California Wineries

I was finally able to experience Napa Valley (and others) and it was amazing.

Let’s start with the wineries I visited:

  • Artesa
  • Domaine Carneros
  • Mondavi
  • Jordan
  • Frog’s Leap
  • Beringer
  • Silver Oak
  • Peju
  • Thomas Fogarty
  • Concannon
  • Wente

Each winery offered a completely different experience.

For example, the tour & tasting at Jordan was incredible. I really enjoyed their Cabernet Sauvignon’s. It’s definitely an experience I would do again. You can even make it a weekend stay if you want.

Even though I’m quite familiar with Beringer wines, I had no idea that their Private Reserve Chardonnay was so good. Had I not tried their tasting, I would have never known this.

Concannon & Wente are wineries in Livermore, California. But don’t let that distract you. They produce excellent wines.

Overall surprises:

  • Wineries producing Meritage & French Colombard
  • Jordan uses egg whites in their fermentation process
Advertisements

Volunteering at Conferences

Volunteering at conferences can be a rewarding experience. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and learn a lot of new stuff.

Here are some things you should be aware of:

  • Look at conference program ahead of time and make sure you’re not scheduled to work during a Keynote or session you’re really interested in.  If so, ask to swap with someone.
  • Don’t get too consumed with trying to attend all the sessions you want.  Some of the best sessions I’ve seen were the ones where I had no expectation.
  • Help others out.  If they want to swap, volunteer to do so.

Pros:

  • You will increase your chances of getting selected in the future
  • It’s a great way to offset the cost especially if your employer isn’t paying for it
  • You’ll make instant connections
  • Likely to be inspired to contribute to the community in other ways
  • A sense of accomplishment

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to attend certain sessions (e.g. Celebrity Keynote Speaker)
  • There are times where it can be exhausting
  • There’s likely to be chaos in the beginning

 

Core De Force

So I decided to try yet another Beachbody workout.

This workout involved a lot of shadow boxing and kicking and it doesn’t require any equipment so it’s easy to get started.

In the first month I followed the recommended plan. The longest workout (MMA Plyo + Core Kinetics) took just over an hour. In the second month I stepped it up a bit and added Core Kinetics + 5 Min. Core on the Floor to each workout. In month 6, I decided to only focus on the 2 hardest/longest workouts (MMA Power/MMA Plyo) while still combining it with Core Kinetics + 5 Min. Core on the Floor.

So, does it deliver as promised? Well, you’re definitely going to build up your core and the workouts are fun. But keep in mind, you won’t see any of those toned abs unless you reduce your visceral fat. This workout really doesn’t provide that.

I ended up going back to Insanity: Max 30.

The combination of the Max 30 and Core De Force worked really well.  Core De Force strengthened the abs, while Max 30 helped to reduce weight/fat.

If I had to do it all over again I think I would continuously rotate between the two. For example, month 1 –> Core De Force and month 2 –> Max 30.

*Note, introducing a punching bag might into Core De Force may produce better results and make it more fun.

2018 Top 3 IT Trends

Here are my predictions in no particular order…

CyberSecurity:

This is a slight repetition from previous years but with 2017 breaches at Equifax and Cloudflare more and more companies are finding CyberSecurity harder to ignore.  In fact, annual training/re-training is very common for employees & contractors.

Blockchain:

Made popular by the crypto-currency Bitcoin, organizations are looking at Blockchain.  Not only is it secure, but it also provides a decentralized mechanism to store data.  Even though centralized data centres typically have mirror sites, many organizations would suffer greatly if the primary and backup sites were compromised.

Data:

I realize Data is a fairly generic topic, but there is so much Data out there.  Skills relating to Data Science, Data Analysis, and Big Data are sure to be in demand.  In fact, Data Science is even offered as a post-graduate degree.

Other Considerations:

  • APIs
  • Analytics

FTC 2017

This was my first Future Technologies Conference so I didn’t know what to expect.

Being a smaller conference in Vancouver I expected the attendees to mostly consist of Canadians and Americans. However, that was not the case. There was a lot of representation from across the globe (over 50 countries were represented).

In terms of attendee types, there were definitely more academics than practitioners.

My presentation, “Pair Programming: Collocated vs. Distributed” lasted about 20 minutes. I was only allotted 14 minutes but there were a few no shows so I was able to go a bit longer. The presentation ended with excellent questions and insight.

I really enjoyed learning about some of the ground breaking research that is currently going on. I don’t know how they come up with this stuff.

PMI SAC PDC 2017

Having attended previous PMI-SAC PDC conferences, I must say this one was quite different.

The Winsport venue had a much different ambience compared to the BMO Centre, and I mean that in a good way.

Also, the attendance had noticeably diminished from previous years which is expected considering the downturn in Calgary’s economy.

The keynotes that I was able to attend were fantastic, especially the one on Brain Science. The point on visualization made complete sense to me. I heard Hayley Wickenheiser’s keynote was also inspiring but unfortunately I was unable to attend.

My first presentation, “Scaling Agile @ FCC” went well. Everything worked as expected. The audience seemed to enjoy all 3 short video clips. However, the presentation almost lasted the entire hour which didn’t leave a whole lot of time for questions and I wasn’t able to stick around because I had to head off to my next presentation which was in a different room. Thankfully my co-presenter was able to entertain one-on-one questions after I departed.

The second presentation, “Agile Product Rescue” also went well. The only hiccup I had was with the audio went it came time to show my YouTube clip. The audience could hear the audio but it was very faint. I didn’t have any questions during Q&A but a few individuals approached me afterwards.

It was great to see a lot of familiar faces. Hope to be in attendance next year!

 

Workday HCM – Lessons Learned

Regardless of how many IT (or other) projects you’ve been a part of, I guarantee a Workday Implementation is very different than anything you’ve ever seen.  I’m not saying it’s bad or good, just that it’s different.

There are many things you need to be aware of before/during/after implementation.  Here’s a short (high-level) list to get you started:

Pre-Implementation

It can be tempting to get right into implementation but that doesn’t mean you’re setting yourself up for success.  Some Workday projects will have many integrations to consider.  If so, it may be wise to introduce a pre-implementation phase to consolidate/upgrade/eliminate integrations.

On-site Implementation Partner

Workday projects suggest that the implementation partner should be off-site as much as possible.  The idea behind this is that the customer is forced to figure things out for themselves which puts them in a much better place post go-live.  However, the project team can get quite frustrated when they expect to see certain things and their expectations aren’t met.  Overall, an on-site implementation partner simply saves times.  That doesn’t mean they have to be on-site for the entire project, but as much as possible is desired.

Workday Delivered Training

Most people would agree that the Workday Training is not just valuable, but necessary.  However, trying to squeeze this in during implementation can be a daunting task.  The courses are not offered ever week and the most important ones do require travel.  Completing the training before implementation ensures that it actually happens.

Custom Fields

There are situations where out-of-the-box Workday does not meet the HR needs which is the whole idea behind custom fields.  However, introducing too many custom fields can become a maintenance nightmare.  If you’re supporting multiple languages, these fields will have to be translated.  Also, if these fields are needed in reports you’ll have to create custom reports.  Furthermore, if the base report that the custom report was generated from ever changes (i.e. upgrade), you’ll have re-generate the custom report to take advantage of the new features.

Workday Rising

This is a no brainer.  Attend the annual conference to learn and network.  Ensure the right people from HR (and possible IT) are attending.

Automated Testing

It’s rare to come across automated testing with Workday.  Automated testing can provide many benefits.  It can act as regression testing when incorporating semi-annual Workday upgrades.  Also, it can speed up testing during the Prototype Reviews/End-to-End/Parallel testing.  There may be many permutations of testing that are not possible from a manual standpoint but take mere seconds when automated.  The resistance to automated testing is around the upfront cost.  It does take time to create automated tests but the payback is enormous.

Project Team

Have the best people on the project and backfill their positions for the duration of the project.  Also, if the timelines are not realistic, adjust.  A team that is stressed out will not deliver high quality.

Simplicity

Look at what Workday offers out-of-the-box and ask yourself “Do you really need to change it?”.  Even if you have to change your current business practices it really makes sense to align with Workday best practices.  In terms of integrations, don’t try to build for the future.  Just focus on what you actually need.

Reports

On most projects, reports are an afterthought.  Identify your report inventory before you start implementation.  This will give you an idea of what you’re building towards.  Also, reports can help you test the system.

Decisions

Make decisions quickly and responsibly.  Don’t let decisions linger otherwise they’ll likely hold something up.  Also, involve the right people so that the implications of the decision are discussed.