Notes on Mac … it‘s getting worse

I have been using Notes on the Mac for more than 18 month … and I begin to hate it.
I started with 8.5, got 8.5.1 and now I have 8.5.2 FP1 which is the worst.
I upgraded the memory, that helped a bit but not a lot.

When it starts up I get this absolutely useless window „Lotus Notes is starting“ and it comes all the way to the front. But I don‘t need to see this window, as long as the Notes icon in the dock jumps up and down… which isn‘t needed either. Most other applications just don‘t care.

Boy it‘s slow. Notes in Windows 7 in Fusion is a lot faster.

It has the annoying habit to refresh a view right when you switched to another application and it comes to the front again after a few seconds. Can you imagine when you are typing something in the google search and suddenly you look at Notes again. That just sucks.
FP1 made my CRM (Pavone Enterprise Office 9, the best I know) unusable. I had to get an lss file to  fix it. Imagine that problem with a normal user without a Designer?
My menu bars are full of buttons who appear at least twice. I can‘t get them fixed, because in the settings you don‘t see any button at all. It‘s just broken.
There is an issue with big views. You can‘t scroll them normally. It just stops somewhere. The only possibility left is scrolling slowly with the arrow key and then after a moment it stops completely and you have to close and reopen it.
If you want to have Notes up front again, you can‘t just can click at the icon as with any other application and it comes to the front. Not Notes. You have to use Exposé.

I really like Notes (I always like the underdog), but if it wasn‘t for Pavone, I would probably switch to another mail client. I really begin to understand users who get annoyed by little things that just don‘t work or are awkward. For years and years I never had these big problems other users report. Notes just worked but after 18 month of using Notes on a Mac I am just about loosing my patience … and my wife says I have a lot.

Update: Thanks Julian. Deleting the bookmark.nsf helped. Why I use the FP1? I hoped it would fix some of the things I don’t like. Silly me.

But I forgot another thing I don’t like. Often when I switch from Notes to another application like Firefox, the Mac menu bar – the one with the apple – keeps showing the Notes menu. I have to move the cursor over the Menu bar to make appear the Firefox menu.

I admit it. I don’t have a smart phone

I feel bad. Yes, I admit it. I don’t like mobile phones. I don’t send many SMS or MMS. Most of the little gadgets of the darn thing I never used. Unfortunately, I will soon have to get a new one, because after 5 years the battery is just tired. What now? Is it time to move to something smart? Do I want to read my emails on a screen not much bigger than a stamp? I think the iPhone is pretty cool, but too big. I does not fit in my hand. I wouldn’t know where to put it when I am away without my backpack. You won’t catch me with one of those belt pouches. Neither with a blue-tooth headset.

Next problem, I am greedy. I hate to buy things that are industrial waste as soon as you buy it.

I like and I can read maps. I don’t need, or rather I don’t want to use a GPS for navigation on the ground and I don’t want my car to talk to me (but you can give me a Garmin 1000 any day or an iPad with sectionals, weather and SID/STAR).

I must be mentally retarded. I just can’t get exited about mobile devices. I could get warm with an iPad, but that’s because of the books. But if I continue to buy my books at amazon I can buy a lot until the iPad makes sense. I like to have books lying around. I like to have manuals on paper (OK, here the iPad would make sense, since we don’t get any manuals on paper today) but I can not imagine to read a book on a smart phone. No way.

But I could announce to the world, that I am doing an experiment:

„Living and working without a mobile phone“

Why not. Have to think about it.

IBM’s Domino/Notes market – Let’s face it, it’s a cash cow.

What did I learn from my article about IBM’s and Microsoft’s market share? At least that nobody told me how the market share calculation really works. There are two numbers: 47’000 companies (down from 60’000 about 5 years ago) and a total of 192 million Notes licenses sold (up from 143 million about 5 years ago). That’s not really helpful. Let’s leave it at that. But that made me think about the future of Notes/Domino in general. The yellow bubble is groaning about IBM’s almost non existent marketing effort for Notes. Why isn’t IBM promoting Domino/Notes as we think it should? Do they really know what they are doing? Is there a plan? To find out I dusted of some of my marketing books and tried figure out, what strategy IBM is following. It looks like, they know more or less, what they are doing.
If they have a plan, Lotus Notes/Domino is a cash cow today. Or in other terms, it is a mature product and the product life cycle is closer to the end, then to the start. That is not a bad thing by itself, but it is a something we have to accept. IBM is showing standard behavior. It is not investing heavily in marketing because it does not make sense. IBM is continuing improving Notes/Domino to keep the customer base happy. Sometimes there is even a big win, but all in all, sales are sliding downwards. That is something completely normal in a product life cycle. We will see that happening with MS Office, Exchange and Sharepoint, too one day.

What would I do with that cash cow? I would milk it to the last drop and do gradual improvements and then kill it. But I would grow a new beast at the same time. That’s (from my point of view) what IBM is doing right now. I only think, that they are a bit late in the game. They should have started to build a replacement product much earlier. But it is possible, that Workplace should have been that replacement. Is project Vulcan part of that completely new product? I don’t know, but I hope it is.

If I had to design a replacement product I would do quite a few things, which my BPs probably wouldn’t like.
I would build an (almost) completely new product and cut as many legacy connections as possible. Fast, good looking and widely available.
I would provide a migration tool, but I would really strip especially the client from ballast. Is it really necessary to have 6 or 7 different programming languages? I don’t think so. One good one would be sufficient. RAD does not seem to attract a lot of sales. In the end, the admins kill RAD because they definitely don’t want every user to develop it’s own little app (at least the admins IBM is talking to).
I would want a client that lets me not only organise mails, but also calendar entries, office documents, sms, mms, chats or just anything that contains information which is necessary for my work and preferably I want to have the stuff offline and encrypted.
I would add VOIP as a standard feature.
I want to see all my documents under the customer and supplier and friend and tag and project and whatever or in a calendar view. Let’s get rid of folder structures in file systems or mail applications. We don’t need that, it never worked. It was and is the biggest data cemetery in the known universe.
I would want to add addresses by drag and drop from my and others address book to a document regardless if it is an email, sms, letter, fax, blog entry or whatever else and I want to decide AFTER having written the document, how I want to send it.
I would make the new client modular. For example for free without a server and mail, Facebook and calendar only, but fast (somebody remembers NotesBuddy? I liked that one a lot) and then add whatever else is needed (at a very reasonable fee…).
I would add MAPI support to client and server.
I would add complete iCal and CalDav support.
I would add a simple back up functionality to client and/or server.
I would integrate as many online services as possible.
I would add an easy way to use several email accounts.
I would provide a free online calendar access for everybody using my client. Now users could just use free POP accounts and still have the calendar sharing possibility.
… and I could go on.
Most of these elements are already around but nobody adds it up to a complete solution.

Lotus was always ahead of Micro$oft, but they keep up. Now they add offline support for Sharepoint thanks to Groove. That was one of the best features of Notes/Domino.
Let’s face it. All the features we always thought were so incredible cool did not stop customers from migrating to Outlook/Exchange and nothing else will stop that until IBM comes out with something new.

We need something exciting, never seen before and useful to about everyone (for my 7 year old daughter I want a „Hello Kitty“ Theme)… a new rising star if IBM wants to beat Microsoft. IMHO that will be the way to success.

But… and that is big BUT. Can IBM do this? Big companies have the tendency to be not very innovative. Bureaucracy and internal competition are the killers. Microsoft is the best example for this. They almost always only copy what others have done before. IBM is better, but not a lot. The most patents every year but not many new products. Evolution yes, innovation less.
Let’s keep the fingers crossed, that IBM really knows what it is doing.

Lotus Foundations is …whatever you call it … but I go for Collax.

I am right now installing the Collax Platform Server. Those who know me, know that I hate server and network administration with a passion you can only dream of. That‘s why I liked LF. But the Collax products are as good if not better. I am almost as fast in installing the first Collax Box as I was with the x-ième LF Box. It probably does not do as many things automatically as LF, but it has much more possibilities to integrate it and security wise.

The web administration front end has a modern look and is very nice to navigate.
Installing software is completely automatic. Less clicks then LF.
Virtualisation is done with KVM which integrates seamlessly. Not like the strange setup with „run“ like LF, which is pretty unstable on our production server.

I am really happy to have found Collax. Yesterday we talked about Domino on Collax and we are going to find out the best way to do it. I have to update the Domino discussion in the Collax forum with those new ideas.

I hope you will give it a try. If you register with them and ask for a test license, you get a 60 days license and full support during this time.

I am running the Collax Platform Server on a Lotus Foundations appliance. Collax had for a long time also a display in their hardware. The code is still there and we could use it. But that isn‘t really necessary right now.

What‘s market share in IBM/Microsoft Terms?

When Daimler announced the switch from Notes to Outlook, somebody mentioned a market share of Domino/Notes of 21% in Germany. I wondered where they got that number from.
I started to crunch a few numbers myself and first looked at my home market. There are about 400 more or less active Domino customers. Switzerland has about 300‘000 companies with roughly 40‘000 of a size needing a mail server. That‘s a market share of 1%. And that is being nice, since almost everyone of those companies have mail and use some sort of mail server, either their own or something „in-the-cloud“.
Globally IBM has 47‘000 Domino customers. Even if they were all in the US it would also be a market share of about 1%. What do they count? Don‘t tell me that they count user licenses. That would be statistical nonsense, since not every element of the sample takes a decision to use Notes or Outlook. There are not 145 million decisions for Notes, only 47‘000. Now what are they counting? I don‘t have a clue. Servers? That would be unfair, since you need many more Exchange servers then Domino servers for the same number of users. Global 500 companies only? Or enterprise accounts?
Now what? Until somebody tells me, how they make the market share up, I stick with my estimation of a global market share of 1% for Lotus. I know, this number is not fair, because I also count companies which have just a few applications left.
Now let‘s see if somebody can explain, how the market share is calculated. In a second post, I will write about the results and what to do with it.

A short history of a failure. The Lotus Foundations Story!

This is the story, how I witnessed the rise and fall of Lotus Foundations.
3 Years ago, I heard the first time about Nitix Blue. I looked at it and liked it. No OS administration and a network server that suited perfectly my needs.
I started to look at my home market. More than 300’000 companies.
About 260’000 micro companies and roughly 40’000 small and medium companies.
 About 70% of the employees use PC/Mac.
 More than 30’000 start ups every year.
 Nice! (And just to bust the „the US has more bigger companies“ myth, Switzerland has more Fortune 500 companies per capita then the US.)
I wrote a business plan. I presented my business plan to the-would-be-sole-distributor for the then announced Lotus Foundations and somebody from IBM.
They thought it was one hell of a good idea and presented me to some strange guy (Hi Serge), who had ideas in the same direction. That was the start of a new friendship and Informica.
Of we went.
 What happened at IBM when we contacted them?
 IBM came up with … nothing. Somehow they were never able to explain a marketing strategy. I think they never even had a concept. I met a few global and worldwide (what the heck is the difference?) sales, but nothing ever happened. I mean we showed our marketing plan and tried to explain what had to be done. We as BPs can not build the awareness. We tried to tell them, that cheap email and web marketing would not work. You have to talk to people. Face to Face. Get out. Spread the word. Contact start-ups. Get involved with associations. They did not even join an organisation for SMB and start-ups, where Switzerland’s biggest telecom company, the second biggest bank and one of the biggest assurance companies joined forces and Microsoft wasn’t there… yet. I had half a dozen meetings with different local and international people and the only result was. „Yes, we should look into things … we should … we should  …“ and … you expected this … nothing. We don’t live on the same planet.
Then IBM announced that hundreds of MS partners joined as Foundations partners. Unfortunately most of them wanted Outlook as mail client and they were not familiar with Domino. DAMO was dropped two month later. Despite what IBM said, Domino/Notes knowledge was essential to make users happy. The discussions on LinkedIn started with a lot of misunderstanding, what Notes/Domino is. I wished IBM had kept ExchangIt as an option.
 At the same time, they started to make the old Nitix partners mad. We couldn’t order through the Nitix/Foundations desk anymore. We had to go through Passport Advantage. This is hell for a product like that.
Then came this TCO tool. I mean it was a nice idea and it showed that LF was far less expensive then SBS, but that was not what anybody needed. I fought about this tool for quite a while with IBM but suddenly there were a few month of deafening silence and then the distributor was kicked out as the IBMs leading project partner. Some key personnel left IBM. We decided to write a letter and got attention. Unfortunately that new team wasn’t able to make the turn around. We had that deafening silence in September 2010 again. And now it is over and this is exactly at the moment when our new strategy kicks in and SMBs in Switzerland start talking about us.
Until today we had to rewrite several times our strategy. We had to do all the marketing ourselves. Nobody in IBM Switzerland was allowed to touch LF (Some did it anyway and I have to thank them. You know who I mean. A special thanks goes to Stephanie).
What killed LF?
Marketing was non existent. In IBM, those products who make the most money, get the most marketing funding, at least, that’s what I was told. I ask you IBM, how do you ever want to launch successfully a product with that kind of thinking? Egg – chicken / chicken – egg?
Technical training was nice but not sufficient at all. We never got enough technical information’s to really take advantage of the NVS. Somehow my requests for more information’s and training got lost in the mail or something like that.
DAMO was one of the biggest advantages that platform had. That IBM dropped it, wasn’t the foundations teams fault, but really bad for business.
Constantly changing the strategy isn’t a good thing.
Constantly changing key personal isn’t a good thing either (they call it blue washing).
Making an existent customer and partner base mad is plain stupid.
Bad communication with partners (or is there another name for this kind of lower life form) isn’t very clever either.

I really wonder, if IBM realizes how much damage they have done to quite a few businesses? Probably not.

Hey life, why are you doing that to me?

This weekend, we had the party of my daughters sports club. It was pretty big and it had, kind of tradition in Switzerland, a tombola. As it is for a good cause, everybody is buying those little paper rolls with sometimes a number, but most of the time „Danke/Merci“. Me too. I shouldn’t. Why? My wife’s family was there, too. I don’t know why this always happens, but they win all the time. My mother in law got half a pig once, wheels of cheese and vacuum cleaners and other stuff, and she only plays, because she has to (good cause…). My brother in law got a few thousand bucks holiday voucher lately and so on. Me? Never anything useful. This weekend I tried to be clever. I bought an envelope with 10 „Lösli“ (Swiss German) with one win guaranteed. My brother in law took 10. He got 3 out of 10, me 1. I couldn’t believe it, I bought another 10, which I picked one after the other, being in trance, letting fortune guide my hand … nothing … nix … nada. Not even a paper clip.
He bought another 3 and got another win.
In the end there was a bottle of wine, a game kit with cards and dices, flowers and a bread.
Now you want to know what I got. Soap! An old odd smelling handcrafted olive oil soap with some strange grey stuff on the bottom.
That’s not fair. It will take years until I recover from that.

Dead or not dead, that’s the question…

Doctor: I am sorry, but your friend will not survive the next few days.

Friends: Oh my god, why? What happened? He always looked healthy. Two years ago he got a new job and was really happy. What went wrong? Can’t you do anything? We are his friends and we really need him. It is hard to believe, that everything is over.

Doctor: Oh, have faith. He will not disappear completely. His internal organs are in perfect health and we have lot of people waiting for his heart, his lung, liver, kidneys and we probably even can give somebody his hands and legs. Isn’t that nice. Your friend will continue to live.

Friends: I am sorry, but that is not the same thing. What about his character, his soul, the love he gave us. You can only have that in the original body.

Doctor: Yes maybe, but imagine how many people he will make happy. You must see it more like a transition. His soul will go to a better world.

Friends: But we will not have our friend anymore. And if all his organs are still OK, what is he dying of?

Doctor: His health insurance is running out.

Dead or not?

R.I.P Lotus Foundations. Another story of a lost opportunity

The writing was on the wall and now its official. Lotus Foundations is dead. I don’t think that there will be any migration path to anything else.
What annoys me most, is the fact, that IBM again bought a perfectly good product and killed it. Two years. Twice they changed directions in marketing and distribution. Every time we had to change our strategy, too. We did it, because we believed in the product and IBM.

Dear IBM, you made us loose money. It wasn’t the product, that was perfectly good. It was your incompetence in bringing it to the market. We even gave you money for co- marketing, which was completely useless, because you don’t know how to approach SMBs.

You didn’t even had the guts to schedule a partner call, to give us the bad news.

You want us as Business PARTNERS. A partnership builds on mutual respect.

You know, that I was one of the most active supporters of Lotus Foundations. I always defended you. You just have to read my contributions in LinkedIn.

I am sad. I feel betrayed.

I am not mad at the Lotus Foundations Team. I had the honor to meet and talk to quite a few of you. It was always a pleasure to work with all of you.

PS: If anybody comes up with „that is only about Passport Advantage“, forget it. Outside North America there is no other distribution channel. For us, that is the end, except IBM comes up with something else.

Now that was fun today … and sweet!

Today was an event, I was looking forward to. SNOUG-SR (Swiss Notes User Group Swiss Romand) had it’s second reunion in 2010 today. Guess what, it was great. Why?

The location: We where all invited to Camille Bloch. One of the most famous chocolate makers in Switzerland. Ragusa, Torino are their its main brands. It is a small company with 100 to 200 employees – depending on the season.
In the begining, Michael Snijders, head of IT, introduced us to the history of Camille Bloch. Apart from the fact, that Monsieur Camille Bloch set up this company in the Bernese Jura, where most of you wouldn’t want to be buried, they have quite an interesting IT history. They bought their first IBM system 1948. This is not a typo. They have been IBM customers for 62 years. I don’t think that there many companies, that have an „IT“ history that long and we are talking about an SMB. Today they are using Notes, Traveler, Sametime and Quickr. If possible always the latest release. They are looking into Alloy and UC.
Their Domino servers run on Ubuntu. I asked Christophe Boss, the main Domino admin (I wonder what nick name he has in the company), why they use an unsupported plattform. His answer:“ I am the support!“ For Camille Bloch, Ubuntu is the most cost effective solution. It looks like it runs great. Boss talked about a few issues in the beginning, but he solved them all. (yes, I will pester him, until he gives me the documentation). Now they are thinking about moving Traveller and Quickr to Linux, too.
After the introduction Snijders showed us a Box. An original Notes 3 box with the floppy disks still in their little sealed plastic sachet (If you don’t know what floppies are, ask your grannie).
After the intro, we had a very interesting speach about the Notes NRPC Parser by Andrew Magermann.
And then came the part, everybody came for, a tour of the company with „degustation“ in the end.
After the Lunch we had for 12 bucks at Camille Bloch, we talked about other interesting stuff. Teamstudio showed of some of their products and IBM SR had some very interesting news about the IBM/Lotus road map. They showed the latest screenshots of project Vulcan and if that is the future of Notes, I feel a bit better. It is cool. I mean not just cool. Cool cool. And if until then, that dreadful campaign „Lotus weiss“ is over and forgotten, Lotus actually has a chance to be on the map again (in case of getting a marketing campaing going that deserves that name).
„THE BOSS“ showed us the Snapps QuickR app for his iPad. Now I need an iPad … oh, and QuickR, too.

The Snoug Team: The SNOUG SR reunions are always free. Everybody just does it for the fun of it. During lunch we found out, that this was anyway the most cost effective way to do it.
I have to thank the SNOUG team for the wonderful idea to go to Courtelary and when I drove back and I could see the tipps of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau in the light of the sinking sun. Just a great day.