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January 2005 Newsletter


Quotable Quotes


The things we fear most in organizations—fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances—are the primary sources of creativity.  –Margaret J. Wheatley


Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.  –Abraham Lincoln


Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.  Eric S. Raymond


If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.  –Laurence J. Peter


See first that the design is wise and just; that ascertained, pursue it resolutely.  –William Shakespeare


One of the basic causes for all the trouble in the world today is that people talk too much and think too little.  –Margaret Chase Smith


Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure...than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.  –Theodore Roosevelt


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Software Development Process

Article:  Looking for Creative IT Leaders

The literature shows a dearth of examples of creativity in IT leadership.  This article discusses why creativity is an imperative for IT leaders of the future and reviews a new book called The Rise of the Creative Class.



Article:  Requirements Review

This article emphasizes having as much participation in the requirements process and conducting a thorough requirements review with all stakeholders before approving them.  Requirements should be reviewed for clarity, feasibility, testability, completeness, and non-functional requirements.



Article:  The New Year's project management DON'T DO list

Many people make "new year's resolutions".  This succinct list for project managers is good advice for any member of a project team.



Article:  A Primer for Aspect-Oriented Programming in Java

Aspect-oriented programming (AOP) is a supplementary technique to the (now) more traditional object-oriented programming (OOP).  This article examines the differences between AOP and OOP and some of the advantages and pitfalls of AOP with an emphasis on Java.



Article:  Getting to Done

A practical case is made for defining project completion as when all stakeholders' concerns have been addressed and agree that the project is done.  Some tips on reaching this consensus are provided.



Report:  The Future of Software

This report includes a number of articles about future trends in software development, including outsourcing, new technologies, the Linux vs. Microsoft battle, and more.



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Software Testing & Quality

Tool:  Quest for Test

Quest for Test is an interactive fiction game (similar to the old Infocom games like Zork) which is designed to teach software testing concepts in a fun and effective manner.



White Paper:  The business value of software quality

This white paper (presented by IBM's Rational division) discusses how quality should be defined and measured and the value that a software quality program can provide to the overall business.



Article:  What Is a Good Test Case?

Developing good test cases for an application under test is the most important aspect of a tester's job.  This article discusses what constitutes a good test case and the skills/techniques necessary to prepare them.



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Reference:  Linktionary

Linktionary is a supplement, including updates, to the Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications, which provides up-to-date definitions of lots of networking and telecom terms, plus links to additional information and related topics.



Text:  The Art of Unix Programming

While this online book (print copy available too) contains some technical information, it is mostly a treatise on the philosophical aspects of Unix programming, primarily by using case studies of particular applications.  It is somewhat of competitor to the "extreme" and "agile" programming philosophies.  Very insightful reading.



Presentation:  RUP for Dummies

This presentation gives a good, high-level overview of RUP (Rational Unified Process).  In particular, it gives good explanations of the RUP terminology, including the "phases" and "disciplines".



Article:  Basic vi Skills

This comprehensive article gives an excellent introduction to both the basic and more advanced features of the vi editor, which is ubiquitous in the Linux/Unix world.



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Career Development/Miscellaneous

Article:  Biz & IT Liaison a Hot, and Safe, Career Choice

Workers who are adept at helping to translate business needs and requirements into IT systems language and vice versa will be the most successful in the future.



Article:  Revisiting the Abilene Paradox: Is Management of Agreement Still an Issue?

The Abilene Paradox, developed by management expert Jerry Harvey, deals with how in organizations people go along with the norms even though they are not in the best interest of themselves or the organization as a whole.  This article provides an overview of the Abilene Paradox and how to overcome it.



Article:  History of Linux

Linux is quickly gaining ground as the system of choice for server OSes.  This very brief article explains the background of Linux and how it came to be.



Article:  Basic Science for Software Developers

Just as traditional engineers need to understand the properties of the physical materials they work with, software developers must comprehend how the resources that make up systems and applications behave to create the most functional and reliable systems.



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Telecommunications/Networking Industry

Article:  AT&T's CIO: "IP Will Eat Everything"

AT&T CIO, Hossein Eslambolchi, discusses how all network and telecommunications technologies are converging toward IP basis.



Quiz:  History of the Internet and World Wide Web

How much do you know about the technical history of the Internet and World Wide Web?  (No, it was not invented by Al Gore.)  Take these quizzes to find out how much you know and to learn more.




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Useful Utilities

XLiveCD (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP – 337MB)

XLiveCD is CD-ROM-based version of Cygwin, which is an emulation environment that allows many Unix/Linux applications to run under Windows, that includes the basic X Windows functionality necessary to connect to remote X Windows applications, including via ssh.  XLiveCD includes ability to install the applications to the hard drive and basic command shell (bash and tcsh) functionality.



Image ShellExtension (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP – 961kB)

Image ShellExtension adds some handy features for image files (the 12 most popular formats, including GIF, JPEG, and BMP, are supported) such as conversion to other image formats, display of a thumbnail of the file in the context menu itself, and direct printing of the file.



Glass2k (Free – Windows 2000/XP – 56kB)

Glass2k is a handy window transparency utility.  Just right-click anywhere on a window to send the transparency in increments of 10%.  The utility can be configured to load on startup and remember the transparency settings for any application or window type.



Haystack (Free – Platform-independent Java – 65MB)

Haystack is an Eclipse-based Java utility that helps you organize various bits of information that are typical disparate and apparently unrelated.



SysExporter (Free – Windows 9x/2000/XP – 32kB)

SysExporter allows you to extract and export to text, HTML, or XML the contents of various Windows controls, such as list views, tree views, list boxes, and combo boxes.  Examples of applications that it works with are the Windows Registry Editor, SysInternals utilities, Windows Explorer and more.



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Productivity Tips

Show drive letters first in Windows

By default, Windows shows the drive description (e.g., "Apps on 'Enttulf207') first and then the drive letter in parentheses.  However, in narrow common dialogs (File Open or Save, for example) or Windows Explorer, this sometimes causes the drive letter to not be displayed.  Use this simple registry update to show the drive letter before the description.  Run the Registry Editor (Start | Run à regedit).  Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer key.  Add (or modify if it already exists) a DWORD value named ShowDriveLettersFirst.  Set ShowDriveLettersFirst value to 4.  Close the Registry Editor.  Restart Windows for the change to take effect.  (If you want to return to the default before, simply change ShowDriveLettersFirst to 0.)


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Just For Fun

Snowflake Factory

This Flash-based site allows you to create your own snowflakes just like you did when you were a kid, without all of the messy paper pieces.



Inside Einstein's Universe

This site celebrates the centennial year of Einstein's publication of papers about space and time attempting to explain the universe we live in.  The site includes interactive "exhibits" to help understand Einstein's theories.



Computer Rage

This site provides instructions on the "proper" techniques for taking out your frustrations and aggressions on your computer.  Lessons are supplemented with "instructional" videos to make sure you do everything right.  :)



Mmmmm, Pi!

This site displays pi to an arbitrary number of digits.  The longer that you let it load, the more digits will be displayed.  If you want all of the digits, you'll wait a good long time…  Or until you run out of memory!  <g>



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