ICONUK Sep. 21&22, London – I’ll be speaking again


Just got this in the email:

Good News! Your session IBM Connections – Installing the Free “Extras” and  Integrating with other Products has been approved for ICON UK 2015
Tim and I are finalizing the schedule and it should be online tomorrow.

Thanks again for your submission and we are looking forward to seeing you  in September

Will I see you guys there?

Dates:
Monday 21st & Tuesday 22nd September 2015

Time:
Mon 08:00 – 19:00 (Gala dinner 20:00 – 23:00)
Tue 08:00 – 18:00

Location:
IBM Client Centre, IBM Southbank, Upper Ground, London

http://iconuk.org/

Lotus Notes 8.5.2 code error – The Tale of Regression


 

I am part of a Domino migration at a large client in the financial/insurance industry and we have been moving applications from Domino 6.5.5 to version 8.5.2 FP1. I know, there are newer versions out there but you can’t always upgrade blindly – this is going to be one of the stories why IN-DEPTH testing is so important.

The client has an application that has been around since R5 days, migrated and upgraded several times – both client and server versions and never an issue.

Suddenly we get reports (during testing – thank GOD!) that when using the app with the new client (LN 8.5.2 standard) that certain document do not get created – they vanish.

To make a L O N G story short – we opened a ticket with IBM support and after digging and prodding they produced this one for us:

(from the actual ticket)

******************* SUBSEQUENT CALL RECORD TEMPLATE  *******************
ACTION TAKEN:                                                           
Created a test DB in 85 and copied customer form and data.              
Found field “eml” caused the issue: SPR RDJS8APTK6.  

This is a regression error that made its way back into the Lotus notes 8.5.2 code stream. It was fixed in Notes 8.5.3 but if you are on 8.5.2 (no matter the FP level) you are snorked.

What we did

Since it is hard to determine with any certainty how many other applications out there might contain a filed called “eml” the decision was made to do a company wide, mid-project change and instead of rolling out Notes 8.5.2 we will be rolling out 8.5.3 and upgrading all workstations to which 8.5.2 has been deployed previously. A huge undertaking.

Had this not been found during testing it could have been very costly for my client.  As is, the change in scope will be massive and costly as well, but it beats having actual business processes interrupted and clients (actual consumers) be impacted.

So – the lessons everybody should take home from this:

  1. Test – always test even if it is a small point upgrade
  2. Test – with ALL server and client variations that you might have in your environment – do not skip anything
  3. Have test plans that are captured and documented across each scenario and can be compared apples-to-apples.
  4. DO NOT NAME ANY FIELDS, FORMS (or anything else for that matter)  IN YOUR APPLICATIONS “EML” – this error could possibly be re-introduced in a future code stream – you never know.

 

 

Lotus Notes 8.5.2 -> FP1 released and ready for download


I have been a bit preoccupied with a troublesome BES installation for the last week and have not been looking much at the web and blogs – but today it looks like FP1 for Lotus Notes 8.5.2 is out and available. I am already downloading it and will apply it to all my many clients today.

Can’t wait until the FP1 for the server is out.

Domino 8.5.1 Technote – Fixup can crash your server


I came across this technote yesterday and investigated it right away …

– well, I’ll admit it – I asked somebody else in IBM to clarify some items for me and am now plagiarizing that good deed on my blog – THANKS CAROL!!

First of all – this only applies to Domino 8.5.1 on Windows, and it makes no difference which FP you are running since it was not fixed in FP4 nor will a fix be included in FP5 either, it is fixed in 8.5.2 though – you guys are safe.

 

The Issue Explained:

The issue CAN be cause by running FIXUP with a combination of either [fixup -F -J] or [fixup -F -J -O]. It will not automatically happen, it has to run into a document in a dB that has ‘invalid items” .. what exactly constitues such “invalid items” is not 100% clear but I am treating it like a 50-50 chance for failure until I have more evidence/experience or a better explanation of what exactly is meant with “invalid items”.

Exception:

Since the explanation implies that the behavior only happens if you also include the [-J] switch, servers that are not not transaction logged will not be affected, even if they are on Windows. Also, if you are running Domino on any other platform this will not affect you – so my dear Linux buddies are all safe, as are you AIX, iSeries and mainframers as well.

 

What does this mean in terms of daily admin work?

Well, the [-J] is needed anytime you want to run fixup against transaction-logged databases and [-F] is a very commonly used switch as  well. [-O] basically tells fixup to also run against open databases and is the default bahavior if you specify a database name with the fixup command.So the command [load fixup mail/xxx.nsf -J -F] implicitly includes the [-O] switch behavior whether you add it to the command or not.

That leaves you with the option to run Fixup without the [-F] switch to avoid a  *possible* kiss of death.

 

Advice:

if you are running the fixup command as part of some regular, automated script (I usually advise against it) you need to review the commands to make sure yo do not inadvertently crash your server (possibly, it is not a guaranteed outcome).

Also, when running Fixup against databases during the day to fix database corruption of any kind, I would run it without the [-F] switch during the day and see if your problem is fixed. If that does not fix your database problem, you can either roll the dice or wait until after hours – which is what I will do until I have tried it out a few times and have a better feel whether this actually ever materializes or not.

Ridding myself of Windows – Google Desktop for Lotus Notes and Linux


Again, research, research – I came across this technote today:

IBM – Selecting Actions – Google Desktop for Lotus Notes yields error for Google Desktop plugin on Windows 7.

That reminded me of my current struggle of eliminating Windows from my laptop. Quick reminder – I don’t hate Windows, not do I knock is in personal or professional conversations at all – I just prefer Linux (currently Ubuntu 10.04, will upgrade to 10.10 S O O N) and I prefer not to pay allot of money for a first rate OS and all the software I want to use. I have another Windows Desktop at home, several servers and run Windows as a VM on my Linux machine when I need it.

Google Desktop:

First off let me say that I do applaud IBM for adding technotes about a product like Google Desktop that they don’t produce themselves – that is a great thing that I I hope they keep up.

I started using Google Desktop a few years ago and fell in love with it instantly. The native Windows search-your-desktop product regularly crashed my machine, and after I switched – I never looked back. I also Love the fact that IN WINDOWS it has a plug-in so that you can include your Lotus Notes based email in any search you are conducting. Brilliant! However, the Linux Google Desktop does not support this … sadly.

As to the why? Well, many reasons probably but the major one being the low number of Linux desktops that are used by real end-users out there and not just IT professionals.  For Google to put in the effort they are probably hoping for IBM to put more effort into that field.

David Gewirtz wrote a very interesting article in the Dominopower online magazine recently regarding this very topic. He made a very good point that the latest version of Lotus notes 8.5.2 is only certified to run on three distros: Red Hat, SUSE and Ubuntu. When it comes to Ubuntu – the most vibrant distro for desktops – the supported version is literally 2 years old. I have it running on the latest version (10.04) but I would never implement this in a customer environment as the desktop configuration would be unsupported by IBM.

Clearly, there is some room for more effort on IBM’s behalf to put some more resources into the Linux portion. I will even stop my griping about the lack of native Admin and Designer clients on Linux (note: my work-around tip is here)  and happily skip-and-jump down the yellow brick road for them. I will have to admit though there is a bit of a chicken and egg situation here: because there is not allot of pull by the market and free-bee extras (like Google Desktop Notes Mail integration) out there IBM is not pushing Linux nearly as hard as they could (or as I would wish them to – different matter I guess)  which in turn does not inspire other companies to put allot of effort into developing Linux variants of their products. Catch 22, viscous cycle, etc.

But clearly IBM is the one who would be able to make more waves in this field if they at least added more Linux distros to the supported list and – especially for Ubuntu – made sure they were not 2 versions behind. Or – novel idea – put out a time-line, schedule (or whatever) that shows where they intend to go with supported Linux versions, distros etc. AND they would have to put it someplace where it can actually be found … I searched but found nada. Just a few posts by TEB alone don’t make a compelling Linux argument. If you don’t have your information someplace where a Google search (or any other search provider) does not show it on page one or two of the results – it does not count. (note: I was searching for a good 30 minutes, that is longer than the average customer would be willing to spend time on a search)

** End of Linux-Griping for the day **

Hidden Gems in Domino 8.5.2: Overview of Improvements in DAOS Catalog


Another great find (this tech note just came out today) of some improvements that have found their way into DAOS in 8.5.2.

I am really liking DAOS now (I always have, it’s more an increase of  like-iness) . It is so much easier to sell a client on DAOS now as the feature has been around for a while and you can show and document the evolution of issues, their resolution and the current state of the product. Along with the DAOS estimator that kind of documentation is a powerful tool that can be used to overcome allot of rather irrational fears.

IBM – Overview of 8.5.2 Improvements in DAOS Catalog.

Many clients are – understandable – hesitant to do anything with attachments … it gets them all nervous. Once you can show them the advantages though it becomes easier – especially if you start talking of performance increases on the server and that even if they get nervous – DAOS is bound to each server individually and that makes them feel safer if some other server has the “full” (a misnomer, but effective) replica.

I like to introduce it on to servers that are used for archiving, back-up and redundancy. Back-up times are quicker, tapes are fewer, AV scans are MUCH quicker and the server (usually not the fasted one in the crowd) performs better. A great way to get a client comfortable and then have them implement it system wide.

DCLug Meeting – 09/23/2010


I have been working for a client full time in DC for a few months now and some members of the DC Lug are at the same place – so after some beating and whipping by them I joined the DC Lotus User Group a month ago or do (it still hurts …)

Now, for the first time in a while (should I take credit??) there will be a DCLug meeting on Sept. 23 3-5. The meeting details are here.

There is also a DC Lotus Professionals group on LinkedIn that I think is a great resource to join as well. If you have a LinkedIn profile (I hope you do) and are anywhere in the greater Washington D.C. area, you should join that group.  Here is a link to join that group.