Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Restarting Agent Manager on Domino 9.0.1 may crash your server....


Update: Thanks to everyone who commented to point out that this was fixed.  We were all so focussed on Poodle that we only applied the fixes to the servers that serve HTML.  Turns out that IBM Domino 9.0.1 FIX PACK 3 is a good fix to have on all of your servers. 

KILLER AGENTS ! 

Just a fun tidbit we discovered today (fortunately on the test, rather than the production server).

It seems that bug has been introduced in from Domino 9.0.1 which doesn't like having the agent manager restarted. 

Specifically, via the commands;

TELL AMGR QUIT

and

LOAD AMGR

Under normal use, you'd probably have no reason to issue those commands on your server console but if you had a runaway agent or if you were testing/debugging, you might.

Shortly after agent manager loads (in our case, in under 10 seconds), the server will start to report things like;

AMgr: Console command 'LOG.NSF' is unknown
AMgr: Console command 'admin4.NSF' is unknown

The actual name of the database will be different depending upon your system but the problem is the same. The server starts referring to databases like they were console commands.

After a while, the server becomes hard to access and you either need to get to a remote console to shut down Agent Manager or access the server via services and shut down the Domino server (and then reboot).

After a reboot, it all starts working again -- provided that you leave Agent Manager alone. 

Turns out that there has been an APAR for it  (and here) since 17 June 2014 (but it's closed, not sure if that's okay).

Fixing it
Apparently the fix is to "Do not set Log_AgentManager." and "Remove unnecessary MQClose" (thanks IBM, that's really clear).

From what I can gather, this is something to do with the Notes.INI variable;

log_agentmanager=1

Which our server didn't even have.  I added this INI variable and set it to 0 (but didn't restart the domino server, so it's not a proper test).  After I restarted the Agent Manager, the problem reoccurred. I tried setting it to 1 and restarting the Agent Manager.... I'm not sure if I just hit good timing but the problem seems to have disappeared.

Really though, best to avoid agent manager commands during office hours on the production servers if you can help it. 

(one final thing... it looks like Thomas Hampel blogged about this last May, so thank you!)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Domino Lives!

I had a very interesting conversation with IBM last week (more on that in later posts) and at one point we discussed the current status and the future of IBM Notes and Domino.  It's a discussion which seems to be largely ignored at the IBM events these days but it's certainly a question that IBM's customers want answered. 

The answer from IBM was quite interesting.

First of all, we were assured that IBM Domino was not dead - far from it. It was alive, kicking and thriving.

It's no longer being considered "sexy" or "new" but is seen as a mature product which does exactly what it needs to do.  IBM made it clear that they didn't intend to over-engineer notes by adding functionality simply so that they could bring a new version to the market.

IBM weren't subtle about it either, pointing the finger at Microsoft Word and asking "how many more features do you need in a word processor"?  It was a good point, well made. After all, how much functionality did "the ruler" make to Microsoft Word - and was it worth the cost of the upgrade? In my experience, it's made a lot of things that I used to do much more difficult.

IBM does not want Notes and Domino to become "bloatware".  In fact, they made it clear that  many of their requests were for smaller clients, for example, to "make the firefox browser-based version of Notes available on iOS". Whether that actually happens is yet to be determined but it's clear that the future is "smaller".

There will be new versions of Notes as new requirements and fixes arise. Domino isn't going away but as it moves past the 25 years mark and loses it's sexy good looks, at least it has a plan to keep trim. 


Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Pain of Getting into Microsoft's Corporate Licensing


We've been out of Microsoft's Corporate licensing model for quite a while and it's been good, no, it's been GREAT. 

Whenever I've needed a Microsoft Product, I've wandered down to the local retail outlet and purchased it. Sure, sometimes I've been a little annoyed when it's not in stock and I've had to wait a day or two but on the whole, it's been glorious.

We haven't bothered with maintenance on our Microsoft products because we don't want to upgrade. Not within 3-4 years. Our standards so far have been  

  • Windows NT + Office 97, 
  • then Windows XP + Office 2003 
  • and now Windows 7 + Office 2010.
Because we update so infrequently (and all at once), it's easier to simply purchase new computers once every four years and buy the software at the same time. It's not like you save anything much on the volume licensing  -- in fact, it's quite the opposite, buying a new licence every four years is much cheaper than paying maintenance on one for four. Plus you get an extra (old) licence out of the deal. 


The Changing Microsoft Licensing Model
Unfortunately now, the Microsoft world has changed. 


Now they're making their products harder to purchase in retail stores and they're expecting to have them linked to hotmail/exchange accounts. This is all well and good if you've got a consistent set of employees who all have those accounts but if your workforce fluctuates (for example contractors on lots of short projects) then it's quite painful.

I've successfully avoided Microsoft Open Licensing since it was first introduced except for a few small occasions.  All of these were incredibly painful and time-consuming. In one case, we attracted the attention of Microsoft themselves who announced that we had to do an internal IT audit.  We were fully in compliance, in fact, we were considerably over-compliant but I still had to gather every single licence and fill out tons of paperwork.  It was a very costly exercise in terms of staff time and it certainly cooled us off on the whole "working with Microsoft" thing.

I really have to wonder why an organisation like Microsoft has the power to demand audits like that. 


The worst sign-up process in the World.
So, after years of successful avoidance, we now find ourselves in the position of having to do the whole Open Licence thing.  We're using a Microsoft Business Partner so you'd assume that this would smooth things over -- it doesn't.

Here are some of the highlights;

  • I've been waiting four business days for the licensing to come through.
  • The Microsoft site is not compatible with browsers other than Internet Explorer
  • Partway through the process the browser throws an error and tells me that I need an "InPrivate" session -- a decent browser would simply switch to one. 
  • A typical attempt involves me having to sign on at least five times.
  • I keep having to verify codes to protect my account (despite turning it off several times).
  • The Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center is unintuitive (and useless)
  • The whole process ends with a "Sorry" Error telling me that I have to switch to an InPrivate window even though it's already InPrivate.



I used to complain about the usability of IBM's Passport advantage site but it leaves the Microsoft one for dead. 


An Alternative
On the plus side, since I'm without office at the moment, I've been using Google Drive.  I could have used Libre Office but I didn't want to install anything.  I'm pretty impressed, apart from the amazing signup process (login with your google account which takes 5 minutes to create), the product is free.

I've used it before for home purposes but this is the first time I've thrown real-world work documents from Word, Excel and Powerpoint at it.  I'm very impressed.  It's handled everything I've thrown at it without a hitch and I'm exchanging documents with my colleagues and they haven't noticed a thing.

I really have to question the business wisdom of continuing to use Microsoft products at all but that's a discussion for later - in the meantime, if Microsoft doesn't sort themselves out, at least I have other tools that I can rely upon. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Why you should get onto Google Play even if you don't have an Android Device

So, you're an Apple person, or a Windows person, and you already have an iTunes or Windows store account. You can get your books, music and movies from their stores. Why would you bother getting a Google Play account?



It's worth it. That's why -- even if you only buy the FREE things. 

Actually, there's four very good reasons;

  • Cross Platform Functionality
  • Downloading to Other Devices
  • Uploading Your Own Materials
  • Free Stuff 



Cross Platform Functionality
If you have iTunes, then for the most part, your music and movies are only available on your apple device(s).   Your iPhone, iPod or iPad, maybe your apple computer and possibly, in some cases, your windows computer.  Essentially, purchases on the apple platform, stay on the apple platform.

This is not the case with Google Play.

Movies, Music and Books from Google Play works in;
  • Android tablets and phones (obviously)
  • Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods (Do a search for Google Play)
  • Windows PCs
  • The Chrome Browser (on any platform)
  • The Linux Platform
  • ChromeOS on ChromeBooks and the ChromeBox
In addition, Google Play Apps will work on;



Downloading to Other Devices
Some of the files from Google play will also play in other devices;

  • Music can be downloaded as DRM Free MP3
    This means that it will play in most modern CD players, can be written to CD using software like Nero or Windows Media Player, will play in VLC and can be uploaded to your iPhone.
  • Books can be downloaded as (usually DRM Free) EPub or PDF. 
    To download, just go to Google Play, click on Books, then My Books.
    Hover the mouse over the top right of any book in your collection and a tiny three-box menu will appear. Click on this and you can download your book to copy to your E-Reader or wherever else you want to take it.


Uploading Your Own Materials
Did you know that you can also upload your own books and music to Google Play?  This means that they become part of your library and you can access them from other locations.   Sure, you can do this in the iTunes world too but the difference is there that although you can copy songs to your phone, they don't become part of your library.  Trust me, the Google model is much better. 


Free Stuff 
Finally, we get to free stuff.  Like most providers today, Google has "songs of the week" and "books of the week" as well as random "free" stuff throughout their library.   There's no real catch other than needing you to have a working Google play account. 

When you buy free stuff, it will expect either a play card with money on your account or a working credit card. It doesn't charge these things but it just likes to know that they are there. 

I'd advise against hooking a credit card up to the account.  It's much better to simply buy a cheap Google play card. 

You should check the front pages of the Books and Music on Google play at least once per week in case something free appears. If it's worth getting it, then just do. You don't need to worry about bandwidth, just "buy it" while it's free, you don't need to download it immediately.

The easiest way to find Free books and free music is to go to the appropriate books or music page and type in the search bar 
  • Free Books
  • Free Music
You'll find that most of the classics are free all of the time but other popular genres are only free for a limited time (so you need to "buy" them as soon as you see them for free. 

Free movies on Google Play are pretty rare but they do happen. Pacific Rim was free for a short while over Christmas 2014. 

Recent Highlights
Free stuff will also vary from one country to another.  Recent highlights include; (check these out because they might still be free) 


    Go get 'em. 

    Monday, December 29, 2014

    A little more on the Poodle (IBM Domino 9.0.1 and the Poodle Vulnerability)

    In my last post, I discussed the steps required to get your Domino 9.0.1 server patched against the poodle bug which exists in both SSL 3.0 and TLS.  At the end of the post, I mentioned that I still had one server which was refusing to apply the patch.

    This is how I got around the problem. 


    The Server that Wouldn't
    After taking the patches all the way back to Fix Pack 1 and slowly patching forward one-by-one with reboots in between, I realised that whatever was affecting my server had been installed for a long time.

    There was no easy way to resolve the problem and obviously I couldn't roll back forever.  I just had to accept the fact that the server would not take the patch and take some more drastic measures.



    Backup First
    Of course, before taking any drastic measures, you should always backup first. Personally, I like to have a proper backup as well as a local copy of the main domino files.  That way I don't have to worry about streaming and tapes.

    I manually took a copy of the D:\Lotus\Domino folder on the server (but not sub-folders) and saved it elsewhere.  Then, being careful to overwrite only obvious program and library files, EXE, DLL plus any other non-data files, I copied the files from a server which was otherwise at the same level (64 bit Domino 9.0.1) but had been successfully patched.

    After the copy, I restarted the server and retested for the poodle problem. Luckily, the file-copy procedure had resolved it.

    Yet again, I'm thankful for the low tech nature of domino and the fact that it doesn't go crazy with registry entries. 


    What if I don't have a working Server?
    So, if you don't have a working poodle-proof server and you're faced with a similar issue to mine, then one of the simplest options is to install a brand new Domino 9.0.1 server and patch it, then try copying the files across.  There's a pretty good chance that it will do the job.

    Wednesday, December 24, 2014

    Taming the Poodle in IBM Domino 9.0.1


    There's been a lot of talk lately about the Poodle Vulnerability and IBM have provided a rather slow and confusing response full of similarly named files across multiple web pages. We've mostly gotten our systems sorted now but as it was a difficult process, I thought I'd share some of the things I've learned.  If nothing else, I'm sure that other people could benefit from the fix lists being in the one place.  Huge thanks to the guys in the IBM Notes groups on LinkedIn who provided most of the best insights here.

    The poodle vulnerability isn't a new thing (it's 15 years old) but recently browser vendors, particularly Mozilla (and soon Google) have have issued upgrades which block access to vulnerable sites by default. I guess that means it's time to deal with it. 

    This is what the Firefox error message looks like.

    One more thing.... In case you've already dealt with poodle and you think that your system is safe because Mozilla Firefox is no longer complaining, here's a good test; 

    https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/


    Just enter your server domain in the box (and make sure that you tick the box about NOT showing up on the boards. If you're safe, you'll get an A or a B.  If you're still vulnerable to poodle, you'll get an F.


    Being on the Latest IBM Domino server
    So, the first port of call is to be on the latest IBM server if possible.  That's Release 9.0.1.

    IBM has actually provided fixes for a few other versions of domino, so it's not the end of the world if you're not on the latest, provided that you're on one of these.

    • 9.0.1 Fix Pack 2
    • 9.0
    • 8.5.3 Fix Pack 6
    • 8.5.2 Fix Pack 4
    • 8.5.1 Fix Pack 5

    However, I've heard that the 8.5 releases don't include the full fix (I could be wrong). So, a 9.x release is a better bet.

    Working out what version/patch your Server is
    There are a bunch of different ways to do this but my favourite is to simply fire up the Notes admin client and connect to the server.  You'll see the patch level  in the top left.


    Release 9.0.1FP2HF590 is the first version of Domino (for 64 bit Windows) which is fully patched against Poodle.   If your server has a higher number (eg: 9.0.2 or 9.0.1FP3 or 9.0.1FP2HF700) then you should be fine. If it's a lower number, then you probably have work to do.


    Patching
    The patches are actually quite simple to install provided that you download all of them and install them in the right order.  It's best to make folders (and copy them all to an install folder on your server) before starting anything.

    The patches you'll need for a basic unpatched Windows 64 bit Domino 9.0.1 installation are as follows (in this order);

    Domino 9.0.1 Fix Pack 2
    http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg24037141

    You don't have to install Fix Pack 1 because fix packs are cumulative (they contain the earlier fixes too).

    Interim Fixes 1, 2 and 3

    Unlike the fix packs, interim fixes are not cumulative, you need to install them all and in the exact order.

    • Domino 9.0.1 Fix Pack 2 Interim Fix 1 (This was released twice, so make sure that you have the version from Nov 5, not Nov 3)
    • Domino 9.0.1 Fix Pack 2 Interim Fix 2 (released December 12, 2014)
    • Domino 9.0.1 Fix Pack 2 Interim Fix 3 (released December 19, 2014)

    You should be able to find most of the patches here;
    http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg21657963

    Once you've got all your patches in the right place, you'll need to find an outage window to shut down your server. It's strongly recommended that you do a backup before proceeding.

    To install the fixes, simply run the EXE files and follow the prompts, they should take only a few minutes each.  It's not always necessary for a server reboot between fixes but I've had variable results trying to cheat, so it's worth the extra time on important production servers.

    Be careful because some of the fixes look like they're done (with graphs sitting at 100% and a thank you message and a close button).  It's not finished until the bar graphs disappear.

    Before you do your final reboot, there's an INI File setting that you need to change.


    The INI File Setting
    Use Notepad to edit your system's Notes.ini file.
    Add a line (pretty much anywhere in the file), which says;

    DISABLE_SSLV3=1

    I'm fairly certain that this overrides the unsupported command;

    DEBUG_UNSUPPORTED_DISABLE_SSLV3=17

    So if you see that setting you can probably remove it.
    After this you can reboot your server, do your testing and redo the Qualys test.
    https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/


    Other Fears and Concerns.
    I've tested this on servers running Traveler, Domino and iNotes.  It seems to work. I haven't tested on the current version of Sametime.

    There's some discussion around suggesting that this affects mail,  I didn't see any impact on mail.

    You don't need to get a new SSL certificate. The old ones should still work with TLS.


    Other things to Consider
    There seems to be a patch for Traveler too, so this is probably worth applying.
    I haven't gotten around to testing that one yet.

    https://www-304.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg1LO82423


    Problems.
    The main problem I found was this message;

    From what I can tell, it's indicating that you're installing fixes either in the wrong order (or that Interim  Fix 1 is the wrong dated version).

    One time when I received this, I just had to go back to the beginning and install Fixpack 2 and then the hotfixes carefully.  On another server, I can't get past this message (and suspect that a certain amount of uninstalling or rollback will be required).


    Like I said, backup before you do this and best of luck Taming your poodle.

    Friday, November 28, 2014

    IBM Notes: 25 Years and Counting...


    Today marks 25 Years of IBM (Lotus) Notes. It's a pretty impressive lifespan for a product. Sure, Windows has been going 29 years and there are many older systems out there but few I suspect have retained the incredible levels of compatibility that Notes has. Can you still run Windows 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 or even 95 programs on the latest Windows? Sometimes, but not really. Not without emulation. Notes applications however still run fine on the newer notes platforms. 

    What is Notes?
    For so many years, people thought that Notes was email - in fact, they still do today.  I have no idea why they have that impression, after all, IBM/Lotus sold a separate product, CC:Mail for years before finally deciding that Notes handled mail well enough to not require it any more. 

    Nevertheless, Notes always drew comparisons with outlook and lots of companies moved away from Notes mail because it was fashionable (and a safe bet) to use Microsoft and because they figured that the new versions of Outlook did mail better than their Notes (which usually hadn't been upgraded in years). Many of the companies which "moved away" still run conveniently forgotten back-room Notes installations for their applications. Mail is moved but the applications are still there. 

    I mostly blame IBM for this, for failing to answer the simple question - what is notes? 

    Notes is a rapid development and runtime environment with built-in collaboration, security and replication. 

    That's what Notes is. 


    Where to from here?
    I picked the screen shot at the top of this post deliberately to show that the current version of Notes still has the workspace that the original has. I don't use the workspace, I haven't for about a decade. We have our own nice front end. 

    The future of Notes is the web. 

    Most of our in-house applications operate equally well in the Notes client and on the web. At the moment our users are still using the client and our customers use the web. The plan is for the development/admin team to continue using the client and for everyone else to use the web. 

    IBM have a web offering for Notes/Domino apps but the beauty of having your own domino server is that you own your own cloud. Also, if our customer base want a new system,we can simply and easily develop, test and deploy it, without having to worry about extra runtime requirements. 


    What I want from IBM
    • Clear Messages
      Stop muddying the waters with name changes, Connections, Sametime, WebSphere, Cognos and the web versions of these and all your other products. Make a clear statement of what the product does, why it is different to the other products, how it connects and how it adds real business value. Stop treating Notes like it's mail product.
    • Rapid Application Development
      Sort out the XPages mess. Yes, they're good but they take the R out of RAD.
    • Mobilize
      We want a compiler that will wrap up basic android, iOS and Windows functionality into APPs that work with a web-based domino server.
    • Be Proactive not Reactive
      The poodle attack vector was uncovered about 18 years ago. IBM was informed (apparently) 5 years ago. We (the customer base) had to fight way too hard to get a fix delivered -- and even then, I haven't installed it yet because I've heard too many horror stories about the installation.
    • Use OpenNTF Wisely
      OpenNTF is a great resource. All of the standard Notes templates should be developed there with the collaboration of the global notes resources. This would allow real users to provide instant feedback and suggestions for mail and calendar improvements. 


    Here's to another 25 years of Notes/Domino - I want to retire before it does.  




    Monday, August 11, 2014

    Using your Operating System Login for IBM Notes can "Poison" your IDs (and how to fix it)

    For years, we've had it easy with Notes. We've had our ID files stored safely on a secure drive and whenever a user moved to a new desktop, we could simply copy their original ID over to their new machine and do most of the setup without them.

    All that changed somewhere between Windows 7, Notes 9 and getting Notes to use the Operating System login. It's a good change, don't get me wrong and it certainly protects the users privacy and makes things more secure. Unfortunately it also renders all of our ID's "Poisonous" and now we can't reuse them.

    Instead when opening an ID file on a new client installation, just after agreeing to "copy the file to the Notes data directory", we get messages telling us that Notes cannot open the ID File.   Eventually I tried other ID files only to find the same problem.

    Fixing the Problem
    As it turns out, there's a surprisingly easy fix for this. Simply generate a password protected copy of the ID from the existing installation.

    1. On the working version of the Notes Client for your user that is moving, select File, Security, User Security.
    2. You'll be prompted to enter their Windows Password, get  them to do this and click Ok.
    3. On the User Security screen, click Copy ID...


    4. Choose a location to save your ID.
    5. You will be prompted to enter a password for this new ID



    6. Once your ID is saved, you'll be able to use it on new installations.


    What happens when you don't have an existing installation to pick from?
    So this procedure works very well if you're moving an existing user but what if their hard disk got corrupted and they're forced to move without their ID?

    I haven't tried this method but I've read about it in several forums...

    Apparently you can delete the user from the NAB (using the delete key not the Domino delete user function).
    I've also heard it said that you can do this by updating rather than deleting the NAB Entry.

    Next, create a new user with the same name, same short name and same internet address.
    Make sure that you choose a different mailbox name though or things could get ugly when it gets overwritten.

    Choose to store the ID on disk and complete the registration process.


    Go into the NAB record and change the person's mail file back to the desired location.

    You should now have a working ID.


    One thing to remember though, creating a new ID will allow you to set up a user and access mail but it won't let you get to any encrypted mail. Those are linked more closely with the original ID.

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    Reusing Text in Word 2010 via Bookmarks - Part 2 Getting your formatting right


    In my last post on reusing text via bookmarks in Word, I mentioned that there was a problem with the reused text retaining formatting. 

    Sure, you can reformat the text to look how you want but when you update it, then new text takes on characteristics of the old.  You end up with text that looks like this....


    There's an easy (but not obvious) way to fix this;


    Getting into Reveal Codes Mode on Field
    So, first we need to know exactly what makes our fields tick.  So, click on one of your fields and then press Alt+F9.  The field will change to show the code.

    In my case, the code is;

    {REF Title \h \* MERGEFORMAT }

    This is more or less the default setting (the word title is the name of the bookmark I inserted).  Mergeformat means that the format of the original text is being merged.

    To change this option, simply click on the code and overtype it.
    In this case, we're going to change MERGEFORMAT to CHARFORMAT.

    Once this is done, Press Alt+F9 to turn reveal codes off and then update your field.  (Remember that print preview is probably the fastest way to do this).

    If you apply formatting to your field, it will now update with the rest of the field.


    If you're still having trouble, it's worth remembering that Charformat applies the formatting of the first character (in this case, the R in REF), to the rest of the code.  You might want to reveal codes and then apply formatting directly to the word REF.

    Thursday, June 19, 2014

    How to Reuse Text via Bookmarks in Word 2010 (Update once and have it auto-update throughout the document)

    I guess this is a bit of an oldie but I was surprised how many people didn't know about it. 

    Why would you do this?
    If you find yourself opening old documents and then doing a search and replace to change a name, a date or a version number, then this is the tip for you.  It allows you to write your key information down once and then have it auto-update.

    If you do a lot of contracts or quotes - or basically any kind of document based on a template, then you'll find this very handy.

    Getting Started (Bookmarking the Original Text).
    Open a Word document and type in some useful repeating text;

    eg:
    Customer Name:  MyCompany Limited

    1. Highlight that text

    2. Select the Insert Tab on the Ribbon.

    3. Click the Bookmark Button



    A dialog box will appear.

    4. Type a name for your bookmark.  
    This can be any name but it should be something that you'll recognise when you see it.

    5. Click Add.


    Inserting the Bookmarked Text
    So, now that you have bookmarked some text, it's time to reuse that text in other places in your document.

    1. Go to a place in your document where you would like to insert the text.

    2. Click on the Tab marked Insert

    3. Click on the button marked Cross-reference.


    4. In the dialog box, set the reference type to Bookmark.

    5. In the big white section, choose the bookmark name that you typed earlier.

    6. Click Insert.


    Note that the dialog box will not close until you click Cancel.  This is actually quite useful behaviour because it means that if you want to reference the company throughout your document, you can just move the cursor to the next place and press Insert again.  When you've finished, click Cancel.

    Updating Text
    So, now you have your original text and the reused text.
    Try changing your original text.
    You can update individual samples of your text by clicking on them and pressing F9 but the best way to update everything in one go is to print preview.  Just Press Ctrl+P and then press ESC.  Your document will be updated.




    Drawbacks
    There are two drawbacks to this method.

    1. Fields don't update automatically.
    Strangely, this behaviour is by design.  If you find it annoying, you can add a macro to do it for you.  See this article for instructions.

    2. Text inserted this way carries the original source formatting. In my experience this is the more annoying problem. In my next post, I'll show you how to change this.

    For more on bookmarks, including how to add bookmarks from other documents, see this site.

    Wednesday, February 05, 2014

    How to do Bullets and Numbering in IBM Notes

    I forgot the F8 shortcut key today and I looked it up via google. On the way I found a post about colouring text white to hide bullets in notes.  Crazy.  In any case, I wrote these instructions for my people and thought it was worth sharing on the blog;

    How to Do Bullets and Numbering in IBM Notes

    There are lots of cool things you can do with bullets in IBM Notes.

    To turn them on and off, click the bullets or numbering icons on the toolbar


    Getting Spacing in Bullets

    • If you're in the middle of a bulleted or numbered paragraph and you want a few lines to yourself.

      Press Shift+Enter
      This gives you a new line inside the bullet.
    • When you press ENTER again without holding down shift, then your bullets will start again.
    BTW: That trick works in Notes and Word and blogger and nearly every other application I can think of.



    Getting Indentation in Bullets
    If you're wanting to do sub-bullets;

    • For example
      • Just below and indented from the main bullet
      • Like a sub-point.
        • Just press F8
        • If you want yet another level, press F8 again.
        • When you've finished,
        • Simply end the bullets or 
      • Press Shift+F8 to get back.

    In word and blogger, the F8 is simply the tab and shift-tab keys.


    Using Different kinds of Bullets

    • To change your style of bullet, press ALT+ENTER to bring up the properties box.
    • Click on the second tab (it has a paragraph icon on it).
    • The new bullet will take effect immediately. 
    • You don't need to close the box (in fact, it's quite useful when left open).
    • Choose a new bullet type from the list.
    • You can mix and match bullets as you please.


    Re-ordering Bullets
    • To re-order items in a bulleted list,
    • Simply hold down the CTRL key and press the up arrow (to move things up)
    • and hold down the CTRL key and press the down arrow (to move things down)
    • That's it.





    Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    Getting Notes 9 to show Email Addresses as you type

    Until recently, in fact until Notes 9, our Notes clients used to show email addresses as we typed them in but suddenly with IBM Notes 9, it started showing their Job Titles.

    We got a lot of complaints about this and the fix wasn't entirely obvious (to me at least), so that's why I'm documenting it here.


    As you can see, the problem wouldn't be so bad if all of our contacts came from the same company - but they don't. Our contacts come from lots of different companies.

    So, how do we change this?

    In your Notes client, click on File, then Preferences.
    In the left hand panel, click on Contacts.

    On the contacts screen, change the type-ahead option drop-down to display Internet Address (or you could use company name which is quite useful too).

    Click Ok.


    The effect should be immediate, so try starting a new email and typing a first name (then push comma) and see what happens. 

    PS: Big thanks to Daniel Lechner and Sunanda A Patil for pointing this out to me.



    Friday, May 17, 2013

    How to Get your Personal Address Book Data Synching with IBM Notes Traveler and the iPhone/Android

    I'm surprised that nobody seems to know how to do this - well, according to my research on the web anyway. So here it is, the instructions for getting your IBM Notes (we don't use the words Lotus Notes anymore) personal address book Synched with your Apple iPhone (and presumably Android too).

    Note: I'm assuming that you're already running Traveler and are able to get your mail and calendar.


    Enabling Contacts Synchronisation
    In IBM Notes, Select File, then Preferences.
    Click on Contacts
    Make sure that this is turned on;
       [x] Enable "Synchronise Contacts " on the Replication and Sync Tab
     
    While you're in here, make sure that in the Recent Contacts section you have selected;
       (o) Do not add any names

    This bit isn't critical to the procedure but it's caused us no end of grief.  It's fine if you don't have lots of outside contacts in a giant corporate address book but it's painful if you do.

    Click Ok.


    Enabling Replication
    On the top Left of Notes, 
    Click Open, then Replication and Sync



    Make sure that [x] Synchronise Contacts is Enabled.



    Setting a Replication Schedule
    Click Schedule and then Set Replicaton/Sync Schedule.

    Ensure that the Normal Priority is on and at least set to run every 60 minutes on at least business days.


    Click Ok.


    If you want, you can click Start Now to kick-start immediate replication.

    That's it, give it a few minutes (probably less than 5) and you'll have a phone full of contacts. From now on, you can update your contacts on your phone or in your person address book and they'll synch.

    Special Note: Don't forget that if you remove and reinstall (or upgrade) your Notes client, you'll probably need to redo these steps or the synch will stop working.

    Friday, April 26, 2013

    How to Figure out When an Extranet User last logged into your Domino Server

    So, you want to do a bit of spring cleaning in your domino address book and apart from people whose email addresses you use all the time, you want to get rid of people who haven't accessed the server in ages. How do you find out when their last access was?

    I notice there's a lot of paid solutions on the web but it's functionality that is built into domino already.

    Here's how to use this feature;

    1. Start Domino Administrator
    2. Open the server that people log into
    3. Click on the tab marked People and Groups
    4. Near the bottom of the left hand navigator, you'll see Domino User Licence Tracking, expand this.
    5. Expand All Users
    6. Click on All.
    7. You'll now see a list of your users and when they last accessed the system.
    8. Note that the list will only track back a certain distance (in our case 2 years). 

    Tuesday, April 16, 2013

    Book Review: Instant IBM Lotus Notes 8.5.3: How-to by Barry Max Rosen


    Instant IBM Lotus Notes 8.5.3 How-to
    Master IBM Lotus Notes with tips, hints, and instructions that will help you increase your productivity
    by Barry Max Rosen
    Published by PACKT Publishing

    Instant IBM Lotus Notes 8.5.3 How-to is a short book by computer standards.  It's 68 pages and includes a lot of illustrations. This meant that I could literally read it during a one-way trip to work on the bus.

    For the most part however its short length is good because it manages to introduce many concepts not found in books several times its size and deals with them quickly in a non talky way. It's straight down to business.

    The book doesn't identify a single audience but rather targets simple, intermediate and advanced users.  This allows you to get a lot of long-term use out of the book but it also means that for "simple users", reading through the book cover-to-cover isn't really an option.  For example, the book jumps straight from a chapter on mail customization into replication and then modifying INI file settings.

    Simple users are much better off picking the chapters that are marked "simple" and sticking with them. This is easy though because the chapter headings include tags which indicate the level at which they are pitched;

    • Customizing your IBM Lotus Notes 8.5.3 experience (Simple)
    • Mastering your Lotus Notes mail (Intermediate)
    • Creating local and managed replicas (Advanced)
    • Mastering calendar and to-dos (Intermediate)
    • Managing contacts (Intermediate)
    • Adding feeds (Advanced)
    • Social integration with widgets (Advanced)
    • Working with Lotus Domino applications (Intermediate)
    • Using Sametime in Lotus Notes 8.5.3 (Advanced)
    • Moving from Microsoft Outlook to Lotus Notes 8.5.3 (Simple)

    Arguably, the best chapter is the last one where Barry talks about how to settle Outlook users into Notes. Having been on Notes for so many years myself, I've forgotten how alien it can sometimes seem to newbies but I'm always reminded as soon as a new ex-outlook employee starts.  That last chapter will hopefully change all that and get those new users up and running in no time.

    The book doesn't shy away from many of the more complex user-topics, like managed replication and widgets and it covers some very useful material in other areas too, like managing multiple signatures on your mail.

    This is a great little book which every IT and HR department should have.  It's a great "up and running" guide to Lotus Notes 8.5.3 and because of the advanced content, it has long term benefits too.

    IBM Lotus Notes 8.5.3 - How To by Barry Max Rosen is available from PACKT Publishing in various eBook formats including ePub and PDF and in print form from Amazon.


    Honesty clause: I was provided with an eBook version of this publication free of charge for review purposes.

    Wednesday, April 03, 2013

    Getting into IBM Notes 9

    I installed the release version of IBM Notes 9 yesterday and I'm happy to  say that it works a bit smoother than the beta did.  In fact, it's generally quite a nice experience.  I've had no crashes so far (unlike my Notes 8 experience where I discovered three different ways to kill the client in less than 3 keystrokes on the first day).

    The new blue icon is nice and the black panel on the mail looks slick too.  As usual, all of our applications work (notes compatibility is generally pretty good).  

    We have had a few niggles around Notes interpretation of CDate but those started with 8.5.3 Fix Pack 3, so they don't count.

    Single sign-on is working well too and the embedded sametime experience is somehow better. I can't say much about the social experience though. So far the only hint of "Social" that I've seen is the word on the logo.

    Taking Away Features
    My biggest gripe at this point is the removal of Symphony.  Hey IBM.  I was using that!!!

    I know that I could just install OpenOffice or the Symphony 3.1 build from IBM.  I've got Office 2010 and Google Docs (sorry; Drive) anyway. So why was I using Symphony? Mainly because it can read old office documents which the current office can't (not without some registry tweaks anyway).

    John Head has an article on this here but I'm yet to see any "free download" in the Solutions Catalog.  In any case, IBM shouldn't provide something that works with the Symphony 3.1 Fork. It should work with OpenOffice (and possibly Microsoft Office too).

    This is a nice new release from IBM but I can't help but be concerned.  There's too much backtracking going on here.  Too much "giving then taking away" of features.  I'm not sure that IBM have a clear idea of where the Notes client is going - and that worries me.

    • Workplace?
    • DB2 Databases?
    • Symphony?

    Thursday, October 25, 2012

    Apple iOS6 Calendaring bug Affecting Exchange (and by extension, Lotus)

    One of the things that the company I work for (and most others) do on a regular basis is send meeting invites to people at other companies and on various other systems.  Notes meeting handling isn't perfect and we've had trouble with Blackberry and Google calendars in the past, but nothing like the trouble we've had this week.

    It seems that when we send a meeting invite out and one of our recipients cancels, they take over the meeting as chair and cancel it for the remaining participants too - even if they've already accepted.

    It's taken us a while to get our head around the problem, particularly as it happened with several different meetings and multiple outside sources.  Naturally, you presume that several systems out there can't be wrong and it must be a problem at our end - even if we haven't changed anything.  Right?

    Wrong!

    As it turns out, the recently released Apple iOS 6 has a flaw which trips up Microsoft Exchange systems not configured according to best practice.  Lotus Notes/Domino handles things a little differently and we end up with two meetings but the net result is the same - embarrassment.

    It's been widely reported but in case you've missed it, here's a notice from MacRumors.

    For the time being at least, we're recommending that our people don't accept or reject meeting notices via phone.  It's something I don't do because I had similar problems with may blackberry/google synch but this is  the first time we've had to issue a company-wide warning.

    Hopefully Apple and Microsoft will sort this one out soon.


    Friday, September 21, 2012

    How to Disable Phone-based data for the iPhone 4S


    Why would you do this anyway?
    With the mobile data connection disabled, the iPhone can still hook into wireless networks, including those at home, in shopping centres and hotels, at McDonalds and Starbucks, on public transport and at the office to surf the internet and to receive data.

    It just won't be able to access data where there is either no internet wi-fi connection or where you haven't set it up.  As a means of keeping mobile costs down however, the wi-fi option is certainly better than a mobile data one.

    In particular, if you're travelling overseas, you'll want to disable the high-cost mobile internet option.

    Why can't I just use the Airport Mode?
    Airport mode is designed to allow your phone to be used on aircraft (once the plane has levelled out).  It will prevent the phone from receiving calls effectively turning it into a brick that plays games.


    Why wouldn't I just change my plan?
    You certainly could change your plan to not include data however this would mean that it would be "permanently off" at least until you change your plan back.  The way suggested in this post is better. If you get stuck somewhere and you suddenly need data access back, you can simply turn it on.


    Ok, I'm convinced.- how do I do it?
    On your iPhone, go to,

    • Settings 
    • Then General 
    • Then Network 
    • Locate an entry marked Mobile Data 
    • Slide it to Off
    • That's it. 


    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Moving from Blackberry to the iPhone 4S


    Before I start on this series, I want to make my starting position clear.  I'm generally "phone-agnostic".  I've had a Blackberry Bold 9000 for years and before that it was a Blackberry 8800.  Prior to that I had a Nokia "dumb-phone".

    My only non-work phone choice recently was a HTC Android device for my wife.

    I've never spent much time with Apple and I've traditionally disliked their computers.  I guess that means that;

    1. You have to take any criticisms here with a pinch of salt.
    2. If I end up really liking the device, then it's even better than I say.


    The longer term plan for this series will be for me to start looking at how to use Lotus Traveler to make the iPhone a secure device like Blackberry.


    Initial Thoughts

    Packaging
    The apple packaging is very slick and much nicer looking than the blackberry packaging.  (A win to Apple).

    Weight
    The apple device weighs considerably more than the blackberry bold - probably twice the weight actually. It feels much more solid but sooo weighty. (Easily a win to Blackberry)

    Sim Card Installation
    The iPhone has easily the worst sim card installation facility I've seen. You have to have exactly the right size paperclip to open the sim door.  My paperclips were all too big. Then it needs a smaller size than standard SIM, which meant that I had to go find a Telstra shop.  (Massive win to Blackberry).

    Setup
    Very, very painful.  I found typing on the apple keyboard to be difficult enough and for some reason, it didn't rotate to the wider version when I tilted the phone.   Note; A day later and my typing is very much improved.  Still not up to Blackberry speed, but much better.

    Regardless, the apple setup really annoyed me - especially with it needing to create all these accounts and things.  So, I'm going to give that win to Blackberry too.

    Usability
    It took me a short while to remember to  use the big button at the bottom of the phone but it's started to become natural now.  I do miss the blackberry menu button because the menu isn't always obvious on the iphone but I'm getting used to it.  I'll call this one a draw.

    Applications
    This was where the iPhone suddenly started to come into its own. Blackberry has come a long, long way over the last few years but the iPhone completely left if for dead.  There's simply no comparison when it comes to application location and installation.   A massive win to the iPhone.

    Wi-Fi
    Interestingly, the wi-fi coverage on the iPhone was not as good as the blackberry. I needed to be closer to the access points in order for it to work.  That's a win to Blackberry.

    Configuration 
    I'm not sure about this one yet because I'm still trying to find (without cheating) iPhone features however I've found some really good ones - like being able to shut down the phone-data connection while leaving calls and wi-fi working.  I'll post a how-to on that later.  I'm going to give this marginally to the iPhone because although configuration is harder to find, it's certainly more functional.

    Business Systems Integration
    I got the iPhone to connect to IBM Lotus Traveler easily enough and established a connection to my Gmail without difficulty.  Getting my gmail contacts populated across was a little tricky (since you have to choose Microsoft Exchange !!) but it worked.  I've also managed to set up a VPN connection to work and remote desktop my computer - all free of charge.  I'm impressed.  This one goes to the iPhone.


    So there you have it.  At the moment, my scores are dead even but I'm beginning to suspect that I might end up liking the apple device. 

    Packt Celebrates 1000 IT Titles with a FREE Gift



    You may remember that I've reviewed a few of Packt Publishing's books on this site in the past;



    PACKT Publishing is releasing their 1000th IT title this month and are celebrating the event in style.

    Anyone who is already registered with Packt or anyone who signs up for a free Packt account before 30 September 2012 will get a surprise gift.

    So don't delay, head over to Packt and sign up.
    http://www.packtpub.com

    They have easily the best collection of domino books and you might snag yourself a bargain as well as a surprise gift.

    Other Useful Packt Links


    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

    Adjusting our Word VBA Macros for Office 2010 (64 bit)


    We've had it easy these last few years. You could just upgrade Microsoft Office and not have to worry about file compatibility or about your macros not working.  I was just beginning to relax.


    Unfortunately Microsoft never relaxes and the latest "innovations" extend past the annoying ribbon interface (I've been using it for over a year and I still consider it annoying) to clobber both file formats and macros.

    The File Format Problem
    The file format problem is easy to fix. First of all, I've changed our defaults to save in Office 97-2003 format.   There's no sense in our company posting files for public consumption in a format that they can't read. In case you're wondering where to change this, click File, then Options and click on SAVE.


    If your fleet is still using Office 2003, you can download a compatibility pack which will enable it to read the new office formats.

    http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=3


    64 Bit API Declarations
    This next bit is a little frustrating.  We rely on INI files in our Macros as they're much simpler than the registry and we can easily get our Notes/Domino apps to write updates into the files. It's all good for automation.  Unfortunately the 32 bit API calls won't work any more.

    To get around the problem, replace this;


    Declare Function GetPrivateProfileString Lib "kernel32" Alias "GetPrivateProfileStringA" (ByVal lpApplicationname As String, ByVal lpKeyName As String, ByVal lpDefault As String, ByVal lpReturnedString As String, ByVal nSize As Long, ByVal lpFileName As String) As Long

    Declare Function WritePrivateProfileString Lib "kernel32" Alias "WritePrivateProfileStringA" (ByVal lpApplicationname As String, ByVal lpKeyName As String, ByVal lsString As String, ByVal lplFilename As String) As Long


    with this


    Declare PtrSafe Function WriteProfileString Lib "kernel32" Alias "WriteProfileStringA" (ByVal lpszSection As String, ByVal lpszKeyName As String, ByVal lpszString As String) As Long

    Declare PtrSafe Function GetPrivateProfileString Lib "kernel32" Alias "GetPrivateProfileStringA" (ByVal lpApplicationName As String, ByVal lpKeyName As Any, ByVal lpDefault As String, ByVal lpReturnedString As String, ByVal nSize As Long, ByVal lpFileName As String) As Long

    The remainder of your INI file reading routine should run without changes.


    Unavailable Objects and those Nasty String Function Errors
    This one is a nasty one.  Sometimes you'll try to open a macro that contains an unusual object, such as a calendar control.  Word 2003 displays a dialog box which says;  "Could not load an object because it is not available on this machine".  This was helpful.  

    Unfortunately, Word 2010 doesn't mention the offending object but instead assumes that all internal string functions, such as LCASE$, UCASE$, LEFT$, RIGHT$, MIDS$ and TRIM$ are external functions in the missing component.



    It highlights the first string function and says "Can't find project or library" which promptly sets you off on a wild goose chase.

    To fix this problem, 
    1. Stop your macro
    2. Click Tools, then References (if this is greyed out, you didn't stop the macro).
    3. Find the problem Reference in the list and deselect it 
    4. Click Ok.

    You'll also have to replace your missing element with a similar control, such as a text box and adjust any code which refers to it.

    After that though, you should have a working, if a little disabled, macro.  Now I just need to find a 64 bit calendar control.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    How to Create an Auto-Response Mail Message in Lotus Notes 8.5.3+


    Why would you do this?
    Suppose that you have an externally accessible generic email address for your company; support@mycompany.com or info@mycompany.com.

    You might expose this to the web and allow people to send messages to you.

    Setting up an auto-response email will tell the senders that their message reached its destination and that it will be dealt with accordingly.  It's also good practice to include links to FAQs or other useful information.

    Why 8.5.3
    The techniques we'll be using here work in older versions of Notes but some of the options seem to have moved around in 8.5.3.  I figured it was a good time to show you where they've moved to.

    The Procedure


    Start Domino Designer and open the Mail file to be modified.  A really quick way to do this is to right-click on the application tab and choose "Open in Designer".


    In the Left hand panel of designer, expand Code and then double-click Agents.  A new window should appear.

    Click the action button marked New Agent (at the top of the screen).

    Give the Agent a Name, Alias and Comment;

    Name: AutoResponder
    Alias: AutoResponder
    Comment: Sends an automatic response to any inbound emails sent to this address

    Change the type to Simple Actions
    Leave the Application field as is and click Ok.


    In the left panel, click Document Selection.
    At the bottom of the screen, you'll see an Add Condition button.
    Click it.
    Choose In Folder and then Select the Inbox.
    Click Add



    In the left panel, click Action
    At the bottom of the screen, you'll see an Add Action button.
    Click it.
    Choose Reply to Sender
    Make sure that it says Send Reply to Sender Only.
    Tick Reply only once per person
    Type your message
    Click Add



    So far so good.  Now to get this to occur for all new mail.

    This is where I got stuck.
    It makes perfect sense to have these agent properties at the bottom of the page, like they are for lotusscript agents but for some reason, they're not there in 8.5.3. A big thanks to Tony G for finding the missing menu option.

    Right mouse click anywhere in the right hand panel and choose Agent Properties.


    In the trigger section, choose On Event and Select After New Mail has Arrived.
    You can now save and close your agent.


    Note: In our tests it took 5-10 minutes for the agent to actually start working so don't despair if it looks like it doesn't appear to be working initially.   To test, send emails from an outside account, like Gmail and wait for the reply message.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    How to Adjust the timing on a Subtitle SRT file using Subtitle Workshop 4

    In a previous post, I discussed ways to find subtitles to add to your AVI movies and I also looked at using Google Translate to modify them if they weren't in English (or your chosen language).

    Note: All of the software mentioned here is free.

    See: Finding and Adjusting Subtitles on AVI Files.

    In this post I want to look at how to change the timing on subtitles.

    Why would you need to do this?
    Movies have different frame rates depending upon the country that they are shown in and the system they are shown on.  Common frame rates are 23, 25 and 29 frames per second.  You'd be surprised how quickly subtitles can get out of whack if they're designed for the wrong frame rate.

    Find the Start and End of the Dialogue.
    Open your movie in a player, like the excellent VideoLAN (VLC Media Player) and locate the first and last sentences in the movie.  You'll find the time in the bottom right hand corner of the player - make a note of it.

    Adjusting the Subtitle File
    Open the Subtitle File in Subtitle Workshop 4 and check the first and last line in the file. They should be the same lines as in the movie. Sometimes the author of the subtitle will put their name in the file as the first or last entry - if this is the case, you'll have to remove those lines or they'll upset the timing.


    1. From the menu, choose Edit, Select all (or Ctrl + A)
    2. the Edit, Timings, Adjust Subtitles (Ctrl + B)
    3. You'll be presented with a dialog box.
    4. Choose the simple tab and adjust the timings on the first and last line to what you wrote down earlier.
    5. Click the button marked Adjust.


    That's it.  It's that easy.
    Just save your subtitle file (Ctrl + S) and then exit subtitle workshop.

    Thursday, October 06, 2011

    Notes and Domino 8.5.3 are out...

    The Server
    I've upgraded our test server from 8.5.2 to 8.5.3 and it took slightly under 5 minutes. Now that's what I call a good server upgrade (are you listening Microsoft???)

    Anyway, so far, so good, everything seems to be working but then I haven't done a whole lot of testing yet.


    The Client
    My client took 21 minutes to upgrade from 8.5.2 to 8.5.3, which felt like a long time. It also came back a little weird and some views didn't populate immediately. Refreshing them made a big difference.

    Again, so far, so good (mostly).

    Unfortunately I lost the ability to click on a URL and have it launch my default browser (Chrome). Instead, it pops up Notepad (weird!!) and a bizarre little message.

    The filename, directory name or volume label syntax is incorrect.

    I'm on a 64 bit Windows 7 Professional PC and Chrome is located in;

    "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"

    I've already checked my HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\http\shell\open\command key in the registry and it says;

    "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" "%1"

    The related keys look fine too.

    If I switch to the browser embedded in the Notes client, it works, but then when I switch back to my Operating System's default browser, it opens Notepad.

    I decided to make Firefox, then Safari my default browsers and they worked properly, then when I made Chrome the default again, somehow the problem got fixed.

    It's a trap to look out for.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Finding and Adjusting Subtitles on AVI files

    If you enjoy watching foreign films or if you're hard of hearing like me, then subtitles are a must in your movie collection. In my last post, I covered how to convert movies from DVD to AVI for playing on a portable player. In this post, I'll be discussing subtitles.

    There are two types of subtitles, burned in and selectable. Obviously the selectable type is best because you can turn them on and off and you can obtain different languages too. Within the selectable type, there are a few formats with the most common being sub/idx files, txt files and my personal favourite, SRT files.

    In order to get your subtitles to play in players like VLC VideoLAN and on player boxes like the WD TV box, you'll usually need to put the subtitles in the same folder as the AVI and name them the same. So if you movie is called "Return of the Scary Kittens.avi" then your subtitle should be called "Return of the Scary Kittens.srt". Some players allow you to have multiple subtitle streams by including language codes near the end of the file name (eg: "Return of the Scary Kittens.eng.avi") but if you only have one, it's best to name it the same.

    Finding Existing Subtitle Streams online
    Why build something that already exists right? You can search for your subtitles online. First though, you need to find out the frame rate of your movie. Right-mouse click on your avi file and choose properties. Click on the Summary Tab and look at the frame rate, it will usually be 23, 25 or 29 frames per second.

    Next; try a search on Podnapsi (http://www.podnapisi.net/) to see if there are any subtitles in your chosen language. If you get a few results, pay careful attention to;
    (a) The number of frames per second and
    (b) the number of people who have downloaded it. (the more the better).

    If possible, simply download your SRT file, rename it carefully and put it in the same folder as the AVI.

    If you can't find the subtitles on Podnapsi, do a wider google search for; SRT ENG "My Movie Name". This is often also quite successful.

    Extracting Subtitles from a DVD
    Assuming that you've already ripped your VOB file (as described in the AVI conversion procedure), you can rip the subtitle from the VOB. The freeware you need to download is subrip (from: http://www.subrip.fr.st/). There's no install for this software, simply download and extract it. You can then open a VOB file and you'll be prompted to answer some questions. Since subtitles are OCRed, you'll have to provide a sample of each of the common letters.

    If you make a silly mistake like I did, it will make a mess. I said that open bracket "(" was "( BIRDS CHIRPING )" not realizing that I was being prompted only for a single character. Don't worry, you can always open the SRT file in a text file later and do a search and replace.

    The Foreign Option
    If you really can't find any subtitles in your language, try a language that is close (for example, French is reasonably close to English) and download the subtitle file. Next, go to Google Translator toolkit (http://translate.google.com/toolkit/docupload) and upload your file. It only takes a few mouse clicks to convert the entire file to your language and download it.

    Sure, conversations they sound like yoda sometimes - but they're better than nothing.


    Resychning Subtitles
    The final thing that you may find yourself needing to do is to resynch subtitles. You need to do this when the subtitles occur too soon before (or too late after) the actual spoken parts of the movie. If this happens to you, play the movie carefully in VLC and make a careful note of the time count when the speaking commences.

    Next, close the AVI file and open the SRT file in the freeware Subtitle Workshop (http://www.urusoft.net/home.php?lang=1). Highlight all of the subtitles but scroll to makes sure that you can see the particular line of dialog you mentioned earlier. With all entries highlighted, press Ctrl+Shift+N to shift the time backwards and Ctrl+Shift+H to shift forwards.

    When you think it's done, click save and retest the subtitles.


    That's it, now you can have subtitles for your movie even if the ones on the original DVD weren't in your chosen language or were not properly synchronised. I will quite often add subitltes for movies in the AVI stage when manufacturers don't bother to make them available on the purchased item.