Many Pies

Many Pies

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things I'm missing about Lotus Notes having moved to Outlook

  • If you hit "reply" and you meant "reply all" you can add the extra recipients with a single click.
  • You can double click on a day in the calendar and create a reminder, appointment or meeting request. With Outlook if you're on the calendar I haven't found to create tasks, you have to go to Tasks first.
  • You can save an email as a reminder or an appointment.

On the other hand I'm really appreciating:
  • Integration with OneNote
  • Decent italic font
  • If you save a draft it doesn't just silently disappear into the Drafts folder, but shows as unread.

Friday, April 23, 2010

10 years full time for Wycliffe - looking back

Tomorrow I will have been working for Wycliffe Bible Translators for ten years full-time. Before that I was part time for 18 months, in a software development role. I started a week before we were due to go live with The Raiser's Edge, a fundraising/donor relations system, if you haven't heard of it. We also went live with a new Nominal Ledger system at the same time.

On my first day the Finance director and his assistant came to my desk and said that we couldn't go live without 5 reports being created. After talking with them we agreed that one of the reports was for the end of the month, and so could wait. So I had a very busy 4 days (I started the Tuesday after Easter Monday) working on those and a million other things. It was also my then boss's first day on his job. As you can imagine it was quite hectic with going live with two systems simultaneously, but we got there in the end.

One of the aims of my job was to move the many different address lists we had around the place into Raiser's Edge. When we went live the two biggest lists - donors and recipients of our magazine Words for Life, had been combined. Ten years on and I've still got legacy systems to move into the right place. I still have four more databases to go, three of which are in progress.

I haven't spent the past ten years just working on importing address lists. We've also switched our Finance system to Sage, changed the way we send money to other Wycliffe organisations around the world, adopted a new group of inter-organisational systems, including a personnel system and re-launched our website twice.

Who knows what the next ten years holds?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

RIP Lotus Notes

I am shortly to have my mail client changed from Lotus Notes to Outlook. When I joined Wycliffe Bible Translators back in 1998 Notes was our system for information systems development. Not long after that though a strategic decision was taken to move away from it. It remained as our email client though, as there was no good, easy alternative.

The email client always felt like a bit of an add-on to the rest of the system, rather than being designed specifically for email. However the rest of the system was pretty impressive at the time. There was no need to create a database when starting an application, you just designed a form and the data was stored magically somewhere. Things like security, encryption, access control and replication Just Worked, without too much effort, so it seemed. You could point your web browser at the Domino server and you got a basic web version of your application without having to create extra stuff. However it never really took the corporate world by storm, although I can imagine there are a lot of committed users.

Ray Ozzie, the man behind Lotus Notes (that article needs a lot more filling out, doesn't it?) has an interesting career. Notes was bought by IBM. He left and created a similar-but-different product called Groove, which was bought by Microsoft. Now it exists as Sharepoint Workspace.

Things I won't miss about Lotus Notes email (at least in v6.5 which we are using):
  • The way when a new email arrives it puts a little button at the top of the email folder to say "click here to see your new messages". I don't want to have to click, I just want to see them!
  • The way when you log in it tells you about all the reminders it's already told you about for the past few days, not just the ones since you last logged in.
  • The way you can't open two emails side by side.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not paper is not cheap

A hiccup with my email provider recently left me with very little incoming email. I didn't realise there was a hiccup for a few days. When I did, and fixed it, I released a flood of emails into my personal inbox. Some of those are PDFs of paper documents from our church - a weekly notice sheet and a monthly magazine. The church has started sending them out as a way of saving money. I also get various other documents via email. The small flood made me wonder how I could easily catch up with my reading.

Now I'm not a big fan of paper. There are 3 pieces of paper on my desk at the moment, and first thing this morning there was one. However it does have its place. A few years ago a colleague was arguing for not giving people a paper copy of the internal phone directory, on the grounds that it was available on the intranet. My argument was that it was much easier to find someone on paper than opening a browser window, finding the intranet, finding the relevant page, finding the surname etc. I said that I could beat him in finding anyone he cared to mention. He didn't take me up on it and the paper copy still has its place (also available as a PDF though!).

However there is a cost to not having paper. For me reading the paper copies of those church documents is something I do when I have a spare moment. Time spent reading my personal email is orientated towards getting things done and clearing the inbox, not reflective reading. So while it's convenient to get electronic publications through my email for the sender it doesn't suit me. What I need is some sort of electronic device which I can pick up easily, starts up quicker than a laptop, and lets me read those documents. However that wouldn't be cheap...