Usability - Productivity - Business - The web - Singapore & Twins

By Date: June 2008

What Reptile Are You?

You Are a Crocodile
You are incredibly wise and knowledgeable.
In fact, your wisdom is so deep that it sometimes consumes you.

People are intrigued by you, but you find few people intriguing.
You are not a very social creature.

You are cunning. You enjoy deceiving people a little.
You are able to find balance in your life, and you can survive anything.

Posted by on 29 June 2008 | Comments (1) | categories: After hours

A stroll along Shanghai's Nanjing road

IBM's Shanghai office is in the Pudong district. To get to famous The Bund, the scenic river promenade I took the "The Bund Sight Seeing Tunnel". It turns a four minutes ride under the river into a bath of light and color. Highly recommended. After a stroll along The Bund I turned into Nanjing road. Quite a long part of it is a pedestrian area and feels very European. Except the merchandise in the shops and the fact that every 2.5 meter someone shows you flashcards of designer brands recommending "Cheap, cheap how much do you want to buy". This is funny for the first three or four times and can get pretty annoying after a rather short while.
It turned out that the problem carried the seed of the solution. Two more girls stopped me and after my initial bu yao assured me, that they just want to talk to practice English. Well, didn't sound very convincing to me, but following some recent advise I took the statement at face value. It turned out that this was a lucky move. It looks like that all the peddlers recognize each others and as long as I strolled with the girl I wasn't approached anymore. We had a good chat and I learned a lot about their live, their work and their families, at least as English as it is broken allowed us to communicate. Having European manners I invited them for dinner at a restaurant at Nanjing road, which they happily accepted. The recent slowdown in tourism (getting a China visa is quite difficult now unless you have an Olympic ticket, which would send you to Beijing anyway) and thus their business left them hungry.

Shanghai Girl

Could you imagine, that this girl, without blinking, eats 20 chicken wings, one big bowl of fried rice and three platters of mixed fruits. I haven't seen a more happy face for a long while. Made my day.

Posted by on 28 June 2008 | Comments (0) | categories: Travel

Nur Fliegen ist schöner (Only flying beats that)

I arrived in Shanghai this afternoon (see also next post). Shanghai's Pudong Airport is quite outside of the city and, depending on traffic condition can take 1-3 hours to get into the city. Unless of course you entrust yourself some German build technology: The Shanghai Maglev, the first permanent duty Transrapid. A Maglev is kind of a plane on rails. While running along rails it doesn't touch them. This allow the train to go damn fast.

Maglev at 430kmh

You attach wings and it takes off. The trip was even shortened by a nice chat with Dr. Whitla from the Department of Marketing & International Business of the Lingnan University Hong Kong, who happened to wait for the train with me.

Posted by on 28 June 2008 | Comments (0) | categories: Travel

Procrastinator Professional and (e)Productivity

I confess: I'm a professional procrastinator! I'm full subscribed to JIT as an excuse to do things in the very last minute. Whereby "last minute" must be understood in a tropical sense: anything 5min before the deadline to a month after. Of course that is not very healthy and requires (self)correction. My therapy of choice is GTD. There are great places to get advice and insights, even in the real world.
I got myself a note taker and I'm ready to rumble. While David Allen offers a white paper for GTD with Lotus Notes I was looking for something more sophisticated. IBM's Brett Philp has a version. However Brett is busy with other things and I was looking for more. Finally I got in touch with Eric Mack. He offered me to get on his closed beta for eProductiviy. I'm a happy camper since then and enjoy the functionality tremendously. During the beta Eric and Ian picked up all feedback eagerly and it is great fun working with them. The template went in a few weeks from a R6/7 look alike to a R8 styled productivity beauty. It already features a complete set of GTD capabilities. I love the weekly review coach. Stay tuned I'll share more over time.

Posted by on 27 June 2008 | Comments (0) | categories: GTD

Bargaining Power

My style to explore a city is to vaguely set a goal (e.g. a famous road or landmark), use public transport and let me drift through the city. So this evening I set my eye on 天安门广场. I didn't go to the Forbidden City, just stand outside, since they are closed after working hours (mental note: come back as tourist). I walked down Chan'an Avenue, well equipped with an umbrella taking in Beijing's vibes. I ended up at the Silk Street Pearl Market (That is about 3-4km distance).
It is a six story building divided in endless 2-10 square meter stores selling everything from textiles, shoes, bags, leather ware, toys, (fake) watches, jewelry, pearls and art. The sales girls on the textile floors try to trump each other in attracting customers by luring them with English as it is broken to look at stuff. If you are prepared for it, it is hilariously funny. Equipped with a calculator they invite you to bargain for their wares. Of course their initial price it at least 3 times the real sales value (more rather 4-5 times). They even assure you, that you are a nice guy and therefore didn't get another ridiculous price. I'm not very good at bargaining, but that shop could become my training ground. Once I mentioned, that my wife is Chinese (without explaining Singapore-Chinese vs. Chinese-Chinese) all prices instantly dropped by 40-50%. After buying a few things I think I learned a few lessons: even if you get 80% discount from the starting price it is very likely that you overpaid. Being a Caucasian male doubles the starting price. It seems to be a code of honor between the sales girls, that once you started to bargain, that they have to close the deal. So when you start making moves to leave prices drop again. Then the biggest lesson: it is a 1005 buyers market. I actually don't need any of the items (skipping 2 fancy dinners instead would save me more money), but the sales girls must sell. That's their reason for existence. So you can change the game from: she tells her price, you tell your price and you meet in the middle to: you set your price and it is deal or no deal. Of course for the sake of the ritual you give in once or twice, meaning the price you set mentally would be slightly higher that was your first statement is. The bargaining is a ritual and it is important for the girls to look like they are actually driving a hard bargain. But once you reach your price you actually will get it (at least if you are soft like me and set it way to high). Great fun to be on the power side of the bargain. Next time I'll bring the camera.

Posted by on 27 June 2008 | Comments (0) | categories: After hours

Who uses Lotus Notes and Domino

In case you missed it. Volker is sick of the various claims on market share Exchange/Outlooks vs. Notes/Domino. So he took matters in his own hands and created a Wiki page to harness collective knowledge to answer that question. Of course it is an apple vs. [fill-in-your-favorite-fruit] comparison and the list already shows that there are quite a number of shops that run both and/or run Exchange for messaging and have Notes applications. I still believe that Exchange is the accepted collateral damage for a decision to use Outlook for eMail, but I'm openly biased of course.
I guess it is a question of time until someone adds pages to that wiki for government agencies or companies in general (can that wiki autosort a list?).

Go check it out yourself. The invite key you need is " that is the question "

Posted by on 25 June 2008 | Comments (1) | categories: IBM - Lotus

Excel to Notes or Quickr?

Question to the readers out there:
Has someone written a tool that allows to take a spreadsheet and turn it into a Quickr place or a Notes database. Of course that spreadsheet would contain a list. The tool would pick up the column headings turn them into field names and generate simple forms and views with the ability to do in-view-editing. I know a number of solutions that import/export spreadsheets but to my knowledge they all require existing forms and/or views. I admit I haven't done an intensive research on that yet.

Feedback very much apprechiated

Posted by on 25 June 2008 | Comments (5) | categories: IBM Notes Lotus Notes

Securing your CxO's mail file

In a recent customer session the question popped up: How can you really secure your inbox against unauthorized access including access by nosy admins. The admin part can be particularity hard since by definition administrators should have the ability to administrate which can mean to access your file. In Domino you actually can lock down the environment, even if you have to go quite a number of steps. It is a typical case of "who controls the controller" This is my wash-list

Read more

Posted by on 23 June 2008 | Comments (6) | categories: Show-N-Tell Thursday

Off the grid

Surprisingly they agreed. The Nintendo DS will stay home together with the laptop. While the hotel claims to have Internet access Ernest, Anthony, SWMBO and I decided it doesn't fit to bring high-tech to a jungle holiday. We will fly to Kota Kinabalu with Silk Air and continue our trip to Mulu on a Fokker 50. I'm looking forward to a lot of activities like: bat caves, canopy skywalks, long boar river cruise and plainly doing nothing. Ida likes to have proper accommodation and wasn't exited about sleeping in tent and hammock. Luckily all these activites are within reach of civilized places.

Have a look, you might spot us at the pool.

Posted by on 14 June 2008 | Comments (1) | categories: After hours


My first blog entry on 01 Jan 2003 was titled Predictions for 2003. I started blogging out of curiosity. Finding my place in the "Speakers Corner of the World" was an interesting journey. Over the last 5 years I added 500 entries to this blog. You are reading entry #500. The frequency of entries varied based on workload, mood or the fact that I had something or nothing to say.
I owe my customers a lot of the ideas I blogged about in the "Show-and-Tell" and "Lotus Notes" categories. Without their real world problems I wouldn't had the need to think hard. I owe David Ferris the idea to blog about What are the strongest aspects of Lotus Domino?. That entry earned me a call from IBM in Singapore and let to my current job as "Lotus Technology & Productivity Advisor", LTPA for short.
Over time my topics shifted from more personal towards more professional stuff. Seems my family is taking over to report the private stuff. I already have more than a dozen draft entries and even more topics around Notes and Domino waiting to be written, so I guess I'll stay on the professional trajectory. I'm curious if it will take another 5 years to reach 1000. We will see.
Stay tuned.

Posted by on 12 June 2008 | Comments (5) | categories: Blog

Domino does sync with the iPhone!

The heat is on. So what are the options for Notes and Domino users?
  • Use Domino 8.0.2 (expected in August) and iNotes Ultra light. iNotes UL will support the iPhone. While it isn't Pushmail is is painless and doesn't leave stuff on the iPhone to be wiped
  • Wait for IBM to licence Active Sync. We currently predict that for the moment hell freezes over.
  • Find someone to implement Apples native protocols (we suspect they are http/webDAV/CalDAV)... which are not documented (are they?)
  • Use a robust sync server that can talk to Notes and Domino
Yes, it is available. Funambol just announced their support for the iPhone. You can kill a number of birds with one stone since Funambol supports a wide range of devices. Go check them out:
(C) 2008 Funambol, I'm sure they don't mind
Did I mention that they are OpenSource?

Posted by on 11 June 2008 | Comments (3) | categories: IBM Notes Lotus Notes