2014/03/04

Latest for the folks who have to deal with Peoplesoft

Dang, been a while since the last posts!  A lot of water under the bridge since then.

We've ditched a few people that were not really helping anything, and are now actively looking at cloud solutions, "big data" use, etcetc.

Meanwhile, there is the small detail that business as usual has to continue: it's very easy to parrot about the latest gimmick/feature/funtastic technology that will revolutionize how to boil water.
But if the monthly payroll and invoicing and purchasing fail, I can promise you a few HARD and concrete financial surprises!

Speaking of payroll...

A few years ago I made some posts here on the problem with PAYCALC runs in Peoplesoft and how hard it is to have correct CBO statistics for the multitude of scratchpad tables this software uses to store intermediate results during a pay calculation run - be it daily, weekly or monthly.  Those posts are regularly visited and comments added to them by folks experiencing the same problem.

(Fancy that!  A problem that is common to others and not caused by yours truly  - the "bad dba", according to marketeers from so many companies hellbent on selling us con-sultancy!)

This lack of statistics is mostly caused by the fact that the software truncates the tables at the end of the pay calc process. And does not calculate statistics after re-populating them with intermediate results during the next pay cycle!

With the obvious result that no matter how often and regularly a dba recalculates statistics on these tables, they cannot possibly ever be correct at the most important time!

One way around this I mentioned at the time was to actually turn on debugging for the modules that use those tables - assuming it's easy to find them, not all folks know how to do that!

The end result is Peoplesoft code will detect the debug flag and fire off a ANALYZE just after re-populating those tables.  Not perfect ( analyze if anything is a deprecated command!) but better than no stats!   At the end of the run, the output of the debug is simply thrown away.  Slow, but much better than before!

Another way was to force estimates to be taken for those tables by the CBO.  Again, not perfect.  But still better than pay calc runtimes in the tens of hours!

Enter our upgrade last year to Peoplesoft HCM and EPM 9.2!  Apart from using the "fusion" architecture for screen handling (slow as molasses...) this release introduces a CAPITAL improvement to all pay calc runs!

What Oracle has done is very simple: from 9.2 onwards, they do NOT truncate the scratchpad tables at the end of each pay calc!

So instead of guessing/analyzing stats for empty tables, the dbas can now analyze them with significant, relevant and timely data contents, do histograms if that is their penchant, etcetcetc!  With the immediate result that instead of the previous pot luck runtime for the paycalcs, now they are reliably constant in their duration and much, much faster! In simple terms: the CBO finally has SOMETHING accurate to base its "cost" on!


Man!  You mean to tell me it took Peoplesoft to become available in Oracle cloud for them to realize what was being done before was eminently STUPID and making it impossible for any dba to have a predictable paycalc execution time?


Apparently when it became their cloud responsibility, the solution was quickly found and implemented...


Of course, if they had actually LISTENED to the frequent and insistent complaints by dbas who actually deal with their software day to day for years on end rather than playing "ace" cards, things would have perhaps progressed a lot faster!... 



But let's ignore stupidity and rejoice: there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it's not incoming!

Get those upgrade juices going, folks, and try to convince your management that 9.2 is THE release of Peoplesoft to aim at.

It'll help everyone. (Including Oracle - but I don't think their marketing is smart enough to detect that...)





Anyways, on to funnier and hopefully nicer things.



As some know, I go to East Timor for holidays every time I can afford it.  Mostly because I grew up for a while there, many of my school time friends are still there and we are still very close.  But also because I get a chance to view things like the ones below, and actually visit these places.






Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!




The above was taken from Fazenda Algarve.  It belongs to the well known Carrascalão family and it is likely one of the largest coffee farms in the world.  Some of my good friends already departed are buried nearby. 
The flat empty concrete floor you see on the bottom is where the coffee beans are sun dried and lose their skin and pulp (coffee beans are the seed of a small, very sweet fruit).  Once dry, they are put in the tanks on the left and shaken until the dry husks fall off and the beans can be packed and sent for sale.
I don't know about you but with a view like this I wouldn't be doing much work!  The far mountains are around 40Kms away already in Indonesian territory and the dry river bed is the largest "river" of East Timor.  It's called "Lois".  I first saw this as a young teenager.  To now come back and see this magnificent, stunning  view once again is indeed a rare, truly cherished privilege!



And looking directly back from the previous image, is the above view.  That peak in the distance (around 20Ks) is Tata-Mai-Lau, aka Mt Ramelau, the highest point in the whole island: >3000m
A truly magnificent mountain from where the whole island can be seen at sunrise on a good, clear day.
I have not yet been back there.  It's a very long climb done at night and I'm no spring chicken anymore, so I have to pass on climbing it again without mechanical aid.  But recently a friend of mine climbed it for the first time and had an epiphany experience at the top during sunrise.  I don't think she'll ever forget it.  It is one of the most impressive views available anywhere in the world!




 Dunno about you, but I'd definitely like to have an office with a view like this!  But don't be deceived - that guy is not having fun, he's very likely collecting dinner for his family.  Otherwise the only thing they'll eat on that night will be boiled rice and coconut.  It's a hard life for the population over there, and why I always leave the place with a sharp pain in my heart...


Speaking of heart pain, that's my Yggdrasil.  Look it up, Norse mythology.  Part of my paternal family is descendent from a Norse crusader who joined the first crusade and who fought in Jerusalem and after settled in Portugal.  I lived for 3 years right behind this tree and there was not one morning I did not marvel at its size.  If anything it is even bigger now.
For the curious, it's a Banyan tree. Banyans are the national tree of the Republic of India, and for good reason: they are venerated over there as almost sacred.  The name was originally a Portuguese word.  It later was adopted into English and there are quite a few members of this family of trees around the world, including at least 3 varieties in Australia, one specifically from Sydney.  A really large Indian Banyan tree can grow to an hectare in width, by spreading across other trees as a parasite.
In Timor, they are known as "gondoeiro" and are thought to harbor good spirits from folks dead a long time ago.  Dunno, but everytime I visit Díli I go to this tree, hug it and talk to it.  It always feels warm and soft to the touch and against it I can only hear the breeze in its foliage.  Hallucination?  Maybe.  Don't care. It's my Yggdrasil and it's the closest thing in my life to true religion.



Catchyalata, folks. Do me a favour: smile and have fun!

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