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Hallo 2011

Well this is somewhat belated post to welcome 2011.  But I cannot believe that I have not been updating this blog for quite a while.  Well, lots of things happen.  Both good and bad.  Yet, such is life right?!  You truly cannot enjoy the good things in life if you do not go through some rough patches once in a while.  They truly make you appreciate the wonders of life and not going bogged down with the destructive aspects of it.

For sometime, I wonder the concept of karma and dharma.  As a Hindu, those two are the fundamentals in my life that have guided me through the ups and downs of life, my youth in Asia, and now through adulthood in US.  My past association with a Higher Education entity with $1+ Billion in budget, and more than 100-MM in technology spending mean virtually nothing.  One of my close associate in my current job reiterated during one of our lunch sessions that he would like to be the CIO of one of Higher Ed institutions one day.  I like and respect him on both personal and professional level to the point that I just told him that the concept of Higher Ed and Innovations are almost water and oil.  They simply do not stick together.

For starter, during my Higher Ed days, I remember one day that the University has proudly announced that there were 70+ career paths for technology professionals to consider.  One of my colleagues who has been with the University for a while loudly proclaimed the path(s) to nowhere much to the famous Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere.  There has been a recently appointed Chief of Human Resources whose pictures was and still is prominent on the HR website.  Not sure what HR means to her and her group.  To many of us who have dedicated our lives and expertise bringing the University’s business processes to the 21st century, we just want meaningful ways to progress in our career and compensations.  Yet, all the University with its vast resources can bring is a bunch of red tape and unfortunately practice of favoritism towards the select few while ignoring the contribution of others.

The joke among the group was that you could only be in the Director’s circle only if either you own a dog or a runner.  And if you think I made this up, one has to venture no farther than her Facebook page to see who are in her spheres of influences.  So after 5 years of hard work and successes in delivering critical deliverables in the $53-MM, I said good-bye to those destructive politics, and embarked new journey towards the commercial sector and vowed to never go back to the Higher Ed world again.  Well, at least for now.  Which brings me to the point of my conversation with my current colleague, and my advice to him as to prepare and hone his political skills to realize his dream.

Going back to concept of dharma, doing the good deeds because that is what I believe, I suppose everything perhaps would come full circle.  Despite the unfairness that I have to endure in my past job, I am now a Sr. member of the Corporate Strategy Group of $300-MM company in DC, in charge delivering Next Generation Web 2.0 initiatives with Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery model as one of the Technical Lead & Operational Director.  And with Lord Ganesh’s, Rama’s, and Buddha’s blessings intend to continue making positive differences and climbing up the corporate ladders.

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I remembered one session during my Management of Technology Executive Program with the McIntire school where I had a pretty heated debate with one of my classmates.  We were discussing the changing landscape of Higher Education worldwide and were asked to discuss how the McIntire school could only survive but more importantly thrive.  We discussed many threats including one from the trends of rising enrollments from the likes of University of Phoenix, considered to be one of the first movers of “virtual” or online universities.

While the Commerce program has been nationally highly ranked, almost on par with the Wharton School of the University of Pensylvania, the Executive program was and is still relatively new.  While some previous participants have come as far away as the West Coast, my teammates in the program hailed mostly from VA,DC,and MD area.  Some came from the Federal Sector.  I recalled one fellow from the US Dept of Justice.  We actually had someone with the “Deputy Director” title in her belt.  Others were associated with a Financial entity with heavy presence in the neighboring area.  I myself came to the program after the ill-fated $9-Million Risk Assessment contract with the Federal Railway Administration got cancelled.  

As amazing and rich as the backgrounds of my classmates, I could not help but feel that one thing the program lacks is the International dimension.  Yes, it was interesting to know how Enterprise Architecture has helped Delta airlines streamlining its key business processes.  Perhaps, more importantly how the Technology Architecture could have a strategic  impact on the Business Architecture and ultimately drives the bottom line.  

But the International dimension took center stage as there is a “strong” push to widen the program overseas, particularly in Europe and Asia.  The Director of the program whom I had a very strong working relationship actually made overseas trips during duration of my residences.  And on that particular Saturday afternoon, I brought up the issue that we may have discounted ourselves short by lacking the International dimension.  While others may not agree with me, I strongly believe that program should not only help to prepares us for challenges in 21st century where business & technology are closely intertwined but also ready to assume the challenges of globalization. 

For a while, the permeating belief has always been that as the sole world superpower, the US needs no advice from anyone.  The strong unitary policy of George W in many aspects, domestic and especially international, almost treated the rest of the world like a pariah.  Back in 2006, Enron collapse of $90B of market capitalization was also the hot topic for our Governance class and so did SarBox.  Housing had been a strong pillar that almost solely support the entire US economy.  So not to my surprise, my argument fell to many deaf ears in that Saturday afternoon.

Now fast forward to 2008, 2+ years after graduation of the program, we are witnesses to events that made the Enron tragedy seemed like an uneventful breeze.  Years if not decades of easy credits began to take its tolls despite continued denials from so many involved parties, the Real Estate industry including the government.  The financial tsunami started with the foreclosures that began almost innocently enough by the Adjustable Rate Mortgages, making loans to those with higher risk.  

My final project on the program was to study the Mortgage industry and consult for a client in the mortgage lending business.  My teammates and I focused on Fanny Mae as one of the GSEs (Government Sponsored Enterprises), and the intricate process of securitization of those loans.  My understanding was that in the beginning, both Fannie Mae & Freddy Mac backed by the US government were the key players in the secondary mortgage market.  Over time the large Wall St banks also crowded the marketplace.  While securitization brings the benefit of liquidity and credits to the “American Dream”, home ownership, I have some uneasy feelings about the complex financial derivatives as a key part of the scheme.  Even more bothersome the fact that demand for these products had increased international dimensions.  Why should anyone invest in the US Treasury if they can get better return with Mortgage Backed Securities?! 

Surprised and shocked were not even adequate adjectives the day the financial tsunami claimed its “high profile” victims, particularly the demise of the Lehman Brothers bank.  Soon the world reported subprime-mortgage linked losses from the overseas banks in Europe and Asia.  My heart sank when I read about so many investors in Hong Kong and Singapore whose live savings were virtually obliterated when they found out their “safe” investments were “tied” or “backed” by these complex, financial derivatives. 

With the fall of housing, the US economy lost its steams and contracted, unemployment rose and foreclosures now even spread to the traditional, 30-yr Fixed Rate Mortgage.  I have seen longer and crowded lines everyday on my way to work as I pass the Workforce Center of Employment Commissions in the 1st floor.

A software professional with 12+ years under my belt, I have been fighting for a while the urge to join the so-called social networks.  Not that I am not curious.  But like many, I believe, I am having problems keeping up with what I already have.  No sooner that I received an invitation to start blogging on wordpress, that I received scores of invitations from my contacts to join Friendster.  After weeks, err..months of indecision, I finally made it to Friendster, only to be told by one of my contacts, and former Canisius College classmates, Andreas Suwito, to also consider using Facebook.

Of course, my immediate reaction would be, thank you very much.  I am happy with my Multiply, WordPress, and now Friendster accounts.  Of course, we Indonesians are big in terms of politeness, and not want to offend Andre, I told him that I would consider Facebook as soon as I have the time.  With one full time job, another part time, and raising a young family where my close relatives are 12,000 miles away, “free” time is indeed a tricky concept.   It is almost like what everyone heard in the press nowadays: “the so-called Wall Street talents” -an oxymoron, something that should or could never get together in the first place.  If there is ever any talents that Wall Street ever has, it is only good for those in Wall Street, but definitely not for us in the Main Street.

Well…pardon me to digress a bit.  It seems that my American dreams, like so many of others, suffers pretty serious blow when the Dow Jones retreats all the way to 8000.  If that is not bad news, some technical analysts who correctly predicts the “bear market” may even suggest that we are not seeing the bottom yet.  Now, whatever happen  to the good old adage that “if you work hard, save enough, do good deeds, and everything else should turn out to be all right”.   Well, I propose a slight revision to that old adage: “Make sure that your savings, and investments are not complex derivatives disguised and sold as safe investment products”.  Because that was exactly people from all walk of life found out the day Bear Stearns collapsed.  Many lost their savings and even worse their life savings as far as Hong Kong and Singapore.  In Singapore alone, it was estimated that the Bear Stearns carnage reached all the way to more than half-of-Billion US dollars.

So watching the economy like a hawk nowadays, I finally revisit this great idea that was one of the oft-cited principle during my McIntire Management of Technology class, that of “delegation”.  For months, my better half has inundated me with lots of “computer/technical” related questions ever since I acquired the once state-of-the-art Gateway laptop.  For a long while, I was the primary user of the laptop.  That was the case until I made a “strategic mistake” of having broadband connection at home.

With the help of broadband and thanks to Google, she perfected her “Kue Putu” recipes, a well known traditional Indonesian sweets.   She has made some “Morning Glory” muffins that make it hard for me to lose a few pounds more off my weights.   And if that is not enough, she is able to make some amazing “Fried Rice” that taste just like what we have from a well-known Thai restaurant here in town, voted as the No. 1 Asian Restaurant for a few years in a row.

Seeing the all of those wonderful progresses that she has made, I found myself a perfect and eager “equal” in terms of the vast possibilities of the Web.   I asked her to open and try out facebook.com.  Of course, like everything else, she uses it pretty modestly in the beginnings.  Her profile was missing a picture.  There were no albums.  And she had only a handful of friends in her networks.

Seeing her struggles at times I almost discounted facebook completely.  What is good about all of these social networks anyway?  OK, you can post personal pictures, and invite your friends, and post your thoughts or make comments.  It is just like glorified email account right?!  Well, that was my brutal and cynic views until I saw my wife re-connects with her High-school, Junior and Senior, classmates.  Starting with inner circle of her close friends, in Indonesia and the US, she finds  herself  connected with growing number of classmates.  Almost everyday, someone would post comments on her wall or requests to be confirmed as a friend.

Soon, my wife spends more time communicating and “conversing” with her friends through Facebook, eclipsing the other alternatives such as the IM  through the Yahoo messenger.  Facebook will be the thing that she would check several times during the day, even in the evening.  I see the transformation on her part from being so hands-off to a brazen explorer in the online world.  The computer or the laptop does not remind her of those boring days when she had to take Basic programming in her undergrad class.  She would not remember important Computer Science concepts such as memory  or local and global variable are.

Now, she is quite delighted when someone “tags” her in the pictures or vice versa from the days long gone.  This time she actually is, dare I say, having fun.   Now, call it  spouse jealousy or rivalry, for lack of better terms,  a computer engineer by training, I cannot let my wife having so much fun by herself.   I do not even wait until my wife sends me an invitation.  I open my own account albeit about a couple of months behind.

Growing up in a environment where constraints were many yet hopes reigned high, I could not help but to seek inspirations from those who have in the past, and present seek “higher” grounds. Sukarno, the first President of Indonesia, epitomized the rare combination of engineering training, excellent oratory skills, and the ultimate statesmanship. Kennedy’s famous words of “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country”, or similarly along those lines, would always encourage me to return home one day and make positive differences.

While those figures radiate inspirations sometimes in pictures, and often in speeches, loved ones inspire in flesh and blood. Aside from my parents, whose work ethics and unsurmountable faith have helped me to overcome adversities all of these year, I have to thank Dr. Ketut Widana, the elder brother of my mother. A talented man in so many ways, he is an Medical Doctor by training, and currently teaches at University of Udayana, the prominent state higher education institution in Bali.

He is conversant in foreign languages particularly English and Japanese which is a bit unusual for most Indonesians. His language skills came in handy as he pursued his post graduate trainings in Australia and japan specializing in Ergonomics. I remembered vividly those days when I received postcards from Australia , one had the image of the famous Sydney Opera house. He kept encouraging me to study English the best I could of course interspersed with his stories of his hectic schedule, meeting interesting people of different cultures and nationalities, and of his travel in the land of “Down Under”.

While for most Indonesians studying overseas maybe once in a lifetime experience, for Om Tut, his enthusiasm did not wane when the another post-graduate training in Ergonomics was available in the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan. And as always he made the most of his trainings over there. I recalled his story from one of his study trips, visiting a car manufacturing facility, maybe Toyota perhaps. He remarked that they had to upgrade the assembly line since the existing way of having the workers to work under the car frame/body looking up could easily lead to neck/head strain not to mention greater safety risks. He followed by mentioning a study in Sweden where the car body was tilted on the side addressing the neck/injury pain issue, increasing productivity because the workers could work in a more natural position and perhaps even better safety in place. It was not and is not a stretch to guess that his remark impressed his professors and even made waves in Toyota, at least in that assembly line facility. Here the aspiring No-1 car manufacturer proud of its manufacturing prowess and practices being lectured by an aspiring ergonomics consultant from Bali mostly known for its arts, painters, dancers.

As I have indicated earlier in my previous post, I am currently part of the 70+ person team that is in the implementation phase of the PeopleSoft Campus Solutions 9.0 for the Student Information System.  In charge of Security, in a nutshell I am in charge of who has access to what.  We started with the usual DEV, TST, QA & PROD environments.  Now, I am also in charge of Security for the Enterprise Portal instances as well.

In this article, I just want to share some experiences with the PeopleSoft Integration Broker that hopefully would be beneficial for everyone else.  After 3 year of working with PeopleSoft, I could not help being a conservative.  PeopleSoft through now Oracle University provides some foundations through their classes.  I took PeopleSoft Security fundamentals in their campus in Atlanta.  And recently had the Integration Tools rel. 8.48 training as well.

The classes were great way to be familiar with the “basic” concepts.  Unfortunately, they are not enough to prepare one for the real world experiences.  Building Permission List, and Roles, and User Profiles, are what constitutes the bulk of PeopleSoft Security work.  And for starters, they are straightforward and to the point.   In my case, the complexity shows its true color when Admission team came up with Security Matrix that details more than 2500 pages for 20+ permission lists & 10+ roles.  That was only in Wave 1.

In Wave 2 of the implementation phase, Student Records decided to be more granular and came up with 1500+ pages for 40+ permission lists and 30+ roles.  And soon, Financial Aid and Student Finance would come into play in the next Wave.

If that is not enough to provide me a daily dose of headaches, then almost out of the blue, we had the requirements to support the Enterprise Portal as well primarily for the Self Service users: Applicants, Students, and Faculty/Advisor.

WIthin this context, the Self Service Applicants data would come in through the WHOIS database on the daily basis.  Those profiles would then be created through Mass Change, and finally be “copied” or “synched” over from the Campus Solutions PS instance to the Enterprise Portal.

The User Profiles “synch” operations is accomplished through the USER_PROFILE & DELETE_USER_PROFILE Web Services (Service Operations) that would have to go through the PS Integration Broker.  Those two Service Operations are Asynchronous One Way.  The PS Campus Solutions instance is setup as the “source” or “publishing” node, whereas the PS Enterprise Portal is setup as the “subscribing” node.

Here are some of Security & General key points from our experiences while trying to support those 2 Service Operations in place.  First, by default both Service Operations allows PTPT1000, the delivered PS Permission List that is part of the PeopleSoft User Role, “Full Access”.  The DBAs always log in with PS Super User, hence PeopleSoft User role and PTPT1000 permission list, and they had no problem experimenting with both operations.  We had our custom “UV PeopleSoft User” Role that are not associated with the PTPT1000 permission list.  So when I logged in and created a User Profile, it did not “synch” up to the Enterprise Portal because I did not have the appropriate security.   Thus, if you have a custom permission list for your enterprise, you need to give “Full Access” to that permission list to those Service Operations Security.

Secondly, and not least important, in order for anyone to have access to the USER_PROFILE Service operations, his/her User Profile would also have to be present in both Campus Solutions (CS) and Enterprise Portal (EP) instances.  This may seem minor point but unfortunately not emphasized enough by PS in the documentations and/or in training classes.  Again, the DBAs always logs in as PS, thus they would have no problem because PS “Super User” always exists BY DEFAULT in both CS & EP instances.  We spent hours until we realize this seemingly minor points.

 

Growing up in South East Asia in the late 1980s, I recalled fondly the drive by the governments of then dubbed Asian tigers to churn out as many engineering graduates possible to catch up with the developed world. In Asia, Japan has always been at that time the model to emulate. For this principal reason, one of my close friends, Edwin Darsono, whom I also went to school briefly at Institute Technology Bandung (ITB), went to Japan for his Higher Education under the well-known Monbuso scholarship, if I get the Japanese term right.

While Edwin chose to go to Japan, I on the other hand chose to go to US under government scholarship. My uncle, Dr. Ketut Widhana, educated in Australia and in Japan, has always a strong believer in Western higher education and strongly favored the US than other advanced countries. He kept extolling the virtue of the overseas advanced degrees via the accomplishments of one of his close friends that climbed the corporate ladder and later on became the President of PT USI IBM in Jakarta.

Soon after we left Indonesia, within 4-5 years, we both graduated and got our Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering. We also both decided to then pursue Masters Degrees. Edwin decided to go home and find work in Jakarta while I was spending my 1-year practical training working for a $150-Million telecommunication company in Virginia. I had an offer from Andersen Consulting to work in Jakarta office, but regrettably had to turn down the offer.

While occasionally talking to my parents during this time, I remember my mother saying that Edwin had come by. She noticed that he sounded and looked mature. Well, we both had to. Like all foreign students, we went through a lot, pursuing advanced degrees in foreign countries, and adjusting to culture shocks and often harsh realities without any family safety net around. Despite all the interesting stories Edwin conveyed, none was more telling than the fact that he was having difficulty finding rewarding career in Jakarta despite his overseas credentials.

 

Of course, many asks why Edwin simply not to stay put and work in Japan. After all, he graduated from one the top schools over there. He should have no problems finding a job. Like anything in life, this is where life shows its true color rather than the often naïve perception of black and white. Yes, it is true; Edwin should have no problem finding a job in Japan. Edwin whom I know has always been smart and very resourceful. He would not have quit over anything.

The problem is that any job will not do. For those of us who choose to toil and pay our due through the barriers of languages, culture, distance and academic rigor, we expect a lot more from ourselves, and often also more from others and the world. While a job in Japan is a possibility, Edwin would face mounting challenges should he choose to climb the corporate ladder. And I guarantee you that he would as I would.

The problem of course is that real world is not that simple. The Japanese are well known for its tendency to label non Japanese as gaijin and to treat them differently. Even if Edwin speaks Japanese fluently, and masters the nuances of the Japanese culture, including its celebrated tea ceremony, marries a Japanese wife, and sleeps in kimono, once a gaijin he would always be treated like one.

From my experiences so far in the US, I find not so much differences. Many would argue that color does not matter anymore in the 21st century. Wall St. may claim the most important color is green. Maybe how you look no longer matters in Wall St. , but how you sound still do. I recalled an article on a Wall Street Journal of the rising trends of many foreign professionals in NY taking vocal lessons or some kind of therapy to reduce or even get rid of their accents. And those lessons are not cheap either.

I understand the importance of excellent communication skills in the workplace especially if you want to move ahead in your career. But, getting rid of one’s accent is almost like giving up the essence of who you are.

Going back to Edwin’s story, the gaijin concepts also unfortunately permeates the corporate practices of Japanese companies, even the ones with the global brands. A well-known example is Toyota Corporation which recently displaced GM as the World No. 1 automaker has invested billions of dollars in the US yet only recently appoints an American to its top management.

Looking dismayed and frustrated, Edwin also made a point of asking my parents for my contact info and to tell me if I would entertain the idea of establishing our own venture. For many Indonesians with overseas educations and degrees, starting a company seems to be the preferred method of career path. Gone are the days where we would flock to the biggest banks ie. Bank Central Asia, Citibank, or even consulting boutiques such as Arthur Andersen, or McKinsey. Many still do. Those with established family businesses usually return to help, infusing modern Western way of thinking and business practices.

But Edwin and I are a growing example of Indonesians with modest means and backgrounds with overseas education and experiences on our belts and keen to return home not only to be successful but also to make a difference. Like anything in life, while the aspiration is genuine, the barriers at home unfortunately are also real.

While the government realizes that to survive in the 21st century, Indonesia has to depend more on the quality, the ingenuity, and the creativity of its human resources and private enterprises, the laws is yet to catch up with the policy. Establishing a PT, a company, costs more than US$1000. That excludes additional fees that you have to fork due to rampant corruptions. Then you need to find a place for the place of business. Prime locations, such as those nearby CBD such as Kuningan or Jl Jendral Sudirman, command premium prices. You can choose other less expensive locations, but then potential clients may not look upon your company favorably due to the non-prime locations. Even worse, they may start questioning whether you will be in business for the long runs.

Even with the prime locations, and enough start-up funding, conducting business in Indonesia requires 180-degree changes in mindset.  Connections and network, the abundance or the lack of it, more than anything else may make or break your business.  Ever since the collapse of Suharto’s regime with its trademark KKN (in English: corruption, collusion, and nepotism), Indonesia is witnessing the “unfortunate” rise of increased intertwine between politics and businesses to the detriment of overall economy.  Despite the tremendous effort by the current government, cronyism is alive, and well, if not worse: thriving.   

 

I heard horror stories on how two ISPs competing for broadband market in Bali ended with the foreign spouse packing the bag and bring his daughter to Germany while leaving the wife behind bar in Denpasar.  He is pleading his case and his own investigations led to the real possibility that the competition essentially paid up the police to shut down his business.

 

Of course, that unfortunate story will not happen if your last name is Bakrie, one of the influential ministers in the current cabinet.  With an MBA from Stanford, the young Bakrie has been making great strides in the telecommunication sector with his company PT Bakrie Telecom.  Of course that leaves us with the question that what if you are not politically connected and/or well funded, what other choices that you have in Indonesia.  Is telecommunication sector off limits since they are well known for its fixed costs?!  While here in the US and in the rest of the world, Skype comes almost out of nowhere to become the largest VoIP providers beating the telecom giants such as AT&T.

 

There are times in my life where impossible seems to be the word of the day. As I illustrated in my previous blog before, the current Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Project that I am working now offers numerous examples. One example that is undergoing right now is the PeopleSoft Security, release 8.48, where the fundamentals are basics, easy to master. Yet, typical life-cycle of PS Security, without the right tools, could well be ongoing nightmares.

The PS Security is fundamentally built from the ground up, from the permission lists, to roles, and user profiles. Permission list as the term implies controls what pages to access, whether queries or other advanced features such as running the batch process are allowed. At the training class, PS Security release 8.48, that I took with Oracle University, the materials seemed to make sense. While I learnt a lot from the class, the class failed to convey the complexity of typical security tasks within the real-life PS implementations.

For the Campus Solutions 9.0, PS Security controls access to thousands of pages. In my project, PS Security begins with the functional teams hashing out details what permission lists with access to which pages. For Student life cycle, Admission & Campus Community go first. The go live date for prospect is actually less than 2 weeks away. Before prospects can be entered into the system and the Admission staffs can work on the applications and other materials, security has to be established. And that starts with the Security Matrix.

blog-pssec-01-feb-26-1007.jpg

The above figure is one example of the Admission Security Matrix that is defined within MS Excel, where the PS menu, component, and pages are “crossed” with each of the permission lists, ie. UV_AD_SYSTEM_ADMIN, UV_CC_SYSTEM_ADMIN, UV_AD_LOCAL_ADMIN, etc.

As the PS Security Architect, I am readily aware of the challenges that lie ahead from security perspective. First, I need a way to find out how many permission lists I have to manage. And perhaps more importantly, how many PS Page security assignments are defined per the PS Security matrix.

This information is critical in establishing or estimating the scope of the PS Security initiatives. In my case, it is even more critical since unfortunately the bulk of the work fall into my areas of responsibilities, and the looming budget cut offers vanishing hope that any full-time help would be available soon or ever.

So, first off, to find out how many page security assignments I have to do is to count the number of Xs. One way to do this in MS Excel illustrated by the figure below:

blog-pssec-02-feb-26-1013.jpg

For Admission, the security scope now consists of assigning 2337 PeopleSoft pages. Given the 2-3 weeks time frame that cut through the Christmas and New Year celebrations, I just know that the brute force of manual way of typing, looking for specific pages, and clicking for options would simply not do.

My challenge is how to find ways to automate the majority of the work. My goal is to extract the information from the security matrix in MS Excel into the PS Page Security assignment as illustrated by the CC_BIO_DEMO_DATA page assignment below:


ps-sec-02-jan-10-1526.jpg

Now, how do I correlate each X entry in Excel with the PS Menu, and eventually PS Page, with each of custom Permission List?! As you can see in the previous figure, managing the list of Permission List will be one of the principal things in PS Security. For the Admission & Campus Community team, the number grew from 15 to 20 to 30+, the latest count.

Having not so much expertise with the Excel VBA & Object Model, I have to convert the Security matrix from MS Excel to a rather familiar representation, the CVS, Comma Separated Value.

I name the file as plists.csv for example, and using Vi or any other editor, you should see that , the Permission Lists are defined as a sequence ie. UV_AD_SYSTEM_ADMIN, UV_CC_SYSTEM_ADMIN, UV_AD_LOCAL_ADMIN, UV_CC_LOCAL_ADMIN, and so on and so forth.

blog-04-mar-14-1059.jpg

Once this is done, now my challenge is how to extract those permission lists. There are many ways to do this. You can use Java, C/C++ if you are more comfortable with those technologies. I have worked with Java since its early days in 1999, and have enjoyed working with it tremendously. However this task, I choose to rely on an old friend, Perl, for its strengths in text processing.

Here are the steps to extract those permission lists:

Step 1: assign those permission lists to a Perl variable

blog-04-mar-14-1059.jpg

Step 2: use Regular Expression to extract each permission list

blog-05-mar-14-1100.jpg

If you are not familiar with Regular Expression, you may want to consult tons of resources available on the Web. What you have to pay attention is the condition of the while statement

$plistStr =~ /(UV_.*?),/g

Regular Expression deals with finding specific patterns in any string, in this case in $plistStr. Also note that the permission list always starts with UV_ and followed by sequence of characters, and a comma (,). In Regular expression this translate into

UV_.*?,

The ? qualifier tells the Regular expression to stop at the very first instance of occurrence of (,) because regular expression is greedy by default. You can omit the ? qualifier, and check to see that you will get different result.

Now once you the pattern is establish, I would have to rely the memory operator, (), and to exclude the comma (,) to extract the Permission List.

(UV_.*?),

 

 

The permission list pattern if found will be stored in the $1 variable.  Thus explains the following code:

print “PList: “.$1.”\n”;

 

Once captured, the permission list is then stored in an array

push @PSListExcel, $1;

 

And last, but not least, is to add the g option (ie. /RegEx/g) so that every custom permission list will be found.

Here are the results:

blog-06-mar-14-1106.jpg

Stay tuned for the next installments of how Perl truly can help you tame the burdens of the PeopleSoft Security tasks.