Celebrating 20 years in the US

Many of my friends have a tradition of around New Years write a review of the year that just ended, either on their blogs or (more frequently these days) on Facebook. I have been doing that in the past as well. But this year is different for me.

Yesterday it was exactly 20 years ago I was standing at Arlanda Airport outside Stockholm, with a one-way ticket to the United States. My dad and sister were there with me, to say goodbye. I had spent the last few weeks packing anything important that I wanted to bring with me, and had sent it off with a shipping company a few days earlier.
I had also been working extra to make some additional money. I had to furnish a new place outside Boston, where I got a job as a Notes and Domino developer waiting for me at International Data Group.

But my flight would not take me to Boston. Instead I travelled to Spokane, WA. My then-wife Angie, who I had married just 3.5 months earlier, had returned to Idaho where she lived when we met. After I landed we spent a night at a hotel before we packed up her car with her belongings, including her cat Nicky. We then spent the next 4 days driving along I-90 across the northern USA, until we arrived in Boston, for a new chapter of my life.

Much have happened since that cold January morning when I left Sweden. I had a son in 2000, and a few months later my dad passed away back in Sweden. In 2002 we moved from Boston to Dallas, where Angie was from and where most of her family lived. A little over a year later Angie left me. Eventually I met my new wife Chrissy, and I cannot be more happy. My life is really good, I have a job I love, and a wonderful wife. I wonder what the next 20 years will bring me.

Finally, to all my family and friends, a Very Happy New Year!


New life for “old” technology

A few weeks ago I visited the town of Antigua in Guatemala for 5 days. My wife used to live in Guatemala, working for a non-profit organization back in the late 1990’s, and she wanted to show me how beautiful the country is.

The view from our bedroom window.
The view from our bedroom window.

Of course my wife was absolutely right. The town was colorful and relaxing, people were very nice and the food was delicious. When I in the past heard “Guatemala” I thought of rain forests and hot and humid conditions. But in Antigua the temperature was perfect, about 70° F (21° C) during the day and 55° F (13° C) at night. We slept with open windows every night, with a view of one of the nearby volcanoes. No need for air conditioning, we could just enjoy the clean fresh air.

But what is really amazing is how resourceful people in Guatemala are. They reuse things in a very clever way, with the most striking being the “chicken bus“, the local transportation system between cities.

IC Bus CE-Series body on a mid to late-2000s International 3300 chassis.
Photo: H. Michael Miley. License: CC 2.0 BY-SA

When American school buses get old they are sold at auctions for a couple of thousand dollars. Many of them are purchased by Guatemalans who drive them down through Mexico to Guatemala. There they are fitted with upgraded powerful diesel engines (often the same ones used to power semi-trucks), repainted and outfitted with additional lights (sometimes neon lights), roof racks for cargo and plenty of chrome. Often they get a new hood from a semi-truck as well.

The US truck manufacturer International used to have a truck manufacturing plant in Guatemala, but it was closed down some years ago. This left the country with an abundance of very competent mechanics, especially diesel engine mechanics. They are now passing their knowledge on to the next generation. On an interesting note, IC Bus, one of the major manufacturer of the yellow American school buses, is a division within International and the school buses share much of the design with the International trucks.

And this is what the end result looks like:

Guatemalan "chicken bus" in Antigua. Photo: Karl-Henry Martinsson
Guatemalan “chicken bus” in Antigua. Photo: Karl-Henry Martinsson


So what does this have to do with IBM Notes and Domino, you may ask? Well, the same way as you can take a boring and generic workhorse like a yellow school bus and give it a second life by converting it into a colorful and useful source of transportation, you can modernize and update your old and perhaps a bit dated Notes application to something new exciting and attractive that your users would like to use.

Take your Notes application from this: slider_1_oldnotes

To this modern web application:slider_1_newwebapp

Just like the mechanics in Guatemala replaces the old worn-out engine with a new powerful truck engine, your Domino data engine can be replaced with a new engine, for example from LDC Via, if you want to get away from Domino as a server platform. But Domino is a very competent and powerful NoSQL database/server and will work well for most users.

So like old worn out yellow school buses, your Notes applications can be given a new life as well and run for many more years, looking attractive and brand new again.

Do you want to modernize your Notes and Domino applications?
Let me and Demand Better Solutions help you!


IBM Connect 2016 – Travel Tips

Many of you going to IBM Connect 2016 in Orlando in a just two weeks are coming from other countries. There are a few things you may want to be aware of.

First of all, if you need a visa to enter the US you have hopefully already arranged that. If you are covered by the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) you don’t need a visa but need to fill out an electronic ESTA application. Normally you find out at once if you are eligible. The ESTA application is valid for two (2) years, assuming you haven’t changed passport, name or something has happend that makes you ineligible for ESTA (for example arrested for a drug related offense). You may want to look up your old ESTA to make sure it is still valid. I have been told that the ESTA form has changed and now requires more information than before.

You also need a passport with a machine-readable zone on the biographic page and it must be an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner in order to be allowed to use the VWP. It is also a good idea to make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after you intend to leave the US.


After you get to Orlando and pick up your luggage, you need transportation to the hotel. Mears Shuttle is $33 for a round-trip ticket to Hilton Orlando, or $29.70 if you order on their website using the promo code WEB10.

If you need a rental car I can recommend Turo (formerly RelayRides). It is a peer-to-peer car rental, usually much cheaper than a traditional rental car. You need to create an account ahead of time, since you must send copies of your drivers license to the site before you can rent. I have used the service several times, I rented two cars for 10 days in Hawaii in 2014, a SUV in Denver for an extended weekend and several times I rented a car locally for a day for some transportation. You can see it as Uber for car rentals.

If you haven’t got a hotel room yet, and if the Hilton is over your budget (perhaps you pay for the conference yourself), Days Inn across the street has much more reasonable rates. I got a room for $59/night.

Hope to see you in Orlando!


Gone fishing. Or rather gone scuba diving.

I am currently away for a little over a week, taking a vacation in Curaçao. This next week I am planning some relaxing scuba diving, but for now we are just exploring the beautiful capital Willemstad.
So don’t expect any technical writing for a little bit. See you in December.




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Happy New Year – My Year in Review

2013 has been a very interesting year for me.

It started with a trip to Connect in Orlando that almost did not happen. The company I work at was in a money-saving mode, and denied my request to attend. I had already resigned myself to this and come to terms with the fact that I would be missing Lotusphere for the first time since I stared going in 1997. It was made even harder as I heard several of my friends in the community saying that they feared this would be the last Lotusphere, either for them or for the conference itself, in the shape we knew it.
But suddenly out of the blue I was offered a press pass to cover Connect, like I had been doing in the past for a few publications (as well as a blogger, during the now-cancelled blogger attendance program). With the conference fee covered, and with a kind offer from a friend in the community to share his room, I purchased my own airline tickets, requested vacation days at work and headed to Orlando for what I thought might be the last time.

Connect 2013 was, despite the name change, better than I expected. It was a great conference, my schedule was full of excellent sessions and I got to meet many of my friends again. There were a few faces missing, but many of the familiar faces and voices were seen and heard during the week.

Unfortunately, one voice was silenced forever the Sunday before Lotusphere. Kenneth Kjærbye was killed in a motorcycle accident, during a yearly ride with other attendees and presenters. This of course affected many in the community, but my opinion of IBM increased more than a few notches from hearing how well they responded to the tragedy.
This was not the only familiar face in the community that we lost. Rob Wunderlich and Jens Augustiny both passed away, also way too early,  in 2013. You will all be missed.
There were also some other emotional farewells at Connect 2013, with long-time attendees being there for the last(?) time.

On a more personal level, things changed as well in 2013.
I still haven’t started working very much with XPages, but with the release of Notes and Domino 9.0 in 2013, it feels like XPages are more solid and ready for prime time. My workplace is still on Notes 8.5.2 Basic client, which limits me to classic Notes development. I use Notes/Domino 9.0 at home, though, and I am very impressed with the stability.
I also started on a web application, developed using Bootstrap and jQuery, working with a Domino-based backend. I can’t talk too much about this project yet, but it has a lot of potential to help children in need, and I am very happy to be in a position to work on it.

I also moved, something that if you know me is a big deal. I don’t like to move. I actually loathe moving, which is why I had been living at my apartment for 9 1/2 years when I finally moved. But the reason I moved was to move in with my girlfriend in Dallas. In the end of 2012, I was lucky enough to meet Chrissy, and during 2013 the relationship developed to a level where we decided that I should move in. It is wonderful, but also sometimes annoying, to be in a relationship with someone who is on the same level as oneself when it comes to intelligence, logic and knowledge. Sometimes I wish her mind was not as sharp, like when she manages to out-logic me in a discussion. 🙂

Work have been steady busy. I have been involved in a couple of projects where we provide data from Domino databases to external applications. In one case it was to create a nightly export in CSV format to be used in a SalesForce application, other one was to create a RESTful web service to return JSON used in a web application being developed for our underwriters. I have of course also been busy keeping up with the requests from different department heads to modify their different mission-critical Notes application, based on new business requirements and regulatory demands as well as department reorganizations.

The end of 2013 was the pinnacle of the year. Not only did I get moved in with Chrissy, I also received a surprise email telling me that I had been selected IBM Champion. Professionally, this is huge for me. I feel very flattered and humble to be on the same list as so many of the great names in the community, people who I looked up to and learned from for years.

Looking forward to 2014, I have a busy year ahead. Connect 2014 is coming up in just over 3 weeks, and this time work approved and paid for the trip. Despite some missing faces, I hope that Connect 2014 will be as good as previous years, and that I will learn new technologies, learn more about what I already know, and connect with new people.
I also have some additional trips planned. Hawaii in the end of March for a conference (hopefully with some personal time available, as I have never been there before), London in May to visit my best friend who lives there with his family, and perhaps a quick trip over to Holland to visit Chrissy’s cousin who is living there, a real life (well almost) Indiana Jones. 🙂

I am also planning to step up my blogging some in 2014. 2013 was the first full year of my blogg being hosted on WordPress, but I did not setup the statistics to save more than the last 120 days, so I don’t have a full years worth of statistics, something I realized just the other day. I wrote 60 entries this year on my blog, as well as seven on SocialBizUG.org, but I hope to be able to create even more content in 2014.

So in closing, I want to wish everyone reading my blog a Happy New Year, may 2014 be a great year for you and your families.


Photos from North Texas

Here are some pictures I took recently while on a road trip in rural parts of north Texas. The landscape is flat but still beautiful, and the cactus flowers adds color to the ground.





Click on the photos to view them on Flickr.


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