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January 2006 Newsletter


Quotable Quotes


The height of your accomplishments will equal the depth of your convictions.   –William F. Scolavino


Thoughts are things; they have tremendous power. Thoughts of doubt and fear are pathways to failure. When you conquer negative attitudes of doubt and fear you conquer failure. Thoughts crystallize into habit and habit solidifies into circumstances.  –Bryan Adams


To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.  Anatole France


Accept the challenges, so you may feel the exhilaration of victory.  –George S. Patton


Extreme justice is extreme injustice.  –Marcus Tullius Cicero


The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.  Franklin D. Roosevelt


Experience is the name that everyone gives to their mistakes.  –Oscar Wilde


Now, in reality, the world have paid too great a compliment to critics, and have imagined them to be men of much greater profundity then they really are.  –Henry Fielding


Intolerance of ambiguity is the mark of an authoritarian personality.  –Theodor Adorno


An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.  –H.L. Mencken


Character is much easier kept than recovered.  –Thomas Paine


For the correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.  –Plutarch


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Software Development Process

Article:  2005:  The Year in IT Quotes

A look at 2005 with some humorous and telling quotes from the big names in the IT and technology world.



Editorial:  IT Heroes

While fighting fires in IT is exhilarating and glamorous, there is certainly something to say for the heroics of rock-steady IT, especially in the view of business customers.



Article:  Five Lessons You Should Learn from Extreme Programming

Even if you don't use (or plan to use) agile development techniques on a large-scale basis, this article provides five simple tools from Extreme Programming that are well suited to adaptation to other processes:  code for maintainability, know your status, communicate early and often, do things that matter, and fix your most important problem first.



Article:  The top 4 things project managers do to reduce software quality

This article presents four common, and usually well meaning, things that project managers due to the detriment of the quality of the system:  time boxing, false dates, pretending nothing is wrong, and ignoring dependencies.  Be sure to check out the discussion thread for some additional insights.



Article:  Coding Guidelines:  Fact and Fiction

This article looks at how following coding guidelines improves code quality and maintainability.



Article:  Embedded IT

In an effort to improve relationships and alignment between business units and IT, some companies are using so-called business relationship managers, liaisons from IT tasked with keeping the lines of communication with business units open.



Article:  IT: Transforming Business, Part I

This article by the CIO of Intel discusses five principles for making IT into a business asset:  Run IT like a business; measure and manage IT value with a consistent and repeatable methodology; move toward continuous process optimization and IT modernization; measure and manage overall IT capability; and characterize the costs and risks of not moving forward.



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Software Testing & Quality

Article:  The Role of Testers in the Agile Methods

This article examines the key, but quite different from traditional development methodologies, role that software testers have in agile methodologies, including requirements review/verification and training developers on testing.



Site:  Collaborative Software Testing

This site/blog has some excellent articles on software testing, with a strong focus on how developers and testers can effectively work together using many concepts from agile development methodologies.



Interview:  Robert Galen, author of Software Endgames

In this interview, Robert Galen talks about his concept of how to wrap up software projects, which he calls the “endgame” from the release to external testing to deployment.  Good information about how manage last-minute change.



Article:  Release Criteria:  Is This Software Done?

One of the most difficult assessments to make in software development is whether or not an application is reading to ship/deploy.  This article presents a practical approach to creating release criteria that all stakeholders can agree upon.



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Site:  Strategic Board on the IT World

This site is a search engine and aggregator for RSS feeds from over 12,000 sources of IT industry news.



Article:  Easily automate Microsoft Outlook via .NET

This article uses simple C# and VB.NET examples to show how to use the MS Outlook object model as part of a .NET application.



Tutorial:  SOAP Tutorial

This is a comprehensive introductory lesson on SOAP (simple object access protocol), which is the foundation of many web applications.



Article:  Information Extraction: Distilling Structured Data from Unstructured Text

Much of the world's information is locked in unstructured, natural language text.  This article examines some techniques for extracting this information and put it into a structured format that can be efficiently searched.



Tutorial:  IPv6 Addressing

This excerpt from an excellent and comprehensive new book on TCP/IP gives an excellent overview of how IPv6 addressing works and how it differs from the traditional IPv4 schemes.



Article:  Java?  It's So Nineties

This Business Week article examines whether Java is losing some of its shine and popularity due to upstart tools, such as LAMP and .NET.  This same question is posed in a recent article in SD Times about AJAX starting to overtake Java for web-based applications.



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Career Development/Miscellaneous

Article:  Drawing a bead on leadership

In this brief article, the author provides some keen insights on the difference between managing and leadership and why leadership is key to success.



Quiz:  Premier 100 Leadership Quiz

In conjunction with their annual report on top IT leaders, Computer World presents this quiz to assess whether or not you are doing what it takes to demonstrate and sharpen your leadership capabilities, effectiveness and contributions.



Site:  Goal Setting

Setting good goals is the first step toward achieving them.  This site provides some excellent resources for how to set goals for both work and personal life.



Article:  The Five Causes of Employee Negativity

This article discusses major causes of employee negativity, even in the most employee-friendly environments.  It also lists some approaches that employers can use to counteract negativity.



Article:  Cracking da Vinci's coded smile

For centuries, art critics, historians and fans have tried to explain the demeanor of Mona Lisa's smile.  Now, a researcher using computer vision software has concluded that her smile indicates 83% happy, 9% disgusted, 6% fearful and 2% angry.  Wow!  Now, if we can just apply this to our bosses and friends!  :)



Article:  Recalling the Homebrew Computer Club

The group that essentially started the whole personal computer revolution 30 years ago looks back and toward the future.



Article:  German IT outfit bans whining

A German IT company has made cheerfulness a contractual obligation for employees.  However, the picture of the CEO doesn't make him look like the happiest chap.



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Telecommunications/Networking Industry

Article:  Carriers Confront OSS Challenges




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Useful Utilities

Excel Calendars for 2006 (Free – Windows 2000/XP and Excel 2000 or later – Varies)

The Microsoft Office template library provides a variety of Excel-based calendars for 2006.  There are yearly calendars in both portrait and landscape orientations, as well as monthly calendars, as well.



VMware Player (Free – Windows 2000/XP – 29MB)

The VMware Player is a companion to the standard VMware Workstation product.  The main difference is that VMware Player can only use VMs, but not create or change them.  There are a number of "pre-built"VMs provided by VMware and third-parties.  These VMs are useful for trying out Linux, including full networking capability, on your Windows machine.



GalaXQL (Free – Windows 2000/XP – 3.8MB)

GalaXQL is an interactive SQL tutorial based on the SQLite embedded database engine.  The "teacher" can understand several possible mistakes that you may make, and gives hints on what may have gone wrong.  And you can interact directly with the database via the application.  The tutorial is comprehensive covering basic querying, updating/inserting data, and some simple database administration tasks.



PC Inspector File Recovery (Free – Windows 2000/XP – 1.5MB)

File Recovery allows you to restore files that have been deleted from FAT12/16/32 and NTFS partitions on your hard drive.  It will even recover the file if the header information is no longer available.  Has special recovery functions for common file formats, such as DOC, XLS, and ZIP.



Disk Idle Optimizer (Free – Windows XP SP2 – 790kB)

Disk Idle Optimizer uses the built-in disk defragmenter tool in Windows XP and waits for your system to become idle and then automatically runs the defragmenter.  When you start using the system again, it stops the defragmenter.



Portable Apps Suite (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP – 117MB)

This package of free and open source applications is configured to run from a 256MB USB drive and includes versions of OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Filezilla, NVU, Gaim, and more.  A light version for 128MB USB drives, which does not include OpenOffice, is also available.



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Productivity Tips

Improve Keyword Search in Firefox

In Firefox browser, you can execute a search directly by typing in keywords in the address bar (where you normally put the site address).  However, by default, this immediately goes to the first search result returned by Google.  Here's how to make Firefox simply do a regular Google search:

(1)      Enter about:config in the Firefox address bar to display the configuration parameters.

(2)      Look for Preference item named keyword.URL (or use the Filter function to find it).

(3)      Double click on keyword.URL and enter http://www.google.com/search?btnG=Google+Search&q= in the Enter string value window.  Press OK.  (This will change the Status to user set.)

Now just enter your desired keywords in the address bar and press <Enter> to do a quick search.  If you prefer a different such engine, such as Yahoo!, simply replace the keyword.URL value with the desired string (e.g., http://search.yahoo.com/search?p= for Yahoo!).


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Just For Fun

Grid Game

This interesting and addicting Flash-based game involves trying to create the longest connected path through a maze.  Easy to learn, but tough to solve and quite addicting.



Games for the Brain

This nice, simple site offers 25 engaging, Flash-based online games.  The games include some old classics, such as Mastermind, Checkers, Chinese Checkers, and more, plus some unique games.




OfficePoltergeist is a little computer prank application that you can install on someone else's computer and then control it remotely to open/close CD-ROM drive, play funny sounds, send text to the keyboard, display a message, and more.



Woogle:  Words in Pictures

Woogle is a fun application built on top of Google.  You enter a set of words or a phrase and Woogle uses images from a Google search to build a collage of pictures.




Need a new slogan for your company or organization?  Just visit Sloganizer and put in the group name and generate dozens of possible slogans!



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