Any Disney employees from the former USSR?

WDW Name Tag I am honestly not sure how many Lotuspheres I’ve attended so far. And each Lotusphere, of course, means a visit to Disney World. The name tags worn by Disney employees, in addition to the employee’s first name, also list his or her place of birth. In all these years, I’ve been looking for someone, a single lowly or not so lowly employee from my home town. Lacking anyone from Baku, Azerbaijan, I would settle for anyone from Russia or from any of the countries that used to make up the Soviet Union. Alas, there are, of course, many people from the US, a large number of employees form China, various countries of Central and South America, Korea, etc. But where is the East Europe?

Anyone ever seen a Russian, a Polish, a Czech employee of Disney. Do they hold jobs other than theme park cast members? Or am I simply not visiting enough parks and not meeting enough cast members?

Lotusphere corrupted my brain

I came across this blog post on Gizmodo.com. The post compares MacBook Air benchmark results. A little ways down, the post includes a table comparing some basic functions between different versions of MacBooks.

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Look at the last column… It truly took me several moments to realize that it is not talking about Lotus Notes and Quickr. How fabulous it would be to say that Lotus Quickr performed better than any MacBook on all tests.

I really gotta get these 5 days out of my blood/brain/whatever.

WordPress.com offers 3GB of space to users

More space, more space, I’ve got more space… I knew I made the right choice when I picked WordPress.com as the place for my blog. Logging on for the first time since the start of Lotusphere, I discovered that while I was busy soaking up whatever it is that you soak up during another Lotusphere, WordPress.com was busy at work. WordPress.com has increased the space for uploaded files by 6000% from 50MB to 3GB. So now I have whole 3GB of disk space to pour the contents of my brain out onto the Internet. And, pathetically enough, I’ve only used up 0% of it so far.

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Look out, world! Here I come!

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Unwinding after the Lotusphere

I’m writing this in my hotel room at the Beach Club. Lotusphere 2008 is over, it ended yesterday and I had a whole day to unwind and digest the last 5 days. Now I’m feeling the pull of the keyboard and some strange obligatory need to join the plethora of Lotus Notes and other bloggers who are documenting their Lotusphere impressions.

There were several things that got me excited and some things that got me disappointed. Amongst all the new product announcements and such, 3 things got me excited: Marjorie Tenzer’s announcement at the BD Day, the SAP announcement at the Opening Session and again Marjorie Tenzer’s announcement at the Closing Session.

  1. Marjorie Tenzer announced at the BD Day that Lotus-specific advertisement is coming back this year and, with any luck, we may even see Lotus ads on TV. This is very exciting. In my opinion, IBM’s general brand advertising hasn’t been working for Lotus. One of the IBMers I talked to this week told me that the take-back-control ads with Gil and Ned (hope you know what I’m talking about) were very successful with the IT folks. However, I feel that IBM has been missing the point when selling in the SMB market, where the IT managers are often quick to give in to the business community demands. I am tired of hearing comments like “Is that software [Notes] still alive?”, “We use Notes for nothing but email, there’s no reason to stay on Notes”, “Everyone uses Exchange, why are we on Notes?” or “My users don’t want Notes, we’re just gonna switch”. The IT managers have no compelling reasons to fight the tide and defend Lotus Notes, but they do have compelling reasons to preserve their jobs. I can’t wait to see what these ads are going to be like. My hope that they will target the business community with a message of the Lotus brand and the Notes product being very much alive and kicking. I hope these will be very visible. I hope they will help to change the perception of Lotus Notes that exists in the US market.
  2. The SAP announcement at the Opening Session was another huge step towards changing market’s perception of the SAP-Microsoft relationship. The Microsoft Duet product made a huge impact on the market, to the point of several companies switching from Notes to Exchange just because they implemented SAP. The new ‘Atlantic’ product should change all that. I loved seeing the SAP CTO standing on stage and stating that if you have SAP and Notes, you will be able to do great things. I’m excited to have a clear message to deliver to my clients who are looking at Exchange just because of SAP.
  3. Marjorie Tenzer announced at the Closing Session that IBM made a deal to have Disney host the Lotusphere conference all the way into 2015. I guess we have at least another 7 years of this to look forward to, at least another 7 years in this career.

 

As far as the disappointments, I was disappointed that 8.01 was not released. I was quite hoping that IBM will release 8.01 for Lotusphere and that next week I would be able to go to all my clients waiting to upgrade to ND8 and tell them to go ahead. Unfortunately, this will not happen now until March or so.

 

All in all, I think it was a great Lotusphere. I got to present 3 sessions, I met and reconnected with a lot of people, made new friends, nearly hurt myself running a sprint race against a Malta’s national sprinter, and got to see Alton Brown up close and personal. I wish the weather was a bit warmer, but it was still better than 1 degree Fahrenheit in Chicago. A great week overall.

 

Lotus’ spell checker

Now that version 8 of Lotus Notes and SameTime has an inline spell checker, I am constantly wondering who puts together their dictionary files. There are some rather strange omissions from the dictionary.

I suppose I’m OK with my name, Kassabov, not being there. I’m even flattered that it suggests that I correct it to “Casanova”, which is way better than the Firefox’ suggestions of “Kassandra” or “Impassable”. It weirds me out to think of myself as Kassandra The Impassable.

I also understand and I’m OK with the fact that certain 4-letter words are excluded, too.

But what is wrong with a simple word “ass”? When did the donkeys get removed from the dictionary?!

SameTime chat window

Of course, I couldn’t stop there and had to explore what else is missing from the dictionary.  To my surprise — Mike Rhodin is not there.  It seems OK with Ed Brill, but not with Rhodin.  I think if I were the General Manager of a brand, no product would go out without my name being included in the dictionary.  Yes, perhaps I do have ego problems.  So what?!

I just had to mention this

red.jpg OK, I just had to mention this. Don’t ask how I got to reading about 8 important consumer trends for 2008. Not being a marketer, I was somewhat lost in the terminology but when I got down to this, I was blown away. A €2.17 roll of toilet paper that comes in black, red, green, and orange? Even by USA standards, I thought it was a bit too much. “Discover today which tissue product is more Fashionable & Unique, just right for your sensual needs. ” I’m sorry but since when does my toilet paper need to be fashionable? What’s wrong with the plain white Kirkland (Costco) brand? (By the way, it was just a rhetoric question.)

The IT department is dead, long live utility computing

41iway4zsul_aa240_.jpg I came across this interesting article in Network World talking about a new Nicholas Carr book, which predicts that utility computing will replace internal IT departments. I haven’t read the book, but, according to the Network World review, it sounds that the book predicts as more and more applications move “into the cloud”, the need for your traditional IT department will diminish, if not disappear all together. Salesforce.com, Google Apps and Google Mail, hosted VoIP are just a few examples of applications “in the cloud”. Of course, as to be expected, an article like that sparked a heated debate with people solidly perched on either side of the fence.

As I started thinking, I found myself somewhere in the middle of this argument. On one hand, I can’t help but agree with Mr. Carr. Even today I see a number of SMBs even amongst my client base that run very minimal IT departments, preferring instead to outsource or to use hosted or off-premise solutions, such as hosted e-mail, hosted VoIP, etc. I can imagine how in the very near future, the available hosted applications will become more powerful, more available and more prevalent. Software-as-a-service is a very attractive proposition to an SMB company, allowing access from anywhere and removing the headache of having to maintain, secure, backup related server(s). At the same time, I know companies who, while administering their own servers and developing their own custom applications, prefer not to have a server room and host their servers elsewhere.

On the other hand, I’m having a hard time envisioning certain companies running with no server room at all. I know of companies now, who, although perfect candidates for hosted solutions, are so protective of their data that they will not even entertain the idea of having their servers reside in someone else’s data center. Companies also want their software to work the way THEY work, thus custom application development efforts.

So pondering Mr. Carr’s statements, I think that he’s only 50% – 60% accurate in his predictions. The IT departments will be changing, their role in the organization will be changing, perhaps, even their name will be changing, but they will remain in a large number of companies out there.

Applications ‘in the cloud” are very real and are having a very profound impact on how we think about software. Automated and remote administration tools are reducing the the number of what someone else had called three-finger-salute monkeys. The IT departments in the companies are becoming more skilled, more agile, demonstrating and demanding a higher level of expertise and abilities. The basic functions — server maintenance, backup, email, some desktop applications — can and will be outsourced or moved off premises. What will remain are the strategic functions of IT, parts of internal systems that are near and dear to the firm’s heart, components that define a given company’s competitive advantage.

Long live Blu-ray

It looks like my decision has been made for me. Now that I’m a proud owner of an HDTV, I was considering upgrading my DVD player and trying to decide between HD-DVD, Blu-ray or a simple Upscan player. And today, “based on a breaking release, Warner Bros. Entertainment will be releasing its high-definition titles exclusively in the Blu-ray disc format beginning later this year.” I wonder whether this truly spells the end of HD-DVD, I guess only the future will tell.

Now, I will admit that I don’t really buy DVDs, I don’t think I own a single movie. But I think I need to have a DVD player , just in case, so to speak. The bad thing about this is that a PlayStation3, which includes a Blu-ray DVD player is cheaper than a Blu-ray DVD player alone. I’m afraid this means that I will be buying a PS3, perhaps a good present for my birthday, eh? Darn! All this time I’ve been resisting buying a PS3 and now Sony goes and wins the formats war. Oh the cruel irony of it all!

My new TV

This day has finally come — I got my new TV. For the longest time I’ve been considering getting a new TV to replace my 9-year-old 32″ JVC. Watching CSI-Miami on my cousin’s Samsung this summer was really the last straw that made me decide that this Christmas I’ll be getting a new TV. So just after Christmas I took the plunge into the world of HDTV. After some considering, deciding and pondering I chose a Samsung LCD TV. I must be the only man in the world who was arguing with his wife over the size of the TV only in reverse. My wife wanted a 52″, I was going for a 40″. We met in the middle at 46″.

The TV I ended up buying was Samsung LN-T4671F.

I bought it on Amazon.com and today it was finally delivered. After a quick run to the local Comcast office to swap out my cable box for an HDTV one, I was up and running.

In short, I’m amazed beyond words. This TV is simply awesome. My Madden 07 for XBOX is unreal — not only I can finally read every message on the screen, I think I can see every blade of the grass on the field. TV shows in HD look almost surreal. They feel like I’m on the set watching the taping of the show. Tonight I spent probably 2 hours just flipping from channel to channel. I didn’t care what I was watching, I was just watching. Everything they say about HDTV is true.

Which flavor of Notes 8 are you running?

I was talking with a friend and a business partner whose company has developed a sidebar plug-in for Lotus Notes 8.  He asked if I was running 8 and jokingly I told him that I prefer the non-eclipse version, as the Java version is sloooooooow on my Dell 505 with 1GB of RAM. To my surprise, my friend responded that he too runs it without Java as it is slow on his laptop even with 2GB of RAM.

That made me stop for a moment.  My team is in the process of deploying Lotus Notes version 8 at 2 clients right now.   We haven’t deployed many desktop clients yet, and so far people love what they see.  It will be interesting to see performance feedback from users with older machines.

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