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February 2006 Newsletter


Quotable Quotes


Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.  Aldous Huxley


Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.  –Stephen R. Covey


One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.  –Will Durant


With so little time, there are just not enough minutes left to hate, not enough time for gossip or fighting.  We should all be so busy "doing" and "being" that we have no time left for anything but accomplishing "good."  –Thomas D. Willhite


If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.  –George Bernard Shaw


Act as if everything you think, say and do determines your entire life—because in reality, it does!  Laurelle Adrian


Knowledge is power, but enthusiasm pulls the switch.  Ivern Ball


Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen: even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.  –Leonardo da Vinci


In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins—not through strength but by perseverance.  –H. Jackson Brown


No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made.  Destiny is made known silently.  –Agnes de Mille


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Software Development Process

Article:  Why You're Smarter Than Your Process

This author takes a critical view at the shortcomings of many of the popular and widely used software development methodologies and emphasizes that understanding and managing knowledge and expertise is the key element of improving software development.



Report:  Developers Research Report

Annual survey report from Infoworld on development and programming trends.  This year's report shows increased use of XML and web services and the waning of C and C++ for application development.



Article:  Extreme Programming vs. Interaction Design

The inventors of extreme programming and interaction design, two development philosophies intended to make design and development method, but quite methodologies, face off about the advantages of each.



Article:  The New Methodology

Martin Fowler has updated his 5-year-old classic article that introduced much of the software development community to the concepts of agile development.  This article provides an excellent overview of the agile landscape.



Article:  Leading Software Projects:  Preparing Participants for Collaboration

While meetings are often the last thing that workers on technical projects want to do, they are typically a necessary part of any project.  This article looks at how to use meetings and related sessions effectively for collaboration, especially with business customers.



Article:  Software Engineering, Not Computer Science

This article looks at the classical question about whether software development is a science, an art, a craft, or something else.  In particular, it addresses the matter of whether it should be considered more a "practical" science (i.e., engineering) or a "pure" science.


Report:  Management challenges to implementing agile processes in traditional development organizations

This report focuses on some of the common problems experienced when trying to introduce agile development methodologies in traditional organizations.  It focuses on three main areas:  development process conflicts, business process conflicts, and people conflicts.



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Software Testing & Quality

Article:  Correctness by Construction: A Manifesto for High-Integrity Software

Some systems, typically called high-integrity systems, must be designed and developed in such a way that defects cannot be tolerated.  This article looks at a technique for developing high-integrity systems in a cost-effective manner.



Site:  eXtreme Software Testing

This site provides lots of useful and up-to-date information on applying agile techniques to software testing, even when agile methodology is not used for the development process itself.



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Online Text:  Teach Yourself Shell Programming in 24 Hours

This is an online version of book on Unix/Linux shell programming/scripting which is divided up into 24 easily understood lessons.  It takes you all the way from the basics (What is a shell?) to more advanced topics.



Book Excerpt:  Hands On: Learning Monad, the scripting language for Windows Vista

In this book excerpt, the new (and very powerful) command shell for Windows Vista, called Monad, is introduced.  Monad is a completely object oriented command shell.  While intended for Vista, beta versions of Monad for Windows XP with .NET framework are available now.



Site:  Decode Unicode

Unicode is the standard for wide character sets.  This stylish, interactive site helps you understand Unicode and has wiki functionality to allow you to post your own comments on the various characters.



Site:  Pixel2Life

Pixel2Life is a comprehensive computer tutorial search engine and directory.  It provides links to thousands of tutorials in an amazing variety of subjects, including programming and languages, applications and tools, and graphic design.



Article:  Understanding Web Services

With all of the buzzwords floating around about services-oriented architecture (SOA) and web services (WS), sometimes it's difficult to know just what all of this means.  This article gives a nice, technical (but not too technical!) introduction to web services and where they fit into the development architecture and landscape.



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Career Development/Miscellaneous

Article:  The Best Companies to Work for

The results from Forbes annual survey of the best companies in America to work for.  The article includes information about what makes these great employers.



Article:  Good and Bad Procrastination

This author looks at how procrastination can actually be a good thing when it revolves around making sure that you're doing the most important work and not wasting time on insignificant things.



Site:  Instalinux

Historically, if you wanted to install Linux on a computer, you had to use a set of pre-made installation disks (or download ISO files and burn them onto CD or DVD).  The Instalinux project, which is based on a tool called LinuxCOE that was recently open-sourced by HP, changes all of that by providing a web-based tool where you answer a few questions and it generates a small (typically around 30MB) ISO file that you download and use to install your system over the Internet.



Article:  The 10 Beliefs of Great Managers

This article outlines the author's 10 imperative operating concepts for those who are (or wish to become) great managers.  While the concepts are quite simple, they are thought provoking, as well.



Article:  The 50-30-20 Rule

This article discusses a new time management technique called the 50-30-20 rule whereby you allocate 50% of your time to tasks which you expect to have 5 or more years of benefit, 30% to those with 2 years or less of benefit and 20% to tasks with 90 day benefit horizon.



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Telecommunications/Networking Industry

Article:  DeMint Introduces Comprehensive Communications Reform Bill

A senator has introduced new legislation to overhaul the telecommunications regulatory regime currently in place.  The main premise is that the communications industry would be regulated like other businesses, by protecting consumers and ensuring businesses do not engage in unfair competition.




Some major telecom providers and vendors have announced an initiative called SCOPE to improve OSS systems deployments by using commercial off the shelf (COTS) software and free open source software (FOSS) as building blocks to improve interoperability between providers and customers.



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Useful Utilities

miniaim (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP – 81kB)

If you use AOL Instant Messenger and are really only interested in the IM chat features, miniaim is a great alternative.  It is small and lightning fast with a very simple, but usable GUI.  It has tabs for each IM session and the ability to save the contents of your session.



Fresh Find (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP – 277kB)

Fresh Find is a handy Internet search utility.  Just press a hot key and the small, unobtrusive Fresh Find box is displayed.  Enter your search criteria and it opens a web browser window with the results.  It will even automatically paste the clipboard contents into the find criteria.  Multiple search engines are supported by default and you can even add your own.



Aurionix FileUsage (Free – Windows 2000/XP with .NET 2.0 Framework – 480kB)

Aurionix FileUsage integrates seamlessly with Windows Explorer to add columns to the Details view to display total size of all files/subfolders in a given folder, total percent of disk usage for a folder/file, and the total number of files, including in subfolders, in a given folder.



FocusAlpha (Free – Windows 2000/XP – 304kB)

FocusAlpha is a small background utility that allows you to set the transparency of all windows except the currently active one (i.e., the window with input focus).  The transparency level for background windows is fully configurable.



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Productivity Tips

Send free SMS text messages via e-mail

If you need to send a brief message to someone who is out of the office, simply send them an SMS text message by sending an e-mail to cell_phone_number@teleflip.com.  The service is completely free (to the sender).


Enable Windows 2000 style search function in Windows XP

If you prefer the more vanilla file search function from Windows 2000 and are using Windows XP, a quick registry edit can restore this functionality.  To do, launch the Registry Editor:  Start | Run | regedit.exe.  In the Registry Editor, navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CabinetState key and add a new String value named Use Search Asst.  Set the new Use Search Asst value to no.  Close the Registry Editor and you are ready to go.


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Just For Fun


This site provides links to many famous sights, both natural and man-made, from around the world via Google Maps and MSN Virtual Earth.  The sites are categorized and easy to find.



Mensa Intelligence Test

I'm not sure that this "test" really measures your intelligence, but it is a relatively fun game.  It is the classic game where you are given a pattern and have to expand it into its full description.  For example, "24 H in a D" = "24 Hours in Day".  (In case you care, I got 27 out of 33 without cheating.)



The Food Timeline

Have you ever wondered where a certain food came from or when it was first introduced?  The Food Timeline provides a comprehensive and detailed look at such facts.  Who know that saccharin was developed in the 19th century?



The Movie Quote Quiz

Test your knowledge of quotes and phrases, some well known and others quite mysterious, from many genres of movies.  The quotes are displayed in text form and you can click on the quote for sound clip to help jog your memory.



100 things we didn't know this time last year

A collection of 100 odd facts from 2005.



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