Helpful Tools – Ytria EZ Suite (part 2)

Two weeks ago I wrote about Ytria EZ Suite, a set of tools for HCL Domino that I have been using for years. Unfortunately there were so much to write about the tools that I had to split it up into multiple blog posts. This is the second article about the tools that comprise EZ Suite. In that first post I covered scanEZ, consoleEZ, actionBarEZ and viewEZ, and if you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here.

Most of the tools I previously covered were aimed more towards developers, especially actionBarEZ and viewEZ. The consoleEZ tools can also be very useful for a developer who needs to keep an eye on the server console for potential error messages from agents being executed on the server. But Ytria offer tools directly geared towards administrators as well, so today we will take a look at them.

The first of these tools is aclEZ, and as the name indicates it is used to manager the ACL (Access Control List) of Domino databases. You get an overview of who has access to the databases, and you can modify, create and of course delete entries. You are of course not limited to displaying one database, you can select multiple databases and compare the ACL settings between the different databases. You can also copy ACL settings between databases, so you can setup one database with the proper security settings and then copy them to as many databases as you like on your server.

Ytria is using a configurable grid to display columns in all their tools. This is making it easy to view just the info you are looking for. Columns can be hidden or displayed, sorting can be set, and much more. I find this flexibility very helpful, there are often columns I am not even remotely interested in and now I can just prevent them from being displayed.

In addition you can sort the columns in the grid, and also apply filters so only values matching a specific criteria are displayed.

This is just a couple of examples of the many details I enjoy with the Ytria tools. They have over 20 years of experience creating tools for Notes and Domino professionals, and that shows. Everything is well thought through, and the tools offers great flexibility.

A tool I find extremely useful is databaseEZ. It allows me to get a high level view of all databases on a server, check things like the ODS version, if they are full-text indexed or not, the database size,, when they were last compacted, and also look at the size of the view index for each view in a database.

All this information helps me for example if I need to find out why a Domino application is slow, or which databases needs maintenance first. Almost this information can be accessed from the Domino Administrator client, but not in this easy to read format. Instead you need to open a number of different views and dialog boxes in each database. This is a huge time saver!

The last tool I want to mention today is replicationEZ. As the name states, this is a tool to locate and compare replicas of databases on different servers. Like in the other tools from Ytria, there are too many functions to list them all. I would like to mention a few that I find very useful.

Here I have loaded two of my servers into the replicationEZ grid, and it is now easy to see that there are a couple of databases I don’t have replicas of on my secondary server. I am also loading and comparing the number of documents and deletion stubs in two replicas of a database, and you can see there is a discrepancy on the number of deletion stubs between them (highlighted in red).

It is of course easy to create new replicas, or rather a replication stub. This is another example of how Ytria added functionality that I miss in the native Domino Administrator. Instead of having to sit and wait for a new replica to be created and all documents replicated to the new server (or start the replication, cancel out after a few documents have been replicated, and then let the Domino server finish the replication in the background), replicationEZ creates a replication stub, and I can continue to work while the full replica is created.

There are a few more tools from EZ Suite that I want to talk about, so check back in a few days for the last blog post.


Busy, busy – But wait: There is help!

For the last year and a half I have been very busy with different projects, and this blog had to be put on the back burner. And no, despite a number of blog posts about Microsoft Flight Simulator, I have actually not had much time to play it, less than 10 hours since it was released last August. But this leads me to today’s topic: tools that can help you save time.

As a Notes/Domino developer, administrator or power user, you often need to go deeper into the Domino database. This could be tasks like finding and resolving replication contacts, look closer at the fields (including hidden fields) in a document, or quickly locate all documents of a particular type, or matching a particular criteria that you don’t already have a view for. As an administrator you maybe would like to keep several Domino consoles visible side by side, so you can watch what is happening on all your servers at the same time. As a developer, what if you could copy the design of a view or an action bar to numerous other views to make all views look consistent, without having to edit and update every single view manually? Things like that makes your life easier and makes you more efficient, but you don’t have that in the native product.

One set of tools that stands in a class by itself is EZ Suite from Ytria. The EZ Suite tools are extremely powerful, and there is no way I will be able to cover all of them in one blog post. I will focus on some of the functions that have been useful to me, and even with that limitation I have to split this up in multiple blog posts.

The first tool from Ytria I ever tried was scanEZ. We had some issues with a database at my old work (I don’t remember the details anymore), so we purchased a time limited version of scanEZ. I think it was valid for a week, enough for us to salvage the documents in the database. My boss thought the tool could be useful in the future, so he immediately purchased a full license of it for himself. Eventually he purchased a license of EZ Suite for me, and I made frequent use of the tools, both while doing development and server administration, as well as when I had to troubleshoot database issues or replication conflicts.

You can purchase the full suite , or one of several bundles of tools geared to different types of users (developers, administrators or developer with some administration needs). Each tool can also be purchased individually.

The latest version is EZ Suite 20. This version contains a number of new functions and enhancements. Since I haven’t used the tool in the last couple of years, after my license expired, I have not been keeping up with all the new features, but as always Ytria is supporting the latest version of Notes and Domino.
Disclaimer: Ytria generously provided me with a license for the latest version, but I was previously a paying customer, and I have recommended their products for many years.

Let’s start with the first tool from Ytria I was ever exposed to, scanEZ. This tool makes it possible to explore a Domino database in depth, not only the documents but design elements, settings and even deletion stubs (the remains of deleted documents used to delete the document in replicas). Fields can be added, deleted and their content can be changed. You can even change the data type of a field, as well as many other attributes.

In scanEZ you can also look at and modify profile documents and replication conflicts, which often comes in very handy. But there is also a dedicated Conflict Solver tool within scanEZ. It will analyze the database, which can take a little bit of time, but then you can compare the conflict document with the parent and see which fields differs. This may even help you figuring out how the conflict was created, and how you can prevent that in the future.

This only scratched the surface of what scanEZ is capable of. I have not even mentioned the different ways to view and analyze data. You can for example dynamically categorize the documents through drag-and-drop, and even present the data in charts, thanks to the extensive capabilities of scanEZ.

The next tool I want to mention is consoleEZ. The easiest way to describe it is the Domino server console on steroids. You can view multiple consoles simultaneously, and also see a list of the tasks running on them. Your console commands are saved, and you can view them later if you like. It has many features you wish were in Domino Administrator out of the box, and even more features you did not even know you wanted.

You don’t have to be a hard-core administrator to appreciate consoleEZ. It was first released about six years ago, so it is one of the latest additions to EZ Suite. It quickly became one of my favorite tools.

I do quite a bit of modernization of Notes and Domino applications. Often this involves web enabling them, including creating a modern UI using HTML, CSS, and often a framework like Bootstrap. But there are still many Notes databases that works well, and instead of rewriting a lot of the existing logic for the web, a refresh of the Notes client UI is sufficient. This often involves adding a nicer background to the action bars, as well as changes to the views. Just a few small changes can make a huge difference, and make an old application look fresh again.

But even after you come up with a nice, more modern looking design, you have to duplicate it across all the action bars and views in your application. This is where actionBarEZ and viewEZ comes in. Those two tools makes it a breeze to apply a design to many action bars or views or copy the design from one view/action bar and apply it to any view or action bar you want.

Using actionBarEZ you select a number of view, pages or form, and change the properties across all the elements just like you would have done in Domino Designer, but there you can only make the changes on one view, form or page at a time. But the function I found the most useful function is that you can design a nice action bar in one view, then select that design and with the click of one button apply it to any views, forms or pages you like. This has saved me countless hours of work. The functionality of viewEZ is pretty much identical.

Stay tuned for the next part to be published in the next few days.


Microsoft Flight Simulator – First Impressions

The highly anticipated new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator was released on August 18,, and I have been playing with it for a few days in my spare time, and I wanted to share my first impression.

This simulator is impressive. You can fly anywhere you like on Earth, thanks to Bing Maps. Microsoft partnered with Austria-based to enhance the satellite images using AI software. The result is a great looking world. The AI is taking 2D satellite images and trying to figure out what the buildings would look like in 3D, and it will of course not always get it right. But as long as you fly at a realistic altitude (say above 1000 ft), it looks very real.

There are certain cities where photogrammetry is available, for example New York City, and there the result is astounding. Many famous landmarks and buildings around the world received manual attention, and a number of iconic airports have been handcrafted to look extremely realistic. The Basic Edition contains 30 of those airports, the Deluxe Edition contains 5 additional airports, and finally the Premium Deluxe Edition (which is the one I purchased) contains 10 more airports.

You can change the tail number of the planes, and even change your call-sign used by the Air Traffic Control. You can fly a number of different airplanes and variants of them, everything from Cessna 152 to Boeing 747.  The airliners in the game (Airbus 320Neo, Boeing 747 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner) all come with a company livery, but there are already liveries to download for free, created by the Flight Simulator community. As I write this there are 40 liveries to Airbus A320Neo available for free, including the British Airways one you can see in the screenshot below. Update: a new version was released during the afternoon and evening, while I was still working on this review. There are now 70 liveries, including several for other airplanes in the game. Download it here:

The simulator also includes a store where you can purchase add-ons like additional airplanes, airports and buildings. There were a handful products available already at launch, and I choose to purchase the London Landmark pack, with about 200 buildings for $7.95. If you viewed Buckingham Palace as it appears by default, it looks like an office building, and HMS Belfast, next to Tower Bridge, is flat and appears to be under the water in the original scenery. After installing the add-on, London looks much better.

What about the hardware needed? Surely you need a top-of-the-line computer? Yes, if you want to fly in 4K in Ultra settings (the best quality), you need a top-of-the-line graphics card. But my 4 year old system with an Intel i7-6700K and AMD Radeon RX 580 can play using the high settings, even if certain areas with a lot of buildings gets a low frame rate. Lowering the resolution from 4K would help, as well as setting the quality settings to medium, improves the framerate, but I really like the 4K experience on my 43″ monitor, so I see myself getting a new graphics card in the near future.


There are  many details in the game that amazes me. On the airliners you see the heat distortion from the engines, the sun reflects in the aircraft, and when you change the time, the sun, moon and stars move. When the sun moves, you can see the shadows from buildings move. Clouds casts shadows as well.

If you are interested in flying, or if you just want to do virtual sightseeing, Microsoft Flight Simulator is a great piece of software.



Review – Ytria consoleEZ

Recently I wrote about the great customer service I received from Ytria, and that made me realize that I haven’t been writing about one of their newer tools yet. The tool is consoleEZ, and it has actually been out for over a year. A new version was recently released.

As the name indicates, it is a Domino server console on steroids. You can load a number of consoles into one window, have them neatly tiled and get a great overview of what’s happening on your servers. Just like all other Ytria tools it runs in it’s own process, which means that it does not lock up your Notes, Administrator or Designer client. This is of course very convenient.


Each console window has a field where console commands can be entered. A nice feature here is auto-complete/type-ahead. You also have a drop-down button that will give you any previous commands you sent to any console, it does not have to be the one you are working on. And the commands are saved, as opposed in Domino Administrator where you lose your command history when you close the client.

You can also launch a task viewer, where you can see what tasks are running on a specific server. It updates every 3 seconds, so you can stay updated for example on views being updated, somethings I sometimes need.consoleEZ2

I would highly recommend consoleEZ for any Domino administrator, as well as for the more advanced developer who need to see what’s happening on the servers.

Contact Ytria for a current price quote in you region.



Good vs bad customer service

Today I experienced some very good customer service, and that made me think about how important that is when it comes to how a company is seen by customers (current and prospective).

What happened was that I downloaded the latest version of Ytria‘s developer tools (scanEZ, toolBarEZ, viewEZ, designPropEZ and signEZ). I been using those tools for year, and was very excited when I found out they had just released a major new version. So I downloaded it as normal, installed it and then logged in to our account to get the new license keys. I then found out that the license had not been renewed last fall. I got the invoice and passed it on within my company, but somewhere on the way it got dropped.

So now I had the new version installed, but could not use it as I did not have any valid license keys. I found the old invoice, mailed Ytria and they told me that we could just pay that invoice and the license would be reinstated. They even gave me temporary license keys so I could get up and working even before that payment was sent out from our accounting department. I had not expected that, and this little thing really impressed me. I have always liked their tools and their customer service and support is excellent.

Then we have the opposite. Recently my wife broke her phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note5. She is dependent on it and uses it every day, not only for calls and internet but also to sign things with the pen (that’s the reason she got the Note). She contacted the insurance/replacement company AT&T is using for this kind of exchanges/insurance claims and started the process online. Then when she talked to them they told her that the Note5 was back-ordered and they did not knwo when they would get one in for her. They could not tell if it would be a day or two weeks. My wife was using her old Galaxy S4 temporary, and she was not happy to hear this. So we all switched our family plan (with 5 phones, a tablet and a hotspot) to T-Mobile withing a couple of days. We are even saving some money after switching (if you sign up for three lines you get one without any extra cost), plus we all got brand new phones (Samsung S7 Edge) with a “buy one get one free” offer. We also got a few other goodies (one VR headset and one year free Netflix per phone).

So in one case the company made an existing customer happy and gained long-term loyalty, in the other case the company lost a customer spending $400+ on their services and pushed us to a competitor.

PS. If you are a Notes/Domino developer or admin, Ytria will have a webcast on Wednesday, May 11 where they will demonstrate the new version and it’s features.



Windows 10 will be a free upgrade

Owners of Windows 7 and 8 will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free when it is released later this year, Microsoft announced at their big Windows 190 even today. A consumer preview release will be available for free shortly, but a date for the finished version has not been announced yet.

Among the other news is that Internet Explorer will be retired as of Windows 10 and be replaced by a new modern browser (code name Spartan) created from the ground up. The start menu is back, and Cortana (Microaoft answer to Apple’s Siri, and already available on Windows phones) will be available for the desktop as well. Talking about desktop, Windows 10 will support multiple desktops, similar to what Linux users have been able to enjoy for years.

At the event Microsoft also demonstrated a holographic headset. A new API allows developers to create augmented reality applications that can interact with the new headset/goggles.


Microsoft skipping Windows 9 – jumps to Windows 10

Microsoft unveiled the next version of Windows at a press event in San Francisco today. Surprisingly the successor to Windows 8 and 8.1 will not be called Windows 9 as everyone expected. Instead Microsoft jumps straight to Windows 10.

One reason for this, according to Microsoft, is that the new operating system is such a big leap from Windows 8 that they want to mark that by increasing the version two steps.  Among the changes Microsoft listed were a removal of the tiled Metro user interface, which have been receiving heavy critisism.

Windows 10 will combine the familiarity and functionality of Windows 7 with some elements of Windows 8. Microsoft admitted that they did not get Windows 8 right, but they think that they will get it right with Windows 10. The key is that the new version of Windows can identofy the device and chnage the interface mode. This mean sthat the software will know if a user is on a Surface tablet or a laptop and adjust accordingly to the hardware present.

Oh, and the start menu is back.

The new Widnows 10 start meny. Source: The Verge
Windows 10 start meny. Source: The Verge

Microsoft did not elaborate on Windows Phone 10, more than it will not have a desktop. There is also no release date announced for Windows 10, but it is expected to be in the end of 2015.

More here and here.


Free Software – Password Reset for Notes/Domino

Earlier this year I was asked to research some alternatives for a web-based password reset function at my work. One of the larger support burdens are users who forget the passwords, especially in the first few days after changing it. We have a 90 day password lifespan, then a new password need to be picked. Some users wait until the last minute, which usually is Friday afternoon right before they go home, making it very likely that they will forget the new password over the weekend. Another big group is auditors, who may come in every 6 months or so, and by then their passwords have of course already expired.

I first looked at some COTS solutions from HADSL (FirM) and BCC (AdminSuite). They were both very competent, and in addition have several other functions that I really would like to have in my environment (like synchronization between Domino Directory and Active Directory). However, as my company is in a cost saving phase, I was asked if I could build something myself, so I played around a little, and came up with a small and simple application.

The application contains two web pages. The first page (Setup) is where the user will setup the security questions used for password recovery as well as entering an external email address that they have access to even if locked out from the Domino account at work. This page is protected by regular Notes security, so the users need to set this up before they lose access to their account.

The second page (Request)is where the user can request the password to be reset. After entering their Notes name, the user is presented with one of the security questions. If the question as answered correctly, the user can now enter a new password. If the question is wrong, another of the questions is presented to the user. I am also using regexp to make sure that the password match the requirement our organisation have for password strength.

Both pages are built using Bootstrap (v3.2.0),  jQuery (v1.11.0), and for the icons I use Font Awesome (v4.2.0), all loaded from BootstrapCDN. I also use a few local CSS and Javascript files to handle older versions of Internet Explorer. The process steps were created using code by jamro and you can find the code here. By the way, Bootsnipp is a great resource to avoid having to invent the wheel again. There are hundreds of free snippets of code there to build neat Bootstrap functionality.

When the user fill out and submit the setup page, a document is created in a Notes database. When the user need to reset the password, the security questions and answers are retrieved from that document. To prevent unauthorised access to the Notes documents, they use Readers fields to prevent them from being visible to anyone but the signer of the agents running on the server.

This application can of course be updated with more functionality. Instead of allowing the user to pick a password, one could be generated by the server and sent through email to the address entered during setup. There are probably other things that can be done to adapt this application to the needs of your organization. And you probably want to change the logo on the pages to fit your organisation.

You can download the application here. It is licensed under Apache 2.0. I will try to get it up on soon as well.

Read the “About” page for instructions on installation and setup, as well as full license and attribution. Enjoy!


Survey about Notes and Domino directions

PSC is doing a community survey about the direction of IBM Notes and Domino. John Head, Director of Enterprise Collaboration at the Chicago-based consulting company PSC Group explains that it’s not about gathering data, the (optional) email address collected will only be used to notify about the result.PSC promises to share the full results publically.

I am personally looking forward to see the result of the survey. You can take the survey at


Half an operating system: The triumph and tragedy of OS/2

The other day I found an interesting article at arstechnica about the history of OS/2, the IBM operating system that was supposed to replace MS-DOS. “Half an operating system: The triumph and tragedy of OS/2” brings back a lot of memories for me.

OS/2 Extended Edition

I worked at Microsoft in 1988/89, when the first couple of versions of OS/2 had just arrived on the market. IBM was just down the road, and one day my boss gave me a stack of floppy disks containing the Microsoft-developed OS/2 version 1.1 and told me to drive over to IBM and install it on a computer in their training room. If I remember it correctly, it was supposed to be used for a demo or conference.

I also remember the “RAM crisis” in 1988-90, when memory prices suddenly increased dramatically. I bought my first computer right after the prices dropped to a more manageable level. The high memory requirements for OS/2 was one of the reasons the new operating system did not take off. Microsoft had just released Windows 2.0 in 1987, and in 1990 the much more polished Windows 3.0 was released. Both versions had much lower memory requirements than OS/2.

OS/2 2.0 Desktop
OS/2 2.0 Desktop

I was never a fan of Workplace Shell, the object oriented desktop in later versions OS/2. It always felt clunky and sluggish, compared with the much slicker Windows 3.0/3.1 look. Starting in OS/2 version 2.0, a DOS virtual machine let you run any DOS program (including games) and even Windows programs in OS/2. I once attended a press meeting with Jim Allchin, I think it was when NT 3.51 was released. I asked him about the NT command line interface, and asked if there were any plans to add some true emulation or virtual operating system functionality, like in OS/2. He dismissed it as “circus acts by a dying operating system”. Of course he was partially right, as OS/2 was dying at that time, but anyone in the IT business today know about the benefits of virtualization…

So go and read the article, especially if you were around in the late 80’s and early to mid 90’s. I will leave you with a couple of interesting quotes from the article.


The PS/2 launch, for example, was accompanied by an advertising push that featured the aging and somewhat befuddled cast of the 1970s TV series M*A*S*H. This tone-deaf approach to marketing continued with OS/2. Exactly what was it, and how did it make your computer better? Was it enough to justify the extra cost of the OS and the RAM to run it well? Superior multitasking was one answer, but it was hard to understand the benefits by watching a long and boring shot of a man playing snooker.


OS/2 version 3.0 would also come with a new name, and unlike codenames in the past, IBM decided to put it right on the box. It was to be called OS/2 Warp. Warp stood for “warp speed,” and this was meant to evoke power and velocity. Unfortunately, IBM’s famous lawyers were asleep on the job and forgot to run this by Paramount, owners of the Star Trek license. It turns out that IBM would need permission to simulate even a generic “jump to warp speed” on advertising for a consumer product, and Paramount wouldn’t give it. IBM was in a quandary. The name was already public, and the company couldn’t use Warp in any sense related to spaceships. IBM had to settle for the more classic meaning of Warp—something bent or twisted. This, needless to say, isn’t exactly the impression you want to give for a new product.


Unfortunately, IBM was being pulled in two directions. The company’s legacy mainframe division didn’t want any PCs that were too powerful, lest they take away the market for big iron. The PC division just wanted to sell lots of personal computers and didn’t care what it had to do in order to meet that goal. This fighting went back and forth, resulting in agonizing situations such as IBM’s own low-end Aptivas being unable to run OS/2 properly and the PC division promoting Windows instead.





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25 years in the IT industry

Today it is exactly 25 years since I started my first real job in the IT industry. On September 19, 1988 I started working at Microsoft in Sweden as employee #42, right out of 12th grade of school. So how did I end up working at Microsoft at age 19? Well, I had a bit of bad luck, which turned into good luck. Let me explain. 🙂

I started programming in 7th grade. In the late fall of 1982, a computer club was founded in my school. When we came back to school after Christmas break, in January 1983, some older students taught some classes in BASIC in the evenings. Attending those classes were a requisite for getting the magnetic card that gave us access to the computer room (as long as there were no regular classes taking place there). In preparation of the classes starting, I went to the library and picked up a book on programming the ABC 80 computers we had in school. I started learning programming by writing code by hand in a notebook, to understand the concept. I spent the Christmas break learning BASIC, so when the classes started in January, I had a pretty good understanding of the concept of programming. A couple of years later we got another type of computer in school, and I switched to Pascal as the programming language of choice. I spent on average 3 or 4 hours in the computer room each day (during lunch breaks and after school) for the next 5 1/2 years… I even managed to convince the school to let me borrow one of the computers and take it home during one Christmas break, as I was working on a big project.

Hersby skola on Lidingö, where I spent the years 1982-1988 learning programming.
Hersby skola on Lidingö, where I spent the years 1982-1988 learning programming.

My schedule in the last year of High School (1987-88). Computer Science is coded “Da”, and we had it Tuesday and Friday.

After finishing what’s in Sweden is called gymnasium (equivalent of High School in the US), I was not motivated to spend additional 4 years or more going to university. However, I found a one-year specialty course in Systems Programming and Computer Science, where they crammed 2+ years into one year, with 8-hour days five days/week. I applied and was accepted. However,after a couple of weeks, the assistant principal (who was also one of our main teachers) came in and told us that the class had to be cancelled. The class was simply too small, and they had not been able to get any more students to apply. The class was postponed and would start over in January 1989.

In the mean time we were encouraged to find an internship or entry-level job in the IT industry. I picked up the yellow pages section of the phone book and looked up computer companies. Being a person thinking outside the box, I started going through the companies in reverse order. I figured that anyone else in the class would start from the beginning. I started cold-calling some companies, and after a few calls, I got a hit. This company called Microsoft was interested, they needed someone in tech support, to answer calls from customers and solve their problems.

I had not really heard much about Microsoft at this time. We used CP/M-86 as the operating system in school, and I had only seen Windows 1.0 once or twice, and never really used it. I knew about PCs, but I mostly associated them with IBM. I sent the then-manager of the support department, Arne Josefsberg, my grades from school (I did not have a resume yet). Later I found out he actually never even looked at my grades…
I called Arne back the following week to verify that he got the letter, and he asked me to come in for an interview the next day, Friday September 16. I took the subway to the Microsoft office and met with Arne, who performed a short interview and a little test of my problem solving skills. He had me perform some actions in Word for DOS, a for me then totally unknown program, to see how quickly I could solve some problems. A few minutes later I walked out the door with a job waiting for me the following Monday and the user’s manual to Windows 2.03 under my arm with orders to read it over the weekend… So on September 19, 1988 I started working at Microsoft, my first real job in the computer industry, or IT business as it is called these days.

I have to say that I did learn an enormous amount of things at Microsoft. There was no formal training, you were expected to learn things on your own. But my coworkers went out of their way to teach me things. Thanks Anna, Micael, Magnus, Rolf and everyone else that helped me and taught me about the Microsoft products. After working at Microsoft during the fall I went back to school and finished the education, while working at Microsoft during school holidays and the summer, as well as for a few months after graduation.

I then served in the Swedish Air Force for 11 months, as the country still had mandatory military service at this time. I actually intended to go back to Microsoft after the Air Force, but I was offered a job as a programmer right before I left the service, and I started my career as a programmer/developer in early 1991. It was now I started playing with Visual Basic 1.0, released in the summer of 1991. I learned programming using traditional BASIC back in 1982-83, before switching to Pascal some time around 1985, and then to C in 1989. I quickly realized that Visual Basic was a great product. It removed much of the complexity of creating Windows programs, and the developer could focus on the actual functionality and business logic instead of having to write pages of code to handle windows and events.

After the company I worked for went bankrupt in the end of 1992, I got a job at IDG Sweden as a journalist at the weekly publication Computer Sweden. It was during my time  there I learned about (among other things) HTML and Lotus Notes, knowledge I still use to this day. I worked at Computer Sweden for five years, covering the PC marketplace (both hardware and software), before moving to Boston and taking a position as Notes developer with IDG in the US.

After a little over four years in Boston, my then-wife wanted to move closer to her family in Texas, so we moved to Arlington, TX and I got a job with Deep South, a Dallas-based insurance company where I still work 11 years later, as a Notes/Domino developer. I am also taking on some administration tasks, after out previous network admin and operations manager left the company last year.

I count myself very lucky to have a job I love. How many people can say that they been working 25 years with something they like? I also had the luck to work almost exclusively at good companies, and having good managers/bosses. I have for example been able to go to Lotusphere every year since 1997 (as well as a technical conference in 1996 that were a pre-cursor to Lotusphere Europe).

Finally I once more want to thank everyone who over the years helped or supported me, and who made it possible for me to be where I am today.


Steve Ballmer announcing he will resign – Microsoft stock up 7%

Microsofts CEO Steve Ballmer this morning announced that he will resign within the next 12 months. The 57 year old CEO will depart after a successor is choosen.

Directly after the announcement, Microsoft shares went up 7% in the first hour of trading. Microsoft under Steve Ballmer have been criticized for his directions by investerers and others.

Microsoft stock at 10am Friday August 23
Microsoft stock at 10am Friday August 23


Lotus 1-2-3, SmartSuite and Organizer officially retired

Earlier this week, IBM announced the withdrawal of marketing [sic!] of Lotus 1-2-3, together with Lotus SmartSuite and Lotus Organizer, effective 06/11/2013. Support ends on 09/30/2014.

Lotus 1-2-3 version 3.0 for MS/DOS
Lotus 1-2-3 version 3.0 for MS/DOS

I personally never worked with 1-2-3 myself. When I started with computers in school, we used CP/M-86 as the operating system, and had a spreadsheet program developed specifically for use in the Swedish schools. My first job after high school was with Microsoft in 1988, so my first experience with a “real life” spreadsheet program was with Excel 2.0 (as well as with Multiplan for MS-DOS).

However, a few years later, in the early to mid 90’s, I worked as a journalist and reviewed a new version of Lotus Smartsuite. I remember how impressed I was with the infobox, and how I could have it up on the screen and change properties and see the changes at once, not having to reopen a dialog box over and over again to make a change, like you had to do in the program in Microsoft’s Office suite. Of course, we still see that behaviour in the infobox in IBM Notes. Another legacy of the product is the formula language used in IBM Notes, it originated as the macro language in Lotus 1-2-3.

Lotus 1-2-3 was a very important part of the early IT history, it was a major part of the PC revolution in the early 1980’s. But it was overtaken later the same decade by Excel, since Lotus did not jump on Windows quickly enough, allowing Microsoft to entrenching themselves on that market.

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Useful utility to rename files in bulk

Earlier today I had to rename about 400 image files, and I was looking for a convenient tool that would help me out. I had to remove part of the filename, in the middle of the filename, which was a bit tricky.

I found a very useful tool, called Bulk Rename Utility. It does not have the most user-friendly interface, but it is very powerful. And the best thing is that it is free. You can download it here.

This is teh somewhat messy but very powerful user interface...
This is the somewhat messy but very powerful user interface…


And I am up and running!

Downloaded the Notes client with Domino Designer and Administrator, installed it on top of the public beta from December in a viritual machine (with 1GB memory). Install went without any problems, and the client starts up fine. All settings and bookmarks were preserved from the beta.

IBM Notes 9.09 Social Edition
My workspace in IBM Notes 9.0 Social Edition

It just works.


Notes 9.0 – MIA

I thought I would download IBM Notes/Domino 9.0 overnight, but after I logged in to Passport Advantage and went to the downloads, I can see that the files have (supposedly) been uploaded, but they are not available to select.

IBM Notes 9.0 Not Available

If I expand the previous version, all the files for that version shows up… Hopefully IBM have this sorted out in the morning. Scott?


Age of Empires II returns after 14 years

One of my favorite games (together with SimCity 2000) was Age of Empires II – The Age of Kings. Next month, an updated version of the game — which originally was released in 1999 — will be available exclusively on Valve’s Steam platform.

Age Of Empires II Screenshot
Age Of Empires II HD – Screenshot from Steam.

Age of Empires II HD, as the upcoming release is called, is remastered for higher resolution displays and uses updated textures. The game also support multiple monitors and multiplayer through Steam and will cost $19.99 when it is released on April 9. It is possible to pre-order (with a 10% discount) and start playing the game already on April 5.


Cloud Storage – Overview

Cloud Storage - Logos

There are a number of cloud storage services available, all with similar functionality. The differences are mostly in the details, like amount of free storage, what platforms the clients are available for, etc. I mentioned some of them in a previous entry on this blog, when I wrote about some useful Android apps.

So what is cloud storage? The first people ask me when I tell them about these storage services is what “the cloud” is. Some even think it is an Apple product or service (because of iCloud). I think Wikipedia has a good explanation:

Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet). The name comes from the use of a cloud-shaped symbol as an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it contains in system diagrams.

Cloud storage is basically that you get space to store your files securely somewhere on the Internet, in a data center somewhere in the world. You then typically install a client program or app on your computer and/or smartphone to access the files. You can then upload a file from one computer or device and access it from any other device. Several of the services also integrate the storage with online editing withouth the user having to download files to edit them and then upload them again.

A typical example is how I use cloud storage. I have SugarSync and DropBox installed on my Android phone. When I take a picture, it is automatically uploaded to DropBox when I have wifi connectivity. I could set it to always upload, even through mobile data, but I set it to wifi only to save on my data plan. The pictures are available at once on my computer at work as well as on my computers at home (two of them with DropBox installed).

This actually saved me during Connect 2013. I store all photos on the SD card in the phone, and that card got fried halfway through the conference. In a normal case, i would have lost all the pictures I had taken that far, but now I had them uploaded to DropBox, and did not lose anything.

I also use DropBox to store certain files I want to be able to access both from home and from work. Like Photoshop files I use for my blog, funny pictures I find online or personal documents like my resume.

I use Microsoft Skydrive OneDrive for some other files, for example a book I am working on. I can then work on the book on any computer (even my Android phone!), even if the devices/computer does not have Word installed. Skydrive OneDrive includes a Word web app, while Google Drive and Box offers the same functionality using Google Docs.

Some services create their own folder on the computers where the shared files are stored, other let you share existing files, like My Documents. Most also allow you to share files with others, either a full directory or individual files. The person you share the files with does not need an account with the service, the file can be accessed through an URL, but having an account makes it easier to share whole directories.

Most of the services uses the freemium business model, you get a certain storage for free, and then you pay if you want more, after you tried it out.

Dropbox gives you 2 GB, but through referrals you can increase this. You can send emails to yoru friends from the site, or simply share a URL. You both get additional space this way. If any of my readers are not using Dropbox yet, use this link to sign up, to get additional space:

SugarSync used to offer 2 GB, but recently increased it to 5 GB for free. They also have a referral system similar to Dropbox, feel free to use this link to sign up:

Microsoft SkyDrive OneDrive offers 7 GB free, or 25 GB if you signed up early (before April 20012). You use your Hotmail/Live/ account to login to the service, and it also includes integration with Office on the desktop, as well as editing files using the Word Web App directly in the browser. Update: As of February 19, 2014 Skydrive has been renamed OneDrive, and a referral system has been added. If anyone signs up using your personal link, you and the other person both get 500MB extra storage. Feel free to sign up using my link:

Box (formerly offers 5 GB free storage. When I installed ASTRO File Manager the other day on my Android phone, I was offered  25 GB free storage. I haven’t explored the functionality of the service very much yet

Google Drive is one of the latest entries on the cloud storage arena. It was launched less than a year ago, in April 2012, and offers 5 GB of free storage together with access to Google Docs, the web-based office suite, so documents can be edited directly online.

iCloud is Apples offering. The user get 5 GB for free here as well. Currently iCloud only works on mobile devices using the iOS operating system (i.e. iPhone), but there are clients for both MacOS and Windows. The service allows users to backup their contacts, photos and other data on the phone wirelessly and automatically.

Ubuntu One is a service from Canonical, giving users the customary 5 GB of free storage. It is aimed at Ubuntu users, but there are clients for Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS as well. Ubuntu One also offers music streaming, included in a paid upgrade.

There are more similar services, but the ones listed above are the most popular ones. Wikipedia has an overview of file hosting services, where you can find out more how they compare to each other.



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