July 12, 2013

I’m Cycling Across Australia

Filed under: Cycling — Mike Burford @ 9:44 pm

I’m offline a fair bit at the moment as I cycle from Broome to Perth to Sydney. 7,200 km in 64 days – including 9 rest days otherwise my legs would fall off which makes it a lot harder to ride. It’s a fundraiser for a literacy program for marginalised and/or abused women in Latin America (Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama).
If you’re interested you can follow my progress via the Facebook page I set up at Mike’s Bike Across Australia.

March 22, 2013

Mac OS X 10.8.3 update breaks Lotus Notes

Filed under: Apple,Lotus — Mike Burford @ 5:32 pm
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I had a couple of customers who updated their Macs to the 10.8.3 release and Lotus Notes “disappeared”. Sure enough, the icon had gone, the app wasn’t showing in Launchpad, and Spotlight couldn’t find it.
A reinstall of Lotus Notes brought everything back, but the problem turned out to be the Apple Notes app (i.e. the note taking app). It looks like there’s a bit of crossover going on as you can either have one or the other, not both.
I haven’t had time to do a full investigation yet, so there may be an easier fix, but just a heads up before you apply the OS X update – if it’s not too late already.

February 6, 2013

Social Network exercising: a peleton of 1,108 online riders

Filed under: Cycling,Social Networking — Mike Burford @ 5:37 pm
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In July and August this year I’m cycling 7,200km across Australia for a fundraiser.  I only started road riding a year ago and like most people, don’t have the time during the week for long distance rides to build up my fitness.  In my search for training options I came across the Sufferfest videos.  These are intense, predominantly interval based workouts that you can download to your computer (or smartphone, tablet, etc) and use for indoor training.  I have an iMac and a cycle trainer that I connect my bike to, plug in the headphones (for distraction from the pain that’s about to ensue!), then exercise to the videos for 45-85 minutes.

For the past 8 months that was pretty much the extent of it, long road rides at the weekend, intense indoor efforts to Sufferfest videos during the week.  However, that all changed with the announcement of the “Tour of Sufferlandria”, the toughest indoor cycling tour of a fictional country in the world!  Nine days, a stage each day, covering each of the 12 videos during the tour with three days including two videos back to back.  The added bonus was the introduction to TrainerRoad, a downloadable ‘player’ (it’s more than that, but that was the main function for the Tour) in which you can play the Sufferfest videos.  More than that though, up until now I’d always worked out to the videos at the “perceived effort” scale which is displayed onscreen throughout the videos and adjusts according to the interval or section being ridden.  The TrainerRoad client improved on that by introducing targeted power output based on your threshold power (very basically, the maximum threshold at which you can sustain a level of power for up to 60 minutes).  For riders who don’t know their threshold, TrainerRoad provides a test workout that determines it for you.  Through a USB receiver plugged into the computer you can connect heart rate or power monitors and your effort is displayed on the screen alongside the workout targets.  On top of that, on completion of the workout your results are graphed and automatically uploaded to the TrainerRoad website.

So we now have a very hard, personalised workout, that’s uploaded to a website … and can be included along with everyone else doing the same workout on the same date anywhere in the world!  1,025 people signed up to do the Tour of Sufferlandria via TrainerRoad (1,108 signed up in total), with daily updates in the Facebook Tour event site, posts by competitors and ‘spectators’ with encouragement or commiseration for others, and a real community spirit.  It was an awesome, uplifting experience … apart from the pain induced by the riding, but it was shared pain and suffering with over 1,000 others.

Here’s what the TrainerRoad graph of one of the workouts looks like, the grey line across the chart is my threshold power level:

There is no try

December 14, 2012

Connections, Sametime, Domino, AD, and SSO

Filed under: Collaboration,Lotus,Social Networking — Mike Burford @ 1:09 pm
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The Connections project I’m currently working on is somewhat complex: Connections 4, Domino for mail, iNotes, Traveler, and Sametime Community server (not all on the same server), Sametime Standard, FileNet, and MS Active Directory 2008 for LDAP and authentication across the environment.

Being that I’m still a relative ‘newbie’ as far as WebSphere Application Server (WAS) is concerned, having only really used it for the setup and maintenance of the IBM/Lotus products sitting on top of it, I approached the SSO implementation with a degree of uncertainty and slight concern. We’re yet to implement SSO to include FileNet, that’s happening in the next week or two, so it was specifically for Connections, iNotes, Sametime awareness, Sametime Chat, and Sametime Meetings.

Sametime Standard is installed on a single WAS, Connections is on a separate server, and there are currently two Domino servers. So I generated the LTPA token in the Connections WAS, ensured that the LTPA domain was the same across all environments, and imported the token into Sametime Standard WAS and the Domino servers. And it worked, almost. Connections, iNotes, chat, awareness, and the Sametime Proxy server web chat client all worked when logging in with AD credentials. Sametime Meeting Server didn’t, and as soon as anyone logged into Meeting Server they were disconnected from everything else. The confusing aspect for me was that the Sametime Proxy and Sametime Meeting servers are both installed on the same WAS – with different IP addresses and DNS aliases so that they will play nicely together – so as the LTPA token is imported into WAS, I would have expected both the Proxy and Meeting servers to either work with SSO, or not.

What I’d missed was the Federated Repository Realm Name on the Sametime Standard WAS server. I’d changed it on the Connections server but Sametime was using the default realm name. This was what was breaking SSO for the Meeting Server and a quick rename and reboot sorted the problem.

October 30, 2012

Warning for Connections 4.0, SQL, and Cognos setup

Filed under: Collaboration,IBM,Social Networking — Mike Burford @ 10:12 am
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I hate to think how much time I’ve spent trying to work out how to get the Metrics functionality to work in Connections 4.0 with SQL databases. I did the testing against DB2 and that was fine, there was documentation for that, but the documentation in the IBM Connections Wiki doesn’t include a section on SQL. There is a recent update though, in the comments to the section on “Installing the database client for Cognos Transformer” there is a warning for the SQL Server implementation:

IMPORTANT: When using the default database instance the metrics.db.local.name property should be empty, that is, in the cognos-setup.properties file the property should be set like this:


And Carl Radino offered some helpful advice as well, as being unfamiliar with Cognos and the SQL requirements this is something I’d also spent time trying to determine:

… explain how the configuration of the MS SQL environment is done highlighting the fact that a separate MS SQL Client install is not necessary but how the cognos-setup.properties is used to configure the connections. Additionally, illustrating how you can check this connection using the Cognos Administrator Web Tool for the METRICS_CUBE_DS connections alias.

Now to reinstall and reconfigure Cognos and see if I can get the Metrics to work this time.

September 25, 2012

Perhaps a world first! : Connections 4.0 hosted on an iMac!

Filed under: Collaboration,IBM,Lotus,Social Networking — Mike Burford @ 10:59 pm
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Okay, so it’s not very functional in that it can only handle one user, very slowly, and I’m pretty confident it’s not a configuration supported by IBM, but it works!  I’ve got a production installation coming up within the next few days and as it’s been a long time since I last did a Connections install, and as the documentation warns right at the outset that the installation process has changed and the installation has to be followed exactly as per the documentation if wanting support from IBM, I thought it best to practice first.  My normal test server is otherwise occupied, so VM Fusion on a quad core iMac with 8GB RAM was the remaining option.  Two Win 2008 VM Servers and many hours later and it’s all up and running, including Cognos for Metrics, Domino for mail, AD LDAP, DB2, and Sametime!  Now to see if I can get Connections Mail 1.0 up and running before the poor thing starts to smoke.

So what have I learned:

  • I wouldn’t want to try it straight from the Connections 4.0 wiki documentation if I hadn’t done an installation before.  There’s a lot of information in there, which is good, but at times it was really confusing.  Back to the good old Connections 3 Small Deployment instructions – with pictures! – and I found a Connections 3 presentation by Mitch Cohen and Stuart McIntyre that was excellent as you would expect, but have since lost it!  If I find it again I’ll add a comment to this post.
  • The Connections 4 Installation Worksheet is invaluable – I copied and pasted the tables into separate spreadsheet tabs and refer to it frequently to confirm configuration settings, accounts and passwords, etc.
  • Read, read, read, read, and read the instructions in the wiki!  It’s so easy to miss something and it doesn’t take much for things to go wrong, especially if you’re not working with the various products on a regular basis, as in my case.
  • Don’t end up in the embarrassing situation of getting everything up and running, publishing/promoting it to users for testing etc, then logging off the server and wondering why you’re getting calls complaining that it isn’t working.  I haven’t yet found the instructions in the wiki on the WebSphere services configurations, but you have to manually configure the services so that Connections keeps running when you log off the server.  I recommend using WASServiceCmd if you’re not familiar with this process.  If it’s a Network Deployment of WebSphere only set up the nodeagents to start as services, configure the various servers as per the instructions from Handly.
  • The Connections 4 wiki doesn’t provide any instructions on installing IBM HTTP Server and plugins, the Connections 3 Small Deployment step-through linked above helps with that.
  • Don’t forget to schedule the TDI batch file for updating Profiles from the LDAP directory.  For some reason that I am yet to determine the AD sync process doesn’t work in my environment, but the sync_all_dns task does the trick.

Those were the main aspects, there may have been others but my brain’s pretty fried by now – functioning not to dissimilarly to my iMac at present – but if I get a chance tomorrow and the iMac doesn’t quit on me I’m going to dive into the Mail 1.0 integration.  What could possibly go wrong!?

April 25, 2011

Solution for Quickr/FileNet/XenApp Integration, Earthquakes, and Stuff

Filed under: IBM,Lotus — Mike Burford @ 12:08 pm
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It’s been a couple of months and a somewhat disruptive earthquake since I posted about the problem we had run into with Quickr not being supported in a Citrix/Xenapp environment.

The customer’s offices were in the building next to the collapsed CTV building (as shown on TV), so they are now spread around three offices across the city.  We lost our office as well so things have been a bit more challenging than normal, but we’re all up and running and the project is progressing through design phase.  A definite advance on the status I last reported.

I’ve had a lot of support from IBM’s Lotus team in Australia and they put me in touch with one of the FileNet technical sales guys who came up with a workaround for the Quickr/XenApp issue: IBM Content Collector for Email.  Notes 8.5.3 is going to support XenApp 6 so the users will have the Notes Standard client running under XenApp, Quickr will be running on WebSphere Portal Server, and IBM Content Collector (ICC) will “archive” the required content from the mail files on the Domino server into FileNet.  FileNet Services for Quickr will provide the integration between Quickr and FileNet so in theory we will have access via Quickr to content in FileNet that has been collected both from Quickr entries and email content harvested by ICC.  Users can initiate a search of archived content from within Notes, but it will launch a web interface to display the results from FileNet.  Add Sametime, Traveler, and telephony integration to the mix and it’s a challenging project!

We’re putting together the proof of concept and demo environment this week,  I’m building the two servers for Domino and Quickr on WebSphere Portal Server as I write this.  It’s going to be an interesting week!

As for other news, my mother-in-law lost her house during the Feb earthquake and is now living with us, and my wife and I are now full-time carers of our two and a half year old granddaughter and subsequently feeling a lot older than we should be!  Though I have experienced my first Wiggles concert as a result and that was something not to be forgotten!

And no, the house-load of women is not the reason I’m in my office building servers on a public holiday.  :)

February 11, 2011

Notes 8.5.x + XenApp 6 + Quickr + FileNet = no sale?

Filed under: IBM,Lotus — Mike Burford @ 3:48 pm

Last Friday was an exciting day, an opportunity turned into a potential sale when a customer emailed to say that they have decided to replace their Exchange and online document management environment for a Lotus software solution that includes Notes/Domino 8.5, Traveler, Sametime, and Quickr.  At the meeting on Tuesday to look at the scoping/design approach they stated that the planned environment is for everything to run on Win Svr 2008 R2, with the clients in XenApp 6, and Quickr connecting to FileNet with all key data (including emails) to be stored in FileNet.  I can’t be certain, but I think I may have gone pale round about then.  I know that Notes isn’t supported in XenApp 6 yet (let alone 2008 R2), but from what I’ve read it seems that it will be in 8.5.3.  What I knew nothing about at the time was the Quickr/FileNet requirements and how that was going to work in their proposed environment.

Unless anyone out there can advise otherwise, indications are that it isn’t going to be happening any time soon.  Quickr and FileNet play well together of course, but not in a Citrix environment if you’re relying on being able to use connectors.  On warning the customer about this the response was in that case FileNet would need to be able to search the Notes emails without Quickr ….. yes, I know, not going to happen.

As the FileNet integration is critical to the migration, and as they have already approached the FileNet provider regarding Sharepoint integration, it’s looking as though we may have lost a big win in just under a week and they’ll stick with Outlook/Exchange and implement a Microsoft environment instead.  And just to rub the salt in, the infrastructure is going to be fully hosted by IBM – which was another first for us, and we were the ones who brought IBM in on the opportunity.

I haven’t given up yet, emails have been flying back and forth to IBM and I’ve posted in the Quickr forum and now here in case someone can come up with an answer, but I think I’m clutching at straws.


January 29, 2010

Bold 9700, Garmin GPS, DAOS scare, and Blink!

Filed under: BlackBerry,Lotus,Reading,Technology — Mike Burford @ 7:53 pm
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Okay, so whilst I’m on a roll (and the baby’s asleep and nobody’s telling me to come in from the office):

Bold 9700: Recently upgraded from my Curve 8310 and am loving the 9700.  It’s taking a bit of getting used to the new keypad but the screen is very impressive, WiFi is great, I reckon the trackpad is an improvement over the ball, and overall I think it’s a great device.

Another new device is the Garmin GPS my father got me.  It’s a nuvi 1390 and although I don’t have a great need for the navigation assistance around Christchurch on a day to day basis, with the recent law change on the use of phones in vehicles the bluetooth connection and phone functionality works really well.  I’ve only used a TomTom GPS when in Australia so I’m not an expert on GPS units, but the ease of use, software integration, and look and feel of the Garmin will have me recommending it to anyone who’s interested.

I’ve been going through a bit of a nightmare with DAOS at a client site over the past week.  Over Christmas the mail server started generating a whole bunch of “nsf directory manager pool is full” errors, but we couldn’t reboot the server as the customer has a change freeze over the holiday period so we had to wait until that ended.  So when that lifted the weekend before last I connected in and rebooted the server and after it came back up again initiated the upgrade of the ODS of the mail archive databases.  The archives are on a separate server to Domino so when the server was upgraded late last year we left the archive databases to last whilst we fine tuned everything else.  What I didn’t realise at the time was that the archive databases all had the DAOS setting enabled and the ODS upgrade kicked off DAOS in the background, but this became rapidly obvious when I got a frantic call to say that the server was losing 100Mb/minute of available disk space.  The archives are on a separate server, the DAOS files aren’t!  The organisation’s primary mail server dropped to 6Gb of available disk space and daily email consumption is just over 1Gb of disk space!

Easy fix I thought, stop the compact process, restart it with the “daos -off” option and when all the attachments are back in the archive databases, prune DAOS to just the other side of the backup.  Not so easy, every time the prune tried to run it would stop because the DAOS catalog wasn’t synchronized, even if we had just “successfully” completed a three and a half hour resync and daosmgr reported that the catalog state was synchronized!  IBM support helped and running a log analysis on “DAOS object count” identified a bunch of mail databases to run fixup against, but three and a half hours later the prune task fell over after only running for a minute so we’ve got a corrupted DAOS catalog.  The only fix for that is to shut down Domino, rename/remove the catalog and cfg databases, restart Domino and run another resync.  That’s tomorrow (Sat) night taken care of, if I pick up any more tips I’ll post them in here.

And just to finish off in case this is the last post I make for another 6 months, I really recommend “Blink”, another great book by Malcolm Gladwell:

It’s a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, “Blink” is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.

He describes this ability as “thin-slicing”  and as per Wikipedia:

Gladwell gives a wide range of examples of thin-slicing in contexts such as gambling, speed dating, tennis, military war games, the movies, malpractice suits, popular music, and predicting divorce.

There’s plenty of info about it on gladwell dot com and Wikipedia so I won’t repeat it here, but I found it to be a fascinating book, easy to read, and some of the examples he gives are really eye-opening.

Time to head inside and see if I’m still entitled to dinner.

I don’t know how regular bloggers do it!

Filed under: General — Mike Burford @ 4:26 pm

I thought if I started off a blog whilst things were relatively quiet then I would be in the habit of keeping it up to date so it wouldn’t be too much of an effort when things got busy.  I was wrong.  I never seem to be able to find the time, or if I have got some time spare I try to use it to catch up on email, reading/learning, documentation, overdue stuff, or feeling guilty for not doing enough exercise!  Yet here are all these people online who not only manage to produce informative blogs, but keep up with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc etc.  I have an account with all of the above but Twitter is too much of a distraction, Facebook just eats time – I mainly use it now to find out what my sons are up to as they both live overseas and hardly ever write, but they keep Facebook up to date! – and my LinkedIn group notifications pile up with all the other email that isn’t urgent.

Then there’s my 18 month old granddaughter and as the only man in her life I try to make a point of spending quality time with her each day – for some reason my daughter and wife think the same should apply for them as well!  What’s with that?  :o)

A friend put me on to Google Reader the other day so I’m looking forward to seeing if that helps me to keep on top of my reading, now all I have to do is work out how to keep on top of all the electronic paperwork.

Anyway, for those of you who are obviously much more organised than I am and keep churning out quality, informative stuff, I take my hat off to you.

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