New Connections Mobile Command URLS

The Connections apps released in October add additional command URLs to what we already had in them. See this post for details on the first batch and when you might use them, then come back here and check out the new ones. The account info is optional. To use these, call them wherever you would use an http url, such as in an “a href” tag.

Added for Connections 4 mobile apps, but they are client side so will work with a Connections 3.x server.

Launch Activities

Launches the app into the Activities service just as if you had tapped on the Activities icon from the home screen.

Launch Blogs 

Launches the app into the Blogs service just as if you had tapped on the Blogs icon from the home screen.

Launch Bookmarks

Launches the app into the Bookmarks service just as if you had tapped on the Bookmarks icon from the home screen.

Launch Files

Launches the app into the Files service just as if you had tapped on the Files icon from the home screen.

Launches the app into the details of the file with the given uid.

Launch Forums

Launches the app into the Forums service just as if you had tapped on the Forums icon from the home screen.

Launch Wikis 

Launches the app into the Wikis service just as if you had tapped on the Wikis icon from the home screen.

This should make it easier to move from your own apps or web sites into the Connections mobile app.

Chris Reckling
Mobile UX
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Chris Reckling | 17 November 2012 04:00:00 PM ET |

John Renbourn Guitar Pieces

front coverI’ve had this book since sometime in the late 1970s, when I was learning to play more intricate finger-picking guitar songs.  I don’t remember where I found it – at that time I was living in Flagstaff, so it could have been there. I didn’t read music, but this book is all in standard notation, so it gave me the incentive to learn how to read. Now I find it much easier than tablature, which I think is the scourge of all guitarists everywhere and should be banned by law.

Back then, the first one I learned was Judy – I still play it occasionally. I also took on “A Day at the Seaside”, “Debbie Anne”, and “Ladye Nothynges Toye Puffe”. A lot of them are in the English Renaissance style he is known for, but there are a couple of the folkie ones.

Anyway…I have never seen this book anywhere else and it is certainly out of print now. Early on, I made a copy and bound it and used that for my main book. Recently, I figured I should find the original again in my stuff and scan it. If you want the hard copy, real book, there are a couple available on Amazon…used, of course. My book has the binding apart, which makes it easier to scan page by page.

I’ll post the book here for all, because I love Renbourn’s music and more people should be able to play it. 🙂 He has other books on his own site and there are various tab books from records he did with Stefan Grossman (I have some of those too.)

John Renbourn – Guitar Pieces (25M PDF).



Grey Fox Festival 2012

Walsh Farm, NY. July 19-22, 2012. We attended the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival this year. I’m just getting around to writing it up, but it would certainly take a long time to capture all its awesomeness. Summary version: 4 days of listening, picking, and sweating. Yes, it was hot and dry for the most part, which was good, but it also forced you into the shade quite a bit. Luckily the Creekside Stage (aka Masters) was under a tent.

We arrived Wed about 6. J and Jennifer had already staked out a campsite cuz they got their earlier. We were next to 20+ year GF veterans, who had an bunch of campers and giant tents. They drank, swore, and were generally loud, but seemed to settle down over the week perhaps as they became more hungover and subdued. In the Picker’s Paradise, there is always a low hum of banjo and fiddle it seems.

Here’s the list of folks I was able to see:

Creekside Stage

  • Michael Daves Workshop (with Chris Thile)
  • Della Mae
  • Jessie McReynolds
  • Last part of Tim O’Brien cuz I was at the main stage watching Tony Trischka
  • Frank Sollivan
  • Dixie Bee-liners
  • David Bromberg (he was late and the sound on his guitar was horrible, so left)

Main Stage

  • Thurs: Dixie Beeliners; Thile-Daves; Bromberg Band
  • Fri: Deadly Gentlemen; Noam Pilkeny; Tribute to Scruggs, Watson; Del McCoury; David Grisman Sextet; Punch Brothers
  • Sat: Tony Trischka; Hot Rize

I posted some pics on my tumblr page.

When not attending concerts or workshops, J and I jammed, mostly in our campsite area, once with some friends we knew there. The whole idea was to play as much as possible, so we did that.

The food at the midway was excellent. I didn’t feel that compelled to cook at the campsite – who wants to do dishes and whatnot?

That’s it for now. Sorry I can’t review every concert we went to…no time, gotta practice!


Connections App for Android Phone Updated

October 12, 2012. Today IBM posted an update to the Google Play store of the app for IBM Connections. This app now supports connecting to a Connections 4 server as well as Connections 3.x. You can easily try it if you have a Greenhouse account.
Update: Congratulations to our design team: Grif Friedman (a Yankee fan, but I won’t hold that against him!) and new mom, Carrie Lloyd. Also, the development, qe, and product mgmt team’s all worked together to make this a reality!
New features for Connections 4 include:

  • Activity Streams. You can get updates from people and content you are following or just the status updates for people. A long press brings up options such as launching a URL, pivot to the user’s profile, search by hashtag, and (depending on the type of entry) going directly to the object – i.e. the File, Blog, Wiki, etc. This powerful feature should make it easier to keep up with your content in Connections.
  • In Status Updates, you can include your location and a photo or video.
  • OpenSocial gadgets added to the activity stream will render in an embedded browser window.
  • Community Events. View and respond (Follow, Comment, Attend) to events in your communities.
  • Post a message to a community board.
  • Forums. Updated to be faster, better integrated, and generally nicer. That means we gave them a makeover. 🙂
  • Files. Mostly updated the icons to match Connections 4. Also added a view for Community Files.

In addition, for Connections 4 servers, there are some basic, yet necessary security configurations. You can now register devices, enforce a configuration profile (i.e. require a password), deny access, and perform a remote wipe.

Check out some of the new screens of the activity stream, status update, and a tag search.
Image:Connections App for Android Phone Updated  Image:Connections App for Android Phone Updated   Image:Connections App for Android Phone Updated

Here is the activity stream for a person and a community (updates were part of the app June release, but this uses the activity stream UI). Personally, I’m loving the community stream because is lets me keep up with all of the activity in the community in one spot, then link directly to the file, blog, wiki, etc. Huge productivity gain (and this is also in the desktop browser version!).
Image:Connections App for Android Phone Updated  Image:Connections App for Android Phone Updated

Two screenshots of forums, one with the updated list view, including information like questions and answered posts. You’ll notice the way we have dealt with the response hierarchy for the forums with those bars on the left side. It should be clear which part of the thread you are replying to, also.
Image:Connections App for Android Phone Updated  Image:Connections App for Android Phone Updated

There’s more I could show you, but you’ll have to download the app yourself and try it. Helpful comments on the app store are appreciated by us and by your fellow users. We think you’ll like this update.

(and before you ask, I cannot speak about other updates that may or may not be coming)

Chris Reckling
Mobile UX
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Chris Reckling | 12 October 2012 06:45:00 PM ET |

Sharing a Profile in the Connections Mobile App

Here’s a cool feature you can use with the Connections app for Android. If you need to exchange business card information with another mobile phone user, you can share contact info in 2 ways:
1. Send a Vcard through email, sms, etc. through the Android Share intent.
2. Create a QR code that could be scanned by the user on their phone.

Here’s how you do it:
Open someone’s profile via search or in your list of network contacts. Press the hard menu button and choose the Share item.
Image:Sharing a Profile in the Connections Mobile App

The next menu popup is when you choose how to share. Choosing Share brings up the standard list of Android app options.
Image:Sharing a Profile in the Connections Mobile App

Choose Scan contact info to generate a QR Code.
Image:Sharing a Profile in the Connections Mobile App

Now, another mobile phone can use a QR code scanner to read the information and add it to the local contacts.

(On iOS, the option to share the vcard is there, but not to generate the QR Code.)


Chris Reckling

Chris Reckling | 24 July 2012 04:30:00 PM ET |

Custom URLs in IBM Connections Mobile Apps

UPDATE: See this technote for a complete, up to date list of the urls.

Connections mobile apps for iOS and Android include ‘custom urls’ in the app. Custom URL schemes are like a little command API into the app. Basically, your app creates a namespace that it registers with the OS so when the URL is called on the device, it knows to execute the command. These work on both iOS and Android. 

Use Case 1. Deployment scenario. Since Connections is typically deployed on your own servers, with their own unique urls, this is a place where users can immediately fail, either by not knowing the correct Connections server URL or their user name/password. Now you can provide specific instructions to your users in a custom HTML page they can access from their mobile devices. And to make things even easier, all they have to do is tap on the custom url that you provide to properly configure the device. Here’s the custom URL format:


ibmscp:// is the base URL that will open the app with optional parameters that will create the account with the specified information, if it doesn’t already exist.

For example, you could include in your deployment HTML page a link to the app store, to download and install the app along with a custom URL to configure it. The following URL launches the app and creates an account named “Renovations Connect” to the server named “ and fills in the user name field with the string “”.


Then the user simply has to complete their name and enter their password to log in to Connections from the device. We have been using this internally because we install new builds of the apps every day and this makes it much easier to do. 

Use Case 2. App integration. The second scenario has to do with opening a specific Connections service in the app. Here are the custom URLs for you can use to call into the Connections app. There are some interesting things you can do with these. I’ll look forward to hearing about it. For example, if you have an app with people’s names in it, you could link over to their profile in the Connections app.

Launch the Connections app to My Communities page.

Open Connections to a specific communities by uuid for the last logged in account.

Specify a particular account if more than one on the device.

Launch the Connections app and show profiles.

Launch the Connections app and show profiles on an existing account.

Launch the Connections app and show a specific profile for the last logged in account.
or if you know the email address of the user.

Launch the Connections app and show a specific profile for an existing account.

All of this information will be in the Connections Wiki soon, but I thought I would get it out there now.

Chris Reckling</accountserver=encoded_url&accountuser=encoded_username></accountname=encoded_account_name>

Chris Reckling | 13 July 2012 03:00:00 PM ET |

Connections Mobile – Files and Downloads

One of the most-used apps in Connections is the Files app. See this link for a full description of the features and benefits. In a nutshell, you can upload and share files with people and communities. In the mobile apps IBM just released, we put a lot of effort into making the Files experience simple, useful, and as full as possible. As mentioned in a previous post, we focused on core use cases for the mobile user:

  • Access to my files
  • Find a file anywhere in the system.
  • Open a file for viewing.
  • Commenting on files shared with me.
  • Uploading a photo from the device.
  • Share a file with other people.
  • Download a file for viewing offline.

Let’s just focus on the download use case – yes, you CAN take it with you. Once you find a file in the list or through search, you open it to its details page. Tapping on the file name allows you to quickly download or open it. There is a special view accessible from the file list or your account page to show you all your offline downloads. Files are encrypted on the device.
Here’s the iOS version. Android is quite similar.
Image:Connections Mobile - Files and Downloads

Now, if you happen to be off the network for some reason, you can still access your files and open or view them. You still won’t be able to enter comments for synching later, but this gets you 90% of the way there.


Chris Reckling

Chris Reckling | 18 June 2012 05:15:00 PM ET |

Peter Rowan and Tony Rice at the Wilbur Theatre

Peter RowanApril 21, 2012. Boston, MA – Peter Rowan and Tony Rice, along with the Travelin’ McCoury’s came to Boston’s Wilbur Theatre for a night of “The Music of Bill Monroe”. They played 2 sets of just under an hour, including the encore number. All of the tunes were songs written or recorded by Bill Monroe. We were sitting right in front of the stage, so had a good view of everything, although the sound was mostly behind us. Still, you could definitely here the acoustic instruments from where we were sitting. There were only a handful of mikes on stage and the members of the band moved around to get into position to play or sing. It was quite the ballet sometimes. And did I mention that Tony Rice was right in front of me!! Playing the 1935 Martin D-28 (58597) he got from Clarence White!! What a treat!

Here’s the set list:

Set 1
Long Journey Home
Bluegrass Breakdown
In the Pines
I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome
Tony Rice Intro by Peter(21:30)
The First Whippoorwill
Used to Be (Uncle Jerry singing)
Uncle Pen
The Old Old House(George Jones hit)
Live and Let Live
Cheyenne (‘here that now, that’s the Indian sound’ Also where The Land of the Navajo originated, a song by Rowan)

Set 2
Blue Moon of Kentucky (in 3, then 4)
I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling
Walls of Time
Kentucky Mandolin
Beautiful Life (quartet singing, Pete and Tony accompany)
Blue Night (Jerry lead vocal)
This Land – bass/banjo duet
Molly and Tenbrooks
Footprints in the Snow (audience request – “you’re in New England, play Footprints!”)
With Body and Soul
Salt Creek
Muleskinner Blues – Encore

The concert started simply with just Peter Rowan(guitar, vocals) and Ronnie McCoury (mandolin, vocals) singing Long Journey Home before the band strolled on stage to kick it into high gear. Peter Rowan has a great voice and is still going strong from the looks of things. The rest of the band members were: Rob McCoury (banjo), Jason Carter (fiddle), and Jerry McCoury (bass). Jerry was apparently subbing for the regular bass player who had to be back home waiting for a baby delivery. This was some high caliber bluegrass!

The next song was “the first bluegrass instrumental ever recorded” with Earl Scruggs on banjo: Bluegrass Breakdown. This gave everyone a chance to blister the strings on a quick one. The band was tight! Of course, they were playing all these bluegrass standards, which they’ve probably played a million times, so even if they never rehearsed before, it’s okay! In fact, Peter noted that ‘we don’t have tuners on our instruments’ and that they also didn’t have a set list (at least one that was written down). He claimed that they never knew what Bill Monroe was going to play or what key it was going to be in – Monroe would just chop a chord and you better get goin’!

There were certainly a few tributes to Earl Scruggs, since he contributed mightily to the bluegrass sound, along with Bill Monroe. A tune written by Scruggs, Groundspeed, was led by Rob McCoury. Both Ronnie and Jason Carter had amazing solos on this with good support from the band.

Tony Rice
“The most influential guitar player in the history of bluegrass…” came on the stage after that – Tony Rice! I had never seen him play before (that I recall, anyway). I was getting goosebumps just watching him, and the guitar is legendary. Even while he was tuning up, you could hear its power. As Peter said while Tony was tuning on stage, “It doesn’t cost a thing, but I’d pay to hear that.” It took about the first set for Tony to warm up. He does not look in the peak of health, even though he’s only 60 yrs old. A couple of times you could hear him talk on stage from where we were and he sounded like Miles Davis with the croaky voice. I was surprised watching him that he actually flubbed a few notes! Others around me were speculating about arthritis – at times it looked like he was telling his fingers to do something but they were not cooperating the same way as in the past. What people may not notice immediately was that the rhythm playing added another dimension on top of what Peter was playing. There were times when he added these jazzy chords to the progression that caused everyone to smile. Over the course of the night the solos got better and better. In particular, Walls of Time and Kentucky Mandolin, Cheyenne, and Salt Creek, were highlights. It looked like the rest of the band was enjoying listening to Tony, too, almost in reverence.

Other highlights included the singing and bass playing of “Uncle Jerry” McCoury. The bass was solid throughout and he has one of those good country voices with a little bit of twang. Jason Carter on fiddle was inspirational in his playing, either as a lead or accompanying. I really enjoyed the song, Beautiful Life, which had a simple guitar accompaniment but the feature was the quartet singing around the microphone. And did I mention the awesome banjo and bass duet on This Land?

I guess there wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this concert. The sound could have been better from where we were sitting, that’s my only complaint.

Here’s Salt Creek from that night – Enjoy. Salt Creek.mp3


I hope they make another visit up to New England soon!


2012 Joe Val Bluegrass Festival

Framingham, MA, February 18, 2012 – Another year, another Joe Val Festival took place at the Sheraton in Framingham, MA. I was able to go on Saturday, but The Splinters had a gig on Sunday, so I couldn’t go both days. I got there around noon and quickly found my way to the Josh Williams Band, playing on the main stage, aka, the ballroom. Josh gained a bit of youtube fame because of this video, where a bird landed on him during a gig – over 1.1M hits!! Most for any bluegrass musician, for sure. Too bad he didn’t get any money for that!! 🙂

Joe Val Workshop with Geoff Bartley

At 1 pm I headed for the workshops. These are my favorite part because the rooms are small and you get an informal lesson from these great performers. I went to the Geoff Bartley/Howie Tarnower guitar/mandolin blues workshop first. They basically were winging it, calling tunes they both knew and played before together. Geoff did a good job of providing some background on them before they played their version. Some of the tunes they played were:

  • My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It
  • Wine Boy Blues
  • Careless Love
  • Sittin on Top of the World
  • Laurie Lewis song re: Prohibition
  • Rolling Spencer? in Bb…

It was fun to hear them play. J and I had been to Geoff’s open mike at the Cantab, and he is very nice and welcoming there, too.

Charlie Lawson workshop

Charlie Lawson workshop

Next I went to see Charlie Lawson, who plays rhythm guitar for Michael Cleveland. It also appears that they are good friends because Michael was there with him, but on mandolin instead of fiddle! The workshop was on rhythm guitar, of course, and Charlie said he’d never really done one of these before, but he was really good at explaining his thought process. Key to playing these fast tunes is certainly to stretch beforehand and to try to relax. If you’ve ever heard Michael Cleveland you know he plays fast! Charlie was influenced by Jimmy Martin and Jimmy Rodgers. I always notice that these performers always have a strong sense of the history of their instrument and can reach back for the most obscure records to listen to. They demo’d some things on Big Country, Sweet Dixie, and Waitin’ for a Train. Another interesting guitar-playing tidbit was that he uses a fairly flexible pick (maybe .8?), so he really only plays rhythm (and has a great voice, so he’s the lead singer in the band, too). Also, that’s Michael Cleveland’s 1944 Martin D-28 he’s playing and that sucker was loud.

Around 3 is when J, my fellow Splinter, showed up and we got our instruments to play in the hallway a bit. I was a bit shy about it, so we went in one of those business centers on the bottom floor, where people could see us playing and hear us if they walked past. Just like outdoor bluegrass festivals, there is a tradition at Joe Val to jam, only you have to play in the hallways and rooms of the hotel. More on that later…

Ashby Frank

Ashby Frank, Mandolin

4 pm we went to the mandolin workshop led by Ashby Frank, again from M. Cleveland band. I think he said he was in his late 20’s, but boy could he play. Both Charlie and Ashby talked about various ailments they were suffering from – life on the road ain’t all roses, people. Ashby was more of a feel player and he said, ‘don’t do it like I do it, cuz it’s probably wrong’. The lesson is to find out what works for you by playing and listening. He demo’d a few techniques on Steel Guitar Rag (in E), Dailey’s Reel (Bb), and Roanoke. I think J came away with some to-do’s to work on.

At 5 pm was the man himself, Michael Cleveland with a fiddle workshop. Again, Charlie Lawson accompanied him. He basically just took questions from the audience. First up was about his fiddle, which has 5 strings. It’s made by John Silakowski who’s out of Indiana, where Cleveland is from. The story goes that he somehow played this particular instrument and wanted it, but it was promised to someone else. That other person “didn’t like it” so it came back and end up in Michael’s hands. He’s another one with a strong knowledge of the fiddle tradition. Someone asked him about what to listen to and he reeled off a string of obscure old records you probably couldn’t find anywhere. Tunes they played: Lost Indian, Orange Blossom Special!, Hear that Lonesome Whistle Bow, and Black Mountain Rag.

Michael Cleveland

Now we were inspired to play some more, so we went out in the hallway to jam. It was 6 pm, so a lot of people were going to get some food. A big group showed up near us to jam also, so we went over to join them. They let J call the first tune, which was Temperance Reel. They weren’t really a fiddle tune crowd, but one of the fiddlers got on board with it. After that, it was a lot of Hank Williams and other standard bluegrass tunes. People came and went. J had to leave about 7:30 but I stayed and played until about 9, when my arm was going to fall off. At one point 4 fiddlers joined in and called some fast ones. Phew! Here’s a link to some stealth video of the jam that someone took and posted. It was fun.

By that time it was 9 pm and food options were limited. I hadn’t eaten all day, so I roamed the hallways and checked out the various jam sessions that were going on. I got myself some doritos in the hotel lobby to hold me over. I checked out the Claire Lynch band a bit, but I didn’t like them, so I wandered the halls again. There were some good players out there, for sure. Here are some photos I took.

Bass player

Cool Dobro


Hallway Jam
Hallway Jam

At 10:30 the Michael Cleveland and Flamekeepers was set to start. What a band! I think the Flame Keepers reference is about how much they light the place on fire! (or to say it properly, “faar”). The repertoire is straight ahead bluegrass and country, in the tradition. And they don’t mess around with silly slow tunes, except for maybe the waltzes. I didn’t write down the set list this time, but they pulled from their albums, so go check them out if you haven’t already. They played until about 12:15 or so. Of course, the fiddle tunes they are known for, Orange Blossom Special and Jerusalem Ridge, came out and were administered to. I did manage to turn on my iPhone sound recorder for Jerusalem Ridge and it came out enough to enjoy. This is typically just a duet with Ashby and Michael on mandolin and fiddle.

Jerusalem Ridge

After that concert, I wondered the halls again and the jams were still going strong. I stopped by one near the lobby where Josh Williams was playing with the folks from Flatt Lonesome, a.k.a. kids with braces! It was good pickin’ and singin’ however.

Josh Williams

Josh Williams at Joe Val Festival

Mandolin Case

Mandolin Case

I got home about 1:30 that night, tired and hungry, but had a great day of bluegrass at the festival.


Other handy links:

Second Cousin Curly posts a lot of bluegrass video and was at Joe Val. Some good stuff here.


The Splinters Play Oh Susanna

J and I played at the West Roxbury Open Mike, which J emcees each month. The video below captures our performance of Oh Susanna. We first played this tune up in Maine one weekend just goofing around and it stuck. After each taking a chorus for improvising, we play together in a counterpoint before taking it to the finish.

(I don’t know why WordPress doesn’t display youtube videos sometimes, so here’s the link to it.)

Oh Susanna

We also played 2 medleys:

Cold Frosty Morning > Old Grey Cat – this one we played 2 choruses of each tune and switched back and forth. The first one is in Am and the second in Em, gives it a cool effect.

Blackberry Blossom > Kitchen Girl. Blackberry we did medium tempo 3 times through, then pick it up a notch for Kitchen Girl. It’s high energy.