ICS/Lotus (mostly), Linux, Travel, Skiing, Mixology, and Random Musing of Interest

I AM Speaking at ICON UK

Bill Malchisky  September 11 2014 10:00:00 AM
Image:I AM Speaking at ICON UK

Long story short, I will be speaking this Friday, 12 September in London, for the ICON UK renaissance. You can find me acting as emcee for the Ask IBM session at 2:00pm (1400h) and then again at 3:45pm (1545h) presenting The Headless Collaborator: Sametime 9 Command Line Install.

If you are in London for this wonderful event, please do say, "Hi," or better yet, attend one of my sessions. See you Friday!

iNotes Users -- Chrome 37 Creates Compatibility Issues

Bill Malchisky  September 5 2014 01:35:57 PM
IBM released today, a new Technote for iNotes users, entitled, "Some iNotes operations fail to work correctly in Chrome browsers upgraded to Chrome version 37" and is available here.

These five key areas introducing concern stem from Google deprecating the showModalDialog API.
1. Create/Edit Mail rule
2. Contacts Form and the Print action
3. Calendar view and results window displayed when using the "Import Holidays" action (off the "More" menu)
4. Preferences (Select default folder, Preferred rooms/resources site, Change HTTP password error, Security/Show ID info)
5. Validation of entered names/address from certain input forms where "Ambiguous Name", "Name not found" and "Certificate error" dialog might occur (Preferences, To Do, Group Calendar, Group, Phone Message)

As a work-around, Google is allowing the API to be available in a manually applied patch until May 1, 2105, with developer details located here.

The Technote provides two workarounds to handle the situation for impacted users--either one, or none may be appropriate for your organization, which then also introduces the avoidance permutation.

Updated -- Below here
As IBM codes a permanent fix by removing all requests for this API call, one hopes for an iNotes hotfix soon, particularly as Mozilla expressed interest in removing this API call too.


Further Reading

The initial change pitch is cited here
Blink Intents - Issue Dashboard spreadsheet captures the link, see row 59
"Intent to Remove: window.showModalDialog()" is linked here
"Window.showModalDialog: What it is and why you should never use it"
"Issue 345831: Delete showModalDialog" is linked here, commenced on 24 Feb 2014
For more information on iNotes, the documentation portal is located here

Ubuntu: Clearing GPG -- BADSIG Errors During Update

Bill Malchisky  September 3 2014
In updating my Ubuntu LTS host OS caused me to receive several GPG BADSIG errors, visually captured in the following Update Manager error message.

Image:Ubuntu: Clearing GPG -- BADSIG Errors During Update

You can see the errors more closely via a terminal window.

malchw@san-domino:~$ sudo apt-get update


W: A error occurred during the signature verification. The repository is not updated and the previous index files will be used. GPG error:
http://extras.ubuntu.com precise Release: The following signatures were invalid: BADSIG 16126D3A3E5C1192 Ubuntu Extras Archive Automatic Signing Key

W: GPG error:
http://ppa.launchpad.net precise Release: The following signatures were invalid: BADSIG B22A95F88110A93A Launchpad PPA for Bumlebee Project

Two ways to resolve -- persistent and the brute force methods. I'll demonstrate the former first, then the latter for a stubborn error.


Persistent Solution

Step 0 -- malchw@san-domino:~$ sudo apt-get clean
Step 1 Combo -- malchw@san-domino:~$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

This was enough to get me to update my files sans issue, but the BADSIG errors remained.

The following packages have been kept back:

linux-image-generic

The following packages will be upgraded:

apparmor apport apport-gtk dh-apparmor flashplugin-installer

gnome-control-center gnome-control-center-data google-chrome-stable

icedtea-6-jre-cacao icedtea-6-jre-jamvm icedtea-7-jre-jamvm krb5-locales

libavcodec-extra-53 libavformat53 libavutil-extra-51 libc-bin libc-dev-bin

libc6 libc6:i386 libc6-dev libc6-i386 libgnome-control-center1

libgssapi-krb5-2 libgssapi-krb5-2:i386 libjs-jquery libk5crypto3

libk5crypto3:i386 libkrb5-3 libkrb5-3:i386 libkrb5support0

libkrb5support0:i386 libpostproc52 libswscale2 linux-libc-dev

multiarch-support openjdk-6-jre openjdk-6-jre-headless openjdk-6-jre-lib

openjdk-7-jre openjdk-7-jre-headless postfix python-apport

python-problem-report

43 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 1 not upgraded.

Need to get 158 MB of archives.

After this operation, 4,047 kB of additional disk space will be used.

Do you want to continue [Y/n]? Y


Though pleased to have the long list of updated applications completed, I wanted to remove the errors. Onward to step two.
Wanting to rule out any caching issues for installed packages, I removed that from the permutation list.

Step 2 -- malchw@san-domino:~$ sudo apt-get update -o Acquire::http::No-Cache=True
Next, run Step 1 Combo, to see if things improve. For me, I needed to continue troubleshooting.

Thanks to AskUbuntu for the next command.
Step 3 -- malchw@san-domino:~$ sudo apt-get update -o Acquire::BrokenProxy=true
Then run Step 1 Combo.

If the command comes back sans error(s), then you are finished. Else, time for more drastic actions.


Brute Force Solution

The solution depicted below is listed on over three sites sites, thus I am unable to provide an accurate attribution.

malchw@san-domino:~$ sudo apt-get clean
malchw@san-domino:~$ cd /var/lib/apt
malchw@san-domino:/var/lib/apt$ sudo mv lists lists.old
malchw@san-domino:/var/lib/apt$ sudo mkdir -p lists/partial
malchw@san-domino:/var/lib/apt$ sudo apt-get clean
malchw@san-domino:/var/lib/apt$ sudo apt-get update


Hit
http://us.archive.ubuntu.com precise-updates Release.gpg
Hit
http://us.archive.ubuntu.com precise Release.gpg                          
Hit
http://us.archive.ubuntu.com precise-backports Release.gpg                
Hit
http://us.archive.ubuntu.com precise-updates Release        
...

Ign
http://ppa.launchpad.net precise/main Translation-en_US
Ign
http://ppa.launchpad.net precise/main Translation-en
Ign
http://ppa.launchpad.net precise/main Translation-en_US
Ign
http://ppa.launchpad.net precise/main Translation-en
Reading package lists... Done


Running the clean returned no results which is normal, but the update here, proved rewarding: came back error free. So, if the persistent approach does not clear your BADSIG error(s), then the brute force option is your best bet.

Good luck.

Fixing Public Key Repository Errors on Ubuntu

Bill Malchisky  September 2 2014 12:01:00 AM
Most of have seen at one point of another a error when updating packages, stemming from an untrusted repository.

W: GPG error:
http://security.ubuntu.com precise-security Release: The following signatures couldn't be verified because the public key is not available: NO_PUBKEY 40976EAF437D05B5

Here is one fix that works reliably well. Perhaps it will save you some time.

1. Syntax: sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys
2. $ sudo apt-get update

Repeat for each instance of the same received error after the update command in number two above. For this example, I received two NO_PUBKEY errors, one of which is listed above.

malchw@san-domino:~$ sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 40976EAF437D05B5

Executing: gpg --ignore-time-conflict --no-options --no-default-keyring --secret-keyring /tmp/tmp.rFoBoQHFbu --trustdb-name /etc/apt/trustdb.gpg --keyring /etc/apt/trusted.gpg --primary-keyring /etc/apt/trusted.gpg --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 40976EAF437D05B5

gpg: requesting key 437D05B5 from hkp server keyserver.ubuntu.com

gpg: key 437D05B5: public key "Ubuntu Archive Automatic Signing Key " imported

gpg: no ultimately trusted keys found

gpg: Total number processed: 1

gpg:               imported: 1


malchw@san-domino:~$ sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys B22A95F88110A93A
Executing: gpg --ignore-time-conflict --no-options --no-default-keyring --secret-keyring /tmp/tmp.xHZdcG77tR --trustdb-name /etc/apt/trustdb.gpg --keyring /etc/apt/trusted.gpg --primary-keyring /etc/apt/trusted.gpg --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys B22A95F88110A93A

gpg: requesting key 8110A93A from hkp server keyserver.ubuntu.com

gpg: key 8110A93A: public key "Launchpad PPA for Bumlebee Project" imported

gpg: Total number processed: 1

gpg:               imported: 1  (RSA: 1)


Run step two above, which came back clean. All done. Nice and easy.



IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

Bill Malchisky  August 25 2014 02:50:00 PM
Preface - As I started this entry in June and in doing research to articulate the point, the case for installation simplicity grew dramatically. This post commences by illustrating the present state, how IBM did better previously (and still does with a different product), three customer examples of revenue impact, and closes with an offered solution for the present state. Please understand it is my intent to assist rather than besmirch, while being professional and respectful to both the community and IBM as a whole. Your comprehension of this perspective is appreciated.


IBM Connections 5 became available mid-June and like many people, immediately began the download process. To my surprise, I lacked sufficient space in my large files partition to handle the pull. I started constructing the trend line for how this product and others progressed overtime, contrasting that with Sametime Community Server and Domino, plus the process to start upon installing each product. My experience with the Sametime 9 installation proved just as troublesome. Amazingly, these results are diverging from IBM's excellent past, not progressing towards an improved way to handle their new set of complex (but capable) product offerings. A few conversations with colleagues and customers confirmed my thoughts and in the spirit of working with IBM to improve processes and products --- as performed previously, numerous times --- I wanted to illustrate a critical opportunity for IBM.


Download Footprint

Table of Linux i386 and x64 - limited file pull for EditLive!, Connections 5, Forms Experience Builder, and WAS (19 of 63 files to include Cognos, DB2, Tivoli, and CCM)

bill@san-domino:/dl/ibm.software/connections5$ ls

Connections_5.0_Cog_Wiz_LNX.tar       pp_qsg_10.1.1_ml.tar.gz

Connections_5.0_Wizards_lin_aix.tar   QS_FOR_WAS_ND_V8.5.5.zip

DMZ_SPS_1of2_WASNDv8.5.5.zip          WASND_v8.5.5_1of3.zip

DMZ_SPS_2of2_WASNDv8.5.5.zip          WASND_v8.5.5_2of3.zip

EditLive_5.0_Conne_MP_ML_QSG.zip      WASND_v8.5.5_3of3.zip

EditLive_v5.0_Conne_MP_ML.zip         WAS_ND_v8.5.5_Liberty.zip

FEB_v8.5.0.1_Linux_x86_ML.tar.gz      WAS_V8.5.5_SUPPL_1_OF_3.zip

FEB_v8.5.0.1_Multiplatform_ML_QS.zip  WAS_V8.5.5_SUPPL_2_OF_3.zip

IBM_Connections_5.0_Lin.tar           WAS_V8.5.5_SUPPL_3_OF_3.zip

IBM_Connections_5.0_QSG.zip


Image:IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

Where does one even start with this? The full download set for Linux on Intel is 63 files and 41.3GB, more than I had free on my laptop while traveling. It is also very easy to miss a file, as the Red Hat Linux OS selection includes eight Multiplatform eAssembly bundles with Windows, Linux x86, Linux x64, Linux on POWER, Linux on Z, and AIX all intermingled.  Unless you have time to peruse a significant quantity of online documentation or completed technical training to install their products, you may very well end-up hiring a consultant--or spending significant quantities of time with IBM technical support.


Naming and Build Consistency

The one noticeable improvement in Connections 5 over Connections 4.5 is more filenames are descriptive. To help visualize the contrast, please see my blog post on what Connections 4.5 resembled.

Unpacking IBM_Connections_5.0_QSG.zip provides 24 translations in 24 files of CIYQ4ML_[country-code].pdf, entitled, "IBM Connections Quick Start Guide for AIX, Windows, Linux Multilingual - Version 5", which loses the detailed filename construct (as does the EditLive! 5.0 QSG) and lacks a subdirectory like the other QSG packed files. The Connections 5 QSG provides links to a Technote and a Knowledge Center post to learn your requirements and how to install the product

Two problems inside this file:
1. The system requirements URL links to "System Requirements for EditLive! For IBM Connections 4.5 IFR2" -- the wrong product
2. The Installation URL provides a dead page

Image:IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

In verifying the downloaded archives' contents, many of the ZIP files lack a correlated or unique sub-directory to help manage the files. I find the lack of consistency with the provided packed files irksome.  To demonstrate, I created five QSG directories, unpacking one QSG variant into each to contrast; which guide is in which directory is inconsequential for this experiment. The results are below.

bill@san-domino:/dl/ibm.software/connections5$ ls -F qsg qsg?

qsg:

CIYQ4ML_ar.pdf  CIYQ4ML_es.pdf  CIYQ4ML_kk.pdf  CIYQ4ML_ru.pdf

CIYQ4ML_bg.pdf  CIYQ4ML_fr.pdf  CIYQ4ML_ko.pdf  CIYQ4ML_sk.pdf

CIYQ4ML_ca.pdf  CIYQ4ML_hu.pdf  CIYQ4ML_nl.pdf  CIYQ4ML_sl.pdf

CIYQ4ML_de.pdf  CIYQ4ML_it.pdf  CIYQ4ML_pl.pdf  CIYQ4ML_th.pdf

CIYQ4ML_el.pdf  CIYQ4ML_iw.pdf  CIYQ4ML_pt.pdf  CIYQ4ML_zh.pdf

CIYQ4ML_en.pdf  CIYQ4ML_ja.pdf  CIYQ4ML_ro.pdf  CIYQ4ML_zh_tw.pdf


qsg2:

installdiagrams/  quickstart/


qsg3:

quickstart/  vers/


qsg4:

CIZP2ML_ar.pdf  CIZP2ML_es.pdf  CIZP2ML_kk.pdf  CIZP2ML_sk.pdf

CIZP2ML_bg.pdf  CIZP2ML_fr.pdf  CIZP2ML_ko.pdf  CIZP2ML_sl.pdf

CIZP2ML_ca.pdf  CIZP2ML_hu.pdf  CIZP2ML_nl.pdf  CIZP2ML_th.pdf

CIZP2ML_de.pdf  CIZP2ML_it.pdf  CIZP2ML_pt.pdf  CIZP2ML_zh.pdf

CIZP2ML_el.pdf  CIZP2ML_iw.pdf  CIZP2ML_ro.pdf  CIZP2ML_zh_tw.pdf

CIZP2ML_en.pdf  CIZP2ML_ja.pdf  CIZP2ML_ru.pdf


qsg5:

FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_br.pdf     FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_ko.pdf

FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_cs_CZ.pdf  FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_ro.pdf

FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_en.pdf     FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_sk.pdf

FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_fr.pdf     FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_th.pdf

FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_hr.pdf     FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_zh_CN.pdf

FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_hu.pdf     FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_zh_TW.pdf

FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_ja.pdf

bill@san-domino:/dl/ibm.software/connections5$ ls -F qsg[23]/quickstart

qsg2/quickstart:

WAS8.5_nd_qsg_br.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_fr.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_ro.pdf

WAS8.5_nd_qsg_cs.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_hu.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_ru.pdf

WAS8.5_nd_qsg_de.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_it.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_zh_CN.pdf

was8.5_nd_qsg_en.htm  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_ja.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_zh_TW.pdf

WAS8.5_nd_qsg_en.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_ko.pdf

WAS8.5_nd_qsg_es.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_pl.pdf


qsg3/quickstart:

de/  en/  es/  fi/  fr/  it/  ja/  ko/  nl/  pt/  sv/  zh-cn/  zh-tw/
bill@san-domino:/dl/ibm.software/connections5$ ls qsg3/quickstart/en

pp_qsg.htm  pp_qsg.pdf



Again, this is just with the Quick Start Guides. Unpacking the other zip/tar'ed files does not put one at ease either. With a multitude of directories, incorrect documentation, and no clear starting reference, one either tries the Knowledge Center (which omits some details), keeps Googling, or contacts IBM tech support. Neither option is attractive for a business partner, let alone a customer simply trying to decide if they want to buy the product.


Installation Complexity Worsens with Each Release

Connections 1.0 became a starting point to a new strategic solution, so IBM had levity in lacking a simplified installation approach, as Connections was just basically five independent projects fused to create something better. Once IBM released version 2.0, that was the time to start creating installation efficiency, as a means to also accelerate adoption. In theory, with each successive product getting better (e.g. 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0), so would the installation. Several customers to which I communicated agreed on this facet.

Rather than improving the installation process or at least offering one, IBM chose to ignore this component altogether, instead solely adding more features and capabilities to Connections. Yes, any marketplace expects new items with successive releases, but you also want avoid alienating the respective customer's internal support team that can help drive their own adoption. Although conjecture, I suspect this abject complexity is part of the reason domestic adoption is slower than IBM would like -- despite having a decent product. Why? If customers can not install it, how are they going to test it? Not everyone wants to put their data into Greenhouse to gain a perspective.

Even now with Connections 5.0, the current product manager --- whom I know and respect very much --- does not see the value add of an admin UI for on-premises, instead Connections still relies upon a complex set of XML files. The compromise is to purchase a third-party administration tool. So after a customer spends tens of thousands of dollars on consulting, IBM licensing, hardware, and server OS licenses, they have to spend more money to get an admin tool from a non-IBM source. The XML approach is appropriate for a new product, but after version 3.0 an effective admin UI should become a core capability to help drive adoption. To be fair, IBM does offer an admin UI for their cloud offering, as it is a cloud specific architecture solution.

Looking at CCM for Connections 5 -- despite it being an add-on for the main product -- provides a suboptimal acquisition experience. One has to go to Fix Central and Passport Advantage to get all four files, and the required files list is omitted from system requirements, for starters.

Sametime used to be simple to install, then IBM decided to include the DB2 and Websphere brands into the Sametime ICS product offering. Version 8.5.1 took a long time to install; it's not much better now.

Once you install all these pieces -- for CCM, Connections, Sametime, et alia, you then have to try an patch them. This is hardly a trivial matter, with so many components the wrong lower level patch can cause stability problems. In contrast, if you patch a Domino server, it takes a minute or less; to remove the patch, just run the same patch program again. That is a great workflow design.


"The Customer Is Always Right," Remains Apropos As They are Paying

Customer Case #1:
My first ST 8.5.1 customer had me write a step-by-step, screenshot-by-screenshot document customized for their installation so that they could re-create what I did for them, in-case of a disaster or business continuity scenario. The final document equated 165 slides -- taking several days to write, plus editing time and customer input. The initial plan was for them to watch me install Sametime while capturing my actions, as they needed to know everything; that changed quickly.

The process required several escalated calls with tech support to get it all resolved. The process took far too long for my liking and began costing me money with other opportunities. Really difficult for a busy customer to dedicate the time to install it.

After tuning this customer's new ST staging environment, I provided a 1000% performance gain over their ST 7 Windows installation. Despite my success, the customer went with a different solution. Devastating to me. The customer called me to give me the decision and I enquired, "Why?" "Simply put, we do not have the resources to do the installation (of the full architected solution)." "I could do it for you." "You did Phase I. We need to own it now and we can not. It's dead."

Not only did I lose out on a lucrative Phase II consulting gig, but IBM lost out on licensing for a multi-national firm wanting every Sametime component offered (except A/V, which had issues with crossing subdomains at the time).

Customer Case #2:
A local BP learned of my aforementioned success and referred me to a senior-level colleague who wanted Sametime for their medical center. I co-authored a proposal for Sametime 8.5.1 and it went stale. I asked the BP, "What happened?" The customer loved what I did with the BP's friend's company, but management became baffled why such a significant percentage of the quote was dedicated to installation. They wanted to install it themselves to save money and then realized that would not work. Despite several calls to save the opportunity, the customer went in a new direction.


Simplified Installation Epitomized - IBM Domino

Now let's contrast the above issues to Domino...

Get the file from Passport Advantage, expand the tarball, execute the installer, and the installation routine handles all of the sub-program installations for you. Nice and easy.

bill@san-domino:/ibm.software/nd9/linux64/domino$ ls
860334080 Mar 21  2013 DOMINO_SERVER_9.0_LINUX_XS_64_EN.tar
145909760 Mar 21  2013 DOMI_SE_EMEX_AO_9.0_LIN_XS_64_EN_FW.tar


Expanding the first file provides a simple lucid starting point for the customer - "install"

eclipsemodssrc.zip  install  mozillamodssrc.zip  remote_script.dat  tools/  unix_response.dat



So why is IBM unwilling to take this great concept and apply it to other products
-- particularly those that are comprehensive? The sales mantra of "Just go to the cloud," is not a substitute for having your customers enjoy owning an installation medium they prefer.


Moving to the Cloud Is Not a Panacea

The on-ramp to the cloud should not be an escape from proper design. Lacking a quick fix to some negative feedback on installation complexity several years ago, as SmartCloud was coming to maturity as a solution, IBM's initial response lay dormant and they worked on their cloud first strategic initiative, rather than improving the installation processes in parallel -- in my opinion and based upon my experience. Once SmartCloud evolved as a platform as did its offerings, the phrase, "You can always use [Connections and Sametime] in the cloud," became the official complexity work-around--again in my opinion and based upon my experience. This also became the SMB solution for Connections and Sametime, which for reasons I mentioned is not always a solution for them -- particularly Swiss companies.

Customer Case #3:
I spoke with a valued customer last week. They made it clear that "The cloud" is not a strategic initiative for them--with any vendor. They love Sametime and have every component of ST 9 installed but one -- A/V. Why? "We got the SOW for the installation of that Sametime piece and it was a non-starter. We are not paying any more than we already have to install Sametime, plus we would need two more servers." Their owner wanted to perform video conferences and thought they had that capability with Sametime. To his dismay, they started the bidding process with a different vendor.

"The on-ramp to the cloud should not be an escape from proper design."


IBM's sales premise of, "If the process is too complex, just go to the cloud," took a tight customer relationship and opened the door to a slew of competitor bids. Having a wrapped installation procedure akin to Domino's approach would prevent competition from creeping into trusted customer areas that IBM previously owned. I would also offer that providing an appliance for Connections 5 and Sametime 9 would also go a long way to keeping customer relationships in the IBM camp. The ideal situation would be an appliance image sold on IBM iron, but with the divestiture to Lenovo, the best they could offer now is an image for on-disk or VMware. Know that in 2011, I made reference to how a lack of effective marketing weakens relationships in the same way.


Come to the Table with a Solution

I learned early in my career that if you complain in lieu of helping solve, you are being spiteful. In college, I started writing installation wrappers when I got tired of running successive make commands to compile my C programs 30+ times a session; my team liked my offering and we used it for the rest of the project. Thus, Domino's ease of installation attracted me to it as a solution. To keep things simple, there are two plausible options to address the installation complexity and keep customers content with business partners offering more services.
1. Offer an installation script that checks for the DB2 version, checks the WAS version, and then asks some questions and installs the products in the correct order with little fuss, all while displaying an accurate histogram
2. Provide the aforementioned appliance option. I know two colleagues of mine have offered to create their own build for Connections and Sametime, but the IBM licensing model prevents such a solution; as licensing adjustments are non-trivial in nature, this could take time to complete, but it should be considered and offered

IBM knows what products they require to have Connections and Sametime work. They can check for the existence of previous RDBMS (DB2) installation and flag an upgrade or issue, same for the Tivoli, Cognos, and FileNet components. Otherwise, install them as needed. This takes work. It is easier to tell people, "Go to the cloud." But if I learned anything in my 20+ years in IT, the easy solution is almost never the best solution.

In my genuine spirit of collaboration, if the respective product managers would like a more lucid vision of either of the above, I am happy to talk with them.



Conclusion

Lacking the above two solutions currently results in good community members spending days, nights, weekends learning to install a product --- usually on their time --- rather than committing that time to tuning, extending, customizing the product for our customers/our boss. This is a completely backwards model, in my opinion. Domino had it right in 1990. Why complicate to absurd levels your cornerstone social product to the point that most customers are unable to install it sans a consultant and your own technical writers are unable to capture accurate the process? The Domino model is hardly passe, regardless of your feelings on Domino. How many Zero to Hero sessions did Domino have to install it? None, that I'm aware. Connections and Sametime offer 200 page slide decks at previous Lotusphere/Connect events, and the current Sametime 9 deck is 950 slides (though part covers marketing and new features). Yes, I am glad these decks are available, but they should not be required.

An application is only as strong as its weakest feature. When customers are unable to install your product, they never discover how strong or weak a product is. In the end, when they learn that maintenance, upgrades, and general administration become more complex rather than easier with each successive release, you open the door to competitors with better ideas. Any OEM that outsources documentation to tech support or their BP community to complete and perform QA, installation fortitude to the customer, and general maintenance to their own consulting arm is destined for a wake-up call. I am grateful to IBM for all that their great products provided me and scores of my colleagues over the past two decades. I can only hope that IBM makes a earnest effort to regain one of their software hallmarks -- ease of installation.


Additional Reading

IBM Sametime 8.5.2 Administration Guide - Gabriella Davis, Marie L. Scott, and Thomas Duff
Installing the Sametime Gateway - Chris Miller

Train Tips for European Traveling - Part II

Bill Malchisky  August 20 2014 04:00:00 AM
As I covered last year in Train Tips for European Traveling, train travel is a fun adventure. For my second installment, this year I chose the Dutch Intercity high speed and Eurostar lines and wanted to provide some information that may save you some time or alleviate logistical concerns. Enjoy!


Train Service in The Netherlands

1. When arriving in Holland, you can take the local trains (making all major and minor stops), or the InterCity branch which runs express from city to city (major stops). Some of the InterCity trains run as high-speed (with the HS designation on the train board)
2. If you have large bags --
a. When taking the IC (InterCity) high speed line (HS designation), first class is a nominal increase on weekends, so consider it for the convenience of luggage storage
b. Second class lacks any at seat luggage storage for anything more than a small laptop bag, necessitating your sitting in the sterile mid-car vestibule, with much less comfortable seats, but your bags will have plenty of room
3. The fares within The Netherlands and from The Netherlands to Belgium are reasonable
4. Thalys trains are wonderful but are primarily for Holland to France, Belgium, and German city pairs; this service is much faster, has luggage storage and are more expensive, but intended for longer distance trips
5. Payment considerations:
a. Dutch trains, like the Belgium counterparts, will not accept any credit card except a domestic bank card. The Dutch trains are adamant about not accepting American Express (plus discover, etc.), and your card must have a security chip on it, even if it's a Visa. Best bet is to have plenty of cash for these tickets and upgrade your credit card to get a chip before leaving to avoid headaches in these European locales
b. The same payment restrictions apply to purchasing an e-ticket on-line via their train's site
c. You can not purchase tickets on-board the train
6. When arriving into Brussels and transferring to the TGV, you connect within the same terminal. Whereas connecting to Thalys, ICE, and Eurostar trains will require that you allow an additional five minutes in your travel time to get from the Brussels-Zuid/Brussels-Midi station platform to Eurostar -- located in a different terminal, all indoor though


The Brussels Station Train Transfer

7. After passport control and customs at the Eurostar Channel Terminal entrance, there exists a cafe/food mart where you can enjoy a sandwich and beverage in a comfortable seating area or take away items for your train enjoyment; so if you are delayed or see a long customs queue, you can still get hydrated and fed before boarding


Eurostar

8. The Eurostar experience is a definite step-up from the TGV (point 3) with tickets that can be quite reasonable, at just EU68 (US$75; GBP54) OW from BRU->LON. But know those tickets go quickly and thus, you need to book them at least two weeks out or the price can triple to EU187 (US$206; GBP149) OW
9. If your train is busy and you have excess bags, you may need to check luggage. This service is called Registered Baggage and costs GBP18/bag/segment (US$31, EU23). The cut-off for on-premises bag checking is 30 minutes; so if you have a tight connection between trains, get to the Eurostar Channel terminal first, else you could arrive and your bag meets you later on, necessitating a return trip by you to your destination station
10. If you are taking Eurostar from Brussels to a destination before the Channel Tunnel, then your terminal window is upstairs, from the Channel Terminal. When you arrive into the terminal, the Eurostar placards split into two indicating this designation, but not necessarily in English.
11. No WiFi service on the Eurostar exists
12. Power receptacles exist only in cars 5 and 14 in Standard class, whereas Business Premier and Standard Premier seats all have UK/US power receptacles; plan accordingly
13. Miscellaneous Points
 a. There exists lots of storage space for luggage either in the two racks above your seat (coat rail, hand luggage);
 b. Prefer a window seat? Know that there exists a train body mounted mini trash can between your seat's edge and the seat back in front of you, which for some people can make seating awkward;
 c. All major credit cards are accepted;
 d. As peak times can introduce a full station, and the automated ticketing machines there are unreliable (both kiosks were defective upon my visit), it is fastest to have your e-ticket printed beforehand, and avoid the will call option;
 e. Will call has you literally take a number, then wait to be called like at the deli counter -- quite time wasteful;
 f. The London Underground's King's Cross Station now connects to the St. Pancras railway station; thus you no longer have to go outside and across the way to go between the two structures, making transfers quite trivial now.

Overall, a nice experience and one that I would definitely undergo again. Very smooth and easy overall. Booking in advance makes for a cost-effective experience too.


Rail Sites of Interest (Beyond Part One's List)

The Netherlands Domestic Rail Information
The Netherlands International Rail Information
London's St. Pancras Railway Station


Two Bonus Air Travel Tips -- To Save You Money (or Stress)

Here are two quick international airline points to help you save time and money, if you are new to European air travel:
A. Any international airline itinerary change can become quite costly; thus when you book your schedule it is pretty much set in stone; plan ahead to avoid issues and change fees and verify plans abroad before booking
- Example LX (SWISS) charges $300 for any change after purchase  

B. Carry-on luggage requirements differ from US -> EU flights than EU -> EU routes; therefore, you just might find yourself in a situation of what you brought legally sans fees on your first segment may incur significant fees (e.g. GBP 68/US$115/EU85) on your intermediate flight segment(s) -- particularly if boarding a plane at London Heathrow; plan ahead and research the carry-on luggage requirements at intermediate airports, then pack accordingly to avoid potentially getting hassled or better yet, take the train for your intermediate city pairs and avoid the situation whilst exploring.

Note:
all currency conversion rates were calculated at time of travel and may no longer be precise due to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates. A reasonable currency conversation tool is located here.

Some "Great Train Rides" of the World

Bill Malchisky  August 10 2014 09:00:00 PM
The Wall Street Journal released an Off Duty Travel section article entitled, "Great Train Rides: Run Away on the Rails", covering six scenic and enjoyable routes on four continents plus the island nation of New Zealand--including input from Mike Smith, The Man in Seat Sixty-One. Although hardly cyclopedic nor meant to be, reader comments do indicate additional favorites. The leadoff permutation limns the joy of the London to Edinburgh run, which I am happy to say I enjoyed -- twice, while presenting at UKLUG in Scotland. It is a wonderful train ride, with much of the last hour or so traveling along the Scottish coastline.

Though not on the list, one of my favorite runs is the Amtrak Adirondack: NYC to Montreal. The first part weaves along the scenic Hudson River Valley, then north of Albany, you travel along the New York - Vermont border, working your way towards the western shore of Lake Champlain creating the eastern border for much of the Adirondack Mountains---the largest state or national park in the continental United States---making for some impressive scenery that few can see any other way. For the best lake views, sit on the right side of the train, when going northbound.

As a side note, Amtrak through the Trails & Rails Program strengthened its relationship with the National Park Service to link rail routes with our national parks, creating an exciting traveling experience. Some routes have descriptive podcasts available as well. The 2014 schedule is located here.

Finally, I am glad the article includes the California Zephyr: Chicago to San Francisco. You can link to this train from New York City as well, making for a three day transcontinental trip. Either way, the route through the Rocky Mountains is particularly breathtaking. Additionally, you will see the Sierra Nevada Mountains, several canyons, the Great Salt Lake's southern shore plus the Utah Bonneville Salt Flats, as this rail route runs nearly parallel to the very scenic I-80 highway after Salt Lake City.

Fortunately, the cited article is included within the free section of the WSJ Online site, so no account is required to read it.

Kindly let me know which line in the piece is your favorite, or if you have another one to share. Enjoy the rails.

Image:Some "Great Train Rides" of the World

Skype 4.3 on Linux Crashing? Here’s a Fix.

Bill Malchisky  August 5 2014 05:00:00 AM
Microsoft released Skype 4.3 on Linux recently, to replace the aging version 4.2 due to cloud conversions utilized in other client flavors. There are some noticeable changes with the upgrade including new features. However, for power Skype users, there appears to exist a bug in the upgrade process causing the new Skype client to crash repeatedly just after the main window appears.

Although conjecture, I suspect the problem manifests itself for those that have sent files to one or more contacts in version 4.2. Skype utilizes a SQLite database file to store its data with the filename main.db. Something changed with how 4.3 reads the sent file history, causing the client to crash immediately. After searching forums for hours and trying ten different variants for fixes, the simplest one was the winner for me and allowed the successful opening of Skype once again. Non-English Skype flavors can exhibit the upgrade issue too.

Notations

A. The solution provided purges the sent file history, but retains your message history
B. Message type 68 equates "Send file"


The Solution

Here is the fix that worked for my Ubuntu 12.04 LTS x64 host OS. The process utilizes sqlite3 which is the command-line front-end to SQLite.

1. Check to see if you have sqlite3 installed
$ which sqlite3

/usr/bin/sqlite3


2. If not, then install it
Ubuntu

$ sudo apt-get install sqlite3


Red Hat, CentOS, SUSE

$ su -

# yum install sqlite


Try step one again to ensure the system finds the executable

3. Inside your home directory is a hidden subdirectory containing all of the Skype files for your user account. It is important to backup this directory
$ cd ~

$ mkdir .Skype.4.2.bak; cp -a .Skype/ .Skype.4.2.bak


4. This is where you need to go to perform the fix
$ cd ~/.Skype/[skype_username]


Note: if you do not recall the Skype account name on this machine, type: ls ~/.Skype/

5. Edit the database file
$ sqlite3 main.db


6. Clean-up the database
Sqlite> DELETE FROM Message WHERE type=68

Sqlite> .quit


UPDATE [20 Aug 2014] - on some non-US Skype clients, the table name is plural; thus change this line to "sqlite> DELETE FROM Messages WHERE type=68"

7. Verify Skype is installed (one way of several); if not, see Installing Skype below
$ which skype

/usr/bin/skype


8. Launch to ensure success
$ skype &


Nice and easy.

Of course, one could do the brute force method by removing the Skype folder and installing a new version, and reinstalling the Skype dependencies, but you would lose all your settings, plus your chat history, which may or may not be downloadable from the Skype server -- but the pull could take a long time for heavy users. I found the provided option much safer, less invasive, and fast.


Installing Skype

If you haven't installed Skype yet, know that it is part of the Canonical partner repository and needs to be enabled to have it automatically appear within the Software Center. Two ways to do that:
1. Check the respective repository within the Update Manager -> Settings dialog box
2. $sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://archive.canonical.com/ $(lsb_release -sc) partner"

The application will appear within the Software Center or you can install it as follows:
$sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install skype


You can always visit the Skype Linux download site or the generic download site, but this will take longer than the two steps provided.

Notations

C. For current Linux versions, Microsoft only offers an i386 flavor, so do not waste time searching for the x64 code
D. Skype dropped Alsa support in version 4.3 and requires PulseAudio for making phone calls; if you only use chat or share files and photos, then you do not care and need not configure it; if you need help installing PulseAudio, see below


Additional Reading

* If you want to decode the Skype log file, try Skype Log Converter, which takes your Skype messages and converts them into .eml files
* Whereas Skype Chat Log Viewer publishes clean human readable Skype logs
* Troubleshooting Skype on Ubuntu
* If you want to merge two Skype main.db files, try Skyperious, a neat Python utility
* To install PulseAudio, read this post on the Skype support site
* With the current release, there is no known bug tracking site anymore for submitting bugs to Microsoft/Skype; the previous Skype bug tracking dashboard is offline. Instead, I would suggest visiting the Skype for Linux Community site and trying there
* If you need to make a log file to troubleshoot a problem, click here then scroll down to Skype for Linux, which provides a simple step by step process

Firefox Upgrade Kills iNotes, ICS SSL Product Access with Domino CA/Self-Signed Certs

Bill Malchisky  August 3 2014 07:00:00 PM
On Thursday, 24 July, I ran iNotes on Firefox sans problems. When I tried it on Friday, 25 July, I received a server connection error. I replicated in Notes so I knew the server was up. Then I tried accessing iNotes via Chrome on the same machine -- it worked. Tried a different operating system: Firefox generated an error, but Chrome and Safari worked. My third OS permutation yielded the same results, substituting IE for Safari. In each case Firefox failed to connect via SSL. (The error code did not phase me as I see that occasionally when testing--several reasons for an invalid cert.) What changed? This was easy. That morning, I upgraded three of my machines to the latest version of the browser -- Firefox 31.

Image:Firefox Upgrade Kills iNotes, ICS SSL Product Access with Domino CA/Self-Signed Certs

My work-around proved successful, as utilizing another browser allowed me to continue sans issue, with a goal to troubleshoot later that weekend. The issue derives from a new security model within Firefox, forcing the hand of web site owners to utilize only third-party SSL certificates (ideally), unless the end-users enact an alternate solution. On Thursday, 31 July 2014, IBM released Technote 21680147, indicating the root cause with four recommended solutions/workarounds:

1. Disable the new security library verification within the browser
2. Use Firefox 24.7 extended support release (which omits this new capability); corporation release is here
3. Use another browser brand
4. Purchase a third-party SSL certificate

Note:
the Technote illustrates implementation of option one, with links incorporating option four into your ICS servers, thus further details are omitted within this post.

I can see several issues with the first three for smaller firms. Medium sized companies and larger firms tend to test carefully before desktop application upgrades of any software product; so a good plan will catch this error early, but possibly create an unexpected project. They also tend to use third-party certificates for external access. Test boxes can be impacted as paying for another cert may be outside of your budget, but the Domino CA makes it easy to test SSL access with an application -- as an example.

There are issues outside of the ICS brand too. A business accessing a private VPN server via a browser's SSL connection to generate a secure tunnel will most likely have connectivity issues if that tunnel is generated with a self-signed certificate (I can think of a couple of good reasons for this scenario); sometimes a secure private box with specialized access, needs a self-signed certificate. Also, if end-users/testers access web applications on a site with a self-signed certificate, they could encounter issues with Firefox 31+.

For most Internet accessible servers, the site administrator best practice utilizes third-party SSL certificates, which is a practice I condone. Having stated that, it is not an option in all cases, and now those affected have at least three ways to resolve it.

Hope this helps and saves you some time.

Travel Tip: Getting Answers to Obscure Travel Questions Before You Depart

Bill Malchisky  July 29 2014 02:00:00 AM
Image:Travel Tip: Getting Answers to Obscure Travel Questions Before You Depart
Have a food allergy and are curious if you can eat on a river cruise in Bali? How about whether a planned exotic purchase from a foreign country can be brought back home? Will you be able to replenish lost or stolen medicine at your destination? Or is it possible to purchase a vegan meal in Concourse A of an unfamiliar airport terminal?

There is a site which offers such a service: Tripatini. On their site (right most pane) you will see the Ask a Travel Pro badge. Click it and you will be able to ask your question, answered from a team member focused on such difficult queries. You will need to create an account, so read the Terms and Conditions to ensure that their service meets your needs. If so, this can remove a lot of concern or stress should you decide to explore outside of your comfort zone, or usual places of interest, or bringing young children to a new locale and you want to ensure a better trip for the entire family.

Thanks to Arthur Frommer of Frommer's Travel for the tip.

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