Free Gyros in Chicago on September 1st

If you like eating gyros and you live in Chicago, you’re in luck.  Tomorrow, September 1st, 2009, Kronos Foods is offering a free gyro at one of 44 participating restaurants.  To take advantage of the offer just visit the Kronos’ website and print out a coupon.  Bon appetit!

‘Twas the night without Twitter

So this was quite a refreshing experience…

The first social event at MWLUG, the pre-conference informal get-together, brought together 17 of us.  Is started off with a couple of rounds of drinks at the Crowne Plaza hotel and ended with a dinner at Roditys.  (Roditys just happens to be my favorite Greek restaurant, so I was very happy to hear that everyone liked the food.)

What made the night really special was a refreshing absence of business and Twitter in our conversation.  Majority of the people that got together I met for the first time face-to-face: some I’ve never met before, others were on-line acquaintances  from  the Lotus community.  But our conversation seemed like that of old friends.  I admit, I don’t remember what it was all about, but I do remember that there were no awkward silences.  And even more so, I don’t remember seeing anyone pull out their mobile device to Tweet.  Maybe they did and I just didn’t notice.  If they did, I applaud their stealth.  If they didn’t — cool!

Social events at MWLUG

If you’re coming to MWLUG, here are a couple of social events that are being organized.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Since a number of attendees are staying at the Crown Plaza Hotel, we are having an informal get together.  A number of folks are arriving early.  If anyone would like to join us, we are meeting in the hotel lobby at 7:00 PM.  This is no Lotusphere, don’t look for yellow backpacks to identify others.  But we shouldn’t be too hard to spot.  When in doubt, look for a white bald guy — me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

After cruising the Chicago River and Lake Michigan on the architecture boat tour, attendees are invited to join us for the MWLUG Conference 2009 Social Networking Event. It will be held at the Chicago Hyatt Regency from 6:15 PM to 8:15 PM.

More details on the second event we will provide at MWLUG.

Lotus Knows how to listen – finally

There’s one nagging thought in the back of my head.  How would the Lotus brand and the overall marketplace be different right now if Bob Picciano or someone like him took over as the GM 4 years ago instead of Mike Rhodin?  Or even 6 years ago instead of Ambuj?  What would the Lotus brand be today?  Would it still be fighting to preserve its user base or would it be rolling through the land migrating companies to its solutions?

Over the years I’ve watched and followed Lotus — the brand, the product, the community — through the good times and through the bad; I’ve watched things changing and not always for the best.  I’ve watched the leadership change and with it came the change in the direction for the brand.  The one thing that seemed to remain constant, was the leadership’s lack of ability or want or both to pay attention to what their faithful followers were saying.

In the past year or so, once again, the wind of change has been blowing on the Lotus brand.  And this time the change seems to be good.

The Lotus brand, rocked to sleep by the comforting warmth of the IBM’s behemoth body, is waking up under the leadership of Bob Picciano.  Lotus cannot survive under the IBM’s philosophy “We’re The IBM. Why would you use anything else?!”.  It needs to be more aggressive and Bob’s team recognizes that.  And the signs of Bob’s team doing things differently are everywhere.

Lotus is very energetically working at preserving its install base.  Customers who use older versions of Lotus (and they are still companies using R5, I just met with one 2 weeks ago) are the most likely candidates to migrate to a different platform.  And can you blame them?  When you compare a 9 – 10 year old technology to a competitor’s client of today, how can you not want to move?  Often, these customers are not even aware that Lotus is now in version 8.5 and is heralded by Gartner as the client of the future.

Lotus is working with Business Partners to reach out to existing customers to educate, to upgrade, to help – to do whatever it takes to prevent them from going elsewhere.

Lotus is also recognizing the fact that lack of integration support from 3rd party vendors is driving its customers to migrate to other products (Exchange) with its Outlook client being widely integrated by vendors into their products.  With the Notes 8.5 Eclipse platform and its side-bar plugins, we’re seeing plugins being developed for commonly used applications like Twitter and LinkedIn.

And now the latest step in the change process is a brand new “Lotus Knows” marketing campaign dedicated to the Lotus brand.  Based on some communications coming out of the Lotus offices, I’ve been suspecting that something like that is in the works but didn’t dare to dream — just didn’t want to be dissapointed.

But amongst all these things, what stands out the most, at least for me, is Lotus’ leadership willingness to listen.  We, at PSC, have preached the mantra of “It’s all in the way we listen” for years.  So when a company is actively listening, I notice.

I loved it when Sean Poulley, VP in charge of LotusLive, commented on my blog in response to a post on LotusLive and got engaged in a conversation. I didn’t love it because I got the attention.  I loved it because it was great to see a VP at IBM engage in a discussion on a simple blog — something not commonly seen in the past.

The Lotus Knows IdeaJam is another step towards Lotus opening itself up and actively engaging with its users, customers, partners — the overall community.  Having several Lotus executives actively participate in the 72-hour event, responding to ideas and comments, was a great idea.  I, of course, don’t know what will happen to all the ideas that were posted.  But the fact remains — Lotus is willing to LISTEN, to have a discussion, to talk and even at times to admit its shortcomings.

Great job, Lotus! Let’s not stop there.  Let’s put some of the ideas in place, make them a reality.  And please don’t be too hasty to reshuffle things again and move Bob to his next position at IBM.

What do you think?  Is there hope or is it too late?

Kindness of strangers

This happened to me just this morning on my morning ride.  Somewhere on my way back, about 5 miles from home, I ran over some sharp rocks or something.  I only noticed that something was amiss when the bike started feeling weird.  At the next light I stopped to check and, sure enough, the back tire was soft.  Without a spare tube, I had no choice but to start walking.

Walking in road cycling shoes with clips is not the best experience.  You sound like a horse, every step resounding with unbending plastic sole of the shoes and clips clanking on the asphalt.

One group of riders went by, asked if I had a tube with me and, learning that I didn’t, just rode on.  A police cruiser, not sure from what village, came by.  This one even had a bike rack on the back of the car and a bike of his own on it.  I thought that, seeing a guy walking his bike along the road, he would stop and offer to help, but the cruiser just went on.  Same for a few vehicles that came by, even a couple of pickups carrying bikes in the back.

All of a sudden, after about a mile, just about when I gave up on the idea of being rescued by a passer-by, a man rode up on a bike of his own.  He asked if I had a flat and offered to help.  He had a spare tube and all the tools needed.  In a few minutes he had me all set and on my way.

Thank you for helping me out.  And thank you for restoring my faith in the kindness of strangers.

MWLUG is coming next week

There’s a bit more than 1 week left before MWLUG kicks off in Chicago on August 27th.  If you haven’t registered yet, do so and do so soon.  If you live in Midwest and particularly around Chicago and are a Lotus user and fan, you almost have no reason not to attend.  For myself, I’m looking forward to attending a conference where I don’t have to travel out of town.

PSC, while sponsoring the event, will be presenting 3 separate sessions.

Integration and Coexistence: Leveraging Lotus and Microsoft products to build better solutions” by John Head.  While John and I usually co-present this session at Lotusphere, the 1-hour format of LUG conferences makes it kind of silly to have 2 presenters up there.  So this will be John all himself.

Enabling your Applications with Complete Rich Text Editing on the Web” by yours truly.

Implementing DAOS and ID Vault” by Luis Guirigay.  Luis will spend the 2 days prior to MWLUG teaching a Domino 8.5 upgrade workshop.  So all topics of new and exciting features of 8.5 will be fresh on his mind.  Come by and ask questions.

Hope to see you all there.