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June 2005 Newsletter


Quotable Quotes


Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability. –John Wooden


Nothing so completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity himself, than straightforward and simple integrity in another.  –Charles Caleb Colton


Don't waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour's duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.  –Ralph Waldo Emerson


Never let your zeal outrun your charity. The former is but human, the latter is divine.  –Hosea Ballou


As soon as we started programming, we found to our surprise that it wasn't as easy to get programs right as we had thought. Debugging had to be discovered. I can remember the exact instant when I realized that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in finding mistakes in my own programs.  Maurice Wilkes, 1949


I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do.  –Edward Everett Hale


Always design a thing by considering it in its next-larger context–a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.  –Eliel Saarinen


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Software Development Process

Article:  Embrace Politics to Enhance IT/Business Alignment

IT/business alignment is one of the hot topics in management circles.  The author says that traditional alignment methods, such as documentation, scope agreements and interviewing the business, often lead to projects being held hostage by committee.  Instead he says that the good kind of politics (how groups of people make decisions about projects) must be used to improve alignment of expectations and goals.



Article:  Efficiency Gains: Can You Prove It?

One of the main factors that puts pressure on IT is skepticism that a new system or application will actually improve efficiency or save money.  This article looks at how IT management needs to demonstrate actual value to the business sponsors.



Article:  Happy Birthday, Java!

The Java programming language was introduced by Sun ten years ago this month.  This article looks at the extent of Java's adoption, including some details such as Java-based solutions drive $100 billion of commerce annually and over 4 million developers use Java.



Article:  ...Are We There Yet?

One of the most difficult tasks in software development is determining when the application is finished and ready to deploy.  This article looks at balancing schedule and quality constraints.



Article:  The End of Corporate IT

MIT professor Nicolas Carr continues his assault on the traditional IT organization in this Q&A.  Frank Hayes, a Computerworld columnist, refutes Carr's claims that business IT is going the way of the dinosaur and that it simply adjusting to meet changing business needs.



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Software Testing & Quality

Article:  Bonding Over Bugs

Developers and testers often have an adversarial relationship, but it doesn't have to be this way.  Defect reviews can be used as a means to bring developers and testers into closer contact to improve the system.



Article:  How Effective is Your Test Automation?

This article discusses how to assess whether or not your automated tests are truly testing what they are intended to and what types of actions to take if they aren't.



Article:  The Elusive Tester to Developer Ratio

A common concern (especially among testers and test management!) is what the right ratio of testers to developers is.  This article indicates that the ratio depends on a number of factors and outlines the salient points to consider.



Article:  Tacit Knowledge  (Recommended by Frank Elkins)

This article discusses tacit knowledge, a characteristic of experts, who often have no explicit theory of their work, and it's importance in software testing.



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Tutorial:  RSS 101

This article gives you a brief, but technically sound introduction to RSS to help setting up your own RSS syndication for your web site.



Tutorial:  A clear explanation of relational databases and the rules that govern them

This book excerpt from Get It Done With MySQL 5 discusses the fundamental concepts and rules that govern the behavior of relational databases, including sets, tables, Codd's 12 Rules, normalization, and the limits of the relational model.  While the book is specific to MySQL, this chapter is generally applicable to all relational database systems.



Tutorial:  Recover from import errors in Oracle

A failed import in Oracle can result in a lot of lost time.  This article explores some techniques using SQL*Plus that can help you recover from a failed import, so that you don't have to start over.



Tutorial:  Oracle Tip: Understand how NULLs affect IN and EXISTS

Generally, IN and EXISTS seem interchangeable in a SQL WHERE clause, but they are subtly different, particular as it relates to NULLs.  This article shows the difference and how NULLs in subqueries affect results.



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Career Development/Miscellaneous

Article:  Are Strategies Real Things?

This book excerpt questions some of the conventional wisdom about "strategy" and it's place in organizational planning and decision-making.  Very interesting perspective on an often overused buzzword.



Site:  CVTips.com

Online since 1999, CVTips.com provides tips and resources on writing academic-style curriculum vitae (CV), business resumes, cover letters, and more.  In addition, it has information on interviewing techniques.



Article:  Drawing The Line On Fiefdoms

Bob Herbold, former COO of Microsoft, outlines the basic principles regarding breaking down barriers between various groups or departments within organizations to improve overall performance.  This article can be considered a summary introduction to Herbold's book The Fiefdom Syndrome.



Article:  Intel's Crystal Ball Sees 'Humanized' Computing By 2015

Among other predictions for computing in 10 years, Intel expects voice and vision commands to be commonplace and for most processors to have hundreds of cores and include optical interconnection.



Article:  Survey: Web Proves More Addictive Than Coffee

In a recent survey, on a variety of topics related to Internet use at work, more users were willing to give up coffee rather than personal use of Internet at work.  The survey showed that workers spend an average of 12.6 hours per week on the Internet.



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Telecommunications/Networking Industry

Article:  U.S. government seeks bids for massive telecom buy

The U.S. government is asking for bids for the $20-billion, 10-year telecommunications services contract known as Networx.  The contract covers 37 different types of communications services.



Article:  Bell Labs exec sees nanotech enabling new communications era

The president of Bell Labs has indicated that nanotechnology is likely to usher in an era of ubiquitous communication which is comparable to revolutionary changes of the telephone and television.



Interviews:  What's Relevant at SUPERCOMM?

Interviews was some industry leaders, including Jeff Storey of WilTel, about the future of telecom industry.



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Useful Utilities

8086 Microprocessor Emulator (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP – 2.5MB)

Have you ever wanted to learn the inner workings of the microprocessor in your PC?  Well, this 8086 emulator with integrated x86 assembler can help.  It provides detailed emulation of 8086 microprocessor and step-by-step assembly language tutorials.  Assembler programs can be saved and compiled by an external assembler.



WinTiles (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP – 2.07MB)

WinTiles is a Windows add-on that allows you to arrange and organize the open application windows on your desktop in a manageable fashion.  You can define certain areas to be reserved, such as for instant messengers or windows that you need to monitor.  Likewise, you can exclude windows from tiling.  (Note:  The application comes in a free and "plus" shareware version.  The installer is the same for both and you basically get a 30-day trail of the "plus" version upon install.)



SaveChm (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP and Internet Explorer – 489kB)

SaveChm is an Internet Explorer add-on that allows you to save the currently displayed web page as a CHM (Windows compiled Help format) file for later viewing.  The advantage of CHM is that the entire page is saved as a single file for easy portability and archiving.



Microsoft Office Templates (Free – MS Office – varies)

This official Microsoft site provides hundreds of templates for the various MS Office applications, including Word, Excel, Access, and Powerpoint.



Nextaris (Free – OS independent/online)

Nextaris calls itself "your universal medium for information exchange", but it's a little hard to explain what it is.  Basically, it is a free (for 100MB account), online repository that allows you to perform web searches, store content that you've gathered from the web or your own personal content (photos, documents, etc.), to do social bookmarking, to publish web content such as blogs and web pages, and to share your files with others.  Exciting new concept.



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Productivity Tips

Give foreground (or background) processes more CPU time

In a multi-application environment like Windows, it is important to make sure that each of your applications gets the appropriate amount of CPU time to be most responsive and effective.  However, your Windows 2000 or XP system may not be optimized for foreground (active) application performance.  To ensure that foreground applications get three times as many CPU cycles as background applications, apply the following registry tweak.  Launch the Registry Editor:  Start | Run | regedit.  Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\PriorityControl registry key and edit Win32PrioritySeparation.  Change Win32PrioritySeparation to hexadecimal 26 (decimal 38).  Close the Registry Editor and restart your system for changes to take effect.  (For more information about this setting, see this article.)


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Just For Fun

Lemming Suicide Myth:  Disney Film Faked Bogus Behavior

Wow!  This is a good example of how things portrayed by the media can make it into the collective consciousness of society.  I had always believed the lemming suicide myth myself.



Relativity in a Nutshell and Einstein's Miracle Year

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Einstein's monumental year when he published his special theory of relativity along with other papers that earned him the Nobel Prize, online education site The Teaching Company presents two free audio physics lectures about that year (1905) and a layman's introduction to relativity.  The lectures are available in various audio formats, including MP3 for download.



Google Content Blocker

Why bother with useful Internet content when there are so many informative and fun ads on web pages to look at?  Well, with the Google Content Blocker, you can dispense with the bothersome content!  ;)



Car Travel Games for Kids

Even with gasoline prices at an all-time high this year, many of us will probably be taking some sort of a trip this summer by car.  This site has some great suggestions for games to play with the kids between "Are we there yet?" queries.



Virtual U

In this simulation game, you are running university.  As the university president, you set, monitor, and adjust all of the institution parameters, including hiring faculty and staff, managing research and teaching, athletics, facilities, fund-raising and more.  The simulation engine is based on actual university/college statistics.



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