Swan Song for Lotusphere – Thanks for all the Dolphins

We said the word all week – Lotusphere. We all knew it was the last. We knew for sure when the bartender and waiters at Kimonos told us we weren’t coming back next year. Absolutely no one was surprised when the closing session announced “we’ll get back to you” as the date and format of the next thing.

Still, we showed up didn’t we? More people than any of us expected. There’s been enough said about the limitations of the show, so I won’t go into details. But if it looked from the outside like things were a little chaotic, it really wasn’t. From the inside it felt like this:

1 2 3 4

And what did we do? We presented, we attended, we drank, we hugged, we cried, we shook it off and put on our big girl panties and big boy long trousers and moved on. There is work to be done. With that said, there are the thanks:

 Thank You

To Gabriella Davis, who trusted me enough to work outside her comfort zone with a speaker whom she’d never even met. That’s a stretch for any of us, and it worked great. Thanks for the trust and the hard work as always. All of your sessions were great – even when someone started frying fish behind the wall one day. I value your friendship more than you know.

To Francie Tanner – who signed up for my annual road trip and endured 9 hours in the rain on the way down, and created a duct-tape rain jacket for my stuffed ape out of creativity and boredom – and who survived the digestive insults of Waffle House and Krystal. It is amazing to me that our friendship survived the ride home on 7 hours of sleep. Between us. Thank you.

And to Mary Beth Raven, Mike & Sue Smith, Carl Tyler, Andrew Pollack, Steve McDonagh, Wes Morgan, Paul Mooney, Frank Pavelski, Rob Gearhart, Terri Warren, Kristin Keene, Todd Krewson, and others through the years and all that I have failed to list here. THIS is what I always looked forward to at Lotusphere. You are really all that matters to me about the show. The rest of this stuff is just software……

Thanks to Mitch Cohen and Colgate for the Wisps and toothbrushes for the Gurupalooza attendees. We were gifted with vintage show swag by John Allen of IBM, and I can’t thank you enough John – I’m wearing a DevCon shirt right now and all of the other goodies got swept up (the ones I didn’t take for myself anyway).

Mat Newman, my friend, thanks for agreeing to own the BP track and Guru for the future. I trust you to bring the passion to the community and keep the flame alive. I chose you because I think you care as much as I do. I love you, little brother.

To all of the Best Practice speakers this year and in the past – who made this track THE reason for many attendees to show up. You are the most professional and smartest bunch of people I know. Thank you for all your efforts.

At the end of Gurupalooza, I remember Mitch saying some words, and everyone standing and applauding, but I couldn’t hear because my eyes were full of tears. I’m going to miss my role with the community and I will miss speaking and working the show. Thanks to everyone in that room for that wonderful energy – you have no idea how good that felt from where I stood.

The Future

Wherever this community’s next gathering ends up, I will be there as a customer or a biz partner after I leave IBM this year. Keep the User Groups going and PLEASE attend those. I was a member of the cult of Lotus before I joined Lotus and I still am. I thank all of you – customers, business partners and friends for allowing me to do what I do. Thank you to everyone who gave me hugs all week and left tears on my shirt. I held it together until Wednesday, then we *all* lost it a little. According to author Isak Dinesen, “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.”   We cured some things this week friends, so let’s move on together – with the memory of, and pride in what we all created in Orlando over the years.


clipped from http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-cure-for-anything-is-salt-water-maya-nagel.html

Wipeout media from http://abc.go.com/shows/wipeout

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Heading to Orlando – with a tear in my eye

As you read this, I’m on the road.  Why the tears?  I’m a little verklempt because this show will be my last Lotusphere, my last IBM show as an IBM employee.  After 15 years and more conferences that I can count, I’m retiring from IBM by the end of 2015.  IBM knows this, we just haven’t set a date yet.

Funny thing, though –  I am an American baby-boom generation person, so I’ll never be able to actually retire unless I win the lottery, but I will be leaving IBM.  On my own terms, and we’re both happy about it.

For 15 years, I’ve met you and many other IBM customers and partners while representing IBM.  I was a road warrior as part of two different flying fix-it teams and I spoke at a lot of conferences.  If I met you at a non-IBM conference, it was because the conference sponsors or I paid for me to get there.  I’ve never been an “official” IBM conference speaker, except at this January show, so this is truly the end of an era for me.

For all of you who know me – you have an assignment – you must find me and hug me in Orlando.  I promise to cry all over you, but you better say hello  – and goodbye.

And if you’re thinking that this is the last Lotusphere.   It is not.   I have most of the staff shirts since 2002, and I know that the last Lotusphere was in 2011 – the black polo-style staff shirts said Lotusphere and IBM  – with no other Conference names anywhere on them.  That was the last one in my opinion.  I also have one of these shirts still in the original packaging.  Maybe I should auction it off to help with my pension fund.

So, with the car headed south from North Carolina – with a couple of stuffed monkeys and a friend,  I’m headed to Florida to speak, to work and to play with friends.  I’m hoping to see a lot of you.

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ConnectED 2015 – What’s in it for Me?

I’m hearing rumors that your boss won’t let you come to the ConnectED2015 show in Orlando next month because there’s not enough content for the Notes/Domino/Sametime faithful customers. Is that true? Let’s see if we can convince the boss that you need to attend.

It’s true that the show is a day shorter, but its also $300 less to attend, and the boss will have you back at your desk a day earlier. Wait, maybe that’s not fun. But its not going to snow in Orlando – I can almost guarantee that.

I can also guarantee that the rest of the team and I have worked very hard to stuff this show with technical content that will not only let you keep your existing systems in great shape, they might just teach you some new tricks with some creative and innovation sessions.

The session Preview tool is online here: https://www-950.ibm.com/events/global/ibmced/agenda/preview.html

I used that preview tool thingy to build an agenda that makes my notesgoddess heart flutter. These aren’t the only sessions we have at the show either, but there are more sessions here than there are time slots. We also worked VERY hard not to run similar content at the same time. So while my long-time Notes/Domino/Sametime friends are attending these sessions, the Connections, Cloud, Exceptional Digital people and others will be attending sessions they want to see.

We changed the session names a bit, we’re allowing speakers to be more creative. I personally think we did pretty good. I didn’t generate an agenda with Connections sessions, but if you want to do that, you’ll see that there are more sessions for the long time faithful. And admit it, a bunch of you are running Connections and doing Cloudy, Social things too. I know – I’m answering your PMRs.

So for the PHB we all have, here’s some content that will make it worth your investment to send _________ to ConnectED2015. What say you? (Saving you the trouble, there are 29 sessions here)

My Sample Agenda

AD101: IBM Domino App Dev Futures – Eamon Muldoon, IBM
AD201: IBM Domino Applications in Bluemix – Martin Donnelly, IBM
BP101: @IF(“Its Really Good”;”It MUST Be Notes”;”Must Be Something Else”) 25 Notes on 25 Years of Notes! – Mat Newman, IBM, Carl Tyler, Epilio, Alan Lepofsky, Constellation
BP102: Practical IBM Notes and Domino Internet Security – Daniel Nashed, Nash!Com
BP103: Solving the Weird, the Obscure, and The Mind-Bending – Kim Greene, Kim Greene Consulting, Inc.
BP104: IBM Notes Traveler Daily Business: Administration, Monitoring & Support – René Winkelmeyer, midpoints GmbH
BP105: Take Your XPages Development to the Next Level – Brad Balassaitis, PSC Group, Paul Calhoun
BP106: From XPages Hero To OSGi Guru: Taking The Scary Out Of Building Extension Libraries – Paul Withers, Intec Systems Ltd, Christian Guedemann, Webgate.
BP107: Ten Lines Or Less: Interesting Things You Can Do In Java With Minimal Code- Julian Robichaux, panagenda, Kathy Brown, PSC
BP108: Be Open – Use WebServices And REST In XPages Applications – Bernd Hort, assono GmbH
BP109: IBM Sametime Voice And Video In The Real World- Jeremy Sanders, ThinkRite
BP110: Mastering Your Logs: Everything You Should Know About Logging in IBM Domino – Benedek Menesi, Ytria Inc.
BP208: Solving the Video Puzzle: Best Practices for Enterprise Video – Devon Copley, Kaltura Inc
BP301: Q: What’s Your Second Most Valuable Asset and Nearly Doubles Every Year – Henning Kunz, panagenda Consulting, Florian Vogler, panagenda.
BP302: Future Proofing Enterprise IT – Franz Walder, panagenda, Christoph Adler, panagenda
BTE101: Yes! You CAN Use Those Cool New Frameworks in Your Mobile Domino Apps! – Theo Heselmans, Xceed / Engage
BTE102: The Future of Web Development – Write Once, Run Everywhere with AngularJS and Domino – Mark Roden, PSC Group LLC, Mark Leusink
BTE103: 1 App, 2 Developers, 3 Servers: Getting the Same Application to Run on Different Servers – Mark Myers, London Developer Coop
ID102: IBM Sametime: Design and Implementation of a Full HADR Deployment, Tony Payne, IBM
ID105: IBM Notes Traveler: Deployment, Administration, Maintenance and Troubleshooting – Robert Sielken, IBM
ID106: IBM Notes Applications to the Web: IBM Notes Browser Plug-in – Rajesh Patil, IBM
ID107: IBM Domino – 2015 and Beyond – Scott Vrusho, IBM
ID108: Mobile Security Roundup – Bill Wimer, IBM
ID109: Digital Nightmares – The Biggest Performance Killers in Your Environment – Rob Gearhart, IBM
ID112: Connect the Dots: IBM Sametime Audio/Video Planning, Deployment, Ttroubleshooting and Beyond – Gaganpreet Saini, IBM
ID113: What’s New in IBM Notes, SmartCloud Notes Web and iNotes – Simon Butcher, IBM
MAS101: #UserBlast2015 – Mat Newman, Gabriella Davis & Susan Bulloch
MAS103: XPages Performance and Scalability – Tony McGuckin, IBM
MAS204: IBM Sametime Deployment Do’s and Don’ts: Tips, Tricks, Perils and Pitfalls – Wes Morgan, IBM and Chris Miller, Connectria

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Chalk Talks at ConnectED 2015

What are Chalk Talks you ask?  They are sort of like BOFs of the past conferences, but YOU get to decide what you want to see.  Plus, you get to use Connections Ideation blog to vote.   How?

Go here:   socialbiz user group.  Look through here and vote away.  And of course if you submitted one, get all of your friends to vote, ok?

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Who is joining me in Orlando for ConnectEd 2015?

This is normally a time of year when we start thinking about our annual Florida trip right?  We who work on the show actually got started early this year, and I’m already deep into the session selection process.

In a few days, you’ll be seeing the names of sessions that are already approved, so you will know (and trust) what the show is about.

Earlier this year, Kristin Keene gave an interview about what is the same and what has changed – the full interview is here:  What is changing and what is staying the same? 

Here is a summary:

  • The show is more technically focused than in recent years, so it is smaller
  • We will focus on existing customers and Partners
  • The show will be held in the Swan
  • The OGS and most familiar special features are there (Labs, Speedgeeking, Ask the Developers)
  • The Product Showcase – renamed the TechnOasis and with a new location – is nearly sold out already
  • The Best Practices track (with me as track manager), JumpStarts, Chalk Talks (think BOFs on steroids)
  • Your favorite IBM speakers as well as the best of the IBM Champions and Business Partners.

The best of the past will be there, and we plan to make the show something you’ll remember for years to come.  I don’t have access to the guest list, so tell me – are you going to be there?

Tell me why – or why not….I’m all ears.

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The times, they are indeed changing

Try not to read too much into this ok?  I am starting a training “bootcamp” this week that will end with me joining the IBM Connections support team.  

 It felt good to get that out.  

 My work for almost 20 years has been around Lotus Notes.  I’ve worked for IBM for the last 12 years in various support roles, mostly on the road, but the last 2 years or so working at my home office, talking to customers and solving calendar and client-related problems.  I’m pretty good at it and I like people, so it all worked out.  I recently traveled to the Philippines for IBM where I got to help train people in the newest support center, and that was a lot of fun.  

A few weeks ago, the management team sent out a call for volunteers to move over to the Connections support group because that product is growing like crazy.  I thought about it briefly, then volunteered.  I feel excited, guilty and scared.  I’m excited because its different – its change, its new stuff.  I feel guilty because I really love the team I am on.  There’s a ton of work still in Notes and my leaving puts more work on my friends.  And I really am scared because Connections has approximately eleventy times as many moving parts than Notes and Domino have. And while I know a lot of it already, I’m going to be dusting off some pretty creaky brain cells because I want to be as good at THIS as I am with Notes.  Without taking 20 years to get there.   

So, the Notes Goddess is taking on Connections.  Honestly, I still bleed yellow and always will.  I’ve never met a piece of software yet I couldn’t tame, so I’ll take on Connections just for the challenge. Wish me luck.  

I’ll see some of you in January, because I’m still working with the Connect2014 crew – back driving the Best Practices track. Meanwhile, I’ll be studying and building servers and using a highlighter on paper copies of instructions…..and falling over from brain overload….

Stay in touch!

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I don’t know where I’m gonna go when the volcano blows

Our trip to see the Taal volcano was great fun, exhausting and a great lesson in local horse trading also. The hotel arranged for us to hire a driver with a large van (a very nice van), a tour guide at Taal, lunch and a boat trip to the volcano – which sits in a lake. The price worked out to a little less than $100 USD each – and was a bargain. Or so we thought.

The drive out of Manila was great. The day was beautiful, we drove up into the beautiful resort town of Tagaytay, “Probably the Most Pleasant City in Asia” where the road is lined with permanent souvenir stalls. You can buy pineapple, coconuts, machetes, brooms and any number of handmade items too large to ship home. This goes on for miles and miles.

When we reached the main part of the village about 2 hours after we left Manila, we started our descent down a winding, narrow switchback-laden road down to the lake surrounding the volcano… The drive is quite stunning visually, and for those of us who didn’t grown up in the mountains, a little unsettling. The road is narrow, there are rock/earth slides to dodge, jitneys to dodge and people bathing in the waterfalls coming off the mountain to avoid. Once at the bottom, our driver found the house that held our boat launch and our cabana for our lunch later in the day.

As we ordered a selection of local foods that would be ready when we returned, we doused ourselves with sunscreen, loaded our valuables into waterproof bags and got into the outriggers for the trip across the lake. The boats were seaworthy, but held together with lots of plastic zip ties – but we got across the lake in 20 minutes or so.

When we got out on the beach – where people were bathing and BRUSHING THEIR TEETH in the lake – we were asked how many horses we needed for the hike to the top of the volcano. Only 750 pesos up and down. Being the typical healthy and fit (if doughy) computer nerd type, we all sneered and said ‘none’. The first stop was a cabana where we were told we needed to pay our local guide. Wait, what? Included in the price? No…… so we each threw in 100 pesos and our guide takes us off hiking upward with about $17 more in his pocket than before.

Here’s where it gets clever. It’s hot. It’s steep – we’re walking on ash. About 200 yards up sit 3 or four men with horses to rent for only 500 pesos ($11) – up and back – good horses, good guides, cheap – you ride. Three of us (including me) saw this as a great option – 4 kept going on foot. We climbed aboard the small horses (not typical American work horses) and up we went. The saddles weren’t American western trail saddles – not even a little bit – you couldn’t get ‘up’ in the stirrups when the horse trotted either. So except for having a horn to hang onto, we’re basically riding these critters bareback up a rocky slope. I think I probably feel better today than the men do, but it still smarts.

While we’re walking up, my guide tells me this is a company horse – he only get 50 pesos for running up and down the mountain and he has 2 babies to feed and he has no formula for the babies and FOR PETE’S SAKE HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT?!!!! Ok, 500 pesos per baby. We’re good. (Don’t tell- Sshh! – company horse – not supposed to take tip – secret okay?) The other riders of course reported the same story from their guides. I offer him a bottle of cool water – he declined.

When we do get to the top and get off the horses, we are met by a crew of women who are pulling iced Mountain Dew bottles from coolers and waving them at us. Don’t we want to buy our wonderful guides a cold drink? Look at them? They’re hot – they’re tired, they’re very good guides – they need a cold drink. Oh for crying out loud, how much? 100 pesos each. Fine – have a soda.

The walking crew followed shortly behind. I am impressed because they are alive. It’s steep, its hot. We’re all drenched in sweat and it was hard to tell whether the smells were from the volcano or from us. They had the guide with them. After we rested, I asked the guide to tell me about the volcano… He shrugged and pointed at it. What’s the elevation? (shrug) When did it last erupt? 1987 (all other material says 1977) – Where were you? Evacuation center. What did you do to earn the guide money? (I didn’t ask that last one, but should have).

Oscar found the extended trail out to the edge of the volcano while the guide rested and several of us went out there. We were offered the opportunity to hit a golf ball into the volcano for $100 pesos – no takers….. there were t-shirts and other souvenirs to be had. My fellow travelers helped me collect rocks to take down and after a bit it was time to go back down, across the lake and find lunch. The trip down by horse was about the same as the trip up, but when we reached the pickup point and dismounted, we were urged to tip. THE HORSES. They’re good horses. Strong horses – tip? No, Susan – tip for Angel, your horse? No tip? OH FFS! Give the horse the money and buy a padded saddle.

Now we’re back on the beach and I hear one of the local people walking with our bus driver behind us mention the word “cincuenta” and I told the gang that we were about to be charged 50 pesos for something. For the GANGPLANK to get onto the boat without getting our feet wet – which we used to get OFF the boat. And for the pushback from the beach. Fine – who has a 50?

We arrived back at the cabana for lunch and all of us were too overheated and tired to eat much. The highlight of the meal was that we ordered one noodle dish without meat because one of the crew has an allergy to chicken. We’re looking around at the dishes and the noodles clearly have chicken (or some bird) in them, so we call our host over and ask about the dish with no meat. He points to the noodle dish and says ‘no meat, just chicken’. Awesome! We now know to order food with no meat AND no chicken.

The drive up the winding road was less impressive due to fatigue, and the drive down from Tagaytay to Manila took hours due to people returning to Manila from their mountain getaways. We were exhausted when we got back, but as long as we focus on the spectacular sights and sounds from the top of the volcano, we’ll remember a great time. If we recall the entire adventure, we will remember an adventure.

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