OK, this is both a rant and a request for help. If you are not up to reading either click away....

Last week, after my webinar on how I use Lotus Notes and MindManager, an IBM executive contacted me to point out that I was still using the Notes workspace and that it was "so last century." (My thoughts on that in another post)

I wrote to this executive and explained why I had found the workspace most productive for my work style. I invited him to show me his Notes setup with the bookmark bar and the new features in Notes 8. He graciously agreed and promptly setup a web meeting on the IBM corporate SameTime server. The plan was that we would both use SameTime to share our desktops and learn from one another. (Isn't that what collaboration and web tools are supposed to help us do?) SameTime 7.5 works great; it's a wonderful tool and I've rarely had any problems with it. Unless you are trying to use IBM's own corporate SameTime server. I use SameTime 7.5 web conferencing frequently, both at ICA and at The David Allen Company.

To make a long and frustrating story short, I logged into the IBM SameTime server, (which I now realize must have been either SameTime 3.1 or possibly a 6.x version), and acknowledged the certificate errors and allow it to install the plugins and VM stuff on my machine - even though I knew I was current on everything because I had just used it with my SameTime 7.5 server earlier.

I was prompted to reboot. Irritating, but OK.

5 minutes later, I log back into the IBM SameTime server to do a test meeting.


SameTime test meeting errors out, Microsoft VM throws errors, and no test meeting.  What's worse, is now I can no longer run SameTime meetings against my own SameTime server or David Allen's server - both of which I need for my work.


It's my turn to feel what the user experience is like.

So much for the wonderful seamless elegance that I had come to enjoy with single-click SameTime meetings from my Notes client, SameTime client, or the web. No more demos to clients about how seamless this integration can be.

After experimenting for a few hours, I concluded that my Firefox browser can access my SameTime 7.5 server with no problem, but that my IE7 browser is now toast. (Who should I thank for that? Microsoft or IBM? or the IBM SameTime Team?).

I understand that these are terribly complex systems and that there are many interdependencies. As a technologist, I get that. As as user, trying to get his work done - which is what I am today - this is terribly unproductive. In fact, it's counter productive. The very technology that's supposed to make me more productive has severely impacted my systems and my day. Fortunately, I have a backup computer.  

If we, the technical community, want to encourage wide spread adoption of our innovative solutions, we've got to find a way to do so without intruding or destroying the user's work experience.

If you've experienced this and know how to reverse this problem and would like to get in touch with me, I would appreciate it. meanwhile, I'll start searching the IBM knowledgebases. I have a SameTime meeting in 30 minutes and I'd really like to be able to attend from my main computer.

Invitation: Perhaps someone on the IBM SameTime team will take pity on me and contact me.

Discussion/Comments (10):

IBM/Microsoft/Sun: Why can’t we all just get along?

looks like you should check for what ActiveX plug-ins might have been installed in IE7 by Sametime, delete them, and start over.

FWIW, since a few people have asked, I feel the need to publicly indicate that I'm not the unnamed IBM executive...

Posted at 4/4/2007 1:18:57 PM by Ed Brill

re: IBM/Microsoft/Sun: Why can’t we all just get along?

Thanks, Ed, for the quick response, and no folks - Ed is not that unnamed executive, but Ed is always welcome at EricMackOnline.com.

Ed, I agree with your proposed fix - in theory. I tried to find the Active-X plugins but IE7 does not show any IBM or SameTime plugins having been called. So, there's no easy way that I can find to uninstall them. I think that the problem is that the IBM Corporate SameTime server installed the old Microsoft VM as well. What I want, is to find away to undo whatever IBM did to my machine when I visited the IBM SameTime site and ran the test meeting.

I just want my seamless integration back!

Ed, if you know anyone at the IBM SameTime team that I can actually "talk" with, I would be happy to do so and post the results here, for the benefit of all. - Eric

Posted at 4/4/2007 1:42:43 PM by Eric Mack

IBM/Microsoft/Sun: Why can’t we all just get along?

Rough couple of days Eric. First OneNote, now SameTime.

Keep your peace.

Posted at 4/4/2007 2:11:19 PM by John Taylor

re: IBM/Microsoft/Sun: Why can’t we all just get along?

Indeed. I hope someone at IBM or somone who's been through this will take pity and contact me.

Fortunately Lotus Notes replicates well, so I can simply pick up another machine - one not infected by SameTime - and continue working. Good thing, too. I've got lots to do.

The most painful part is my friend Michael in NZ. I know what he's thinking - that I should give up and buy a Mac. I can hear his laughter from here.

Posted at 4/4/2007 2:16:56 PM by Eric Mack

IBM/Microsoft/Sun: Why can’t we all just get along?

The SameTime problems are frustrating enough, and I sympathize terribly. My only suggestions are to try a plug-in manager or re-install 7.5.

Beyond that, I'm shocked that the "unnamed IBM exec" thought that the Bookmark bar was worth such a horrendous waste of your time. Fact is, one of the things that makes Notes so useful is that there is rarely just one way to do anything, so different users can do what feels comfortable to them.

I don't see a thing wrong with using the Workspace. I'm using the Notes 8 beta as well, and I can assure you that the Workspace survives and is fully functional. With the large number of databases that you have in play it makes a lot of sense to deal with them in that nice roomy space. "Last century," indeed.

Posted at 4/4/2007 5:38:32 PM by Dave Leigh

IBM/Microsoft/Sun: Why can’t we all just get along?

Ignorance is I think the best way to describe why the "unnamed IBM exec" was writing about it being "sooo last century". He probably never realized that Eric is managing many many Notes databases and then the bookmark bar is not an option and Workspace is the way to go.

So he learned something last night during the webmeeting using Eric's sametime. First is that clearly there is a point in using the Workspace even though it's invention is from last century. Secondly he also realized again that being with the company behind all this beautiful [multi-functional] software does not always mean that that same company is on the forefront of technology in their internal deployments ....

Posted at 4/5/2007 4:34:58 AM by Peter Simoons

IBM/Microsoft/Sun: Why can’t we all just get along?

Just wondering if you have managed to get the SameTime fixed on your machine ?

In IE7 there is a menu option under tools called manage addons. In there you can use the dropdown menu to change to 'downloaded activex' and it should give you a list of all the activex controls that have been downloaded. You should see the offending sametime ones listed here.

Another place to check is the 'c:\windows\downloaded program files' directory, this is another store of activex controls.

Hope some of this helps.

Posted at 4/5/2007 6:25:50 AM by Declan Lynch

re: IBM/Microsoft/Sun: Why can’t we all just get along?

Thanks. I "Think" I may have things working now. It appears that the SameTime 6.51 web installer called for MS VM to be installed, which among other outdated apps, was downloaded to my computer. I ended up spending the day cleaning up my system and I believe that things are now working. A very expensive lesson. I should have known better. What I worry about, is clients, who don't. For now, I will tell them only to use our approved ST servers and stay away from IBM's until I can give them a pattern of what to accept/not accept. Previously, we told them never to accept downloads from web sites except for IBM updates to SameTime. So much for confidence building.

Thanks for the tips.

Posted at 4/5/2007 10:48:23 AM by Eric Mack

re: IBM/Microsoft/Sun: Why can’t we all just get along?

Peter, we both learned something. I'll post my thoughts this morning. Thank you for sharing your Notes experience with me!

Posted at 4/5/2007 10:52:30 AM by Eric Mack

Discussion for this entry is now closed.