Networks & Computing Systems Integrity Group

Monthly Testing Newsletter -- June 2000

Software Development Process (requirements, project management, methodology, etc.)

Editorial: Rating Your Dimensional Data Warehouse: Twenty Criteria for Comparing Systems

Over the past two decades, data webhouses have evolved their own design techniques, distinct from transaction-processing systems. Dimensional design techniques have emerged as the dominant theme for most of our data warehouses. For some years we have had a fairly stable vocabulary that includes slowly changing dimensions, surrogate keys, aggregate navigation, and conformed dimensions and facts. Yet in spite of the growing awareness of this body of practice, we still don’t have good metrics for what makes a system more dimensional or less dimensional. This column and the one in the next issue attempt to fill this gap. I’ll propose 20 criteria for what makes a system dimensional. Besides giving each of the 20 criteria a name, I will try very hard to define the criteria in decisive ways that let you decide whether your system complies.

Article: Software Architecture Needs Blueprints

An architectural model isn't a programming model—and vice versa. Here's how to tell the difference. Software architecture as a distinct discipline is slowly becoming visible. So is the need for blueprints. Most practitioners have emerged from the programming ranks; they usually can envision the overall structure and behavior of a software system. Too often, however, software architects become distracted by nonarchitectural issues, and they retain the typical programmer's disdain for documenting their work. But what is architecture without blueprints?

(See also a related article on the role of software architects in the development process from the same issue.)

Article: Reducing IT project complexity

One reason that IT projects fail is that they are too complex. The more complex and lengthy a project, the higher the risk of failure. It would, therefore, seem that one way to reduce the level of project risk and failure is to reduce the levels of complexity associated with them.

Software Testing & Quality

Site: The Virtual Conference on Software Testing

This is a new site dedicated to software testing. It includes discussion forums (like Usenet newsgroups), a monthly "presentation" on a test topic, lists of and links to other resources. The "presentations" area seems to be the most useful resource. The other areas seem pretty typical for this type of site. [Editor's Note: This site is sponsored by Data Kinetics, an IT consultancy.]

Article: White-Box Testing

This article gives a very nice introduction to white-box testing (testing based on code or implementation knowledge). While the article is oriented to unit (developer) testing, it gives some excellent ideas and approaches to enhance test coverage in general even via black-box testing.

Guide: 10 Minute Guide to Effective Testing

Found by Prasad Ganga

This Guide was written to introduce testing concepts to people who have little or no experience with testing. Typically these people are business users and business analysts familiar with the applications they are being asked to test but not familiar with the testing process.


Site: Martindale's 'The Reference Desk'

This site is more of a reference desk "portal" than actual reference desk itself. It has links to loads of reference materials on a variety of topics including computers, communications, health, and the physical and life sciences. It is most well known for its collection of links to more that 11,000 (that's not a typo!) on-line calculators.

Career Development/Miscellaneous

Article: 10 Skills for Career Success

For the future IT professional, technology skills are a given. Instead, strategic business and interpersonal skills will be increasingly important. These are suggested areas in which you can improve your skill set to become a valued member of not only your team, but your company.

[Editor's Note: This article is part of the Infoworld 100 series which is a guide "to help you steer through the uncharted waters of the future."]

Telecommunications Industry

Article: Implementing OSS Workflow: End to End to End

A fully automated OSS streamlines provisioning, which helps providers avoid errors, economize on staffing and time, manage inventory and quickly realize revenues.

In the telecom business, the first step in selecting an operational support system (OSS) is identifying the business processes used to support end-to-end workflows. This requires the involvement of numerous company groups and key stakeholders going through many hours of painstakingly detailed work to document manual and partially automated processes currently used within the business. The next step is matching those requirements with an OSS that will meet both current and future business needs.

Article: Software woes challenge DSL provider NorthPoint

NorthPoint Communications is the most recent provider of high-speed digital subscriber lines to encounter problems with its new order management software, which is delaying service installations for some Internet service provider partners.

Article: The Future of ASPs

The Application Service Provider (ASP) market’s potential is causing a lot of commotion. With a projected market size of $23 billion by 2001 (Forrester) or $22.7 billion by 2003 (DataQuest), everyone wants a piece of the action—from carriers to application companies, and OSS vendors to integrators. Carriers want to maximize traffic on their networks, applications providers want to broaden distribution, OSS vendors want to provide provisioning and billing for ASP services, and integrators want to make it all work together.

[Editor's Note: WCG has a business objective to move into the ASP market. A key element of success in this strategy is the IT back-office systems.]

Article: Traditional phone carriers are redefining themselves for the Internet Age

In the wake of the e-business gold rush that has created such an explosion of Internet traffic, traditional telecom carriers are edging further away from their voice roots, attempting to carve out potentially lucrative space in the market for offering data-centric services.

MCI WorldCom, Sprint, and AT&T are each moving to reposition themselves as integrated service and data providers, leveraging their large customer base and established infrastructure to deliver a broad range of services. The RBOCs (Regional Bell Operating Companies) are also moving in the same direction, while battling to establish themselves as national players to boost their credibility in the enterprise marketplace.


Useful Utilities

Search Thingy (Free – Windows 9x/NT – 37kB)

Search Thingy is a small front-end to a variety of popular web search engines and directories, including Altavista, Yahoo, Lycos, GoTo, and Northern Light. You simply select the desired search engine and enter your search criteria like you would at the search engine site. Search Thingy launches the web browser and executes the search. A couple of very cool features are Favorites which allow you to save up to 10 search criteria for quick access and History which keeps a log of your searches including which search engine you used.

ScrHots3 (Free – Windows 9x/NT – 140kB)

ScrHots is a screen saver "hot corners" utility. It allows you to configure your system so that your screen saver will immediately be activated when you move your mouse cursor to a particular corner of the screen. Likewise, corners can be set so that placing the mouse cursor in those corners prevents the screen saver from activating. This is useful when you are running a program which cannot be interrupted (such as Defrag) or if you need to monitor a lengthy process.

FreeShade (Free – Windows 9x/NT – 1440kB)

FreeShade is a free "window shading" utility which allows you to "roll up" any window so that only the title bar is visible. This is useful for temporarily moving a window out of the way so that you can see the window behind it. When FreeShade is enabled (by default it will launch on system startup), double clicking on a window title bar will "roll up" the window. Double clicking on the title bar when the window is rolled up will maximize the window (like the standard double-click function). Additional FreeShade functions, such as Maximize Vertically or Horizontally and Hug a side, are available by clicking on the title bar with the middle mouse button (the wheel on the Intellimouse).

Reader's Pal (Free – Windows 9x/NT – 169kB + VB 5.0 run-times, if necessary)

Reader's Pal is simple text viewer with a few neat twists. It allows you to select the font size and foreground and background color. It supports drag-and-drop from Windows Explorer, bookmarking, up to 9 mode settings, and even text-only web browsing (similar to Lynx). It may not sound very exciting or useful, but I've found it invaluable in reading log files, etc.


Productivity Tips

Completely disable Office 97 Find Fast utility

Most people prefer not to use the Office 97 Find Fast utility which indexes Office documents/files on your hard drive to (supposedly) speed locating and opening the files. However, just removing the Find Fast shortcut from your Startup group may result in some strange behavior in the Office applications. It is better to remove the indices altogether. To do so, open the Find Fast applet in the Control Panel, select Index | Delete Index… from the menu. In the Delete Index window, select each index from the In and below list and press OK. After all of the indices are removed, remove the Find Fast shortcut from the Startup group. For more information about Find Fast in general, see

Open files in native application instead of web browser (update)

The April 2000 newsletter contained some instructions for opening files such as MS Word documents and MS Excel spreadsheets outside of the web browser. However, with IE 5.x the Browse in same window option in the procedure is not available (unless the IE 4.x Windows Desktop Update is installed). Therefore, it's not possible to make Windows open the registered document types outside of the browser window. Fortunately, there is a workaround of sorts to correct the problem without installing the Windows Desktop Update:

  1. Start the Registry Editor (RegEdit.exe in Windows 95/NT or Regedt32.exe in Windows NT) and locate the following registry key:

  3. Under this key, locate the appropriate subkey for the specific document type. The following table lists the appropriate subkey for several common document types:
  4. Document type


    Microsoft Excel 97 worksheet


    Microsoft Access 97 database


    Microsoft Word 97 document


    Microsoft Word 97 template


    Microsoft PowerPoint 97 presentation


    Microsoft PowerPoint 97 slides


    Microsoft Project 98 project


    Visio 5.0 drawing


  5. After you identify the appropriate subkey, click the subkey, click Add Value on the Edit menu, and then add the following value:
  6. Value name: BrowserFlags

    Data type: REG_DWORD

    Value: 8

  7. Exit the registry editor and re-start Internet Explorer 5.

As an alternative to the steps above, you can save the following to a registry file (e.g., Browse Outside IE5.reg) and then run (merge) the file to modify the settings for all of these file types. (You must have local administrator rights in Windows NT to merge the registry file.)


















View all file information in Explorer Details view

When using the Windows Explorer Details view (View | Details on the menu), some information, such as long file names can be obscured because of the column widths. To automatically resize all columns to fit the data, press <Ctrl> and Plus (+) on the numeric keypad. For this to work, focus must be in the file pane.

Use all of the L2 cache under Windows NT

By default, Windows NT sets the available L2 cache to 256kB (or less). Many of the newer WCG desktop systems have 512kB (or larger) L2 cache. Larger L2 cache enhances system performance by storing and accessing frequently/recently used data in the cache instead of core memory (RAM). You can modify the registry to have NT use the entire available L2 cache. Launch the registry editor (RegEdit.exe) and navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management registry key (note the space between "Session" and "Manager"). Locate the SecondLevelDataCache DWORD value. Set this value to the size of the L2 cache on the system. For example, if the system has 512kB L2 cache, set it to 512 decimal (200 hexadecimal). The default value of 0 will set the available L2 cache to the default of 256kB. Reboot the system for the change to take effect. For more information, see and

Just For Fun

Site: Star Wars ASCIImation

Think that you've seen all of the versions, outtakes, and bloopers from Star Wars? This site presents the original Star Wars (Episode IV for you trivia buffs) including dialog in straight ASCII text as a Java applet. It is truly a creative and unique presentation.