Shelfari is connecting to Kindle – Finally!


Oooooo  can’t wait!

Wonder if they will automatically updated book’s status when I finish reading it on my Kindle.


My new job

I started to write this as I sat in a little courtyard at the Disney Swan hotel an hour before our session (JMP208) on how to integrate your Lotus Notes with other desktop applications.  As I looked around and enjoy the weather, I feel a little sadness realizing that this might very well be my last Lotusphere.

Once upon the time, John Head called me “The general of PSC’s Lotus/Collaboration practice”.  Well, I am that general no more.

At some point last year, I realized that I no longer enjoyed my job.  I was in my fourth year of running our Collaboration practice. Managing a P&L and worrying about scheduling was no longer challenging or thrilling.  I felt like I’ve been there, done that.

The worst thing you can do as a manager and a leader is to no longer care.  It is simply not fair to your team and the people who rely on you.  I didn’t want to be in that position, so it was time to move on.

As I look back, I realize that I had made a lot of mistakes and I also learned a lot during my tenure as a Practice Manager.  I hope that overall I was at least somewhat successful during my tenure.  (I don’t think PSC would’ve kept me around otherwise).  It was a great experience and I’m grateful for the opportunity to live through it.

We had good years and we had so-so years.  The team survived through the worst economic downturn of our lifetime and we came out on top as one of the few remaining Lotus consulting organizations in Chicago.  Not only did we not lose any team members, I think that at the end of 2010 our Notes team was larger than ever before.

Of course, we could’ve never done it without the smart, dedicated and, at times, simply brilliant people who I had the privilege to work with.  It is these people who rose up to every challenge, picked up new skills, learned new technologies and worked long hours.  A few of them told me that they thought I was a good manager.  I know that some of them will read this I want to thank them for their support.

So come January 1st of 2011, I officially handed the general’s epaulettes to Andrew Barickman.  Andrew joined PSC around September of 2010 and things sort of worked out: I wanted to move out, he wanted to move in.

So now, I’m a field consultant once again.  I’m doing a business strategy/RFP generation project for a logistics client.  I’m managing the final delivery phases of an Extranet portal project for another client.  And when I return from Lotusphere, I’ll also be a product manager for another client of ours.  None of these projects have any relation to Lotus.

However, I am still managing the PSC/IBM relationship, so I am not completely out of the picture.  And will certainly continue to be involved in the great Lotus community.

I want to thank PSC and its management team for being very supportive of what I wanted to do.  They understood the reasons I was looking to resign a Vice President position to become a Solution Architect.

So now I’m looking forward to all the new projects and the new learning opportunities.


JMP208 The Never Ending Integration Story: How to Integrate Your Lotus Notes, Domino, and LotusLive applications with Microsoft Office, .NET, and Lotus Symphony

Slides from our Lotusphere 2011 session – JMP 208.  The demo database will be next.

Evernote automatic backup feature

This is one of those unexpected features that I didn’t know about until I needed it.  Of course, it was mentioned on the Evernote’s blog back in April, but who reads documentation, right?

One day I was editing a document attached to one of my Evernote’s entries.  I got confused in my open Word windows, modified the wrong version of the document, saved it back to Evernote and closed Word.  So there was no going back and undoing it in Word.

In my desperate and panicked attempts to restore a previous version of the document, I stumbled upon a View – Notes History menu option of Evernote.  Apparently, every time you synch with Evernote’s servers, it makes a backup of modified notes.  So the Note History allows you to access all previous versions of a given note.  With just a couple of clicks I was able to download a previous version of the document in question and reverse my changes.

This feature is available only to premium account users.  But like it is always the case with backups, 45 dollars per year is a small price to pay for an ability to recover from dumb mistakes.  And even having Mozy backup of Evernote folders didn’t really help.  The way Evernote stores its notes and attachments, it is almost impossible to figure out which folder represents which note.



The scourge of email

Somewhere I read or heard about a guy who would check his email twice a day: at 8 AM and 4 PM.  He had an auto responder set to reply to all emails that he will check email and respond in one of those time slots.  I want to be that guy.

At some point along the way, during the evolution of electronic communication, email ceased to be a collaboration tool and became a distraction tool.  Like a Pavlov’s dog, at that ding, buzz, popup, vibration, the ever famous “You’ve got mail” notice of a new email we drop everything and grab our mouse, keyboard, laptop, mobile device and spring into action of reading and immediately replying to that all important email.  “I get email therefore I exist”, said Dilbert in one strip.

If you sent me an email, that means you really need an answer from me, like now.  And if I don’t reply in 5, 10, 15 minutes, you start getting antsy.  You may even call me, “Hey, I sent you an email.  Did you see it?”  After all, you know that I’m there, you can see my online status in your IM app.  You know that I have a BlackBerry.  So there should be no excuse for me not to reply to you, right?

Well, wrong!

This modus operandi may be fine if your job is to answer email.  But if your job is to complete a task, to prepare a document, to run a meeting, then email is nothing more than a distraction.  The message they sent you is certainly important to the sender, and someone else’s priority is upsetting your priorities.

Email is a documentation tool and it’s a good communication tool when used properly with respect and appropriate expectations on both sides.

It is NOT an instant messaging tool.  IM is the instant messaging tool, that’s why it is called IM.  And it is not a substitute for face-to-face or phone-to-phone communication.

One of these days I may become important enough and be able to afford an auto-responder “I check email twice a day.  I’ll respond to you then.”  Until then, sadly enough, I’ll continue to be a victim of the email scourge.  Although, my Mail client is set to not alert me of new messages with popups; the volume on my laptop is turned off and I don’t hear those beeps; and my BlackBerry is set to to a Phone-only profile, remaining silent and stone-faced when emails arrive.

And in conclusion, a real life story…

My mother likes to forward a great deal of all those cute, humourous and various “educational” emails.  In a moment of a lapse in judgement I confessed to her that I summarily delete 99% of these emails without ever opening them.  She took it as a personal affront: if someone [my mother] took the time to put together and sent an email, it is disrespectful of them and the time they spent to not read it.  “And what about my time?  The time it takes to read it”, I asked.  She disregarded my question.


Kindle, Shelfari and reading books in new year

According to Shelfari, I read 42 books in 2010.  That’s 3.5 books on average per month.  Today, on January 8th of the new year, I already read 3 books and am working through 2 more.  So I’m ahead of pace.

I credit my increased book consumption speed to my new Kindle and audiobooks.

I started the year with reading on a Kindle.  For a long time I foolishly resisted getting a book reading device.  I just didn’t want to give up that feeling of having an actual book in my hands, flipping pages, feeling paper under my fingers.  I read Jeff Bezos promises that his “top objective was to make the Kindle disappear” and didn’t believe it possible.  But Jeff was right.

The first time I sat down to read with my new Kindle, I quickly developed a headache.  It took me a little while to realize what was wrong.  I was trying read it like an LCD screen — a laptop or an iPad or some other handheld device — and Kindle isn’t that.  I can’t explain it, but my eyes were looking at it a little differently and it wasn’t comfortable.  Once I realized my mistake, I adjusted my eyes and started looking at the device just like I would at a book page and that made all the difference in the world.  After that, the device truly sort of “melted” away.  It no longer mattered what I held in my hand, all that mattered was the text on a page.

The form factor of the device is a definite plus.  It is smaller and lighter than most of the books I read, making it much more manageable.

I also found that I read much quicker on a Kindle vs. a regular book.  I attribute this to the size of the screen, the width of the page is narrower than most books I read and it allows my eyes to travel down the rows faster.

And the built-in dictionary is absolutely phenomenal.

All in all, Kindle is an amazing little device.  It is letting me read more and read faster.  It is making me spend more money with Amazon, but that side effect was to be expected.  And if you’re into the classics, there’s always Project Gutenberg, offering many classics in Kindle format for free.

The thing that’s missing for me is tighter integration with Shelfari itself, which is surprising in itself, since Shelfari is owned by Amazon.  I’d love to see my Kindle automatically update my Shelfari bookshelf with books that I’m reading or have read.  Anyone knows how to build it?

And then, there are audio books.  Again, something that I resisted for the longest time until finally deciding to give it a try.  And I’m hooked.  I’m using MyMediaMall through my local library.  Checkout a book, download and transfer to your iPod and enjoy.  I find myself driving slower (people who know me personally and have been in a car with me may find it hard to believe), prolonging my commute just so that I can listen longer to my book.

I’m looking forward to discovering more books this year.  Let’s see what my total count will be at the end of the year.



Looking for Lotus developer-consultant at PSC

It’s a new year and we need to start it off right.  How?  By hiring another Lotus consultant developer to our team.

We’re looking for the usual skill set:

  • strong development skills
  • strong web development skills
  • knowledge of web development outside of the standard Lotus package: JS, CSS, extJS
  • hopefully some XPages or at least the aptitude to learn it quickly.

In addition to the technical skills, we would love to hire someone who can manage him or her self, their clients, their projects and maybe even others.

PSC is in Chicago.  We would prefer local candidates, of course.

If you have what it takes or know someone who does, please get in touch with me.