July 2002 Newsletter


Quotable Quotes

Software Development Process

Software Testing & Quality


Career Development/Miscellaneous

Telecommunications Industry

Useful Utilities

Productivity Tips

Just For Fun



Quotable Quotes

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field. -Niels Bohr

...There are no rules here-we're trying to accomplish something. -Thomas A. Edison

Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm. -Winston Churchill

A use case that is not a good test case is a bad use case. -Ivar Jacobson, founder of UML

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools talk because they have to say something. -Plato

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Given any rule, however "fundamental" or "necessary" for science, there are always circumstances when it is advisable not only to ignore the rule, but to adopt its opposite. -Paul Feyerabend


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Software Development Process

Article: Measuring the Business Value of IT: Failure Analyses

This article looks at how reviewing and assessing a failed IT project can help prevent similar mistakes in the future and how it can help re-establish the IT group's credibility.


Article: How to Write Unmaintainable Code

A tongue-in-cheek article about techniques that make it difficult for others to understand (and therefore, update or correct) code. Of course, the purpose is to get you to avoid these pitfalls. The article is oriented toward Java, but it is applicable to most any high-level language.


Article: Take Control of Your Projects Before They Control You

The author looks at the key elements of any project: features, time, and resources. He discusses the relationships between them and how to leverage these relationships to keep a project on track.


Editorial: Minding Your Business

In this opinion, the author makes a strong case for IT taking a leadership role in driving business changes in terms of process and systems. (You have to get past some political rambling at the beginning of the piece, but the meat is there.)


Interview: Extreme Programming vs. Interaction Design

Kent Beck, the founder of Extreme Programming, and Alan Cooper, designer of Visual Basic and Interaction Design, face off to discuss the pros and cons of their two design methodologies.



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Software Testing & Quality

Article: Nonfunctional Requirements as a Driving Force of Software Development

Non-functional (sometimes called "quality") requirements are a key to the success of any development project. It is not simply enough for an application to carry out the tasks intend, but it must also do so in a reasonable amount of time and be robust. This article looks at how solid nonfunctional requirements can boost the overall quality of the system.


Book Excerpt: Why Quality Pays

Two excerpts from the new book Winning With Software: An Executive Strategy by Watts Humphrey, the originator of the SEI capability maturity model (CMM). The basic premise of the book (and article) is that businesses can use software quality as a driver for making development and IT projects a competitive advantage. He also talks about common reasons for failure of IT projects.



Article: Qualities of a Good Tester -- A Baker's Dozen

Noted software testing and QA consultant Boris Beizer lists thirteen qualities that he believes are necessary for a successful software tester. Some are obvious and some are more esoteric (and controversial).



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Tutorial: The Windows Registry

This article provides a good overview of the Windows registry, which is where Windows and most applications store their non-persistent settings, and how it works. It foregoes the technical details, but provides a good background for reviewing other more technical resources.


Site: Regular Expression Library

This site features over 100 (and counting) regular expressions for performing various tasks, such as validating and e-mail address, finding repeated words, etc. In addition, it's a great reference for learning regular expressions.


Reference: The Java Platform

This book excerpt from Java in a Nutshell, 4th Edition provides a good overview of the packages (class libraries) available in Java. Some salient examples of the functionality available in the primary packages, such as for string and numeric formatting, are also provided.


Tutorial: SQL JOINs make it easy to find and fix missing data

Article provides excellent explanations of the purpose and syntax of INNER, LEFT, and RIGHT joins. Good examples show how and when to use these types of joins.


Site: 1001tutorials

This site is an well-organized, easy-to-navigate index of hundreds of online tutorials on IT topics ranging from programming to operating systems to scripting.



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Career Development/Miscellaneous

Opinion: Think You Can Bobsled? Ha!

The author proposes that many managers are not much more than talk when it comes to "winning" in business using teams. He proposes the following concepts: Teams have stars, winners don't carry losers, and the 98th percentile isn't good enough.


Article: Have you crossed the border from useful candor into pointless whining?

Raising issues is a fundamental task of any IT professional. However, how you go about presenting problems is key to the success of getting the message across.


Review: Understand Your Employees Better

This article reviews the groundbreaking DeMarco & Lister book Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams about how to get the best productivity out of people on IT projects. The review itself contains some of the significant highlights from the book.



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Telecommunications Industry

Article: Cable will rule broadband, report says

A report by The Yankee Group consulting firm says that DSL will lag behind cable service providers in providing broadband service to home and small business users.


Report: Telecom's New Shape

A special report from Business Week magazine on the future of the telecom industry. Includes many articles about the failures and consolidations in the industry and the outlook.



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Useful Utilities

Wfetch (Free -- Windows 9x/NT/2000 -- 123kB)

Troubleshooting a problem with a web page or a connection to a web server is daunting task. This little utility from Microsoft can help. It allows you to send to and retrieve from a web server just like a browser would, but you can see the entire "conversation". Supports all common actions to send a web server and various protocol types, including HTTP and HTTPS, and the reporting tool is excellent.


Advanced Explorer (Free -- Windows 9x/NT/2000 -- 350kB)

Advanced Explorer (AE) is a 100% Java dual-pane file manager for the Windows platform. In addition to it's lean footprint, it has many great features such as a built-in file viewer (supports GIF, JPEG, and other graphics formats) and a text editor.


Registry Explorer (Free -- Windows 9x/NT/2000 -- 1.36MB)

There are many (probably dozens) of free RegEdit enhancements and replacements available. But why bother with an extra application when you can browse and edit the Windows registry in the familiar Windows Explorer interface? Registry Explorer is a registry shell extension that integrates directly into Windows Explorer and allows you to navigate and edit the registry (add and remove keys, modify values, etc.) via an Explorer window. Just give it a try to see the convenience and efficiency.


The Open CD Project (Free -- Windows 9x/NT/2000 -- N/A)

This is not a single utility, but an ambitious effort to create a single CD that contains a variety of productivity tools that are all free under the GNU Public License. The base set has already been established and site includes links to download all of the tools, most of which have Windows versions. You can also participate in reviewing these applications.



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Productivity Tips

Create Internet Explorer Favorites that open in a new window

You may have some Internet Explorer Favorites, especially on the Links bar, that you'd prefer to open in a new window instead of the current window when you select them. To do so, you can change the Favorite into a "bookmarklet" which will will do this. To make the change, select Favorites | Organize Favorites... from the IE main menu. In the Organize Favorites window, select the desired Favorite and right-click and select Properties from the context menu. In the Properties window, change the URL in the Web Document tab to the format: javascript:void(window.open("FavoriteURL")) where FavoriteURL is the URL for the site. For example, to change the Favorite for the Yahoo home page, the URL would be javascript:void(window.open("http://www.yahoo.com/")). Press OK to save the changes. (IE may prompt you with the message "The protocol "javascript" does not have a registered program. Do you want to keep this target anyway?" Press Yes.) Press Close to exit the Organize Favorites window. The next time that you use this Favorite, IE will open it in a new window.

Use Notepad (or any application) to open "unknown" file types

Many file types, such as .DOC and .TXT, have associations with appropriate applications to open them when they are double clicked. However, you can also set up Windows to allow you open "unknown" (unassociated) file types as well.

  1. Open the Registry Editor (Start à Run à regedit).
  2. Navigate to the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Unknown\shell key in the registry.
  3. Select New | Key from the main menu in the Registry Editor to create a new key named open.
  4. Create a sub-key under the new open key named command.
  5. Open the new command sub-key and double click the (Default) string value to edit it. In the Edit String window, enter notepad.exe "%1". (You can specify any application, such as your favorite text editor, instead of notepad.exe. Make sure that you include the full path to the desired application, if it isn't in the PATH on your system.)
  6. Close the Registry Editor to save your changes.

The next time that you double click an "unknown" file, it will open with Notepad (or whatever application your specified). Note: You can still open any file (associated or unassociated) with any available application by holding down the <Shift> key while right clicking on the file and selecting Open With... from the context menu.

The easy way to change MS Excel cell reference type in formulas

MS Excel provides both relative (e.g., "B3") and absolute cell references (e.g., "$B$3") in formulas. When entering or modifying a formula, if you click on a cell (or range or cells), Excel adds these cells to the formula. To change the type of reference, press <F4> while the cell is highlighted. Excel will cycle through all reference types: relative (B3), absolute ($B$3), fixed row (B$3), and fixed column ($B3).

Quickly view calendar for multiple days in MS Outlook

The typical calendar view in MS Outlook shows your schedule for one day. To quickly see you schedule for a couple of days, or even the whole week, press <Alt>+number where number is desired number of days (using the number keys on the main keyboard not the numeric keypad). Outlook will display the currently selected day plus the next "number - 1" days. To get back to the single day view, simply press <Alt>+1 (of course!). (Pressing <Alt>+0 will show ten days.)

Time-saving way to increase or decrease font size in MS Word

In MS Word, the typical way to increase or decrease the font size is to select the desired text and use the font size dropdown in the Formatting toolbar. You can save the strain on your wrist by selecting the text and then pressing <Ctrl>+> (<Ctrl>+<Shift>+.) or <Ctrl>+< (<Ctrl>+<Shift>+,) to increase or decrease the font size, respectively. Each press will increase or decrease the font size to the next size specified in the dropdown list.

Improve file system performance on NTFS partitions

If you use the NTFS file system (on Windows NT or 2000), you can improve the file system performance by disabling support for the old FAT 8.3-format filenames. When this option is enabled, the operating system stores both the long filename AND the 8.3-format filename. This causes additional overhead for the file system. To disable the 8.3-format filenames:

  1. Launch the registry editor. (Run regedit from the Run dialog.)
  2. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem key in the registry.
  3. Select the NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation value and choose Edit | Modify from the menu to edit it.
  4. In the Edit DWORD Value window, change the value to 1 and press OK.
  5. Exit the registry editor and restart the computer for the change to take effect.


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Just For Fun

Smart Bee

If you've ever used Unix much, you remember the "cookie" (short for "fortune cookie") command that would display some pithy saying or humorous quote. Smart Bee does the same thing for your Windows PC. And it includes 111111 items in the default cookie file. You can set it up to run automatically at Windows startup to start each day with some wit or wisdom.


Chronicle of the Future

A tongue-in-cheek look at possible future headlines and news. Most of the "stories" focus on technology "what if".


The Origin of OK

No, this is not a synopsis history of Oklahoma, but rather the history of the most common and versatile of phrases: OK. Includes links to related resources and famous "OK" statements.



This satire site pokes fun at the world of big business, especially the e-business sector, and the silliness that abounds. The tongue-in-cheek tenor of the site will have you rolling.



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