Lotus Notes Personal Edition Coming in 2009?

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008
I've often lamented the fact that there is no way for an individual to easily get his hands on Lotus Notes for personal use. (Yes, he can sign up for passport and buy and express license, which is what I recommend, but the process is not easy.)

I've long advocated for a Lotus Notes personal edition and I'm not alone in this. Fellow Notes blogger, Karl-Henry Martinsson  (aka Texas Swede) just blogged his thoughts on a Notes personal edition he'd like to see. Nice work, Karl. As far as how to limit the use of personal clients against an enterprise, that's actually very easy. I've blogged about that before:
In short, a personal user, not attached to a Domino server, will get a UserID in the form of Name/Name. E.g. "Eric Mack/Eric Mack". This means that I am a user "Eric Mack" in the domain of "Eric Mack." This in itself will prevent me from accessing any server unless I have been cross certified with it. One thing Lotus could do would be to make a restriction to not allow certifying an ID to servers where the name and domain are the same, thus blocking out personal users. Or, a fancier mechanism could be employed.

My point here is not to argue how to make it happen technically - IBM Lotus has many smart people who can do that, but to support the idea of a personal version of Notes. A stand-alone Notes client that could pull mail from a variety of sources would be an ideal alternative to a Thunderbird or Outlook client. It could even be the entry point to a cloud offering. Then, if there were a way to buy server access in the cloud so that I, as an individual could have all of my stuff in sync (e.g. the old Groove model) and share it - that would be cool.

I've made no secret that I believe that IBM Lotus needs to get personal with Notes before there's no room left to enter that space. Focusing in the features that enable individuals to become more productive and giving them the tools (e.g. a personal version of Notes) are steps I'd like to see.

So, will we see any of this in 2009? Your guess is as good as mine. What do you think?

See: "Lotus Notes Home Edition" - my thoughts

Update: there'a a great discussion going on at Bruce's blog. Ed Brill is addressing some of the comments. Not sure how I mised that post & thread. See: This is what IBM Lotus needs to (figure out how to) do

Clear the Decks!

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008
One of the productivity exercises I try to go through at least once each new year is to clear the decks of my productivity workspace. What that means is I remove from my office everything that isn't supplies, reference material, or decoration. I dump it into boxes and move it into the next room. What  you see here is the result of that first step. this is my productivity cockpit, my flight deck for productive work....

Eric's office, ready for productive work Eric's office, ready for productive work

Eric's office, ready for productive workIn these photos, you can see that my desk surrounds me and I have everything I need to work effectively. (I'll blog more about the tools later, for now I simply want to share what the decks looks like when they are clear.)

My InboxThe next step is to bring things back into my office and put them into the appropriate places. Much of the "stuff" that I bring back is in piles - books and reviewing or researching, papers, project files, stacks of mystery read/review items, and piles of scraps of ambiguous stuff. The rule is - and this is important - I cannot bring anything back in without putting it into the proper place. To do this, I throw all of the collected items into my physical in basket to process.

Then, I remove one item from the top* and answer two questions:

1. What's the successful outcome?

2. What's the next action?

With a clear understanding of the outcome for something that I am holding and a clear grasp of the next action I can decide what to do next:
Continue Reading "Clear the Decks!" »

Time for my week-long GTD review...

Friday, December 26th, 2008
GTD Door HangerDavid Allen teaches that one of the most important parts of his Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology is the weekly review. It's an opportunity to pick up, cleanup, and regain control and perspective across the horizons of our commitments. For those of us that resort to post-its (I won't mention any names, Alan) it's an opportunity to get those into a trusted system, too.

At the end of each year, I like to review my systems to see what I can clean up and what I can improve upon for the coming year. I start with an extended weekly review, which often turns into a week-long review.  If you are unfamiliar with the weekly review process, here are the steps that I follow, inspired by David Allen's helpful GTD Weekly Review Audio Series:

Steps to a successful GTD Weekly Review.

Get Clear
  • Collect Loose Papers
  • Process Papers
  • Empty Capture Tools
  • Process E-Mail
  • Empty Head
Get Current
  • Review Action Lists
  • Review Previous Calendar
  • Review Upcoming Calendar
  • Review Tickler Files
  • Review Waiting-For List
  • Review Projects
  • Review Goals and Objectives
  • Review Areas of Focus
  • Review Relevant Checklists
  • Review Reference & Support Material
Get Creative!
  • Review Someday/Maybe List
Sadly, for some of us, (myself included at times), the weekly review has turned a weakly review. Even though I have built a Weekly Review Coach into my Lotus Notes software for getting things done, it doesn't do the review for me - it's still up to me to do that.

The Weekly Review Coach - This is how I stay current and get things done in Lotus Notes

Jeff Widman over at Tech Crunch IT just blogged an interview he did with Ed Brill and Kevin Cavanaugh discussing IBM Lotus Notes. Inspired by the recent Taking Notes podcast, he riffs on the Notes UI issue and asks "Is IBM Lotus Notes Out of Touch With Web 2.0 World?"

It's an interesting discussion.

Oh, if you haven't purchased your tickets to Lotusphere 2009 yet, Jeff mentions that they are giving away two free tickets to Lotusphere, courtesy of IBM. (Thanks, Ed!)

Two free tickets to Lotusphere–is IBM’s Lotus Notes Out of Touch With Web 2.0 World?

Santa Gets Things Done with IBM Lotus Notes

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
A few months ago, we received a call from the lead elf and part-time IT Director at the North Pole. Apparently Santa needed an effective way to track his projects and actions.

12-24-08_SantasEMailIcon.jpgTo my delight, I learned that Santa and the elves use Lotus Notes as their collaboration platform! Naturally, I recommended that Santa try eProductivity, which he did.  

This morning, I received a Skype call from the big man himself. He called to thank me for my help getting him set up. I asked him if I could have a few screen shots for my blog so that I could show you how he uses Notes and eProductivity to get things done. I guess Santa was in a jolly mood, because 10 minutes later, I received these three screen shots:

Santa's In-Box

Santa's eProductivity In-box

Santa's Projects & Actions List

Santa's Projects and Actions list

Santa's Daily Dashboard

Santa's eProductivity Dashboard

Curt brings up some interesting points in response to David Allen's question in his attempt to understand why end users don't know the power of Lotus Notes. He even offers a few possible explanations:
  • IT folks are not keen on feeding an end user frenzy. They fear the end user application that will grow and need the IT resources to support it. IT resources/costs are watched like no other. We lock down the end users from adding new databases to our servers which limits their ability to collaborate to the magnitude that David envisions.
  • Has an IT executive ever been fired for recommending a Microsoft solution? On the other side of that. People who push alt-Microsoft technologies are taking a risk.
  • The pool of resources available for supporting Lotus Notes is small and getting smaller. Management has little choice but to move to other technologies because they can't find resources for Notes.
I think Curt's explanations are reasonable explanations but if they are indeed correct, I think they are poor excuses for management, including CTOs, CIOs or CLOs tasked with improving the productivity of the organization and ensuring that their people get the most benefit from the tools available to them.

This reminds me of something I once heard Business Expert Zig Ziglar say about companies that made excuses for not training their employees:
"There's only one thing worse than training your people to be productive [with tools, like Lotus Notes] and losing them...

that's not training them and keeping them."

Unfortunately, I think Curt may be right about some companies on the first point. As far as point #3, it doesn't take much to get significantly more from Lotus Notes, often just a paradigm shift in how people think about their work and the tools that they use.

David Allen and I will address some of these topics at our upcoming Lotusphere sessions:
IBM Lotus Notes and Me: Maximizing Personal Productivity with Lotus Notes
Getting Things Done with IBM Lotus Notes

"Michael Sampson posted some thoughts about my conversation with David Allen, Bruce Elgort and Tom Duff regarding the power of Lotus Notes. He's picked up on comments regarding the benefits of collaborative workspaces for ad hoc topics and projects.

As I commented on Michael's blog, I'm partly to blame for The David Allen Company's success with Lotus Notes. You see, when consulting for my clients, I've always focused on the end user need and allowed that to drive the architecture, software selection and implementation. I simply gave my clients whatever they needed to get their job done and I tried not to let myself of the technology get in the way. As a result, for those of my clients that use IBM Lotus Notes, Notes became a big win for them. While this is not be a radical approach, I'm often surprised to see how some implementations are done; as a result, people often develop differing opinions about Notes.

Anyway, Michael Sampson's post is a good one and worth a read:
David Allen Comments on the Power of Lotus Notes for Ad Hoc Databases

BES Expert advise needed for my Lotusphere Demo

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
I'm exploring an idea for a specific demo for my Lotusphere presentation with David Allen. I normally try to find my own answers before I ask others or blog. but I'm running into roadblocks trying to find the answers to my questions. With the holidays approaching, I'm also running out of time.

So, here's my question to the ND community.

I want to be able to demonstrate two BlackBerry Bolds (already purchased) connected to Domino with
        a) custom applications and
        b) SameTime mobile.

We are a small consulting firm; I don't want to invest the resources to purchase a full Enterprise BES server just to support 2-3 demo users so that I can show my clients. There must be an easier (read: faster and low cost) way...

As best as I can tell, I will need:

1. A BlackBerry professional server of some flavor

2. MDS Support for the custom apps, and possibly for the Mobile SameTime
        (Isn't there a simple way to just connect SameTime to the server direct?)

It appears that my initial options are:

Blackberry Professional Express.
        Great for messaging only
        Does not appear to support MDS or SameTime
        Free for first user, ~$100 for each additional user

BlackBerry Professional Software
        See here for comparison
        Appears to support MDS, though not stated
        SameTime support not available (Unless I can manually load)
        Will cost me $500 for my 2 users (up to 5)

BlackBerry Enterprise server
        See here for comparison
        Will support MDS and Enterprise IM (SameTime)
        Will cost me $4000 for my first 2 users (up to 20)
        $ out of my ball park for a demo.

Hosted Options
        I've sent email to one hosting company; but I have no idea of price or time to deploy.
        It appears it will take weeks to get set up, which may be a deal breaker

As you can see, I know what I want to accomplish. If this were for a client, I would opt for the full enterprise sever. For my own test, demo, and development, that's a bit steep. All I really care about is the ability to use and demo this at Lotusphere. So I need to get it set up quickly, load up a few custom apps and SameTime, if at all possible) and go. I would be most appreciative to talk with some who's been down this path before and who has set up this specific type of system. Thanks folks.

IBM Lotus Notes Sucks People into Two Camps

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
No topic on my blog has generated as much controversy as whether people like or don't like Lotus Notes. It seems that many people polarized into two camps; they either love Lotus Notes or they hate Lotus Notes - there doesn't seem to be a middle ground, although I'm sure there are folks in the middle somewhere. This is a topic I have been passionate about for 15 years and I have written and spoken publicly about in my seminars for as long. To this day, I continue to get blog comments and emails from people who want to express a passionate view for one camp or the other. Once, I even had an IBM Lotus Business partner write me a passionate letter suggesting that my encouraging this discussion in the public forum was a disservice to IBM/Lotus and their business partners. I can understand his concern and he and I have had many delightful conversations since, but I think this topic needs to be discussed because in 15 years the problem or at least the general perception (which is probably more relevant yet equally damaging) is that nothing's changed.  Well, a lot has changed and those of us that actually use Lotus Notes know that the Notes team continues to innovate and enhance a product that I'm not embarrassed to say is my favorite product to use.

IBM/Lotus and managers of Notes shops face a big challenge:
There would appear to be a HUGE disconnect between the way that IBM/Lotus markets (or doesn't market?) the Lotus Notes product, the way that managers of enterprises that use Notes roll it out and train (or don't train?) their end users, and the way that end users are actually using (or not using) the product.

All of this has a big impact on end-user perception and satisfaction.

Taking Notes on the issue...

This weekend, David Allen and I recorded a 45 minute podcast with Bruce Elgort, and Thomas Duff on the Taking Notes Podcast.  The planned agenda was to talk about David's new book, Making It All Work, my plan to introduce eProductivity at Lotusphere, and the session that David Allen and I will be presenting together at Lotusphere. At least, that was the agenda.

But, that's not what happened...

Continue Reading "IBM Lotus Notes Sucks People into Two Camps" »

IBM's been taking some heat from bloggers for their attempt to create a new "viral" video for Lotus Foundations. The problem, as I see it is not the video, it was fine, but the promotion telling us that what we were about to watch was a viral video. I found that insulting. Let me decide.

Charlie bit me, with 67 MILLION views,  is an example of a classic viral video
Numa Numa with 23 MILLION views is another example

When users start making their own versions of videos that's viral!

On the commercial side, I believe this Honda Choir video went viral.

I can think of many other examples. These were top of mind.

To me, when a company (or the ad company they hired) has to announce that they have just created a viral video, it isn't. Viral videos are, unexpected, engaging, and memorable; and they become popular because viewers say they are - not the producers or the companies that hire them.

That said, I did not think the Lotus Foundations video was that bad. I laughed. I would have laughed more if it was not promoted by IBM as being viral. By telling me the video was viral before I watched it, they set themselves up for more critical review.

Here's an example of something my wife received unexpectedly and one that she immediately forwarded to others (viral behavior?). I think it will probably become quite popular. As a potentially viral marketing video, I think it's effective in that it got me thinking about the company's product even though the video was about my wife.

Watch this

In my opinion, whether the above goes viral or not will depend on what the viewers think, not the creators or vendor.

What do YOU think?

Recently, IBM peered into their Crystal ball to name five innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years:
  • Energy saving solar technology will be built into asphalt, paint and windows
  • You will have a crystal ball for your health
  • You will talk to the Web . . . and the Web will talk back
  • You will have your own digital shopping assistants
  • Forgetting will become a distant memory

The "Next Five in Five" is based on market and societal trends expected to transform our lives, as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s Labs around the world that can make these innovations possible.

Read more

I've been a user of Gyronix' GyroQ for MindManager for many years and I find it to be the fastest way to get information, ideas, and actions into a mind map. A year ago, we added support for GyroQ so that you can now capture actions into a Lotus Notes database, e.g. eProductivity - and Notes doesn't even have to be running!

Gyronix recently announced GyroQ2 which adds support for MindManager 8 and Mindjet Connect. It also adds several new tagging and map building enhancements.

Watch how GyroQ works with MindManager: video
Watch how I use GyroQ to capture ideas and actions into Lotus Notes: video

Via Mind Mapping Software Blog
Gyronix web site

Personal Brain and MindManager Maps Together

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008
I've been a big user of MindManager and Personal Brain for many years. I do not see them as competing products as, in my mind, they serve very different purposes and I will often use both products side by side. Still, there are times when I'd like to move information from one to the other.

I recently received an email from the folks at Personal Brain announcing version 5, which among other things, provides the ability to import MindManager maps. It's now possible to use MindManager for organizing thoughts in a structured map and then, if desired, import that structure into a brain and connect those thoughts to others in the Plex.

I already use both MindManager and Personal Brain, (both are Lotus Notes enabled) with eProductivity. I find that each tools helps me visualize my ideas, knowledge, projects, and actions in useful ways.

Now, with the added capability to import maps, I have yet another useful tool in my productivity toolkit.

More information

To-Do List capability added to Gmail

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008
Gmail labs recently added a new application called, cleverly enough, "Tasks," which brings task management inside of Gmail. If you afre someone who lives in Gmail, then having your tasks there too, makes a lot of sense. If you use Gmail and you understand the principles of David Allen's GTD methodology, then this really makes a lot of sense. (This is the same reason we built eProductivity around the Lotus Notes In-box: we wanted to help people to manage their stuff by making it easy for them to process their incoming items at the point of entry.)

I'm not a Gmail user so I can't say anything about the quality of their implementation, but if you use Gmail, it's probably worth checking out.

Gmail labs: Tasks

I try to blog about a variety of things that I find productive, particularly as they relate to my own use of Lotus Notes. Today, I read Joe Litton's post about how he's using Ytria tools to modify form and view action bars. I was reminded that I've had an action on my Someday/Maybe list to get together with my developers and write a blog post on how we are using Ytria tools to speed along our software development.

YTRIALOGO.gifIt's still on my list to write this, but I thought I would put in a good plug for the tools nonetheless. Ytria tools simply work. And, they save a lot of timeand reduce errors.

Since I do not do much development myself, the two tools that I use the most as part of the QA and deployment for eProductivity are: scanEZ and signEZ. I use these tools to set/reset hidden design and to sign our approved templates before we send them to customers. Other tools like the actionBarEZ and viewEZ and agentEZ are more popular with the development team.  The support has been great, too and Andre Hausberger has become quite the champion for us these past few years.

Anyway, if you are a Notes developer looking to improve your productivity, I encourage you to check out Ytria tools.

This productivity tip is not just for Lotusphere presenters, but for anyone that wants to move their documents to the Open Document file format...

How to quickly convert your LS09 presentation to ODF from PPT

The deadline for submitting the Lotusphere 2009 presentations is tomorrow.  IBM added a new twist this year by requiring that all presentations be created in Symphony. While I appreciate the intent behind the request  -- to get everyone using and showing Symphony -- it may not be a practical solution for everyone. I'm all for learning Symphony, but if I have to choose between working on my presentation deck for Lotusphere or learning Symphony so that I can convert my PowerPoint slides to it, guess which I'll choose?

I pinged Stephan Wissel over this and, after some ribbing about why I've not yet converted to Symphony (I know, shameful, but I plan to, soon), he told me about a plug-in from Sun Microsystems that will ODF-enable Microsoft Office:
  • The ODF Plug-in seamlessly integrates with the Load and Save As dialog and the Save (Ctrl+S) shortcut of Microsoft Office Word.
  • A new toolbar in Microsoft Office Excel and Microsoft Office PowerPoint simplifies the import and export of ODF documents.
  • Make the ISO standardized OpenDocument file format the standard in your company, and switch the standard file format in Microsoft Office Word to ODF.

Here's a link to the Sun ODF Plug-in for Microsoft Office

The sky itself may not be falling, but some of your data may be falling out of the clouds.

As I read about various cloud-computing initiatives shutting down (and probably for good reason) I can't help be wonder about the people that faithfully parked their information in the cloud, for free or fee, so that it would be available anywhere and at any time. This year, we've seen several businesses shut down, providing little notice for users to backup their information. And, when they do, it's often in a format that cannot be easily migrated elsewhere.

Others learned about the perils of DRM protected music when you vendor decides to shut down its licensing server. (This subject has been covered widely so I won't go into detail.) I'm sorry, telling a user that they can protect their investment be burning every song they have purchased to CD and then ripping them into another music app is unacceptable. They should honor the service or unlock the purchase. But I digress.

Back to the cloud. Oh yes, the sky is falling. I don't know about you but, unless I have real-time replicas of everything, I am already very cautious when it comes to storing my data where I cannot see or control it.  I have almost 20 years of data in Lotus Notes. I can access my oldest information as easily as I can access the newest. I do have hosted Domino servers but the data I store there is simply a replica. If the provider goes belly up, I still have full control over all of my data locally.

I have less of a concern about the social networking sites where the value of much of the information diminishes over time. So, if I lost Twitter,  I would not grieve as something else would emerge to take its place. If I lost LinkedIn, I would hurt a little more, but since my public profile is mostly static I can make a copy from time to time. On the other hand, my life working data - my email, my applications, etc., that's another story.

Are you confident that your cloud-computing vendor will be around next year? What about your data?  How does this affect your decision to move your data into the cloud?

Recently, I met with my good friend and client, David Allen, to discuss his participation in our upcoming Lotusphere 2009 presentation. As I frequently do, I recorded the day's conversations in order to capture notes and ideas about key points. (I use a Sony MXD-20 which let's me transcribe at 2-3x speed). I asked David if I could share a segment of our discussion about Lotus Notes, what he finds cool about it, and a number of other topics, rants, and ideas about the way people use (or don't use) Lotus Notes.

There's no real structure here but I've noted a some key points in case you want to jump around:

Continue Reading "David Allen and I talk about Notes/Lotusphere" »

Here's an opportunity to get a preview of the next generation of David's popular GTD RoadMap training at no cost. In less than two weeks, David Allen will be speaking at UCLA and you're invited!

On December 13th the David Allen Company is presenting a special event, Q&A, and book signing with David Allen. This special program is also the kick off for David’s new book, Making it All Work as well as a new GTD marketing campaign for 2009. (David's goal is to reach a broader audience, which is why he's asked me to extend the invitation to everyone who reads my blog.) I'm sure this will be a treat. Schedule permitting, I plan to attend as well.

If you miss this opportunity, then you can catch David again in January at Lotusphere 2009 where he and I will be presenting a session on Maximizing Personal Productivity with Lotus Notes.


Registration begins at 9AM and the event runs from 9:30 to 12:30.  They will be filming this event and will invite people to share testimonials if they want. Plan to come dressed in business casual attire.

Registration is free, but you must sign up in advance as seats are limited.