March 2003 Newsletter


Quotable Quotes


Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.  –Henry Ford


To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all.  –Peter McWilliams, Life 101


An undefined problem has an infinite number of solutions.  –Robert A. Humphrey


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.  –Albert Einstein


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Software Development Process

List:  Project Management Tips

This page contains links to other articles on the site that cover such project management items as writing good status reports, what items to monitor regularly on a project, and a project planning checklist.  Lots of great ideas and resources.  This site is a good primer on project management.


Editorial:  Tell the Truth Effectively

One of an IT leaders most important responsibilities is communication.  This editorial indicates that IT doesn’t do a good job in this area and emphasis that face-to-face communication with business users, peers, and management is critical.,10801,78046,00.html


Article:  What to do when impossible project deadlines are common procedure

This article examines some practical techniques to rebuff attempts by a project’s customers to impose unreasonable project schedules and deadlines.  The discussion forum for this article provides some excellent insights, as well.


Resource:  Requirements Specification Walkthrough Checklist

Nice checklist of items to review when checking a requirements specification for completeness, accuracy, testability, etc.


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Software Testing & Quality

Article:  Component Testability and Component Testing Challenges

This relatively non-technical article looks at some of the techniques to use in testing components that make up application architecture, but aren’t actually an application unto themselves.


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Tutorial:  Demystifying the syntax of regular expressions

Regular expressions (regexp for short) are powerful tools for parsing and pattern matching.  But the first time that you encounter them, they can be daunting.  This article takes some of the obscurity out of the basic uses for regexp with examples using the Unix grep command.


Site:  Training Tools

Training Tools is a provider of training courses and materials.  However, their site has a number of excellent, detailed free tutorials on basic and advanced MS Access, Javascript, and many topics related to web development.


Tutorial:  Learn the basics of Interface Definition Language (IDL)

IDL is the “glue” that holds component-based and distributed system designs together.  This article provides a non-technical, high-level introduction to IDL with an emphasis on how IDL works.


Tutorial:  SQL Tutorial

An excellent introductory tutorial on generic SQL.  Has good examples and very well organized.  Difficult concepts are explained in detail.


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Career Development/Miscellaneous

Article:  How to Think With Your Gut

This article looks at some of the research and science behind how intuition works and the value that gut decisions can bring in business situations.,1640,44584,FF.html


Article:  Communication, workload balance keys to averting staff burnout

Most IT shops are reducing staff, but the amount of work typically remains constant.  This article examines some techniques to help avoid burnout by the remaining staff.


Online Journal:  IT & Society

A new academic journal published online in Adobe Acrobat PDF format by Stanford University that documents scholarly research into the impact that technology has on society, social norms, etc.  Although much of the material is quite esoteric, many of the articles are very interesting.  All articles are free.


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Telecommunications Industry

Report:  Turbulence Ahead!

Extensive report about impact of telecom industry turmoil on business telecom customers and networking in general.  Interesting insights into what telecom players will need to do to shore up confidence by customers.  Some of the predictions for the next few years are quite surprising.


Article:  Once Around: Why 360networks still Puts Faith In Fiber

This article discusses 360networks emergence from bankruptcy with fundamentally the same business plan as before bankruptcy:  wholesale network transport.  The article looks at why the company thinks it can succeed this time.


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Useful Utilities

EditHistory (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 160kB)

EditHistory converts regular type-in edit boxes in Windows into drop-down combo boxes that include the most recent entries for quick recall.  This utility is extremely versatile and is a real time saver.  Highly recommended!


Favorites Start Page (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 18kB)

This is not another one of the run-of-the-mill bookmark managers.  Instead it is a dynamic HTML (DHTML) page that can import and display all of the favorites (bookmarks) from Internet Explorer.  It preserves the menu structure in displays each category in an easy to browse table with dynamic menus.  A very creative use of DHTML.  (Requires IE 5.5 or later.)


Microsoft Office Places Toolbar Editor (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 166kB)

The Places Toolbar Editor allows you to edit, including add and remove, items in the “Look in” list displayed in Microsoft Office 2000 Open and Save dialogs.  This allows you to add your frequently used folders to the list of “shortcuts” available in the list.  Up to 10 items (including the defaults) can be included.;en-us;q260190


KlipFolio (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 233kB)

KlipFolio is a news ticker with some neat twists.  KlipFolio uses the RSS format to package tidbits of information from various sources and display them as scrolling sets of clips that you can click on for details.  Over 300 “klips” on a wide variety of topics are available.


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Productivity Tips

Add full path and file name to header or footer of MS Excel worksheet print out

Most folks are familiar with MS Word’s ability to put the full path and file name of a document in the header or footer so that when the document is printed, the user has a reference to the location of the document on the network.  Unfortunately, MS Excel does not have similar support.  However, a simple VBA macro script comes to rescue.  To add the full path and file name to the footer, open the desired spreadsheet and choose Tools à Macro à Visual Basic Editor from the main menu (or press <Alt>+<F11>).  In the VB editor window displayed, add the following lines to an existing “module” (Microsoft’s name for sets of macros) or add a new module:

Sub AddPathToFooter()

    ActiveSheet.PageSetup.RightFooter = ActiveWorkbook.FullName

End Sub

Save the VBA project (module) and close the VB editor.  To use the macro, usually before you print it, select Tools à Macro à Macros from the main menu, select the AddPathToFooter item from the Macro name list, and press Run.  This will add the full name (in UNC format, if applicable) to the right side of the worksheet footer.  Unless you copy or move your spreadsheet to another location, it is not necessary to run the macro each time you print your document.  You can modify the macro to put the full name elsewhere by replacing RightFooter with LeftFooter, CenterFooter, RightHeader, CenterHeader, or RightHeader, as desired.  (Note:  Ensure that no information is already included in the section [left, center, or right] of the footer that you use for the macro, as the macro will overwrite all of the existing information.)


Use MS Outlook to launch web browser

If you have a recurring activity that requires you to check something via the internet or an intranet, Outlook can be configured to automatically launch the web browser at the appointed time.  Create your appointment (or meeting notice) as normal, including setting the appropriate recurrence pattern.  In the new Appointment window, enable (check) the “The is an online meeting using” item and choose “NetShow Services” from the list.  In the Event Address field, enter the URL for the site to be opened and enable (check) “Automatically start NetShow with Reminder”.  Then, when the appointment reminder pops up, Outlook will automatically launch your web browser at the appropriate location.  (Note:  Make sure that the “Reuse windows for launching shortcuts” option is disabled [unchecked] in the Advanced tab of Internet Options for Internet Explorer.  If it is not, when Outlook opens the web site, if IE is already open, it will redirect the browser from the current page.)


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Just For Fun

Drunk Men Work Here Gallery

Don’t let the name of site fool you.  It really has nothing to do with alcohol.  The “drunk” in this context is related to spending too much time surfing the Internet.  Nevertheless, the site has some interesting diversions, such as listings of perfect numbers and Mersenne primes, cool tabular view of the Fibonacci sequence and golden ratio, and Minesweeper.  It’s a fun way to waste time!


Virtual Oscilloscope

This site features a Macromedia Flash-based simulation of an old-fashioned 20-MHz oscilloscope.  The simulation is outstanding, providing the ability to hook up leads to the horizontal and vertical inputs, adjust the time and volts per division setting, etc.  Lots of the fun for the old electronics buff!


Fantastic Photos from Finland

Ignoring my weak attempt at alliteration in the title of this item, this site has some absolutely beautiful digital photos of landscapes from Finland.  The series of pictures of the aurora borealis are breathtaking.


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