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Do you daydream about being a sports team manager? How about a radio personality or a food critic? At www.vocationvacations.com, you can "test-drive your dream job." For a fee, you can spend a couple of days shadowing someone who has your ideal career. Simply peruse the list of jobs offered (which includes alpaca farmer, talent agent, and sword maker), and then click the link to learn more about the host, or "mentor," and what the vacation entails.
Consider this: If you've always fantasized about owning a restaurant, you can spend two days with Nancy Roper, chef/restaurateur of a Mexican eatery in Connecticut. You'll create and price menus, prepare meals, serve diners, and receive guidance on opening your own restaurant. "Culinary is definitely the most popular category, and it includes winemaker, cheese maker, chocolatier, and bakery owner," says VocationVacations' Brian Kurth, 40, who came up with the idea in 1999 while commuting to his corporate job. Vacations run anywhere from US$350 to US$2,000, but the average vacation costs about US$700 and lasts for two days. And these dreams can come true—about 20 percent of clients have left their current career to pursue their dream job. Check it out at www.vocationvacations.com.
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The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki
New Yorker financial writer James Surowiecki wades into the deep pool of research on crowds and group behavior and nets an interesting collection of evidence about collective wisdom. Given the right factors, he says, large groups of people can match or outsmart even the most expert individual. He offers an array of anecdotes, from jelly bean-counting contests (where the group's average guess is better than 90 percent accurate) to the stock market and the American democratic system. Granted, the last is often fuzzy in its predictions and choices, but Surowiecki argues that even if individuals rely on their own bits of information, as a voting republic Americans can be collectively smart.
Group dysfunction, however, is equally within Surowiecki's sights and much of the information he compiles describes the limits and even dangers inherent within nondiverse, elite groups. Corporations, for example, could be misguided in leaving company decisions to small, insulated boards of directors and their CEOs. Surowiecki proposes creating internal decision markets, where employees could buy and sell company stock based on where they think sales are headed. The point, he claims, is to aggregate information rather than trust a few experts.
Small groups must allow for dissenting opinions, the author states, or they can move toward extreme groupthink. Yet groups must have a centralizing force. Rather than rely on intelligence gathering from disparate federal agencies, for example, Surowiecki puts his wager on a public market where traders can bet on economic and military trends in the Middle East. The traders' collective wisdom would be the best indicator, he says, of where the next terrorist threat could come from.
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The Wine Wars
Cork versus Screw Cap
Opening a bottle of wine involves all the senses in a ritual that has taken place for centuries, but few things contribute more to the magic than the ceremony of popping the cork. With such mystique attending the use of cork, replacing it with a screw cap seems sacrilegious, yet many wineries are now doing just that. First commonly used in Southern Hemisphere wine-producing areas, screw caps are increasingly seen on some of the finer vintages produced in the United States.
Wine sealed with a cork can "breathe" and can therefore mature in the bottle. A screw cap allows no such aging. Cork also allows the possibility of "corked" wine—wine that has been spoiled by contact with a contaminated cork—while wine sealed with a screw cap is placed in stasis and retains the characteristics it displayed at the time it was bottled. Well-liked by wine bars and restaurants for practical reasons, screw tops remain anathema to wine buffs. But with cork supplies dwindling and prices rising, use of screw caps is likely to increase, and along with lively discussions of the pros and cons, practicality may win out. Only time will tell.
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Frequent fliers know to ask for bulkhead and exit row seats, because they offer the most legroom. But all other seats are not created equal.
Web site creator Matthew Daimler used to fly often for business trips. He started taking notes on seat differences and decided to share them online. The result is www.seatguru.com, which offers detailed seating charts for airplanes. Visitors can find their flight and aircraft type, and then click the plane's seating chart. The charts identify which seats are too close to the lavatories, which offer more legroom due to airplane peculiarities, and which seats don't recline.
SeatGuru also offers information on amenities such as food, power outlets, and baby facilities. There's even a PDA-friendly version, for last-minute fliers, at mobile.seatguru.com. "Our goal is to continue adding helpful content to become a one-stop Web site for everything you need to know about air travel," says Daimler.
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Restaurants for Business and Pleasure
LONDON Green and Red
On Bethnal Green Road, this spot offers authentic Mexican food, a tequila bar, and great service at a good price.
LONDON The Ivy
Meeting colleagues for dinner in the theater district? The Ivy offers international fare as well as British classics in traditional old-world wood-paneled comfort.
ROME Il Margutta
You'll find some of the best vegetarian food in Europe, on the street made famous in Roman Holiday. Book ahead!
Enjoy simple, elegant fare in comfortable surroundings within walking distance of the Palais Royal.
BANGKOK Cabbages and Condoms (C&C Pattaya)
This iconic restaurant on one of Thailand's most beautiful beaches serves regional specialties. All proceeds support the rural Thai population.
With an intimate setting on Sydney Harbor, Aria offers world-class food with a wine list to match.
Enjoy old-world dining in a historic ancient castle setting overlooking vineyards minutes from Geneva.
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Gartner Business Intelligence & Information Management Summit
February 27-28, Sydney, Australia
This event will highlight how business intelligence (BI) applications and data infrastructure can affect financial and business performance. Technology's role in compliance, the continuing data explosion, and complex business environments are on the agenda.
March 11-14, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Oracle President Charles Phillips will deliver the keynote address for the Higher Education User Group's conference for all higher education, government, and public sector users of Oracle Applications.
COLLABORATE 07: Technology and Applications Forum
April 15-19, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Oracle Applications Users Group's "most comprehensive Oracle education event of the year for Oracle Applications users" offers the best practices and user-driven training for Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle's PeopleSoft, Oracle Retail, Oracle's Siebel, and Oracle's Portal Software applications technology.
April 30, Boston, Massachusetts
The Oracle Life Sciences User Group's meeting for Oracle products users within the life sciences industry will include workshops and discussions focusing on popular topics such as the Semantic Web and database analytics.
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Fusion for Your Heart
Heart monitor straps can be cumbersome for the distance runner. Now, Polar and Adidas have teamed up to create adiStar Fusion apparel, featuring heart rate sensors that are built right into the fabric. Just clip the connector onto the nylon/spandex-blend shirt (US$65), strap on the wrist computer, and you're set to go. Learn more at www.adidas-polar.com.
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Gone are the days when ordinary things like spam and fishing meant nothing more than mystery meat and a good time on the river. Now it's phishing—a criminal activity that the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) defines as "attacks using both social engineering and technical subterfuge to steal consumers' personal identity data and financial account credentials."
These schemes employ fake e-mails to draw people to counterfeit Web sites that are cleverly designed to dupe recipients into revealing information such as credit card and Social Security numbers. Your best defense is your own suspicious mind. If that's not enough, the APWG suggests the following:
- Be wary of any e-mail with requests for personal financial information.
- Don't use the links in an e-mail to get to any Web page, if you suspect the message might not be authentic.
- Use a secure Web site when submitting credit card or other sensitive information via your Web browser.
- Regularly log in to your online accounts and check your bank, credit, and debit card statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate.
- Make sure your browser is up to date with the latest security patches.
- Report phishing to the following: email@example.com; the Federal Trade Commission, at firstname.lastname@example.org; the abuse e-mail address of the company being spoofed (for example, for eBay, forward fake e-mails to email@example.com); and the Internet Fraud Complaint Center of the FBI, at www.internetfraud.usdoj.gov.
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Siebel Self-Service Hits 125 Million
The expansion of broadband internet access and increasingly sophisticated users have made the Web the preferred channel for many people to interact with companies. This fact is borne out by the 125 million people worldwide—in more than 20 countries and in nine languages—who use Oracle's Siebel Self-Service and Siebel eBilling applications. A globally diverse pool of Oracle customers, including BT, the U.S. Department of Education, and Verizon Wireless, provide online customer self-service with Siebel products, allowing their customers to view and pay bills, update their accounts, and order new products and services.
"We now see many leading companies that work with Siebel [applications] with more than 10 million online self-service customers," says Paul Hughes, director of billing and payment application strategies at research firm Yankee Group. "[This results] in better customer loyalty and improved profitability."
Oracle E-Business Suite R12 Previews
Oracle has previewed Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12, which is intended to give multinational companies a single view of customers, suppliers, partners, and operations. Expanded profitability analysis and reporting capabilities show financial performance along any dimension of business, including products, channels, segments, and individual customers.
The new version is also intended to help companies work globally, managing multiple divisions spanning different operating units or regions. Single transactions can create multiple accounting entries for local and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), so multinational companies can manage global finances from a single data repository. Adaptable, industry-specific, prebuilt business processes, for companies in sectors such as communications, high technology, and manufacturing, provide tools to help companies in any industry compete globally.
Management—of both the business and the Oracle environment—is improved through a centralized business rules repository to help manage global regulatory compliance; new features to simplify application installation and upgrade processes; and advanced capabilities for integrating Oracle applications with third-party products.
Oracle Sets Benchmark Record
Oracle has set a new world record for two-tier SAP Sales and Distribution (SD) Standard Application Benchmark. Running Linux on a Fujitsu PRIMEQUEST 580 server with 32 Dual-Core Intel Itanium 1.6GHz processors, Oracle Database 10g achieved 12,500 SAP SD Benchmark users.1 This represents 40 percent more performance than Microsoft SQL Server 2005 on identical hardware, as measured by the number of benchmark users.2
The two-tier SAP SD Standard Application Benchmark measures system performance to process dialog steps and order line item postings per hour for SAP solution-based transactions. A transaction consists of a full business process that captures activities from the full order-processing cycle, from order creation to delivery to invoicing. Oracle also holds several other performance records on SAP Standard Application Benchmarks. Learn more at www.sap.com/benchmark.
1 Certification Number: 2006071. Results of the two-tier SAP SD Standard Application Benchmark performed on August 19, 2006, by Fujitsu in Paderborn, Germany, have been certified with the following data: number of SAP SD Benchmark users: 12,500; average dialog response time: 1.83 seconds; fully processed order line items per hour: 1,268,000; dialog steps per hour: 3,804,000; SAPS: 63,400; average database request time (dia/upd): 0.014 sec / 0.046 sec; CPU utilization of central server: 85 percent; operating system central server: SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9; RDBMS: Oracle Database 10g; and mySAP ERP 2004. The Fujitsu PRIMEQUEST 580 server was configured with 32 processors / 64 cores / 128 threads, Dual-Core Intel Itanium 2 9050, 1.6GHz, 32KB(I) + 32KB(D) L1 cache, 2MB(I) + 512KB(D) L2 cache, 24MB L3 cache, and 512GB main memory.
2 Certification Number: 2006068. Results of the two-tier SAP SD Standard Application Benchmark performed on August 5, 2006, by Fujitsu in Paderborn, Germany, have been certified with the following data: number of SAP SD Benchmark users: 8,900; average dialog response time: 1.95 seconds; fully processed order line items per hour: 893,670; dialog steps per hour: 2,681,000; SAPS: 44,680; average database request time (dia/upd): 0.043 sec / 0.042 sec; CPU utilization of central server: 90 percent; operating system central server: Windows Server 2003 Data Center Edition; RDBMS: SQL Server 2005; and mySAP ERP 2004. The Fujitsu PRIMEQUEST 580 server was configured with 32 processors / 64 cores / 128 threads, Dual-Core Intel Itanium 2 9050, 1.6GHz, 32KB(I) + 32KB(D) L1 cache, 2MB(I) + 512KB(D) L2 cache, 24MB L3 cache, and 512GB main memory.
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Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12: What's in Store
Staying competitive in an increasingly global economy is a critical issue for businesses today. Fred Studer, group vice president, industries and applications marketing, discusses how Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 provides customers with the innovative and comprehensive applications and technologies they need to think, work, and manage systems globally to thrive in the worldwide marketplace.
PROFIT: What kinds of demands do businesses face with globalization?
STUDER: Today's business leader is under more pressure to grow revenue than to cut costs. Globalization provides tremendous growth opportunities, but it also creates management challenges. Companies must deal with varied regulations, tax codes, and financial reporting standards. We want customers to be able to say, "With Release 12 I can make more-informed decisions with a complete global view. My organization is more competitive because we can operate worldwide in full compliance with all local laws and regulations, at lower cost."
PROFIT: Why is this release called the global release?
STUDER: Release 12 will help companies meet global market needs: global, relating to the entire Earth—worldwide—as in global markets. Also there is the idea of global as in total, complete. Release 12 will address the needs of organizations operating across organizational or geographic boundaries with better technology, better applications—both coming together to drive value.
PROFIT: What are some of the strategic capabilities in the release?
STUDER: Release 12 addresses specific design points. It has the ability to centrally manage administrative functions, from accounting and tax rules to banking relationships, as well as the flexibility to meet diverse global requirements in one system. R12 improves global decision-making capabilities and supports all types of business analysis. It enables companies to make smarter investment decisions with comprehensive performance and profitability management. There are significant benefits through R12—being able to make better decisions, more-informed decisions, making them faster. With R12, applications and technology come together to build industry-specific processes faster and to lower the cost of managing global applications. R12 is the global business release. It is the evidence that Oracle is delivering innovation.
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Wipro Announces Record-Setting Oracle E-Business Suite Implementation
Wipro Technologies has recently completed a record-setting implementation of Oracle E-Business Suite at Merichem, a privately held company based in Houston, Texas. Using Oracle Accelerators and Wipro's own Accelerated Implementation methodology, Wipro brought 19 modules of Oracle E-Business Suite online in 32 weeks—a company record.
In one unusual example of the capabilities implemented, Oracle E-Business Suite was interfaced with third-party rail car tracking systems to give Merichem real-time visibility and tracking of its rolling stock. This also allowed transactional analysis of associated transportation costs.
The project represents several firsts for Wipro and Oracle, including the first use of Oracle Accelerators in the Oracle On Demand environment, running on Linux, and the first implementation of Oracle Projects Family Pack M.
Crescendo Networks Provides Business Process Analysis for PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM
Crescendo Networks, a provider of application optimization and acceleration products, recently enhanced its Maestro solution to include real-time Business Process Analysis (BPA). Crescendo's BPA solution, the latest module in the company's suite of Application Layer Processing products, can accelerate and optimize all application tiers within the data center and provide real-time monitoring and reporting on business processes delivered by Oracle's PeopleSoft Enterprise Customer Relationship Management and other applications.
Crescendo's BPA classifies, monitors, and reports on business processes. It learns which request sets form business processes, and helps IT managers to identify, monitor, and resolve process issues within applications in real time. Citrix and Goldengate Achieve Application Validations
Two Oracle certified partners recently had solutions validated with Oracle applications. Citrix Systems has received integration validation for the Citrix NetScaler system and Citrix Access Suite with Oracle's PeopleSoft Customer Relationship Management 9 and Oracle's PeopleSoft Tools 8.48. Citrix NetScaler combines high-speed load balancing and content switching with application acceleration, layer 4-7 traffic management, data compression, content caching, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) acceleration, network optimization, and application security. The Citrix Access Suite includes Citrix Access Gateway, a line of universal SSL virtual private network appliances that provide granular control of user actions based on identity, location, and device. Also included is Citrix Password Manager, a single logon solution for Oracle's PeopleSoft Enterprise that enforces password policies, monitors password-related events, and automates end-user tasks such as password changes. Citrix worked through the Oracle Application Integration Initiative for these validations.
GoldenGate Software received validation for its reporting and business intelligence solution with Oracle's Siebel products. GoldenGate provides real-time continuous data feeds from source to target systems or into data warehouses, allowing Oracle's Siebel applications' customers to offload customer transactions from production systems for downstream reporting and analysis. This reduces or eliminates reliance on batch, maintenance, or outage windows to accomplish this work. GoldenGate also announced that it has achieved Oracle Certified Partner status in the Oracle PartnerNetwork.
Onaro Releases SANscreen Storage Dashboard
Onaro, a provider of storage service management (SSM), has released SANscreen Storage Dashboard for Oracle, a software plug-in that lets information from Onaro SANscreen SSM software appear within Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Control. Also, Onaro has joined the Oracle PartnerNetwork and Oracle has joined Onaro's Service Connections partner organization.
SANscreen Storage Dashboard for Oracle places the status of all storage services into Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Control, providing real-time visibility into the underlying storage infrastructure that supports Oracle applications. The integration uses Onaro's Service Connect API, an agentless solution that provides device-level information about storage, information on storage use by business unit for financial accounting (charge-back) purposes, and change and ticket management for IT administrators.
For more information, visit
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