harmon.ie – bringing SharePoint into IBM Notes

hormonie1As Silverside has recently become a partner for harmon.ie I've been testing their harmon.ie plugin for IBM Notes. A plugin that allows organizations running SharePoint as well as IBM Notes to have access to their SharePoint content from within their mail environment. I must say I’m enthusiastic!

Originally developed to allow access from within Outlook it was also adapted to run in IBM Notes. Making it possible to seamlessly use most of the SharePoint features without having to leave the collaboration/mail environment.

“…More than a file navigator…”

What harmon.ie does is to show you your SharePoint sites and site contents in the widget bar of your IBM Notes environment. Allowing you access to your sites, files and profiles and giving you the option of easily ‘dragging & dropping’ files, emails or individual attachments to or from your SharePoint site. A great way to collaborate with your colleagues and share information if SharePoint is your chosen platform for team work or document storage.

Dragging & dropping files between your mail and SharePoint environment enables your users to collaborate by sending either links (internal users) or the actual files (for external recipients) by simply selecting the [ALT] button on the keyboard.

Harmon.ie is however much more than just a ‘file navigator’ for SharePoint. It also allows you to surface and edit your SharePoint team calendars in your IBM Notes agenda, browse and access profile information from the SharePoint MySites and integrates with Sametime instant messaging.

“…Bringing together both worlds…”

harmonie2Seeing as more and more IBM Notes organizations have SharePoint running too, bringing together the two worlds really makes for a better and more connected way of working. Leveraging both the power of SharePoint as well as the capabilities of the IBM Notes environment. And as it supports both Outlook as well as IBM Notes it offers benefits to mixed environments as well.

  • Gives you access to one or more SharePoint sites from within your IBM Notes environment
  • Allows you to ‘drag & drop’ files from your mail to SharePoint & vice versa
  • Brings content types, meta-data, version history, workflow and check-in/check-out from SharePoint into your IBM Notes environment
  • Allows the attachment of links to files in SharePoint or actual files themselves
  • Leverages Sametime awareness and IM
  • Allows incorporation of SharePoint team calendars in your IBM Notes agenda
  • Enables access to MySite profiles for searching, updating and interaction
  • Shows recent SharePoint activity for profiles and files

But the reason I think I like it most is that harmon.ie offers organizations and users a practical way to use the platforms their organization requires and prefers without being forced into a vendor lock-in or costly migrations. Bridging the gap and at the same time expanding the way users can work with their SharePoint data. So if your organization is using SharePoint then check out this video for a more detailed overview and download a trial version. It's definitely worth trying out.

Images courtesy of http://harmon.ie

Lotus Notes Gems: Set the default font for mail

Every now and again you learn about a new functionality or option in your favorite software that has been there for a while and you really should have know about but simply didn’t… And although you love it as soon as you learn about it, it also bugs the hell out of you that you didn’t learn it before!

Well here it is, my gem of the week:

In Lotus Notes mail if you want to set the default font for new messages simply create a new mail, create some text according to the font, color and size you want and click the [Text]; [Set current font as mail Default]. It will automatically update your basic font settings to reflect your new preferred settings. So simple and yes, so easy.

I don’t know how I could have not known about this one! Especially as it has been in Lotus Notes since version 8.5.2 apparently, but as I do right now I can’t help but write it down. Perhaps someone else missed or forgot about this one too and could use a reminder 🙂

Deleted tweet and heated discussions

Ok, this one just rubbed me the wrong way.

Yesterday I followed a heated twitter discussion between @MatNewman and @APACloud (Andy Pattinson – ProQuest) on Lotus Notes vs Google Mail.
I’m always interested to learn what makes/breaks the products I work with so I followed the twitter exchange although I must say it all got rather direct… (nasty?)

What I mostly got from it was that it wasn’t a real discussion. Mat, asking (in his own unique enthusiastic way) for substantiation on some statements about Lotus Notes vs Google mail was replied with  statements in which he was called a lunatic and on crack.

Regardless of the form, I think it’s always important to keep the focus on the topic, not on the person.
So, although I must admit I was a bit annoyed by the unwarranted insults (even if meant in a jokingly way), I couldn’t help but wonder whether @APACloud actually had anything to say on the topic (Google Mail vs Lotus Notes) or was just trying to get out of a discussion he wasn’t up for but doing it the wrong way (getting a bit childish instead of admitting he had just made a rash statement he was not about ready to have a debate on).

And to test that I asked him to elaborate a bit on his claims about Gmail being so much better then Lotus Notes. Something that was asked by @MatNewman as well but just didn’t seem to be getting an answer.

tweet1

tweet2

tweet3

tweet4

tweet5

tweet6

Now at this point I kind of got that he really wasn’t up for it and I was about ready to leave it at that when he replied my tweet saying (something like) “Perhaps we could do a call on this, would love to elaborate”. Surprised I accepted.

tweet7

I was genuinely up for it as I love to get the perspective of someone else. I only have limited experience with Google Mail so having a chance to talk to, and get the perspective of, someone who claims having used both professionally, as well as knows something about Salesforce (a topic I’m also interested in) was something I wouldn’t pass.

Notice how I included every tweet form our little exchange except that one in which he invites me for a call?

Well guess what, this morning, reading back the exchange (yes I do that sometimes) I noticed he had actually deleted that particular tweet. Apparently it was just a way to get out of the discussion and to shush me up. So I expect no call on this and to be honest after this, I’m not even up for it either.

Next time, be a man and just say you’re not up for the discussion.

NLLUG May 15th & 16th Rotterdam (update 2)

Check your calendar and move those dates! NLLUG and the Social Business convention that were planned for April 17th & 18th in the Amsterdam Arena are now to be held on May 15th &16th in the Rotterdam ‘Kuip’. Home of soccer club Feijenoord and traditionally arch enemy of Ajax whose stadion was first booked for this event. Apparently there is a soccer fan at play here seeing as we are moving from one stadion to another but I’m sure it’ll turn out great as both venues have a lot to offer!

For one: It is a lot closer to home for me 🙂

NLLUG 2012 returns!

W00t! NLLUG is coming back!

After a very successful 2 day NLLUG in 2010 and missing out on it last year it is time for NLLUG 2012! As part of the Social Business Convention, NLLUG is returning to the Amsterdam Arena for a two day, 4 track, 45+ session event.

OGS @ NLLUG 2010

It’s all still very fresh (as of today the NLLUG site is still showing 2010 stuff), but I’m sure more details will follow shortly. For those that weren’t there two years ago: The Amsterdam Arena is one of the biggest soccer stadiums of The Netherlands and a great venue for such an important event. The picture above was taken during the 2010 OGS…..

So if last time was anything to go by then this is going to be one you shouldn’t miss! Make sure to block the 17th and 18th of April and keep an eye out for further announcements!

Structure for an unstructured mind

I just created a new tab on my Lotus Notes Workspace. ‘Workspace?‘ you ask. Yes, workspace. Ok, I know, it has been more or less buried by Lotus since Lotus Notes V5 came out. But every time I install the Lotus Notes Client the first thing I do is to reinstate the Workspace back to being the Homepage. I just find it so much easier to work with.

It’s a visual thing. I hate having to scroll through extensive lists and if you’d see my current workspace you would know I have a lot of databases listed.

On my workspace I can easily find certain databases blindfolded (CRM database: 1st tab, 1st line, 1st tile from the gap). But if you asked me what the application name was though….
This is because I use visual indicators for finding an application. Things like location on my tabs, icon image and relative position towards other applications. I rarely look at the name.

Having a workspace allows me to structure things visually and in a way that is logical to me, like placing templates below the databases and grouping things the way I want them to, not just into alphabetically sorted lists by name.

Why don’t I like the alphabetical lists?

Well… people who know me will recognize this but I’m simply horrible at remembering names! Be it people, brands, databases, etc. I will make a mess of it. I’ll easily call a Volvo a Volkswagen, mix acronyms up and still sometimes search for the names of my own cousins. So to put an alphabetical list of 100+ database names in front of me is like saying :”Good luck!“. Give me a workspace and tabs though and I have no problems what so ever.

I think this is also why I’m so fond of my iPad. Things are more visually-orientated then list-orientated and that makes it easier to work with for me. I think Lotus could learn a thing or two from Apple there. The visual way of working that Apple has developed would really benefit a lot of people like me that just don’t work in structured lists. Take for instance the “Application-Open”  control. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to find databases if it was portrayed in an AppStore like fashion? With a search box and tiled overview, suggestions lists and maybe even preference recognitions? Ok, yes, I know the list-lovers now cringe but I’m sure a lot of ordinary users would absolutely love to have a more intuitive way of locating apps.

How often have you had users you literally had to walk through opening an application on the server?

“Ok, press CTRL and ‘O’ keys simultaneously. You should see a window called ‘Open Application’. Now enter ‘x’ in the server name field. Do you see a list of names below it? No? Ok, press the [Open] button. Do you see the list now? Yes? Ok. Scroll down until you see the yellow folders and locate the ‘x’ folder. Double click it. Yes. You see another list now. Find the “xx” name and double click it”…..

So until Lotus decides to permanently take out the workspace (or comes up with a better replacement) I’m really happy with my Workspace and the 14 tabs and 100+ tiles I have on it. Let me work in my own quirky way of visual structuring. I’m sure I’m not alone!

Lotusphere-less… NOW WHAT?!?

If you are anything like me you probably had the dates for Lotusphere 2012 inscribed and blocked in your calendar as soon as they were announced last year and spend the last 11 months bugging your boss about letting you go (yes, I did). Still, not everyone gets to go….. 

DISASTER!, now what?!? How can you NOT be there where it is all happening!?!

Breath in…..ok, relax. I know it’s a disaster and I feel for you but in the incredible situation you’re actually not going, there are still ways to participate. So, to help you overcome this horrible scenario, some tips from someone who lived through it last year (and yes, that was hard!). Because you might not be able to be there physically, you can still be there online:

  • Try and find a Live feed that allows you to follow what’s going on. Last year I ended up watching the whole OGS through a LotusLive web meeting feed. With running commentary and a very active comments section with like minded people who weren’t there. It gave me the comfort of knowing I was not alone, pining behind my desk in a cold & rainy place far, far from sunny Orlando…
  • Check out the #ls12 hashtag. Anything going on at or around Lotusphere will in general be tweeted with this hashtag. Even better, check out the IBM Social Aggregator for Lotusphere site that lists tweets & blog posts about Lotusphere all in one convenient web page with link backs to authors profiles and other blogs.
  • Listen to the podcasts that are around. There are several out there like Taking Notes and This Week in Lotus for instance that are really worth listening to if you want to know what’s going on in the Lotus Community. Leading up to and during Lotusphere they tend to do lots of interviews and even live recordings from the conference itself.
  • Check out PlanetLotus. The place to go for all blog’s Lotus and during Lotusphere the place to get the latest scoops. 
  • Check out the Greenhouse Lotusphere Community (register for free with Greenhouse if you haven’t done so yet to get access). An online Connections community where people can connect, post pictures, links and video’s, search for information, post questions and get involved while at Lotusphere. But also open to anyone not there.
  • Follow and connect with people on twitter that are there. This is the best way of getting to know what’s going on. Who to follow? Well there are lot’s and finding the right ones can be difficult if you’re new to this. A good basic set of active Lotus community tweeps is to simply follow the IBM Champions twitter list. These are some of the most active members in the community and it’s an easy starting point to broaden your network. Don’t be afraid to interact with them either. These are people that were recognized by IBM for their active role in the Community so in general they are really open and willing to engage with you.

    So although none of the above really replaces the actual ‘Lotusphere experience’ itself these could be tips to get a little bit of the feeling of being there. And, if you’re smart, you can use it to get the arguments to convince your boss why he should let you go next year…. 🙂

    This list is far from complete. Any more tips I might have forgotten? Add them to the comments!

    LotusLive & Lotusphere

    So today was D-day. The Lotusphere 2012 abstract acceptation/rejection messages were being send out which meant lot’s of people (including me) got disappointed. At the same time it means others that really deserved it got really happy so I’m not to bummed out about it. I know I’ll be seeing lots of great sessions and I’m really looking forward to that. It also means I have more time to concentrate on all the good stuff Lotusphere has to offer so I’m just going to sit back and enjoy it!

    One of the session that I submitted with my co-worker Roland Driesen was on LotusLive. More specifically on how we, for the last year, have been actively using it at Silverside. Not just to collaborate internally but more importantly externally. Silverside really put the pedal to the metal by not just trying to get our customers to engage in LotusLive by using Guest accounts but by doing an experiment where we gave a large group of them (payed) accounts & training so they could fully collaborate with us in projects using activities, file sharing and IM. Not only did this allow for better project collaboration, it also allowed these customers to have the full LotusLive experience for themselves.

    The results were mixed. Some really got the idea and used it actively, others looked at it and dismissed it more or less right away.  

    The one thing that was really loved and turned out to have most ROI effect was the fact they now had Sametime access to us directly. The people we gave the accounts to in general were project owners, decision makers and IT managers. In stead of having to rely on mail or phone calls they could now easily and quickly connect to us….. and not just during office hours!
    Yes, it may sound weird but most revenue was gotten from informal Sametime chats outside of office hours, sometimes late at night or in the weekend where an IT Manager needed to know something quickly and used LotusLive Sametime. In more then one case those informal chats resulted in concrete projects or opportunities.

    So was it a successful project? Yes and No… It did help us connect better to our customers but there is still a lot to improve on LotusLive. For instance try explaining to a user that when he uses the search box in the right upper corner to search for a document he first has to switch to the Files section to actually find anything relevant…. If I get a search box, I expect it to be able to search through all of the content within my system (LotusLive), not just in the section I’m stuck in at that moment.
    On the up side the project certainly helped us connect more to an important group of our customers, becoming a better integrated partner to their organization.

    For now I’m just looking forward to announcements for LotusLive at Lotusphere. The one I really hope for is the addition of Sametime to the guest accounts as I really think IM/chats is what can open lot’s of organizations to the idea of Collaboration. So that could really be a big benefit when getting external partners on LotusLive….. and of course that search option, simply because it bugs the hell out of me!

    Redbook recidency

    In 2009 I had the honor of being chosen to be a part of the last formal Redbook by the Lotus brand. It was the “Self Assessment and Strategy Guide for Migrating from Domino Document Manager” Redbook. A Redbook that tried to help customers on DomDoc make their choise as to how to migrate of that platform as it was being discontinued.

    I’d always hoped to be a part of a Redbook team but never really thought I made a chance and when the number of Redbooks being publiced for Lotus products diminished so was my hope of ever being part of one…
    So that Friday morning in 2009 when my boss sent out a message asking if there was anyone interested in doing a Redbook I lept at the opportunity. I never even hesitated and just replied immediately. This was my chance, and I had to take it! Two weeks later after a couple of hectic weeks arranging things, I boarded a plane for a 3 week residency in Cambridge, MA.

    It was everything I hoped for. The discussions we had as a team and with product specialists, developers and Brand managers of IBM. The opportunities we got, to see new developments, test them and write on them and the feeling of being able to create something that would help thousands of people do their migration… It was better then I had hoped for.
    But it was hard work too! The 3 week residency itself was only the beginning. After that a 6 month period of writing, revising, rewriting and discussing (skype) started. All of which happened mostly at night or in weekends as my daily job didn’t stop either.Part of my task was to write a chapter on the comparison between Quickr and DomDoc and a chapter that outlined a step-by-step actual migration using a migration tool. I think I did at least 50 test migrations for that one alone. There were times that I got really fed up by it all.

    So when the postman finally came to deliver that hard copy of the Redbook with my name on it. I was sad and happy at the same time. It had been hard work but it was so rewarding. Most importantly it showed me that I had something to offer. Be it small, I could actually help other people. For someone who used to be very shy and insecure that was a real eye opener.Since then I’ve become more outward going, wrote blogs and articles, spoke at conferences, became very active on Social Media and connected more to other people in the professional community.

    No wonder that when I saw this on facebook last night….

    ….I couldn’t help but jump for it again. It might not be a Redbook in the way I did it before, it does incorporate everything I love and do so I would be crazy not to! At the same time I’m aware that this Residency is going to be really popular and that my chances of being picked are slim at best.
    But if there’s anything I learned from my Redbook experience it is that you have to grab any chance you get! Besides, even if I don’t get picked I still got the thrill of reliving the great times I had again.

    So if you are considering nominating yourself but not yet sure?… I can say only one thing: Go for it, take that chance! This could change your life. It did for me!

    Tech war winners & losers of the week

    It has been an exciting week so far!
    Lotus Notes 8.5.3 got released with some nice features and an entitlement for using Connections Files & Profiles greatly improving the future of Lotus Notes as part of the Social Business Strategy. The new XWork server license model was introduced by IBM to allow the selling of xPages without having to have it ‘Lotus Notes’  branded. And Apple revealed their new iPhone5….ehhh….. Nop, sorry not yet we’ll milk out the old one first with the iPhone4S.

    Furthermore IBM passed Microsoft on the inside in market cap and Apple revealed….. ehhh….. nop.

    Ok, week isn’t over yet. Let’s see what else comes up but so far I like it!

    Demo of Lotus Notes 8.5.3 integration with Connections:
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AI36sjFKtYo]

    Ok, is my view colored? Yes. Am I biased? Yes but hey, aren’t we all..!