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I’m Jiju Vengal and this is how I work January 15, 2013

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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Next up in the ‘How I Work’ series is Jiju Vengal of HRoi Consulting. You’ll probably recognise Jiju’s name from his popular PeopleSoft HCM for You blog where he focuses mostly on Time and Labor and Absence Management. He’s probably the most prolific PeopleSoft blogger, averaging almost a post a week in 2012. On top of the blog posts Jiju often experiments with other mediums, most recently podcasts and ERP movies.

Jiju Vengal

Name: Jiju Vengal

Occupation: PeopleSoft HCM Functional Consultant/Chief Consultant at HRoi Consulting
Location: Singapore
Current computer: HP Pavillion (Win7, 8GB RAM)
Current mobile devices: iPhone4, Samsung Galaxy Tab2
I work: better and more productively after regular office hours (when the office is quiet!)

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Internet connection is a definite life line for me. Other than the ever dependable google search and e-mail, I use blogger.com, wikipedia and the RSS aggregator on Outlook frequently. Having access to a sandbox PeopleSoft instance will also be high on the must have list!

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
I am not a gadget person. Besides work, I read quite a lot, but prefer to have a physical book in hand rather than an e-reader!

What’s your workspace like?
This is a tricky question as I have been primarily working from different customer sites away from Singapore for some time now – so it really depends on where I am working. But, my work desk in Singapore would have my laptop, a fixed line phone, photos of family and the books in my personal library decked up.

What do you listen to while you work?
I do not listen to music when I work. Unfortunately I need a quiet environment when I am working on important things!

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
I find UPK (User Productivity Kit) to be an extremely useful tool for business process documentation and user training (including documentation of customisations). We have also been using Firebug quite a lot these days.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
The Time and Labor rule set provides the functionality to write and execute SQL statements from PIA (including updates and deletes) – without the need to have access to app designer or even a database editor like SQL Navigator or TOAD.  If used judiciously, this can be a powerful tool to implement certain requirements without heavy customisations – a simple example is the need to have a process to create user defaults in T&L for new hires.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
I do not do a lot of dedicated coding these days, but when I have to – they are mostly SQLs on Time and Labor/Absence Management tables for reporting purposes and T&L rule writing.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
Improvements to the Time and Attendance product line like native mobile apps for T&A (I know companies like Succeed have worked on this!), country extensions for Time and Labor, better self-service experience in Absence Management etc. I have been trying to advocate this in my blog for some time and I hope the Oracle product team get to hear it.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
There are many consultants who have more experience in PeopleSoft than me, but what has helped me in my career are – a) Ability to see the forest instead of the trees b) Empathise with the customer – provide business oriented solutions rather than purely IT oriented solutions and c) Working harder than the rest.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It’s foolish competing against others, the only way to move up is to compete against yourself and keep improving yourself.

I’m Matthew Haavisto and this is how I work November 27, 2012

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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The honour of being both the first US-based PeopleSoft guru, and the first Oracle employee to be profiled, falls to Matthew Haavisto. Matthew’s official title is “Strategy/Product Manager, PeopleTools” but most will know him either from his conference sessions, his work with customers and partners or from the PeopleSoft Technology Blog. Matthew is heavily involved with the PeopleSoft Tech effort at OpenWorld and can often be found discussing UI or the PeopleSoft Interaction Hub in his laid-back but knowledgeable manner.

Name: Matthew Haavisto

Occupation: Strategy/Product Manager, PeopleTools
Location: Pleasanton, California
Current computer: Dell Laptop (nearing end of life)
Current mobile devices: iPhone
I work: Diligently

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
We’re doing more with collaborative tools these days, so we use Oracle Beehive Workspaces more and more.  Workspaces are more efficient than email and file systems for communication and doc sharing among our project teams.  Sad to say, but my colleagues and I are still bound too much to email, though I’m hoping to reduce that use over time.  Collaborative technology is easy to deploy, but changing ingrained behavior is more difficult.   I produce a lot of external collateral like red/white papers, data sheets, RVPs, and conference presentations, so simple apps like MS Word and Powerpoint still get a lot of use.  These apps are also useful for internal communications like business requirements, specifications, and scoping presentations as well.  I also use Visio for simple modeling, and Balsamiq for low-fi UX mockups.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
Despite working in software, I guess I’m a bit of a Luddite.  I don’t go in for a lot of gadgets.  I do most of my work from my office or my home, so I’m connected when I need to be.  When I’m off work and engaged in personal pursuits (sports and music), I don’t want to be connected, so I deliberately cut the cord.

What’s your workspace like?
My workspace at the office is similar to my workspace at home.  Both are pretty simple and efficient.  I have a monitor and docking station so setup is fast.

I like coming into the office to interact personally with colleagues, though I do work from home a fair amount as well.  Since I work with colleagues, partners, and customers around the globe, I’m often on calls/web conferences at odd hours of the morning or night, and in those cases, I take the meetings at home.

What do you listen to while you work?
I’m a big fan of Pandora.  I listen mostly to classical, particularly at work. Favorites are Beethoven, Sibelius, Smetana, and Tchaikovsky.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
Since I work for PeopleTools, I have some influence on this.  I’m hoping we can establish better integration with social apps like Oracle Social Network.  We are also doing some really cool stuff for the future UX and mobile, so keep your eyes peeled.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I don’t know that I’m better at one thing than others.  Rather, I’m a bit of a factotum.  I do many things pretty well, and tend to learn things quickly.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Balance your work with the rest of your life.

I’m Nicolas Gasparotto and this is how I work November 14, 2012

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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Nicolas Gasparotto is one of the longest running PeopleSoft bloggers having started in 2006 (a year before me, the same year as Jim Marion and David Kurtz, and only one year after the Grey Heller guys). His ‘On the PeopleSoft Road‘ blog focuses mainly on installation, infrastructure and DBA activites and is packed with step-by-step walkthroughs of installs. Nicolas is also an Oracle ACE and is often found dishing out helpful advice on the OTN Discussion Forums (since August 2002 he’s made 23,742 posts – an average of 6.5 posts every day, for a decade!).

Name: Nicolas Gasparotto

Occupation: Oracle and PeopleSoft Administrator – contractor
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Current computer: Dell Inspiron 1720 (WinXP Pro, 4GB RAM, 2*250Gb HD). It’s rather old. In fact, it’s nothing but a client to my Dell server PowerEdge 2900III (16GB RAM, 4*500Gb HD in RAID0, Quad core Xeon CPU) and Qnap NAS Server (4*1Tb in RAID5)
Current mobile devices: Samsung Galaxy S, Kindle

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Installed on my own Dell PowerEdge 2900III server, I’m using VMWare vSphere Hypervisor (free) on a daily basis for learning the new PeopleSoft stuff on my own, installing etc. I also had an Oracle VM implementation on a spare desktop, but it has to be renewed.

Regarding the databases side, I can’t live without Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c, especially helpful when managing 50+ databases.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
My Kindle is my best friend in the 3 hours I spend daily on public transportation. I read a lot.

What’s your workspace like?
My home desk is currently “under construction”… my 1.5 year old son makes it a bit more complicated to manage.

What do you listen to while you work?
I already tried it, but at the end of the disc, I was surprised that was finished, I realized I did not hear anything. Since then, I don’t listen music at all when I work.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
If available on client site, OEM is definitely a useful tool. Easy to make performance comprehensive reports, and being able to show it to the Infra manager… for further action.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
I can say the Peoplesoft plugin in Enterprise Manager Cloud Control is a must to have. It gives a lot of information, availability, loading…

It allows to configure a lot of parameters, if not all, on AppServer, Process Scheduler and PIA, start/stop… even though it needs to be improve a lot.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
I use a bunch of my own SQL scripts for locks checking, AWR reporting… Somehow, I also have run quite often a DMS script to unlock/change password of users on demo/test environments without SSL.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
It would be nice to have a page in PeopleTools menu dedicated to the Application Server configuration (and Process Scheduler ?), such as something we have for the Web Profile. I’d like to be able to set trace level, change parameter without going somewhere else (actually on the server) and take back the logs. We could then give some permission to the developer’s account for that. Of course, as an administrator, you should keep an eye on the disk space.

And in a dream, be able to work on PeopleSoft without the need of Windows OS. Have App Designer running on a Linux Distro?

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Keeping an eye on the OS and databases heartbeat to be pro-active as much as possible, trying to solve issues quickly before the phone rings, with a good and positive mind.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t postpone until tomorrow what you can do today.

I’m Hakan Biroglu and this is how I work November 7, 2012

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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I’m very grateful to Hakan Biroglu for agreeing to be the next subject in this series.

Although Hakan has been in the industry a long time (he’s been working on Oracle Apps for 13 years, and Peoplesoft for 10 years) I’d not met him until recently. His blog will be familiar to many and he’s one of the most prolific and helpful experts on the PeopleSoft areas in the OTN forums. Hakan works for Logica (now part of CGI) in the Netherlands. I bumped into him at this year’s OpenWorld where he gave a session on the benefits of upgrading to Tools 8.52.

Name: Hakan Biroglu

Occupation: Software Architect PeopleSoft & Practice Lead Fusion Applications
Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Current computer: Toshiba Tecra (Win7, 8GB RAM)
Current mobile devices: Google Galaxy Nexus Phone, iPad

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I would have to start with VMWare Player (Sorry folks, not that of a big fan of VirtualBox). Since my computers kept crashing on me, I decided to run everything in virtual machines and of course having backups of these on external hard disks. Now I have dozens of virtual machines with different versions of PeopleSoft and other content. Whenever needed I just start another virtual machine. Other tools I cannot live without are Google, NotePad++7zipsoapUI and Snagit. And not to forget, My Oracle Support, the OTN Forums and PeopleBooks (after 10 years I still use it on a daily basis). What most people do not know is that there is a great amount of information on iLearningPeopleSoft YouTube Channel and the Advisor Webcasts.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
Call me old fashioned, but I do not use gadgets whatsoever. All I need is a flip over board, whiteboard or just a piece of paper and a pen, to visualize and share my thoughts.

What’s your workspace like?


Lately our team has become a big fan of using SCRUM methodology on PeopleSoft projects. So we have our digital SCRUM board on screen and our post-its with the sprint tasks on the wall, to keep us focused on our deliverables and timelines.

What do you listen to while you work?
I actually never listen to music when I work. The reason for this is that when I am concentrating on my work I do not see or hear anything from around me. So if someone else has music on, I do not mind because I won’t hear it when I start working.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
When you create a new component and use the wizard in Application Designer to create a content reference, this gets added nicely in the PeopleSoft menu. When you migrate this new component and content reference to the next environment, using the Copy to Database function in Application Designer, the content reference is nowhere to be found in the next environment. And now the 2-line tip:

Go to PeopleTools > Portal > Structure and Content and click on edit on a higher level content reference, change anything, save, change it back to the original state and save again. Now hit F5 to refresh your browser and the content reference is visible in your menu, without running the Portal Security Sync. It’s like magic …

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
I am actually against using/writing SQL in PeopleSoft/PeopleCode, except when used for views. When writing SQL, developers tend to write database specific SQL and not use MetaSQL. Or they tend to write highly complex SQL statements, which contains a lot of the business logic. This is not readable, maintainable or extendable. I am a big fan of using Application Classes and the PeopleCode API’s, especially using the ObjectDoMethod function to write abstract, configurable code.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
Code completion would be a nice feature to add to Application Designer.

Another thing. Although PeopleSoft is now fully service enabled, it is not fully service oriented. It would be great if the number of services would be extended (and documented!) and the components would be “dummy” pages calling the services. This way, you could integrate PeopleSoft easier with any other application or middleware.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I think that where others see a problem, I see a challenge.

Most of the time people are focused on answering a question. When you are asked a question and in turn ask why the question is being asked, most of the time you will find out the true question/issue is something else and most likely the answer to the true question is easier to answer.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Recently I read a book on Steve Jobs his way of thinking and working. I could really relate to two principles:

Do What You Love
If you really want to excel at something, do what you are passionate about.

Create Insanely Great Experiences.
Try to live as many different experiences as you can outside your working/living area. This will broaden your vision and the most amazing ideas will emerge from this.

I’m David Kurtz and this is how I work October 30, 2012

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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I’m very grateful to David Kurtz for agreeing to be the first genuine interviewee in this series.

If there are any people in the PeopleSoft world who haven’t come across David or his work, this is a brief introduction. David started out as an installer/infrastructure expert for PeopleSoft, but is now an independent contractor based in the UK. He has worked for most of the UK’s biggest PeopleSoft implementations, specialising in tuning PeopleSoft on Oracle databases. He is a published author (PeopleSoft for the Oracle DBA), has a blog for PeopleSoft DBAs and is a regular speaker on the conference circuit, having recently spoken at both UKOUG and OpenWorld).

Name: David Kurtz

Occupation: Independent Oracle/PeopleSoft Performance Consultant
Location: Maida Vale, London
Current computer: Toshiba Tecra (Win7, 8GB RAM, SSD)
Current mobile devices: HTC Desire, Samsung Galaxy Tab, both running Android

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Google search has been a primary research tool for many years.  There is just so much stuff out there, the challenge is filtering the useful from the useless and the obviously untrustworthy.  After that, I need a sandpit database where I can create test cases and prototype code.  Without customer VPN, life would be very difficult.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
Apple iPod, though it is only version 1.  iTunes is the best system I have found to organise classical music.  After that, the Samsung tablet with GPS was bought primarily as a navigational device for the bike, but I have since found another 42 critical uses for it.

What’s your workspace like?
This is office 2.0.  Earlier this year I finally cleared out the 20-year old computer desk and installed this desk and shelving system.  I also treated myself to a new KVM switch and monitor.

What do you listen to while you work?
Quite often I don’t.  When I do, it is often classic music on my PC or www.radioswissclassic.ch.  Of course, when there is cricket: BBC Test Match Special.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
I need to be able to put performance analysis techniques into operation on customer sites, so I need keep things simple and use things that I know will always be in place everywhere.  Trying to installing software in the middle of a performance crisis can just be a distraction.  I use SQL*Plus to run SQL, and Notepad and vi to edit files.  I use Excel as a way of extracting and graphing performance metrics.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
You can embed a SQL query into an Excel spreadsheet, which can then can connect to the database via ODBC, run the query and extract the data directly into the sheet or even a pivot table.  This is a great way to collect and visualise performance metrics using software that everyone will have.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
Queries on the ASH repository, and the conversion between PeopleSoft record name and Oracle table name.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
Support for Oracle sequences.  It would mitigate all sorts of locking issues associated with PeopleSoft’s ‘homemade’ table based sequences, especially those affecting scalability of the integration broker.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I know lots of people who know more about the inside of an Oracle database than me, and lots more people who know more about all sorts of aspects of PeopleSoft.  The difference is that I work across both of those disciplines. I am lucky that I get to see more examples of things going wrong, so I have become very adept at analysing performance issues that affect PeopleSoft and/or Oracle.  I like to think that I am quite good at applying ideas from other places to PeopleSoft problems.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Nullius in Verba (Take nobody’s word for it).  You can’t just trust anything simply because somebody, even with the best intentions, says or blogs that it is true.  You have to test for yourself in your circumstances. Consequently the answer to every question begins ‘it depends …’.

I’m Duncan Davies and this is how I work October 23, 2012

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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In a shameless copy of the excellent LifeHacker feature aimed at productivity gurus, we thought it’d be interesting to do something similar for the PeopleSoft world. Every week or so we’ll post an interview with some of the rock-stars of the PeopleSoft ecosystem.

I’m going to go first – not because I rate myself in the same echelon as those who will follow – but just to give everyone an idea of what to expect.

Name: Duncan Davies

Occupation: PeopleSoft Technical Consultant / CTO
Location: The Succeed Office, Croxley Green (Outer London)
Current computer: Lenovo Thinkpad (Win7, 16GB RAM, SSD)
Current mobile devices: Android ICS on an HTC One S, iPad 2
I work: Hard

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I feel disconnected if I don’t have internet connectivity.  I don’t mind which device (laptop, iPad, mobile) but I like to be able to keep updated. I spend a lot of time in Google Reader (which provides 80% of the info I consume – the rest being from Twitter). I can tolerate some off-line time if my Pocket (ex-ReadItLater) queue is healthy – it’s great for the underground.

Within Succeed we collaborate heavily via HipChat and reluctantly use Sharepoint. We do have a collaboration platform that’s being built which will solve many of our Sharepoint woes, but it’s a little too nascent to detail yet.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
I’m a devotee of the Evoluent Vertical mouse which has helped combat RSI, and I also switch to a cheap Bamboo tablet for a bit of variety.

What’s your workspace like?
It depends where I’m working (home, the Succeed office, client site). I’m experimenting with a makeshift standing desk at the moment, and quite enjoying it.

(I suspect Health & Safety will make me swap it for something more professional and less flammable soon.)

What do you listen to while you work?
I’m feeling nostalgic at the moment so a little Sunscreem and Manadalay. Of the more current artists, I probably find The XX and Hot Chip easiest to work to.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
Aside from snippets and auto-completion in SQL editors, a lot of time is saved using the Chrome Developer tools or the Firebug extension in Firefox. I use Paint Shop Pro as my graphics editor of choice for altering the UI. Succeed also makes use of Jenkins for automating some of the infrastructure tasks.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
App Designer shows who updated each object last, but doesn’t do the same for PeopleCode. If you want to know who has been messing with your carefully crafted code then query PSPCMPROG for the last Update OPRID and Date/Time.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
Probably checking PSACCESSLOG to see who is using the system. I’m sure you can achieve a live version of this using WSLT but haven’t found the time to implement it yet.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
It would be nice if PeopleSoft style sheets were parameterised in the style of Sass or Less. Then the UI could be changed in a heartbeat.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I’d like to think I keep my finger on the pulse pretty well.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
There’s nothing you can’t achieve if you have a great team around you.