July 2005 Newsletter
Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny. –Carl Schurz
The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been kindness, beauty, and truth. –Albert Einstein
An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men. –Thomas Fuller
Do not confuse notoriety and fame with greatness… For you see, greatness is a measure of one's spirit, not a result of one's rank in human affairs. –Sherman Finesilver
I never met anybody who said when they were a kid, "I wanna grow up and be a critic." –Richard Pryor
One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency. –Arnold Glasow
Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. –George Bernard Shaw
You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don't trust enough. –Frank H. Crane
This author suggests that without a standard way to measure the impact and effectiveness of IT projects or IT will continue to lose relevance.
This article presents details of an 8-step approach to assessing and improving the quality of enterprise data. It focuses on the business value proposition for better data integrity.
Thought that title might get your attention! J Anyway, this article is not about nudity, but rather an extension of the Supreme Court's idea that pornography can't be easily defined beyond "you know when you see it". By comparison, good software requirements are often difficult to describe except by example.
This brief list from veteran developers lists their ideas of skills that are important for successful software developers.
In 2003, Harvard professor Nicolas Carr famously posited that "IT doesn't matter". Since then, a large debate has raged on both sides. This article discusses how good spending habits on IT reap benefits for organizations.
Over the past decades, IT has actually done a good job of paving the way for more efficient operations. This author says that maybe a too good of job, which has resulted in IT becoming a forgotten entity.
IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of guidelines for best-practice IT management, developed by the British government. This brief article gives a good overview of what ITIL is and isn't.
Any successful effort to improve product or service quality depends on an understanding of the customer's expectations. This article defines some criteria that can be used as more or less objective standards in defining and measuring quality.
This article outlines the benefits and costs of using the test-driven development methodology.
A group of software application vendors have organized the Software Economics Council (SECO) to improve software quality and focus on the intrinsic value that their products provide to customers. In part, the SECO charter says "formulate and articulate opinions, research and recommendations around the availability, quality, and criticality of using, managing, maintaining and supporting software across the organization".
Reliability is a concept that is closely allied with quality. This article discusses the basic concepts of reliability engineering for software and how the concepts from hardware reliability engineering apply to software. (A longer, more detailed version of the article is available here.)
This author uses the failure of the Cassini space probe as an example of the importance of testing. He associates commitment to testing with the pride that a developer takes in his/her work.
Sometimes software quality (or lack thereof!) involves more than a little downtime or lost revenue. Sometimes it's a matter of life and death. As software moves from large business systems into every facet of technology, software quality becomes more and more important. Likewise, the liability for bad software can have a major impact on organizations. This article also provides a worksheet for calculating the cost of an error-prevention system.
This is a complete text on the Structured Query Language (database platform agnostic) that can be downloaded in PDF format. Author requires e-mail registration to download and unlock the archive.
This article introduces the use of pipes in filters in the Unix/Linux command shell. It uses very simple, but relevant examples to demonstrate the power and utility of these features.
This brief article, which includes numerous links to related pages, gives a good introduction to the concepts surrounding the semantic web.
This excerpt from O'Reilly's Windows Server Cookbook gives you an overview of how processes are structured in Windows. It gives some excellent Windows Scripting Host (WSH) script examples for how to interact with processes, such as stopping them and changing their priority.
The 2005 compensation survey by Infoworld shows that salaries are finally on the rise after many years of stagnant and falling paychecks. However, job dissatisfaction and concerns about uncertainty, particularly from outsourcing, paint a less than rosy picture.
This opinion peace looks at the concept of tacit knowledge in the technical realm and how it relates to knowing how to do something, even if you can't explain how to do it. The author examines how this ability in IT folks often causes a divide between their business customers and other non-technical people.
Americans are so compulsive about e-mail that 60% check e-mail while on vacation and some even check it while in the bathroom. The article provides some tips for dealing with e-mail addition.
Have you ever wondered why people have an innate sense of the number/quantity of things even before they are able to label or articulate them? This fascinating book excerpt explains the concept of number sense.
A long-time management coach and consultant briefly outlines his top 10 mistakes made by IT managers and offers some suggestions on how to prevent them.
Leadership and management are two very different things. This article discusses the difference and importance of both and how to use both effectively.
UnixTree is an XTree Gold-style, text-mode file manager for 32-bit Windows systems. It is very fast and flexible and maintains about 80% of the keyboard shortcuts from XTree. Versions for other systems, such as Linux and Mac OS X, are also available for seamless use across platforms.
Itty Bitty Process Manager (IBProcMan, for short) is a small utility that shows all processes running on your system, including the full path to the executable. You can kill any process from the list. Another nice feature of IBProcMan is that it can optionally show all DLLs loaded/used by a particular process.
Watcher helps you keep your Windows system "clean" and running efficiently like the day the OS was installed by taking a snapshot of the key system configuration information and then "watching" for changes. Each time a change occurs, Watcher notifies you of the change (the default is to notify you at system login). Then, Watcher gives you some options about what to do about the change.
WikidPad is a Windows text editor with a twist. Instead of each file being independent, WikidPad includes Wiki-like functionality that allows linking between documents in a simple, natural manner. The author describes WikidPad as "an IDE [integrated development environment] for your thoughts."
The E-Mail Icon Generator allows you to create a nice-looking image file of your e-mail address. This is useful to prevent e-mail harvesting utilities. Can create icons for many popular e-mail providers, including Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail.
Mailinator allows you to create on-the-fly an e-mail address when you are registering at a web site that requires a valid e-mail address and you want to avoid spam. It is not necessary to visit the Mailinator site before hand. Just make up an e-mail address with @mailinator.com suffix that you can remember and isn't likely to be used by others. Then just visit the Mailinator site and put in the address that you entered to retrieve your message, no password required.
Microsoft plans to introduce basic tabbed browser features in Internet Explorer (IE) 7. However, with this tiny background utility you can get simple tabbed browser support directly in current versions of IE. Just load the utility and run IE as usual. All IE windows will be grouped and tabbed for easy access. (For more comprehensive, integrated tabbed browser support in IE, check out Maxthon or AvantBrowser.)
At one time or another everyone (or at least your kids!) ask "Why is the sky blue?" This site provides a detailed, but non-technical explanation based on the physics behind the phenomenon. And if you still don't understand and someone asks you, just say, "Rayleigh scattering."
Totally Off The Record (TOTR) is a site where people anonymously post stories, mostly funny, but some profound and touching, about work and worklife. The site bills itself as "the virtual watercooler".
Excellent Flash-based videos about how common products, such as candy bars, cars, bottles, and more, are manufactured and various manufacturing processes. The site includes over 4 hours of video for technical and non-technical audiences alike.
Would you like to deface someone's web site? Well, this fun little tool allows you to non-destructive do that. Just enter the URL of the favorite (or most disliked!) web site and the type of virtual "disaster" to wreak on it and enjoy the destruction. Disaster options include floods, spilled coffee, worms, a nuclear attack, and many more.
This site provides detailed, narrated videos of how various parts of spacecraft work. The videos range from the more mundane, like the landing parachutes, to the incredibly complicated launch processing system. Some very fascinating information about our space program.