Typical Notes error on the MacTime for an update: why the hell has this site been so quiet?? Well, I am sorry to say that it’s all down to yer common or garden general malaise. It boils down to something as apparently mundane as this… (caution: a poorly-structured rant follows, meandering through things like Macs, Workplace, careers, life in general. You have been warned).

Typing this is hard. I don’t mean in some existential way, something painful or metaphysical… I just mean, “this is hard”: putting together a weblog entry in Notes on my Mac. The Notes client has come on pretty well in recent years, but ultimately, Notes on the Mac sucks. The Notes client is a second-class citizen, and it would drive me wild trying to use this day-in day-out as I do Notes on Windoze at work. And yet, using Windoze all the time in my day job drives me up the wall too. I like firing up Terminal and just… buggering about. Tweaking this, playing with that, occasionally doing useful things. I like using ls and cal and vi and all those other CLI tools. I know, I know, the Wintel world has cygwin, but it’s not the same eh!

I’m just not a Windows person I suppose. I’m a UNIX person, one way or t’other. Well, fat lot of good that will do me, working in a Microsoft world in a big ole’ international financial outfit. So it incenses me all the more that Notes is so… unusable on the Mac. It runs slow, is unintuitive, and is generally… URGH. Sorry guys. I’ve tried hard to like it.

But where’s all this unstructured whingeing coming from (and more importantly, where is it going?) I guess I’m thinking of the big players in our connected world. Google, Pixar, the revitalised Yahoo! and all the others… and feeling so disconnected it’s untrue. People are moving on, using this technology and that, switching to Macs, trying different languages, running new apps. Meanwhile, muggins here works on the same old shit, day in day out, with the same depressing mix of Windows XP and Lotus Notes. There must be more to one’s working life than this?

As for writing open source stuff, hah! I sometimes wonder what the point is in this: loads more work and grief with no reward, financial or otherwise (Damien, FWIW, I think you made the right decision!) *

For me, there is light on the horizon: as I’ve (albeit subtly) intimated in past entries, a few of us at work have been taking a look at IBM Workplace Collaboration Services, and it’s all pretty damn nifty. I’ve seen many aspects of it in action at IBM, and I’ve compared it with what the other side are offering. I know vowe had a justified pop at the approach to coding apps for this beast, but really, it’s all quite exciting. Sure, you can engineer stuff that seems like crazy talk for a Domino developer, but when you look into the whys and wherefores of coding proper apps for Workplace, it becomes pretty compelling. For me, the Eclipse-based rich client is so full of possibilities — both as user and developer — that I become very animated talking about it. I can’t wait to start developing stuff for this baby! But that’s just not going to be happening for me. So… (that was the “lights switching back off” bit)

… Anyone want to give me a job?

It’s such a shame for anyone to feel like this at work, an environment in which we spend so much of our time. I’ve spent weeks putting together YABDW, and it’s depressing: I have no great insight to offer other than the odd CSS tip, so I’ve kept quiet here. Hell, I haven’t fired up Eclipse in weeks!

Now, all this aside I’ve read some very good books lately. My latest recommendation is the much-hyped (and deservedly so) The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time: go read!

So dear reader, how are you feeling now we’re a quarter into 2005? Is life good on the professional front, or are you suffering too? Come on, ’fess up!

This post was inspired by the letters “w”, “a”, “n” and “k”, and by this post. I thank you.

* - yes, this means DominoWiki can bloody well wait.


  1. Top rant Ben, I sympathise entirely. Time for a change m'thinks.

    Professionaly things are quite good as I have a j2me phone app going live next week, although I still think I am going to get my boy band back together and hit the road.

  2. I hear you - work is a very dark cave at the moment. On the other hand I'm enjoying taking photos which I haven't done for nearly 20 years.

    I also enjoyed the book…..
    Justin Knol#
  3. :-) I’ve been enjoying the piccies tremendously Justin: keep it up!Ben Poole#
  4. "Notes on the Mac sucks" I'm with you all the way on that, and I have the misfortune of having to develop for a support Notes Client application on Macs. Over the last year I've had to raise a number of bugs (SPR) wrt the MAC client, not least the size of the fonts. You rather get the impression that the MAC client is not actually supported since the support team picking up the SPR's don't not have macs on which to test!. The problem is that MAC's are usually used by individuals and small companies, or small depts in larger companies. These small user bases do not register with IBM, whos mindset is still stuck in the 10'000 licence sales. Never mind that MAC sales are growing year in year and there are 10's of thousands small companies that don't have Notes that could and would use Notes. blah blah blah….. blah blah blah But there is light. Alan L is a budding Mac user.

    Is there any mileage in a Notes MAC User Group?
  5. trackback at

  6. Same here…. oh the pain. I have several hundred Mac users and they almost all hate the Notes client. Why? miserable font support, no "official" client for Sametime, minimal support on Quickplace….seemingly a hundred other minor annoyances. Even worse, I just switched from Windows and Linux at home to a Mac Mini and now I feel their pain! Add to this the non-existant job market for Notes developers (yeah,yeah I know…. Notes AND Websphere is a different situation) and things are fairly depressing for this die hard Notes fan. So far Workplace is just not all that compelling, but given a choice between that and M$ .not, I'll take Workplace.Ed Maloney#
  7. So far Workplace is just not all that compelling, but given a choice between that and M$ .not, I'll take Workplace.

    Well, I think it is compelling, but it's taken me a while to see it. 2.5 is a massive leap compared with 2.0, and the release schedule is pretty aggressive, which is good for this fledgeling technology: there's a lot still to do. However, if I were to become a "Workplace Developer" that would suit me just fine for now.

    Turning to the Mac, it's said that we will get the Workplace client eventually (after the Win / Linux releases) -- I sincerely hope that IBM stick to that. True parity across the platforms is a must-have: the Mac and Linux have played second-fiddle far too often.

    Hey, maybe IBM will even recognise that Macs have pretty good Java support ;-) Ben Poole#
  8. more photos are on the way Ben….Justin Knol#
  9. Job-wise I sympathise. After 7 years of nothing but Notes apps and Domino websites, huge frustration and major disappointment, I have decided to go part time. There are no moves in my company to embrace any of the Workplace technology - Domino is considered "legacy" tech so no new developments are being encouraged. Financially, I can't afford to cut my losses entirely but oh how I wish I could! Part time allows me the freedom to play around with the technology I am interested in, on my own time. Not a perfect solution, but I can live with it for now.NikkyG#
  10. I was lucky enough to get a Java/JSP project last year. It was a big transition after 5 years of Notes programming. I'm still a big fan of Lotus Notes, but after using Java tools, I see Domino Designer as very cumbersome. I've heard it described that way, and I had no idea until I used other programming tools.

    Our managers are not discouraging Lotus Notes development… there's little interest in it as a development tool. None of the new programmers are interested in learning it. The technology is still good. It's really the GUI and dev tools that make it a "legacy" product. I don't want it to disappear, but I do think it's in trouble. If you're not attracting new developers to your product, it's in trouble! Again, this is the GUI and dev tools, not the underlying architecture.

    I think what Lotus Notes has taught me more than anything else, it's how to talk with people, do research, and learn about their department's business processes. I write applications to make their jobs easier, and I understand more about "the process" than most of the department managers. I can see how information flows between workgroups. It's very rewarding. Visio and "whiteboarding" skills. That makes me valuable beyond just programming skills.

    I don't own a Mac, but I hear they're a great computer for home. Photos and Movies and DVD. There are 7 people at work that are new Mac owners! New to the Mac since Dec'04. All of them are in our R&D group. They're all Java/J2EE programmers. I'm considering one later this year. They're twisting my arm.Brian#

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