The February 2009 Blog
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My Clippings Articles (so far) (Wednesday, Feb 25)
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Many of you may not know this, but in addition to putting information out on this website I also write a technical article for the Clippings Newsletter every other month (I write a developer article on the even months, Warren Elsmore writes an admin article on odd months -- 'cause admins are odd, heh heh).

If you're not currently subscribed, here are the articles I've written over the past year:

A Worthwhile Cause, And Win A Beach Vacation! (Tuesday, Feb 24)
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In case you haven't seen this in other places, Francie is helping put on a charity drive for a school on her home island of Anguilla. Not only can you donate money outright, there's also a raffle to win one of five 6 day/5 night trips for two at a 5-star resort hotel.

Anguilla resort by the ocean

Do you want to win a vacation at the beach on a Carribean island? Come on, of course you do. Out-of-pocket these places will cost you over $500 per night. And you're helping a school by entering the raffle.

If you need more information (or you just don't trust me), Francie's got some background on the school and the contest on her blog.

Why Facebook Is For Old Fogies (Sunday, Feb 22)
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I'm sure someone else has already blogged this (someone else has ALWAYS already blogged everything), but I thought this little piece from Time magazine was pretty funny:

Why Facebook Is For Old Fogies

I think I have to agree with pretty much the entire article, although I guess that also makes me an old fogie ("Hi, my name is Julian and I've been on Facebook for over 14 months"). I'm not ashamed.

How To Write A Sidebar App Or Composite App Component (Friday, Feb 20)
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I've had a lot of questions since Lotusphere from people who want to write their own custom Composite Application components or Sidebar applications. There's no magic wand that will get you going right away, but here are a few places to start.

Cornhole (Tuesday, Feb 17)
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I went to dinner with two of my brothers last night. The place we went to was out of the way and a bit of a dive, but decent food. When I asked my older brother about how he found it, he said that some of his friends have come here before, and that they have a Cornhole tournament every Tuesday.

"A cornhole tournament?" I asked.

"Yeah, I've told you about Cornhole before, haven't I? They have a place out behind the bar where they play. I think it's just sort of something to do while the guys are drinking beer."

I racked my brain trying to remember a previous discussion of Cornhole, and then I finally remembered. It's a game they play largely in the midwest -- Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, etc. -- 'cause I guess they have a lot of corn laying around, looking for a purpose. The guy who told my brother about the game said it's a really popular outdoor game out there at family reunions. You just set up the board out on the lawn and start tossing bags.

It might be fun to build a board and try out sometime. You can get all the rules on the American Cornhole Association website, and instructions on building your own set on There is also a nice selection of t-shirts at and equipment at And, of course, there's a Wikipedia page.

One word of advice though: if you're looking for information on the Internet, please make sure you have SafeSearch turned on.

UPDATE: Henry Newberry offered some additional history in the comments:

Cornhole as a competitive sport originated around 2000 in several bars on the west side of Cincinnati where I live. These bars range from extreme dives to almost nice. One of the past times is throwing real steel tip darts (not the plastic tip machine games). Cornhole grew in popularity because the league met on Tuesdays while the Darts league met on Thursdays. That gave players and bar owners two nights of increased beverage consumption and business.

So, I continue to play on a drinking team with a dart problem that occasionally gets into its cornhole problem.

SnTT: Lotus Notes Icon Collections (Thursday, Feb 12)
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Lotus Notes database icons are still limited to only 32x32 pixel, 16 color bitmaps. I will neither defend nor attack that position because there's nothing I can do about it, and an argument about what the icon limitation should theoretically be is beside the point. That's the current limit.

That being the case, it's usually hard to find or create your own nice-looking database icons due to this limitation. Gregory Engels was asking about where to get good "vintage" icon collections just the other day. I struggle with this every time I create a new database. It's difficult to create a new icon from scratch, and shrinking larger graphics often yields unsatisfactory results.

Here are a few places to look:

Something else you can do is search for .ICL files on the Internet. These are Icon Collection Libraries, so each file holds a large number of icons. You can view and extract the icons using a tool like IrfanView.

As a bonus tip, if you're looking for mini-icons for custom view graphics or outline entries the famfamfam Silk icons are fantastic.

LS09 Download 2 of 4: Composite App Charts! (Monday, Feb 9)
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This is the second database that Rob McDonagh and I demoed in the Lotusphere 2009 session BP111 on graphing and charting:

  • Composite Application Charting Component Database
  • This is a slightly customized update site database. When you open it up there will be a help page with buttons to take you to either the Update Site view or the Composite App Charting view. The first time you open the charting view, it should ask you to install the custom component and then restart Notes. Once you restart, you'll be at a screen that looks something like this:

    Composite Application Graphs on a Mac

    The help doc that appears when you open the database should give you all the information you need to get started. This requires the Notes 8.0.1 (or higher) Standard client.

    Download the Sidebar Chart Plugin! (Friday, Feb 6)
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    In Lotusphere session BP111, Rob McDonagh and I demoed a Lotus Notes 8.x sidebar plugin that generates charts on the fly, like this:

    Sidebar Chart Screenshot

    MINOR UPDATE: You can also get help and save the chart to a file by clicking the small Sidebar app menu button at the top right of the plugin:

    Sidebar Chart Screenshot

    Well now you can download the plugin and install it yourself! Just go to this link and follow the instructions:

    I just found out how to install a Sidebar plugin as a Widget a few days ago, while looking at the install instructions for the Learning Plugin (further instructions in Technote 1305829). That's how I'm deploying this app. There are a lot of advantages to deploying a Sidebar app this way, including:

    So, try it out and tell me what you think. We'll be putting out the rest of our demo code in the next few days. Probably the slides too, although we really try to make the code speak for itself. That means there's a lot of packaging to do -- code comments, help files, cleanup, etc. -- but it's worth it in the end.

    Abandoning Crap (Tuesday, Feb 3)
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    Ira Glass is the host of the NPR radio show This American Life. He's an insightful guy. I enjoy listening to him on my increasingly infrequent jogs through the neighborhood.

    I recently read a short blog entry about him on the Presentation Zen website and wanted to write down this quote before I forgot:

    "Not enough gets said about the importance of abandoning crap."
    -- Ira Glass

    Indeed. That's not directed at anyone specifically, just good overall advice. It also couples well with Rule Number 6.