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February 2005 Newsletter


Quotable Quotes


He is richest whose joys are most simple.  –Henry David Thoreau


In a pond koi can reach lengths of eighteen inches. Amazingly, when placed in a lake, koi can grow to three feet long. The metaphor is obvious. You are limited by how you see the world.  Vince Poscente


There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.  –Marshall McLuhan


Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.  –Albert Schweitzer


It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.  –William James


Intellectual "work" is misnamed; it is a pleasure, a dissipation, and is its own highest reward.  –Mark Twain


Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.  –Benjamin Disraeli


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Software Development Process

Editorial:  Business Savvy Is Key To IT Success

While a lot of pundits are focusing on "business/IT alignment" initiatives, this author promotes moving beyond alignment into having IT understand the fundamentals of the business that they serve in order to improve IT results.



Article:  Asking Great Questions

Whether you are eliciting requirements from a business user or interviewing a job candidate, asking questions is one of the most important jobs of the IT professional.  This article discusses the difference between "closed" and "open" questions and provides tips on effectively asking questions.



Article:  Middleware: A History of Objects, Components, and the Web

This article gives a good, general overview of middleware and how it works with some examples using RPC.



Article:  What Users Want

A practical look at what business users want and expect from IT and how to smooth out some of the bumps in the road when users and IT "collide".



Article:  Putting Passionate People to Work

Many top managers see passion as an underutilized component of the technology workforce.  They believe that proper management of this passion is a competitive advantage.



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Software Testing & Quality

Tool:  actiWATE

ActiWATE is a free web application testing application.  While I don't know much about it's functionality, it is well documented and the site provides some excellent example scripts.



Article:  Testing Software to Detect and Reduce Risk

Journal article that discusses analytical comparison of testing methods and how to use risk-based approaches to determine appropriate level of testing.



Article:  Putting Applications to the Test

Increased awareness of security vulnerabilities with applications and addition of regulatory mandates is bringing application testing out of the shadows and into the forefront of development.



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Text:  Introduction to Data Communications

This is a complete online version of the classic text from Eugene Blanchard about all topics in the data communications and networking arena.  The text includes 63 chapters with such topics as RS-232 serial communications up to TCP/IP and related protocols.



Tutorial:  HTML: An Interactive Tutorial for Beginners (recommended by Jodi Pruitt)

This online tutorial on HTML provides a hands-on approach to learning the language.  The tutorial as structured a series of beginning and advanced "minichapters" which cover the various topics thoroughly and in easy to grasp manner.  The tutorial is also available as a downloadable package.



Site:  The Quick Reference Site

This site provides downloadable/printable quick reference "cards" for many programming and IT topics, including Java, CVS, vi, Linux, Oracle, UML, XML and more.  The cards are provided in Adobe PDF format.



Article:  Object-Oriented Analysis and Design

This introductory book chapter on object-oriented analysis and design (OOAD) gives a nice overview of the concept and includes an easy-to-understand example.  In addition, it introduces UML as a standard way to do OOAD.



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Career Development/Miscellaneous

Editorial:  We learn more by listening than talking

Listening is a critical skill in any job.  This author gives some suggestions on the importance of listening and how to improve your listening ability.



Interview:  How the Mac was born, and other tales

An interview with Andy Hertzfeld who was one of the inventors of the Apple Macintosh computer in the early 1980s and who tells the story in a recently-released a book called Revolution in The Valley.  The discussion provides some interesting insights into entrepreneurship in the computer industry.



Article:  Engaging Employees Enhances Bottom Line

A recent survey indicates that employees are less engaged in their work, which ultimately affects the performance of an organization.  The study suggested focusing on seven areas to engage workers, including tools and technology and a better work/life balance.



Article:  Great moments in microprocessor history

This article highlights the most important achievements in the history of the microprocessor from even before the original Intel 4004 to today's 64-bit processors and beyond.



Site:  Free Online Graph/Grid Paper

This site provides downloaded graph/grid paper in PDF format.  Many different types are provided including 1 cm, 0.1", 1/12", dot, and hexagonal.  You can even create your own custom format.



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Telecommunications/Networking Industry

Report:  VoIP Goes Mainstream

This special report collection of articles explores the rapid development of VoIP as a viable business technology over the past year.  It includes a number of case studies showing the advantages and pitfalls of VoIP.



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Useful Utilities

Gmail Drive (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP and Internet Explorer 5 – 120kB)

Gmail Drive is a Windows shell extension that allows you to use your Gmail account as an external storage device.  Since it is a shell extension it integrates into Windows Explorer and acts just like another network drive.  With Gmail Drive, you can store up to 1GB of files (depending on how much is used for e-mail).



Statement Tracer for Oracle (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP – 683kB)

This little utility allows you to capture all SQL transactions executed on your client against an Oracle database.  Requires SQL*Net or Net8 on the client.



TinyResMeter (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP – 91kB)

TinyResMeter is just what its name implies:  a very small resource meter.  Don't let the size of this no-install resource meter fool you though; it is very powerful and configurable.  It can show uptime, disk usage for local and network drives, RAM and CPU usage, and much more.  Likewise, it is dockable to the edge of the desktop and can be placed always on top.



Microsoft Visual C++ Toolkit 2003 (Free – Windows 9x/2000/XP – 31.4MB)

This completely free version of the MS Visual C++ compiler includes command-line version of C/C++ compiler and linker, C and C++ runtime libraries, C++ Standard Template Library, .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR), and sample code.  The site includes links to articles on how to use the toolkit and other examples.



TeeTree Office (Free – Windows 2000/XP – 1.03MB)

TeeTree Office is a simple, free flow-charting and diagramming tool.  It provides templates for simple geometric diagrams, flowcharts, and UML diagrams.  Diagrams can be exported to common graphic formats, such as BMP, JPG, GIF, and PNG.  Certainly not as powerful as Visio, but the price is right!



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Just For Fun

Huh? Corporation

Who couldn't love a company whose slogan is "We do stuff."?  This site is an excellent parody of the marketing doublespeak so prevalent on the Internet.  Too funny!



Crazy Fads

Remember all of the fads from days gone by.  Here's a list of many of them from the 1920s to present.  Those 1980s fads hit a little too close to home!  :)



Bash The Boss

This online, Flash-based game lets you take our your work frustrations on a "virtual boss".  Some of the dialogue is hilarious.  (Note:  This game is from a site trying to get you to buy Universal Studios vacation packages.)



The History of Computing Project

This is an online, open content collaborative effort to document the history of computing from even before the machines we know as "computers" up to the present.   Categories of the "exhibits" include the companies behind the computer revolution, a timeline, hardware, software, and more.



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