E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Tools and Gadgets

IBM Lotus Notes 8.5 Beta for the Mac – As Usual, It Works!

Remember when not long ago I created a blog post where I was mentioning that one of the things I was really looking forward to from the IBM Lotusphere 2008 event was getting my hands on the new Lotus Notes 8.5 Beta for the Mac? Well, things have moved on from the time where I was mentioning I was having a couple of issues with it and over the weekend I have just managed to fix them by simply doing a replace of the mail file template with the latest release of the v8 mail file template. And now… it works!!

Actually, it rocks, because, as you would be able to see from the screen shot, I have reached Inbox zero on top of it and it surely looks rather nice being able to play with a very solid release, even though it is still beta, and getting rid of all of the e-mail that may have come over the weekend. Oh, and at the same time check out some of the nifty features that are coming along, like the embedded RSS / Atom feed reader client that, although simplistic, it sees to be the only one keeping up with the heavy update of Web sites like Twitter.

W00t!! Yes, indeed, can you imagine? My mail box running hand in hand next to my Twitter feed? How cool is that? And that is just the beginning, because I am surely going to enjoy this beta release before we move into the next one. First, time now to explore all of the different capabilities, like installing plugins, hacking the Welcome / Home page, etc. etc.

Who said that Mondays couldn’t be fun? Well, mine is so far…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 votes
Read More »

IBM Lotusphere 2008 – On One of My Favourite Announcements Thus Far…

Like I have mentioned in another blog post yesterday, this surely was one of the major announcements I was actually really looking forward to during the IBM Lotusphere event… And now that I am back at work, I am just this close to having it fully operational, and running pretty smooth, too, … on the Mac!!

Like someone I know would say … W00t!!!

(I can’t wait to have those issues sorted out and start using Notes 8.5 on the Mac running faster than anything I have seen so far, both on Windows and the Mac!!)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 votes
Read More »

Time Machine – The Power to Save You Numerous Headaches on the Mac

What happens when you find out that your Internet connection has been down for two days in a row and with very little you can do about it to try to fix it? I guess some people would take a couple of days off, others would get some stuff done around the house and, finally, some others would be anxiously waiting for it to come back to life as soon as possible and therefore would keep playing around in front of their computers for hours and hours no end. Well, in my case it was different. Yes, that is right. The last couple of days my Internet connection has been down. Again. Something that I couldn’t do anything about, or so I was told. Since Saturday afternoon till Monday late noon I haven’t been able to do anything other than watching the magic screen hoping it would pop up a message when ready to go. But nothing came through till a few hours ago after two painful days without being connected. I guess you tend to appreciate what you have, when you don’t have it any longer, right?

Now this was happening right after I came back from holidays and it was probably the last thing I wanted to go through, specially contemplating the massive catchup I had to go through. Still, it happened. So after the massive catastrophe I’ve been experiencing with the loss of loads and loads of feed reading materials with Omea Pro, I thought about taking a much more proactive approach towards things and, finally, decided to venture into trying out what I think is one of the most impressive applications from the new Mac Leopard system: Time Machine.

You would remember how in the past I mentioned how I have successfully upgraded my MacBook Pro to Leopard in just a few simple-enough-to-follow steps. Ever since I did it I have been enjoying some of the really nifty new features put together, but I never thought I would be trying out Time Machine so soon. Yet with the huge mess I’ve just been through with Omea Pro I thought what a better way of getting things going with Time Machine today, now that I cannot really do much work without being connected to the Internet? WOW!! What an experience!!

During the Christmas holiday, I actually got two external hard drives as presents and after having moved all of the information away from my Windows machine, I thought I would engage further with the next challenge: making use of Time Machine on the Mac. Well, I am using the word challenge here, but must say that it has been everything but that! In just a few very easy to follow steps I have been able to put one of the hard drives to good use and start backing up my essential Mac files. And all of that within a matter of seconds!!

Then a couple of hours later to finish off doing all of the backups and before I knew it everything was ready to go!! As easy as that! I have now got all of my Windows and Mac stuff fully backed up with Time Machine and I surely feel much much better! Backing your stuff in real time should be as effective and efficient as this particular application does. And the way to navigate through it to find your stuff? Goodness! That is even better!!! I am surely loving it!

And now that I come to think about it, having lost over three years of Web feed readings may have been a good thing, after all, because thanks to that unfortunate incident I decided to take the plunge and start making use of Time Machine, way before I was even thinking about giving it a try. And so far it is looking incredibly better than whatever I would have expected in the past! Just brilliant! If backing up stuff from your computer was ever designed to be elegant, smart, graceful and effective then Time Machine is your solution! And without a single doubt!!

I just wished that such an option would have been available for my Windows notebook. Unfortunately, the two backups I had didn’t work and therefore lost it all. Hopefully, now that I got everything sorted out to work with Time Machine I may no longer be running into the different issues I’ve gone through the end of last year and beginning of this one.

If you haven’t tried out Time Machine just yet and you are using Leopard on a Mac, let me take this opportunity to encourage you all to get yourself an external hard drive and start making use of it. It will all just as easy as plug and play, select a couple of options and start backing up! Nothing else needed! Oh and all of that taking place in the background, while you may be working on something else, and without taking a huge amount of resources! Another big plus!! Once again, just getting stuff done! Because that’s how computers were designed to work in the first place, right? … And I am surely glad that someone has taken that task and provide us with an application that, if anything, is state of the art, unprecedented and a must-have at all costs. Just the way I want it: stuff that works! And beautifully!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 votes
Read More »

JetBrains’ Omea Pro and Its Awful Consequences of Lack of Commitment

If you have been reading this particular blog for a while or if you are one of the folks who have asked me in the past to suggest or recommend an offline feed reader client, you would probably know that for a good couple of years I have always been saying that Omea Pro (From the folks over at JetBrains) was just it: all you needed to have, a powerful offline feed reader that would allow you to keep everything under control and without the hassle from some other clients. Well, that statement is just about to change and here is why. Something that happened during the holidays and which I may never recover from, although I am starting to think that it may well have been a good thing, after all. Who knows…

Anyway, it all started with making use of Adobe AIR to play around with a couple of Twitter clients: Snitter and Twhirl, which was causing some kind of weird white screen Windows crashes. Looks like Adobe AIR Beta 3 still produces those crashes on the Windows machine. And lo and behold one of those crashes, while I have been away on vacation, is the one that has caused me an enormous deal of trouble.

Yes, that is right. I thought, ok, Windows crashed again. No problem, used to it for a while now, I would re-restart and back to normal. Or so I thought. When trying to get Omea Pro back to life I got a nasty error that didn’t allow me to start up the application as normal. It was asking me if I would want to load the data from previous backups. I tried a couple of them I had from the past and to no avail either. I still couldn’t load it and slowly started to get worried about the whole thing.

I searched and searched all over the place for similar symptoms to the one I was experiencing and found nothing! I reported the problem in the Omea Pro forums nearly a month ago and not a single word! I contacted several folks from the support team and still nothing! I just couldn’t get Omea Pro started to get back to my archives and daily feed readings.

By then I was seriously doubting I would ever be back to normal with my favourite feed reader client. No response in the forums, nor from the support team, nothing I could do to fix it that I didn’t try out already. Yes, I know, plain desperate!!

Well, for those folks who may have been using Omea Pro for a while you would remember how it used to an application that you would have to pay some money for. Then after a while something happened and it became freeware and, supposingly, Open Source. And, unfortunately, that is where it went down hill, because from there onwards the lack of support and commitment to a great product has left it in shambles and without a clear guidance of where it will be heading. Perhaps the next step would be to kill it. Permanently. Forever.

I know that is not a good thing, nor a good signal for the thousands and thousands of people who are currently using it. But let’s face it, if you are in trouble, you are on your own. No support, no commitment to help out. Nothing. You and your machine hoping it will be fixed. But it won’t. That is just what happened to me in the last few weeks, while I was away during the holidays.

End result? Hummm, how can I say it? … I still cannot access Omea Pro, getting the same error messages, help is not coming any time soon from anywhere, not even from the people who supposingly fully support it. And to my increasing frustration, while all of this was happening, I realised that I would no longer be able to access over 100,000 articles from several hundred feeds over the course of the last three years that I have been accumulating! All of that is now… gone!!! For good! But that is not all of it.

One of the great features from Omea Pro was the fact that you could create various different annotations for each of the articles, so over the course of the last few months I developed the habit of drafting blog posts directly into Omea Pro which I could then paste into my favourite offline blogging clients and share across various different blogs, both internally and externally. Alas, that is also now gone!!! All of those drafts I had put together and which were going to hit my blogs at some point in time are now locked and cannot get them back! OUCH!!! That is exactly how I felt when I first realised about it!

By that time I was in full panic mode. Losing over 100,000 articles of feed readings is not pleasant at all, but losing the several dozens of drafts I had is just something I am not going to get back any time soon either! Double ouch!! So … fast forward to today, nearly a month afterwards. Still cannot access Omea Pro, lost the over 100,000 articles from all of my feeds from the last few years, lost as well all of the different drafts I had piled up over the course of months. Lost my faith in technology. For good. At least, till I can ever manage to get that data back, which is not looking good thus far, I must say.

Oh, and all of this happening as well with the several dozen feeds I have got for behind-the-firewall resources. So if anyone out there was hoping I would be sharing a particular blog post, both internal and external, on a particular blog entry from last year, I am afraid that is a thing of the past! It’s not going to happen. At least, not any time soon!

So is this the fate of freeware, Open Source? Can we rely on such applications where the support goes from being incredibly good to incredibly bad, or non-existent, in just a few weeks? I surely hope that this is not the case, but right now I feel like I have just lost three years of my Internet / Intranet history. Just like that! In a split second! And without remedy!!

And to think that I have been recommending Omea Pro all along as one of the best, if not the most powerful, of offline feed reader clients?!?! I think that this is going to change. And now! If you are one of the folks who I have been recommending this particular feed reader for some time, I guess that by now you may be worried about what might happen. Yes, you should be. I wouldn’t want any of you folks having to go through the same thing I have gone through in the last few weeks. Thus here I am, writing this blog post encouraging you all to start moving away from Omea Pro and as soon as you can. Because once you encounter a problem, you are on your own, with no further help, nor support and wishing you had changed whenever you had the chance.

My chance was when I moved to the MacBook Pro and started making heavy use of Vienna, which I really really like at the moment, and which has made my life easier back again. I mentioned I had the chance, because I wanted to migrate the stuff from Omea over to the Mac, but I didn’t do it fast enough and now I am facing the consequences. Never again, I tell you. So much so, that was the last drop that filled the glass for my final move away from Windows. Right after that happened I haven’t looked back! I haven’t even turned on any longer the Windows box. Perhaps wanted to save myself the grief of knowing the data is there, but cannot access it. Perhaps it was just the right move and start with a clean slate for 2008. No regrets. Who knows.

The thing is that I am surely never going to recommend Omea Pro any longer to anyone who may be asking for options. I know I lost three years of Web feed reading and several dozens of draft blog posts, so the last thing I would want to do is to send you through to the same hassle. No, I am not going to do that. If you are looking for a Windows based offline feed reader, I have been hearing lots of good feedback with regards to FeedDemon, which, by the way, is now available for free, and which I hope doesn’t go through the same situation that Omea Pro ended up in.

Oh, and if you are using a Mac, Vienna still rules.

Finally, one other thing you may want to do is to have a backup plan. I got myself two actually: BlogLines and Google Reader. Although right now I am not using either of them. Still prefer the Mac & Vienna experiences. And if you haven’t tried them out, by all means, go ahead and do that. You will see what I mean.

And with this long blog post (I really needed to get it out of my chest) I can certainly conclude that my full migration into the Mac environment is now completed. Yes, I know, it was a painful ending, a very painful ending, but … the future is bright and that is what matters.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 votes
Read More »

IBM’s 6th iForum – Augmented Reality by Charles Woodward – VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

I must admit that one of the most impressive presentations I attended during the course of the IBM iForum event in Zürich a few days ago was that one provided by Charles Woodward from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland around the topic of Augmented Reality. Indeed, one of those experiences were you just go WOW! after WOW! after WOW! for the entire time, which is what happened to a few folks from the audience, including myself. For quite some time now I have been incredibly fascinated by the role that virtual worlds, like Second Life, are actually playing in the area of knowledge sharing and collaboration, along with learning. Well, after seeing Charles presentation I think that my fascination is going to be extended beyond the virtual worlds and into the augmented reality. Because after watching his presentation and the whole bunch of videos they have put together and made available at the VTT site I must confess that the potential is just tremendous.

I was so excited to see how the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is driving innovation in the AR space into a new level that I took the opportunity of taking a whole bunch of pictures with my Nokia N95. Now the quality may not be that outstanding as you would have expected, but I would include over here as well a good number of the pictures I took. And for the rest you would have to head over to my Flickr account, where I have put them all together.

But for now, I am just going to point you to the presentation materials which I have already uploaded into Slideshare and which you can find the direct link to them over here, so that you can just sit down, relax, and enjoy the trip down the Augmented Reality that Charles took us through over the course of one hour. Just fantastic! And, if not, judge for yourself:

You would have to agree with me that it surely is quite an interesting slide deck. Well, don’t forget to check out the section with the different videos so that you can see and get exposed to some of the stuff that these folks have been doing all along in the name of innovation. Some excellent stuff!!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 votes
Read More »

Upgrading MacBook Pro to Leopard – Easier Than You Think!

You may have noticed how this particular blog has gone a bit dormant lately. Yes, there is a reason for it. I am still on holidays. Till next week Monday. And so far I am truly enjoying the disconnect, so that I can work my way through some nurturing of my own real life. It is good to be able to unwind from everything, recharge your batteries and get ready for some more action in the next few days.

However, it is also a good time to catch up with some of the stuff that is going on out there, so in between here and there I have been doing tons of reading, and listening, of various different KM related topics and got loads of stuff to talk about. So I suppose that over the next few days I may be able to share some more stuff on what’s in my mind.

For now though onto some really good fun stuff. Yes, last Friday I finally got a copy of Leopard and over the weekend, after having some done some massive catch up various different articles and blog posts (Too many to mention them over here!), I did the upgrade of my MacBook Pro. Goodness! What a treat!

The overall process took me roughly a bit more than one hour! And I never thought it would be that easy. I mean, the manual that came with the DVD was not very helpful as the instructions seemed to be a bit out of the date? However, getting through the whole process was intuitive enough for me to manage everything in very single steps. So much so, that a click here, a click there, wait a few minutes here, a few minutes there and voilá, upgrade done!

I tell you, I never experienced such an ease of use to get a machine upgraded to its latest operating system. A few of the folks I followed on a regular basis have been blogging, twittering and podcasting about their cumbersome and difficult experiences upgrading to, for instance, Windows Vista. Yet, with me the upgrade to Leopard has just been incredibly easy and rather effective. Not a single glitch during the whole process.

How cool is that? I never thought it would be, but then again, all along, I have been incredibly impressed with the overall user experience from the MacBook Pro, so perhaps I knew a little bit how things would pave out in the end. So much so that I am now finally starting my final move away from my Lenovo 3000 N100 Windows XP based machine into the MacBook Pro; oh, and that final move is meant from a business as usual, work related, perspective.

Thus far the experience has been superior. I haven’t had a single error message from the upgrade (Did a complete clean install, in case you are wondering), and so far from what I have been trying out everything seems to be running pretty smooth. In fact, the machine seems to be running faster, less prone to hiccups and all of the different applications that I am currently using are all working just fine, except for one of them that I am hoping will be working all right again pretty soon. That is the case for Vienna, my default feed reader for the Mac, where some of the toolbar menu options cannot be invoked no matter how many times you click!

For the rest, everything is working all right. And I am surely glad that I have done such upgrade over the holidays, because it has been rather painless, totally worth it, very fast and the way it is always supposed to be: intuitive.

I know I still have got to upload a couple of Mac apps. here and there, but so far the core of tools I use on the Mac all seem to be working all right. So my final verdict? Well, what can I say? It just works. And pretty well! And I can certainly recommend it to everyone who may be wondering whether it is worth while or not. Let me tell you something else: save some time to yourself and do it now. Roughly one hour of pure delight seeing how everything will be taken into a whole new experience! (And I know those who may have tried it out already would agree with that statement, too!)

Good-bye, Windows (In whatever fashion you were coming to me so far)! It was good knowing you before I decided to upgrade my overall user experience! Now it is time to read further on the Guided Tour and discover some more on those new 300+ features that Leopard is bringing onto the table! Guess I am going to continue having plenty of good fun during the holidays, don’t you think? 😉

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 votes
Read More »