Got my latest Certification: IBM Certified Associate – Social Software and Unified Communications

Just got my latest certification … I will probably do a few more soon. Nice to get this email in your in-box:


From: “IBM Certification Program” <ibmcert>

Date: Aug 5, 2014 7:06 PM
Subject: IBM Certified Associate – Social Software and Unified Communications
To: <victor>

Dear Victor Toal,

Certification: IBM Certified Associate – Social Software and Unified Communications
CandidateTesting ID: xxxxxxx

Congratulations on achieving your certification and welcome to the world of IBM Collaboration Solutions certifications! Your commitment to increasing your expertise and knowledge with IBM Collaboration Solutions technology is an asset to you and your customers. The Professional Certification Program from IBM distinguishes professionals in the IT community as experts in leading-edge technology.

Your certificate is attached below, in .PDF file format. You can view your certificate, using Adobe Acrobat Reader V6.0 or higher, and print it on any high quality color printer.

Please remember to access services at the IBM Certification Member Site Information:
– select “Request e-Certificate ” to request all your certificates
– select “Account Services” to update demographics, email address, and request transcripts
– select “Member eStore” to order premium certificates and wallet cards
– select “Entitled Resources” to obtain your certification marks



Rebranding of Notes Mail / Connections Mail and Consequences – #RebrandingFail

I received this marketing/sales email earlier today and reading it made me a bit confused and also concerned. Not because I think that IBM and email is going away, but because f the way that IBM has initialized it’s latest round of rebranding Notes (aka Connections Mail) there is confusion in the marketplace and this is a great example for what clients are going to be bombarded with:

Dear Victor,

IBM is ending the “Lotus” brand, and has been building more functionality into “IBM Connections”, suggesting that they may be trying to get rid of email as a single platform. Notes users have had no choice but to look for alternatives and make plans to switch over to another system.

Unfortunately, migration away from Notes is tricky and companies need 3rd party assistance to make the switch. For companies who plan to consolidate control over legacy data, the most important consideration in selecting a 3rd party is the subsequent accessibility of historical Notes data.

ZL Technologies has years of experience successfully migrating our customers off of Domino systems and specializes in providing them with a Unified system of information governance. To find out how ZL is able to accurately migrate all your legacy data while drastically reducing storage footprint and minimizing resulting operational costs, read our complimentary datasheet.

To learn more about us, please visit our website at, or reach out to ZL experts directly at


I have worked with ZL’s previously and they have a very kick-ass product. However, I can’t see the necessity for my clients to now suddenly “run for the hills” and look for another mail system. Again, I don’t really blame ZL that much as they are simply taking advantage of IBM’s efforts to sell their products. Rather, I lay the blame for this squarely at IBM. I don’t feel that the whole rebranding thing was well explained (a all!) at Connect2014 nor did I as a business partner get any follow-up and additional info. I am no sure if and how much effort IBM has extended to the follow-up of their (for me very confusing) announcement at Connect, but clearly it ain’t enough. In the absence of a clear and resounding message, messages by third parties like this is all that clients will be hearing.

I assume more companies will be using this as an opening to try and sell their services and products to make sure that those poor IBM customers that will be abandoned by IBM can safely migrate to another – hopefully much safer – platform with all their data intact and enjoy another 100 years of email longevity . . ..

Should I tweet it … #rebrandingfail ??

Connections Certified – Finally!

As if yesterday I am now finally IBM Connections certified:


I had had just no time previously but here at Connect the certification tests are all free for participants so I went for it – and past! It was about time too, having worked with Connections for the last 6 years not having a certification just seemed strange. I do not test well (my dyslexia makes it hard for me) but I guess doing all these crazy IBM Connections projects finally paid off.


2014 – What is waiting at the starting line for this year?

Since I finally got back to my bog and wrote a short / brief “2013-in-a-nutshell” post, I thought it might be time to also look ahead. There is allot hat I am working on, here the short list:



Yes, I mentioned I am going and what my (not very short) list of must-see presentations are. The other reason I like to go is that is a great time to talk to vendors and colleagues to see where the market and technology is going and what clients are (likely/maybe/hopefully) looking for for the future. It is not just fun and golf – even if my wife thinks otherwise.

Connections Training

I speak frequently at LUGS and seminars on IBM Connections administration, that goes hand-in-hand with the Connections training that I offer as part of my business. This last year has seen allot of one-on-one / one-on-many training where I make the whole Connections install a training seminar for the client where they learn not only how to install but how to document, what decisions they need to think of ahead of time and then how to think ahead to production / operations. I also do class-room hands-on training where I bring in a VM environment and the participants get hands-on and get to break it and repair it. When necessary I actually created “broken” snapshots that I have them fix. Hands-on is the only way to go really

For 2014 I am thinking slightly larger …. I am partnering with a good friend of mine to munch off his good reputation and experience … ;) there will be some more detailed announcements on this later in the 1st quarter. for right now it is still  “Pssssst .. it’s a secret

Technology Trends

Over the last few years I have seen a big uptick in my IBM Connections business and a decline in Domino work. Not because I think Domino itself is declining but because the base knowledge in the market place out there is good and clients see less need in bringing in outside talent – upgrades and migrations yes – or integration work with other systems but not really for basic Domino operations.

Recently I also see a large uptick in Sametime inquiries – ST9 is making allot of clients thinking of upgrades and they want help. Also, they want ST to integrate with more – video, telephony, awareness in every other system they can get it to work in … ST9 looks good for me and I like the changes and (some of) the simplifications in the product – and I think that the licensing changes that IBM put into place will drive allot more adoption.

International Work

I also see an uptick in my “international” work. Whereas my focus used to be 99% North America I do get more inquiries for Europe and Asia … I speak several languages which helps but that is not the real reason, I just guess this internet thing really makes the world smaller and brings us closer in many different ways. Now, if I could just somehow get an app that does something about time zones and jet lag …..



I am curious to talk to my colleagues out there and see what the technology barometer is showing them – that is one of the reasons I always try to attend Connect (LotusPhere) – but for now all I can say is that 2014 looks good!

Open Mic Webcast: Troubleshooting Duplicate Mail Messages in IBM Notes – 24 July 2013

Looks like a good webcast again. I often get duplicate mail messages and it drives me nuts …. I will likely listne in to this one.




You are invited to join an Open Mic Webcast on the topic “Troubleshooting Duplicate Mail Messages in IBM Notes.” This event will be held Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 11:00 AM EDT (15:00 UTC, or GMT -4), for 60 minutes. After a presentation, you will have the opportunity to ask questions directly of IBM Developers and Support Engineers. See more details below. (Note: To view this information online, go to

When Date: 24 July 2013
Time: 11:00 AM EDT (15:00 UTC, or GMT -4), for 60 minutes
Bookmark Webcast Technote
# 7038764
Title: Open Mic Webcast: Troubleshooting Duplicate Mail Messages in IBM Notes – 24 July 2013
Doc #: 7038764
URL: the call, the technote will include:

  • An iCal attachment to add this event to your calendar
  • Details on how to join the call and web conference
  • The slides that will be presented during the session

A couple of weeks after the call, the technote will be updated to include:

  • A recording of the session
  • A written Q&A transcript

To be notified when the Webcast technote is updated, subscribe to IBM My Notifications and select “Webcasts” as a document type of interest.

IBM SmartCloud Meeting (web conference) URL
Web conference password: webcast
Dial-in Information Dial-in Passcode: 6939689US/Canada phone numbers:
Toll-free number (866) 803-2145
Toll number (210) 795-1099

International phone numbers

ndinfo with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. Please be aware that doing so will also unsubscribe you from periodic Support Content Highlights newsletters. If you know of others who wish to subscribe, have them send a message to ndinfo with “subscribe” in the subject line.

This e-mail was sent to the following e-mail address: victor

Sametime Video Chat Widget for Connections – Supposedly it still works in V4

My current client had this implemented in their V 3.x environment and we asked IBM if it will still work in V4 …. supposedly it does.

I am implementing it now but there are some inconsistencies with the ST server so I will have to dig through the ST logs and God only knows what else to make it work. Not sure if IBM is working on a version that is “more compatible” (it ain’t English but I have no better way of saying this) to Connections  V4.x, but I hope they are. This one is not very pretty to look at when it is added to a community at it’s current build.


I will keep y’all updated on the progress.

Connections 4.0: Tails from the Upgrade Part 1

As a few early risers might have already read on some blogs and press releases, IBM has released Connections 4.0 to the general public this morning – here woudl be Ed Brill’s blog as one of the many announcements.

I have been working for a client I shall call TWSSU (=”They Who Shall Stay Unnamed”) and been part of a large Connections implementation since last year.  As part of this environment we have been working on a V4 upgrade for quite some time, to the point where we started developing new look-and-feel designs and customizations on every code drop of the Beta cycle (that is a tale onto itself) and received the Connections V4 code early along with some “interesting” draft documentation for V4 … I know it’s unfair and mean, but sometimes it is fun to be me!

I have been under and NDA until today (general availability – finally!) so I have not been able to talk about any of the interesting items that are likely to pop up during a migration.

To that end I will start this tale  in small doses and hand out some of the more interesting tidbits in several blog posts, starting with the basics right here:

OS Requirements

Ditch any old Windows 2003 servers you still have, they are no longer supported. If  you were planning to re-use some of your existing infrastructure and they are windows 2003 … sorry. You can still run TDI and probably DB2 on them but anything with WebSphere on it will require Windows 2008 or AIX/UNIX/Linux. time to buy that next license pack from Redmond if you want Linux, otherwise Red Hat/CentOS is your best bet.

The detailed system requirements are here – be patient with the new design for the document for right now … it is still work in (design) progress and – as I find it personally – rather confusing. From what I hear IBM looked at it and is workgin on it. Hey – it is still better than some of the documentation that I have come up with over the years … :)

WAS Version: – SDK/JAVA

This was a painful experience for me – and partially self inflicted. Well, I had the excuse that the documentation was not yet ready. when IBM says that you have to install WAS FP 21(and a few more fixes separately) they don’t just mean WAS FP, IHS and Plugin FP- they also want you to install the SDK part of the fix pack. For most of us this is not something we are used to as most applications bring their own SDK or at least update it during the install process.

Connections has been significantly re-architected (more on that later) and contains a feature called “Comon” that is in charge of serving up all the static content, along with jsp’s, scripts/code and all the fun stuff that the features share among themselves. This feature will not initialize correctly – UNLESS – you have the SDK installed since it is only certified to run with a minimum Java version of WAS The install works and throws no errors, all the other features will start but common will not initialize (the errors in the systemOut.log are confusing and I needed serious IBM help to find the root cause – THANKS DAVID!)

Configuration XML files – There are ALLOT of them

There are about 19 features running on a full blown Connections environment now so there are naturally more configuration files. Also, the configuration of some items was moved to separate xml files (I like that – more later) so you can’t just port over all your old files, and in many cases not even the settings since they have changed.

I suggest to run a dif between your existing config files and the new ones, I use Beyond Compare for that (my favorite tool!). That will show you quite clearly what settings are different, what new settings exist and what the default settings are. Not all of the settings are documented in detail in the WIKI so  … be careful and start slow.

Cognos … The uncharted land

This is a new one for us. I have never touched Cognos before and without the help of my main man Vijay F. (full name shall remain secret to protect the innocent …) I am not sure if we would have gotten through the experience unscathed.

We found a few problems in the install that have already made it into the documentation so you have the benefit of our sweat and Vijay’s expertise. Just make sure you install Cognos first and have the right client version of the DB system you use installed.  AND – having more expertise in SQL than I do helps – it seriously helps. More on this at a later stage.


Stay tuned for more . . .

This is the end of part 1, more will follow next week: database upgrade/migrationss and new iFixes for V4 that get released along with the new version … yippie! We will have fun!!