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

By Date: July 2008

Connecting Sametime to MSN

Disclaimer: The following considerations are hypothetical and are nothing IBM does recommend, support or implement. This are purely my little musings how something eventually could be done if someone would really want to. It also is a technical musing only and anybody acting on this musing better should study MSN's usage agreement and have a word with their lawyers.

So let us begin....
The Sametime gateway that connects a Sametime server to AIM, Yahoo or Google does currently not connect to MSN. This is not a technology shortcoming but the lack of a federation agreement between IBM and Microsoft. This post is no place to speculate who's fault that is. At the core of the problem is federation. When you use Sametime you have one identity, that makes you visible in all networks. Using a client side solution like Pidgin, Digsby, Adium, Trillian or others requires an account with each chat provider. Also it requires your firewall to be open for all these protocols for all workstations. Furthermore you won't be able to have a central logging facility which is a compliance and audit requirement in a lot of industries.
The solution approach: If Sametime traffic could run through something that handles the transition between federation and individual accounts it might do the trick (Important: this is a technical, not a legal statement!). Enter XMPP. The Sametime 7.5.1 gateway could connect to GTalk which is XMPP based. The Sametime 8.0 gateway can connect to any XMPP based server (however there is no ibm-supports-the-following-smpp-servers list). If that XMPP server connects to MSN using MSN IDs a Sametime user can talk to an MSN user. For the MSN user it will look like an MSN account (I once registered my passport account using a regular email address, so it doesn't need to be joe@msn.com or paul@hotmail.com, it can be peter.pan@disney.com). It would work somehow like that:
I spoke to Artur Hefczyc from the Tigase project. He confirmed that Tigase has a working MSN transport and that he would work with anybody to get that working. Since Tigase is an open source project, he needs to be paid for that work.

Update: Fixed the X vs. S typo.

Posted by on 29 July 2008 | Comments (2) | categories: Show-N-Tell Thursday

Explaining the human condition to an eight year old

Anthony told me: "Ernest has a girl friend now". Both have visited the Singapore Science Center multiple times to mavel at the sequence how new babies grow in a mother womb. So I felt it is time to sort a few things out with them along the lines: daddy explains how the world works. Before diving into the biological details (which I think would be a bit early) I felt explaining the confusion of feelings and finding a vocabulary would be important. I found a good starting point in the book Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different - And How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men which talks about the difference between, Like, Lust and Love. So it put that into a picture.
We agreed that Like and Love is easy and that the grown-ups make a big huh-hah around everything remotely connected to Lust and that each of these three feelings has a place in the body. We also agreed that since the grown-ups make all this huh-hah it can't be that big a deal and that we will do more research into that topic when they are older. Also the three feelings are very different in nature. Like can exist on it's own, while Love mostly builds on Like (unless you got a broken heart). I didn't emphasis on "Lust can stand alone" that would be subject to later research. And once you find someone where you feel all three strongly, you want to be with that person for a very long time. "Is this why you stay with Momy?" Ernest asked. "Yes my son, this is why" I answered and with a smile Ernest went to sleep.

Posted by on 25 July 2008 | Comments (2) | categories: After hours Twins

Reinstalling Windows stuff

From time to time it is healthy to reinstall Windows XP. At IBM I have the luxury to use the cloning center or the cloning CD. Boot it, log in and off you go. It installs Windows including the standard IBM applications like VPN, Lotus Notes and some standard internal stuff (It used to install MS Office, but no longer in the 2008 built). So far so good. But we all know that there is an army of little helpers and tweaks that make it your copy of Windows.
To ease my pain installing all of them I keep a directory reinstall on an external medium (DVD, Memory Stick, Harddisk, NAS, make your pick) where I keep all the install files and extra stuff. To automate the process I use two cmd files:
All regular installers sit in the root of the install directory. There are a few mandatory sub directories. I have phase2 for installers that depend on software I install in the first round. Techsmith is the directory for the Techsmith SnagIt (highly recommended) tool and AuxiliaryFiles keeps miscelanous stuff. When a new version of an application comes out or I install a new tool, I just add the installer to this directory and in the next full makeover I won't forget it. Let's have a look at the cmd files.

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Posted by on 14 July 2008 | Comments (0) | categories: Technology

MobileMe hosed my Mac

Yeah, Macs don't crash. Macs are easy, you don't need to worry. System updates are reliable. Yesterday my Mac Mini's software update prompted me to install the system upgrade that would add MobileMe support. So routinely I clicked yes. This morning when I booted the Mac I was greeted after login with "The application FileSyncAgent quit unexpectedly." and very ironic below "Mac OS X and other applications are not affected".
Bah humbug! The crashing file sync agent takes down the top menu, so I even can't access the preferences to switch off Sync. Also opening Finder or any application wouldn't work. So basically the Mac is dead. I guess the Mac of SWMBO will not get that upgrade any time soon.

Update: I reinstalled the Mac, but I mixed up the install DVDs. It is now happily running on OpenSuse 11.0.

Posted by on 14 July 2008 | Comments (2) | categories: Mac

Domino and eDiscovery

Most legislation today require to keep "accounts and other business records" for many years (typically 3-8) for compliance and discovery. Depending on their content eMails are today considered business records*. When starting to look into eDiscovery there are a number of terms and concepts one needs to become familiar with: Sub Poena, Sarbanes-Oxley, Basel II or eDiscovery.
Once you wrapped your head around it you then need to architect a system that avoids massive violations of retention legislation. Having all data stored in a single shared database like MS Exchange will immediately lead to the need to buy add-on products. Domino on the other hand provides a lot of required functionality out-of-the box. Dan Lynch has summarized what you can do. Go read it.

* While an email with an invitation to an after-office beer most probably isn't a business records, however the invitation to lunch to discuss the proposal surly is a record since it documents part of the history how a sale closed.

Posted by on 09 July 2008 | Comments (0) | categories: IBM Notes Lotus Notes

The Lotus WIKIs are here

Steve Casteldine's blog template which is IBM's official Domino blog since Domino 7.02 got a recent boost in functionality: it now also serves as a WIKI. The Lotus team announced availability about a month ago. The following WIKIs are available: Nice side effect of choosing Domino: there is a decent Notes client UI for the WIKI and I can take it offline to places where Internet doesn't reach (yet). There is no WIKI for Notes and Domino. Given the rich material available all over the net, that wouldn't make sense (would it?). A link collection maybe, for an aggregation check PlanetLotus.

Posted by on 07 July 2008 | Comments (1) | categories: Show-N-Tell Thursday