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

By Date: December 2011

Geek toys - Part 1: ZEO Sleep Manager

The old management wisdom goes: " Only what you measure, you can track and alter" While not discussing the merits of that statement (I have serious doubts, since measurements go wrong too often), I decided to have a look into my sleep pattern. Sleep is an important contributor to wellness. So I got myself a Zeo Sleep Manager - Mobile.

It is a combination of a brain wave sensor, a head band, a bluetooth unit and a charger. There's an Android and an iPhone application that comes with it, as well as a personal website. Here is my experience so far:
  • The Good: Using the ZEO is dead simple. Charge the sensor, pair it with your device, start the software, wear the headband. When woken up in the morning put it back into the charger. No buttons to press, files to transfer etc. The sensor measures the brain waves about every 30 seconds, so it's sufficient accurate for home use. The statistics are well explained and the personal website helps you with the "now I have data, so what" question quite well. I like the system. Best of all: the smart wake-up function will wake you up when it is best in your sleep cycle, so no more being pulled out of deep sleep and feeling like s**t the whole day. That single function makes it worth while. The docking station uses a standard USB connector to charge, so it can be activated using an USB cable from your PC USB port
  • The Bad: Your mobile device serves as the receiver, so it has to be on during the night. So you have to keep it charged and thus move the charger station to the bed room. If you don't like that idea, you might want to look at the ZEO Sleep manager bedside (which unfortunately doesn't seem to do the automatic upload since it doesn't have WIFI). I had occasional drops in Bluetooth connectivity which I rather attributed to Android 3.2 on the Huawei Media pad than the ZEO. The ZEO software also can't cope well with an afternoon nap, since it seems to allow for only one sleep per night. So a 2h power nap in the afternoon messes up your sleep score (which actually should increase then). But that's software and can be fixed. What I wasn't convinced of is the headband quality, it seems ZEO wants to generate repeat business with them.
  • The Ugly: Travel use. Despite the name "mobile" the ZEO is not designed with a traveller in mind. The sensor starts transmitting the very moment it is removed from the docking station, where it is held with two small magnets. This is a very simple and elegant solution for a stationary docking station but a big letdown for travel. The docking station is way too bulky for its function (from a traveller's perspective, on the sideboard it looks nice and adequate) and most likely the sensor will dislodge in a suitcase (happens to me). So you arrive in a hotel after a 12h trip only to recognise that the sensor has discharged and you won't be able to record the night. What ZEO needs to do is to offer a travel charger, something in the shape of a spectacle case. It would hold the sensor and headband inside and serve as charger, so it would have the same connector as the docking station
As usual: YMMV

Posted by on 21 December 2011 | Comments (1) | categories: After hours

My Lotusphere speaking sessions

There are only a few working days left until Lotusphere 2012. Travel and accommodation is booked and I'm polishing the slides and samples for the sessions I will participate. Surprisingly you will find me in the Application Development track together with high profile colleagues:
  • AD111 - The X Path: Practical guide to taking your IBM Lotus Notes applications to Domino XPages, with Hunter R. Medney | Date: Monday, January 16 | Time: 03:45 PM - 04:45 PM | Location: Pelican 1 & 2
  • AD106 - IBM Lotus Domino XPages anywhere - Write them once, See them Everywhere, with Viktor Krantz | Date: Tuesday, January 17 | Time: 05:00 PM - 06:00PM | Location: Mockingbird 1 & 2
  • AD114 - Don't be afraid of curly brackets reloaded - even more JavaScript for LotusScript Developers, (all on my own) | Tech level: * | Date: Wednesday, January 18 | Time: 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Location: SW 1 - 4
The places I can be found between sessions are most likely the innovation lab, the meet the developers lab and the usability lab. See you there.

Posted by on 21 December 2011 | Comments (1) | categories: Lotusphere

DOTS and the eMail life cycle

To use the words of my friend Mikkel: " Domino OSGi Tasklet Container (or DOTS for short) is an uber-cool OpenNTF project that allows you to write addins for the Domino server in Java. The project used to be called JAVADDIN which kind of gives the purpose away.". Together with a simple mail rule DOTS is your entry ticket in a complete eMail life cycle management solution. Despite eMail being around for a very long time, the concept of eMail life cycle management seems to be very alien to a lot of IT managers (and it definitely sounds less exiting than Cloud computing strategy). Let's have a quick look:
  • All eMails are created equal: someone wants to communicate something. The eMail leaves the sender's mail application and hits the mail server.
  • The eMail is subjected to more or less technical scrutiny: is it small enough, is there no virus, is routing to a next hop possible (and where to)?
  • The eMail is subjected to business decisions: can that user send (e.g. leak prevention, destination check etc.), does the eMail need retention, does the eMail need to trigger a business process (approval, alert, associate, alter)?
  • Messages get delivered and now the sent message is a received message
  • The eMail is subjected to more or less technical scrutiny: is it small enough, is there no virus, can messages from this source be accepted, can it be delivered?
  • The eMail is subjected to business decisions: can that user receive, does the eMail need retention, does the eMail need to trigger a business process (alert, associate, alter)?
eMail Life Cycle considerations
While the technical rules are well understood, the business rules typically are not developed deeply, after all "it is just eMail" and not a business rule engine. DOTS allow to "open the door" to business rule processing. The beauty of a DOTS approach: no template needs to be harmed! It will work with all access methods (client, web, POP, Traveler) and for any message (send by user, send by agent) A few steps are necessary:
  1. DOTS needs to have the time to "catch" messages that are deposited into the server's mail.box(es). Since the router would get in its way, a mail rule in the server configuration document needs to work on "all documents" and set routing status to "HOLD" (that is stored in the NotesItem "RoutingState")
  2. Write a DOTS tasklet that processes all documents that have been created in the mail.box (that's a triggered tasklet, not a scheduled) and remove, once done, the NotesItem "RoutingState". The router will then pickup the message for delivery
  3. Business rules are wide and many, so you might want to use a rules engine. The JSR 94 describes the Java API for a rules engine and the WebSphere ILOG JRules are an implementation of it. You also can consider one of the OpenSource rule engines or adopt Apache Mailets to your needs. Of course for a small logic set coding it in the tasklet will give the best performance
  4. Test, Test, Test!
  5. A Prêt-à-Porter solution, if you want ready rules, is the Group iQ.Suite combining technical and business rules.
As usual YMMV

Posted by on 20 December 2011 | Comments (0) | categories: Show-N-Tell Thursday

When deleting XPages watch your form property "Display XPage instead"

During the XPages training in Manila we found an interesting behaviour of the "Display XPage instead" property of a form. To reproduce this follow these steps:
  1. Create a form form1
  2. Create an XPage test1.xsp
  3. Set the form property "Display XPage instead" (both for Client and web) to test1.xsp
  4. Preview form1 in Notes client and web - works as designed, test1.xsp will show.
  5. Now delete test1.xsp
  6. Preview form1 in Notes client and web - it will show an error
  7. Inspect the "Display XPage instead" property of form1: it will show empty since test1.xsp is no longer a selectable item, However that value is still stored in the form (we didn't touch it at this point)
  8. Open the form1 as DXL. At the end of the form you will find:
    <item name='$XPageAlt'><text>test1.xsp </text></item>
    <item name='$XPageAltClient'><text>test1.xsp </text></item>
  9. To fix this: Either delete the lines in DXL (if you dare ) - or: in the form property "Display XPage instead" select any other XPage (optional) and then the empty item on top and save the form. Just open and save the form doesn't do the trick, you have to touch the form property
Nice one

Posted by on 16 December 2011 | Comments (1) | categories: XPages

Lotus Notes Reporting and Exports

While I think reports are a thing of the past and should be banned, the question " how to run reports on Notes" is quite popular. Today you rather would create a Dashboard than a classical report, but since it is popular, here you go (in no specific order): As usual YMMV.

Posted by on 08 December 2011 | Comments (3) | categories: Show-N-Tell Thursday

Building a Linux gaming PC

"Daddy the Mac is really laggy" will wear any daddy thin. The trusted Mac Mini 1,1 only sports an Intel GMA 950 graphic adapter which is overwhelmed when rendering 1920x1200 for more than eMail and simple browsing. So I will procure a Linux workstation for them. Luckily custom build machines are easy to come by in Singapore, so I can - within a budget - pick the finest components. Of course choice can be bad and a lot of decisions need to be made (that's why Apple basically says: pick your size, off you go). What I know so far:
  • I will aim for an Intel I7 processor or its AMD equivalent
  • It will be a big case to have space for enough hard disks
  • The system will have at least 8 GB (eventually more) RAM since I want to run VMs when the kids are not playing
  • Disks will run RAID1 (no SSD, to expensive for gaming)
  • It will run Ubuntu 11.10 with PlayOnLinux installed. I probably will try KDE, Unity and Gnome shell in different accounts
  • No IBM software required. It's a game machine and the kids school uses Google Docs
Now there are a lot of open questions (which look like having cross dependencies):
  1. Should I use 32Bit Ubuntu or 64Bit Ubuntu? Where would WINE powered applications run best?
  2. Intel or AMD?
  3. What mother board should I use? I suspect a newer EFI board would be better than the good ol' bios. But which one is well supported on Linux? The Asus P9X79 looks good, but even that comes in 4 different models
  4. What graphic card should I use? Which one works best on Ubuntu with PlayOnLinux?
  5. What else is important?
Feedback is very much appreciated!

Read more

Posted by on 06 December 2011 | Comments (2) | categories: Linux