Friday, December 19, 2008

Upgrade from your existing Sametime archiving system to Instant IMtegrity Archives

Once could be an accident. Twice could be coincidence. But thrice is a trend.

We've had a number of customers come to us for help replacing their existing Sametime archiving system. We actually published a case study on one such project.

Simply put, no other archiving solution is as tightly integrated with Sametime. IMtegrity’s native Sametime design eliminates the need for additional proxy servers and external databases to deliver these key architectural benefits:

* IMtegrity is integrated with Sametime’s native chat logging facility
* IMtegrity uses familiar Lotus Domino data storage and system maintenance
* IMtegrity uses Notes .NSF as its data storage system to leverage existing access control lists, administrative policies, and training

We are offering competitive upgrade pricing to make it even easier to switch to Instant IMtegrity Archives - 25% off list price. For many companies, this means you can deploy IMtegrity for less than the cost of renewing support with your current vendor.

Check out the full press release for more details.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Read Michael Sampson

If you seek insight and guidance on the leading edge of collaboration for and between people across time zones and across your organization, then you need to meet Michael Sampson. He's just published a book on effective use of SharePoint in team collaboration, and he writes a great blog.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why does the NFL love parity?

CNNSI's lead on last night's Giants-Browns recap was "You gotta love parity in the NFL."

(For the benefit of you non-football fans, a struggling Cleveland Browns team stomped a New York Giants team that many pundits described as the NFL's best.)

Why is it a good thing if, on 'any given Sunday', any team can fully expect to defeat any opponent? Parity is defined as equality, and to me that equals mediocrity. Why strive for excellence when merely being average gives you a fair shot at making the playoffs?

In software, parity is the mortal enemy of innovation. Google wouldn't have become Google if Larry Page and Sergey Brin had been satisfied merely to achieve equality with Yahoo, MSN,, and all the other search engines they overtook.

Here at Instant, we live to innovate. We never stop seeking competitive advantages. We continually deliver clever new features to increase our lead over our competitors.

Other vendors might be satisfied with parity; we most certainly are not!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Can't send email to our Congresswoman, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter

I'm sure that the communication between members of the house and their constituents is very brisk; however, I find it very frustrating that after numerous attempts, I can't send an email to our rep.

Apparently, there is no mechanism to simply send an email to Rep Carol Shea-Porter. Instead, in order to get a message to Rep. Shea-Porter, people (her constituents) must visit her web site and then post a message.

In normal times, I would find this merely an added step that is not necessary. However, today, I find this both annoying and disconnected from the tools that I use to communicate with customers, vendors, and friends.

Here is what I receive when I attempt to post a message concerning my thoughts about the current financial rescue package:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Immediate productivity from new Sametime users

One of the interesting things about releasing a product - any product - into the wild is watching customers use it in innovative ways.

Instant Buddy List Administrator was originally intended to help Sametime admins maintain centralized control over the accuracy and integrity of an organization's buddy lists. But then a major defense agency surprised us by fronting Buddy List Administrator with a web-based questionnaire, the answers to which would automatically provision each new user with a custom buddy list relevant to their role and mission.

Pretty cool, yes?

Each user is productive from the first minute they're activated in Sametime. And untold hours of administrative overhead has been eliminated - a key consideration when you're rolling out Sametime to 100,000 users.

Check out the full case study at

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Instant Referral Rewards Program

Calling all Friends of Instant Technologies! Do you miss an Instant product that you used in a previous place of employment? Or do you know someone who could benefit from an Instant product that you’re currently using?

If so, we want to thank you for recommending us.

From now through end of year, we will reward you with a $200 Best Buy certificate for every referral that results in a purchase of one of our products. All you have to do is contact us to register your referrals; our sales team will take care of the rest.

Note: We respect corporate policies that prohibit employees from receiving vendor incentives. If your company has such a policy, we will pass your referral reward along to your employer in the form of a $200 price deduction.

Thank you for your loyalty and support!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thinking of building an OCS archive viewer?

We work with a lot of companies that have deployed Microsoft OCS and then discover they need a solution for viewing past IM conversations. In some cases the requirement stems from regulatory compliance issues; in others, it is legal discovery or internal usage policy auditing and enforcement.

Whatever the reason, some companies decide to address their needs with an internal development project.

We've compiled our experience (and theirs) into a 'build or buy' white paper. If you're thinking about building your own OCS archive viewer, you need to read this document. You can download it for free from our white paper library.

Posted by Dan.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Very useful Sametime debugging FAQs from IBM

Here is a list of some very useful Sametime debugging articles that we use to help troubleshoot Sametime issues:
Title: Knowledge Collection: Frequently Asked Questions about Lotus Sametime

Title: Knowledge Collection: Sametime with LDAP

Title: Knowledge Collection: Notes Instant Messaging

Lotus Notes Instant Messaging Tracing
Title: Debug parameter for troubleshooting Notes Instant Messaging issues

Client Tracing
Title: How to turn on additional debugging for the Sametime Meeting Room Client and Broadcast Client

A/V Tracing
Title: What information should be collected when troubleshooting an A/V issue with Sametime meetings?

Community components tracing


Title: What is the VP_TRACE_ALL parameter in the sametime.ini?

VP_TRACE_ALL + meetingserver.ini
Community components and meeting server tracing


Title: Enabling Sametime meeting server debug on AIX/Solaris

Meeting Server Tracing/Java


Title: How to enable debug for the Sametime Meeting Server

Directory/LDAP tracing


Title: The Sametime STDirectory service repeatedly stops and restarts itself

User Storage Tracing


Title: Debug flags for Sametime stuserstorage service

Directory, Browse, Groups issue tracing


Title: Sametime public groups appear empty on a server configured for LDAP

Policies tracing


Title: Understanding, configuring and troubleshooting Sametime policies

Authentication tracing

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Windows Scripting Host

We are also looking at scripting solutions for client computers and the idea of providing an ability to easily send and execute scripts on a client machine.

Here is an article on Windows Scripting Host.

Here is the wikipedia entry for Windows Scripting Host

First Deployment For Our Sametime Disclaimer Application

We have recently developed an additional Sametime disclaimer notfication application for our Sametime chat archiving application (IMtegrity).

The disclaimer application is a Sametime Server application that monitors inbound logins to the Sametime server. When a new login takes place, our disclaimer application notifies the person (via an IM window) with a message that their Sametime conversations may be monitored and recorded.

IMtegrity has been on the market for about 5 years and this is the first request that we have received to provide a disclaimer notification.
Overview of the product is here:

Our Sametime Disclaimer Application Has First Deployment

Friday, July 25, 2008

Online Reservations for NH State Parks

We are thinking about a night of camping at Pawtuckaway State Park and this web site can handle the online reservation:

Sametime Gateway is Active

Yeah...after a lot of work, numerous conversations with our ISP to configure the reverse DNS, emails with some great folks at IBM, and a bunch of installations, our Sametime Gateway is finally active.
I can't say that it was a simple process, but it sure is nice to have AOL and Yahoo awareness directly in our Sametime client.
Woooo Hoooo!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Using XML-RPC to integrate Java and .net

We have several applications that are developed in Java and several applications in .net. Moving forward, I would like to consolidate most of our applications to a single code base as well as a single base language. However, that is easier said than done.
Here is an article on integrating .net and Java using XML-RPC:

Integrating scripting into C# application

Here is a nice little article on integrating LUA scripting into c#.

One of the issues that we are discussing is which base language to support moving forward (Java or c#) and in addition, if we integrate a script engine, which script engine should we support. Currently, we have a few too many languages (VB6, C#, Java) that we have used to develop a variety of applications.

This article describes how to integrate LUA into C#:

Here is another article on building a implementing a script engine that mimics c#.

Spring Framework Documentation

We are considering an effort to incorporate some of our products with the Spring Framework. Here is a link to the Spring Framework documentation area.
While Spring appears to solve many issues, it also has some drawbacks that are reviewing.

Reverse DNS lookup to help troubleshoot Sametime Gateway

Here is the little tool that we are using to test the reverse DNS lookup:

Helpful Sametime 8.x Developer Toolkits

Here is a link to some of the useful Sametime 8.x Developer Toolkits that we use on a frequent basis.

For many of our products, we are using the Java toolkit, although both Community Server Toolkit as well as the Gateway Integration Guide are getting a lot of review.

Many of our ealier applications took advantage of the Sametime COM Toolkit, although we are moving most of our next releases to the Java platform.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Our products embedded in IBM offerings

Persistent chat is a hot topic in enterprise IM. Instant, of course, has been a leading innovator in this space for quite some time - as evidenced by the fact that IBM has embedded two of our products (Instant Team Sessions and Instant IMtegrity Archives) in two of their offerings: Collaboration Core Enterprise Service (CCES), which they sell to military and government organizations; and SOA Foundation Accelerator (SOAF-A), which is mainly sold to enterprise.

Persistent chat adds permanance - and security and encryption - to the benefits of presence awareness and real-time communication of IM. In effect, persistent chat turns communication into collaboration by ensuring that chats and documents and content persist over time.

We recently published a solution brief that describes the value of persistent chat, including real-world usage examples. It also describes how IBM has bundled Instant products into their offerings. Download a copy of the brief here:

Posted by Dan.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Adding scripting to our applications

Here is an interesting article on adding scripting capability to a .net application. We are evaluating adding scripting to both our Java and .Net applications.

The goal is to create a core application API and framework that we can easily extend using the scripting engine, and that we can provide to our customers for additional extensions that are specific to their requirements.

On the Java side, we are investigating LUA as well as the standard JSR 223 compliant scripting engines.

For our dot net applications (our Navigator) it might be very useful to provide an easy to use scripting framework to extend both the Instant Agent Service Manager and the Instant Agent Navigator.

Microsoft OCS AJAX API

We have previously used the RTC API via COM and found it to quite helpful. However, for an upcoming product, we will be taking advantage of the Mircosoft UC AJAX API.

The RTC COM API were useful, but did not scale appropriately for high volume server side applications. At one point, we created an abstraction layer to wrap both the RTC COM API and the Sametime COM APIs. Our Instant Agent Navigator is built using this abstaction layer and supports both OCS and Sametime.


Monday, June 30, 2008

First-contact resolution rate

The phrase 'first-contact resolution rate' never entered my consciousness until I joined Instant Technologies. Sure, as a consumer, I had my fair share of frustration in dealing with companies with no apparent interest in answering my questions quickly and efficiently. I've navigated illogical autoattendants only to connect with the wrong person....who of course had no idea to whom I should be transferred. I've waited forever (in fact, I am still waiting) for callbacks from several companies.

Ken Landoline, VP and Principal Analyst at Saddletree Research, describes why first-contact resolution rate is one of the key criteria on which help desk and customer service organizations are measured:

“Our experience in customer contact center operations confirms that the inability to reach the right person the first time is a major driver of customer dissatisfaction in the customer service/contact center environment. Additionally, in many cases, poor first-call resolution performance has been shown to drive a significant share (in some cases, up to a third) of a call center’s overall operational costs.”

The same concepts apply to internal help desk operations—employee productivity plummets if they do not have access to the information and resources they need to do their jobs effectively…and employee frustration skyrockets if they must jump through multiple hoops to obtain the assistance they require.

If your company cares about customer satisfaction and/or employee productivity, you need to add presence-aware, real-time responsiveness to your operations.

For more on this topic, check out our solution brief.

Posted by Dan.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thinking about my cable TV system

At the core, it's about competition for eyeballs and time spent watching 'something'. With the explosion of user generated content, there is a tremendous amount of very interesting, and highly targeted, niche content competing for the time and attention of people. So, right now, that attention 'drain' is taking place on another screen, via another input source (tcp/ip). I see an explosion of super niche, live, recorded, and peer rated content being delivered over another 'pipe' and competing for the rather 'programmed' content provided by my traditional cable provider.

So, right now, I suspect that many teens and 20 somethings spent a good deal of team on facebook, youtube, world of warcraft, and other variations on either peer created content, or browsing content that is being delivered over a medium other than their TV. With the explosion of content (youtube, redtube, ustream, facebook), the broadening of the tcp/ip pipes, and the 'social' aspect of peer rated content, it's difficult for me to see the long term value of my cable system.

For me, there are a couple of issues that are hanging out there:
* How can I watch content delivered over tcp/ip using my nice new TV
* With the lack of fiber, the content currently delivered by something other than cable looks crummy on screens other than my computer display

The marketers will follow the content, no matter how that content is delivered.

I want fiber, a way to bridge web based content into my TV, and a clean UI to easily surf that web based content from my couch.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Real-time collaboration in government and military

Instant Technologies' president Peyton McManus just returned from an IBM event in France targeted at government and military organizations. IBM has built a real-time communications offering called E-CollabCenter that enables government agencies, departments of defense, disaster response teams, and other such organizations to make fast, informed, collaborative decisions in real-time - based on up-to-the-second data supplied by team members from all over the world.

E-CollabCenter is a compelling demonstration of the value of instant messaging. But what makes it REALLY cool is the fact that several of our products are at the heart of E-CollabCenter:

Instant Team Sessions delivers encrypted and secure browser-based persistent chat rooms so remote and/or cross-organizational teams can collaborate on specific topics in the atmosphere of an open forum where both the chat room and the content— conversations, documents, files, bookmarks—persist over time. Access is controlled and password protected, and all conversations are time synchronized.

Instant Buddy List Administrator provides centrally-controlled, server-side buddy list management that effectively eliminates the administrative overhead of creating persistent chat rooms and managing their group memberships.

Instant IMtegrity Archives provides IM archiving, search, and discovery for auditing and oversight. If questions are asked about who said what to whom, Instant IMtegrity Archives will provide irrefutable evidence.

Now consider two examples of how these solutions are being used in the real-world:

Mission #1:
Interdict ships in hostile waters. Identify hostiles and take appropriate action.

Boarding team takes pictures of the target ship, its crew members, its equipment, etc. The pictures are instantly uploaded to the mission’s persistent chat room, where intelligence experts at command headquarters analyze the data and decide on actions to be taken.

The innocent are quickly freed to go about their business; suspects are detained for further investigation.

Mission #2:
Provide logistical support for military operations.

Persistent chat rooms are created for each logistical component (inventory levels, procurement, etc). Logistics support staff create keyword-based alerts relevant to their roles so they are instantly and automatically notified when someone in one of the ten or twenty persistent chat rooms mentions something that requires their attention.

Increased efficiency and improved response times in logistics ensures that personnel in the field have the resources they need to complete their mission successfully.

If you also consider the commercial applicability of these solutions, enterprise instant messaging finally has the power to revolutionize business communications to an even greater degree than email did in the 1990s. Enterprise IM, deployed with our solutions, eliminates all barriers of time and distance to deliver increased productivity, reduced costs, improved customer service, and more - it's business done better and faster than ever before.

Posted by Dan.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Accessing Profile Documents in Java

We are adding some new features to our Buddy List Administrator. In addition to an updated user interface, we are also implementing some updates to our core buddylist updating engine - which is written in Java.

As part of one of these updates, our java code will need to read/write a profile document maintained in our configuration database.

Here is a old, but still very interesting, article on Java access to Domino objects

Our Java code either receives the notessession as a value passed from the agentcontext, or we initialize our own notessession is we are running in a standalone (i.e. testing, development, or possibly servlet) environment.

Here is a early article on profile documents and how they can be manipulated using the formula language or LotusScript.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Instant Technologies Needs a Few Good VARs

If you possess Sametime and/or OCS expertise, we need you to call us. Today.

Just about every organization on the planet relies on some form of IM. And an ever-increasing majority are relying on Sametime or OCS rather than assume the risks of public IM systems. Ergo, thousands upon thousands of businesses, schools, and government agencies require our products.

We need your help to find them so we can work together to meet their requirements.

And in cases where they find us first, we need your help to close the deals and implement the solutions.

So if you're a VAR, or if you know a VAR with Sametime or OCS skills, please send a note to so we can discuss how we can work together.

Posted by Dan.

Adam's Sametime Quiz

In response to Adam Gartenberg's Sametime quiz.
This was my first experience with Quibblo, since I generally use zoomerang for our online surveys. In fact, we are looking to integrate zoomerang with our Instant Queue Manager and it may make sense to also include Quibblo.

Sametime 8 Advanced SDK

The Sametime 8 Advanced SDK is available here:

Friday, April 11, 2008

On the History of Convoq

Chris Herot's entry on his experiences and the history of Convoq is an excellent 'in the trenches' look at the life and death of a startup. We, the early folks at Instant (Carl Tyler, Tim Browne), were actively following Convoq - since they formed at nearly the same time as Instant. At the time, we were named Invitrix - a name that I picked since I didn't know exactly what we would do at the time I formed the company.

The Convoq experience follows many of my own experiences at Bowstreet, now owned by
IBM, as well as my post Bowstreet days here at Instant. I would place Bowstreet in the 'too much money' category and the excessive infusion of cash at Bowstreet created an environment that was disconnected from market requirements and customer feedback. At Bowstree, I can vividly remember far too many discussions around a white board and not enough interactions with customers. However, it's difficult when your company is very early to the market with a product that customers may not yet need. Also...when you have a lot of money, there is a need to demonstrate a lot of action - whether or not that action is appropriate.

My own experiences have demonstrated that market timing, combined with an ability to execute, are critical. Instant's initial product (TeamMessenger for Outlook), was simply too early to attract any substantial amount of traction - read real $s. For us (Instant) integrating the dominant enterprise IM platform with the dominant productivity platform was obvious. However, it took a few years for it become a standard requirement in the market.

Unfortunately, we didn't build a big enough moat around our idea and IBM later included similar functionality (although not nearly as complete) for free in their product. While we considered applying for patents - we unfortunately skipped that process - mostly as a result of both time and money constraints.

Some of my summary notes are:
Attention to details
Speed (sometimes you need to speed up, sometimes you need to enter a holding pattern and slow down)

Startups are pretty tricky...thanks Chris for posting such a great synopsis.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Helping Control Buddy Lists

We continually hear from customers about the need to help manage, migrate, and centrally update buddy lists within their Enterprise. Four years ago, we developed the Sametime Buddy List Administrator as a way to help push out 'bots' that companies created using our bot application builder.

Over the years, we've adapted the product to support some of the most common issues that we hear from our customers:
How to migrate users after a merger, organizational change, or directory conversion
How to rename people
How to remove people
How to pre-populate a team with a custom buddy list
How to make all of these changes without stopping the Sametime server

Of course, working with the Sametime buddy list storage architecture hasn't been easy, but it has been a learning process. We've learned the finer details of vpuserinfo.nsf as well as all of the Sametime tool kits. In the process, we've also created an indexing database to help us quickly locate all of the references for a person across all buddy lists. So, for instance, before we rename a user, we locate all references for the person using our buddy list indexing database.

We are always eager to hear other ideas for buddy list management and administration. Based on the feedback that we hear from our customers, the need to centrally manage and administer Sametime buddy lists is dramatically increasing.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Escape Characters in .net calling readviewentries in Domino

One of our applications is written in .net and calls some Lotus Notes databases using the very helpful ?readviewentries command.

The issue is that, by default, readviewentries returns the number of entries specified by a value in the server doc. For one of our customers, this was creating an issue, since they need to return 200 entries.

We store the URL to retrieve the values in a .net application config file. So, we simply wanted to update our ?readviewentries call to include the &count=200 value.

Here was our original entry:" />

This was our first try (which of course fails since we need to escape out the ampersand)"

After escaping the ampersand with amp; the new key is something that looks like:


Problem solved...

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Joy of Marketing Intelligent Software

I am entering week 3 as a member of the Instant Technologies team. In my first two weeks on the job, I saw something I never saw before - marketing literature that actually undersells the products.

Marketing all too often favors style over substance. How many 'games of the year' were played in the NFL last season? How many movies are touted as 'the year's best film!'?

One of my key mandates here at Instant Technologies is to update and refine our marketing messages and our marketing materials. It's a big job, but it's shockingly easy - our software architects have built a suite of well-designed products that sell on their own merits.

My main job, therefore, is simply to raise make certain that prospective customers think of Instant Technologies when they need a solution for Sametime or OCS. In so doing, I will remain true to our core marketing philosophy: Promise only what you can deliver.

What does this mean for your business?
  • No hard sell - Our marketing is centered around your real-time communications dilemmas, with clear and concise statements of how we solve those dilemmas.
  • No bull - The features listed in our materials are real, and the benefits we describe are based on real-world feedback from customers just like you.
  • Software that meets or exceeds your expectations.
Posted by Dan

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Next up...Skitch

After browing the twitter site, I stumbled on Skitch. On the surface, it looks like Skitch might be a good tool to help our remote teams share UI mockups and quickly play with some different product design ideas.

Typcially, we use gotomeeting, share our screens, and then I use snagit to capture images. After an image capture, I jump into ms paint and start doing some design updates.

It might also be a nice plugin addition to our TeamSessions - Sametime persistent chat rooms.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Popular Twitter Clients

With the growth of twitter, here is an interesting article on the most popular twitter clients. I'm not surprised the the web continues to be the number one way to post to twitter (56%), however, it was interesting to see IM as the second most popular mechanism to post.

As I think about twitter, it seems to be a very neatly crafted presence platform. Albeit, a presence platform that takes a different shape than the enterprise platforms like Lotus Sametime or Microsoft OCS.

For now, twitter seems to be grafting onto the early adopters (no surprise) but I am curious what a twitter migration into the enterprise application area might look like. Assuming that an existing presence platform might be slightly repurposed, or extended, to support some flavor of an internal twitter like network.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

On Communicating Remotely

We have been working with teams in India, and other locations, for more than 5 years. The more I interact with India the more I wonder about the experience Indian developers have had with the Sametime and OCS platforms.

We make heavy use of Sametime, OCS, Sharepoint, and Goto Meeting - all on a daily basis. In many ways, the extensive collaboration platforms have enabled our teams to dyanically assemble, work on extensive projects, and share content and information as if we were sitting in the same building.

However, over the years, I've discovered that a daily phone conference is a fantastic way to keep projects on track.

Here's the general pattern when my remote communication 'escalates'.
1 to 1 IM
Group IM
Group IM + Conference Call
Conference call with shared Goto Meeting screen sharing

If things get complicated, I might move from basic IM to a shared call with screen sharing in less than 2 minutes - and that includes assembling multiple people from different locations.

Twitter in the enterprise

Twitter api is here:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Some very useful tools

As we assemble a nice set of offerings that help us run the company, I thought I should mention some services that I find especially useful:

Constant Contact - can't find a better customer email subscription service

GotVMail - 800 service for phone service with 800 number, hunt groups, and custom greetings

Prominic - Remotely hosted Domino servers - with full configuration and installation.  

Entellium - CRM with strong customer service and nice user interface

Ad Words - The best marketing dollars that we spend

Mailstreet - Remotely hosted exchange and sharepoint ('s just great having someone else worry about mail availability and uptime)

What are the common themes?  Well, in all cases, someone else is focusing on delivering a specific service at a great price.  They focus on their core competency (like email hosting) and then we spend more time building software and less time managing operational services (e.g phone system, mail, CRM).

Blogger v. Typepad

What's the difference between blogger and typepad?  Well, on the surface, zero cost and Google level infrastructure are 2 big advantages for blogger.  Of course, I'll still need to configure the custom URL (, but that looks like a manageable issue.

Typepad seems to have 'sexier' templates, but I've read some posts on the availability of the typepad servers.   

By the end of this week, I should have a good idea of whether we will use blogger or typepad.