Eventually, after all the writing and editing and looking for agents and all that, eventually, in my case at least, it was time to give up on the agents (for now) and self-publish the book.
Not very long ago, self-publishing meant the author would have to dig into his or her own pockets to find the money to pay for a print run of books. That's not just printing, that's typesetting, page makeup, proofing, page and cover design, printing, binding, shipping...you get the idea. What it was, was expensive.
Back in a prior life, when I owned and ran printing companies, we used to say it was the first copy that was the expensive one. Once all the equipment was set up and running, making more copies was incredibly cheap. But it was getting the equipment (and the typesetting and the page makeup, etc) set up that cost all the money.
So, back in the day, you had to buy larger quantities to bring the unit cost down to something manageable. Self-publishing authors would typically buy a thousand or two of their books and then work their butts off for who knows how many years trying to unload them. And, all the time--or at least most of the time--they were out of pocket the full production cost.
It was a hard way to make any money.
But today, that's all changed.
Read More . . .
I'm thrilled to say, early reviews of my book Loss of Control have been overwhelmingly positive. Here are a few of the comments I've pulled from both Amazon.com reviews and Facebook:
!!!! I loved it...and I read a lot of thriller/mysteries. I loved the characters. The plot set in/around the race track was great. I didn't figure out "who dun it" until you told me!!! I keep trying to figure out what actor plays which character in the movie.
I'm about halfway through and still riveted. Started taking the book with me into the loo so I can sneak in a few more pages.
Just finished my copy tonight. I loved it….Can't wait for the next one!
The movie will make Scott money, but it will suck. They always do. READ THE BOOK!
Just finished reading this book last night. I found myself sneaking time away from other things to get in a few more pages. Needless to say it was tough to put down. Whether you are a racer, fan, or just love to read, it's a must-have.
Great read that combines a well crafted murder mystery with a very descriptive and exciting foray into the sport of road racing. The story grabbed me immediately and kept me engaged to the intriguing end.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, and in fact I found myself reading "just a few pages more" until I finished it the second day. It's well paced, with plenty of action. I particularly enjoyed the inside look at racing from a driver's perspective, and I think the racing action scenes added a lot to make the story an interesting one. The mystery itself keeps you guessing up to the end. A great read; I'd love to see more like this one.
Scott Good's debut novel is a fast-paced read that was difficult to put down. Even when I thought I had a pretty good idea whodunnit, I was glued to the page to find out what happened next. Loss of Control is a captivating thriller all the way to the final race against time. It's a must-read for racing fans and fans of the mystery/thriller genre alike.
Well….I think this was a first for me! You may recall that [I bought] a copy of “Loss of Control” at Road America. I also received a copy of “Killing Kennedy” as a gift that Friday evening. I started reading Kennedy Friday evening and finished it Monday evening. I then tore into your novel and couldn’t stop. I don’t think I have ever read two books in one week but I finished “Loss of Control” last night and REALLY ENJOYED IT!!!
I LOVE murder mysteries and this book does not disappoint. It has everything: suspense, romance and great characters. I don't know anything about car racing, but the writer has a great way of making everything understandable…. The technology mentioned throughout the book is really interesting. Reminds me of a Michael Crichton novel where he weaves science and medicine into the storyline. "Loss of Control" provides the same type of information only about car racing.
I had a blast reading this book! I really got into the race action. The author helped me visualize each turn as if I was actually in the race car, and had me visualizing each turn by name. The race action is very exciting, from the opening scene, which sets the premise of the book, to the end….The ending to the mystery is not what I expected, and had a few twists I did not see coming. All in all, a great read from a first time author.
If you haven't ordered your copy yet, what are you waiting for?
Now available in paperback, Kindle, and ePub (like for Nook) formats. Or, if you're near Columbus, Ohio, join us tomorrow at Jeffrey Thomas Clothiers in the Kingsdale Shopping Center for a book signing from 11 until 2.
Get it today (or tomorrow) and spend the rest of the weekend finding reasons to sneak off to the bathroom to read!
There is plenty of advice available to budding new authors. A lot of it. Most is out here on the Internet and most of it--that I've seen anyway--says your only real chance of getting noticed by a publisher is to be represented by an agent.
If one is to believe the preponderance of what has been posted on this subject (and I can't see why not), it seems there is a pretty clear hierarchy at work here, with the publishers at the top because they, after all, have the money.
Beneath the publishers are the agents, of which there are many, who represent many different books for many different authors. Like an auditorium filled with teenage girls, all screaming for the attention of Justin Bieber, the agents clamor for face time and attention from the publishers because, as I believe I have already mentioned, the publishers have the money.
Once you get past the agents, you're down to the talent. The authors themselves. I was tempted to use an analogy of John/pimp/hooker for the publisher/agent/author relationship because there's a lot that works. Both the pimp and hooker, for instance, are working for the John's money.
Where that breaks down is when you get to the authors. In the pimp/hooker scenario, the pimps are doing the work of developing the relationship between themselves and the talent. Although not exactly my area of expertise, I would expect it's a lot easier to convince a pimp to take on a hooker than it is to convince a hooker (or hooker-to-be) to sign on with a pimp.
In the agent/author scenario, the dynamic is the other way around. There, it's the authors trying to lure the agents into representing them. Back to the teeny-boppers and Justin Bieber analogy, Mr. Bieber has a wealth of options from which to choose while each of the ladies in the crowd has a single choice.
Agents are the Bieber in the agent/author relationship, at least at the start which, for most of us, is the only place that really matters. Agents get so many requests from anxious new authors that they can be incredibly, remarkably, cavalier with their attention.
Read More . . .
Once I'd finally finished the first cut of my book, I figured I was just about done. I mean, after all, I'd done a lot of editing as I was writing. I'm a little anal that way (actually, I'm a lot anal that way) and I can't really pick up where I left off without going back and re-reading and re-editing stuff I've already written.
So, by the time I got to the end the first time, I'd already done a lot of editing.
I figured I was nearly done. Practically finished.
(This is where you should shake your head back and forth with a knowing look while thinking, "That poor, poor boy. He really has no clue, does he?")
Over the course of the next 14 months, depending on how you count them, I did at least 8 full edits. That is, front to back, full printout, read the whole thing, mark it up like I've got stock in companies that manufacture red ink. The whole lot.
And, then fully update the book and make the changes, and rearrange the text, and add the new ideas, and re-write or delete whole sections. Heck, between the time the e-books were first made available and the paperback came out (the matter of a week or so), I did yet another full edit and deleted two whole chapters.
Somewhere in there, very late in the process, I even had a good friend who is even more anal about these things than I am do a slow and thoughtful edit of the thing.
What I know from all of that is I could probably edit it ten more times. I could probably edit it forever. But, at some point, you have to just pull the trigger. It is what it is.
At least, until the next revision...
Read More . . .
I started writing my book seven years ago, in 2005, with those nine words.
I felt the explosion before I actually heard it.
They were literally the first words I typed and, amazingly, after six years of admittedly on and off writing, and another fourteen months doing eight full edits of the book, that line is still the opening sentence.
Almost everything else has changed or been reworked or rearranged but that line has somehow remained both in place and intact.
It's still there, I guess, because I like they way it makes you say What explosion? and want to read just a teench further.
That's how it works for me, anyway.
I'm still learning how to write. That might sound funny to some who know me. I've published more than 70 articles in technical publications--hundreds of thousands of words--and I've written numerous white papers on racing and racing techniques. I write long and detailed (and, hopefully, interesting) recaps of racing weekends that read more like prose than reporting, but, well, there's still plenty of room for improvement even though I think my writing is not too bad these days.
That's one of the things I discovered over the long course of writing this book: That my writing style became better. It had more flow, and the ideas came out more easily, with more interesting sentences. After I'd finished, I found that when I read the book, the second half was a lot better than the first. Not the ideas, so much, but the way they were expressed. It was like you had to drag yourself a little bit through the first third of the thing and then suddenly it just grabbed you and took off.
So, of course, I rewrote the first half.
Read More . . .
As anyone unfortunate enough to be a Facebook friend of mine knows all too well, I recently published my first novel, Loss of Control. What they may or may not know is that I've gone the self-publishing route, meaning I don't have an agent or a "real" publisher. For now, at least.
I've done this for a couple of reasons but the most compelling of these, to me, is that I got tired of trying to find an agent. It turns out that the game for publishing the conventional way pretty much requires you find an agent to represent you to the various publishing houses. If you're a celebrity or have done something incredible (think: cut off your arm to escape a mountain) or, I suppose, if you're sleeping with a publisher, you may not need an agent. But the rest of us do.
Agents are both plentiful and blind to your desires. I've read more than one "How to land an agent" essay which suggests you should plan on submitting to somewhere between fifty and 100 agents before you find one who'll have you.
That's probably true, but I gave up around 30.
As recently as a few years ago, not having an agent and not having a publisher would have been the death of an author's ambition unless said author had a pile of cash she was willing to spend on printing her own book. As someone who used to own a pretty substantial printing company, I can tell you firsthand that printing your own book is not an inexpensive way to go.
But today, that's no longer required.
In today's world, more and more authors are self-published, partially because of the difficulty finding agents, partially because self-published authors collect a vastly higher percentage of the dollars from their book sales, and partially because it is so darned easy to do.
Read More . . .
After much too much time writing, editing, searching for agents, and worrying, my book Loss of Control is finally available.
Originally titled The Clause (see my original post from about a year ago, below) it is a mystery/suspense story about Jake Berwyn, an amateur racing driver who blames himself for the violent death of his best friend, David Reid. After discovering that David's accident was no accident, Jake becomes determined to identify his friend's killer.
His efforts embroil him in a plot which twists its way through real estate development, finance, and cell phone hacking, while Jake endures both physical and emotional threats to himself and those around him.
Resisting both his own temptations to throw in the towel, and the apathetic disinterest of the authorities, Jake's quest of fits and starts is complicated by his own very personal history with the grieving widow. The story culminates in a riveting race against time and the quickly-depleting battery of his own stolen cell phone.
Loss of Control is a 106,000-word mystery/suspense story told in the first person over a 12-day period. Set in and around Columbus, Ohio and the Mid-Ohio race track, it highlights the extent to which even close friends will go when the stakes involve sex, money, or both.
Although the story line includes some auto racing, this is not an auto racing book. If you've ever read any Dick Francis mystery (which all revolve around steeplechase riding), think of this as Dick Francis with cars in place of horses.
Hard-copy books should be available later this week.
It's a good story (if I do say so myself) which has gotten great reviews by a slew of early readers. If you give it a shot and like it, please go back to Lulu or Amazon and give it a nice review/rating.
I recently spent a few days in Washington, DC (well, okay, technically it was Arlington, Virginia, but you get the idea) at The View's Admin/Dev conference renewing friendships and speaking on a range of getting-you-ready-for-XPages topics. I promised to post the presentations and the demo databases. You can find them here:
- CSS and HTML
After something like six years of dragging it out, I've finally finished the first draft of my first novel, The Clause.
At 100,000 words, it shouldn't have taken this long. Really, I've probably written that much in magazine articles in that same time but, somehow, this has been an on-again, off-again passion. Over the first six months of this year, however, I finally got more serious about it and, since February, wrote the final 50,000 words.
Doesn't say a lot for my production over the first five years of the project but...whatever. I've got other jobs, too.
Regardless, it is a really nice feeling to finally have made it all the way through the first cut. Now, of course, starts the editing....
Lotusphere 2011 was better than ever. If you weren't there, I'm sorry for you as we saw the many technologies which have been introduced over the last few years mature and congeal into a sensible, usable whole.
My contribution to the event was a series of presentations. If you are interested in copies of the final versions presented, they are attached below.
- JMP302 HTML and CSS Master Class
- JMP303 JSON in client- and server-side code Master Class
- BP202 You can't fix ugly (how to make a great first impression with your applications)
- BP305 How XPages dramatically improved a non-profit's ability to serve its customers
Below, please find links to my presentations from Lotusphere 2010. If you have any questions about either of them, feel free to write.
- BP202 There’s No Fixing Ugly: How to Make a Great First Impression with Your Applications
If you were there, thanks for coming...I hope they were useful. If you are the person I offended in one of my "You can't fix ugly" presentations, my apologies. Completely unintended, I assure you.
Thanks to everyone who attended my session this morning at the Midwest Lotus User Group Conference in Chicago. I appeciate you being there.
Several asked about getting the example database and/or presentation for their own use. You can download a copy of the one from Lotusphere (same bits...different background) here.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about what you're seeing or how it works.
If you attended any of my sessions this week, thanks for coming. I hope you found the time well-spent.
Below are links to downloads of the sessions' slides and, in most cases, the demo databases that went with them. Please note, even as .zip files, these are all more than 1MB and some over 4MB.
JMP201: JSON / AJAX Jumpstart
SHOW107: JSON Show and Tell
SpeedGeeking: SpeedGeeking with jQuery
Are you going to Lotusphere next week? If so, great! I'll be there. Look me up. Even in this economically-challenged environment, Lotusphere 2009 promises to be a good one.
There's a lot of interesting work coming out of IBM and Lotus these days, much of which I'm sure we'll see in Orlando. Last year and in 2007 I had a lot of sessions. So many, I was hardly able to get to any from anyone else, which is a bummer because there's a lot of great stuff to see and learn.
So, this year I told myself I do fewer sessions and spend more time learning than teaching. And, it's working. Kinda.
But I still have a lot more time during the days to learn.
If you're interested in attending any of my sessions, they are...
- 8:00 AM: AJAX and JSON JumpStart
- 4:00 PM: JSON Show and Tell (with Henry Newberry)
- 4:15 PM: A New Approach to Internationalizing Domino Applications
- 6:00 PM: SpeedGeeking (mine's on jQuery)
- 7:00 AM (ugh): Birds of a Feather: jQuery
I hope to see you in Orlando.
Almost forgot...GURUPALOOZA, noonish, Thursday. So, six, I guess. Come and see if I can continue my streak of zero answered GURUPALOOZA questions....
This session explored the technologies Henry and I used in rebuilding IBM's on-line forums to be more Web 2.0 compliant. Chock full of AJAX and JSON, there are some really interesting bits in here (if you want my opinion) but my favorite is the multiple database search.
You can download the presentation here.
Below you'll find the presentation and example database from Sunday's AJAX and JSON for IBM Lotus Domino Applications JumpStart presentation.
You can download the presentation and example databases here.
Please note that in Example 6, which uses the agent called GetSessionDetails, you'll need to adjust the file path specified in the agent to match wherever you actually put the Lotusphere sessions database (yeah, I know it's a bit of a hack but, hey, it's a demo!).
Are you going to Lotusphere this year? If you make your living in the Notes/Domino space, go bug your boss to get you there. Lotusphere is THE place the expand your skills and learn about what's coming down the pike. And, considering how much great new stuff is coming out of Lotus these days, well, that's just one more reason to be there.
This is expected to be the first Lotusphere to sell out since 2000, so sign up early. Registration is here.
What? You say your company is stuck in the Dark Ages and still using Notes 5 (or 6) and Lotusphere is a waste of time since you won't see release 8 in this decade?
You still need to be there!
Even if you have to blow dust off the Notes icons every time you start up your computer, there is a lot of practical instruction and information--a lot--you can take home and use right away, even in your old Stone-Tablet-release of Notes.
Henry Newberry and I will be among a star-studded (OK, pocket-protector encrusted) cast of speakers presenting on topics that cover the entire waterfront of Notes topics. For instance, between us, Henry and I will be talking about:
- AJAX and JSON for IBM Lotus Domino Applications (JumpStart session)
- An introduction to LotusScript (JumpStart session)
- Moving IBM Lotus Notes applications to the web
- Implementing AJAX and JSON in Domino Applications (Hands-on)
- A look under the hood at a world-class IBM Lotus Domino Web application
And that's just us. And that's just Notes. There will be lots of sessions on Quickr, Lotus Connections, Sametime, the productivity tools, and...everything. Altogether there will be hundreds of presentations. Whatever you need, you can be pretty sure it's there. And that's just the formal presentations.
There are Birds-of-a-Feather sessions, endless networking opportunities (no, not that kind of networking...the kind where you meet people and create relationships), great social events (you may have to leave that off the justification to your boss), and all the rest.
So, you may be asking yourself, is it expensive?
Read More . . .
I spent the beginning of last week at the Advisor Summit in Anaheim, CA. If you were there, thanks for coming. Below are links to my various presentations and hands-on sessions:
Liz Novak, my long-suffering editor from Lotus Advisor magazine, pinged me yesterday with "Hey Scott, congratulations!!"
"um, not sure what you're talking about," I pinged back.
She replied with a link to Ed Brill's blog where he'd just posted the ten top-ranked Lotusphere presentations.
Rob Novak and Viktor Krantz smoked the field with #1 (congratulations, both) but I (and Henry and I) made the list at numbers 7, 8 and 10. I'll take that.
Thanks, Ed, for posting it and thanks anybody who came to any of the sessions for not saying all the bad stuff you were thinking.
Tuesday, Henry and I had our final three sessions, a repeat of the Domino Sites that Don't Look (or Act) Like Domino (with the new changes) in the morning and two instances of The Ultimate Make-Over of an IBM Lotus DOmino Site Using CSS.
This session is a repeat from Lotusphere 2006 and one where we show you how to change the standard Domino Discussion database and, using mostly CSS, get rid of the framesets, most of the Java applets (which, it turns out, don't work in IE 7), and generally tart the thing up a bit.
The files for the session can be downloaded from here. I've included the updated instructions which even include the right database file names (oops...my bad). Again, if you were there, thanks for coming.
If you were there for the first one, in the big room, some of the examples here are different. After the first session ended I decided we needed better examples. In particular, take a look at the finished tabbed table. The one shown in the examples here is a LOT easier to set up and use.
The files for the session can be downloaded from here. I've included the updated examples database. Again, if you were there, thanks for coming.
My third presentation of the day was the AJAX for Domino Hands-On which will be repeated Monday at 12:30. The files for that session can be downloaded from here. Included is an updated version of the instructions (so sue me, I left out a few variable declarations) the large address book, the blank database for you to do the work in and, finally, a finished database with the work done in case you can't get it to work. Again, if you were there, thanks for coming.
Yesterday I spent most of the day with the Northeast Ohio Lotus Notes Usergroup. They had a very well-attended half-day meeting (50 attendees, give or take). I gave my 25 Tricks for Building Better Lotus Notes and Domino Applications Faster presentation but, as a part of it, got a surpise.
One of the items on the my list of 25 tips had to do with using AJAX in your web applications. I won't go into the details here but, as I got to that tip I asked the group, "OK, so how many of you are building web applications?"
I expected a third...maybe as many as half...of the people to raise their hands.
Only one guy did.
One guy? Out of a room of 50 or so Notes developers? Only one was doing web development? Wow, was about all I could think. Besides the fact it made my AJAX tip pretty much a waste of time, it got me started wondering how many people really are doing web development in Domino. As for me, it's probably three-quarters or more of what I do, but what about you?
Are you doing Domino web development? If so, how much of your time is web, how much is Notes? Are you building double-sided apps (to be used from both the Notes client and a browser), or apps strictly for the web? If you're not doing web apps, why not? Does your company simply not do web development or is Domino just not the platform of choice?
I'm quite interested in hearing what you have to say about this. Please take a moment to put in your two cents' worth.
Are you going to Lotusphere? I am, that's for sure. In fact, my partner, Steve Branam, and I have been to every Lotusphere. We're certainly not the only ones, but it would be fun to know how many Notes crazies have been there since the beginning.
If you've never been and you're active in the Notes/Domino space, you really ought to try to go. This is the biggest Notes event of the year and the amount of learning you can do in just one week is rather amazing.
This will be my fourth (Fifth?...no, fourth...I think) year as a Lotusphere speaker. Last year Henry Newberry and I did two sessions together, one of which (a hands-on session) was repeated once.
My sessions are...
- How to Make IBM Lotus Domino Sites That Don't Look (or Act) Like Lotus Domino (with Henry Newberry)
- The Ultimate Make-Over of an IBM Lotus Domino Site Using CSS (Hands-On, also with Henry)
- AJAX for IBM Lotus Domino (Hands-On)
...plus, I suppose, the GURUpalooza if they do that again this year.
If you can, find a way to get there. Lotusphere is a great event...you'll be glad you did.
Wow, it's been a month since I've posted here. Sorry about that...it's been a busy summer. I'm in Phoenix most of this week speaking at the Advisor Summit conference. Yesterday was my first session, the CSS JumpStart, which ended up going long after I'd worried it would be too short.
In any case, if you were there and hung around, thanks. The full presentation and my examples database can be downloaded here.
Like rats from a sinking ship, Henry and I bailed this afternoon on our original session. It's not that it was a bad session in any way, just that between us, we did 10 presentations this week and when we started reviewing this last one, How to Make IBM Lotus Domino Sites That Don't Look (or Act) Like Lotus Domino, which we were giving together, the conversation went about like this:
"Hey, uh, I already showed this Date Picker stuff in another session."
"Yeah, me, too. And the NAB-picker."
"And, CSS, you did a whole session on it and I talked about is some in my Advanced Topics session."
"And the Action Buttons. They've seen that..."
...and so on. Not everything in the presentation was a re-hash of topics we'd already covered but a whole lot more than we'd've liked. So, we did what any self-respecting presenters would do, we ran like Jesse Owens with the KKK in trail.
Straight to the bar.
NO, not REALLY. We did ditch the presentation, though, and replace it with another. At Lotusphere this year we did a Hands-On session where everybody brought their own computers worked along with us. We showed them how to use CSS to transform the standard Discussion Template into something you could be proud of by getting rid of the framesets, nixing the Java applets (except one), and doing a lot of easy things that make it just a whole lot nicer.
We resurrected that Hands-On and presented it as a lecture where Henry typed and I gabbed about what he was doing. If you're trying to learn a bit about CSS (other things, too, but mostly CSS) and you have an hour or two to kill, you ought to give it a try.
Attached here are two files: The Hands-On Parts database we have used to pre-build some of the parts for you, and a Word document with a complete set of step-by-step instructions telling you what to do. To these, you need to add a new database made from the R6 Discussion template, the subject of your overhaul.
I think you'll find it a useful exercise and, hey, worst case is it beats doing real work. Download it here.
This morning at 8 AM I was AJAX Fundamentals. If you got up and made it there, thanks for coming...it was the fullest room of the week for me and even though it ran a teench short, I think provided a good starting-off point for folks trying to wrestle this collaboration of technologies to the ground.
As promised, the presentation and, more importantly, demo database are available here. If you get any good ideas along the way for things you'd like to see in my Ajax articles, please send them along.
If you were in my Notes-to-Web 2 session this morning (at the Advisor Summit here in Las Vegas), thanks for coming.
As promised then, you can download a .zip file of both the presentation and (more importantly) the Good Stuff To Steal if you GO HERE.
Oh, hey...forgot to tell you. Look in the Help Using document to get complete installation instructions for the NAB pickers.
If you were in either of the Hands-On sessions we did Wednesday, again, thanks for coming! As much as we love speaking, it really means a lot when people actually show up. The morning session was crazy, with 75 people in a room planned for 50. Fortunately, we had USB dongles with the databases on them so everyone who brought their own laptops (a lot of people) could work along with those using the laptops provided in the room. The afternoon session was pretty much a full house, too, which was nice.
I promised I'd make the various databases available and so, I shall. You can download the complete set of databases for HND209, The Ultimate Make-Over of a Domino Web Site from here.
Inside the example database are the presentations (that is, PowerPoint files) for both of our sessions if you're interested.
If you get stuck on something while you're trying to figure it out, send me a note and I'll do my best to help out..
If you were in Henry's and my session Monday afternoon Lotusphere session, thanks for coming! The room was nearly full (355 attendees by the door guy's count) and we went through a lot of stuff in not a whole lot of time.
I promised I'd make the examples database available and so, I shall. You can download the complete example database for BP310, How to make a Domino web site that doesn't look like Domino from here.
If you get stuck on something while you're trying to figure it out, send me a note and I'll do my best to help out..
Are you going to Lotusphere this year? If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're probably not a Notes person. Lotus Notes, that is. Lotusphere is the annual Notes Love-In held in Orlando since, if memory serves, 1994. My (business) partner, Steve, and I have been to all of them and I'll be a speaker again this year for, I think, the fourth year.
Henry Newberry and I are jointly giving a presentation and hosting two hands-on labs. The presentation, BP310: How to Make IBM Lotus Domino Sites That Don't Look (or Act) Like Lotus Domino (Monday, 5PM, Swan), will cover a whole range of topics on how to take that great Notes application you have and convert it for use from the web. We've organized it so there are things in there for developers of all skill levels, from simple to, well, not at all simple.
The labs, two installments of HND209: The Ultimate Make-Over of an IBM Lotus Domino Site (Wednesday at 8:30 and 2:30, Swan), take the things we talked about in the presentation and give you the chance to actually get your hands dirty putting it all to work in an actual application.
There's a guided do-it-mostly-yourself process that will let you, in an hour and a half, convert the standard Notes Discussion Database template from an ugly, Java-applet-bloated, framed application to one that's faster, more attractive and totally free of framesets.
If you've spent any time in the design of the Notes Discussion Template you know it's not a place to tread lightly, regardless of how mundane its uses are. The template developers back at Lotus have built so much stuff in there that it's a place most developers hope never to have to tread. But, common sense has never been a strong point for some of us and, never backing down from a challenge, we figured this was one of the few applications almost everybody has seen at one time or another. That makes it a great challenge for our hands-on session.
The images here are before and after versions of the Main Topic form and, while it's probably hard to tell by looking at them at this tiny size, there's a real improvement in the look and feel of the form. Although it looks framed, that's all done with CSS.
I think both sessions are going to be popular but I'm particularly enthused about the hands-on lab. I hope we see you there!
Want a chance to get a little promotion for your work? Henry Newberry and I will be presenting at Lotusphere 2006 on the subject of How to make Domino web sites that don't look like Domino.
If you have one (or more than one) you've built that can be accessed from the Internet (as opposed to an intranet), which you wouldn't mind us showing off (briefly), please send me a link. If we use your site, we'll use your name, too (unless you don't want us to as a result of Witness Protection Program issues!).
What the heck, you might get famous or, worst case, get somebody to buy you a beer, as a result.
Eight years ago I started writing a book. Not a technical book; a novel. Red Fog was supposed to be a fictitious story of international relations and espionage and the complications that come from a combination of good intelligence interpreted poorly, megalomaniacal political leaders, gross differences in cultures, and centuries-old cultural chips-on-shoulders.
Through a series of cleverly-staged events, the world was tricked by Taiwan into thinking China was going to use nuclear weapons on Russia. In a last-minute, OK Corral showdown, the US was on the brink of turning control of mainland China over to the Taiwanese, cementing Chiang Kai-shek's legacy.
Anyway, it would have been a great story if I could have got through it, but a few chapters in it became really obvious that, as good a story as it was, I was woefully under-equipped to tell it. Set in Moscow, Peking, Taipei, and Washington, three out of four of which I know little about, it turned out to be a whole lot more of a research paper than a book.
Before long, I dropped it, though I still sometimes go back and read parts, hoping to suddenly have the capacity to tell the story. Alas, I don't.
But I keep finding myself wanting to write.
So, this week, I started a new book. We'll see if I get farther.
This is a much simpler story, more along the lines of a John Grisham or Dick Francis novel than the Tom Clancy-ish machinations of Red Fog. I'm trying to stick to things I actually know about and concentrate this time on telling a compelling people story rather than one that's technically interesting.
Time will tell, of course, whether I crash and burn again or make it through, but I'm crossing my fingers.
Well, that went well. I just finished my second Lotusphere presentation, Advanced Web Development Techniques. The main room was smallish--180 seats, give or take--but the door monitor told me afterward there were two full overflow rooms and they turned away another 50 people or so.
That makes me smile.
All the more so because I think it went really well. Very satisfying. If you were there and are looking for a copy of the presentation or the examples database, GO HERE. Please note, though, that the IMPACT! application I showed is not here...it's a little too complicated to get set up to make available on a casual basis. Sorry.
On the other hand, a whole lot of what was in the presentation can be found in ProcessIt!, our workflow tool, which is very easy to get set up and going. You can download a full copy of ProcessIt! and use it for 60 days for free. It's a very sophisticated web application which does a lot of things you'll probably have a hard time figuring out but some of it, like the views can at least show you the way.
And, hey, you might even find out you have a use for workflow.
If you were at my session, thanks for coming!
Today started Lotusphere and this morning was the first of my presentations, LotusScript JumpStart. There was a nice-sized crowd and I thought it went well. If you were there, I hope it was helpful for you.
At the end of the session I mentioned I would post both the presentation and the examples database on this site, so here you go...get the downloads.
In the interest of making these easier to download, I deleted a lot of the documents in the demo database. There are still enough to run the examples but I decided 3500 documents was a little bit of overkill.
My next presentation is Advanced Web Development Techniques at 10 AM on Wednesday (Swan 1-2). This is one of my favorite presentations as it covers a whole lot of ground and shows how you can leverage the many capabilities of Notes to do some really interesting things.
I've blogged about this presentation before, so I won't do it again, but I really think it's a fun, idea-generating session.
I hope to see you there.
You know, on the whole, I try not to be too much of a geek but the bottom line is: I'm excited for Lotusphere this year (geek).
If you are somehow reading this blog and don't know about Lotusphere well...welcome!, but...it's a big Lotus Software Love-In in Orlando and it starts this Saturday. I and, oh, 10,000 or so of my closest (mostly geek) friends will do our best to challenge the crowd-handling (and drink-pouring) skills of the Disney World staff.
The last couple Lotuspheres have been, well, if not lame, then at least so-so. But I have a feeling this is going to be a good one. We're getting close (I hope) to the release of Notes 7 and there's now a defined plan for moving Notes and Workplace (sorry, IBM WORKPLACE©) closer together.
Equally importantly for those of us who've invested huge amounts of time and money getting to be Notes experts, all indications are our skills will remain valuable for the foreseeable future. This Lotusphere should put some meat on the skeleton that been sketched out so far and I, for one, am anxious to see it.
If you're going to be there, please feel free to look me up. I'm speaking twice (LotusScript JumpStart on Sunday and Advanced Web Development Techniques on Wednesday). And, if the twelve prior Lotuspheres are any indication, you can probably find us in the bar at Schula's at the end of pretty much every day.
I hope to see you there!
Most of last week was spent in Baltimore at the Advisor Live event. I didn't think I liked Baltimore, probably because the last time I was there (July, 2003) a Honda Pilot driver too busy chatting on her phone turned my new ride into, well, the mess you see here plus a day in the Hospital for me and my oldest daughter, Corey.
But I digress.
It turns out, the fine folks at Johns Hopkins not withstanding, I actually do like Baltimore. The Advisor event there was good, if lightly attended (during the elections this year was probably not the best time for such an event) and the whole Inner Harbor area is great.
I did my usual presentations, the LotusScript JumpStart and 25 Tricks for Building Better Notes and Domino Applications Faster, but added a new one: Advanced Domino Web Development. This is one I'm hoping to present at Lotusphere this year (OK, it's in January so, technically, next year).
Having presented it twice now, there are a couple of edges I'd like to file down just a smidge but the overall reaction was excellent. My favorite comment was the person who wrote HE ROCKS!!! on their evaluation.
The presentation is a little unusual for these events in that it goes from cradle to grave. Well, OK, maybe it's not quite that comprehensive, but it starts at one end (@Formulas) and everything you learn is based on what you already learned. It's more of a continuum than discrete training items.
By the time I get to the end we've talked about @Formulas, LotusScript, building context-sensitive HTML on the fly, integrating embedded views, leveraging the "show single category" option to do strange things like @Soundex searching, using views for dialog boxes, CSS, DHTML and, well, you get the idea.
At the end I show a sophisticated employee goal-management application that uses every little bit of it in an interface that simply does not look like it came from Domino.
It went over well and is fun to give. I hope to get it and the 25 Tricks presentations on the Lotusphere list (hint, hint).
Heck, I'll even go back to Baltimore if they ask.
But now I'm back. Or, at least, about to be.
Liz Olsen (Lotus Advisor's Managing Editor) and I have agreed to start a new series on Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). CSS, if you've just crawled out from under a rock, gives you the ability to use an external style sheet (or more than one) to control the look and feel of your site.
A simple example: Both Rocky Oliver (LotusGeek.com) and I (and about a hundred others) use the exact same Notes database as the basis for our blogs. The difference in the look and feel between them, which is pretty significant, is strictly a matter of the CSS settings.
Neither of us changed any of the design of the forms (at least not the parts you can see here--I messed with my internal forms a while back because I couldn't stand not to). Instead, we edited one page of specifications for everything from background colors to fonts. Changing those specs in one place changed it everywhere else across the site, even on existing pages.
Maybe this doesn't sound like such a big deal to you. If not, you've never been confronted with an existing web site made without CSS that you were supposed to change to a new format. With CSS you'd have to change one set of specifications instead of completely reworking every page on the site.
It's a better way to live, even if there's (a little) more upfront work.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting started on the new series. The first lesson should be in the November issue. Stay tuned!