows does not take you serious as a user.
Yes, it looks like I am addicted. That’s the problem. I can not imagine to switch back to Windows (to 7 at least). Am I a fan boy now? I hope not.
Therefore never buy a Mac. You will miss all the stuff you can talk about with your colleagues. All the crashes, the error messages most of us click away anyway. And you are going to buy the other stuff, too, if you are lazy like me and do not get any satisfaction out of installing and configuring stuff.
If you are thinking buying a Mac because it is cool, forget it. Everybody has one at home now, at least where I live. In Switzerland Apple has the highest market share, 27.3%. Apple is now number one in Switzerland. I am again just one of the big crowd.
If IBM would realize, that this is a chance to sell Notes on Mac …


Notes 8.5.3 on Mac … let’s hope for the best.

OK, yesterday I ranted about my Notes 8.5.3 on my Mac Book Pro.
It’s not the newest machine (2 years), but still new enough for Lion.
I tried what you guys suggested but it did not change anything for the better.

1. I tried to delete cache.ndk and bookmark.nsf. Did not help.

2. I tried to go for the basic client. Boy that’s ugly and not a solution anyway, because I want the eclipse client and I need XPages support.

3. I looked at my locale settings. Looks normal to me but I am not sure, that I need two keyboard layouts, Swiss German and Swiss French, but since I did not change anything ever, it seems to be right.

I finally gave in and installed all the plugins Notes asked at every start up if I want to install them (with the warning, that this may cause security problems … no wonder)

Since it is only a matter of time until LS2012 and the hopefully huge step forward with Vulcan, I can live with it for a while. I just have to be careful, not to use alt & „some keys“.
But in the near future I probably will have to take a hard decision. That Lotus Foundations box still running in the basement, has to go. If it’s not Domino in the future, it will be Collax and Zarafa. But if my predictions for Vulcan are more or less correct, I will jump on the first beta code I can get my hands on and go forward with it. It worked with Hannover and with a bit luck, it will work with Vulcan. After the OGS I will know more.

Notes 8.5.3 on Mac … oh my goodness

I really hoped, that with 8.5.3 things would get better. What a disappointment.
First, you can’t just update. Deinstall – reinstall, otherwise Notes would stop after the progress bar.
After that, I had to restart the client and the mac at least 3 times until it started working more or less normally.
There are still issues. If I try to write special characters with alt & „some key“ Notes crashes.
It still wants to install some plugins I don’t need anymore (told it 3 times) and somehow I can’t get rid of a Sametime server connections, but I don’t even have Sametime anymore.
Oh, and the „new mail“ icon in the menu bar isn’t click-able and it looks like it now has nothing to do with new mail. It appears more or less randomly.
I can not leave the icon in the doc, yet. Every time I have to kill the b… (I have to kill it right now, because it is blocked AGAIN), it is replaced with an Eclipse icon and that one just does not work.
It is still slow. Opening a document in the CRM Application takes still about 10 seconds.

I don’t know, I thought IBM would work a bit harder to make the Notes Client on Mac something they could be proud of, right now it isn’t even stable enough for basic work. If it does not get better in a few days, which sometime it does miraculously, I move back.

Update: to see a new mail, I have to close and reopen the mail db. Great.

iOS 5.0.1 – I am not the only one, who has problems understanding you guys form down under

I love that. The last point on the iOS 5.0.1 update is:

  • Improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation

Siri must have a hard time with the OZ slang.
Hey Siri, look here: Australian slang dictionary

With a bit of help from Siri, the rest of the world could actually understand what they are saying.

PS: Due to a lot of Spam lately, I had to turn on the admin check for comments. I am not going to get up during the night for that 😉

One week with Time Capsule … and I thought life would get better!

I don’t know what went wrong during the setup, but my new and shiny Time Capsule is a pretty lousy WLAN access point.

Let me give you the scenario. Until last week I used a 5 year old Netgear Rangemax wireless access point. It wasn’t in perfect shape anymore, because I could not configure anything on it. It was just a standard WLAN called netgear, open, unsecured, but it still worked. I just could not kick myself enough in the lower back, to buy something new. Last week I thought, that’s enough, I buy a TimeCapsule and have two solutions for things I should have done month ago, backup and secure WLAN. As expected, the installation went without any problems and the backup is working fine, but the WLAN is worse than before. Speed checks show 3 times more upload than with the Netgear, but pages load slower and some don’t load at all or are messed up. Something I did not have with the Netgear (and right when you want to post an example of a page, which was consistently messed up until 5 minutes ago with time capsule and did load nicely with Netgear, the problem went away. Not even deleting the cash brings the problem back. I am sure it comes back as soon as I put the post online).
The range of the time capsule is a disappointment. Everybody told me, that it easily works over two to three stories. Forget it! It has less range than the netgear.
When I watch a streaming video on the iPad, it stops all the time, even when I am literalily sitting on the Time Capsule. Before I could sit on the proch, browse and watch streams, now I can be happy to have a connection at all.
Did I miss something somewhere? Can I tune the darn thing or should I just give it back?