Productivity and Noise

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Everyone likes to be productive, however pretty much everywhere we work there’s something with the ability to disrupt our concentration. Some are necessary – like most meetings – however others break our flow of thought and it takes a while to get ‘in the zone’ again.

I’ve recently changed jobs and the new company’s office is in Kings Cross, London. In many ways this is hugely advantageous, but it can be a bit noisy. I also do quite a bit of working from home now, and that can be noisy too when the kids get in from school.

A great way of eliminating most of the distractions is to use music, however the tracks that you choose can themselves be distracting, especially if they contain lyrics. The solution is to use either noise generators or ‘programming music’.

Noise Generators

I’ve found one solution is to use ‘noise generators’, programs or sites that create an endless stream of background sound. Here’s some of my favourites:

Jazz and Rain
The webapp plays a continuous list of instrumental jazz music alongside a soundtrack of soft rain. You can adjust the volume level of both independently and let them run in the background.

Soundrown
Gives you a selection of noise tracks which you can combine (and adjust the volume of independently). Select from Rain, Fire, Birds, Waves and Coffee Shop. I normally take all but the latter (then tone down the birds a touch!). On the following page they also offer Night, Train, Fountain, White Noise and Playground. Night and Train are good additions also sometimes.

Simply Rain
Just rain, but you can adjust not only the volume, but the intensity of the rain. You can also control the frequency of thunder.

Rainy Mood
Just rain. Sometimes – particularly if your workplace isn’t too noisy this is all you need.

Simply Noise
Just White noise.  Or Pink Noise. Or Brown Noise.

Coding FM
This is just the sound of someone taping away on their keyboard so it’s unlikely to drown out the heavier noises, but you can vary the intensity, from ‘Monday Morning Coding’ to ‘Hackathon Coding’ to ‘Angry Dev Coding’ (which isn’t relaxing in any way!).

Programming Music

Music for Programming
A series of downloadable mp3s designed to allow maximum concentration.

Get Work Done Music
If you’re after something a little more up-tempo, this is a good choice. It contains a selection of ambient/trance music.

Natural Alternatives

Nature Sounds for Me
If you’re after something a little more natural, then this is a good site. You can select from a wide variety of sounds, combine a few others in, and then save it as a link (allowing you to easily access the combination again in the future). If you like the ambient sound of the forest, mixed with some bird tweets, a gentle waterfall and some whale song(!) then this is ideal.

Calm.com
Ideal if you like your atmospheric music a little more meditative.

 

Becoming a Fusion HCM Security Specialist

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Next up in the ‘hit list’ of topics on the way to specialisation is the Security Specialist. Fusion Security was designed with Role Based Access Control (RBAC) at its heart, allowing separation of duties for Sarbanes Oxley compliance easier to achieve, so that should make it easier to pick up, given my history of PeopleSoft. Let’s dive in … Read the rest of this entry »

Becoming a Fusion Data Specialist

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Next up in the ‘hit list’ of topics on the way to specialisation is the Data Specialist. (I’ve been temporarily scared off by the amount of course content for the Sales and Presales specialisms!) This covers getting data in and out of Fusion.

Inbound Data

As you would expect with a fully-featured system like Fusion, there are an array of options. Read the rest of this entry »

Becoming a Fusion UX Specialist

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Following the previous post discussing the changes in the requirements for the Fusion specialisation program, I thought I’d start attacking the list of exams required.

The one that looked the most interesting – to me – was the new UX (User Experience) exam. I’ve always had a soft spot for good design and I’d loved the revamped look and feel in Fusion release 8. I also liked the fact that the Oracle UX team had released their Design Patterns to the general public. I’ve worked at a couple of clients which had internal ‘best practice’ guides and I’d often talked with colleagues about creating a community ‘development standards’ wiki for PeopleSoft, but this was the first time that I’d seen one from a vendor. It’s refreshing that Oracle is being open and contributing to the community.

The course contains online learning materials from Oracle’s UX luminaries like Mischa Vaughan, Ultan O Broin and Tim Dubois. Some of the content is still specific to R7 but even this functionality is surprisingly good. Oracle have a separate division of UX experts and the material shows that a lot of thought and effort has gone into the UX of Fusion.

Much emphasis is placed on key UX principals such as: Read the rest of this entry »

Changes in the Fusion HCM Cloud Service specialization

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Oracle have recently updated the requirements for the Fusion HCM Cloud Service Specialization program. Previously, there was a set of exams that partners had to get employees through and a client reference to attain. Now the specialisation is a lot more involved:

Previously the requirements were:

1x Fusion HCM 11g Sales Specialist
1x Fusion HCM 11g PreSales Specialist
1x General Product Support Assessment (v3.0)

plus 1 pass in either:
Fusion HCM 11g Human Resources Implementation Specialist, or 
Fusion HCM 11g Talent Management Implementation Specialist

A total of four exams – plus the reference – would have been enough. For companies already specialised on this program – and Succeed is one of these – this only lasts until October.

The program has now changed …
Read the rest of this entry »

UKOUG Apps Transformation Day (aka Fusion SIG)

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I had the privilege of attending the UKOUG Apps Transformation day at the CBI Centre in London yesterday. I nearly missed it as the title initially didn’t grab my attention, but a friend pointed out that it was exclusively Fusion content and that was enough for me!

There were 120 people registered, however it looked like the numbers present were a lot short of that. The venue could have taken a lot more than 120 though. I wonder if the audience would have been bigger if it was more obvious that this was about Fusion?

So what did I learn? Read the rest of this entry »

Oracle’s Week of Deals

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This week Oracle announced 3 major deals. Deals of this size would normally be the single biggest piece of news in any typical week, so to get 3 in successive days means that they were lined up and unleashed in a deliberate manner to create the largest splash possible. And it’s certainly got people’s attention, with many analysts penning a series of posts on the matter.

The Microsoft Deal

Oracle and Microsoft announced a deal to make a slew of Oracle products available on the Microsoft Azure platform (their rival to Amazon Web Services). What’s so surprising about this deal is that historically the two companies haven’t been the best of friends and are the two main rivals in the battle for relational database supremacy.

When Larry teased during the earnings call last week that there were some big deals coming – including one with Microsoft – many expected something much tamer, like Microsoft certifying Oracle’s Java within Azure for example. What was announced is much bigger. Microsoft is making Oracle Java, Oracle Weblogic and – amazingly – the Oracle Database available within their Azure cloud.

The Salesforce Deal

Although Marc Benioff honed his craft while under Larry’s wing at Oracle, he’s his own man now and Salesforce and Oracle have been on a collision course for a while. Salesforce currently runs on the Oracle database, there has been some speculation that they were looking at PostgreSQL to help reduce that dependency. This deal not only negates that threat, but ties the two companies very closely together. Salesforce will run on Oracle’s Exadata machines, Oracle Linux OS, Oracle Java and the Oracle database platform for the next 9 years (although Benioff has subsequently said that it’s actually 12 years), and implement Fusion HCM internally (they currently use Workday). Quite a deal.

There are lots of positives for Oracle from this deal, but you have to wonder what Salesforce employees will think. They’ve a daring, charismatic and visionary leader who has taken the CRM market by storm, taking them to become the world’s #1 for CRM and the world’s biggest SaaS company. By aligning themselves with Oracle they’ve lost some of their autonomy, Benioff will often be playing second fiddle to Larry, and this does box Salesforce in to the CRM market – HCM and Financials will be all about Fusion (work.com and FinancialForce.com will presumably not be touted so strongly).

Does Larry also see Benioff as a successor? Larry is only just over a year off of being 70. Although we suspect he relishes deals like this, and his appreciation of Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ is oft-recounted, there will become a time when he’ll want to reduce his influence – as Bill Gates did at Microsoft.

This isn’t good news for Dell (who previously supplied all of Salesforce’s servers). It’s a real kick in the teeth for Workday though. Extensions to Workday are created in the Force.com platform, Salesforce’s Chatter is integrated with Workday, and the CEOs are frequent speakers at each other’s conferences. It’s safe to assume that some or all of this is going to cease and it’ll be Larry presenting at this year’s Dreamforce instead.

The NetSuite Deal

This is definitely the least surprising of the 3 deals as Oracle and NetSuite have always had a friendly relationship (Larry was a heavy initial investor). The biggest question is what market is the deal aiming at? They’re after mid-sized companies where they’ll deploy Fusion HCM and NetSuite Financials – both SaaS hosted, one would assume as that’s the only model available for NetSuite. To me, this sounds like they’re aiming at Workday.

Summary

Larry has really pulled a masterstroke in getting the whole enterprise software industry talking. He’s created a huge cloud marketplace with some of the industry’s leviathons, and positioned Oracle at the centre of it – at the same time as devaluing some competitors. Larry is – right now – probably the Enterprise Tech industry’s most powerful leader.

The implications of most of these deals will come in time. Big questions remain, however:

  • How much revenue will the Azure tie-up actually bring?
  • What happens to Fusion CRM? When will it be sold in preference to Salesforce?
  • Are Salesforce’s HCM and Financial offerings no longer viable?
  • Will Oracle eventually purchase NetSuite, Salesforce, or both?