Genii Weblog

Microsoft is 19 times as interested in iNotes as IBM?

Sat 20 Jun 2009, 03:50 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
While I understand that the time zones put IBM at a bit of a disadvantage, I find this absolutely unbelievable.  It isn't scientific, but it is worth noting.  Yesterday, I posted a post titled Why is iNotes a second class citizen?  Given that it is currently the most popular post on, and has received at least  couple of hundred hits more directly through my website , it is likely you have seen it.  But have you read it?

No, I am probably not talking to you. I am talking to the folks at IBM.  Granted, it is a somewhat contentious title.  I am also a Design Partner, fairly well known in the community, and I would hazard a guess that my current focus on email issues in Notes/Outlook/Gmail/iNotes/etc. has not gone unnoticed.  So, despite it being a Friday afternoon, I would expect a few IBMers to read the post, if only to curse at me, but possibly to see if I have identified any bugs/weaknesses that IBM could address quickly.  Maybe even to avoid the PR hit by pointing out that I am mistaken or don't understand or something.  After all, there are IBMers all over the world, and many read, so so I am told.

But my network statistics tell me something different.  There are nineteen separate IP addresses that have read the blog post since it was posted at 4:35pm yesterday, for a total of nineteen page reads.  This is one IP address that has read the blog post, one time.

It is possible that IBMers all have me on their RSS feeds, but even then they would have to follow the link to see most of the information.  19 to 1?  Is that even vaguely believable?  I am sure there are a few Microsoft employees who are enjoying my poking IBM, although I have poked Outlook quite a bit and plan even more there, but would you have predicted that a grand total of one person at IBM would show an interest in a public post which insinuates one of their products has issues?

Ed Brill may well have come up with an explanation (see the first comment).  I hadn't really thought about how the culture of telecommuting could hide the hits from IBM, but that must be at least part of the reason.  Honestly, if it had be five IBM hits, I would have believed it, but one was unbelievable.

Copyright 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

826.1. Ed Brill
(06/20/2009 09:12 PM)

ASW much, Ben? I read your post -- I, like almost half of IBMers in the US, work in a home office and you would have seen a hit rather than an one. Microsoft hasn't groked telecommuting yet, so many more of their employees work in an office environment.

826.2. Ben Langhinrichs
(06/20/2009 09:58 PM)


You have a point. I honestly was trying to come up with a good reason, and that is a fair one, especially over a weekend. I was not really aware that Microsoft is so much less into telecommuting (although you would likely know that better than I), but they did have a large lead when it was still work yesterday. Never forget that there may be an obvious reason that you just don't know, I guess.


826.3. Eric Mack
(06/21/2009 01:30 AM)

Perhaps the reason that Microsoft doesn't have many telecommuters is that they do not have a product like (or are unwilling to license) Lotus Notes so they could work anywhere.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

I think Ed's comment makes sense.


826.4. Ed Brill
(06/21/2009 02:36 AM)

@Eric, who said Microsoft doesn't license Lotus Notes? :-o

826.5. Mike
(06/21/2009 07:28 AM)

Ed is spot on. I read your post, I am an IBMer, and whilst I was working from home this would have appeared to have come from my ISP rather than IBM.

826.6. Anthony Holmes
(06/21/2009 07:35 AM)

... Just to back up Ed's comment (because he's only one IBMer). I'm from IBM. I read your post. But the odds of my IP showing up as being from IBM are minuscule. On your stats over a period oftime I would show up as 3-5 non-IBM IPs/IP ranges. I work and connect at home, at a minimum of five customer sites, on trains, in cafes, in airports, whilst walking down the street (often). Even when I happen to be inside an IBM office, there's only a 50/50 chance I'll connect via IBM: odds are I'll just keep using my 3G account because that's what I normally use. And that way of 'working for IBM wherever you happen to be' is the way that all my colleagues work.

It's not necessarily better. It's not as simple as "at the office = working"/"not at the office = not working". You need a bit of discipline to remain organised and maintain work/life balance. But I like it.

From time to time I need to remind myself that this isn't the way that everybody works.

826.7. Mr Ports
(21/06/2009 09:53)

Tracking web stats for anything other than general awareness is a mugs game. Lies, damn lies and statistics etc. Another IBMer working from home.

826.8. Bruce Tan
(06/21/2009 10:55 AM)

Just another IBMer. Yup. Read yr blog. Won't be from an ibm ip address. Android phone. 3g ip addr from Singapore. And not German :) any feedback is good feedback. Thx.

826.9. Ben Langhinrichs
(06/21/2009 12:21 PM)

Thanks to the IBMers and others who have chimed in. I think I get the message that there are more readers from IBM. This is good, as besides trying to promote a product, I am trying to make a point that might be of interest to IBM.

I will point out something that nobody else has. Putting aside the ratio mentioned in the title, which didn't make any sense which is what prompted the post, the flip side is that 29 (new updated stat since I wrote the post) different Microsoft people who do read this from a Microsoft account (and not counting those who over a weekend might read a blog on a home account) HAVE read the post.

So, perhaps the title should have said:

Microsoft interested in iNotes?

It still seems worth noting, even if tracking web stats is a mug's game. I am relieved that there is IBM interest, and, as someone generally unaware of IBM mobility, am intrigued by the ways that IBMers work. I am also intrigued that Microsoft would be so interested.

826.10. Bill
(21/06/2009 14:16)

Personally, I use google reader -your unlikely to see individual hits from there for each person that reads your site.

The main premise - is MS more interested than IBM - depends on whether they see your tooling and expertise as useful in terms of migrating enterprise customers such as GSK to their technology.

Surprised they havent made an offer yet.

---* Bill

826.11. Bob Congdon
(06/21/2009 10:17 PM)

I work for Microsoft (and this isn't coming from a address). Funny that you get all of these "I work for IBM too" responses but not a one that addresses the original issue.

The code in Domino to convert doclinks dates back to 1996. As you know more than most people, converting doclinks to URLs isn't completely straight forward. I'm not sure how and why this breakage occurs but I haven't seen the code in several years. Would be nice if someone from IBM could address this.

As far as Microsoft vs. IBM telecommuting goes. Connectivity to the office from home (and elsewhere) is at least as good at Microsoft as it was at IBM.

IBM has traditionally been more flexible about working from home than Microsoft but that's changing. My team has two people who work remotely (one in Colorado, another in North Carolina). IBM teams also tend to be much more distributed than at Microsoft. That's good and bad. The bad part was that it was very hard to have any sort of "group culture" when you worked with people who you'd never met.

Office facilities at IBM and Microsoft are quite different. IBM is a sea of cubicles (WTF5 is a rare exception). No private office for anyone below Band 10. Microsoft is primarily private offices. When I worked for IBM I knew quite a few people who worked from home as many days as possible because they hated cubicle life. It's much more pleasant to have you own office.

826.12. Ben Langhinrichs
(06/22/2009 12:03 AM)

Bob -

Thanks for chiming is with your thoughts. Skipping the analysis of IBM vs. Microsoft telecommuting and cubicles, about which I have no experience or knowledge, you are right to delve into the nature of the bug. Here is my guess, although I am not privy to any inside information, and simply rely on my many years working with this stuff.

Essentially, there are two MIME rendering engines, the one in the Notes client and the one in the Domino server. While it might seem that the latter is used in iNotes, which is on the server, there is strong evidece that it is not. Instead, the Domino HTTP engine seeps to be used. While this may or may not share much code with the MIME engine, it has some clear and recognizable differences For example, a tabbed table sent via email and rendered to MIME becomes a regular table, but a tabbed table displayed through iNotes shows like a tabbed table does in a Domino web page - as links to different tabs. (This is a topic for a different post, as it then breaks completely when mailed)

Historically, the Domino web server doesn't serve up doclinks that link to a database which is not on that server. Hence, the doclinks in this example of not on that server, so the doclinks are not rendered.

The problem is, while this may have made a bit of sense for the Domino web engine, it makes none for mail, since the doclinks are likely to be from an application server and the iNotes server is a mail server. This problem thus arises frequently. The broken logic is that you would want to use the logic, and not mail it somewhere else.

- Ben

826.13. Bob Congdon
(06/22/2009 04:20 AM)


Yes, you're right: the Domino web engine would not serve doclinks for databases that weren't on the server. Beyond that, things get complicated.

The same HTML rendering code is used for both the Mail router and the Domino web server. The router uses it to dynamically convert CD records to HTML. The HTML rendering engine has a set of callbacks that make it behave differently, for example, for URL generation of images, doclinks. etc.

In the Domino web server, doclinks to local databases could always be resolved to URLs. For off-server doclinks I'm not sure if it had enough information to know whether the links would be reachable. Are you saying that when the Mail router generates these doclinks it's always, or at least usually, correct? What about replicas and the like?

826.14. Ben Langhinrichs
(06/22/2009 04:50 AM)


I certainly would not say that the doclinks going out via email are always correct, just that they are actually present. There are a number of issues with doclinks going out, but each major version, IBM gets closer to their working consistently. In R5, they were all stripped. In ND6/6.5/7, they were included but without dealing effectively with anchor links, private views, doclinks on subforms and some other issues. In Notes 8/8.5 (and 7.0.4), they have fixed the anchor link problem, at least mostly, but not all of the others.


826.15. Bilal Jaffery
(22/06/2009 07:11)

Count another one here. Another IBMer who works from home and you will see a Canadian IP on top.

826.16. Roberto Boccadoro
(06/23/2009 06:05 PM)

Ben, check also for Italian IP addresses :-)