May 2004 Newsletter


Quotable Quotes


A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.  –Oliver Wendell Holmes


Silent gratitude isn't very much use to anyone.  –Gertrude Stein


Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. –Albert Einstein


Patience is the companion of wisdom.  –St. Augustine


Instead of dirt and poison we have rather chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax, thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light.  –Jonathan Swift in The Battle of the Books


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Software Development Process

Article:  Deadline Management: Are You Just Wasting Money?

One of the hardest tasks in the software development process is to provide an objective measure of when the project is done.  This book excerpt examines techniques to specify a definition of finished that all project team and stakeholders can agree to.


Article:  IT Struggles To Become More Agile

One of the modern growing pains for IT is for the organization to align itself with the business and to respond quickly to new and changing business requirements.  This article looks at how some companies are adapting.,10801,90872,00.html


Tool:  MSF Sample Project Lifecycle Deliverables

This is a comprehensive set of examples/templates for software development lifecycle (SDLC) documentation that is aligned with the Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF).  The templates themselves are good examples of the appropriate content for project documentation and do not have to be used with the MSF process/methodology.


Article:  How to Pick a Project Team

Developing a project team is one of the key factors in the success of a project.  This article looks at some of the key factors in deciding the right size and make up of the team, especially beyond the technical skills.,10801,92031,00.html


Article:  Why software still stinks

A 20th anniversary discussion with some of the original 19 programmers interviewed in the seminal Programmers At Work book about the state of software development.  Unfortunately, from these folks' perspective not much has changed in the past 20 years.  But they still have some good ideas about the future of software development.


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Software Testing & Quality

Articles:  Automated Testing: Myth vs. Reality and You Can't Automate Everything

A couple of brief articles from Cutter IT Journal that help debunk the ideas that automated software testing is the silver bullet for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of testing.


Article:  Pairwise Testing

This detailed article explains some techniques for how to test multiple variables simultaneously (or in combinations) for more efficient testing.  It uses many of the concepts related to orthogonal arrays from design of experiments.


Site:  Software Testing Society

This site is the home page for a relative active mailing list about software testing activities.  The main emphasis of the virtual group is to define a reusable, standardized software testing process.


Article:  An Empirical Study of the Robustness of Windows NT Applications Using Random Testing

While, in general, random testing is often ineffective, this paper discusses some of the types of problems, particularly crashes and memory leaks, that are likely to be detected by providing (somewhat) random inputs to the application under test.


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Reference:  Access reference:  Working with queries

While MS Access is not a full-featured database system, it is quite suitable for many tasks.  This nice 15-page reference provides good coverage of using the query tools in Access.


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Career Development/Miscellaneous

Article:  Tips to spice up meetings

The last thing that most technology workers want to do is to attend another meeting.  This dialogue between people offers some ideas to bring life back to meetings and keep participants interest.


Article:  Productivity's Technology Iceberg

An MIT productivity expert notes that use of digital technology is what has driven economic growth over the past half century.  However, it's not the technology itself per se, but how creative people of used and applied that technology.


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Useful Utilities

SysExporter (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP – 29kB)

SysExporter utility allows you to capture the text data stored in standard list-views, list boxes, and combo boxes from almost any application running on your system, and export it to text, HTML or XML file.  For example, you can capture file or folder lists from Windows Explorer, data from SysInternals utilities like Process Explorer, e-mail lists from Outlook and more.


cdx (Free – Windows NT/2000/XP – 68kB)

cdx attaches a small directory listing window to the command prompt (CMD.EXE) in Windows which allows you to quickly browse for a folder.  When you double-click the desired folder, cdx executes a "cd" command to that folder automatically.  Very handy!


CDR Tools (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 1.7MB)

CDR Tools is a graphical front-end for some freeware (mostly GPL license) command-line utilities for creating CDR and CD-RW.  This tool greatly simplifies the use of the otherwise arcane free CD burning utilities.


Vital Desktop (Free -- Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 106kB)

Vital Desktop is a desktop animation utility that allows you to use any screensaver as the desktop wallpaper/background on your system.


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Productivity Tips

Some handy MS Word text formatting keyboard shortcuts

Every time that you have to take your hands off of the keyboard in MS Word to use the mouse, it slows you down and can break your concentration.  Here a few simple MS Word keyboard shortcuts to improve productivity.



Center text


Left justify text


Right justify text


Increase font size


Decrease font size


Open Save As… window


Open Thesaurus (for current word)


Print Preview




Take advantage of Move to Folder button in MS Outlook

If you've set up folders in MS Outlook for different correspondence and projects (You have, haven't you?!), in the Message window, you can take advantage of the Move to Folder button (looks like a sheet of paper with a folder) to quickly move your message to the proper folder after reading it.  The button "remembers" the last 10 folders that you've filed messages in for quick access.  Alternately, you choose Move to Folder… (or press <Ctrl>+<Shift>+V) to display the Move Item To dialog which allows you navigate to the desired folder.


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Just For Fun

IT Manager Game

This simulation provided by Intel allows you to play an overworked IT manager trying to keep up with all of the daily tasks and keep the management happy.  Of course, Intel is trying to sell its products and services, but this is definitely a unique approach.


Random Homer Simpson Quote

Ah!  The wit and wisdom of Homer Simpson.  Where would the world be without him?  This site provides dozens of quotes from the patriarch of the Simpson gang.  Doh!


SimCity Classic Live!

SimCity is one of the all-time classic computer games.  This version allows you to play the original version online.  The site provides complete instructions, including a "quick start guide", in case you haven't played before (or recently).


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