Systems Integrity Bulletin
IT Enterprise Applications
Systems Integrity Group
"There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. The first method is far more difficult." --C.A.R. Hoare, author (with Dijkstra and Dahl) of Structured Programming (1972).
Software Development Process
Article: An Early Start to Testing: How to Test Requirements
We accept that testing the software is an integral part of building a system. However, if the software is based on inaccurate requirements, then despite well written code, the software will be unsatisfactory. The newspapers are full of stories about catastrophic software failures. What the stories don't say is that most of the defects can be traced back to wrong, missing, vague or incomplete requirements. We have learnt the lesson of testing software. Now we have to learn to implement a system of testing the requirements before building a software solution.
Article: Developing an effective IT project proposal
It's important to understand the key drivers for the project you are proposing. If you have a good handle on your strategic stakeholders (the ones who hold the purse strings), then the next task is to find out what is important to them. There are three key drivers for any project that can be summed up in the fundamental project equation:
Cost= f (Q,T,S)
This equation basically indicates that the Cost of a project is a function of the Quality of the result, the Time allotted to complete the project, and the Scope of the project.
Article: Revising the rules of project management to match Internet time
If you're touting your projects and applications as bleeding-edge, then why are your project management techniques so antiquated? For e-business projects to succeed—and for businesses to be able to transform themselves through IT projects—it's important for businesses to use new project-management practices that account for Internet time and other pressures from the new economy, according to Gartner analyst Matt Light.
Article: Principles and Patterns
Software Testing & Quality
Presentation: Risk-Based Testing
This talk presents a summary of what risk-based testing is about. It introduces risk as the new language of testing and discusses the four big questions of testing: How much testing is enough? When should we stop testing? When is the product good enough? How good is our testing? Metrics (or at least counting bugs) doesn't give us the answer. The risk-based approach to testing can perhaps help us answer these questions, but it demands that we look at testing from a different point of view. A polemic.
Tip: Conserve space by saving screen shots in JPEG or GIF format
A big part of testing involves documenting errors. And the old saying "a picture paints a thousand words" is really true in testing. In the testing realm, "picture" means "screen shot" of the application under test. To conserve space (and network bandwidth), save your screen shots as JPEG or GIF format which are compressed. You don't need a fancy graphics package to do this. The lowly old MS Paint application can save images in these formats. Simply choose the appropriate format in the Save As window. If the version of MS Paint that you have doesn't have JPEG and GIF support, download the latest versions from the Microsoft web site:
Or (by far the best alternative) use, the excellent PrintKey 2000 freeware screen capture utility: http://newlife-win98.server101.com/printkey_info.htm.
Article: Plan Your Testing
There’s a familiar sequence of events behind this all-too-common scenario: The project manager defines programming tasks, estimates the duration and effort needed to perform the tasks, and schedules them on the project plan. Then, he or she schedules a similar amount of time for testing the programs, with testing scheduled just before the scheduled delivery date. Then, reality strikes. Coding takes longer than expected, and testing gets pushed back. You also must squeeze in additional time to test the unplanned coding. The delivery date remains the same, however, and customers are left to find the problems that testing should have found.
Reference: FOLDOC (Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing)
Reference: Relational Databases
We use them everyday, but when it gets down to brass tacks, it's sometimes hard to come up with a consistent, yet simple definition of what a relational database actually is. This article gives a nice, non-technical explanation.
(For a complete list of Codd's 12 Rules, see http://newton.uor.edu/FacultyFolder/CKettemborough/Codd12R.html.)
Reference: vi Editor "Cheat Sheets"
This is a very well organized and comprehensive "quick reference" sheets for the Unix vi editor. Learning vi can be a daunting task. (I learned it in college over 15 years ago and still can't remember how to do most things!) This reference makes using this classic editor quite a bit less painful.
We often hear about EBITDA as it relates to WCG financial performance and the always-important bonus allocations. But what is it really and how is it used by a company and financial analysts? Find out here.
Service: Cancellations.com (free)
Winter is not over yet for a couple of months and we may yet see more snow. This is a new free service from Accuweather that allows organizations to publicize cancellations. You just enter your ZIP code and the radius around your place and gives you a list of posted cancellations. Of course it depends on someone posting the cancellation, but it might be a good start.
Article: The Realities Of Free-Bandwidth Networks
We're constantly bombarded by pronouncements that optical networking advances will eventually make bandwidth “free.” Like anyone who hears the word “free,” I immediately think it means “at no cost to me,” but as an industry analyst I also realize it's hard to build a worldwide industry by giving away bandwidth. Optical advances will change network equipment and planning, service provider offerings, and what we buy for our networks-but in ways more complicated than “free bandwidth” suggests.
Article: The all-optical network remains a long way from the real world
The term "all-optical network" is getting tossed around these days with more frequency than an unwanted holiday fruitcake. It's almost impossible to plow through marketing literature from carriers and equipment providers without encountering boasts of all-optical breakthroughs or deployments of all-optical networks. [WCG's relationship with Corvis is mentioned.]
Article: AT&T Lights Up High-Speed IP Backbone
In a move analysts said other telecommunications firms will likely follow, AT&T Corp. announced last week that it has turned on its OC-192 coast-to-coast IP backbone. The high-speed link is used to pump data for AT&T customers at 10G bit/sec. along optical fiber that runs from Massachusetts to California.
Article: I Want My Next-Generation Internet!
Almost exactly four years ago, the U.S. government set out an ambitious plan for something called the "next-generation Internet." As originally defined, the NGI initiative had three major goals: Connect at least 100 universities and national labs at speeds 100 times faster than the 1996 Internet, and a smaller number of institutions at speeds 1,000 times faster.
OpenExpert (Free – Windows 9x/NT – 537kB)
OpenExpert is a shell extension that adds an "Open With" option to the context (right-click) menu for any specified file type. It allows you to define multiple application "associations" for a desired file type/extension. For example, you can associate HTML files with both your browser and your favorite text editor.
Toolbar (Free – Windows 9x/NT – 403kB)
Toolbar is one of the handiest little applications around. It takes a little getting used to, and some configuration, but it's a really ingenious utility. It provides a floating toolbar that can be used with any application. All it does, essentially, is send keystrokes to the currently active window. You create configuration files (see the README.TXT file in the archive for details and the included samples) and then launch the application. When you press the desired buttons, the associated text/keystrokes are sent to the application window.
Use Web toolbar in MS Word and Excel to improve efficiency
The Web toolbar (View | Toolbars à Web) in MS Word and Excel can help speed your work even when you're not working on a web page. Of particular interest is the Address field on the toolbar. You can enter a directory name in the Address bar to quickly open that directory to retrieve a document. Also, you can select the full UNC path name to the current file to paste it into another document, spreadsheet, or an e-mail as a hyperlink reference. Finally, you can easily add a document to your Favorites list to provide quick access to it from your browser. Use the Web toolbar button () on the Standard toolbar to quickly hide or show the toolbar.
Fix problems with MS Outlook yourself
We really become dependent on Outlook to help us manage our time, work, and activities. So when something goes wrong with Outlook, it's imperative to try to get it working again as soon as possible. Here are a few tips for "resurrecting" Outlook when it goes south.
If you have problems with your calendar, and especially appointment/meeting notifications, close Outlook, open the Run dialog (Start | Run) and enter the following command line (including quotes):
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Outlook.exe" /CleanReminders
If Outlook hangs on startup, use the following command line in the Run dialog:
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Outlook.exe" /Safe
This launches Outlook in the most basic mode possible. If it launches in the list mode, but not normally, then one of your customizations (Views, etc.) may be causing problems.
For more information on all of Outlook 98's command-line switches, see http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q182/1/12.ASP.
Quickly select an entire table in MS Word
In many instances, you may want to apply formatting to an entire table. Instead of choosing Table | Select Table from the menu, use this shortcut: Hold down the <Alt> key and double-click anywhere in the table. To select only a single column, hold down <Alt> and single-click on the text in any cell in the desired column.
Use the mouse scroll wheel to zoom in/out in MS Word and Excel
In MS Word and Excel, you can zoom in or out quickly by holding down the <Ctrl> key and using the mouse scroll wheel: forward to zoom in and back to zoom out. In Word, the default zoom amount is 10% and in Excel it is 15%.
Create an MS Word toolbar for frequently used fonts
Most people only use a handful of fonts in their day-to-day work in MS Word. You can create a toolbar, as follows, to put those frequently used fonts in close reach without scrolling through the entire list of installed fonts.
Select View | Toolbars à Customize… from the main Word menu. In the Customize window, choose the Toolbars tab and press New… Enter the desired name for the new toolbar (e.g., "Quick Fonts") and choose the Normal.dot document template. Press OK. Select the Commands tab in Customize dialog and choose Fonts from the Categories list. In the Commands list, choose the desired font names from the list and drag them to the new toolbar. Press Close to save your new toolbar.
Extend the life of the Internet Explorer Links toolbar
The Internet Explorer (IE) Links toolbar is handy for quick access to frequently used sites or servers. However, one often quickly runs out of room on the Links toolbar. However, you can add folders to the Links toolbar for various categories of "quick links" which result in dropdown lists on the Links toolbar. Here's how:
Open Internet Explorer. Select Favorites | Organize Favorites… from the main menu. In the Organize Favorites window, click on the Links folder to open it. Press Create Folder to add a new folder to the Links folder/menu. Enter the desired name for the new folder and press <Enter>. Drag the desired favorites onto the new folder name to move them into that folder. Press Close when you are finished.
To add a new page to the new Links folder, simply drag the URL from the Address field onto the folder name on the Links toolbar.
Just For Fun
Humor: Life Before the Computer
Now for some totally non-digital humor, this little "poem" waxes nostalgic for those days before the computer was the center of attention.
An application was for employment
A program was a TV show
A cursor used profanity
A keyboard was a piano!
Memory was something that you lost with age
A CD was a bank account
Compress was something you did to garbage
Not something you did to a file
Log on was adding wood to a fire
Hard drive was a long trip on the road
A mouse pad was where a mouse lived
And a backup happened to your commode!
Cut - you did with a pocketknife
Paste you did with glue
A web was a spider's home
And a virus was the flu!
I guess I'll stick to my pad and paper
And the memory in my head
I hear nobody's been killed in a computer crash
But when it happens they wish they were dead!
Motivation: Positive Quote of the Day
Tidbit: What was the most popular search engine query term for 2000?