December 2002 Newsletter



Quotable Quotes


Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.  –Benjamin Franklin


Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity and not by quality.  –George Santayana


So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.  –Peter Drucker


The difference between Success and Significance:  Success is when I add value to myself.  Significance is when I add value to others.  –Unknown


Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.  –Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi


Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish.  –Sam Walton


Return to top


Software Development Process

Editorial:  Forging Partnerships

The CIO of FedEx makes the case that building relationships between IT and the business customers is more important than many of the initiatives that IT prioritizes, such as ROI, process improvement, etc.,10801,73718,00.html


Article:  Methods for the development madness

In this article, the author reviews some practical techniques that help avoid the maddening aspects of vague requirements and deadlines that seem unreachable.


Editorial:  Mapping IT's Future

Discusses the changes to the role of the “traditional” IT organization and worker in light of the increasing technical savvy of business units and users and transition of some “technical” work to them.,10801,74184,00.html


Article:  Saving for a Rainy Day

Karl Weigers offers some suggestions for building in buffer into project schedules based on history and evaluating the amount of unknowns at the time the project plan is constructed.  Good advice for adding slack in a consistent, intelligent manner.


Article: Is your project in trouble? Eight warning signs

A brief list of eight tell-tale signs that your project may be in trouble.  No information on what to do, but a good checklist to make sure things are on track.


Article: Eight reasons why extreme programming won't work in your shop

Extreme programming (known as XP) is one of the new development methodologies that is getting a lot of attention.  This article looks as some of the downsides and pitfalls of trying to use XP.


Return to top


Software Testing & Quality

Editorials:  Demand better and Bug-free dreams

Infoworld columnist Ed Foster says that customers must demand better quality software from vendors and that vendors’ number one priority should be in providing solid, reliable, and secure software.


Site: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This is a frequently (usually about monthly) updated list of common questions and pointers to good general testing resources from the Usenet group.


Article:  Brewing Trouble

This article offers sound, practical advice for using checklists in testing, how to create good checklists, and techniques to avoid the tendency to skip steps.


Reference:  Glossary Of Terms Used In Software Testing

This document is the final working draft of software testing terms from which an official British standard for terms was produced.  While it is a draft, it is an excellent reference for standardized (or standardised!) terminology related to testing.


Return to top



Tutorial:  Processes and Threads

Today's modern operating systems and applications have enhanced performance due to the process and thread model of operation.  Learn about these, how they work and the difference between the two.,1199,NAV47-68-85-1950_STO66405,00.html


Article:  Going beyond the buzz to understand VPN technology

A good introduction to the concepts and terminology involved with virtual private networks.  Article angle is from the end-user perspective.


Site:  TechTutorials

This site includes nearly 2000 tutorials on all kinds of computer, networking, and development topics.  Areas are well organized and site is easy to navigate.  Also, readers can rate content, so you’ll have others to help you select the best ones.


Article: Understanding Project's Percent Complete vs. Percent Work Complete

Understanding how MS Project calculates the percent complete on a project is an important concept in properly gauging progress and managing a project.


Return to top


Career Development/Miscellaneous

Site:  Stress Management Tips and Resources

In today’s economic climate, stress and overwork are common maladies.  This site has some great tips on dealing with and relieving stress and maintaining a more positive attitude in your work and home life.


Site:  MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT has embarked on an effort expected to take 7 years to put the course materials for all of their classes online available for free.  Currently, the project is in the “discover/build” phase where representative content from each area of the university is being made available.


Article:  Another day at the rumor mill

This article discusses the detrimental nature that passing along rumors and gossip has on an individual’s credibility in the organization.


Return to top



Useful Utilities

Wildcard Select (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 314kB)

Wildcard Select is a Windows shell extension that adds an option to the context (right mouse) menu in Windows Explorer which allows you select a group of files based on a pattern, such as “*.txt”.  This is quite useful when you need to copy or move all files of a certain type. (technical details)


Avant Browser  (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 725kB)

Avant Browser is a tabbed-interface, multi-window browser based on Internet Explorer (versions 5 and above supported).  Avant Browser preserves all of the familiar features of Internet Explorer, but saves you from having multiple browser windows open.  Some of it’s other nice features include terminating annoying popup windows, built-in interface to Google search engine, and some enhanced mouse features, such as using the middle button to open a link a new window.  Avant Browser is fast and lightweight.


KNOPPIX Linux Filesystem on CD (Free – Any OS – 700MB)

Have you been curious about all of the buzz surrounding Linux and wanted to see for yourself, but were a little afraid of taking the plunge?  KNOPPIX is a complete and up-to-date version of Linux that runs from a bootable CD, so you don’t have to overwrite your current OS or dual boot.  KNOPPIX includes full network support including DHCP (automatically detecting NIC and assigning IP address).  One of the nicest features of KNOPPIX is that you can save your session configuration information a floppy disk to preserve settings.  KNOPPIX includes the latest Linux 2.4.x kernel, KDE GUI environment, and all of the OpenOffice applications, plus much more.  [Note:  KNOPPIX is very large (over 700MB) and must be downloaded as an ISO image, which can be burned to a CD-R/CD-RW.]


Online Scientific Calculator

The publishers of Calc98, which is a terrific freeware scientific calculator, provide a really handy online basic scientific calculator written in Javascript.  This tool is more powerful than the built-in Windows calculator and easier to get to.  To provide quick access to the calculator, enter the following in the Address bar in Internet Explorer:

javascript:open('', 'calculator', 'width=250,height=320');

Press <Enter> to display the calculator (in a new IE window).  Then return to the original window (with the above line in the Address bar).  Drag the icon from the Address bar onto the Links toolbar to create a shortcut.  (Internet Explorer may give you a warning that the shortcut is not “safe”, because it uses Javascript.  Just press “Yes”.)  Now, simply click on the shortcut from the Links bar in Internet Explorer to access the calculator.  (For more information, see the jCalc98 FAQ.)




Return to top


Productivity Tips

Shortcut to the MS Word Page Setup window

Instead of summoning the Page Setup window in Word via the menus (File | Page Setup…), you can quickly access it by double-clicking on the grey borders of the ruler (either the horizontal or vertical ruler).


Quickly add special horizontal divider lines to MS Word documents

To add some special horizontal divider lines to your MS Word documents as section or content breaks, simply type three of the following characters followed by <Enter>.



Hyphens ( --- )



Underscore ( ___ )



Equal sign ( === )



Pound sign ( ### )



Asterisk ( *** )



Tilde ( ~~~ )




Screen shots of MS Excel worksheet ranges

If you need to make a screen shot of a certain range of cells in MS Excel, you don't need to use the "Print Screen" key. Instead, select the range you'd like to take a shot of, press and hold <Shift>, then select Edit | Copy Picture… from the main menu.  In the Copy Picture window, select the format to use.  Then you can paste the picture into any other application that allows images (Word, e-mail messages, etc.).


Return to top

Just For Fun


Who doesn't need more time these days?  Well, this site certainly won't give you more time, but it is a spectacular web clock.  The design and concept are very original.  (Note:  This site is one of the winners of the annual 5k contest, which provides awards for web site designs for which the HTML page is 5kB or less.)


SatireWire and Business Twaddle

These sites provide hilarious fake business press releases a la “The Onion”.  Many will have you rolling on the floor with laughter.  And some you might think were real if you didn’t know where they came from.


Solar System Live

This site is an interactive online orrery (or planetarium, if you prefer!).  It has some really neat twists in that you can view space from the Earth or view Earth (or anything else) from space.  In addition, you can create sky maps for any date and any location on the Earth.


2001:  A Space Odyssey in Legos

Here’s a short movie “summary” of 2001:  A Space Odyssey made entirely with Legos.  Pretty creative!


Paper Airplane Simulator

This Macromedia Shockwave-based site is a simulator of flying a paper airplane.  You set the launch angle, thrust (throwing force), and how much the wings are tilted and then launch the virtual plane.  The program shows the plane in flight and some metrics about the flight such as number of rotations and how far it went.


Sandlot Science

This site features a number of famous optical illusions and “mind tricks”.  One of the neatest features is that, instead of static representations, interactive simulations (most using Java) are provided.  Some of the featured items are an excellent treatment of the moon illusion, Ponzo illusion, and many others.


Return to top