12th January? How did that happen?

Oh boy, is it really the 12th of January already?  We’re only two weeks into 2011 and already it feels like the year is slipping by…

It’s one of those unwritten rules of blogging that you should never apologise for a period of silence – so I won’t make that mistake… However, you may have spotted that I’ve been somewhat less vocal than usual over the past 4 weeks or so.  Perhaps that’s been a blessing to you 😉

Seriously though, I was determined to take a proper break over the Christmas and New Year holiday this year as so often I have needed to work over that period in the past – either because customers were carrying out key maintenance projects over the period or simply to clear a backlog of tasks that were outstanding.  This time I genuinely hardly picked up a laptop over 12 days of downtime and oh boy, do I feel better for it.  Life with 4 kids is usually pretty riotous, so it was good to be able to fully immerse myself in that.  A real highlight was a Hogmonay trip to Scotland – three days with 60 or so family and friends, a Ceilidh, fireworks and fantastic snow was really something to remember.

Since then it’s been fully into Lotusphere 2011 preparation.  As you may know, I am honoured to have had two sessions selected, both with my good friend (and Lotusphere mentor!) Rob Wunderlich:

BP105 – Twelve MORE Things Your Mother Never Told You About Deploying Lotus Connections 3.0
DL S. Hemisphere II – Monday  3:45pm – 4:45pm

Lotus Connections 3.0 makes installation more straightforward than ever, but deploying a robust Lotus Connections environment is still a complex process. Pre-requisites must be met, environment-specific decisions made, endless customization and integration opportunities. It appears daunting at first; but don’t fret. This session, updated for 3.0 from last year’s session, will make it much easier! Use our indepth real-world experience installing Lotus Connections in the US and Europe to explore a dozen lesser-known details of the installation process key to successful deployment. We’ll cover tips and tricks, “cheat sheets,” install checklists – priceless resources that aren’t in the manual!

SHOW202 – Enterprise 2.0 Hero: A Beginner’s Guide to Installing IBM Lotus Connections 3.0
SW Osprey – Tuesday  4:30pm – 6:15pm

The Lotus Connections install process keeps improving with each release, introducing new wizards, reducing prerequisite steps, making the process more robust and Lotus Connections 3.0 goes a step further by using the new Installation Manager technology. But there are still a lot of moving parts. With over thirty successful Lotus Connections installations completed between us, we’ll take attendees through the installation process step-by-step, from installing and patching IBM Websphere and DB2, connecting to LDAP, through installing Lotus Connections and onto securing the service, all in 90 short minutes! No smoke, no mirrors. You’ll go away with all the materials needed to install Lotus Connections 3.0 from scratch, and become Enterprise 2.0 heroes!

It’s fair to say that the preparation for these sessions, particularly SHOW202 (a Show and Tell session) has been exhausting, exasperating and at times downright fraught!  We want the sessions to be the very best they can be – teeming with useful content for beginners and experts alike, entertaining and enjoyable, as well as 100% correct in their technical detail.  When you’re talking about a total of nearly 400 fact-packed slides, many of which are directly related to demos that need to be delivered live on stage in Orlando, that’s a tough ask!  Add in the complexities of working with a colleague on another continent using a different operating system, and we have a perfect storm!

Thankfully Rob is incredibly patient, and the Lotusphere track managers are very understanding, and we got there.  The slides have been submitted and accepted, and we are good to go (well apart from several scheduled practice sessions and many more installation run-throughs before arriving in Orlando!)…

Now we’re onto the other aspects of Lotusphere that I enjoy so much…  Booking meetings with existing and prospective customers, looking for partnering opportunities through the course of the event, planning live-blogging and podcasting sessions, putting together a SpeedGeeking session, helping friends coming to Lotusphere for the first time and more.

So, if I’ve been quieter than usual for the past month, now you know why!  However, please don’t let that busy-ness put you off – if you’re going to be at Lotusphere 2011, please do make contact before or during the conference.  I would love to get the chance to meet you!

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!