Saturday, July 19, 2014

How to force iNotes into Full Mode on a tablet computer

With IBM Notes Traveler and IBM Connections apps available for mobile devices, it's not all that often anymore that I try to get into IBM SmartCloud from a browser, especially on my phone, where the form factor is just too, too small. But on a tablet like the iPad it's still useful sometimes. Of course, when I do, if I try to look at my mail, calendar, or contacts, it defaults to displaying them in the iNotes UltraLight interface. That's fine most of the time and it's perfect for a phone with its, again, small screen. But a tablet's screen is big enough to accommodate the iNotes Full interface. And sometimes I wish I could switch over to it. Don't get me wrong. I think the iNotes UltraLight interface is brilliant. But sometimes it's just too minimalist.

iNotes UltraLight interface
IBM SmartCloud displays iNotes UltraLight mail interface in iPad's browser
 A few years ago I decided to go to Lotusphere without a laptop computer in tow. Having bought and fallen in love with an iPad I thought I'd try surviving a week that year with just the iPad, my iPhone and the laptops they provide at Lotusphere. And I managed just fine, but I wished I could bring up iNotes on the iPad in Full interface mode. Lotusphere was (and its successor Connect is) about the greatest place in the world to have such a wish because you can just go to any of the labs and talk to IBM's own experts on any subject. I did just that and the guys in the lab helped me figure out how to force iNotes into Full mode. We bookmarked it in Safari, I thanked them, and I went on my way (while, behind me I heard one of them say to another, "See, I told you people would want to use this stuff on an iPad".)

iNotes Full interface
IBM SmartCloud can display iNotes Full mail interface in iPad's browser
I went years with that bookmark on my iPad, using it less and less frequently as I got more into the Traveler/Connections app groove and out of the SmartCloud-by-browser groove. (One reason for that is that the apps offer a much better editing experience, providing, as they do, access to Apple's double-edged editing tools.) Then, just the other day, I got a question from a customer, a new Notes/iNotes/SmartCloud Connections user, wanting to know if there was a way to get the Full mail/calendar/contacts interface on a tablet. Oh, yes there is, and I know how to do it! I went looking for my bookmark and, omigod, it was gone! I don't know where it went, but I could no longer find it on my iPad.

So I had to relearn how to force Full mode on a tablet. I experimented with the URL, but the darn thing kept coming up in UltraLight mode. I Googled it, but, surprise, it doesn't seem to be a topic that has been discussed much in GoogleSpace. What the heck, I even opened a PMR with IBM SmartCloud to find out if they knew the answer. But then, impatient for them to get back to me, I went back to work on the URL and (ta da!) I cracked it.

Here's the URL that appears in the Safari browser on the iPad when you click Mail in the SmartCloud interface and brings up iNotes UltraLight (substitute your own mail path name for the zeroes, ones, and twos):

Here's how I changed it to force iNotes to come up in Full mode:

As you can see, the key (which I had missed initially) was not to add "&ui=iNotes_Full" but rather to substitute it for "&Form=m_HomeView". And here's a plus: Once you are in Full mode, you stay in Full mode. Touching any of the mail-related links on the screen returns that screen in Full mode as well.

The next thing that happened was that I got a call-back from IBM SmartCloud Support. I told the guy I had solved the problem and he said, "Oh, really? Would you please send me the solution, so we'll have it in case anyone else ever asks?" That made my day. Well, sort of. The fact that they didn't already know the answer reminded me that this is a solution in search of a problem. A smaller and smaller problem as IBM continues to enhance its mobile Traveler and Connections apps.

But, hey, it gives me, all from within the browser interface on my iPad, access to my mail views, folders, rules, archives, and delegated mail databases, all of the calendar views, my To Dos and Notebook entries, my iNotes preferences, and even the Sidebar-base Sametime Communications widget. Caveat: Not officially supported by IBM. And not, perhaps, 100% functional. I get occasional 404 errors; but when I click OK, Safari tries again and my data finally appears. And I haven't actually tested everything, so who knows what else might break?

I'm good with that. Thank, IBM, for some great software.

Copyright 2014 Rob Kirkland

Friday, July 18, 2014

Set Up your SmartCloud Meetings meeting room in the SmartCloud calendar

I am an IBM SmartCloud Notes and IBM SmartCloud Meetings user who works mostly remotely from my colleagues and customers. Therefore, when I create meeting invitations in Notes or iNotes, I like to add my SmartCloud Meetings meeting room and call-in information to virtually all of my meeting invitations. In fact, I do it even for face-to-face meetings because these days you just can't assume that nobody will want to attend remotely.

Including meeting room and call-in information in a meeting invitation is one-click easy. Well, almost. I have had new SmartCloud users try it and fail, then ask me how I do it. Their problem turns out to be that, before you can do it, you have to define a meeting room. 

The problem is that, where Sametime Meetings users are expected (and presumably taught how) to set up their own meeting rooms, SmartCloud Meetings users have a meeting room predefined for them and are expected to use that one meeting room exclusively. So nobody teaches them how to define a meeting room. After all, if their meeting room is predefined, they don't need to define one, right? 

 Er, wrong. When new SmartCloud Notes or iNotes users try to include meeting room information in a meeting invitation, they are presented with an empty list of meetings, as illustrated below, and no information as to what they should do about it. Where is their predefined meeting room?
Because it's the only available option, they try clicking New, which brings up the form below, which presents two problems:
  • It prompts them for the Meeting URL, which they don't know how to provide. 
  • It does not prompt them for the Meeting ID, which they also need and also don't know how to provide.
What nobody tells the new user is: 
  • That one needs to gather the information for this screen beforehand; and
  • Where to get this information.
And there's another problem. If the user tries to navigate directly between the meeting invitation screen and the screen where the meeting information appears, the one screen closes before the other one opens. The user needs to navigate in such a way that both screens remain open so that she can easily copy/paste the information. In other words, the user needs to open the meetings dashboard in one tab or browser window and the calendar app in another.

Here is what the user can do to easily gather the needed information and use it to create a meeting room:
  1. Log into IBM SmartCloud, then navigate to the SmartCloud Meetings dashboard. (Click Apps, Meetings (New) in the Ribbon or, if your organization is "newish" to SmartCloud, it might just say "Meetings".) 
  2. There one sees that a meeting room has indeed been predefined. There, too, are the Meeting ID and Meeting URL.
  3. Optionally (but recommended), set a password for the predefined meeting room.
  4. Leave the Meetings dashboard screen open while you open a meeting invitation. Do this as follows: 
    1. Click the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business tab in the browser to open the original SmartCloud landing page. Or open a new browser window and connect to SmartCloud again from that window.
    2. Then click the "Sign in" link again to open SmartCloud again in yet another tab or window. Result: Three browser tabs and/or windows are open: The SmartCloud landing page, the Meetings page, and the user's Home page. The user can now copy/paste between screens.
  5. Under this new browser tab or window, navigate back to the iNotes calendar and create a new meeting invitation. There, click the links again to return to the New Online Meeting dialog. Now do the following:
    1. Change "Select service" to "IBM SmartCloud Meetings". This causes an additional field (Meeting ID) to appear in the form.
    2. In "Meeting room name", enter any name you want for your meeting room.
    3. In "Meeting URL", paste the URL from the "Your meeting link" field on the Meetings dashboard (under the Meetings browser tab).
    4. In "Meeting ID", paste the eight-digit number from the "Meeting ID" field on the Meetings dashboard.
    5. In "Password" enter or paste the meeting room password if you set one.
    6. In "Call-in information" enter the dialing information to access your bridge or conference line. If one has to dial a phone number followed later by another number, such as a PIN, a conference bridge or an extension, separate the two sequences with either one or more commas (",") or a semi-colon (";"). If the last set of numbers requires a pound symbol ("#") at the end, add it here. That way the invitee doesn't have to dial it manually at meeting time.
      1. Each comma inserts a two-second pause into the dialing sequence. One comma is usually sufficient, but you can insert more than one for a longer pause. 
      2. A semi-colon inserts a "wait", where the numbers following the semi-colon aren't dialed until you manually tell the phone to dial them. 
      3. On smartphones a soft button typically appears on-screen that, when touched, initiates the waiting number sequence. 
    7. The completed dialog looks similar to this:
    8. Click OK. The newly defined meeting room appears in the list. It is selected. Details about it appear in the bottom portion of the dialog.
    9. Click OK to close the dialog. The meeting room and call-in information appear in the meeting invitation.
  6. Either complete or cancel the meeting invitation. You're finished.
From now on, the newly defined meeting room will appear in the list, preselected, in the Reserve Meeting Room dialog, and you can just click Online Meeting, then OK, to include its information in a meeting invitation. 

For some meetings you don't really need a meeting room; rather, all you need is call-in information. Here is how to set up your call-in information in SmartCloud so you can insert it into meeting invitations with a single mouse click:
  1. Log into SmartCloud and open your mail or calendar window. If you are already logged into SmartCloud and you have open tabs that have unsaved edits, save them before you proceed further, because when you save your preferences in step 5 below, all open tabs will close and unsaved edits will be discarded.
  2. Click More in the Mail or Calendar Taskbar, then click Preferences. The Preferences page will appear under another tab in the mail or calendar window.
  3. In the navigation (left) pane of the Preferences page, expand Calendar, then select Meeting. The contents of the main (right) pane will change accordingly.
  4. Under Conference Call Information enter your calling number. Use commas (",") to introduce two-second delays or semi-colons (";") to introduce waits, as previously described.
  5. Click Save and Close. Click OK in the warning dialog that appears. All SmartCloud tabs will close, then the Mail or Calendar tab from which you initiated the above steps will reopen.
Now, whenever you create a meeting, you can add your call-in information by clicking the "Call-in Number" link in iNotes or checking the "Include conference call information in the Location" checkbox in Notes.
Copyright 2014 Rob Kirkland, Rockteam

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How to enter a conference call phone number into a meeting invitation

I love my iPhone. I love that I can open meeting invitations on it and that the meeting phone number is recognized and highlighted, so that, if I touch it, the iPhone dials it for me. I love it even more if the meeting organizer entered the next bit of information correctly. That would be the conference access code. If entered correctly, the iPhone either pauses for a couple seconds, then dials it, or the iPhone displays a button (or maybe just the words - depends on the iOS version) that says “Dial xxxxxxx#” (where “xxxxxxx#” is the conference access code, which in this example ends with the pound/hash sign).
Trouble is, many users don’t know how to enter the phone information so that the iPhone (and probably the Android, too) will work this way. The way you do it is like one of these:
The n’s are the phone number. The x’s are the conference access code. In the first example, they are separated by a comma, which causes the phone to pause two seconds, then continue with the next string of numerals. In the second example, they are separated by a semicolon, which causes the phone to pause until you signal it to continue, which you do, on my iPhone, by touching the words “Dial xxxxxxx#”.
This works with extensions too. And it works with successive strings. For example, someone the other day told me that his phone number was (xxx)xxx-xxxx, then dial 8, then dial 123. In my contact record for him, I entered this: (xxx)xxx-xxxx,8,123
Here’s what people do that I hate, In the meeting invitation, they (oh, so helpfully) enter this sort of thing:
Conference Dial-in Number: (xxx)xxx-xxxxParticipant Access Code: xxxxxxx#
Now, when I want to dial in, I have to do one of the following:
  • Write down the access code, then dial in, then manually enter the access code.
  • Memorize the access code, then dial in, then manually enter the access code.
  • Dial in, go back to the calendar app and look at the access code, memorize it or write it down, then return to the phone app and manually enter the access code.
This is a drag.
Not helpful.
No thanks.
The next time someone does this to you, send them the URL to this blog post.