News and information from around the globe Get Smart
Crushing fuel prices are doing little to inspire driving enthusiasts to hit the highways, but with the advent of hybrids such as the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius, drivers do have options. Come 2008, these popular fuel-sippers will need to make room for a soapbox-derby-sized competitor, the Smart car, developed by Mercedes. A huge success in Europe, the Smart car is a "microclass" vehicle that is light on height (just 5 feet tall and 8 feet long), heft (1,588 pounds), and fossil fuel (averaging 60 miles per gallon for city and highway travel). Nervous types, take heart. The Smart car designers applied the laws of physics to create a small car that raises the bar on safety standards. The car's Tridion hemispherical (or egg) shape, coupled with an aluminum safety cage with steel reinforcements, makes this vehicle similar to the crash cage of a race car.
The U.S. version of this little sprout will have a 61-horsepower, 3-cylinder, rear-mounted turbo engine that can reach 85 mph. The Smart car will come in a variety of hipster color schemes such as "lite white," "phat red," and "jack black." Standard features will include antilock brakes; rack and pinion steering; power windows, doors, and steering; plus a super-cool feature that allows for exchanging body panels. Consumers can expect a price tag ranging from US$20,000 to $25,000, depending on luxury options such as alloy wheels, leather interior, and a convertible top. For more information or to get your name on a waiting list, visit www.smartusa.com.
Book Review Breaking Down New Managers' Challenges
Starting a new management job—whether it's a first promotion or a move into the C level—is a challenge few take lightly. Managers need to make a contribution to their companies quickly—for their own good, and for the company's. Paradoxically, it's at the time of such transitions that many receive the least support from their employers. Sink or swim often rules the day.
For those making the move, Michael Watkins of the Harvard Business School has written The First 90 Days—Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels. Watkins breaks down the first three months of a manager's tenure with scientific precision. He helps readers identify their situation (startup, turnaround, realignment, or sustaining success); understand the people, systems, and other factors that can help or hinder success; and craft a 90-day plan that delivers short-term wins and sets the stage for long-term success.
Sound ambitious? It is, especially for a slim, fast-reading book like this. But Watkins' use of common-sense lists and examples, his confidence in his readers' intelligence and knowledge, and the tools and assessments he provides make it all seem possible.
The time to read a book like this is before you need it. (A new manager has enough to do without spending evenings reading management books.) If a transition is in your future, add The First 90 Days to your reading list.
Two Web sites, Groovycandies.com and igourmet.com, offer, respectively, a sweet return to youth and a global menu of hard-to-get items for the dedicated foodie.
Groovycandies.com, specializing in novelty and retro candy from the '50s through the present, offers sweet reminders of the Boomer youth era and beyond. The '60s "groovy" candy sampler includes Boston Baked Beans, Bottle Caps, Jujubes, and Necco wafers. For the millennium-generation sweet tooth, there are Fear Factor gummy octopi swimming in candy ooze or Candy Klik dispensers molded into recent American Idol winners. "Our knowledge of the industry is unmatched," boasts the Cleveland, Ohio-based e-tailer, which buys its products from more than 100 candy factories.
igourmet.com is the candy store equivalent for the adult palate, offering specialty meats, cheeses, coffee, tea, sweets, and other delicacies from all over the world. Tuscan-made ricotta with white truffle shavings and a drop of cream is just one of dozens of artisan cheeses, while Dutch coffee, Persian caviar, and Australian-grown apricots dipped in chocolate are among hundreds of exotic food selections on offer.
Planes, Trains, Laptops
Keynamics' Aviator Laptop Stand can turn almost any airplane seat into an ergonomic workstation. Made of strong, lightweight plastic, it extends a computer's reach beyond the tray table, letting users lean back in a relaxed position to type.
The Aviator is the brainchild of inventor Greg Bright, who dreamed up the concept while spending hours hunched over a desk typing up sales reports. An expert woodworker, Bright devised a stand that let him work comfortably while lounging in his chair.
"The problem with laptops is that the screen is connected to the keyboard," he says. "So if you raise the screen to the proper eye level, the keys are too high. And if you lower them to the proper keyboard level, the screen is too low." The Aviator solves this problem by placing the laptop on a diagonal. The screen is raised up and the keyboard slants lower, so that a user's wrists always stay straight, even when typing from a reclined position. At a table the stand is a blessing, but on a plane it's a real wrist-saver. The US$19.99 Aviator is available at www.keynamics.com.
Accenture Innovation Center for Oracle Oracle recently opened the Accenture Innovation Center for Oracle—the first and only center of its kind to be located within Oracle's corporate headquarters in Redwood Shores, California. The center is designed to accelerate the development and delivery of Oracle-based solutions such as the Accenture service-oriented architecture accelerators, as well as to promote collaboration between Accenture and Oracle's executive leaders. For more information, call Oracle at +1.650.506.7000.
Oracle Acquires Telephony@Work Oracle has announced the acquisition of Telephony@Work, a leading provider of IP-based contact center technology. With Telephony@Work, Oracle will become the first customer relationship management (CRM) applications provider to unify contact center technology and CRM software, delivering a complete "customer-to-agent" experience. Whether the software is deployed as a hosted or on-premise contact center solution, Telephony@Work and Oracle plan to deliver more cost-effective and flexible contact center solutions regardless of company size, locations, or resources.
Oracle Transportation Management Named to Gartner Leader Quadrant Oracle Transportation Management was named to the Leader Quadrant in Gartner's 2006 Transportation Management Systems (TMS) Magic Quadrant. Oracle Transportation Management is a comprehensive planning and execution platform for shippers and third-party logistics providers that helps lower costs; enables improved customer service and asset utilization; and provides flexible, global fulfillment options. The Gartner TMS Magic Quadrant provides guidance for organizations that are seeking to purchase, replace, or upgrade a transportation management solution.
Oracle PartnerNetwork Days November 13, Birmingham, England December 13, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Following the success of Oracle PartnerNetwork Days 2005, Oracle is holding another event dedicated to Oracle Partners, prospects, and Oracle staff members. Gain exclusive access to Oracle experts and dedicated sales, marketing, and technology resources. The days are designed specifically for you to energize your business strategy, increase profit potential, and build new alliances.
Oracle CFO Summit November 16, Shanghai, China Come to the Oracle CFO Summit in Shanghai, China, to learn about best practices and technology strategies being used by some of the world's most admired corporations. This is an invitation-only event for CFOs, and space is limited. Contact your Oracle sales representative to learn how you can participate in this exclusive event.
Constantly getting sick during the flu season? The real culprits may surprise you: your mouse and keyboard. A University of Arizona study shows that they harbor hundreds of times more germs per square inch than an office toilet.
U.K.-based Unotron offers a line of washable mice and keyboards. They can be submerged in water, doused with disinfectant, and left in a dish rack to dry. In fact, one of the company's favorite trade show tricks is to drop them into a fish tank, after which they still function perfectly.
Other washable mice and keyboards are made of molded rubber, which makes them difficult to use. Unotron's products protect each key and button individually, allowing for a typing experience that's indistinguishable from that of a regular mouse and keyboard.
According to Ella Havard, the company's vice president of sales, "Each key assembly is sealed and welded so it protects against dust, liquid, and debris." Learn more at www.unotron.com.
Travels with Charley
A 2004 study by the Travel Industry Association of America showed that 29.1 million U.S. travelers brought pets on trips with them in the previous three years. Following the lead of European hotels, U.S. lodgings have opened their doors to furry customers, and hotels in some Asian markets are close behind. According to Dawn Habgood, cofounder of Pets on the Go (www.petsonthego.com), "Hotels were looking for additional sources of revenue and found they could charge from US$5 to $150 a night for a dog and cater to a market they had ignored. They found out that pet owners are really great guests."
Loews Hotels was the first upscale chain to court pet owners, Habgood recalls, when it launched Loews Loves Pets in 2000. This program includes gourmet dog food on the room service menu; grooming; special bedding; and a stash of leashes, brushes, and toys for forgetful humans. The program expanded to include regional experiences such as Nashville recording sessions and surfing lessons in San Diego. The Golden Door Spa in Telluride, Colorado, offers packages for dogs, with grooming, fresh biscuits, and a 20-minute massage, starting at US$210.
Partner News Price, Performance, and Access
Medify Expands with Oracle Building on its success in the U.K., Medify Solutions, a provider of remote access to medical information, is partnering with Oracle to expand its operations in Europe. In Italy, Medify will operate through CM Isitel; Oracle will work with this group to deliver remote patient note access to Italy's national health service.
Medify has announced that the 1.4 million employees and 500,000 healthcare professionals of the U.K. National Health Service (NHS) will begin transitioning to its MedifyRemote solution on September 1, 2006. (The initial rollout site has approximately 2,500 users.) MedifyRemote allows secure remote access to a patient's record through a Pocket PC. The solution is applicable to all NHS/Healthcare software systems. Medify has an exclusive contract with Egton Medical Information Systems (EMIS), the U.K.'s leading IT supplier in primary healthcare, to provide its technology to EMIS users.
Oracle, Fujitsu Siemens Launch ISV Migration Center European independent software vendors (ISVs) who want to migrate solutions to the Oracle 10g platform can visit the new International ISV Migration Center in Munich, Germany. Operated jointly by Oracle and Fujitsu Siemens Computers, the center combines hardware, software, and expert advice. Its services are free, according to Silvia Kaske, director of channel sales and alliances at Oracle Deutschland GmbH.
Technology in the ISV Migration Center includes Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle Database 10g, Oracle Real Application Clusters, and Oracle Grid Computing, running on Fujitsu Siemens Computers Advanced Blade Ecosystem PRIMERGY BX600 with connected Network Appliance fabric-attached storage systems. In addition to migration services, ISVs can have their software validated and certified on the Fujitsu Siemens Computers FlexFrame for Oracle infrastructure solution at the center.
Oracle has announced plans to open another migration center in Istanbul, Turkey, later in 2006, along with a mobile center that can travel to ISV offices anywhere in Europe.
Aquire's OrgPublisher Now Provides Real-Time Org Charts Oracle Certified Partner Aquire has released OrgPublisher 7R, an application that produces organizational charts and workforce intelligence reports from any ODBC/OLE database source. Aquire solutions integrate with Oracle's PeopleSoft and Oracle E-Business Suite applications; with the latest releases, that integration occurs in real time.
OrgPublisher captures human resource data from such sources as human resources, payroll, and other enterprise resource planning modules to automatically create secure, full-color organizational charts, viewable using a standard Web browser. These charts include reporting structures, security information, hire dates, termination dates, payroll information, contact information, and more. "Executives and managers need immediate access to up-to-date human capital information to make the right decisions quickly," says Ross Melbourne, Aquire's chief technical officer. "OrgPublisher 7R provides them with just that." More than 2,200 organizations worldwide use Aquire solutions to manage information about 7 million employees.
Fair Isaac Upgrades Model Builder Fair Isaac, an Oracle Certified Partner, has announced Model Builder 3.0, a new release of its software platform for developing and deploying analytic models of future transactions, customer behavior, and business outcomes. Among the new features of Model Builder 3.0 is the ability to export its predictive models to Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML), a data-mining standard that is supported by Oracle and other technology vendors.
Model Builder's new Infer Performance Wizard streamlines data preparation and automates generation of common diagnostic reports. The solution's new variable templates improve data-preparation workflow and transform data into a form that's more conducive to predictive analysis, thus enhancing model performance.
Oracle and HP Unveil Reference Configurations Oracle and HP have developed reference configurations that accelerate implementation by IT departments of Oracle Database 10g-based data warehouses on HP servers and storage. These configurations, designed to help customers get the server, storage, and database mix they need right out of the box, have a sliding scale to optimize data warehouse solutions for either raw performance or price performance.