Systems Integrity Bulletin
IT Enterprise Applications
Systems Integrity Group
The Briggs-Chase Law of Program Development: To determine how long it will take to write and debug a program, take your best estimate, multiply that by two, add one, and convert to the next higher units.
The goal is not to speculate on what might happen, but to imagine what you can actually make happen. --Gary Hamel, founder and chairman, Strategos.
Software Configuration Management (SCM)
Software Configuration Management Process
Article: Change Management for Software Development
Modern software configuration management is rapidly becoming a necessary component of the development environment; as basic and critical to the project team as a debugger and compiler is to the individual developer. It is simply not feasible to deal with the issues of application size and complexity, variant platforms, parallel development and release management, reproducible builds and change tracking without automated technology beyond version control systems.
Article: Adopting SCM Technology
The adoption of software configuration management technology is a key component of process maturity improvement. The elements that ensure the successful adoption of SCM technology include the adoption team, adoption plan, risk management plan, process, and SCM tool. With management support, a defined adoption strategy, and proper planning, organizations can successfully adopt SCM technology.
Article: SCM: More Than Support and Control
Software Configuration Management (SCM) supports people, controls data, and provides data integrity to baselines. Advances in automated tools and how baselines are created, maintained, and delivered requires careful, detailed planning. To be effective, SCM must be involved in day-to-day evolving, developmental, and ongoing maintenance activities.
Software Development Process
Article: Create win-win payoffs within your next project
IT experts report high failure rates for software development projects, with figures ranging from 50 to 80 percent… This report focuses on how to manage expectations and risk by all parties involved in a project, including users, systems development staff, and senior management.
Article: Seven steps for avoiding scope creep
The expansion of a project outside of the planned objectives, commonly known as scope creep, is an inherent part of IT development. Scope creep can originate from several sources and is a leading cause of project failure when handled poorly. You must take measures to control project embellishment and to ensure that you and your team don't fall victim to its unsavory results—deadline delay and budget shortage.
Article: Assessing Software Risk
This article describes the application of hazard evaluation and prevention to software risk management. This approach has been used by organizations involved in developing information technology (IT) applications in order to assess the probability that serious problems will occur, such as cost overruns, schedule slippage, and products or services that do not satisfy their intended needs.
Article: Ninety Percent Done
The fact that software projects and tasks are reported to be "90 percent done" for a long time has become something of an industry joke. (A related joke states that the first half of a software project consumes the first 90 percent of the resources, and the second half consumes the other 90 percent of the resources.) This well-intentioned, but misleading status tracking, makes it difficult to judge when a body of work will truly be completed so you can ship the next product release to your customers. Here are several typical causes of "90 percent done" syndrome and a few possible cures.
Article: Software's Ten Essentials (IEEE Software Best Practices column)
Virtually every backpacker, rock climber, and recreational hiker in the Pacific Northwest is familiar with the Seattle Mountaineers' list of "Ten Essentials": extra clothing, extra food, sunglasses, knife, firestarter, first aid kit, waterproof matches, flashlight, map, and compass. The Ten Essentials are the end-product of years of hard-won experience. They are intended to help mountaineers avoid getting into trouble in the first place, and, if that doesn't work, to minimize the damage. No experienced mountaineer would go into the mountains without the Ten Essentials.
Software Testing & Quality
Article: Shipping the Right Products at the Right Time: A View of Development and Testing at Microsoft
Microsoft is one of the most successful companies in the history of software. It has achieved this success, in part, by developing the capability to ship the right products at the right time. The evolution of this company from a small group of developers to the world's largest software development house resulted from having a clear view of the customer and strong ideas about what the technology could do for users. The success of Microsoft may also be attributed to the maturation of technically oriented testing departments and to the evolution of a product development process called "milestones." Testers, developers, and program managers share a common view of product quality. Microsoft builds products that meet customer needs and leverage new technologies to put them in the hands of users in a timely manner. [Editor's note: This article is an "oldie but goodie". The author, Roger Sherman, started the independent test group at Microsoft.]
Article: Risky Beginnings: How to start your projects off on the right foot
Projects get off track for a lot of reasons. Sometimes they get into trouble because of things we just can’t anticipate at the start. Sometimes projects drift off-track as work takes longer than anticipated, or when shortcuts taken to “save time” lead to intractable problems. And sometimes the signs are right there from the start. These are the problems that are easiest to spot, yet they still bedevil many projects.
Site: swtest-discuss Mailing List Archive
This site contains the archives of the popular swtest-discuss mailing list. The list is very low noise and often has some very enlightening (and heated) debates on software testing methods and practices. [Note: The archive password is changed periodically. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with "get webarchive" (sans quotes) in the body of the message to receive the current password.]
Site: Observations of the Software Test Process
An excellent site with many suggestions from a veteran software (and hardware) tester on how to do this software testing stuff. There are excellent discussions on how to use the inputs to the test process for successful test planning and execution.
Articles: Unix Basics
Recent "Unix Basics" columns, starting with January 2001, in Server/Workstation Expert magazine have started back with the very fundamentals of Unix. While focused on the foundational concepts of Unix, these articles are interesting in understanding the core of most modern-day operation systems, including the Windows family. (Note: This link is to the archive list for this column. Choose the appropriate column.)
Article: What's the Buzz Behind EJB?
Article: Basics of EJB Beans with Entity Bean Example
This second article in a continuing column on Java enterprise technologies discusses the creation and deployment of an Entity Bean; you will learn what an entity bean is, what the components are that comprise one, how to implement one, and how to deploy one…
Reference: How to Query the Microsoft Knowledge Base Using Keywords
The Microsoft Knowledge Base (MSKB) is veritable treasure trove of useful information about Windows and the MS family of applications. It can help you learn about the quirks of your system. But it's huge, and getting bigger everyday. This article tells you about how to use keywords effectively to narrow your search and find specifically what you're looking for.
Article: Laughter Is Good For Your Heart
Laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack, according to a new study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. The study, which is the first to indicate that laughter may help prevent heart disease, was presented at the American Heart Association’s 73rd Scientific Sessions on November 15 in New Orleans. The researchers found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.
Reference: The complete writing checklist
In the business world, writing should be accurate, clear, and concise—not fancy or academic. [This] checklist covers research, grammar basics, writing style, smart word choices, and more. These tips are designed to help you create documents that are interesting, helpful, and enjoyable to read.
Article: Plastics to power start-up's optics
The company [Lumera] believes its proprietary polymer material--essentially plastic--is the key to building faster fiber-optic networks. The start-up company is aiming to be the first to commercialize the use of polymers in optical communications gear, though other companies including Pacific Wave Industries and Ipitek are working with similar polymer compounds.
Article: Companies claim 3.2Tbps transmission
Two companies are claiming to have reached a new speed record for data transmission over an existing fiber-optic network. Optisphere Networks, a subsidiary of German electronics and engineering conglomerate Siemens, and WorldCom said they had managed to transmit 3.2 terabits per second (Tbps) of data over a total distance of 250 kilometers in a month-long trial.
Article: Can They Dig It?
Service providers have to dig themselves out from under the red tape before they can begin to shovel dirt for new fiber. Is there a simpler alternative? [Editor's note: Substantial discussion of WCG's right-of-way work on the fiber build.]
Article: Tunable lasers music to optic industry's ears
A number of start-ups--such as Iolon, Agility Communications, Sparkolor and recently acquired Altitune--have generated a buzz in the telecommunications world while recent earnings warnings and slow sales have given businesses little to be happy about. These companies manufacture lasers that are capable of transmitting data on a wide range of wavelengths, rather than on a single frequency. Called "tunable" lasers because of this characteristic, they can potentially reduce costs for optical-equipment makers and their carrier customers.
SmartClock (Free -- Windows 9x/NT -- 62kB)
SmartClock is a Windows desktop clock. Among it's unique features are it's ability to display the time in either analog or digital format and the fact that it will hide itself when the mouse cursor hovers of the clock so you can get to what's behind it.
Outlook 98 Calendar Template for Word (Free -- Windows 9x/NT -- 119kB)
The monthly view printed calendar in Outlook 98 is difficult to read because most of the relevant information for your appointments and meetings is cut off. This Word template allows you to automatically import your Outlook calendar into Word so that you can edit and format it to your liking. Then you can print it (with or without weekends) in either portrait or landscape mode.
Zoomer (Free -- Windows 9x/NT -- 75kB)
Every once in a while, it's useful to have a "magnifier" for your desktop. Zoomer has some really nice features that make it a worthwhile choice: Magnification can range from 0% up to 1000%; it can minimized to the system tray or made to stay on top all of the time; it can tell you the desktop pixel location and the color of the current pixel in HTML and RGB color formats. Likewise, it's very small and doesn't need an installer.
Nice technique to pad numeric values with leading zeroes in MS Excel
Sometimes when you are working on list of values in MS Excel, you need to pad the values with leading zeroes, so that all of them will be the same format or number of digits. Use the following formula to quickly format them accordingly, assuming that the source value is in cell A1:
where n is the number of digits. For example, if A1 contains 57 and n = 3, the formula will format the value as 057.
Select text blocks in MS Word
Many text editors have feature that allows you to select a rectangular block of text for copying or cutting. This feature is useful for selecting a tabular column of information. MS Word also provides this functionality by holding down <Ctrl>+<Alt>+<Shift> and selecting the desired region with your left mouse button.
Don't forget the space bar in MS Outlook
If you read your e-mail in the "preview pane" in MS Outlook 97/98, don't forget about the space bar. Pressing the space bar will scroll the currently highlighted message down one page in the preview pane. To go back up a page, press <Shift>+<Space>. (Make sure that the focus is on the message list [blue highlight] for this feature to work. If it's not, <Tab> until you get the proper focus.) Using the space bar is much quicker than scrolling with the mouse.
Just For Fun
Interesting: The Thinking Page
The Thinking Page is a site with information and resources related to thinking and improving the thought process for both organizations and individuals. It's divided up into five basic categories: systems thinking, creativity, cybernetics, cognition, and "reflexions". Some very interesting stuff and good ideas for getting those creative juices flowing.
Satire: Foot-And-Mouth Believed To Be First Virus Unable To Spread Through Microsoft Outlook