Friday, April 10, 2009

I’m a Mac and a PC and I love Lotus Notes.


PONY! :: ben and jerry’s, waterbury, vt :: april 4, 2009

Last weekend, while I was in Vermont (April 3-5), I apparently set teh interweb on fire with my excitement over Lotus Notes and eProductivity.

Eric Mack blogged about our meeting at the GTD Summit and how excited I was about eProductivity (his software). I WAS wicked excited. So excited, in fact, that if it meant I’d have to begin using Lotus Notes, I’d be ALL OVER THAT. (It’s never too late to switch to Lotus Notes.)

Ed Brill, over at IBM, not only caught Eric’s entry, he picked up on my tweets.  (Eric Mack has made a Notes convert…)

Then, Eric posted an audio interview we did at the Summit. (Listen to how I help…)

Here’s the backstory:

Like most people who use GTD, I’m all about finding a system that helps me reduce drag.  While I do love a good paper based system, it’s not always practical.  I’m on a PC at work all day and, as such, I spend too much time in Outlook.  I’ve never really been comfortable with Outlook - it’s just never done it for me.  It doesn’t matter how much I mess around with the settings, how much I hack the crap out of it, I just can’t get Outlook to work for *me*.  So, I was looking for something new. 

Enter Eric Mack and eProductivity. 

I’ve been reading Eric’s blogs on and off since I got into GTD two years ago.  I had seen the mentions of eProductivity and was intrigued by it.  When I got the chance to see the demo at the GTD Summit, I was beyond excited.  What I was seeing - in just the demo - blew my mind.  It looked like it was built for me.  Everything I was looking for in GTD software was right there.  Eric and I chatted a little bit, I drooled a whole lot, and it came up that I had no idea that Lotus Notes was still around.  I’m not stupid… I know David Allen uses Lotus Notes, but I had it in my head that it was stagnant software.  Like it hadn’t been updated in a zillion years. I also had it in my head that even if it was still out there and being updated, it was only on an enterprise level.  Not a single user level.  Definitely not available on a Mac in any way, shape or form.  Eric set me straight and I left our meeting excited to get up to my hotel room and download Lotus Notes for the Mac.  It was HARD to get to the download area - I had to create a log in! Dude, that’s too much work! - and then, the entire layout was just unfriendly. It was really a battle.  I was not happy at all.  Not quite frustrated, but unhappy. Very unhappy.  Eric and I had a quick chat in the elevator about it the next morning, which led to the recorded interview. (BTW - so happy I don’t sound like an ass!)

When I got home from the Summit, I tried to install Lotus Notes on the Mac.  It installed, wouldn’t do email, and then crashed and burned. Now, when I try to start the software, it tells me that it can’t find the user ID and it can’t find the server.  I don’t know what’s wrong.  Googling isn’t getting me the answers I need, and the IBM tech note assumes you’re in a business environment - not on a couch, in your jammies, with a MacBook on your lap.  I’m a little over using Notes on the Mac.  I just can’t get it to behave and I’m seriously tired of fighting with it. I never did get eProductivity installed on there, either. I had been using OmniFocus - with great results - but it grew old very quickly and I haven’t opened it, or updated my lists, in forever. I have it on both the Mac and the iPhone - the ability to sync had been huge - and now I don’t use either version.  Stale. Stale. Stale.  I’m a bad GTD’er.

On the work side, I had a crappy PC which was running Outlook 2000. It wouldn’t save a password.  Word wouldn’t do mail merges.  Quickbooks kept crashing.  I don’t know why I thought trying to install Notes on that screaming disaster was a good idea.  There was much more frustration.  MUCH more frustration. And angry tweets. Very angry tweets.  I must say that getting help from Eric Mack himself - on my birthday, no less - certainly made it tolerable.

I ended up getting a new computer earlier than planned. As soon as I got it up and running, I downloaded fresh copies of both Lotus Notes and eProductivity.  They installed like a charm and I haven’t looked back.  Every day, I open Notes and view my lists in eProductivity with a huge smile on my face.  (Yes, I AM a dork.  Thanks for asking.)  I work for two people I call Crazy Makers and just knowing that I have a trusted system where I can find everything seriously makes my day.  I NEVER felt that comfortable with Outlook. It’s much easier to deal with their constant insanity now!! I really love how easy it is to create projects, subprojects, link documents and write notes in the system while I’m on the phone with them, trying desperately to keep up as they jump from topic to topic.

I was trying to explain to a friend why coughing up almost $500 on this software combination was a good idea and I just couldn’t do it.  For me, the combo of Lotus Notes and eProductivity on a PC is like using a Mac: It. Just. Works. (Not really a compelling argument when you’re talking to the controller of the checkbook, but I seriously don’t know how else to explain it.  It’s like saying GTD is life changing.  Unless you’ve experienced it yourself, ya’ll think we’re just a bunch of uber-organized, productivity-obsessed whackjobs.)

At this point, I don’t care if I need to get a paper route to pay for it.  Lotus Notes and eProductivity will NOT be coming off the work PC once the trials are over.  I will fight to the death to keep the software. 

And, despite all my issues, I’m still not ready to give up on the Mac… but I don’t know what my next step is.  I need a Lotus Notes / Mac Guru and I’m willing to pay for help!  I want to experience that mind like water state at home, too.  If you are ready, willing and able, please email me:  tamara [dot] nelson [at] gmail [dot] com - or find me on Twitter (I’m uconntam).

Now, it’s off to bed. Tomorrow, I’m heading into Connecticut (again) to hang out with my favorite little brother, and see my friends’ band, Instrument (again).  I’m seriously starting to think I need a project called: “Move Back to Connecticut.”  Or maybe I need a project called: “Stop being the band’s official photographer, you dolt.  You live three hours away!”  (Shameless plug: Instrument on MySpace)  When I return, I promise to share the amazing adventures of PONY!

ETA: Eric Mack has picked this entry up! View Eric’s commentary.

ETA X 2: Dear Universe, I don’t know what you did, but THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!! Lotus Notes is working on the Mac side!!!!!!!!!  eProductivity, here I come!

Posted by Matty on 04/10 at 08:34 PM