I used to work with a regional manager who loved to travel between branches. For him, five hours in the car was a short commute. Unfortunately, he insisted on using a desktop for his computing needs. He felt it was more efficient to write everything down on paper and then have a secretary enter it into the computer. Do you know the type?

My problem from a systems administration perspective was that he depended on Lotus Notes for e-mail to keep him in touch with the home office. Since he had some clout in the organization, I was reluctant to tell him he should get a laptop and learn how to connect from his hotel.

Multiple users, one workstation
Luckily, Notes has plenty of options when it comes to dealing with the jet set. For this project, I wanted to choose the path of least confusion for the user. I did not want to explain to this guy every week the 10 steps required to gain access to his Notes mail file.

I had in place at each branch location at least one desktop workstation that was dedicated to multiple users. The branch managers used the desktops mainly for reporting purposes. They also used the desktops to pick up their Notes mail when they were in the office. Security was not a big issue, since the machines had boot and network logon passwords.

Moving the ID to a central location
Because the branch managers used the desktops for their e-mail, the Notes program would default to their ID file. If my regional manager wanted to gain access, he would have to install a copy of his ID file using a floppy disk in the Notes data directory folder of the desktop. This would be cumbersome over time, as the ID expires every 30 days, and he would have to remember to change it on his floppy disk. Also, I did not want him to reinstall the ID file every time he wanted to catch up on his mail.

Since each user has his or her own dedicated hard drive on the network, I moved the regional manager’s Notes data folder (which included his ID file) to that drive. His ID file was now centralized, and he would not have to worry about using an outdated copy on the remote desktop since changes are made in one location.

Location document creation
To simplify the process on each desktop, I created a new location document. To do this, I clicked on File | MobileLocation and highlighted the Office document. I then copied the document and pasted it back to create a model I could edit. I simply changed the document’s name to the manager’s name, entered the correct mail server, entered the manager’s mail file name, clicked on Advanced Options, and pointed the document to his ID file on the network.

Because the desktops default to the branch manager’s ID file, I changed the way Notes starts up by clicking on File | Tools | User Preferences and checking the Prompt For Location box. Now a list of all the location documents presents itself to the user each time he or she starts Notes.

Last steps
My final task was to create a mail database icon on each desktop. I just clicked on File | Database | Open and clicked on the DOWN ARROW key to find the manager’s mail server. Once I located the mail server, I searched for his mail file, highlighted it, and clicked the Add Database button.

So easy a monkey could do it
In order to access his Notes mail, all the manager had to do was:

  • Log on to the network using his logon ID and password.
  • Start Notes.
  • Select his location document from the pop-up menu.
  • Log on with his Notes password.
  • Click on his mail database.
  • Retrieve his mail.

I made sure the manager knew that when he finished using the machine, he should shut down Notes to prevent any unwanted guests from lurking in his mail database, and then log off the network. My traveling friend seemed to appreciate the convenience of this setup. My only concern was that he would forget to log off the network and someone would have access to his network drives. However, I felt it was a pretty good system for keeping the guy on the road.

After obtaining an undergraduate degree in accounting and a Master’s in business administration, Jim Wells made the jump into the IT world. His resume boasts several years of systems management expertise. He’s supported hundreds of remote users and has experience with Windows NT, Lotus Notes, and other popular operating systems and applications.

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