If frozen dinners have been on the menu at your house a bit too much of late, the thought of having a home-cooked meal waiting for you every night probably sounds tempting. But what's it going to cost you to have someone else do the cooking?
The place to find out is www.personalchefsearch.com. Personal chefs tailor menus to their clients' dietary needs and food preferences. They plan meals and do the grocery shopping. They provide their own cookware, spices, oils, and other cooking items. They usually come into your home, spend a few hours cooking, and (after cleaning the kitchen) leave behind the meals, packaged and labeled. Some services do the cooking at their location and deliver cooked meals to your home.
The cost varies, depending on how much food you order and which personal chef you choose. One California company will make five meals a week for a family of four and charge US$200 per week. It adds up fast. But when you consider the time saved by not planning meals, grocery shopping, and cooking, it might just be worth it.
Every company—and person—has secrets. And with an immense amount of information traveling from one mobile device to another via text messaging—around 3 billion messages per month in the U.K. alone, according to the Mobile Data Association—those secrets can end up lost or stolen.
Enter StealthText, from U.K.-based Staellium. StealthText users download a Java applet to their device and use it to send and receive messages. Once a message is received and read, it self-destructs after 40 seconds. (For legal reasons, an audit copy stays on Staellium's servers.)
Staellium CEO Carole Barnum describes StealthText as a "parallel service for people who have parallel lives." She touts its military-technology underpinnings and points to inquiries from celebrities and government agencies as proof of need. Staellium is also developing other applications for its self-destructing text technology, such as single-use PIN codes for mobile banking and a Tamagotchi-style version for children.
StealthText rolled out in the U.K. in late 2005, costing 50 pence per message (with bulk discounts). Word traveled quickly, and Barnum says global demand has been overwhelming. The service should be available in the U.S., Australia, continental Europe, and Asia during 2006. For more information, visit www.stealthtext.net.
Book Review Back to the Future
FutureThink: How to Think Clearly in a Time of Change (Prentice Hall Publishing, 2005) has a message for all you business thinkers—your hard-earned education might be standing in the way of success in business and in life. "People say that to maintain leadership in times of rapid change a business must become a 'learning organization,'" says Arnold Brown, who coauthored FutureThink with fellow futurist Edie Wiener. "We're saying that first you must become a forgetting organization." Executives from companies like Merck & Co. use the techniques in FutureThink to overcome years of acquired knowledge and social conditioning that stand in the way of making better decisions.
An example of appropriate forgetfulness, according to Brown, would be how a financial institution might put aside successful Western practices in order to deliver services to a global Muslim population that views interest as a sin.
Brown's key advice: Learn to put aside what you know and look for different ways of seeing the things in front of you.
Armored Cars for Civilians
In today's unpredictable world, state-of-the-art security can be a necessity—not a luxury. For executives, celebrities, and government officials, armored vehicles can provide lifesaving security. Although the Hummer springs to mind, the latest armored vehicles are more covert. Many are reinforced SUVs or luxury sedans, boasting leading-edge exteriors, windows, and even protective devices that are difficult to detect.
International Armoring Corporation (IAC) specializes in designing technologically advanced armored vehicles. They developed Armormax, a combination of synthetic fibers that creates an opaque armor 10 times stronger than ballistic steel. To reinforce windows, IAC designed Lightweight Transparent Armor or LTA glass, which is temperature resistant, lighter than a glass laminate, and virtually bulletproof.
Flat tire protection is an option as well. IAC's Run Flat Tire System includes a ballistic rubberized plastic roller inside each tire to ensure that vehicles can operate with flat tires, even at 60 mph.
Applications Unlimited As part of its lifetime commitment to customers, Oracle will provide unlimited enhancements to the current Oracle Applications beyond the delivery of Oracle Fusion Applications in 2008. With "Applications Unlimited," Oracle has committed to enhance JD Edwards, Oracle, PeopleSoft, and Siebel applications on an ongoing basis. With this new strategy, Oracle is providing more visibility into product road maps and helping customers derive continual success from their current applications by delivering dedicated, world-class development and support for years to come. In addition, Oracle is working closely with its customer communities, including the CIO Advisory Board, Product and Industry Strategy Councils, and customer advisory boards, and with individual customers to determine product direction and analyze customer enhancement requests across all product lines. "We are giving customers the best of both worlds—more value from their existing applications, which will be enhanced indefinitely, and an option to upgrade free of charge to future technologies, if the customer determines there is a business case to do so," says Oracle President Charles Phillips. With four best-in-class product lines to choose from, Oracle customers have many opportunities to deploy the right applications to fit their individual business needs—applications developed to foster clear decision-making, optimal responsiveness, and a superior total ownership experience.
Oracle Secure Backup Now Available Oracle Secure Backup offers high-performance and secure data protection by encrypting data that is backed up to offline media. Data stored in offline devices such as tape is vulnerable to theft and loss. Encrypting data as it is copied to tape ensures that sensitive data is protected even in the event of theft. Oracle Secure Backup supports more than 200 tape devices, from legacy systems to the latest high-performance tape drives.
LinuxWorld Conference & Expo August 14-17, San Francisco Find world-class, comprehensive educational and technical programming on Linux and open source technology at LinuxWorld. Discover the latest stable, deployable open source technologies; brainstorm on the deployment, integration, and extension of open source technology; and explore the full range of products and services around Linux and open source solutions.
Gartner Financial Services Summit August 28-30, Boston Designed for IT leaders from banking, insurance, and investment and securities firms, this event provides a comprehensive and unbiased look at the business value of IT. Gartner experts will provide strategic and tactical advice.
Oracle CFO Summit October 24, San Francisco "Innovation Across the Enterprise: Best Practices from Global Finance Leaders" is the theme of this year's CFO Summit at Oracle OpenWorld. Learn how some of the world's most innovative companies are rewiring key business processes across the enterprise to achieve profitable, organic growth.
Oracle CFO Summits are invitation-only events and space is limited. Please contact your Oracle sales representative to learn how you can guarantee your participation in this exclusive event.
Adventure for Sale
A good book, a nice view, and a cool drink are enough to help most of us unwind. But not Jane Reifert's clients.
Reifert runs Incredible Adventures, in Sarasota, Florida. "If you always wanted to fly a jet fighter, here's your chance," she says. "If you always wanted to be a soldier, we let you play soldier for a weekend. If you always wanted to be a deep-sea diver, we can arrange that."
The typical Incredible Adventures customer is a 40-something male business executive who spends US$15,000 for a week's vacation—plus airfare and meals. Most adventures are three to four days long. "Our customers don't have a lot of time to be away, so they want to pack as much as possible into the shortest period of time," Reifert says.
Prices range from US$375 per person for an afternoon group activity (hostage rescue scenarios are popular) to US$20 million to ride a Soyuz space capsule. Reifert says adventures help clients push themselves. "It's like Outward Bound for execs," she says. For more information on how to book your adventure, visit www.incredible-adventures.com.
Work-Life Balance and the Bottom Line
If your employees aren't as productive as you want them to be, maybe they need a day off.
This suggestion comes from Joanne Sujansky, CEO and founder of KEYGroup, a consultancy focusing on business growth and productivity. KEYGroup released a study in early 2006 showing that 18 percent of workers surveyed plan to look for a new job this year to improve work-life balance. "When work-life balance is off, productivity is off," Sujansky says. Other factors are also affected, she insists: "If people don't have a work week that makes sense, creativity and innovation decline, and the right kind of risk-taking declines." Work-life balance hits the bottom line hard when people quit over it. "If you lose strong talent, the cost to replace it goes beyond the numbers," she says. "It also hurts the morale of employees who see good people leave." Rather than focusing on just hours on the job, Sujansky suggests employers look at the value of employees' work time. "If I can have somebody on the job 40 or 45 hours a week who's alert, productive, and innovative, I'll take that over 55 hours," she says.
Oracle and Google Partner Up to Provide Enterprise Search Functionality Google has released a new Google Search Appliance featuring Google OneBox for Enterprise, an application that lets users search any enterprise application from a Google search box.
Google OneBox for Enterprise is integrated with Oracle E-Business Suite's human resources, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, and supply chain management applications. Google and Oracle partner BearingPoint have developed OneBox modules that provide access to Oracle's PeopleSoft data and employee contact information in LDAP directories. OneBox queries can search for information in personal desktop documents, enterprise applications, and the corporate intranet.
Google has also delivered a Representational State Transfer-based application programming interface for Google OneBox for Enterprise and created the Google Enterprise Developer program, a community site where developers can download Google Enterprise software development kits and documentation and share their work with other customers, partners, and developers.
Solix, DSI Mark Integration Validation Two Oracle partners have had their products validated for use with the Oracle E-Business Suite as part of the Oracle PartnerNetwork Application Integration Initiative.
Solix' ARCHIVEjinni is a Web-based platform for comprehensive data archiving and management that works across Oracle (and other enterprise applications), e-mail, and documents. It selects, validates, and archives data and then purges it using standard Oracle purge routines. ARCHIVEjinni improves application performance by relocating historical transactions and inactive data from the production database while maintaining access to archived data. Its archiving process also ensures data referential integrity in archived instances.
Data Systems International's dcLINK 4.2 data capture solution works with all modules of Oracle E-Business Suite 11.5.10. dcLINK is an automated data capture solution for tracking inventory, assets, and time—in production, in the warehouse, and in the field. dcLINK supports RFID, bar code, and mobile applications on a single platform with real-time integration into enterprise software.
SOPHOI and Oracle Provide Intellectual Property Management for Media and Entertainment SOPHOI, a provider of enterprise intellectual property management software, has released iPLS 3.0, an intellectual property management and licensing solution for telecommunications and broadcast companies. With iPLS, companies can identify and organize their rights, locate and license the rights to desired assets, structure complex licensing contracts, manage royalties, and streamline intellectual property management and licensing. The solution leverages Oracle E-Business Suite Financials.
"SOPHOI's intellectual property development and acquisition software helps broadcast, telecommunications, and technology providers streamline their internal processes to create more efficient operations, asset acquisition, delivery, and financial management," says Satinder Raina, CEO of SOPHOI. "The system is modular and integrated, driving the most essential elements of the intellectual property value chain." SOPHOI's customers include CBS, DreamWorks, E! Entertainment, and Paramount Pictures.
U.S. Census Bureau Taps Egenera The U.S. Census Bureau has adopted the Egenera BladeFrame system as a platform in the Census Bureau Utility Computing Environment and has engaged Egenera Professional Services to accelerate its migration to Oracle Database 10g.
The Master Address File/Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing Accuracy Improvement Project (MAF/TIGER AIP) is the first census application to migrate to Oracle Database 10g. The MAF is a complete and current list of all addresses and locations where people live or work, covering an estimated 115 million residences as well as 60 million businesses and other structures in the U.S. TIGER is a digital database that identifies the type, location, and name of streets, rivers, railroads, and other geographic features, and geospatially defines their relationships to each other, to MAF addresses, and to other entities.