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I’m Randy Groncki and this is how I work February 24, 2021

Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools.
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Next up in the ‘how I work‘ series is one of the newer batch of PeopleSoft bloggers – Randy Groncki. Randy is the brains behind the PeopleTools Tech Tips blog. It’s a more recent blog – starting in 2020 – however Randy has been working with PeopleSoft since 1996, including a stint working for PeopleSoft itself.

Name: Randy Groncki

Occupation: Independent PeopleSoft Technical Consultant
Location: Northern Virginia, USA
Current computer(s):

  • Dell XPS 8930 Desktop (Work/Personal Machine)
  • MSI GS60 Laptop (Host PeopleSoft PUM environments)
  • Lenovo P50 Laptop (Primary client machine)
  • …  and several others around the house.   They’re like stray cats.  I’m not sure if I own all of them or where some of them came from, but they’re here.

Current mobile devices:

  • iPhone 6s (The museum wants it back)
  • iPad Air 2
  • Apple Watch

I work: Pragmatically.

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

  • Chrome: Because…  yeah.
  • LastPass: The number and complexity of passwords both work and personal make a password manager essential.  I don’t know most of my actual passwords.
  • NotePad++: A decent text editor for a coder.   It’s just there, open, every day, all day long.
  • PeopleTools App Designer:  I like a lot of 80s music and movies too.
  • SQLDeveloper:  Essential tool if working on an Oracle database.   No, SQLPlus will not do just as well.  SQLDeveloper has improved a lot over the past few years.  TOAD is nice, but most enterprises I’ve worked don’t license it. 
  • Excel:  The unsung hero of anyone doing work on a computer.  This is Batman’s Utility Belt.   He may ditch the Batmobile or Bat Plane, but that utility goes everywhere.
  • QuickBooks/Quicken: As an independent consultant, I must stay on top of my finances. 

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
My Logitech K850 keyboard and M720 mouse. I have three computers at my office that I constantly switch between, all day long.   This one keyboard and mouse allows me to easily control them all wirelessly.  I don’t want a clunky KVM switch on my desk with the mass of messy cables.

What’s your workspace like?
Comfortable. I’ve been working from home at least a few days a week for several years before COVID.  We have a main floor room setup as an office for both me and my wife. I think long hours working from home is worth a modest investment in my workspace to keep productive and healthy.   My home office is usually better outfitted than the client sites.

My setup:

  • 34” (86.5 cm) Ultrawide Monitor (1440, not 1080)
  • Office grade corner desk
  • Secret Labs Titan chair

What do you listen to while you work?
Nothing.  I have a difficult time tuning out music while I work.  I think I use the same part of my brain for coding and music.   To me, it feels like trying to engage in two different conversations simultaneously.  Ironically, I can easily tune out other people’s activities and conversations. Yes, I can listen to music while I drive. 

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
App Designer, SQLDeveloper & Datamover.

Remote Desktop – I think this deserves an honourable mention in our current way of working.   It’s rare anymore that I install PeopleTools on my local machine for a client.   Having a remote desktop on the client’s servers keeps all the data at the client.  Since client data is no longer on my machine, there is much less data risk should my laptop be lost, stolen, or compromised: It’s just a gateway

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
I want to have an amazing code snipped that only Dave Duffield and I know, newly shared with everyone.   The reality is that I’m an “in the trenches every day” PeopleSoft tech, not that guy spending all my time on R&D and new, cutting edge technology.

Having said that, my “GoTo” table for field reference in SQL is PSRECFIELDDB.  This PeopleTools table has all the record fields broke out of the many layers of sub-records on PSRecDefn

SELECT FIELDNAME FROM PSRECFIELDDB
 WHERE RECNAME = '[RECNAME]'
 ORDER BY FIELDNUM;

It’s brilliant that someone in PeopleTools figured out we need an absolute reference for every table instead of resolving sub-records in sub-records every time we need to reference the actual table.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?

EFFDT & EFFSEQ Sub-Selects.    I think newer PeopleTools coders should learn by coding these out every time, not cut and pasting from a code snippet or PSQuery.   These have to be second nature, not lookup or reference.

MessageBox(..) for coding diagnostics

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
I would like a better code editor…   Somehow in a viable way.

I’m writing this as of 8.58.   Just about any other modern IDE has many practical productivity tools such as code folding, snippets, code completion and parameter hints.  I want these in my App Designer too.

The PeopleTools managers have made the valid point that resources spent on improving the editor starves development of other technology keeping PeopleTools current and useful in our quickly changing world.   But… how long do we kick this can down the road?

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I think I’m really good at knowing that I’m not better at things than everyone else.  I received a great education early in life that however good you think you are at something, there is someone out there that is much better.  The Army is happy to remind you of this as many times as you need it.

Having said that, I think I’m a good generalist and understanding that few things are things in themselves, but systems of other things.   When I start understanding the pieces, the bigger picture gets much clearer. 

My grandfather was amazing in that he seemed to be able to build/fix anything.   This guy would rebuild car engines, diagnose electronics with an oscilloscope and then go to work as handling finances for the county.  I hope I got some of his “figure it out-ed-ness”, the broad ability to understand many different ideas.   One of the things I’m proud of is my garage workshop… because he had one.   His vice is on my workbench. In modern “IT Speak” I’m a “Short/Fat” or “T” shaped tech, not a “Tall Skinny” expert.

How do you keep yourself healthy and happy?
First priority is my family and my home.  Time available after that is learning new things, reading Sci-Fi/Fantasy books and watching good movies and shows.

Of course, Computers and Technology has always been a passion and hobby of mine so I’m constantly playing with something new.

I have made a concerted effort to get/stay healthy during COVID.   I try to do a workout most days of the week and feel guilty if I miss it.   However, my workouts are geared more to staying healthy, mobile and capable.   The “Brawny Beach Body” is just not happening. Sometimes, when I get very decadent, I pull up an episode of “Time Team” and play archaeologist for an hour.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
From Life: You Never Know What Someone Is Going Through, So Be Kind

From the Army: Find something to do or someone else will find something to do for you.

How has your work-life changed due to the pandemic?

I’ve been working from home for about a year now.  I’m glad I learned to work from home before COVID happened, because it’s now very important.  I will not work in my pyjamas all day long.  I will shower and dress every morning.  It puts me in a work mindset.  I never know when a video meeting is coming or who else is going to be on it.

I do notice that I seem to work more now since work is just in the other room.   Since no one is at the office, I can get pinged and be on the system in a minute or two most times.

How do you think covid will change the future workplace?

I think more of us will work from home more often.  Business are finding out that we have been able to keep productive and supportive even though we aren’t physically at the office.  They are re-evaluating the amount of expensive office space that they really need and who really needs to be there all the time. 

I think people will choose to live where it’s nice rather than close to work.   People will invest in good internet connections and decent home office setups.

I think people are finding out that laptops are great to keep mobile, but there is only so much you can productively do for so long on a 13” screen. I think we are also realizing there are times it truly helps to be in the same room communicating with someone in person, not via Slack, Text or Video.  There is a needed place for in person collaboration.

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