What do you call a blog that’s updated once a year?

Answer…… AlexKassabov.com  

A few days ago I was talking blogging with a coworker and a friend.  We both lamented the difficulties of blogging, how hard it is to write good content, and how hard it is to make time to keep one’s blog regularly updated.  And we both have let our blogs to stagnate lately.  So then and there I vowed to resurrect my blog, to dust off my old friend, to start blogging again.  

A few days went by. Then a whole weekend.  And I still didn’t find time to write anything.

Then, on Monday night, I get a one-liner email from another friend.  

What do you call a blog that’s updated once a year?  Answer…… AlexKassabov.com

How’s that for a coincidence? if that’s not a sign to start writing again, I don’t know what is.

So, hello there, my old friend.  It’s time to blow the dust off, find the next empty page and… write something meaningful.

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 http://blog.intrellise.com/.


Fiasco of my first Posterous post via email

I thought I would be cool, all social media connected and witty at that.  I thought that Posterous was going to enable me to be all that.

I took a picture of something with my phone.  I composed a very clever caption for it and a couple of very witty sentence to go with it.  I put all that into an email on my BlackBerry and sent it off to Posterous right then and there.

What I didn’t remember was that my BlackBerry adds my corporate signature to every email.  Oops!  I mean, OOPS!.   Last thing I wanted in my post was a long disclaimer.

So the witty post was followed by a few minutes of panic and fumbling with my BlackBerry to delete the post.  Good thing I was able to.

Perhaps the slickness of Posterous, the ability to post and share everywhere and everything is not for me.  I think I’m gonna stick with my WordPress blog for now.

Did you know? Or why to blog

Did you know that <Ctrl>+<Enter> will complete a web address entered into a browser’s address bar?   “cnn” will become “http://www.cnn.com&#8221;.

<⌘ Command><Enter> does the same on a Mac.

Did you know that <Windows key><E> will open the Windows Explorer?

Did you know that <fn><delete> on a Mac will make the <delete> key act as delete and not backspace?

Perhaps you did.  A lot of the people don’t.

The other day someone told me that he would like to start blogging, but was concerned that his blog wouldn’t be of interest to others.  If he were to talk about his work, his projects, him transitioning into a new programming language, experts in that language would laugh at the trivial nature of his posts.

In response, I asked how he enters URLs into the browser and if he knows the <Ctrl><Enter> shortcut.

What may seem trivial to you is often a great discovery for others.  Blog it, share it.  You’ll be surprised how grateful your readers may be for the valuable titbit that you taught them.

And <Windows key><F> opens the Windows Search window.  And <Ctrl><M> creates a new email message in Lotus Notes…

Blogging and corporate responsibility

When it comes to blogging, commenting on forums, using Twitter or Facebook and in general engaging in any kind of online social networking, my one rule has been the one of if you wouldn’t want your mother, your significant other (wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend) or your boss to know, don’t say it. Using profanity, discussing a hot coworker, depicting how trashed you got last Saturday night, complaining that you didn’t get a raise or posting pictures of you peeing on the side of your company’s HQ — are all examples of things that, if you know what’s good for you, you probably shouldn’t be doing online.  But if you think about it, the realm of things that you should or should not be discussing openly online could be much broader than that.  Exactly how broad and where the boundaries of this realm lie is very different for every person, with some topics and behaviors falling into a very gray area.  It all becomes even more uncertain when you consider who is impacted, negatively or positively, by your actions.

One of those “gray” areas is criticism.  Criticism for the sake of criticism is, in my book, nothing more than bitching.  But, on one hand, it is very popular and brings readers to your blog and followers to your Twitter.  On the other hand, for a lot of people, it represents the very value of social networking and the wisdom of crowds.  Many of us have come to rely on blogs and customer reviews when making purchasing decisions.  I myself am a strong believer in sharing the negative and positive experiences with products and companies that I encounter.  But is sharing a negative opinion always a responsible thing to do?

When I say that Acme Anvils make the worst anvils in the world and that mine broke after dropping it off a Rocky Canyon cliff and that Acme Anvils’ customer service was rude to me and offered no help and that I would never deal with them again, who am I impacting?  Am I only impacting myself and Acme Anvils?  If the answer is yes, then I am doing a good and responsible thing by sharing and warning others would be Acme Anvils’ customers to stay away.

But what if my company has, perhaps even unbeknown to me, a large contract to provide services to Acme Anvils?  Am I still doing a good thing even though I may be potentially endangering the relationship my company has with Acme?  What if Acme Anvils will find my blog post and will terminate the contract based on how my organization’s managers perceive Acme Anvils?

Do I, as an employee of an organization, have a corporate responsibility to not express my negative opinions about my company’s clients?

The answer to that question becomes even more ambiguous, if you consider future, potential clients.  It is possible that at the time of my post, my company has no relationship with Acme Anvils. However, 6 months later we are competing for a piece of business and we lose the deal because of something I had said on my blog.

On the other side of this question is my employer itself.  As a company, how far do I go to ensure that my employees don’t say bad things about my current clients and target accounts?  And do I have a right to ask an employee to take down a post?

I don’t have all the answers but would be curious to find out what your experience has been.

What do you think?

Where are all the young’uns are (part deux)

My post on the noticeable lack of fresh young faces at Lotusphere 2009 received some mixed feedback.  The comments boiled down to 4 distinct categories: it’s hopeless: Notes is dead; it’s all good and there are young people working with technology; Lotusphere is too expensive to send young people; IBM isn’t doing enough pushing its technology in schools and colleges.  When I decided to write that entry, I had some different ideas in mind.  

I know that IBM isn’t doing enough and never will to promote its technology in the education market.  IBM considers Lotus Notes to be an enterprise-level technology and doesn’t see a business case in giving it for free or at a steep discount to schools and colleges.  I will wait for a Harvard Business School case study on how IBM lost its market share this way.  But this is a post for another time.

I know that Lotusphere is quite expensive and the increased admission fee in today’s market did nothing to promote attendance this year.

What was interesting is that I wasn’t the only one who observed the shift in attendees demographics.

So let us think about this…

We, the Lotus faithful, the yellow bubble, have perhaps the most vibrant and interesting community out there.  Unfortunately, as some of us had pointed out in the past, we live in an echo chamber, with our voices hardly ever being heard outside of the chamber.  

The biggest thing that was missing for me during and after the Lotusphere was the simple and pure excitement.  The kind of excitement we had when R5 came out and we all felt like the Superman.  The kind of excitement I used to feel coming to Lotusphere eager to learn new stuff and then coming back to the office, excitement and new knowledge brimming over, couldn’t wait to share what I learned with others, couldn’t wait to start trying new things.  That kind of excitement that is the domain of the young and the young at heart.  This excitement was missing for me. It’s been missing for a couple of years.  (Oh I can just see the comments I’m gonna get on this…)

So why is that?  Is there no longer anything exciting enough coming out of the IBM/Lotus powerhouse?  Or have we all gotten too old, too cynical and incapable or such excitement?

I was disappointed by the spirit of the material that came out of the yellow beanbag chairs.  While some of it was good play-by-play account of the sessions, it was about as exciting as the coverage of soybean futures: great if you’re a soybean trader yourself, but does nothing to make me want to start trading soybeans.  

The best reporting/blogging that came out of Lotusphere was by Jeff Widman on TechCrunch.com.  This guy brought the genuine excitement back to the event.  This being his first Lotusphere, he was discovering new and exciting things, secrets closely guarded by IBM: we have great software but we don’t want anyone to know it.  Read his article on IBM beating Facebook and Twitter.  Just wish Jeff would’ve written more after a week in Orlando.

The point of this entry is not to criticize or to bash anyone.  I have the greatest respect for the bright and amazing individuals who got to occupy the much coveted beanbags.  Consider this post a call to action or food for thought.  The point is to call attention to what and how they and the other “Lotus-oriented” bloggers, including myself, write.  Think of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money vs. mid-day commodities market coverage on Bloomberg.  If you never traded on the market, which show would make you want to start?  The play-by-play analysis of the market movements or the I-am-so-excited-about-this-stock-I-can’t-contain-myself approach of Jim?

So what do you think, folks?  Can we rekindle the fire and the passion?  Or will Blue Men be replaced by B.B. King signing “The thrill is gone” at the beginning of OGS 2010?

Let’s roll up our sleeves, smash a mug or 2, throw something across the room and scream “this stuff is THE stuff”!

How do you decide what to blog about?

As you are sitting there pondering the topic for your next blog entry or your tweet, how do you decide what to blog and what NOT to blog about? Do you ever worry about blogging about a topic someone has already covered? If it is something from the Internet or the media, what are the chances that someone has already twittered it? Do you worry about being thought a “copycat”?

Those are the kinds of thoughts that always end up going through my head whenever I’m considering blogging about something I just read or heard somewhere. Is that a concern for you? Or does it not matter and it’s the point of the Internet and of the social networks to get more and more people to talk and discuss?

What do you think?