June 2003 Newsletter


Quotable Quotes


Friends are made by many acts...and lost by only one.   Harvey Mackay


All things are created twice. There's a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation of all things. You have to make sure that the blueprint, the first creation, is really what you want, that you've thought everything through. Then you put it into bricks and mortar. Each day you go to the construction shed and pull out the blueprint to get marching orders for the day. You begin with the end in mind.  –Stephen Covey


The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas.  –Linus Pauling


Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.  –Peter Drucker


I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.  –Galileo Galilei


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Software Development Process

Editorial:  The Craft of Programming

Alan Cooper (the “father” of Visual Basic) discusses the difference between an engineer and a craftsman as it relates to software development.  He makes the case that programming is a craft in the old world definition of the word.



Article:  Map out IT goals to better align IT with business

This brief article discusses a five-phase plan for developing IT goals that support the business aims of the organization that it supports and serves.



Articles:  Web Design for Programmers

Many developers and programmers don't have experience or backgrounds in graphic design.  The use of consistent forms, color, and graphics can greatly enhance (or damage!) the user experience.  This series of three articles for programmers on design can help.





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Software Testing & Quality

Article:  The Testing Team's Motto

Brian Marick provides his view about the goal/objective of the testing team:  to reduce risk and uncertainity.  Very enlightening article that helps testers stay focused on their jobs.



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Site:  University of Durham (UK) Computer Tutorials

While specifically designed for internal use, this site provides a plethora of general computer tutorial documents.  In particular, they have an extensive collection of documents about using specific features of MS Word, Excel, and Access and specific Unix utilities.



Article:  How to Find Anything Online

PC Magazine article that includes 64 tips and tools to help you make better use of Internet search engines to find things faster and more efficiently.



Tutorial:  RSS Tutorial for Content Publishers and Webmasters

RSS is becoming a popular method for web site designers and publishers to provide summaries of the content on their site.  This tutorial discusses the ins and outs of providing RSS information for your web site.



Site:  JavaRanch

For those who are just getting started with programming in Java, two indispensable resources exist:  Bruce Eckel’s free, downloadable Thinking in Java, 3rd edition book and JavaRanch.  JavaRanch is a beginner-friendly, online Java community.  The folks at JavaRanch are happy to answer even the seemingly most mundane questions that beginners might otherwise be too intimidated to ask.



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Career Development/Miscellaneous

Article:  Tips for giving your boss bad news

Nobody likes to have to tell the boss bad news.  This article provides some tips to maintain your reputation and defuse difficult situations when you have to be the bearer.



Survey:  Businesses Fess Up To Morale Issues

Two-thirds of 250 IT executives surveyed reported that employee morale is an issue.  The article also discusses how business assess IT employee mood.



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Useful Utilities

ZipInstaller (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 45kB)

Many times installer programs can be annoying, because they leave behind “residue” when you uninstall a program.  However, sometimes you’ll have a utility that doesn’t come with its own installer, but you wish that it had one.  This is where ZipInstaller comes in.  It will install your application to any folder that you specify, including adding Start Menu and Desktop shortcuts, and even adds the program the Add/Remove Programs list for later uninstallation.  A very novel little program!



Yo! Utilities (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 1028kB)

Yo! Utilities is an application launcher with some really neat features.  It doesn’t put a toolbar on your desktop, but instead uses a “hot corners” concept.  When the mouse is hovered over a corner of the desktop, a small triangle is displayed.  Clicking on the triangle displays a menu of drives with folders, options to open Explorer in any folder, etc.  The menu can be customized to add your own shortcuts to frequently used applications.



SUperior SU (Free – Windows NT/2000 – 1706kB)

SUperior SU (SupSU) is an Windows NT/2000 extension that allows you to interactively log onto multiple accounts (local or domain) from within Windows NT/2000, similar to the Unix su (superuser or switch user, depending on who you ask!) utility.  It’s a great utility to allow you to run an installation program as the local administrator while “inheriting” the network drive mappings of your regular user account.  Each SupSU session can have its own virtual desktop.



PureText (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 9kB)

PureText (PT) allows you to remove all formatting from text that has been copied onto the clipboard from any source (web site, Excel spreadsheet, etc.).  This ensures that the text has the same formatting as the rest of the document when it is pasted.  Furthermore, PT allows a hot-key, which works with any application, to specified that will automatically remove the formatting and paste the text at the current location.



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Productivity Tips

Lock cursor in MS Excel with Scroll Lock key

Most of the time the venerable Scroll Lock key on the keyboard doesn’t have much use.  However, in MS Excel, when Scroll Lock is enabled, Excel looks the cursor on the currently selected cell (or range).  This allows you to use the cursor (arrow) keys to navigate in the current worksheet without loosing the current selection.


Quickly change zoom level in MS applications with mouse wheel

In many Windows applications (typically, all Microsoft applications, including Internet Explorer), you can quickly adjust the zoom level (display font size) by holding down the <Ctrl> key and using the mouse wheel to zoom up or down.


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Just For Fun


20Q is an artificial intelligence application that “plays” the common “20 questions” game.  Over time, based on those who take the quizzes, it learns which helps it to provide more accurate results.  This site is a good diversion for matching wits with a machine!



Peep Research

This site takes the famous experiments on marshmallow peeps to new levels of hilarity by demonstrating how the little confections actually do research themselves in a university library.  The site actually pokes fun at how university undergraduates claim to do research projects.  Very funny indeed!



Yesterday’s Tomorrows

Sub-titled “Past Visions of the American Future”, this site provides a historical perspective on what people anticipated the future would bring from the early 20th century to the recent past.  Some of the pictures are hilarious, especially if you’re a fan of “B” sci-fi movies.



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