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28 January 2016

Working in EPM? Live in South Florida? Not going to the South Florida EPM Meetup? Why?

Why indeed

Just what is a meetup?  Given EPMers’ technological bent, it is surprising to me that we don’t readily cotton on to the concept of a meetup.  That’s a pity because they are a great way to (danger ahead:  a geek who thinks he’s witty) meet up with like-minded individuals.  Think of them as a social media tool involving living, breathing meatware, using their collective wetware, all occurring in real life.  Isn’t slang wonderful?

What does that all mean in Plain English?  

Have you been to an ODTUG-nurtured EPM meetup?  Hardworking (given her ODTUG volunteer workload it’s more like insanely hardworking) Janice D'Aloia heads that initiative within the ODTUG EPM community.  A note about these meetups:  ODTUG encourages them through funding and support but at the end of the day a meetup is owned by its members, not ODTUG so please don’t think attendees are taking any orders from what-is-likely-the-best-Oracle-user-group-ever.  It’s all part of ODTUG’s service to its community members and yes, it is pretty noble sounding and it just plain is.

If you are interested in getting help starting up a meetup in your area, please contact ODTUG at erin@odtug.com to start the meetup ball rolling.  ← That’s an idiom, not slang, but aren’t idioms just as wonderful as slang?  Discuss.

South Florida EPM Meetup

And that brings us to a specific meetup, namely the upcoming South Florida EPM meetup.  It’s  occurring on Thursday, 18th February, 2016 at Dave & Buster’s Hollywood, Florida location from 3:30 to 6:30 (or later if you’re having that much fun) pm.

What’s on offer?  The very things that make meetups so much fun:  education in form of a Special ODTUG Surprise (And no, I do not qualify as a surprise, or at least not a pleasant one.  There will be a projector, and a laptop, and a demo.), a super geeky-cool game, and the opportunity to meet your fellow Floridian EPM practitioners.  What’s not to like?

It’s easy-peasy to register – you can do this on ODTUG’s EPM meetup page right here.  Meetup.com provides a lovely confirmation screen once you’ve registered.

And Bob’s your uncle, you’re set to attend.  You are going to, right?  You should if you’re not.

And to whom to do we owe the pleasure?

As I noted, ODTUG is an enabler but meetups are intrinsically grassroots.  They are founded and led and staffed and attended by you, the EPM geek.  The organizers are just like us – people who live, breathe, and eat EPM.

In the case of the South Florida meetup it’s Jessica Cordova of ARC EPM and Kris Calabro of Tyco International.  Jessica and Kris make meetings like this possible and we’re all in their debt.  Meetup organizers, whether they be hiking enthusiasts, British sports car owners (make mine a Sunbeam Tiger with Minilites), or yes, even EPM practitioners do it because they love whatever the passion is.  Benefit from their enthusiasm if you’re in the South Florida area on 18 February, 2016.  Join us, won’t you?

Be seeing you.

21 January 2016

Stupid Programming Tricks No. 28 -- LCM, 7z, and Planning migrations

How long can Yr. Obt. Svt. be wrong?

The answer to that question is apparently indefinitely.  And the task so trivial.  Sigh.

The problem

This post was supposed to be one in my Compleat Idiot’s Guide to PBCS series and I will use some screenshots from a future post on on-premises to PBCS and back migration but I got hung up on making this work.

And then I realized I made the same mistake at a client.  Remember what consultants are supposed to do:  help customers.  I did, sort of, but I made my task much harder.  Sorry.

Let’s walk through this using PBCS although as you will see the issue is exactly the same in on-premises.  Sigh.

The Brotherhood of Man

I have to give credit to my younger, taller, smarter brother from a completely different set of parents, Celvin Kattookaran.  In my hour of need (I have many, too many) he came through for me and didn’t even make all that much fun of me when he explained the answer.

Breaking LCM

I want to migrate an on-premises application to  PBCS.  I have the old Planning sample application from (I think)  I have it working in both as well as  It’s a simple application, really simple, and I find simple hard enough as will be shown.

Please leave the premises

Here I am on my on-premises install of  I click on Application Management and…

Here I am in good old Shared Services:

I then export the application file objects:

I’ve moved it to another my Windows 7 VM (I try to keep my VM local only):

Not a cloud in the sky

Here I am in PBCS’ Application Management.  It’s just about the same as Shared Services:

Upload the LCM zip file:

And, as expected, here are the artifacts in PBCS.  As Danny Kaye says, everything is tickety-boo.

So what’s the problem?

If I unzip the application download and then make a change, any change, or even no change at all, and then rezip the file I get this on reimport.

Here I am in 7-Zip, a really awesome WinZip open source clone.  Fwiw, I actually have WinZip (I even paid for it and don’t like violating licenses by installing it on more than one machine) on my bare-metal laptop but 7-Zip is free and has almost all of the functionality; in some ways it’s quite a bit more advanced.

Here’s the folder unzipped.  If I were migrating this to an on-premises install I could copy this entire folder without compression to the import_export Shared Services folder.

Now I’m going to zip this to SampApp1a.zip.  Note that not a blessed thing has changed to the contents.  Also note that the compression engine, be it 7-Zip or Windows’ own compression functionality, makes no difference.  
The below are defaults:

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah indeed

Uh-oh.  There’s a difference in size of the compressed archive.  How can that be?  Nothing and I mean nothing has been changed.  Oh well, there couldn’t possibly be anything to worry about yr. obt. svt. blithely thinks.

The upload goes swimmingly, I think.

Oh how wrong I am despite this lovely message:

And what happens when I try to open the file?

¡Ay, caramba!

Is the service really not available?  That’s silly as it’s clearly there and thus we see Yet Another Confusing Error Message.  Perhaps Oracle never anticipated someone doing something as boneheaded as is described below?  Probably.

Here’s the problem.  I zipped an unzipped folder and that was the issue.  Wot?  It’s the same, right?  Nope.

Here’s the zip file from Planning.

And here’s the unzipped-to-zipped archive.  Do you see what I did?  I zipped the SampApp1 folder within the archive.  What?

It actually makes sense – I zipped c:\users\cameronl\downloads\SampleApp1 to c:\users\cameronl\downloads.  The SampApp1 folder is part of the overall path and thus it gets included in the zip file.  Ultimatel Fail.  Although to be fair that isn’t actually an intuitive result.  Regardless, I should have looked into the zip archive itself but alas did not.

Nothing’s Impossible

The solution is to go into the SampApp1 folder and zip from there.

And here we go, just as LCM defines the file structure.

Success! Boil in bag!

Upload it and all is well.  Despite the changed (or in this case not changed) zip file.

Ballin’ the Jack

And that’s it.  So trivial and so painful.

Oh yes, my poor unfortunate client.  Ugh.  I was tasked with splitting up a Planning application.  I downloaded the LCM xml files, did my modifications, zipped them back up and…failure.  Bugger.

As this was on-premises Planning, after a moderate amount of pain I was able to get access to the import_export folders and move the modified LCM files.  I understate the case:  getting that access was really painful.  If only I had begged on my knees asked for Celvin’s help back then.

May my errors not be yours.  

Great American Songbook

It’s difficult to tell if any of you ever click through on the hyperlinks I sprinkle throughout these posts.  Assuming that you do (or maybe assuming that you don’t) I thought I would give you a listing of the music (and one TV show and a few movies) so you can have some idea of my strange cultural tastes.  As I like to remind Natalie Delemar –  @EssbaseLady – popular culture pretty much doesn’t interest me much past 1965.  It shows.
In order:
  1. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Brotherhood of Man, Robert Morse (The 1967 version is the OBC definitive version or as close as we can get save a time machine to get back to 1961.)
  2. The Honeymooners, Please Leave the Premises, Jackie Gleason aka The Great One, et. al.
  3. Merry Andrew, Everything is Tickety-Boo, Danny Kaye
  4. Song of the South, Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, James Baskett
  5. Swing Time, Pick Yourself Up (medley), Andy Williams and Jack Jones
  6. That’s My Boy, Ballin’ The Jack, Dean Martin, Polly Bergen, and a guy who reminds me of me only with a lot more talent

I like to think that a hundred years from today The Great American Songbook will be what our descendants will view as the musical acme of the 20th century.  Jazz is America’s Classical Music, or at least it is on this blog.

Be seeing you.

14 January 2016

The Compleat Idiot's Guide to PBCS, No. 3 -- Managing PBCS

Quid Novi PBCS

Never fear, that’s the last Latin you’ll see in this post.  But I will indeed be covering what’s new in the administration of the PBCS service.  There’s a lot of interesting information available.  Remember, this isn’t about managing your firm’s Planning application but instead managing the PBCS instance.

NB – We still haven’t gotten to PBCS itself and that is the very next post but managing the Cloud is important.  

A warning, this is a very picture heavy post as there’s an awful lot to see.  Dial up (are there any left?) users probably ought to go get a cup of coffee.  Or two.  Perhaps grinding the beans wouldn’t be a bad idea.  Roasting from green wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea either.  You get the idea.

One other thing – what I’m going to review isn’t what a user or even a Planning administrator would see but instead what Oracle calls the Service Administrator.  This person, whoever he is, manages the Cloud service(s) so this applies to more than just PBCS.

Oracle has a lot of Cloud offerings and they’re all managed through the Oracle Cloud My Services portal.

Wouldn’t this be nice?

It is.  As I’ve noted before, one of the things I like so much about PBCS is how Oracle bring useful information to the front instead of making you search through scads of documentation.

As an example, when I log in as a cloud administrator…

I see the below as I have my username set up to show this on login.

Do I want to know what the very latest and greatest about Cloud My Services (CMS)?  It’s right there staring me in the face.

Remember how I wrote about how great the PBCS documentation is?  It’s baked into the tool itself.  

Clicking on the Account Administrator (AA) link takes me to all of the tasks an AA does and then shows how to do them.

What’s new?

Want to know what the new CMS functionality is without searching through patches and ReadMes and all of the other stuff we need to do with on-premises tools?  Easy peasy.
NB – For you Frankie fans, that song (see the above section title link) is from one of his suicide albums.  Fun times.  Oracle Cloud doesn’t engender that feeling in me but rather the opposite.

Want to understand what all the pretty icons mean? Click away.

The Surrey with the Fringe on Top

Once I get past the help panel, the next thing I see is the status of my PBCS instance.
Another American Songbook note: Mel Torme sings “…the dashboard’s genuine leather…” in the song.  Sometimes my references are too obscure.

Back to reality, things are running well, thankfully.  Click on the Details button and I get, unsurprisingly, details.

I can take a longer view of the service status – here’s the past year.

Navigation takes me to my pod’s service outages and all kinds of other metrics.

I can even see the Cloud (not actually users within PBCS but) user accounts.

Users with FTP access:

PBCS user roles:

As well as contact and account management (there’s not much to see and even I weary of cut and paste).

Wot’ll she do, mister?

Concerned about how long it will take upload that humungous data file?  Here’s my totally lame-o fiber upload speed.  Not actually all that great.

What does this all mean?

I wanted to walk you all through this because I think it’s important to understand how Oracle gets you out of the infrastructure business and yet lets you keep track of everything that is infrastructure.  The information you need, the pain you don’t.  Is there anyone outside of infrastructure consultants who like infrastructure?  Not yr. obt. svt.  And I suspect not you.

As noted in the introduction the next post will finally, finally, finally touch PBCS itself.  I thought it was important for you to understand the underpinnings (documentation, Cloud management) behind the tool.

Be seeing you.