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Fitness the long road back - Week 1

Got to get fit , GOT TO GET FIT, want to go back to fencing but I would be an embarrassment at the moment, so I have set my self a baseline first


Run 2.4 Miles (3.9 KM) to the Park and back 1 : 33:45 Fail

1 x Complete 7 Min Workout : 4 out of 12 Fail


1 x Run 2.4 Miles (3.9 KM) to the Park and back 1 : 31:22 Fail

Complete 7 Min Workout : 5 out of 12 Fail


1 x Run 2.4 Miles (3.9 KM) to the Park and back 1 : FAIL WORKING LATE

Complete 7 Min Workout : FAIL WORKING LATE

  1. So the passing score for the Army 2 miles run (I have no idea which Army the US one I expect is 19:30 for an old fart like me I have no idea if that is carrying pack or what but its a good start, the park I will be using for fitness is 1.2 miles away, Sooooo 19.30 which equals 1170 Seconds, Pro-rata that: ( 1170 Seconds / 2 ) * 2.4 = 1404 seconds = 23.24, that will be my baseline the end goal will be the top mark in the old fart chart of 13:36 which Pro-ratas to 16.20 (hahahahahaha) 

Modern Web Dev on Iseries

I have recently been merging very old tech (RPG on ISeries) with modern tech (angulaJS 1.6) and it has brought a whole bundle of fun little issues on the ISeries side that I thought I would just note down.

I am NOT an RPG programmer (and never will be), but if you are ever having to deal with REST services (or Web Services) being hand cranked1 for you by a Iseries Dev, there are some of the issues that you may hit

  • Truncation: JSON data can quite easily pop the string limit on ISeries, so your Iseries Dev will have to do this “write to file” thing to get round it, if your JSON is over about the 6Meg limit then you are really going to cause some speed issues.
  • Inconsistent data types: Given that the PUT/GET/POST services are all coded separately, you will get field formatting issues especially if changes are made retrospectively, a Field that is a string in the GET may be a numeric on the PUT, you just have to keep a grip on it and try not to go for the easy option of “we will get it working then come back and fix it later”
  • Leading zeros on numerics: If you are passing decimals less that 1 then the Iseries is going to want to send them as “.000” rather than “0.000” thus invalidating the JSON, don’t be tempted to turn these numbers into strings, they CAN be formatted correctly.
  • Character sets: A lot of the activity seems to be UTF-8, and you may get a fair amount of issues revolving extended character sets, if you are getting errors that are simply baffling when you send stuff to the ISeries, check the formatting of the characters that you are sending.
  • Alternating Parameters: You may be used to REST services in the format “\Name\Parmeter\Name2\Parmeter2” well this causes problems apparently, so you have to deal with them in the format “\Name\Name2\Parmeter\Parmeter2”

A lot of RPG Programmers will not have done this kind of programming before, so testing the results will be a pain to them, may I suggest that you get chrome and installed on their machine so they can test and so they can test the results they are getting.

  1. Yes hand cranked, The ISeries is very good at dealing with text formats and handles REST/MarkDown and its developers have had lots of practice at coding to such, this combined with the extreme pricing of bolt on features <cough> gouging </cough> mean that its most likely your client will drop the bundle of fun on a developer. 

Coming Up For Air

Well that was a hell of a first quarter, a crazy mix of stuff that all HAD to be done, just surfacing on the Easter weekend

so what did I miss:

Connect 2017

First year in what seems forever that I was not pounding off to the US in Jan for the yearly pep conference on all that is IBM, alas a thousand things conspired to stop me this year but mainly just too many client deliverables to take the time off, though it seemed I got on the big screen.

Youjo Senki 01.png

From what I could see from other peoples blogs the conference was a good one, and that we are finally shaking off the older stale parts of what we do and getting on with the new stuff.

what with UKLug/ICON not being on this year looks like my only conference will be Engage, where I will be speaking, this years dodgy session is: “Choose your own adventure: Update/Convert/Replace” at 13:30 on Tuesday in Room C (Gorilla 3).

IBM Champion stuff

Not spent any time in the chat and even missed the yearly swag frenzy (but thanks to Amanda she is going to bring me some stuff over), but I have been doing lots of IBM champion things in that I have been upgrading a variety of IBM tech as well as integrating it with other modern stuff, just not been very visible.


Hmmm I was supposed have got a s**t load of Salesforce qualifications by now, I have had opportunity enough, free training (thanks to bluewave) and what not, but still spend all my time DOING stuff rather than learning stuff, must MUST get a grip on that. also on the radar is docker and the other platform support bits we are looking at for LDC Via

On the plus side I have solved a huge number of client crises in these last few months and made a number of clients very happy, so that is a excellent thing :)


Free beer and disreputable company

Due a huge number of unfortunate events LDC Via are not at connect this year (though we will be at other IBM conferences), refusing to give up on the core tenant of such conferences we will be getting pissed and watching the OGS.

Come join us and let us buy you drinks Register Here, it will be upstairs at the Castle pub next to Farringdon tube station (London) On Tuesday 21st from 5:30pm

New Anime Series: Youjo Senki

First Episode(s) Review for: Youjo Senki

I only do these reviews for new anime I like now so take this as a recommendation


Set in an alternative world war I that includes magic and told from the German point of view, a young very Arian blond girl is the commander of an airborne mage platoon, it soon turns out she is a cut above the rest in both ability and viciousness, a cruel calculating horror in the body of a little girl.


Nicely detailed, with a lot of research on what WWI battlefields looked like based on my somewhat limited knowledge ( the reading of Good-Bye to all That and such ) looks a bit like Fullmetal Alchemist

Plot Potential:

This will be the kicker, they could be boring with this or they could go anywhere, to have such an obviously evil hero character is a fairly unique starting point, but as they have already included political bits, the war being at a tipping point and a young soldier who does not know what to make of her Commander which has shades of Platoon in it we might be going somewhere interesting.


Grim powerful music and great war noises

Reminds me of:

If the hero of Strike Witches had been an evil military minded psycho…..


It’s been 2 seasons since I have been surprised at a new anime, they have been very manufactured recently, but this one took me back, its quite obvious that the hero is an utter ba****d and a nut job and should be the bad guy, but I like her, want to see what she is up to and what her ultimate goal is.

Youjo Senki 01.png

Youjo Senki 02.png

Youjo Senki 03.png

Disclaimer: These are mini reviews of anime’s that are fresh out in Japan and are not licensed in the UK, buy them once they have been licensed or at the very least buy the merchandise, remember if the anime makers make a loss, THEY WILL STOP MAKING ANIME!!

A Year in Review 2016

Year In Review 2016

Time for the annual year in review blog post! This year has just about everything in it, everything apart from peace and quiet. A huge diversity of work and skill-sets, from Salesforce to Sametime, from AngularJS to admin work on SAML, so much so that my tiny mind is bulging at the seams.

My Salesforce skills have come on leaps and bounds: it is an interesting platform, with a lot of opportunity for the clever hacking I enjoy so much. I must give Bluewave a huge thank you for letting me work with it (Salesforce is very partner-oriented, with little place for true freelancers) and most particularly Barry Hughes, the most patient guru who also lets me sit in on internal training sessions despite having finished my full-time work (with Bluewave’s permission I might add).1

For the first time ever, I have a proper office rather than simply relying on client sites or my home workspace: my rented office is at Purple Patch, and it has proved to be just perfect. I can get tons done, and it’s also somewhere to meet, and work, with clients.

LDC Via has had a busy year with booths at multiple conferences and loads of changes and new features based on client feedback and installations. We even launched a whole new offering: KEEP.WORKS.

What skills have I used this year?

Salesforce —> The full range of Salesforce app building, from standard declarative coding to involved, large chunks of Apex and Javascript programming. I also spent loads of time training people on Pardot, working with this very “defined” marketing framework to flex it in a way clients actually want it to function.

JavaScript —> The continuing growth of JavaScript as a primary language for projects showed up a lot this year, in everything from AngularJS to Salesforce Lightning.

Proper Programming —> Java is still my core “serious” language. I’m using it enough to keep things sharp, but it’s not a growth area.

Supplementary stuff —> full on iCal work2, search integration with Solr and Nintex for Sharepoint stuck out this year.

IBM —> Sametime, Domino, WebSphere, ISeries and the other staples of the IBM family continue to test my imagination with integration and upgrade work, ensuring everything stays up-to-date and relevant.

Guesses for 2017

Two big items to guess about here:


JavaScript - this will continue to grow for me, driven by multiple things:

  1. LDC Via and its extensive use of node.js.
  2. Salesforce Lightning - the direction in which Salesforce are clearly steering.
  3. For Domino-based web work, a JavaScript framework talking to Domino services turns out to beat XPages hands down every time.
  4. Lots of clients want to “glue” existing systems to third-party APIs.

Salesforce - I’m less sure about this. The model favours a race to the bottom, which is already starting to show. The company is also incredibly partner-oriented which means it’s hard for smaller companies and individuals to find work. I will just have to keep the skills sharp and see what happens.

Work Load

Bugger knows, this year has been busy, but it’s been in fits and starts3, such is the joy of freelancing. I had a couple of quiet spots and a couple of periods of full-on mayhem. For 2017, I’m hoping to avoid the two things that make we want to scream: (1) the sudden cessation of all work, followed by a couple of stunned weeks looking around, and (2) the conversation with someone later on that year who says “I would have asked you, but you always seem so busy…”

OK, that is enough of the fluffy blog posts for a while. Next up: proper tech stuff!

  1. I was there as a contractor to help take deal with a sudden heavy load, they have now hired permanent staff, but still treat me as part of the team and I’m there if they hit another peak. 

  2. Including requests to Google and other web email vendors for native buttons and drag-and-drop meetings, etc., etc. 

  3. or even ‘Stits and Farts’ 

Ical Invites with Gmail tip

Just a quick tip for developers who are coding and testing ical solutions with Google / Gmail web client, if you update a meeting in the past i.e. you reject a meeting in the past that you had previously accepted it will NOT send a notification back to the meeting organiser to inform of the change where as something like the Outlook think client WILL,

That’s it

IBM Champion for 2017

So IBM has renewed my IBM champion status for a third year.

Now according to standard corporate logic I should have lost my champion status because in the last year I have done more than just IBM stuff, I have worked with other technologies, promoted them and worst of all the product I have co-created can be used to migrate application data away IBM Domino and I bet that with most evangelist programs that would have meant expulsion, how ever IBM grew up years ago and are in this for the long hall, the best example of this is that Rene Winkelmeyer is still a champion and he bleeding works for Salesforce!!

What does this prove?? well to me it proves that IBM champions are not little “Yes” drones, they are people with a ton of expertise in IBM technology’s and will be honest about them and know how to get them to work as the client wants.

So thank you IBM for the vote of confidence… As an immediate return I can tell you that I am currently helping a large client implement AngularJS applications via REST services all running natively on an Iseries, again making sure that IBM stays up to date and relevant.

Happy Red Panda

The Perfect IBM Champion

I’m writing this post before the IBM champion decisions come out this year and you get a glut of “I’m so grateful for the honour” blog posts..

What I want to talk about is one of the current IBM Champions in fact one of only 2 IBM Lifetime Champions: Gabriella Davis1

Now Gabriella was a IBM champion long before the term existed

Let me explain. In a rough and ready sort of way an IBM Champion is supposed to act as an evangelist to the IBM brand and provide the following informal services.

  1. Be active in the community: speak at conferences, write blogs etc
  2. Be a source for other peoples solutions to issues with IBM software and platforms: write technical articles and fixes etc etc
  3. Be an expert where clients can go to update,install,advise on or adapt IBM solutions when frankly they don’t want IBM to do it.

Gab excels at all of these, Lets take an example of contact between myself and Gab to see what I mean.

In the middle of the week I had a problem I was REALLY stuck on with Sametime and so I howled on the champions chat, I was greeted with helpful suggestions by those awake at that time, but from Gab I got the following (which I will take apart)

“OK, I have a client deliverable that I am on, but that should be done in 2 hours can you hold on until then”

—^ Her clients came first, that is explained to me and expectations are set so I know where I am but help is on the way.

(2 Hours 15 mins later) “OK I read the chat.. I think it is XXXXX and we need to check the following, do XXX && YYY and tell me what it says”

—^ she has followed through on a promise, has given me an opinion and a number of things to veryify this, so I’m learning the deduction process.

“OK on the basis of that, it confirms that it is indeed XXXXX, to fix it we need to do ZZZZ, you can see that at this URL, and can double check by looking at the following files”

—^ A solution, with official backup and a way of checking to confirm the suggestion has taken effect.

and Bugger me if that did not fix it….

Now that does not make Gab a “free support desk”, it makes her someone I can turn to when I have tried everything I and mr Google can think off (and personally it makes me want to get better so I can reply her in kind some day).. it makes her a CHAMPION.

Now lets look at her broader input into the community…

How many of you would not consider an IBM conference or LUG complete without Gab taking apart one of the more horrible parts of the administration process, be it Authentication between cloud service providers or simplifying massively complex installations she provides a unique and constantly relevant voice at conferences.

And finally there is her efforts to help IBM expand their position in the changing world of IT with such things as the CSC events, showing people how to integrate existing IBM offerings with internet darling technologies,

So for you new IBM champions (and existing ones) this year there is a life time standard for you to be aiming for and Gab is it…. She is in my opinion and as I have public stated multiple times The Best IBM stack administrator in the world.

now if you will just excuse me I need to go and find a pit to hide in in case gab reads this post and pulls my lungs out.

  1. Disclaimer: I am a long time friend of both Gab and her husband Tim the Geekmeister, I have both worked for/with/employed her for years and wont get anything from this blog post other than a savage telling off for embarrassing her 

SAML and Invalid Arguments

Another silly support tip for Domino and Third Party SAML XML documents,

If you are hitting this post it is most likely you got here via a google search, so it does not have the whole back ground on SAML but after creating a Idp configuration and restarting you might get this line in the console:

HTTP Server: Error reading IdP configuration for server saml XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX:Invalid arguments

This odd little error is nearly always down to character returns in the X509 certificate in the imported XML file (easy to find and fix just go and edit the XML document provided by your SAML provider and remove them)

However the XML document I had did not have any character returns (cue a little head scratching), what it did have right at the sodding end of the very long line was an extra space….

so in the <ds:X509Certificate> tag in the SAML Import XML make sure you don’t have ANY characters that are not part of the certificate.

If this still does not work and you actually want to see if you have got a proper certificate you can you the wonderful to have a good look at it

Just get the text in between the <ds:X509Certificate>CERT TEXT</ds:X509Certificate> tags and paste it into a empty text file with a *.cer extension, then open it up with the “inspect a certificate” Option.

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