Am I happy with where Notes is from a technical standpoint ? Yes more than ever

I have just recorded a podcast with Stuart McIntyre, Darren Duke, Sharon Bellamy, Matt White and Bruce Elgort and it got me thinking.

Although I have commented on some blogs over the last week I have not posted anything myself so here goes.

Am I happy with where Notes is from a technical standpoint – yes more than ever.

My company focuses on a “double niche” – organisations that are in the manufacturing sector and have a pre-existing Notes infrastructure. With XPages we can now think of it as less of a double niche because we can design once for the web and the Notes client at the same time. This is a huge advance and as someone pointed out on the podcast pretty unusual in terms of platforms. Notes has always been much more capable than the vast majority of its users know and now this is even more the case.

We are developing our first application which will run as an appliance at a customer site that is non notes. But it also runs as a local replica in the Notes client – how cool is that ? Think Google Gears but better ( and still supported ). I might regret this but here are the daily and weekly builds ( sorry Andrew ! ). Trust me it looks the same in the Notes Client.

I deliberately used the phrase “where Notes is technically” because I am not as happy around the non technical side. Its not that it has suddenly got worse rather that the gap between “what Notes can do” and what people “think Notes can do” has got much wider and so my frustration has got greater.

I will openly admit to having looked to see if we can offer solution on the MS platforms as well as Domino and I have always come away confident that for what we do Notes has very limited competition. So what are the issues ?

IBM has got to value retaining clients

Reps need to be incentivised for renewals – it will stop companies on < 8.x thinking the product is dated. Its a virtuous circle that will ensure that IBM customers get better value from Notes through applications, DAOS, servers running faster on existing hardware etc.  and IBM spends less time fighting a rear guard battle against a mail platform and a file server. People often talk about life cycles – what is IBM’s view on the lifecycle of a customer ?

IBM has got to be wholistic about Notes being a development platform

If I sell a 10K Xpage app to a company with <1000 employees the whole project is 12K ( 2k for the utility express server ). If I sell the same App to a company with 1001 employees the whole project costs maybe 25k. This means that I can't be competitive in large companies - that just seems daft. At the same time pricing by individual users is not the answer either – for example if I write an app that manages brochures or safety data sheets the client will absolutely not pay

Fixing an Overheating Toshiba M700

I have been quite frustrated with my Toshiba M700 for the last couple of months. It never seemed to run as well as it should with the CPU maxing out at 100%, the battery going very quickly and the casing getting hot.

I had deliberately bought the M700 as a desktop replacement but I was at the point where I was just about to but a desktop anyway because I thought it was beyond the M700 to run two external monitors. I even thought about a Mac Book Pro until I saw the price.

I noticed that while the CPU was maxed out the Windows 7 Resource monitor was showing that the CPU frequency was only around 40% of the maximum attainable. I downloaded coretemp which showed that one of the cores was running at 103 C and I noticed that there was a correlation between the temperature and the CPU frequency – the system was throttling the frequency at these extreme temperatures.

Image:Fixing an Overheating Toshiba M700

Being worried that it was a problem with Windows 7 I booted it to Linux from a USB drive. This was inconclusive so then I restored an old XP backup, Initially I thought that I had solved the problem but the machine was still running at 103 C although the throttling didn’t seem so bad ( it is harder to measure in XP ). I still felt something was wrong.

Anyhow, being an Engineer I felt that there was something not quite right so I decided to take it apart, as you do. I found some good instructions here which helped, particularly with the keyboard connection.

Everything around the heat sync looked pretty clean and I almost gave up but when I blasted it with compressed air for good measure quite a lot of debris flew out. I rebuilt the machine – try and remember where the long bolts came from ! – and now it is running very very happily on windows 7 at 55 C and it feels like a powerful machine again.

If you are having similar problems It might be worth shooting some air into the fan vent. There is a hatch to give access but the access is not really that good.

Strangely I have just tried to re-create the problem by blocking the vent and cant get it to be bad enough to get past 90 C. It just shows how a small amount of dirt can clog the heat exchanger very effectively.

Sorted : Help ! Anyone know what has happened to the A Deep-dive on Building Lotus Domino Applications with XPages webcast ?

Sorry folks, I seem to be attracting a lot of readers which was not my intention.

I was desperate to see the ” Deep-dive on Building Lotus Domino Applications with XPages webcast ” but the link in my confirmation email just went to a page that said “thank you”.

Image:Sorted : Help ! Anyone know what has happened to the A Deep-dive on Building Lotus Domino Applications with XPages webcast ?

When I followed the other link in the confirmation email the web cast was not listed either – the link was for the Rational site for some reason.

I got there in the end and it was an excellent webcast – the link below should show a replay by tomorrow – the start is a bit deep but it then goes on to show some good stuff and wets the appetite for 8.5.2

SNTT : Installing Traveler on an old 32 bit server is so much easier with linux than windows server 2008

Image:SNTT : Installing Traveler on an old 32 bit server is so much easier with linux than windows server 2008

Note 1 : Notes 8.5.2  is beta and there are no guarantees that the features described here will be in the final product that IBM ships.

Note 2 : The description below is for a development server and may or may not be suitable for production depending on your circumstances.

Having moved to Amazon EC2 I I recently decommissioned an old Dell Poweredge 650 server and decided to put it to good use to test 8.5.2 CD5. This server has no DVD drive, is 32 bit and cannot boot from USB.

My original plan had been to get some more experience of Server 2008 R2 but I ended up going down the Linux route as it was much simpler.

Linux Install

Download CDs for Centos 5.5 ( yes I know it is not officially supported )
Do a minimal install – don’t even choose the server options
Access the server via SSH using Putty
Upload the install files using Win SCP
Install Domino
Install Traveler ( using the silent install feature )
Install Daniel Nashed’s startup scripts

Windows Install

Check Server 2008 R2 requirements – 64 bit – oops
Eventually find Server 2008 Standard 32 Bit
Can only be installed from DVD – oops
Create a boot usb instead using this very useful hint – easiest way to make a boot disk I have seen so far
Server won’t boot from USB – oops
Create a Windows 7 Recovery Disk
Boot from the Recovery Disk
Navigate to the option for command prompt
Plug in the USB drive
Access the Server 2008 setup files on the USB drive
Install Windows Server 2008
Upload Domino Install Files
Install Traveler

The thoughts that came to mind were :

  • Wow – Linux Traveler
  • Is IBM missing a trick by not jumping on the green bandwagon and allowing people to recycle old 32 bit servers ?  
  • The whole Linux dependency problems that were such a pain in R6 and R7 seem to have totally vanished  
  • My colleague who uses an iPhone just continued to sync via Traveller against the IP address ( now a Linux server ) – he never noticed the change.  
  •  Wouldn’t it be great if IBM supported a free distribution of Linux ( I run Domino on Ubuntu and CentOS, albeit on a small scale  )
  • The 64 Bit install

    To satisfy my original intention to try out Server 2008 I decided to install it on my 64 bit laptop.

    I have previously installed 64 Bit Centos  which allowed me to install it to and then boot from a USB drive leaving the original 32 bit Windows 7 install on the laptop intact.

    No such luck with Windows. It will not install to a USB drive so you need to create a partition or swap out the disc – I guess I needed a disc upgrade anyway, maybe I should buy a 64 bit dev server after all. You would almost think that it was MS who sold hardware.

    p.s. MS do some great software too !