The Poole gives in: how I started with Notes

Ed started a meme, and I tried to leave well alone. But of course I couldn’t (I’m a white male, and I work in IT. What did you expect?) So, here comes the rollercoaster, how I got started with Lotus Notes. Strapped in? Sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin. Guffaw.

I left university, a four year degree, at the ripe old age of 22, in 1995. After a brief summer holidaying and all that, I reluctantly left my Mac Classic, 28.8 modem, and my brand spanking new internet account (not many of them around then!) to start earning a quid or two. I began my career as a trainee accountant with the (then) Big Six firm Coopers & Lybrand, in London. The firm was quite unusual in that everyone had their own laptop, a chunky ole’ Toshiba, with Windows 3.1, Lotus Smartsuite, and some weird thing called Lotus Notes (version 3.3) on it. I recall being most impressed by the C&L screensaver at the time, which featured an animated image of the flagship offices down Villiers Street in London. Anyway, We logged all our auditing with this Lotus Notes thing, using a custom in-house application developed by a global technology team in Dallas. After a bump to Notes 4.52 on Windows 95 (now running on IBM Thinkpads) a couple of years later, little did I know that come the R5 timeframe, I’d be working with that global team in Dallas, helping to put together a most ambitious new release of the in-house auditing software. Heady times!

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself… how do we go from trainee accountant to Notes developer? In a fairly straightforward manner as it happens. I detested auditing, and accounting wasn’t much better. I really hated the full-on exams and hours of study on top of 50 - 70 hour weeks too. After a few all-nighters at work, and a failure in my second-year exams, enough was enough, this auditing lark was destroying me. So, some two months after the premature birth of our debut bean, I found myself making the first “leap” of my career (there have been a couple more leaps since!)

Luckily, I had something up my sleeve back in 1998: as an auditor, I’d been squirreling away with this Lotus Notes lark. We had full access to the Designer client in 4.x, so I happily knocked stuff together for my audit teams, and it was pretty well-received. I don’t know what this says about me (OK, I just don’t want to think about it), but something about Notes “clicked”. Up until then, my only experience of coding had been BASIC as a kid, plus fledgeling web development on UNIX in 1993… Notes development on Windows (against OS/2 servers) was quite a different beast. Anyway, I got in touch with an in-house technology group, they knew my work (!) and things proceeded from there, ending up with yours truly as a senior Notes / Domino / Java / web type within a few years.

And now here I am, almost thirteen years post-university, still developing, and doing accounting once again to boot—funny old world innit?

So, how’s about you? You want to tell us all about it, you know you do.


  1. I think Karl-Henry Martinsson started the topic.

    There is so many similarities in our stories. I would have graduated in 95 but i went to a 5 year school; NU in Boston. I had a mac classic; my first computer. I started with a group of auditors and accountants at my first job. I stared with v3.3. My boss had one of those Toshiba's, it was pretty sweet and I didn't follow my chosen major in college. Im sure there are others. Did your Father travel to the states a lot in 1971 time frame? OK, bad joke.Yancy Lent#
  2. I well remember your transition to the technology group Ben. In at the deep end with a critical Compliance system if I remember rightly. Glad to see you are still at the leading edge.

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