It’s not the software, it’s how you use it

What drives collaboration?  It is not the latest collaboration software, offering eye-popping features and kick-ass integration.  It is the desire of teams to collaborate.  Like the proverbial horse, you can lead a team to collaboration, but you can’t make them collaborate.

On of my projects now I’m working with an amazing team of great software developers.  The team is small, there are 6 of us.  The velocity of the project is great with 2-week sprints delivering minimally viable product at each iteration.  The team simply must collaborate in order to survive and to keep on top of the project.

Before I joined the project, the team chose Basecamp from 37signals.  Basecamp wouldn’t have been my first choice.  Having used Quickr, Connections, SharePoint, I find Basecamp somewhat primitive, lacking features that I’m used to with other packages.  But it is not the strengths or weaknesses of Basecamp that determine my teams’ ability to collaborate.  It is the team’s desire to collaborate that drives collaboration.

All team members religiously engage in discussions, posting updates and tracking their progress on Basecamp.  Basecamp has also become a vehicle for outbound communication from the team to other stakeholders in the organization.  When the project will be done, all of the project’s history and all of its intellectual capital will be in Basecamp.

It is a dream come true for many organizations trying to foster internal collaboration, trying to harvest the wealth of knowledge locked in employees’ heads and often lost with them.  It is a problem that organizations try to solve with this or that latest software.  But if there’s no desire to share, if collaboration is not being fostered, then no amount of bells and whistles can fix it.



Introducing newest Lotus blogger – Wil How

I am excited to welcome another Loti blogger to the community.  And having him as a member of the Lotus team at PSC makes it so much more special.

Wil How (yes, it is Wil with one L; I had to add him to my custom dictionaries) joined PSC about half way through 2010.   And since then he’s been almost exclusively working on a large XPages project, converting existing Domino application(s).  It’s been a great journey of learning for Wil and I’m glad that he finally decided to start sharing all the little tidbits as he overcomes one challenge of XPages after another.  I’m sure other XPages developers will find them useful, too.

And as Wil does quite a bit of hardcore web development out of XPages as well, from time to time you may see not strictly Lotus-related entries on his blog at


Lotusphere 2011 recap

It was last week this time that I was saying goodbye to the sunny and warm Orlando and dreading facing the 6-foot piles of snow on my driveway back home in Chicago.  A week later, I keep looking back at Lotusphere 2011 and wondering what it was that I walked away with.

Last night, someone asked me how the Lotusphere went and what was new.  I summed it up in two words: “Get. Social”.  “Oh yeah,” I added, “and Xpages”.

I could’ve mentioned all the various sessions I attended (the most in years), the new layout of the showcase floor, the debate of whether the attendance was up or down, whether there were more or less exhibitors  or even Harry Potter on Wednesday night.  But to me, the social and the Xpages were the key themes of the conference.  And that was disappointing.

On Sunday, after the Business Day Open General Session (OGS), one of the IBMers asked me what I had thought of it.  I told them that it left me very disappointed: there were no new product announcements, no new directions, no demoes — nothing but “get social”, “get social”, “get social”.  “Then, ” the IBMer replied, “you will be even more disappointed by the Monday OGS.”

When you go to a software company’s biggest annual conference, you want to be wowed by all the great cool stuff they’ve been working on during the previous year and are getting ready to release.  You want to see new and improved versions of existing software, breakthrough new software ideas: things that will ensure the said software company’s market leadership and growth.  To me, all of that was missing from Lotusphere 2011.  Or maybe I’m just old and cynical.

Or maybe it is better to have my (most likely) last Lotusphere end on a down note: I won’t be sorry not to return.

But I am going to miss this..

What did you think of the event?  Was it better for you than it was for me?

Mac Mail – 1 month later

So it’s been a little over a month since I took the plunge and switched my email from Domino to Exchange.  All this time I’ve been trying to exclusively use Mac’s native tools for my email and calendar.  After being a Lotus Notes user for longer than I remember, using Mac tools was a bit of an adjustment.

The good thing about these Mac tools is that they all integrate seamlessly with Exchange: mail, calendar and address book — even free/busy checking.  Configuring and setting them up was a snap.  They all sort of just found the Exchange server and configured themselves.

The best thing I like about Mail is how it consolidates multiple accounts in one interface.  I have my Exchange, Gmail and the old Lotus Notes mailboxes all in one place.   I can drag and drop messages between accounts.  I can read an email from one account, but reply to it under a different account by just changing the From drop down list.   I can open an old message from Notes and reply to it through Exchange.  I even have different signatures configured for different accounts and by changing the From value, the signature automatically changes.  Being able to switch identities and reply to emails from different accounts was always a big problem in Notes.

I kind of like how Mail automatically closes the open email when I reply to it.  But if you hold the Option key when clicking Reply, the original email stays open.

Calendaring though is a little weak.  I miss having Richtext event descriptions and being able to edit them.  Any lengthy description in iCal just ends up being a long run-on text.

Scheduling events with people from outside the organization doesn’t work very well.  Schedule changes, information updates and meeting acceptances don’t always know which meeting they are related to.  A bit of a mess.  Guess that’s where Tungle could be useful.

Now, Address is a bit of a mess.  Not so much on the computer, but more so when it comes to BlackBerry synch.  For some reason I keep losing email addresses.  They are there in the application, but not there when the contact is synched to my BlackBerry.  It takes a few edits to the address to get it to synch correctly.

The best thing I like about all of these applications is that they do the simple task of email and calendar and do it pretty well, without extra overhead and complications.  They load fast.  Very fast.  They don’t generate silly error messages about failed provisioning.  And they don’t have a progress bar at the bottom indicating some odd background process doing something.

Mozy unlimited subscription is gone

I need a bit of help possibly selecting a new backup provider.

For the first time since 2006, we’re adjusting the price of our MozyHome service and wanted to give you a heads up. As part of this change, we’re replacing our MozyHome Unlimited backup plan and introducing the following tiered storage plans:

50 GB for $5.99 per month (includes backup for 1 computer)
125 GB for $9.99 per month (includes backup for up to 3 computers)

You may add additional computers (up to 5 in total) or 20 GB increments of storage to either of the plans, each for a monthly cost of $2.00.

While this policy takes effect for new MozyHome customers starting today, your MozyHome Unlimited subscription is still valid for the duration of your current monthly term. Your new plan will take effect on your first renewal after March 1, 2011. Based on your current usage of 1 computers and 66.35 gigabytes, your renewal plan will be $9.99 for a monthly term.”

I appreciate that Mozy hasn’t changed  prices since 2006.  I’m still not happy about it..  What good alternatives to Mozy are there?

I’m looking at Carbonite already.  Any other ones?