The November 2005 Blog
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ZoomPlus and Presentation Judo (Tuesday, Nov 29)
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I've been playing around with some Windows screen magnifiers recently, in case I need one for my Lotusphere presentation with Tom. The current version of the presentation has some side-by-side code blocks, and I'm not sure how that will look on the big screen (I already know to crank the font size up and make it bold when I'm displaying code in the IDE, but I may have to make sacrifices on the slides themselves).

Anyway, here's the best magnifier I've found so far. It's simple, free, and open-source:


Make sure you read the Feature List section on the page above to get some tips for extra things you can do with it. One thing I found is that I can set the transparency on, and then crank the transparency level up all the way so it doesn't look transparent, and then I can zoom to areas beneath the Zoom+ window. A lot of the other magnifier tools can't do this at all.

And, it's one of the very few magnifiers I tried that properly supports multiple monitors.

I also started reading the Presentation Zen site and going through the Conference Presentation Judo slides by M. J. Dominus (via an old entry by Ned Batchelder). I especially like the notes at the end of the CPJ slides, which have a lot of practical advice.

Catch Up Mode (Monday, Nov 28)
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Boy, do I need to do some housecleaning. Both virtual and physical. I'm looking at my nsftools inbox, and there are 110 messages (all of them real messages, spam has been deleted). Yikes!

To anyone who has sent me an e-mail over the past few months, sorry you haven't received a response. I'll see what I can do (no promises). I appreciate all the suggestions for updates to code on my site too (mainly DatePicker), and I'll try to work those in sometime.

One of the nice things about the Taking Notes podcasts are that they don't require any coding or writing/revision or user interface on my part (Bruce does all the audio editing). Plus they're new and fun. So that's why I can work in 5 podcasts with Bruce while answering virtually no e-mail -- except for Gmail, which is an address that only a few of my friends have.

Anyway, working on the backlog. Hopefully some code for you to look at soon.

In the meantime, something for you to read... Let's see... How about this handy article on cracking Windows passwords, with Flash video (via

Star Wars Quote (Sunday, Nov 20)
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We were watching Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace again last night, and there was a quote I felt compelled to write down. Qui-Gon Jinn (the Liam Neeson jedi character) tells Jar Jar Binks:

The ability to speak does not make you intelligent.

Heh heh. I can see myself working that into conversation sometime this week. Just replace the word "speak" with whatever someone else happens to be doing, and there you go.

The Innovator's Dilemma (Thursday, Nov 17)
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A week or so ago, someone (sorry, I can't remember who) posted a link to a sample chapter from the book "The Innovator's Dilemma". The excerpt was pretty interesting -- it was a discussion of why so many companies that sell/sold hard drives have failed. Here are a few related but not quite sequential paragraphs, taken from throughout the chapter:

Simply put, when the best firms succeeded, they did so because they listened responsively to their customers and invested aggressively in the technology, products, and manufacturing capabilities that satisfied their customers' next-generation needs. But, paradoxically, when the best firms subsequently failed, it was for the same reasons -- they listened responsively to their customers and invested aggressively in the technology, products, and manufacturing capabilities that satisfied their customers' next-generation needs. This is one of the innovator's dilemmas: Blindly following the maxim that good managers should keep close to their customers can sometimes be a fatal mistake.


Between 1978 and 1980, several entrant firms -- Shugart Associates, Micropolis, Priam, and Quantum -- developed smaller 8-inch drives with 10, 20, 30, and 40 MB capacity. These drives were of no interest to mainframe computer manufacturers, which at that time were demanding drives with 300 to 400 MB capacity. These 8-inch entrants therefore sold their disruptive drives into a new application -- minicomputers. The customers -- Wang, DEC, Data General, Prime, and Hewlett-Packard -- did not manufacture mainframes, and their customers often used software substantially different from that used in mainframes. These firms hitherto had been unable to offer disk drives in their small, desk-side minicomputers because 14-inch models were too big and expensive. Although initially the cost per megabyte of capacity of 8-inch drives was higher than that of 14-inch drives, these new customers were willing to pay a premium for other attributes that were important to them -- especially smaller size. Smallness had little value to mainframe users.


Mainframe computer manufacturers did not need an 8-inch drive. In fact, they explicitly did not want it: they wanted drives with increased capacity at a lower cost per megabyte. The 14-inch drive manufacturers were listening and responding to their established customers. And their customers -- in a way that was not apparent to either the disk drive manufacturers or their computer-making customers -- were pulling them along a trajectory of 22 percent capacity growth in a 14-inch platform that would ultimately prove fatal.

I find this sort of thing fascinating: how some companies fail where others can succeed. Especially with technology, where it would be logical to think that the "best" technology in a given situation would usually be the winner, but in reality there are a combination of things (including various interpretations of "best") that come into play.

Along those lines, in a recent interview with Jason Fried of 37Signals, Jason made the point that his company is always "trying to underdo the competition". Interesting business tactic, and it might just work. Don't try to make the best software, try to make the simplest one.

That philosophy may not work for everyone, but it's true that if you implement every single feature that every single customer wants, eventually you end up with a monster of a product that no one wants to use. Something like the dream car that Homer Simpson designs:

All my life, I have searched for a car that feels a certain way. Powerful like a gorilla, yet soft and yielding like a Nerf ball. Now, at last, I have found it.

Okay, that's probably not the best example. Funny episode, though...

New RTF Filter in 6.5.5 (Thursday, Nov 10)
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Here's an interesting SPR I saw on the Lotus Support Site the other day:

SPR# AANA647HE7 - Beginning in V6.5.5, the Notes Client Import and Export of RTF will be capable of using either the current V605/6.5.4 RTF conversion code or the new much improved RTF conversion code. By default V606/6.5.5 will run the new code. The user can make it run the old V605 code by adding "UseOlderRTFImportExport=1" to Notes.ini. Release 6.x, from 6.5.5 on, will have this dual RTF converter capability. Starting with 7.0, only the new RTF conversion code will be present.

I'm not sure if "RTF" refers to "Notes Rich Text Field" or "Microsoft Rich Text Format" there, but in either case I'm interested to see the changes. For a long, long time now, exporting Notes Rich Text to Microsoft Rich Text has been problematic for all but the most basic formatting -- tables especially got screwy when they were exported.

Well, "problematic" may not be the right word there. Let's just say that trying to export to Microsoft Word sometimes gave inconsistent results. And it's been like that for a while, so I'm glad to see an update.

Anyway, I'll have to play around with my Notes 7 client and see if I notice a difference. I also wasn't clear on whether the new code is already in the 7.0 client, or if it will be in the next update to it, like 7.0.1 or something.

Taking Notes (Wednesday, Nov 9)
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In case you haven't read it on Bruce's site yet, our new Taking Notes blog is live.

Bruce and I decided that the podcast thing was fun enough to do on a regular basis, so he worked with Steve Castledine to put together a DominoBlog site to store the podcast files and create a feed that was acceptable to podcast clients and aggregators -- like iTunes. We decided to call it "Taking Notes", and there it is.

We've already got a lot of people lined up to interview, and we'll probably hit the ground running first thing next week. Stay tuned.

Dec's Web Service Example, SOA Article, Yahoo MAP API (Tuesday, Nov 8)
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Here are some web service tidbits for you, since that's been a recent subject of discussion and podcast for me. I'm gonna make you like this stuff, whether you want to or not...

Ben Poole Podcast (Monday, Nov 7)
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Me and Bruce did a podcast with Ben Poole yesterday, and it's available for your listening pleasure. Even though we're still working out some of the technical issues of podcasting (my heavy breathing, dropped connections, consistent sound levels), I think it's still fun to listen to.

And Ben said he's going to make it to Lotusphere in January! Yeah. Maybe we'll even get him up on stage for the Lotusphere Jamfest thingie.

Oh, and Bruce has been working with Steve Castledine to get a "real" podcast feed out there. Almost done... probably more tomorrow. Keep an eye on Bruce's site for updates and links.

Web Services Podcasts (Saturday, Nov 5)
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In case you haven't been keeping up with Bruce's site, our web services podcasts can be downloaded for your listening pleasure.

Part 1 is about web services and SOA in general -- what they are and what they do. It's about 15 minutes long, ~8 MB download. It's a little dry, because I talk a little too much, but it's a decent intro to the subject.

Part 2 deals more specifically with using web services with Domino 7. That one is a little longer (maybe 18 minutes), and is around 9 MB. I personally think the second one turned out a little better, if for no other reason than the fact that Bruce does more talking.

We were originally thinking about doing a part 3, but I'm not sure what to cover. Any ideas? If we get enough "questions from the audience" for web services in Domino, maybe we'll put a part 3 together.

Even if we don't do a part 3 though, we're planning on interviewing lots of other people for a regular podcast series. I think that'll be fun.

Yeehaw, I'm Presenting At Lotusphere (Thursday, Nov 3)
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I wasn't sure when I was allowed to formally talk about this, but everyone else is so I guess it's all right.

I'm doin' a presentation at Lotusphere! Co-presenting, actually.

You see, last year Tom Duff and Joe Litton did this great session called "Java Jumpstart for the Domino Developer". It went over really well, and got good reviews, and was (I think) a shoe-in for another session this time around.

The problem was, Joe couldn't do it again. Tom ended up calling me -- which was unbelievably flattering -- and I went around and got the proper permissions at work and... well, I guess I'm doing the Jumpstart with Tom!

I'm kind of nervous, because I'm not sure that I'll be able to reproduce as much of the joking and banter that Tom and Joe brought to the session, but I'll figure something out. Tom has been very supportive so far, and we've tossed around some ideas, and I think we'll be able to do something good. I may not be a Joe, but I'm at least... a Julian.

It'll be fun, if nothing else. And we'll work out some good code to share with everyone. I'm excited.

(Editor's Note: if you haven't made your travel plans yet, remember that the Jumpstarts are a day early, on Sunday. Make sure you fly in on Saturday so you won't miss the session. :-)

LotusUserGroup Forum (Wednesday, Nov 2)
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I forgot to mention that I'm moderating a forum this week on web services in Domino 7. Come on by and ask some questions, if you're interested.

Me and Bruce are trying to put together a podcast on web services, SOA, and Domino 7 as well, to go along with the whole thing. Turns out we're going to have to break it into at least 2 parts though, because I'm so friggin' long-winded. We'll see how it goes. Maybe Bruce will be able to spice it up a little.