Networks & Computing Systems Integrity Group

Monthly Testing Newsletter -- August 2000


Software Development Process

Software Testing & Quality
Career Development/Miscellaneous
Telecommunications Industry
Useful Utilities
Productivity Tips
Just For Fun


Software Development Process

Reference: Risk Management Lexicon

This site is a glossary of terms from the risk management special interest group (SIG) of the Project Management Institute. It provides an excellent list of standard terminology for discussing risk and risk management concepts, as well as standardization of some general project management terminology.

Whitepaper: Software Risk Management

This paper reviews the basic concepts, terminology, and techniques of Software Risk Management. It teaches readers how to identify and analyze software risks on their projects. Readers then learn techniques for planning and acting to mitigate risks so that the overall impact of those risks on their projects is minimized.

Editorial: Software, the 'e' way

E-business has changed more than just the way businesses interact with their customers. In some cases, it has also changed the basic principles and assumptions of software engineering processes and methodologies. [Editorial by Ed Yourdon.],1199,NAV47_STO47398,00.html

Article: Usability Test for Success

Is your company's Web site as good as its people? Take this usability test to find out.

Do your customers enjoy dealing with your company? When they call for information, are the marketing people helpful? When they place an order, do your salespeople make it a quick, pleasant experience? And when they have questions, does your customer support staff provide solid answers?

Article: Who Makes the Requirements Decisions?

When requirements fly in from many directions, it can be difficult to resolve conflicts, clarify ambiguities, and reconcile inconsistencies. Someone will also have to arbitrate the questions of scope that inevitably arise. Early in every project, you need to agree on who the decision makers will be for requirements issues.


Software Testing & Quality

Article: Software Testing Gets New Respect

Businesses turn to automated testing to boost confidence in their IT systems

Long ensconced in backroom IT offices as the Rodney Dangerfield of the application development process, software testing--specifically of the automated type--is gaining newfound respect. Fueled by widespread business expeditions into the Internet economy, testing has surfaced not only as a critical IT issue, but also as an even more critical business issue.

Site: SQA Tester

This is a resource site for software testing. Features include testing news and notices of upcoming events, seminars, and conferences; discussion forums; testing tips; tutorials; and much more. This site is quite comprehensive and has excellent organization.

Interview: Trading quality for time is little more than a fantasy – An interview with Steve McConnell

Steve McConnell, chief software engineer at Construx Software Builders Inc., is a well-known consultant and the author of several highly regarded books… He has worked in the software industry since 1984 and is considered an expert on rapid development methodologies and software construction practices. [He] has strong opinions about the impact of Internet time on the quality of software engineering. In this interview, he discusses the consequences of this trade-off and the need to create a true software engineering profession to alleviate this practice.

Article: Testing Software: Challenges for the Future

When I hear the word testing, I become stressed. What a headache, I think. Pictures flash through my head of teams burning the midnight oil trying to get a product out. Ed Yourdon's book Death March comes to mind along with visions of sleepless nights and troublesome days. Thoughts about budget and schedule problems clutter my head along with the seemingly ever-present performance problems that always seem to arise near the end of the project. I ponder, "how did we get in so much trouble?" and contemplate "have things gotten any better?"

Article: Stress Relief

Subjecting your e-commerce application to preproduction load testing may help you avoid business disaster

How many times have you approved a software prototype for development, only to see it crash under a full production load? Have you ever gone to an e-commerce portal to buy something, waited in vain for a response, and then simply clicked over to another site to buy exactly the same thing?



Article: How Routers Work

In many senses, routers truly are the heart of any network including the Internet. This article gives you the low-down in a very understandable fashion about how routers do their magic.

Article: Memory Leaks and Garbage Collection

A memory leak is the gradual deterioration of system performance that occurs over time as the result of the fragmentation of a computer's RAM due to poorly designed or programmed applications that fail to free up memory segments when they are no longer needed. Garbage collection is the even stranger term given to the automated process, found in some systems and languages, whereby memory space no longer needed by current applications is consolidated and freed up for reuse.,1199,NAV47_STO48292,00.html


Career Development/Miscellaneous

Site: TechOnLine

This site is geared toward electronics engineers, but has a number of resources useful to IT folks in the telecommunications industry. It provides free online courses, many provided by university researchers and lecturers, covering a wide variety of technology topics.

Telecommunications Industry

Article: SBC Expanding E-Commerce Services

Regional telecom company SBC Communications (stock: SBC) is expanding its E-commerce and Web-hosting services through a partnership with Commerce One Inc.(stock: CMRC) and the development of an Internet data center with Cisco Systems.

Site: TelOSSource Magazine

TelOSSource is an industry trade publication dedicated to information about telecommunications OSS (operational support system). It has articles about new OSS technologies, vendor announcements, etc. You can complete an application for a hard-copy version of the magazine online.

Article: Aspiring ASPs join the fray

From two separate corners, big-name enterprise vendors -- including major IT consulting and telecommunications companies -- are rushing into the burgeoning ASP (application service provider) space.


Useful Utilities

Diskeeper Lite (Free – Windows NT – 1712kB)

Hard drive fragmentation can be a significant drain on system performance. Documents that you work on and update frequently can quickly become fragmented requiring additional time to save and load. Windows 9x has a built-in defragmenting tool, but not so for Windows NT. This freeware tool is a high-speed manual defragmenter for Windows NT (not Windows 2000).

FDFormat (Free – DOS/Windows 9x/NT – 107kB)

Most floppy drives can read and write floppy disks with capacities greater than the standard 1.44MB capacity. FDFormat is a simple DOS command-line utility that allows you to format a floppy disk at one of these higher capacities so that you can get more "stuff" on the diskette. The command line is:

fdformat d: fnnn

Where d: is the floppy drive letter (typically, a:) and nnn is the format. To use the Microsoft DMF 1.68MB format replace nnn with 168. (Another possible value that may work, depending on your hardware, is 172 for 1.72MB capacity.) Make sure to review the included FDFORMAT.DOC for detailed information on parameters and use.,,00027M,.html

Servant Salamander (Free – Windows 9x/NT – 695kB)

Although the name is unique (and somewhat strange), Servant Salamander is a small, fast, and powerful dual-pane file manager. Some of the distinctive features include advanced file find features, drag-and-drop file moving/copying, user-defined menus and toolbar buttons, custom filtering of file lists, and support for 3-party plug-ins such as file viewers and ZIP managers (both included). It also has very useful disk/folder space management functions and "favorites" for often-used folders.


Productivity Tips

Enable AutoSave in MS Excel

MS Excel has an AutoSave feature, but it is not enabled by default. To enable this feature, select Tools | Add-Ins… from the main menu. In the Add-Ins dialog, enable (check) AutoSave. Press OK. An AutoSave… menu item will be added to the Tools menu. Select this menu item to configure the AutoSave options or to toggle it on and off.

Enter URLs with spaces in MS Outlook

MS Outlook has difficulty with URLs that include a space in them (such as hyperlinks to a file). In Outlook, the URL ends with the first space, which would require you to enter %20 as the placeholder for any space making the path difficult to read. Fortunately, there is simple workaround: Just enclose the URL in "less than" and "greater than" brackets. For example, Outlook will interpret <file:\\C:/My Documents/Test Plan.doc> as a valid single URL.

Make large spreadsheets in MS Excel easier to read

MS Excel has a very neat feature called conditional formatting that you can use to enhance the readability of your spreadsheets based on some specific criteria. The conditional formatting feature can be used to make alternating color bands (like on the old green bar computer paper) to improve readability of large spreadsheets. To use this technique:

  1. Highlight the spreadsheet rows (or columns) to which you want to apply the formatting.
  2. Select Format | Conditional Formatting… from the menu.
  3. In the Conditional Formatting dialog, select Formula Is from the Condition 1 dropdown list.
  4. In the formula field enter:
  5. =MOD(ROW()-Start_Row,Num_Rows*2)+1<=Num_Rows

    where Start_Row is the number of the first row to be formatted and Num_Rows is the number of rows in each color band. To shade every other row, set Num_Rows to 1.

  6. Press Format… button and select the desired formatting (color, font, etc.) in the Format Cells dialog. Press OK.
  7. Press OK to apply formatting.

The formula above is for "odd" banding (formatting applies to first Num_Rows of selected region). For "even" banding (starting with second Num_Rows), use this formula:


To apply the banding technique to columns instead of rows, select the desired columns and use the COLUMN() workbook function instead of ROW().


Just For Fun

Site: Time Capsule

Enter your birthdate at this site and see what was going on then: news headlines, who was in office, what celebrities you share your day with, retail prices, average income for the year, Academy Award winners, and sports headlines. (This site is supported by advertising on the query results such as movies and songs.)