January 31, 2005

Lotusphere - The Sessions
Posted by Jess in Tech Talk

- I went to the Advanced Web Development Techniques session by Scott Good, and I canít WAIT to go home and start playing around. This was the perfect session for those (such as myself) who needed a good place to start learning how to get going in webifying a Notes app (at least to a point where youíd not be embarrassed by the way it looks to put it live), but didnít really know how to start.

- I also went to Bill Buchan's Best Practices using Object Oriented Lotuscript, and again, I canít wait to change some of my existing code around. It definitely will be hard to see these skills from all the sessions (web, Java, Lotuscript) duking it out which one I play with first when I get home. Oh, and what a great speaker! Entertaining and engaging. Aside from being a lot of fun, when the sessions are fun, it makes it so much easier for what you are learning to actually sink in. This is another reason why I remembered everything from Joe and Duffbert's Java session also.

- I was bummed out about the Developing Applications Using the C API Toolkit session, which had a really misleading title, and I let them know in the evaluation. This is was the session that I was the most excited about going in. However, it should have been called "What's new in R7 in the C API Toolkit." Basically the entire session was the speaker reading out loud the new functions, and what they did. But the speaker, Judy Ash, was just so genuinely exited to be there, and dearly loved her toolkit, so I thought it was worth it just to see that. It made me happy to see her happy. But I'm usually happy all the time anyway, so I'm not sure what thatís telling youÖ

- I did have a bit of a laugh with myself, there were definitely two types of languages of people speaking to each other over the course of the week. I heard words like momentum, clarity, decisiveness, strategy, value, etc. And then I'd hear the person on my left talking and I'd hear words like release date, upgrade, platform, SPR, standards, etc. Maybe this is why I have so much trouble understanding how things fit together, because I have to lean a little towards both sides to do my job, and yet there is a very obvious language barrier.

- Alan Bell made a great point in the Ask the Developers session to plead to please allow us to exclude databases from debugging. The example he gave was when he had code that involves the mail file, but when the debugger is on, he doesnít want to debug the mail file! His line, which I (and Lotus) loved: "My code doesn't work. The mail file works. I don't want to debug the mail file!"

- The Birds of a Feather Blogging session was great. Everyone in one room talking about why they blog, what they get out of reading blogs, and helping new bloggers get started. Even Chris Toohey (aka Domino Procrastinator) and Derik managed to skip away from the Product Showcase for a bit to attend. I do wish it was a bit longer, though. In a discussion-like setting, it's easy for things to run long, and it was really engaging.

- I also wished I had enough sense to ask for a group picture of all of us that attended the Blogger BOF. I can see it now, the long black-and-white shot of us all standing there, similar to those nostalgia pictures you see of baseball teams while "this used to be my playground" softly plays in the background. Maybe we could have put a little flash thing together with that, and next year send it to the Radicati Group, with a big "NOT!" at the end of it. But, at the end of the closing session, Greyhawk did manage to get a nice group shot, which is posted in the Lotusphere 2005 Flickr site.

- The closing session had a "Disney moment". After the revelation of the "Here's Pluto" anagram from John Cleese, it was announced that in the spirit of Lotusphere, here's Pluto! And up on stage he walked. Richard Schwartz posted about who was secretly wondering if Ambuj was going to pop out of the Pluto suit. I recall hearing a few comments like that myself. I think Disney has this policy about never allowing the line to be crossed between people and the charactersÖ something about permanently scarring children for life, I think.

- I definitely would have liked to have seen some more info for us smaller shops, ie. "Other Alternatives When You Don't Have a $70k Budget For Websphere". I understand there is something called Services Express thatís targeted for small business, but that's about all I heard of it. Nothing concrete, no "here's how you buy it", "here's how much it costs", and "here's what you can't do if you don't get the regular version". I did speak up about it on the evaluation, but I will take responsibility and say that it might have been discussed in detail in a session that I didn't go to. If anyone has any further iformation, or can at least point me to a link, I would appreciate it very much.

- It was definitely tough trying to get to everything I wanted to get to. I was equally as interested in the Business Development sessions, the Administration sessions AND the App Dev sessions. In the end, I forced myself to stick to my policy of choosing the session that I had the biggest weakness in, and it seemed to work out. At least I have the slides, which I'm downloading now.

- I would have liked to evaluate the evaluation form, actually. Some of the questions should have allowed for multiple selections (ie. Are you an admin or a developer? Choose ONE. Sorry, can't do that). Also, they allowed room to free-text comment on all the sessions and product showcase questions, but no comments on the Birds-of-a-feather, of which I wanted to write that they should have been longer.

- The Product Showcase was great, except on the evaluations I also wrote that it was a little confusing (regardless of the fact that I'm well aware that sometimes I live in a solid state of confusion), as I did not realize quickly that each side of the pedestal had *different* vendors on each side. So I realized I had missed quite a bit of vendors and had to start all over again, walking up and down each isle twice, each time facing a different way. And what was up with Gayle not being nominated as one of the best booth babes on the Gonzo Lotusphere site, if I say so myself? I demand a recount!

- I finally understand. For years, it always seemed like everyone was so *informed* about things like release dates, what's in new versions, what was fixed, how products work, etc., and I never knew how everyone seemed to know all this. Now I do. You have to be at Lotusphere. I feel so much better about the year to come now. I still can't believe I missed it all these years.

January 30, 2005

Quick post - This site finally renders in Firefox
Posted by Jess in Tech Talk

Finally! I'm so excited to be using Mozilla Firefox (it's SO fast!), and then nearly fainted when I saw how my site looked with it.

It wasn't as bad as I thought, it was just that my CSS stylesheet was being ignored. A quick Google search led to the solution, which will fix your site if you run on Unix Shared/Apache.

In your .htaccess in the root of your site, just add this:

AddType text/css .css

Whew! Oh, and while I'm at it, I'm getting rid of the "comments must be approved" bit. Now that I have another plug-in to close off the comments completely after one month (because no one but spammers adds
comments later anyway), the spam situation is manageable now, in fact just about gone.

January 29, 2005

Lotusphere - The Pictures
Posted by Jess in Tech Talk

I've posted all my pictures with the Flickr Group Lotusphere 2005 pool... you don't have to sign up for Flickr to be able to view them.

See everyone's pics! Currently 196+ including mine and counting...

Click here to see my pics only... Currently 18.

January 28, 2005

Lotusphere - The Silliness
Posted by Jess in Tech Talk

I have a whole bunch of stuff written up on the sessions, but first - the silliness!

- First of all, it must be mentioned that Matt is the best. I had a beautiful bouquet of flowers waiting for me in the car at the airport.

- Wednesday night was the Lotusphere party at Universal Islands of Adventure. While I was putting my cell phone in my pocket to get on Dueling Dragons, I accidentally called Bruce's cell phone. Nextel has this "feature" where if you hit the top button, it calls the last number you dialed on speakerphone. I didn't know I had hit the button. We're in the front row, sitting down to begin the ride, and Bruce says, "who's calling me now?" Once we got off the ride, he checked his phone. "Jess Stratton?" As I was right next to him, and sort of surprised at this point, I took my phone out of my pocket. It said I still had a connection with Bruce! He had put my call into voice mail, and it recorded (muffled) the entire ride! So funny. Oh, by the way, it's not Dueling Dragons, we all sort of decided that "Julian's Dragons" has a much nicer ring to it.

- After awhile, I realized how much I was geeking out telling everyone about the engineering feats of the park, such as the coaster technology and the fact that NASA's Jet Propulsion department designed the launch sequence for The Hulk. Which has it's own generator, by the way, lest it takes out power in the entire city of Orlando. The ride doesn't need its own generator. Just the launch. So if you ever need a guided tour of the park, I'm your girl. However, ss much fun as I had with the gang, Matt, it was really hard being there without you, and a little surreal, in fact.

- I had many enjoyable nights at Kimono's, and got up and sung karaoke, man that's fun (and addicting). I sung my favorites, Jefferson Airplane - Somebody to Love, Heart Ė Magic Man, Nelly Furtado Ė Turn Off the Lights. Youíll get no ballads from me, I much prefer singing loud, aggressive songs I can rock out to. Oh yeah, Evanescence - Bring Me To Life with Greyhawk! Although, they didn't have his words, so he had to wing it. We had fun, though. I hope someone got some pics of us up there together. If you have one, please send it to me.

- Tuesday I went on Mission Space at Epcot for the Salesplace "launch" party. Yes, Andrew, I didnít believe you that they had barf bags in the cockpit of the ride, but you were right. I have a cast-iron stomach, and it was almost a little wild for me. The attendant had said that no matter how you queasy you feel, keep your eyes open and facing forward, otherwise it will just get worse. I'm glad she said that. Didnít stop us from going on again, though! Everyone else went to go get drinks, and the group I was with (Devin, Alan, Greyhawk, Andrew and Efa) decided to do it again. We went after dinner, and nothing was funnier than Devin Olson in the middle of the line for the ride yelling, "Okay everyone, listen up. I just want you all to know that I just had meatloaf and dessert, followed by a pint of Guinness."

- At the conference, some people were mentioning again about the hastiness of the crew to pull the coffee away quickly, sometimes in mid-stir. It should be available all the time. After all, wasn't the whole focus of Lotusphere? On-Demand? Doesn't that include Java? Har... sorry. But c'mon, that was a gimme!

- Steven Wright at the closing session! Bruce, Gayle and I got a great picture with him. I'll post it... And I've talked to several people who also ran into him, and they agreed with me. His face genuinely lit up when we told him how much we enjoyed the show. We told him how great the surprise was when they introduced him, and he said, almost incredulously, "You mean you didn't know I was going to be there until that moment that I came up on stage?" We said nope, and it was a great surprise. His eyes lit up.

- There's something about this week. As the Disney staff says at the end of every phone call, "Have a magical dayÖ." Well, this place IS magic, at least for me. For one week I got to be around people who love Lotus, administration, development, and obscure geek movie quotes as much as I do. It just doesn't get any better than this. A week among kindred spirits. This would explain why I'm running on steam right now. From 7AM till about 1:30AM every day, it was go, go, go. And I loved every second of it. Thanks guys. See you next year, that's for sure.

January 25, 2005

Lotusphere - Holy Cow!
Posted by Jess in Tech Talk

Wow! I finally get a chance to catch up. First off, Matt, I miss you and people here are asking about you. I'm getting a tad homesick, but that's what happens when the longest you've ever been away from your loved one is when they take off for Japan for two weeks. And I've never been away from Reboot by myself (and we spend all week together, her and I), who apparently is having difficulty coping alsoÖ Matt reports she's not eating. Though he threw some edamame into her dish and she ate some, so apparently treats DO overcome missing me. There's a surprise. Not!

I've met so many people and have had such a great time so far. I finally get a chance to put "faces to URLs", and scored my first CULT shirt ever.

There's really nothing I could say that no one else in the blogsphere has already said better, so hereís some quick highlights of my week thus far:

1. John Cleese was the guest speaker at the Opening Session, and in addition to being incredibly funny and a truly wonderful speaker, he also made this great point: He could find no more fitting place for Lotusphere than Disney, because the best anagram for "Lotusphere" is "Here's Pluto". He's one of the few people who could remain totally classy while insulting everyone, and STILL manage to elegantly and eloquently tie-in the overall themes of Lotusphere.

2. Lotus people are a really fun bunch of people with really great hearts. But we knew that.

3. I finally get it! IBM Workplace is not a tangible product, it's a concept! Oh wait, there's a Workplace client. Wait a sec, there's also Lotus Workplace?!

4. After the opening session, I donít care if I still don't know the difference between IBM Workplace Technology and Lotus Workplace Client. I think the drag and drop content is the coolest thing I've ever seen.

5. While I've been to great sessions, the ones I wanted to go to the most didn't happen. Rob Novak was giving some awesome sessions on business development, including how to get press attention, and how to write proposals. Turns out that these were only for Business Partners. In addition, Matt's been telling me for years to figure out the C API in Notes so he can start teaching me some REALLY cool stuff. Finally, thereís a session on it. However, it's postponed until Wednesday when the speaker can get down here. I can't be selfish and complain too much, I can only imagine how he's feeling right now.

6. Rob was kind enough to explain to me that there is no cost to become a Business Partner. I tried signing up when I first went into business, and somehow ended up getting the impression that it was $1300/year to be a business partner. Not so. Seeing as it took me coming to LS to learn this, technically the first year DID cost me that much, but it was worth it. I know what Iím doing when I get home. Sign me up! I also met some great folks at the Penumbra Group, I'll be looking into that when I get home also.

7. I was really, REALLY overwhelmed with Lotusphere until I saw how easy it was to get around by following the Pocket Agenda Lotus gives us in our badges. Ahhhhhhhh. Breathe.

8. I saw Maureen Leland's session on the Workplace Designer. All I have to say is that she's endearingly sweet. And please oh please oh please oh please put some of those features in the Domino Designer!

9. Joe and Duffbert'ssession on Java for the Lotuscript person was great, along with some unintentional phallic moments in the demo. Iíll let him explain that one. The two have a great speaking dynamic, and were fun to watch. Most importantly, they explained it all in a way that was easy to understand. Iím excited to go home and try to do some tasks in Java rather than LotusScript to see what happens. I sat in the front row, along with Greyhawk68, who said "Nice shirt!" Turns out we were both wearing our "I'm blogging this" t-shirts. I knew I was in great company!

10. It's tough to make it to all the sessions I want to go to. When there are multiple sessions I want to go to in the same time slot and no repeats for any of them, it becomes a matter of deciding which one is going to benefit me the most immediately? It became easy to choose once I made a personal policy that I'd go to the session that would help my biggest weakness.

That's it for now, I'm sure I'll have more later!

January 21, 2005

Arriving at Lotusphere on Sat, not Sunday
Posted by Jess in Announcements

Small change of plans. Not surprising for late January, a huge snowstorm is coming Saturday night through Sunday morning.

I'd rather pay extra money to go earlier than to miss out overall. The only bad thing is that the Internet special I had gotten on my original flight ended today, so I had to pay a lot more.

But I just put it on the company credit card. Oh wait, that's mine anyway. Bummer! :-)

See you soon!

January 16, 2005

20 cents for a flight change?
Posted by Jess in Geek Humor

In trying to amend my mistake of leaving Thursday from Lotusphere, I decided to try and get a new flight out on Friday instead.

Southwest.com made it easy, and by the way, if you are in the Northeast, they are still running their $50/one way special.

Well, $50.20. But that's just on Friday, apparently.

At least that's what I found when I went to reconcile the ticket differences on checkout of changing my order online. I owed them a whopping $0.20. I had to put it on my AMEX.

Doesn't it cost a vendor about $.30 per transaction to allow a credit card to be used? Did Southwest Airlines just lose $0.10?

If I were management, I would at least make an executive decision that if the act of using the card would cost me money, I would say let's waive the fee. What's to gain? A happy customer. What's to lose? $0.10, at a minimum. Multiply that by at least one hundred other people, and theyíve just lost a thousand dollars.

And they wonder why the airline industry isn't doing well?

Now, here's the REAL kicker. It sure doesn't help matters to have something like this happen, and to be a programmer to boot (as usual, pun very much intended).

In fact, I'm sure I'm thinking the same thing you are right now.

"Just one line of code!!! One line!"

And thanks, Ed, for suggesting I write about it. :-)

January 12, 2005

Netflix "Friends"
Posted by Jess in Tech Talk

Netflix (online DVD rental) now has a great feature: friends. (No, you cannot rent friends online. You'd only be able to have three at a time regardless of the fact that you can keep them for as long as you want, and they might get mad if you gave them a low rating. )

You can add your friend's email addresses to your "friends" list, and you can click a button to send them a recommendation. On their side, they'll get sent an email, and can click to add it to their queue.

We've been doing it the hard way all this time. This consists of sending emails, "you gotta add this to your queue!". And then after deleting the email, promptly forgetting the title. And sending another email asking what it was again... And by that time, the original person couldn't remember what movie they were trying to recommend in the first place, so they get "recommendation anxiety" and pop out the first movie that comes into their minds, so the other person is sitting there one night wondering, "why the hell am I watching The Natural History of the Chicken?"

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