The September 2002 Blog
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R6 Goes Gold, and I'm on Google (Monday, Sep 30)
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You can finally find my site on Google! Well, sort of. If you do a search for "nsftools", you'll get a couple links to this site. Two strange things about this, though: (1) the actual site is at the end of the list (you'd think the site itself would show up first), and (2) the site links don't have any text associated with them, they're just plain, naked links. It took a month just to get the links there, though, so maybe in another month the page text will be there too. And I probably shouldn't complain, because I also submitted a few of my programs to the LDD Sandbox about a month ago, and those still aren't there...

Is everyone excited about trying out the R6 gold code tomorrow (or today, if you're a BP or Passport customer)?

Configuring HTTPD.CNF (Sunday, Sep 29)
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Here's a neat article about configuring your HTTPD.CNF file. If you know how this file works (similar to the httpd.conf file for Apache), you can make your Domino server operate like a "standard" web server outside of the Notes database environment. It's interesting to see that there's a setting for server-side includes at the end of the example HTTPD.CNF file at the link above. Maybe that's a standard Domino setting...I don't know. It might be kind of fun to see if that works as expected on a Domino server, though (just so you can tell your non-Lotus friends that Notes supports SSI).

Seeing this inspired me to add a tip about Notes web server logging. I even included an additional HTTPD.CNF option you can use for debug logging. I'll probably add a little more to this tip in a few days, because I've got some good methods for processing the text log files that I can share with you too. I'll need to clean everything up a bit before I put it on the site, though.

More Haiku, Flexible Keyboards (Thursday, Sep 26)
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Okay, this wasn't supposed to be a recurring thing, but I thought of another haiku that I wanted to share:

Notes is a RAD tool.
Websphere, however, is not.
Don't confuse the two.

With any luck, that will be the last one. I just couldn't help myself.

No big pearls of wisdom in the blog today (are there ever?). I did come across this link to a flexible keyboard that I thought looked pretty cool, though. Strangely enough, this company also makes Explosive Detectors and Landmine Detectors. I guess it's all the same technology in the end, huh? Keyboards...landmine detection...

Notes Haiku (Wednesday, Sep 25)
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I just ran across this old article on with a bunch of Haiku error messages that people sent in. Some of them are pretty amusing. It inspired me to write a haiku of my own:

It's called Domino.
No, it's not by Microsoft.
Boss, where are you going?

I guess you could substitute plenty of other things for that last line (including more positive sentiments, like "It's much, much better"), but I was feeling a bit sarcastic tonight. Write your own, have a time of it.

Crimson Editor and Syntax Highlighting (Tuesday, Sep 24)
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I'm back for a quick note. I've been playing around with the freeware Crimson Editor program, and I think I might start using it as my Notepad replacement-of-choice. It's got that tabbed interface and optional line-numbering that I like, and the author just added support for regular expression text searches, which can be really handy.

One of the other nice things is that it supports syntax highlighting for several different programming languages (and it's easy to turn off the highlighting if you don't like it). Just because I could, I even decided to make my own custom LotusScript syntax definition for Crimson Editor. Even if you use a different editor, the definition files I wrote might be a good reference for you -- it's got all the LotusScript keywords, functions, classes, etc. all broken out and listed. Never know when you might need that...

Alternate LDD URL, Undocumented LotusScript (Thursday, Sep 19)
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I'll be away for the next few days, so you probably won't get another blog entry from me until early next week. But before I go, here's a couple things for you.

First, Rob McDonagh was good enough to point out that you can also access the LDD site with the easy-to-remember URL of, so you can avoid all that "www-10" mess I was whining about a few days ago. Thanks Rob! I can definitely remember that one.

Also, I'll leave you with some code to play with this weekend. It's not from me, it's from, and it's a few bits of undocumented LotusScript from their [seemingly discontinued] DominoUpdate Journal. Maybe you've already seen these things before, and maybe they don't even work (I haven't tried them yet), but they look interesting.

Site of the Month, Links, Dynamic HTML Tables (Wednesday, Sep 18)
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Hey, I made site of the month at! That's pretty exciting for me and my little site. I hope that I have some worthwhile content to back that up...

Thanks, too, to Asia/Pacific Computer Services for their new link to this site (I'm going to try out that free SDMS program when I get a few minutes). I'll take all the links I can get, especially since I've been waiting for Google to list this site ever since their spider came by for a visit back on the 4th. It'll be a race to see which is faster, getting listed on the Google site, or getting a couple of my tools posted to the LDD Sandbox. It's been about the same amount of time for both, so far.

So, what else can I tell you? Here's something I found as I was digging through my hard drive: a little test page I wrote a few years ago that allows you to create and manipulate dynamic tables on a web page. It's pretty rough, but I think I just wrote it as a proof-of-concept (and this particular version may only run on IE...sorry about that). I also seem to remember that I got the idea from the sidebar piece of this article by Mark Judd, in the Iris Today online mag. Enjoy.

Delstubs Update, Free Programming Utilities (Tuesday, Sep 17)
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Not much to talk about today. I posted yet another update to the delstubs program, which should make it operate much faster over remote connections, if you only want to count of all the stubs in the database (I realized that if you're only counting, you can skip an I/O intensive step that gets information about the stub). I also posted another Notes tip yesterday, which is sort of an extension of a previous tip on that page. Tips are growing slowly but surely...

If you need a link to look at today, check out, a great place to go for free programming utilities. I'm trying out a little syntax-highlighting text editor I found there called Code-Genie right now. I like it 'cause it's nice and small (575 KB all zipped up), but I'm not sure if it's got quite enough features for me.

Wishing for a Better URL, Getting DOS Output in Java (Monday, Sep 16)
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Okay, here's one for my "if I was in charge of the world" wish list: I think that the world would be a happier place if the Lotus/IBM LDD page had an easier-to-remember URL. I had no problem with remembering "" in a pinch, but for the life of me I can't remember that the new LDD page is at "". I don't know why, I guess it's just some kind of mental block on my part, but I wish it was something a little simpler, like "". I could do that. That "www-10" really throws me off (and honestly, I still get there by typing "" 90% of the time anyway). Just a thought.

Your link today is from the Sun Developer Site, explaining how to run and get the output of a DOS command in Java. Since I'm a command line junkie, I'm sure I'll be working this in somewhere.

Another Link, FAQ in Progress (Friday, Sep 13)
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Hey Ben, thanks for the link! If you haven't already, check out Ben Poole's fine site for some good Notes tips, and an entertaining blog.

I spent most of my available computer time tonight writing a general FAQ page for the tools section of this site, so I probably won't be typing much in the ol' blog. How about just a fun little quote I read when I stumbled upon the sixfingeredman site earlier today:

"Outlook not so good." That magic 8-ball knows everything! I'll ask about Exchange Server next.

Ntimeset Utility (Wednesday, Sep 11)
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Well, I'm not going to give a sermon about what September 11 means to Americans like myself, because I probably can't give any insight that hasn't been given before, and frankly, that's a little beyond the scope of this blog. So God Bless America, and I'll leave it at that.

I did post another tool for you today, though. Does it ever bother you that when the time drifts on your NT server, you can reset the NT clock really easily, but it's a pain to reset the clock on the Notes server without restarting it? Well my ntimeset program is here to help. This little program will reset the time on your Notes server (or client) to match the current OS time. Now you can sync up the Notes time whenever you want to -- you can even do it automatically with a scheduler or something, if your NT server gets its time updated on a regular basis. Try it out, but please read the warnings first.

Laws You Should Know (Tuesday, Sep 10)
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And speaking of aging technology (as I was in my last entry), I got to thinking about Moore's Law. I always thought it stated that processor speed will double every 18 months. Well, it doesn't. In this quite lengthy paper about Moore's Law, I discovered that it actually states that circuit density or semiconductor capacity will double every 18 months. While you can generally consider those two statements to be equivalent, they're not quite the same. Just thought I'd pass that on.

Since I'm on the subject of conceptual "laws", here are a couple of other ones for you:

Parkinson's Law -- Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion
Barne's Law -- If nothing changes, everything will remain the same
The Peter Principle -- In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence

I see all of these in action every single day...

Problems with Archiving Data (Sunday, Sep 8)
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In my random Internet reading today, I ran across a couple of interesting articles about maintaining the integrity of your backed-up data, from both a practical and an technological standpoint. At first, you might not think that any of the data you have today is going to matter in 20 years anyway, but consider all those digital photos you're taking these days. Aren't you going to want to share those with your kids when they're grown up? Chances are, computers in 20 years aren't going to have CD-ROM drives, just like computers today don't have 9-inch floppies (ever seen one of those?) or Bernoulli drives.

Anyway, if you want to read about it, here's a brief article by Mike Elgan called "The Legacy Data Disaster" (also available on an alternate site), and a much longer article by Jeff Rothenberg called "Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Information".

Of course, there are still people out there actively developing on the Atari operating systems, so maybe technology doesn't die quite as fast as you'd think -- it just goes way out of the mainstream. Boy, that brings me back. I remember programming in Pascal on an old Atari 400 with a membrane keyboard, and saving the programs to a cassette tape drive...

$FormulaClass (Saturday, Sep 7)
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An oldie but goodie for you: Fun with $FormulaClass, an article by Dan Velasco that appeared in DominoPower Magazine a few years back. Stuff like this is a lot of fun to play around with, if you have a few hours to spare.

You can get a few more $FormulaClass values from the DatabaseDesign Class that Damien Katz submitted to the Sandbox a couple years ago. The NOTE_CLASS constants in the Declarations section of his Script Library are hex representations of the $FormulaClass numbers. If you don't feel like looking at that database (and you really should, because there's some cool stuff going on in there), I went ahead and posted the NOTE_CLASS values on my Notes Tips page, based on the corresponding values in the nsfnote.h file in the C-API.

Microsoft Security Quote (Friday, Sep 6)
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Here's a great quote from Brian Valentine, the senior VP of Microsoft Windows development:

"Our products just aren't engineered for security."

Gee, really...?

nsPing Utility, Style Sheet Change (Thursday, Sep 5)
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Well, as Henry Newberry (aka: Newbs) just pointed out to me, the name "nping.exe" has already been taken long ago by the NotesConnect program, which pre-dates my nPing program by several years. So I renamed my Notes ping utility to "nsPing", which I suppose could stand for "Notes Server Ping", or something like that. Sorry if I made anyone confused.

I also found out that my web pages don't look so good if you have your browser fonts set to Small, so I changed my style sheets to use fixed font sizes (like 12px) instead of proportional sizes (like 0.8em). I really hated to do that, because I think that proportional fonts are really the "correct" way to do it -- if I've got a user who has their browser fonts set to Large, fixed font sizes don't always scale up and down but proportional ones do -- but life is full of compromises, and this is one that I had to make. If I can think of a better way to do it in the future, I will.

And your link for the day is: Eleven things you didn't learn in school, with reference to the proper original source.

CSS Dilemma (Wednesday, Sep 4)
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Okay, so I'm having a minor web design dilemma. To CSS, or not to CSS. Actually, I'm already using CSS for my font definitions and for a little bit of my table design, but it seems like there's this huge move at several web sites to get rid of tables altogether and replace them with pure CSS layouts.

Part of my dilemma is that my site has such a simple design that it seems silly to go through any kind of trouble to change (and test) all the HTML, just to make the pages look exactly the same as they already do. On the other hand, it wouldn't be that hard, and if CSS is really the "right" thing to do, then maybe I should suck it up and do it now while the site is still young.

The rest of my dilemma is the seeming lack of adherence to CSS standards displayed by the various browsers -- to the point that IE 5 will display one way and IE 6 will display in another. Even people who are preaching the virtues of CSS say things like:

"The combined resources of MS, AOL, and Opera have failed to give us any browser that fully supports a 1996 spec, and they have succeeded in giving us a series of browsers that each have different rendering bugs."

Well that's not very encouraging, is it? I don't feel like spending hours testing my site on different browsers and writing all sorts of weird workarounds so everything will look sort of the same to everyone. What happens when IE 7 comes out and introduces its own set of CSS bugs/features?

And even though there are some interesting articles about the merits of chiding users with old browsers and going whole-hog CSS on your site, I still have a hard time thinking that someone who has gone through all the trouble of visiting my site should get slapped around by my design work just because they're stuck using an older browser. My site is designed to be informative, not to preach the merits of installing the newest (and the "correct" brand of) browser. And besides, some of my visitors might be coming from companies that have a desktop standard that uses an older browser. Do I want to chase these people from my site because I'm feeling rather righteous about CSS? Heck no. I need all the readers I can get.

So I'm going to stick with my old fashioned tables for the time being. Maybe I'm living in the past, but I certainly don't think that even the newest browsers will stop supporting tables for a while (and at least table rendering seems to be relatively standard). Oh, and one more link for you: I found a neat little tool that can help you get started with your CSS font and table definitions. I will agree that CSS is the way to go for text styles.

A Few More Tips (Tuesday, Sep 3)
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Sorry, not much blogging activity here today...or yesterday, as you can see. You'd think I'd be spending my Labor Day holiday dutifully laboring over this website for the sake of you, dear reader. But it was not to be. I painted a room instead.

In an attempt to catch up, I added a few more more tips for you today, which (in theory) should make up for a particularly uninformative blog entry. As with all of my tips, don't believe everything I say, and test them out for yourself.

We Have Tips (Sunday, Sep 1)
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I finally got some tips posted to the site, so all my links should be active and pointing to something meaningful -- which is arguably a matter of interpretation (use of the term "meaningful", that is), but whatever.

And now that we've entered a new month, I even have an old blog as a link over on the left, which means I'm suddenly maintaining an archive. Gee, this site feels so old all of a sudden...