July 2003 Newsletter

Quotable Quotes


The path of least resistance is what makes rivers run crooked.  –Elbert Hubbard


Many persons have the wrong idea about what constitutes true happiness.  It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy cause.  –Helen Keller


Look at the weaknesses of others with compassion, not accusation. It's not what they're not doing or should be doing that's the issue. The issue is your own chosen response to the situation and what you should be doing. If you start to think the problem is "out there," stop yourself. That thought is the problem.  –Stephen Covey


Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.  –Thomas A. Edison


My father once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit.  He told me to try to be in the first group.  There is much less competition there.  –Indira Gandhi


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Software Development Process

Article:  A closer look at making a business case for project management

This article discusses items that are of interest to senior management and business sponsors when attempting to develop a project management methodology and/or PM office.



Article:  Creative Pressure

A review of how IT system customers are asking for, and getting, vendors to share the risks of implementing new systems.  Covers some creative solutions to paying for the entire system up front.



Article:  So You Want to be a Requirements Analyst?

Karl Weigers discusses the key skills of requirements analysts and the important role that they plan in bridging gaps in understanding between customers/users and the development team.



Article:  Language Once Was Key—Now It's Design

Discussion with Grady Booch about why good design is the most important aspect of software development.



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Software Testing & Quality

Article:  If Software Quality is a Perception, How do we Measure It?

This article examines some of the problems involved with quantitatively measuring the quality of a software system.  In addition, it covers some of the important attributes of a system to consider when assessing its quality, particularly how to use subjective measures of quality effectively.



Interview:  Cem Kaner

Two-part interview from Rational’s journal with Cem Kaner.  Kaner talks about his new book, Lessons Learned, and how to educate and train testers.




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Article:  Getting More From Google

The Google search engine is a powerful tool for all sorts of research.  This article provides a few tips that can help you use it more effectively, by narrowing your search to just the results that are relevant.



Article:  Don't be overwhelmed when implementing pointers to member functions

Pointers to member functions in C++ are one of the most difficult concepts to grasp.  However, understanding them is required to use callback functions.  This article helps demystify some of the intricacies with some tricks to understand the syntax.



Site:  Earthamap

Sometimes you just need a simple map of a certain locality.  This site (sponsored by DeLorme) provides nice maps without a lot of advertising and needless extras, like the nearest pizza place.



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Career Development/Miscellaneous

Survey:  Computerworld 100 Best Places to Work in IT

Computerworld’s annual survey of the companies that IT worker’s like best.



Article:  IT feels the squeeze

Annual salary survey by Infoworld.  Article covers the slump in the IT job market and salary picture.



Article:  It's Not a Job Interview, It's a Subculture!

Interview with the author’s of a book on programming job interviews about strategies to handle the esoterica and minutiae that often accompany them.  The article includes some helpful tactical hints to prepare for such interviews.



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Useful Utilities

Count Characters (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 100kB)

In many cases, it is useful to be able to capture text from windows, such as an error message dialog or a window control label.  Count Characters does just that and more.  In addition to capturing the text, it also provides a count of characters in the captured text and can “reveal” masked passwords from some edit boxes.  Count Characters captures the text the Windows clipboard, so that you can paste it wherever you desire.



Console (Free – Windows NT/2000 – 96kB)

Console is a free console (Command Prompt) replacement for Windows.  It features configurable font type, size, and color and the ability to specify a background image and window transparency.  The download includes a number of fonts that can be used with the application.



RdocEx (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 88kB)

RdocEx is a shell extension that adds programs that you run to the Recent Documents menu.  For example, if you launch a Command Prompt from the Run dialog, this extension will add cmd.exe to the Recent Documents menu, so you can quickly launch it again.



InstallWatch Pro (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 3.8MB)

InstallWatch Pro is a utility designed to record all changes made to your Windows system when applications are installed.  This utility is well-suited to testers responsible for testing application installs or anyone who needs detailed information about changes made by an installer.  It is also useful for reversing changes made when an application fails to uninstall completely/correctly.



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Productivity Tips

Use keyboard shortcuts to change line spacing in MS Word

Using the Format | Paragraph… menu option to change the line spacing in MS Word is often time-consuming and distracting.  Word has some simple keyboard shortcuts to change the line spacing quickly:

Shortcut            Change line spacing to…

<Ctrl>+1            Single space (default)

<Ctrl>+2            Double space

<Ctrl>+5            1.5 lines

Simply select the text that you wish to change the line space on and use the shortcut to apply it.


Add “Last modified” date to header or footer in MS Excel

In MS Word, the last saved date can be put into the header or footer of document by using a built-in field.  Unfortunately, MS Excel doesn’t have such a function.  You can work around this limitation in Excel by using a macro which runs each time you save your workbook.  To do this, open the desired Excel workbook.  Choose Tools | Macro | Visual Basic Editor from the main menu (or press <Alt>+<F11>).  In the VBA Project window, open the Microsoft Excel Objects folder and double-click on ThisWorkbook.  Add the following lines in the ThisWorkbook (Code) window:

Private Sub Workbook_BeforeSave(ByVal SaveAsUI As Boolean, Cancel As Boolean)

    ActiveSheet.PageSetup.RightFooter = "Last modified:  " & Date

End Sub

Replace RightFooter with LeftHeader, CenterHeader, RightHeader, LeftFooter, or CenterFooter as appropriate, to specified the desired location.  Close the Visual Basic Editor.  Now each time you save your workbook, Excel will update the “Last modified” date.  (Note:  This macro overwrites the existing contents defined in the specified header or footer location, if already specified in the Page Setup settings for headers and footers.)


Prevent Windows NT/2000/XP from swapping kernel and system files from RAM to disk to improve performance

By default, Windows NT/2000/XP is permitted to swap the kernel and system files, collectively known as the “executive” from memory to the page file on disk.  Due to the latency of disk compared to RAM, this can slow down your system considerably.  To improve performance, you can disable swapping by a quick registry edit.  Open the Registry Editor (Start | Run à regedit).  Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management branch of the registry.  Change the value of DisablePagingExecutive to 1.  (The default value of 0 tells Windows that it can swap to disk.)  You must reboot your system for this change to take effect.  [Note:  This change is recommended only for systems with at least 256MB of RAM.  512MB of RAM is recommended.]


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Just For Fun

Desktop Shooter

Desktop Shooter is a little stress reliever that allows you to put bulletholes in the Windows desktop to “destroy” annoying spam or programs that crash.  It’s all just for fun!



Google Fight

Google Fight “pits” two search terms against each other.  Basically, it compares the number of results from a Google search to determine the “winner”.  Check out the “Classic” section.



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