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I’m Charlie Sinks and this is how I work May 30, 2018

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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This week we’re featuring another of the mainstays from the PSAdmin.io slack community  – Charlie Sinks. He is a regular in the community and a frequent guest on their PodCast giving UMRUG recaps and discussing automation. He also presented at the inaugural PSAdmin.conf on Implementing Rundeck with PeopleSoft (the recording is available here and is well worth an hour of your time). I’m thrilled that he has added his profile to our ‘How I Work‘ series.

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Name: Charlie Sinks

Occupation: Sr. Software Engineer and PeopleSoft Admin at Andersen Windows
Location: Oak Park Heights, MN
Current computer:
At work: Dell Latitude E7470 laptop running Windows 10.
At home: a PC that I built from bits and pieces currently running Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux
Current mobile devices: Motorola Moto G4 Plus and a cheap Timex wristwatch
I work: Fervently

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

  • PeopleSoft Deployment Packages (DPKs) and Puppet – I can’t even imagine deploying PeopleSoft environments and maintenance the old way anymore. It’s easy to get hung on the things we wish the DPK did better, but it really opened the door to automation in the PS Admin world for those of us who weren’t already using Puppet, Ansible, etc.
  • Rundeck – the ability to execute tasks – from simple commands to complex orchestration – on any number of remote servers has helped us go a long way towards automation. For example: single-click CPU patching on all of our non-Production servers at the same time. Even for simple service restarts, it’s so much easier to do it from a dashboard in Rundeck.
  • BeyondCompare – It’s crazy how many file formats this thing can compare. Best compare utility I’ve come across.
  • Password Safe – Way better than remembering a hundred passwords, and way WAY better than keeping them all in a spreadsheet. Also, using a password manager encourages me to use very long, complex passwords since I’ll never have to remember or retype them. Password Safe is great at storing passwords for all kinds of accounts, but doesn’t have good web browser integration for website accounts. So for that I use…
  • Dashlane – password manager with great browser integration for website accounts. Not as great for any other type of account. For that, see above.
  • Notepad++ / Visual Studio Code – For years I swore by Notepad++ because of its great plugins, macros, and language support. I still think it’s great, but I just discovered Visual Studio Code. That has everything I like about NP++ plus more. Much more streamlined extension and language support, themes, and its integration with Git is phenomenal. And it lets me turn on Vim keymapping with a single keystroke! I have a new favorite now.
  • MobaXterm – a nice upgrade from using a terminal like PuTTY for administering Linux servers. I haven’t begun to use all of the features this tool has, but I was quick to discover that it comes with a suite of simple games. I’m not really sure why… but it’s best not to question some things.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
My coffee-maker. I use an Aeropress at home, and a French press at work. I always have a coffee mug in my hand. I may have a problem.

What’s your workspace like?
If I’m being honest, a bit messy with Post-It notes all over the place and the occasional coffee-mug ring décor. I write Post-It notes to remind myself of all sorts of things and try to put them in obnoxious places where I can’t ignore them. Yet I still manage to ignore most of them… I guess I’m so good at tuning things out that I can’t even trick myself.

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What do you listen to while you work?
Blues, jazz, electronica, old-school hip-hop, skiffle – it really depends on my mood and what type of work I’m doing. A lot of Tom Waits lately.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
Change Assistant (for our internal releases in addition to the rest of it), DPKs, and puppet. I also like the Chrome extensions PS Utilities and PSChrome.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
When you’re developing or testing, instead of clearing your cache hit Ctrl+Shift+N in Chrome to open Incognito mode.

That was one line, can I do another one? If you’re newly upgrading to PeopleSoft 9.2, take some time to build out some navigation collections and homepage tiles. It’s really easy, will make your life easier, and will impress your end-users. It’ll also limit how often you have to use the new Nav menu… ick.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
Effective Date joins. Amiright?

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
Open-source development! At least for the DPKs. Come on, Oracle. Let us fix the things we complain about so we can stop bothering you about it.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
No matter how good you are at something, there’s always somebody who’s better at it… so this is hard to answer. I do have a really high tolerance for eating extremely spicy food.

How do you keep yourself healthy and happy?
Spending time with my wife and three kids, reading, and getting out in nature.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Treat others as you would like to be treated, and always consider the other person’s point of view. Along those lines is my favorite Jack Handey quote: “Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, you’ll be a mile from them, and you’ll have their shoes.”

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