August 2004 Newsletter


Quotable Quotes


I have learned to use the word 'impossible' with the greatest caution.  –Wernher von Braun


Were we as eloquent as angels, we still would please people much more by listening rather than talking.  –Charles Caleb Colton


A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder.  –Thomas Carlyle


Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.  Arthur Schopenhauer


A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.  –Alexander Pope


Friendship is a plant of slow growth and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.  –George Washington


The difference between a boss and a leader: a boss says, "Go!"; a leader says, "Let's go!"  –E. M. Kelly


Return to top


Software Development Process

Article:  On-Demand in Plain English

Utility, on-demand, grid, and autonomic computing are some of the new IT buzzwords.  This article tries to cut through some of the marketing hype and explain the basics of this new model for providing IT services.,10801,94076,00.html


Article:  Survey: World-Class IT Organizations Do More With Less

A recent survey indicates that world-class IT groups are more likely to meet goals and performance targets and usually have fewer people than less efficient concerns.


Article:  What CEOs really think about IT

Results from a recent survey of CEOs of corporations in France show that CEOs are taking a more involved approach in ensuring the IT investments are beneficial to the business.


Article:  21 Rules of Thumb for Shipping Great Software on Time

While in charge of the Microsoft Visual C++ project team, Jim McCarthy, author of Dynamics of Software Development, postulated a list of 21 key factors for successfully developing and delivering software.  These items are timeless and applicable to projects of all types, sizes, and complexity.


Return to top


Software Testing & Quality

Utility:  Extended Test Pl@n

Extend Test Pl@n (XTP) is a free relational database (Microsoft Access or SQL Server) based utility for recording test components (tests, procedures, etc.) that can be compiled into an overall test plan.  Allows re-use of tests and re-grouping of procedures across multiple tests.


Framework:  Hyades

Hyades is a free, open-source automatic software quality (ASQ) framework based on the Eclipse architecture.  It provides standards, tools and tool interoperability across the test process.  IBM recently announced that they are planning to align their Rational testing tools with the Hyades architecture.


Return to top



Reference:  Web Developer's Virtual Library

This site calls itself an "Encyclopedia of Web Design Tutorials, Articles and Discussions".  It's definitely that and whole lot more.  You'll find a wide variety of articles on lots of web design and development topics here.


Reference:  Handbook of Applied Cryptography

The authors of this authoritative handbook on cryptography have posted the entire text of the 5th printing (August 2001) on the Internet for reference.  This text is a good overview and general reference for a variety of cryptography topics.


Reference: Unix and Linux Commands

Transitioning from the command prompt in Windows to Unix or Linux can sometimes be confusing.  This site provides a "cross reference" between common DOS/Windows commands and their Unix/Linux counterparts.  It also has a nice alphabetical listing of dozens of Unix/Linux commands with links to syntax and usage.


Reference:  Oracle PL/SQL Bookshelf

This is an online version of version 1.0 of the O'Reilly Oracle PL/SQL Bookshelf (circa 2000).  It is an extensive reference for PL/SQL, including a programming guide.


Return to top


Career Development/Miscellaneous

Article:  I.T. Workers' Morale Mired In A Slump

Even though salary and outsourcing pressures seem to have eased in the IT industry, almost ¾ of executives in a recent survey said that morale problems persist among IT workers in their organizations.


Article:  Study Exposes Downside Of Virtual Work

A new study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business indicates that workers fear that participating on "virtual teams" contributes to their obsolescence.


Article:  HP Exec: Success Will Be Measured By Innovation, Not Problem Solving

A senior VP and general manger of HP's Adaptive Enterprise and Software Global Business Unit told attendees at Software Forum that the new business measurement paradigm for IT is to anticipate, solve, and prevent problems before they happen instead of the historical reactive mode.


Articles:  Improving your relationship with your boss/coworkers

This is a set of articles on topics for IT professionals about improving interactions with peers and superiors in the workplace.  Topics include how to deal with "bad" bosses, identifying and correcting micromanaging, and how to handle personality conflicts.


Return to top


Telecommunications Industry

Reference:  BIC TCP

Researchers at North Carolina State Univ. have developed a transport protocol based on the workhorse TCP specially for high-speed, long-distance networks.  The protocol reportedly reduces latency substantially by sending increasingly large packet sizes based on the amount of data and results of previous transfers.


Return to top

Useful Utilities

TaskTracker (Free – Windows 2000/XP – 526kB)

TaskTracker takes the concept of the Windows Recent Documents folder to an entirely new level.  Not only does it keep track of recently accessed/used documents, but also applications (executables).  Furthermore, it organizes the recently used items by type making it easier to find just the document you are looking for.


Hindsite (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP – 1.8MB)

There are plenty of tools to empty your web browser history, but what if you want to keep the history indefinitely?  Hindsite keeps a history of all web sites visited without requiring you to bookmark them.  It provides text search of its history.


DataLens (Free – Windows 2000/XP and MS Outlook 2000, XP, or 2003 – 3.53MB)

DataLens is an add-in for MS Outlook which allows you to quickly use "fish lens" viewing of appointments on your calendar.  Basically, you display the calendar and as you move the mouse cursor over the various days, more details about the appointments in closest proximity to the cursor are displayed.


Ditto (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP – 494kB)

Ditto is a free Windows clipboard extender.  It allows you to keep an unlimited history of items copied to the clipboard for easy pasting as needed.  Some of the nice features beyond other clipboard extenders includes its small memory footprint, the ability to share clipboard entries between computers, search previous clip entries, and assign hotkeys for frequently used entries.


Return to top


Productivity Tips

Entering common text in multiple (non-contiguous) cells in MS Excel

In Excel, you can enter the same text in a series or range of cells by selecting all of the desired cells (Hold down <Ctrl> key while selecting multiple non-contiguous cells, if necessary), entering the desired text and then pressing <Ctrl>-<Enter> to apply the text to all selected cells.


Add a "Clear Read-only Flag" to Windows Explorer context menu

If you frequently copy files from a CD-ROM to your hard drive, one of the annoying side effects is that the files and directories all have their read-only attributes set.  You can add a "Clear Read-only Attribute" option to the Windows Explorer context menu so that you can right-click on a file and folder and remove the attribute on the file or folder and all of its contents.  To do so, open the Registry Editor:  Start | Run à regedit.  Browse to the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell registry key.  Select Edit | New à Key and create a new key (under shell) called ClearReadOnly.  Open the new ClearReadOnly key and change the (Default) value to Clear Read-only Attribute.  Add another key under the ClearReadOnly key called command and change its (Default) value to attrib -R "%1\*.*" /s.  Close the Registry Editor and you're ready to go!  (This technique can be adapted for any file attribute; see the attrib command help for details.)


Return to top

Just For Fun

Ulysses for Dummies

This comic book style parody of James Joyce's classic Ulysses allows you to look educated and sophisticated without all of the effort of actually reading it.


The Elegant Universe

You can watch the entire 3-hour The Elegant Universe series online in either Quicktime or Real format.  This award-winning Nova miniseries is a layman's introduction to the grand unification and string theories.


Double-Tongued Word Wrester

This site tracks the entrance, exit, and (sometimes) re-entrance of words into the common English lexicon.  It's an interesting look at how very much alive our language truly is.



A complete and true-to-the-original version of Tetris written entirely in Javascript.  You can download the game to your machine or play it "live" on the Web.


Return to top