Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cisco migrates to XMPP/Jabber

Some recent updates in the IBM Sametime blog (http://www.thesametimeblog.com/sametimeblog/sametimeblog.nsf/dx/ciscos-big-news.htm) indicate that Cicso is migrating (internally) to Jabber and XMPP. That's a reasonable move and one that further indicates that there are really key platforms in the enterprise IM and presence space. Of course, Lotus/IBM Sametime was the early favorite, then Microsoft delivered several impressive releases of their SIP plaform (LCS, OCS, OCS 2007) and with Cicsco, the XMPP protocol still has a lot of life.

We are embracing all three major platforms. The next release of our bot platform, help desk and routing application, and entreprise IM queue management app will support Sametime, Microsoft OCS, and XMPP - all on the same code base. Also, any custom extensions developed in our scripting platform will also support all three platforms.

What does that mean for our customers?

Bots (such as Active Directory lookups, sharepoint searches, ldap directory) will be able to focus on the business logic and process - and target any platform with only one line of additional code.

Our help desk application will support all platforms and accept inbound connections from any platform, and route to an expert on any platform. So, an inbound XMPP connection may seeks experts running on xmpp, Sametime, or OCS

Custom applications developed in either Java, or our scripting layer, will have the ability to listen, broadcast, and interact with all three platforms.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Interview Manager Extensions

As we continue to migrate our earlier applications to our new framework, we have bene adding in the ability to easily create application extensions. These application extensions include the ability to:

Leverarge our framework to create Sametime, OCS, and XMPP based bots
Define custom IM Interview based bots that will provide a user with a decision support tree (in IM)
Provide a simple scripting framework to extend our platform for custom applications.

We have selected Groovy (http://groovy.codehaus.org/) as our scripting language. The more we use Groovy, the more powerful it becomes. Of course, when Groovy is matched with our IM platform, any Groovy based (or Java based) application will run against all 3 major IM platforms with little, or no, modification.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Groovy Web Console

Here is a neat little site that provides a web based Groovy console with the ability to run Groovy scripts. It is deployed on the Google App Engine (very cool idea).
http://groovyconsole.appspot.com/

Just for fun, here is a little groovy script to read a CNN feed. This is also running as a bot within our environment:

def url = "http://rss.cnn.com/rss/cnn_topstories.rss"
println 'The top three news items today:'
def items = new XmlParser().parse(url).channel[0].item
for (item in items[0..2]) {
println "${item.title.text()} - ${item.link.text()}"
println item.description.text()
println '----'
}

Instant Bots - Now with Groovy

Over the years, Instant has developed Sametime bots in Java, .Net, and VB. We have also created OCS bots in VB and .Net. These have all been fun projects.

However, nothing matches the pleasure of developing IM applications using groovy.

Groovy is light weight and just plain fun. I'm especially impressed with XMLSlurper - which makes dealing with XML painless (well, actually productive).

Here is a little weather bot developed in groovy.

1: Let's login to Sametime

public weatherBot() {
super()
registerAndLogin("ST", "stserver.instant-tech.com", "weather bot", "");
}

2: Let's say Hello when we receive an IM:

public void ImReceived(ITFIMEvent ImEvent)
{
super.ImReceived(ImEvent)
String msgType = ImEvent.getMsgServiceType()
String prefix = "Welcome to the Instant Weather bot. Please enter a zipcode:"
MsgServiceInterface myService = getMsgService(msgType)

myService.sendText(ImEvent.getSenderId(),
prefix ,
ImEvent.getConfigId())
}

3: Let's return the weather (with a little help from XMLSlurper)

public void ImTextReceived(ITFIMEvent ImEvent)
{
super.ImTextReceived(ImEvent)
String msgType = ImEvent.getMsgServiceType()
MsgServiceInterface myService = getMsgService(msgType)

def baseUrl = "http://weather.yahooapis.com/forecastrss"
String zip = ""
String outPut = ""

//def zip = '03824'
zip = ImEvent.getText()
def url = baseUrl + "?p=" + zip
def xml = url.toURL().text

def rss = new XmlSlurper().parseText(xml)
outPut = "Your temp is " + rss.channel.item.condition.@temp + " and conditions are: " + rss.channel.item.condition.@text

myService.sendText(ImEvent.getSenderId(),
outPut,
ImEvent.getConfigId())
}

Interesting Flex on Grails Book

Here is a link to a very interesting Flex on Grails book.
http://sites.google.com/site/flexongrails/

In researching our next platform, I'm impressed with Grails. Grails seems to create a platform where applications are developed with few lines of code, they use very efficient components (i.e. groovy), and the focus is on a high quality applicaiton built on industry best practices.

As we extend our UI from Notes, we will take advantage of both Grails and Groovy.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

ext GWT Explorer Demo

Here is a little demo application of the ext GWT framework.
http://extjs.com/explorer/#

Here is a very cool little sample of a desktop environment:
http://extjs.com/deploy/dev/examples/desktop/desktop.html

Monday, June 29, 2009

Comparing PHP vs. Asp.Net

Here is a pretty good comparison of PHP v. ASP.Net.
http://www.oracle.com/technology/pub/columns/hull_php2.html

The hitchhikers guide to PHP
http://www.oracle.com/technology/pub/articles/php_experts/index.html

Friday, June 26, 2009

Technical Brief - Lotus Sametime Advanced

The technical brief described in our last post is now available. This brief compares and constrasts ST Advanced's persistent chat and broadcast capabilities with those found in Instant Team Sessions and Instant Queue Manager.

Read the brief here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sametime Advanced - Notes from the field

We've now completed a number of PoCs in which customers compared Sametime Advanced to the capabilities of Instant Team Sessions and/or Instant Queue Manager.

It appears at first glance that ST Advanced has a low buy-in, but the feedback from the field indicates a high total cost of ownership over time. ST Advanced requires a minimum of five separate servers (and more likely double that number, if you require redundancy). Which also means you need the technical competency to maintain and manage all those servers - Websphere, Websphere MQ, Websphere Event Broker, DB2 Enterprise server, DB2 Net Search Extender - over and above your Sametime and Domino server.

For all of that cost and complexity, what do you gain? The main reasons to deploy ST Advanced are persistent chat, broadcasting, and screen sharing.

Instant Team Sessions provides comparable persistent chat capabilities, while Instant Queue Manager matches most of ST Advanced's broadcast features (the two exceptions are broadcast alerts and polls). Instant Queue Manager actually offers a lot of important functionality not available in ST Advanced: Support for both internal and external users via the ST Connect client and/or ST Links; intelligent routing of requests to the relevant subject matter experts; automatic issue escalation to improve first-call resolution rate; automatic metric tracking for management reports (eg, wait time, time to resolution, etc); and much more.

The best part is that you don't need to deploy any extra hardware or learn and maintain any additional technical skill - all you need is your existing Sametime/Domino environment.

Customers who have done the cost/benefit analysis are invariably choosing Instant Team Sessions and/or Instant Queue Manager over ST Advanced.

We are preparing a technical brief to help you make your own cost/benefit analysis. We will post new of its availability to this space as soon as it is ready for publication.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

TwitCaps - watch the world of twitter

In researching some development platforms (PHP, Groovy, Grails, etc..) I stumbled on a Grails testimonial page. Since we also want to integrate PHP with mySQL, Grails looks very useful.

After reading a few testimonials at : http://grails.org/Testimonials I started clicking around and found a very nice little twitter app. It allows the real time display of photos as they pass through twitter.

It's like watching 100 new cell phone pictures every 20 seconds, from all over the world, with all sorts of content. The UI is clean, the app is fun, and it's interesting to watch snapshots of time across the world.
http://twitcaps.com/

IM Queues in Different Languages

Many of our Queue Manager customers deploy internal help desk IM based queues in order to support their internal employees. These IM help desk queues allow employees to immediately locate an expert, typically in IT, to help resolve a problem (i.e. issue with phone, laptop, project, password, etc..).

Since many of our customers have global operations, we frequently see these IM queues supporting various geographic areas and languages.

The basic text resources of a queue are easily defined in our application - so it is easy to specify specific text responses. In order to completely support additional languages, we also provide a base resource xml file where all additional text resources may be specified for a queue.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to run asp.net on Apache

Here's an interesting little article on running asp.net on Apache.
http://weblogs.asp.net/israelio/archive/2005/09/11/424852.aspx

HP C1580 is giving me a headache

Generally, I love HP printers. However, my little photosmart C1580 has been a painful experience.

Let me count the ways:

HP is constantly downloading updates to the drivers and other stuff on my machine. In Vista, this is creating a situation where I'm asked constantly to grant access to the HP updating app. Please...it's just a printer and I don't want to be notified on a daily/weekly basis that you have updated something. I just want to print reports, occasional emails, and other stuff.

The Photosmart seems to burn through color ink. When this happens, whenever I print, I receive a dialog box asking to print in black. After I OK this dialog, the printer also forces me to confirm that I will only print in black. This is taking place during every print job. Since 99% of what I print is black/white, this 2 pronged combination of prompts (that force a reply) is painful.

Recently, my little printer just stopped printing. It would flash some series of error lights (and never really throw an error message). After 30 minutes of browsing web sites, I found some articles on giving the printer a hard boot (I had other ideas involving a window). Here is one of those articles: http://www.mlnarik.com/jewel/2009/05/21/how-i-fixed-my-hp-c5180-printer/

Earlier today, one of the ink cartridges ran out of ink. The small panel on the printer indicated that I must replace the cartridge, but did not provide the name of the color. Instead, it provided a small square with the color the cartridge to replace. I'm not color blind, however, the color didn't match any of installed cartridges. Just a name would have been very helpful.

In network mode, the printer is always grabbing a new IP address, and this breaks all installed printers configured on multiple machines. Sure, I understand DHCP, and I know the little fella needs an address, but it's painful to constantly reconfigure desktops just to 're find' the printer. I've now assigned a static IP address to the printer (whew)

I have always been a strong believer in HP - this printer has me rethinking that position.

Peyton

Good wiki on ST Advanced

Here is a nice wiki on ST Advanced that we uncovered while working on a white paper to compare Sametime Advanced with Instant Team Sessions and Instant Queue Manager.
http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/products/sametime/advanced/

Many of our evaluators are requesting a paper that describes the differences between Sametime Advanced and the products from Instant. The core difference typically involves the infrastructure requirements to run each product and the maintenance costs associated with each deployment.

Peyton

Friday, June 5, 2009

Instant Archive Viewing for Microsoft OCS 2007

More good news on our product line for Microsoft OCS R2. We have recently added a few new customers to our Microsoft focused lineup. The customer case studies are in the works, but both customers experienced extremely smooth evaluations (thanks Keith) and were a pleasure to work with.

Smooth installations, immediate customer support, and a rich feature set are proving to be very useful as our customers look at solutions to provide archiving, search and discovery, and end user searching for their Microsoft OCS 2007 installations.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Instant IM Disclaimer App for Sametime Gateway


Intstant developed the internal Sametime IM disclaimer application in response to several IMtegrity customers and their need to notify Lotus Sametime users that their conversations may be recorded and monitored.

Since we are involved in Sametime Gateway deployments, we have also been receiving requests to create an external IM disclaimer application to notify external users (i.e. Yahoo, AOL users) that their conversations may be monitored and recorded. This week, we are announcing the first in a series of applications for the Sametime Gateway.

Our Sametime Gateway IM disclaimer application is a server based gateway extension that monitors all external IM conversations and provides an IM disclaimer notification to external users (typically running Yahoo, AOL, or Google).

The Instant IM disclaimer application for Lotus Sametime may also be configured to notify internal users that their Sametime IM conversations may be monitored.

We have had requests to included regular expression filtering (in order to prevent certain combinations of phrases from passing through the Lotus Sametime IM gateway) so that will be the next application to be included in this grouping.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Amazon iPhone Application

Earlier this week, I was in my local Best Buy where I was looking for a new belt holster for my iPhone (in addition to a new wii game for an upcoming birthday).

In the iPhone accessories aisle, I spotted a potential holster candidate. Hmmmm...looks good, not too expensive. Let me see what the reviews on Amazon look like.

From there, I did something that has now become a habit. I started the Amazon iPhone application, searched for the product, located the product on Amazon and then read the reviews. With 80% negative reviews, including numerous accounts of the belt clip breaking within 2 weeks, I was no longer enamored with the holster on the shelf.

However, while still using the Amazon application, I quickly located another holster on Amazon, read the reviews, and then purchased using 1 click.

I spent a total of less than 5 minutes inspecting the product on the shelf, reading reviews from Amazon, and then purchasing a competitive product from Amazon.

iPhone and Amazon make a very nice combination.

Peyton

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Experience Cleaning Malware Infected Box

The answer to “how to clean a machine that’s been massively infected with malware” is, in one word, Perseverance. I had even, at one time, given up completely on the process, and was certain I’d have to blow away and re-install the computer from scratch, but I stuck it out, and was able to eventually solve the problem.

Here’s the story:

My wife has a decent IBM Thinkpad T42, running Windows XP SP3. It had a copy of Norton Antivirus, but that had fallen out of date (and she’s not a very good “safe surfer”, which made it even harder). Her computer had gotten infected with Virtumonde.sci. This particularly nasty piece of malware hides in several places in the computer, and is hard to eradicate.

The evidence she’d contracted something nasty happened right after she accidentally clicked on a page that “looked” like a normal Windows Explorer pane, but was actually a hot link to a downloaded Trojan. The Trojan, containing the Virtumonde.sci code, executed, and made several insidious changes to her system… In fact, I’d only ever seen one piece of malware harder to remove, and that’s saying a lot (I’ve seen a lot of junk in my day!).

Well, my first job was to get SpyBot Search & Destroy. I highly recommend it and it’s free, but I recommend you support the developer by donating. Unfortunately, I couldn’t just fire up Internet Explorer and go download it. The thing about Virtumonde is that, what it does is hide in your computer and download OTHER malware that you have to contend with. Most of these involve clickjacking and pagejacking in Internet Explorer.

Luckily, I’d downloaded and installed both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox on her computer a couple of months ago (I don’t care for IE), so I fired up Chrome and went looking for Spybot. I downloaded it from download.com, and installed it on her computer.

The initial run of the software took forever, interjected with sounds of “You’ve won!” or “Contact us for your winning number”, or some other such drivel, from web pages being served up in the background on her computer, which had been taken over by a piece of malware that Virtumonde had called into existence. This other software fired up IE clients in the background (hidden), and sent them to pages containing web ads, including vocal ones (ARGH!!!!).

After running Spybot, which takes a while, I had several hundred things for it to fix. It fixed 99% of them, but there were five or so elements (malware, registry entries, etc), that it needed a reboot and rescan to try to eradicate. So I did that.

That fixed 4 of the problems, leaving me with just one. I performed the reboot and rescan process again, but was unable to get that dang thing removed. On my contemplation of ritual suicide, I thought about the “Tools” menu in Spybot. These help me by showing me what Browser Helper Objects (BHOs), ActiveX objects, startup elements, processes, etc. are set up on the machine. Of course! I could go there to figure out what the deal was.

So, upon scanning the BHOs, I found some things that didn’t look right, and I deactivated them (I didn’t remove them, yet, because I wasn’t sure if they were bad or not, at this point). I did the same thing for browser help pages, host file information, and other elements. But what really jumped out at me was the recurrence of a program in the process list (like what you see in Task Manager, but with more information). It would disappear when I killed it, but come back a few minutes later. That meant that something else was re-calling it into existence!

Going through the help for the different pieces of malware, I found that Virtumonde hides in a web page that is coded to be the background page for Windows “Active Desktop”. So it’s basically always running, and gets loaded on system startup, but not from the “Run” or “RunOnce” registry entries. So I went to my display properties to change the background… and couldn’t! The ability to change the background was grayed out! Why in the frak would Microsoft make it so that this couldn’t be adjusted easily is beyond me, but it’s simply stupid.

After doing some research, and comparing my wife’s settings to mine (I have an identical laptop), I figured out what the registry entries were for “Background” and it’s settings in the registry, to have it editable, and not use the Active Desktop.

I rebooted the computer and re-ran the scan, but it kept coming up with new and interesting pieces of malware every single time! I finally figured out that Virtumonde had downloaded and installed the malware I was seeing NOW on the previous reboot, before I removed it. Therefore, to ensure that nothing was compromised, I rebooted in Safe Mode, without networking support, and re-ran Spybot.

While it was running, I checked the registry, to see if anything jumped out at me… and something did. I noticed that there were waaaay too many users for the system, and they had funky user names. And several pieces of malware that used Winlogon or Run / RunOnce entries in the Registry, were doing it from these other, nonsensical user names. I decided to just eliminate them.

They weren’t in the Users control panel applet, so I switched back to the registry to simply delete them. That turned out to be easier said than done – the permissions were all set to read-only, and on some of the entries, even after I’d set the permissions otherwise, I couldn’t delete them. Very frustrating, but not crippling, so I checked in on Spybot.

I had to eventually run Spybot several times, but it finally came up clean! Woo Hoo! I had finally slain the beast… or so I thought…

…I rebooted the computer into regular mode, and told my wife I had it fixed. Five minutes later, all kinds of ads started popping up on her computer. The malware was back.

Despondent, I contemplated if it would be simpler to beat myself to death with her computer or re-install the operating system (a tough choice). I decided that the simple solution was to ignore it… for now.

Fast forward 1 week, during which time my wife has been using my computer to do all of her internet surfing. Now, you remember me mentioning that she’s not exactly the safest surfer in the world? Yeah… well, this concerned me to no small degree. I mean, if she wants to use her computer on the internet in an unsafe manner and gets bitten for it, that’s her choice. But not mine! She knew that was the best way to get me to work on her computer (and she was right). So I tackled the problem again yesterday afternoon…

I again used my favorite tool, Spybot Search & Destroy. I started immediately from Safe Mode, logged in as Administrator (which no one uses on her computer, so there’s less crud in it), though, and disabled every single Startup entry, including ones that I knew were OK (baseline). I ran the checker, and had it remove all of the malware it could find. I rebooted several times during this process, finally getting not one, but two clean bills of health from Spybot before I continued to my next plan.

Next, I started the computer in Safe Mode, and logged in under my wife’s account. I again ensured that there were no Run, RunOnce, WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI, Background, Classes, or Winlogon elements being loaded by checking the Startup Items in the Tools menu in Spybot. I then ran the checker.

The first time, it came up with a problem, but it was just a cookie – no big deal, there. I rebooted, checked the startup elements again, and re-ran the checker, and it came up clean. I then did it AGAIN, and it again came up clean.

“All Right! I’m on a roll!”, I said, and decided to take the plunge. I rebooted the computer, and let it start up normally, under my wife’s user account. I had set Spybot to run on startup (the only thing set to run at startup), and it went along it’s merry way. Man, it’s interesting how much longer that scan takes on “normal” rather than “safe” mode!

However, when it was done, another perfectly clean bill of health! I rebooted one final time, re-ran Spybot one final time, and still showed no malware!

So, finally, I re-enabled the startup elements that I KNEW were good (like the Trackpoint controller, etc), and rebooted, and then re-ran the scan one final time.

Finally clean, I shut the computer down and went for some liquid refreshment – well deserved, I believe.

May this help you in your struggles with the lowlife black hats in our industry…

Todd Fuder

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Notes 8.02 Hanging

We are seeing a bunch of cases where the Notes 8.02 client is hanging on start up. Usually, immediately after the authentication dialog, the Notes client will just 'hang' with an hourglass. Of course, on a customer site, or even internally, this is a problem.

One solution, which is immediate and very satisfying, is to start the client with:
nlnotes.exe instead of notes.exe. Ah....problem solved.

There is also a setting that appears to work, although we have not used it yet - which is to add this to the notes.ini
ENABLE_EARLY_AUTHENTICATION=0

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How to run asp.net without IIS

We are looking at some applications where we support both Lotus Sametime and Microsoft OCS - but provide a nice web UI. It's a frequent dilemna: Java or .net. For this application, I'm inclined to use .net - mainly because there are so many great charting components.

However, I don't want to limit our deployments to just shops where they run IIS. Here is a background article on asp.net and running without IIS.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/cc163879.aspx

An article on Cassini: http://www.devx.com/tips/Tip/30771
Article by Eric Pearson: http://geekswithblogs.net/ericpearson/archive/2005/11/25/61201.aspx

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sametime Buddy List Adminstrator and AdminP

We are wrapping up our integration efforts to connect our Sametime Buddy List Administrator with AdminP. This is a result of large customer where they need to have rename activities automatically populated to Buddy List Administrator.

More info next week with screen shots.

Good Microsoft Article on OCS Tabs


Many of our customers deploy our Instant Archive Viewer for Microsoft OCS using 'in place' tabs within the OCS client.


Here is a good article on configuring OCS tabs with OCS R2:



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Picture from Lotusphere 2009 Accepting Best in Show Award

Here is a nice picture of a few of the Instant folks (Peyton McManus and Todd Fuder) accepting the best in show award.

http://picasaweb.google.com/IBM.SWG.Events/2009LotusAwards?authkey=Gv1sRgCM7x_Mr_gJ2O4AE&feat=email#5297894616560589906

Lotusphere is always the best place to meet our customers, hear new ideas, and have 4 days of fun with our customers.

Instant Team Sessions 3.1 Now Supports Linux


Recently, a large customer requested that we support Linux (well, Ubuntu) with our browser based client for Instant Team Sessions. With Team Sesssions 3.1, we have added supported for Linux to our browser based client.


In version 3.1, we have also updated the Sametime plugins to work well within the Notes 8.5 client - another customer request.

I've attached a screen shot of ITS 3.1 (Instant's persistent chat environment for Lotus Sametime)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Instant Search and Discovery for OCS R2


We have recently celebrated several successful customer deployments against OCS R2 of Instant Archive Viewer for OCS. We have been working on the updates to support OCS R2 and we are pleased to have real, successful, deployments of our search and discovery (and archive viewing) application for OCS.

Of course, we continue to learn about new table structures, settings, and behaviors of OCS R2, but so far, we have been able to quickly adapt to every situation that we have encountered with a customer deployment.

We will continue to post FAQs about our deployments.

IMtegrity 4.08 is now available

We have recently posted an updated build of IMtegrity to our web site. The updated build is 4.08 and includes several updates for some large evaluations and customers. Generally, this update continues to enhance our support for 3rd party email archiving platforms (such as Legato) as well as extend support for animated emoticons.

As always, the updated features are a direct result of customer input and we appreciate the great ideas and input.

We believe that we have an fantastic chat archiving and discovery application for Lotus Sametime and our experience with customers, evaluators, and resellers continues to reinforce our outstanding product. Information is available from: http://www.instant-tech.com/IMtegrity_Archives.cfm

Friday, April 24, 2009

AdminP Integration with Buddy List Administrator for Sametime

We are currently working on 2 features for our next point release of our Buddy List Administrator for Lotus Sametime.

First, we are adding AdminP integration. This is a direct custom request. We expect to have the initial build working next week. Of course, it will connect our Buddy List Administrator (BLA) database and engine with AdminP. This will allow our Sametime Buddy List Administrator to automatically process a variety of AdminP request - such as rename requests.

Secondly, we are adding the ability to add a public group to every one's buddy list within a public group. So, this will enable our customer to quickly push a public group to 'all employees' and then stage bots, help desk queues, or other IM agents within this public group.

Informaton on our Buddy List Administrator for Lotus Sametime is available here:
http://www.instant-tech.com/Buddy_List_Admin.cfm

New Features for Team Sessions V3.1

We are currently working on some updates to Team Sessions. In addition to some minor tweaks to the plugins, we are developing the ability to store (and copy) the archive history and room content to an external discussion databse.

The ability to essentially synchonize both the Sametime persistent room chat (and content) with an external Notes dicussion database makes a lot of sense - and it is the latest customer based requirement.

Screen shots should be available next week.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Team Sessions V3 - Selective Replication of Rooms

Team Sessions V3 provides native support for Lotus Domino as the data storage system for both the storage of the persistent chat rooms as well as the configuration of the Sametime persistent chat environment.
From the early days of the Team Sessions design, we wanted to develop a Sametime persistent chat environment and platform that leveraged the replication and security systems of Lotus Notes/Domino with the presence and chat functionality of Lotus Sametime. Over the years, leveraging Lotus Domino as the storage, configuration, and security system infrastructure has been a tremendous advantage.

One of our larger deployments of Team Sessions (also known as IPWar) has over 500 rooms hosted on multiple Sametime servers. Typically, our ITSessions.nsf database (which provides the web UI and storage system) is replicated across the various Sametime servers. However, our customer requested a way to have certain rooms not replicate - and therefore create rooms that just stay hosted on one of the two servers.

Fortunately, since Team Sessions uses Domino as our storage and configuration environment, this was a fairly trivial item to implement. We simply created a custom replication formula for the database.
Suppose for example we have 2 servers Server1 and Server2 and ITS database on each server have chat room names prefixed with sr1 and sr2 respectively like
sr1: IT Help Desk, sr1: UK Suport
sr2: Logistics and sr2: Centrix Review...etc.

Now the goal is that when both databases gets replicated then we should not see the room prefixed with sr1 on Server2 and vice versa. The selective replication formula for Server1 will be SELECT !(@Begins(txtChatPlaceDisplayName; "sr2"))

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Good Background Article on AdminP

Here is a nice background article on AdminP. We are currently updating the Instant Buddy List Administrator to support AdminP - so there might be other useful background links appearing...
http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/lotus/library/ls-AllAboutAdminP_1/

More information on building a custom request handler:
http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/lotus/library/ls-Custom_AdminP_Handler/index.html

The Buddy List Administrator handles a host of Sametime buddy lists tasks - such as

  • Pushing Sametime public groups to users
  • Renaming people and updating all buddy lists
  • Deleting users from all buddy lists
  • Pushing buddy list fragments (public and private groups) to people
  • Migrating buddy lists to OCS
AdminP integration has always been requested - and now we are connecting them.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Instant Team Sessions V3 is Gold

For the last 8 months, we have been working on a major update to Instant Team Sessions (our persistent chat platform for Lotus Sametime). In addition to completely updating the web user interface, we have added some very slick Sametime plug-ins, a rich server based alerting system, tons of other enhancements, bug fixes, and UI tweaks.

One of our initial benchmarks was to reduce the installation time from approximately 4 hours to under 1 hour. During the development cycle, we modified the installation target to under 30 minutes. Three weeks ago, I was at a customer in San Diego and assisted a partner with a Team Sessions installation. We were able to install Team Sessions - including downloading from our site, in 26 minutes. It was a rewarding experience - and one that belies all of the work, simulated installations, group installation reviews, and team effort that went into streamlining the entire process.

The entire Team Sessions V3 has this level of attention and focus. So, I'm thrilled that we have resolved the last known customer issue (an HTTPS issue for a large defense organization) and I'm looking forward to sharing the Team Sessions V3 experience with new customers, evaluators, and partners.

Peyton

Thursday, April 9, 2009

IMtegrity 4.08 Now Available

Based on some recent customer feedback, we are proud to announce our latest set of new features for Instant IMtegrity Archives (our Lotus Sametime server based archiving and search and discovery application). These latest features are included in our IMtegrity 4.08 release. All of the features are a direct result of customer or evaluator requests - so we know they are important.

Here is the list of new features:
GIF animations are now shown animated when chat log documents are viewed in a Lotus Notes Client and/or web browser.
Added support for PNG files
Action Rules: Custom subject, header and footer text in notification emails can now include log field values by using {%fieldname%}, {$fieldname$} or {#fieldname#}
New Rule Criteria option: You can now perform Directory lookups to search chat participants person records.
New Action Rule option: You can now copy arbitrary fields from the chat log document into notification emails.
New Action Rule option: You can now attach the source XML log file to notification emails.


Information on IMtegrity is available at: http://www.instant-tech.com/IMtegrity_Archives.cfm

Masters iPhone Application is Great

The Masters is a always an exciting event, with a beautiful course, great shots, and lots of drama (always positive). This year, with the addition of the Masters App for the iPhone, it will be easier to follow all of the action, see live feeds from selected holes, view the leaderboard, and preview each hole with a recorded flyover.

The iPhone application points to the future of television. It incorporates live video feeds (you pick which of 3 holes to watch), immediate access the leader board - as well as the course layout and great looking flyovers.

After reading about the application in the NY Times, I had the app installed on my phone in less than 3 minutes. The live feeds were the initial reason I downloaded, but after looking at the leader board (with pairings and tee times), highlights from the par 3 competition, and the course overview I was impressed.

Live video, course context and hole previews, and a live leader board (and I can select what I want to see).

Nice job IBM and the tech team at the Masters. This will be a great weekend.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sametime Moderated Chat for Large Meetings

This week we will announce a Sametime moderated chat offering. The Sametime moderated chat application is designed to host large (200 to 4,000 person) meetings where executives and experts reply in real time (with the help of moderators) to questions from participants.

For example, the CEO of a 4,000 person government agency would like to host quarterly 'all hands' meetings. All employees join the online meeting and any person may submit a question. A moderator reviews the questions and submits (in real time) questions and issues to the CEO - who replies to the entire audience.

The Sametime moderated chat application is designed to host large scale, moderated meetings such as investor discussions and company meetings.

Our Instant Team Sessions will continue to fill the requirements around persistent chat rooms that host 5-40 people on a daily basis - without the need for moderation.

Informaton on the Instant Moderated Chat Room application is now available at:
http://www.instant-tech.com/Moderated_Chat.cfm

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Receiving an alert in the Microsoft Office Communicator client

Today we had an excellent meeting with a customer looking to provide OCS R2 based alerts to 5000 workstations. Our Instant Alert Manager for Microsoft OCS includes the necessary features and it was a pleasure providing the demo.
The Alert Manager provides a server based alerting system to quickly deliver alerts, or message, to users online with Office Communicator. The alerts may also be scheduled to be delivered at a certain time and date.
The Instant Alert Manager is a nice complement to many Microsoft OCS deployments. With the recent release of Microsoft OCS R2, we are seeing a fairly significant increase in OCS inquiries. Here is a quick overview demo of the server interface.
Information on Alert Manager is available here:
http://www.instant-tech.com/Alert_Manager.cfm

Sametime Server Based Disclaimers - Even When Server Based Archiving is Not Enabled

We recently had a conversation with an existing Instant customer. They are large manufacturing company with plants throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

They have Lotus Sametime servers placed around the world and use Instant Queue Manager to connect employees with instant IT help desk support. Their queues are in multiple languages and they have been a consistent partner with great Queue Manager feedback and ideas.

As part of our Sametime 'disclaimer promotion', they contacted us to discuss how to provide server based disclaimers to all of their employees. To our surprise, they do not have any server based archiving enabled (ala IMtegrity). However, since Lotus Sametime can now capture and store conversations using the Samtime client, they need to notify all employees that it is possible that their chat conversation may be recorded. This is especially important for EU based employees where safe harbor provisions may apply.

It now appears that our Instant Disclaimer application has traction in environments where any type of archiving (server based or client based) is active. In addition, we received some excellent ideas for providing the disclaimer text in multiple languages (based on the language of the user) and we are looking at providing this enhancement.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Instant welcomes a new customer - and some new updates to IMtegrity

It's always pleasure working with new customers, prospects, and and evaluators. As we continue to expand, our reach becomes a bit broader and we encounter new organizations, teams, and people, Each and every relationship is a bit different, but they are all centered on trust and providing real value. We are happy to have the Asian Development Bank as a new customer and I look forward to their ideas, enhancement requests, and feedback.

We have also recently completed a set of enhancements to IMtegrity (our Lotus Sametime chat archiving application) in order to support some requests from a current evaluation. These enhancements include some extensions to the IMtegrity action rules to support customized subject messages, the ability to easily attach the XML transcript to a e-mail notifications, and several other features to support advanced integration with the EMC Legato system.

Instant Disclaimer for Lotus Sametime Install Overview



We are in the early, but very successful, stages of a promotion around our Instant Disclaimer Service for Lotus Sametime. We have recently been including the disclaimer application as part some recent IMtegrity deployments, and Monique wanted to provide the product to a broader Lotus Sametime audience.

The application makes a nice addition to most Sametime deployments - especially if there is server based archiving enabled (ala Instant IMtegrity). Quite simply, the application runs as a server application and monitors all logins to the Sametime server. When a user logs into the Sametime server, our application provides a text based disclaimer message (customized by the admin) to each user. It's very useful and has seen strong interest with IMtegrity customers.

Here is a brief overview of the installation steps - which should give Sametime admins a good idea of just how easy this will be to deploy.

We have also posted to Youtube...which allows for a slightly longer video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHNtS6rEMEo

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Good move to Salesforce

Several months ago, we moved from Entellium to Salesforce. So far, the move has been very positive. The core Salesforce functionality is excellent, the user interface is well designed, and the support has been great. There were some bumps moving our data from Entellium to Salesforce, but the Salesforce data loader was very helpful.

We are looking for ways to integrate our applications (Queue Manager, Agent Framework bots) with Salesforce as well as other ideas related to the integration of Salesforce with Lotus Sametime and Microsoft OCS.

The Salesforce platform is very compelling - as is cloud computing. We are a small company, but we continue to leverage external, outsourced, providers for core (maybe commodity) applications such as email, CRM, and collaboration portals.

I'm curious how other people see the 'mashup' of internally hosted enterprise applications (i.e. Lotus Sametime, SAP) with external applications such as Salesforce.

Can/will everything move external?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lotus Museum

A fun blast from the past for all of the Lotus folks. This link:
http://www.lotusmuseum.com/pages/AmiPro
has a bunch of fun stuff from the early 90's when Ami Pro (Samna) was a new Lotus acquisition.

As a product manager for Ami Pro, Word Pro, and a bunch of other stuff, the Ami Pro pages hold a lot of fond memories.

Peyton

Integrating Sametime STLinks with LPTA tokens

We are preparing a short guide, based on a recent customer deployment, of some tips related to integrating Sametime STLinks with a portal using LPTA.

We learned a few useful tips and we will be sharing these later today.

Sametime Wiki

Another nice resource for Sametime developers and admins.
http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/stwiki.nsf/

Friday, March 27, 2009

Initial release of Archive Viewer for Microsoft OCS to support R2

We have delivered our first release of OCS Archive Viewer to support R2. The migration to OCS R2 was a bit more involved than we expected, but we have made the necessary changes to our UI and queries and things look like they are running well.

The LCSLog updates are complete and there are also some new tables to support – specifically for CDR maintenance.

We are waiting on customer feedback and expect to hear about deployment of the Archive Viewer starting on Monday.

The next release, after the R2 updates, will focus on performance related to our search and discovery queries as well as some more embedded support for Ajax and group chat.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

IMtegrity Web Overview

Instant IMtegrity provides server based chat archiving for Lotus Sametime servers.

IMtegrity installs a customized stchatlog.dll which replaces the standard stchatlog dll provided by Lotus and IBM.

The server based archives are stored in a Notes database that provides authenticated access, both a Notes and web based UI, and extensible inclusion and action rules.

IMtegrity 4.07 also supports the ability to archive file transfers.

Additional information is available on the IMtegrity site:
http://www.instant-tech.com/IMtegrity_Archives.cfm

Team Session within Notes and Tear Offs

Another entry with the movie demonstrating the Team Sessions integration with Lotus Notes.

Team Sessions integrated within Lotus Notes

Here is the latest movie showing how our Instant Team Sessions client is integrated within the Lotus Sametime client - hosted within Lotus Notes.

Of course, our application is a Sametime plugin that is designed to work with Sametime 7.5 and Sametime 8.x

video

Lotus Sametime Disclaimer Application

Many our customers would like to enable disclaimer text to external parties via the gateway. We will use the Sametime Gateway SDK to enable this interation.

Our current login notification application works with the internal Sametime community and monitor all login events taking place on the Sametime community.

Useful Sametime Blog

here is a link to a useful Sametime blog:
http://www.thesametimeblog.com/sametimeblog/sametimeblog.nsf

Some useful information on Sametime, the Sametime APIs, etc...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Native Archiving in Lotus Sametime Advanced

We've recently had a number of customers express confusion over the native archiving capabilities (or lack thereof) in Lotus Sametime Advanced. Hopefully the information below will clarify the issue.

Lotus Sametime Advanced does not include any native chat logging capabilities. IBM does offer a free Developer Sample Program, but (as is clearly stated in the API documentation) it is not supported. Nor is it suitable for use on a production server—as illustrated by this list of critical tasks the Developer Sample Program cannot perform:

- It is not ‘feature complete’ (it is rudimentary sample code only)
- It is not supported by IBM
- It is not scalable nor efficient, thus rendering it unsuitable for enterprise use
- It does not capture file transfers
- It does not log images and emoticons in-line with chats
- It does not support periodic logging of long chats
- It does not provide encryption
- It is not integrated with Lotus Notes (it writes text files only)
- It does not include a flexible rules-based engine to automatically notify compliance officers according to pre-defined rules
- It does not tag chats containing pre-defined keywords

“Lotus Sametime Advanced only offers backup of the persistent chat database.  Lotus Sametime Advanced does not do archiving of non-persistent chats via the Sametime Community server.”
- Rob Ingram, Senior Product Manager, Lotus Sametime

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Roku and product installation success

Last night, at the urging of a friend, I installed my first Roku device. Roku (www.roku.com) is a small box that delivers on demand Netflix movies to your TV.

The setup (from box to activation) was less than 10 minutes. That includes connecting the HDMI cable, the small power adapter, and activation with Netflix. That experience reinforced my belief that most product impressions are made within the first 15 minutes. After successfully installing, configuring, and using Roku, I'm a believer.

I'm also a believer that product installation and configuration is a true litmus test for a well designed product. I've had similar experiences with my iPhone, iMac, and Tivo. Add Roku to the list.

For Instant, during a recent product cycle on TeamSessions, we focused on the installation and configuration experience. Our goal was to take a 3 hour process and condense it to less than 30 minutes. At a recent customer deployment in San Diego, I witnessed first hand that our efforts were successful. A customer deployed our Sametime persistent chat rooms http://www.instant-tech.com/Team_Sessions.cfm (from download URL to chat room usage) in less than 26 minutes (we were both timing the process). Of course, installation and configuration are only one benchmark for design, but from where I sit, the first experience speaks volumes about the entire product philosophy.

Peyton

Monday, February 16, 2009

Best in Lotusphere Showcase Award at IBM Lotusphere 2009 for Instant Queue Manager

In case you missed the news (and we've been yelling it from the rooftops), Instant Queue Manager won the Best in Lotusphere Showcase Award at IBM Lotusphere 2009.

More than 40 companies submitted entries for this prestigious award, from which IBM selected seven semi-finalists for a live judging showdown on the trade show floor. Instant Queue Manager was up against some innovative competition but managed to come out on top thanks to a dynamic product demo and a very strong reference from a major financial services organization that uses Instant Queue Manager to deliver real-time customer service to their clients via Sametime and the web.

Read the full press release here.

Or read the case study on the deployment that helped us to win the Best in Lotusphere Showcase Award for 2009.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Screenshot slideshows and recorded demos

We've been taking advantage of Flickr and YouTube to provide our prospects with self-service access to screenshot slideshows and recorded product demos. Our goal is to help our prospects decide if our enterprise IM solutions meet their requirements at the earliest possible stage of their investigations.

Screenshot slideshows are now available for all products; the recorded demos will be made available over the next week or two. (The demo for Instant IMtegrity Archives for Lotus Sametime Archiving is already posted.) In both cases, you can access these new resources on each product's main page in the green content column on the right of each page.