Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Getting Started with IBM Connections Sametime Cloud (Chat) - PART 2

In my last post, I went through the initial setup of Sametime (from Creating a user to getting to a logon in the cloud). I promised that I'd be back with information on getting Sametime (IBM Chat) working on other devices and away from the web browser. 

So, after a slightly longer than expected break (holiday), I'm back. 

Last time, we got to the point where you could access Sametime in the Connections Cloud. As part of this, you should have ended up with;


  • A login name (email address)
  • A password
  • A connections location

Your connections location will probably be a URL something like this.

https://apps.ap.collabserv.com/

This is a good URL worth understanding and remembering.

The .ap. bit refers to Asia Pacific, which is the most correct option for Australia at the moment. Yours may be .na. (North America) or .eu. Europe


Getting the Relevant EXE Files
Once logged onto IBM Connections Cloud, it's very easy to get the installation files for a local version of IBM Chat (Sametime).

To get to the Install files, click on Apps and then on Downloads and Setup.
There's a section in there called Chat and a link to "View Chat Options".
Clicking this will open a new window containing the relevant links.



Three Types of Chat Client
There are three major types of Chat Client - and all of them have their little idiosyncrasies. 
  1. Stand-Alone Chat
    This runs in your system tray and in my opinion, it's the best option for most people. If you choose this client, then it will pop over anything when there's a message. Of course, not being integrated with Notes means that your notes mails won't be "presence-aware" but since the chat app itself is - and it's usually hovering nearby, it's not a major concern.  In particular, this chat client is good if you often close Notes (to use Webmail instead) or if you find yourself switching Notes IDs often.

    If I'm working from home, I will usually work on both my home PC and my remote work PC. When I'm focussed on my home PC any chats which break on the remote PC won't be seen if I have a screen in front.  That's where having the chat running on my home PC as a standalone client works well.
  2. Embedded in the Notes Client
    This is the option that most people are familiar with. If you're running a recent version of Notes, then you'll already have an embedded sametime client. If configured correctly, it will usually work with the connections cloud but I'd still recommend downloading and installing the latest embedded client as it contains a few "extras".
  3. Mobile Chat
    The mobile client is used on Apple iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows tablets and phones. It's not downloaded from the "Downloads and Setup" section of connections but from the app stores for your particular device. 

Note that while it's certainly possible to have both the Notes Client AND the standalone version of Sametime on the one machine, they can't both be connected at the same time, so it's counterproductive.  Only install one sametime client per machine


Installation
Installing the Stand-Alone and Embedded Clients are simply a matter of downloading the EXE, then closing Notes and running it as Administrator, Agree to the licence and click next a few times followed by Finish.

The server should be your apps.ap.collabserv.com address and your user name and password are the same as for connections.  You should be prompted at some point for your location and this is worth filling in. The other important thing is to save your chats.  If you don't save your chats then you'll lose context when you move between devices.  I found this out the hard way. 

If you've accidentally chosen not to save your chats, you can change it later, simply click the cog icon in the sametime chat window and choose Preferences.  Then click on Chat History and change it to Automatically Save Chats. 



Where are all my contacts?
Probably the most frequently asked question about Sametime today is "where are all my contacts".  In the past, we could just add the "All staff" group to Sametime and it would pull in everybody but that doesn't work if you're not running a hybrid setup -- because your notes groups aren't accessible to sametime in the cloud. 

You just need to add people as you need them for the time being. On the plus side though, once you've added them on one cloud-enabled device, they show up on others. 


Switching Between Clients
It's a bit of a joke nowdays that IBM changed the name from "Sametime" to IBM Chat because you can't actually be in two clients at the "same time".  This is really annoying and Google talk can do it .... .  All whining aside though, there's some settings that you really need to look at;

Shut down Sametime in the Cloud
The next time you logon to IBM Connections cloud, sametime will connect and will pass control to the browser. This will drop you out of your embedded or standalone client. Sign out of IBM Chat on the cloud system and deselect the "Automatically Sign me in" box.  You can now re-sign in to your embedded or standalone client without worrying that everytime you visit IBM Connections cloud, you'll be signed out. 

I've noticed that there's a google chrome extension to do that.  I don't know what that's for but you won't need it. Just sign out. 

Apple iOS and Android Clients
The iOS and Android clients for sametime are called IBM Connections Chat. You can find them in the Apple iTunes store or the Google Play Store.  They're easy to install and once installed, you just need your user name, password and IBM connections cloud server. 

The same notes as above apply to them, you should save your chats and set up your location.  You should also be aware that whenever you sign into them, you will be signed out of your other sametime accounts... and you will appear with a mobile device icon next to your status. 

Next Time: With all the sametime stuff out of the way, hopefully Next time, I can start talking about using IBM Connections Cloud to get work done. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Getting Started with IBM Connections Sametime Cloud (Chat) - PART 1

One of the best reasons to move to the new IBM Connections Cloud is IBM Sametime. 

Until recently, we were using the "free" bundled IBM Sametime 7 offering. This was a useful feature but of course, some of us were spoiled by the chat options available in other software (Google Hangouts particularly). The version 7 feature has not aged well.  

We looked at upgrading the functionality some time ago, only to be told by many people that "the new SameTime is too complex to set up". It also required considerably more investment in hardware and software. Essentially it wasn't going to be economical to use and we had ditched the product. 

The plan was to eventually install a replacement, but in the meantime, we were learning to live without it - after 6 months, our users had stopped complaining.

Then along came the IBM Connections version of Sametime.... and it's good. Very Good. 


Cloud: The Fastest Way to Get up and Running
The fastest way to get up and running with the connections version of Sametime is to get some people to connect in the cloud. To do this;

Essentially, this is the new user account process

  1. Login to your IBM Connections Cloud Page.
  2. In the top Right, click Admin then Manage Organization
  3. Click Add User Account
  4. Provide a First and Last Name, a Language and a Department.
  5. Choose a Role (Generally User is appropriate).
  6. Click Next.
  7. On the Subscriptions tab, choose;
  8. IBM Connections Cloud S2 (under collaboration).
  9. Leave the mail alone unless you're using mail/hybrid settings -- that's a whole other post. 
  10. In the Subscription Add-ons, tick [x] IBM Connections Docs Cloud.
  11. Click Next
  12. Ensure that the email address is correct and then click Finish. 
The system will send your new user an email telling them that they now have an IBM Connections account. There's a clickable link in the email and this will enable them to reset their password. Once they're logged in, they'll automatically be available in Sametime.

Note: it's the web version of SameTime, so it will be "gone" when your users navigate away from the page but that's okay. There's some better sametime options which I'll discuss in part 2. 

You may also find that your sametime system doesn't automatically have the names of everyone in your organisation.  The old version used to. I believe that once you connect your Notes/Domino environment to the cloud as a hybrid environment, you'll have that functionality though at the moment, I can't confirm. 


Adding a Colleague to the Chat
If your new user wants to add a colleague who is also on sametime, then these are the steps to follow;
  1. Click on the Cog (top right)
  2. Choose New Contact
  3. Type part of the name (ie: first or last name only) and press Enter.
  4. Your person's name should appear.
  5. Click on it and then Click Add. 

Next Time
In my next post, I'll go over how to get the Connections-based Sametime working in the Notes client, as a Windows app and on mobiles and tablets.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Getting Started with IBM Connections Smartcloud

Last September, when renewing our Notes and Domino Licences, IBM offered us a trade-up to IBM Connections SmartCloud.  Essentially, there we were presented with two options;

1. 50%  of our licenses upgraded to the full services (S1)
2. 100% of our licenses upgraded to a subset of the services (S2)

I chose the first option, knowing that either way I'd have a struggle on my hands with management when I wanted to take advantage of the full services but also knowing that it's easier to justify getting the other half of the organisation onto the new service than it is to widen services for the whole organisation. 

We're still only half there but I'm very hopeful - it's the first time in years that I've had real confidence in IBM's direction. 



So What is this Connections thing Anyway?
It's weird but IBM seems to have come full circle in the Domino product line. They spent years barking up the wrong tree with ideas like the ill-fated "workplace" which was intended to replace Domino but merely destabilized the entire IBM customer base, the equally ill-fated Symphony, which was designed to replace Microsoft Office and Quickr (which went through a few confusing name changes, looked good and then ultimately died).

That's a pretty short list, there's a lot more which I won't go into suffice to say that it takes a tenacious IBM customer to hang on through all of those bad decisions.

I deliberately ignored Connections when it first came out.  It looked like yet another attempt at making a "Lotus killer" - and I'm glad I did ignore it because it's really taken many years to mature.

Connections SmartCloud seems to be a sort of hybrid of the various products which uses Domino and XPages as the "glue" to stick it all together. I was dubious at first but the more I use it, the better it becomes. 


Slowly, Slowly
The key to connections is really to take things slowly until you build up enough understanding to make proper use of the product. In our case, we let our connections licenses sit there idle for about six months before deciding to do something about them (we were very busy with other things).

The key to getting things up and running is to get IBM involved. Right now, connections is a fairly new product and they're trying to gain traction.  They'll be willing to help.

Contact your IBM Business Partner (or if you haven't got one, contact IBM directly) and ask for someone to help explain what connections is to you.  It won't cost you anything and you'll benefit immensely from the experience. 

If you have several servers, you'll find that connections can replace your mail server, your traveler server and your sametime server.  You may also find that it replaces some other services.  Personally, I'd love to use it to replace our file servers but I don't think our organisation is ready for that kind of change... yet.



Start with Sametime
Sametime is probably the easiest way to start with connections -- and the quickest way to see real benefit in your organisation.  All you have to do is create users in connections and then push the passwords out to your people. They'll be able to logon and use Sametime on the PCs, Mobiles and tablets.

In my next post, I'll try to go through the rudiments of Sametime setup.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Cloud Services and the Business

It wasn't all that long ago that cloud services were frowned upon in business circles but 2015 looks like being the year of cloud adoption. So far, I've personally signed up for three major options,


  • Google Apps for Business
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • IBM Smartcloud Connections


 Of course, there's a few smaller options in there too, like Symantec.Cloud which we use for Anti-Spam and Mail Archiving and Telstra's cloud services which we use in other capacities.


Data Protection
One of the things that has kept businesses well away from the idea of cloud services is belief that the US government has more access to data on cloud servers. In a way, this is true, particularly if those servers reside in the US.

Personally I don't understand why the US Government is considered to be such a threat to legitimate business but rest assured, I've seen the reactions. People clearly don't want their data to be snooped.

The problem is that the details of these laws make it clear that not being a US company or not being on US soil makes very little difference to the privacy of your data.  For a start, any company with any point of presence on US soil is subject to the PATRIOT act and may be required to surrender your data -- even if it was never on a US Server.

Secondly, most countries, Australia included, have reciprocal agreements which essentially mean that the government will willingly turn data over to the US if required. There's not a lot you can do about it.

With that in mind, a cloud service stops being quiet so scary. Your data is available no matter which way you look at it. You might as well make sure that you pick a cloud service that satisfies your business needs rather than some imaginary geographical ones. 


Choice?
I'm not nearly close to a choice of the best service - yet.  What I can say is that of the three big ones I've looked at, Google is the easiest and cheapest to sign up and use.  Microsoft's service was by far the most difficult, it took me more than a week to sort out the licensing - and that was with the help of a Business Partner.

IBM so far sits somewhere in the middle, it's very simple to get started but now a month or so later, I'm still trying to get my head around it all. What I can see so far is that there's a lot of potential there and that it seems to integrate well with our existing Domino solutions.  I'll provide more information as I begin to figure it out.

One thing's for sure though. Microsoft is all about the "Office" and "Exchange" brands, Google is wider than simply applications and IBM is about collaboration -- applications take a clear back seat to the collaborative environment as a whole.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How to Stop Youtube's new AutoPlay feature from Eating all of your Bandwidth...

I've noticed a rather annoying trend recently where youtube starts a countdown to the next video at the end of our current viewing and starts playing it automatically.  Sure, you can click cancel but what happens if you're not there?

What happens if you're watching a video and then you get a phone call and suddenly have to leave your desk.... Don't worry, YouTube will happily continue downloading random streaming videos in the background.  Even better, if you've left home for the day (or work for a weekend) you can expect a nasty bandwidth surprise.


That's why you need to turn this horrible new feature off. 


How to Turn AutoPlay OFF
In your YouTube account, start playing a video, any video.  You should see an AutoPlay option in the top right hand corner. Slide it to the off position.


That's it. It seems to be a setting which is remembered... of course, that's only if you're actually logged into YouTube.  If you're not logged in then you'll probably find yourself having to turn things off every time you restart your browser.

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.