IT Enterprise Applications Systems Integrity Group

Monthly Testing Newsletter -- November 2000


Software Development Process

Software Testing & Quality
Telecommunications Industry
Useful Utilities
Productivity Tips
Just For Fun


Software Development Process

Article: Usable Requirements: Habits of Effective Analysts

Software managers sometimes assume that every skilled programmer is also proficient at interviewing customers and writing requirements specifications without any training, resources or coaching. This isn’t a reasonable assumption. Like testing, estimation and project management, requirements engineering has its own skill set and body of knowledge. Unfortunately, most computer science educational curricula emphasize programming-related knowledge over other software life cycle activities. In addition, many software practitioners—including myself—lack formal education in their field. Self-study and on-the-job learning often neglect softer skills such as those needed in requirements engineering.

Article: Companies Don't Learn From Previous IT Snafus

Computer projects have failed for as long as there have been computers. But now that most companies are only as stable as their bits and bytes, the consequences of information technology screwups aren't easily disguised - they show up in earnings reports.,1199,NAV47_STO53014,00.html

Interview: The Future of OOP

To help sort out the relevance—both present and future—of the two most popular OOP languages, C++ and Java, we talked with Bjarne Stroustrup, the designer of C++, and Tim Lindholm, distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems. Here are their views on the future of programming, competing languages, evolution vs. revolution of OOP languages, and programming standards.

Article: New Ways to Work Together: Collaboration Patterns

"None of us is as smart as all of us," consultant Ellen Gottesdiener proclaimed, quoting author, consultant and former software developer Gerald Weinberg in her Tuesday class on collaboration patterns. According to Gottesdiener, collaboration patterns are collections of reusable techniques and activities (such as tasks or actions) that can be used by IT and customer teams in a group setting to work together more effectively.


Software Testing & Quality

Article: Clearing a Career Path for Software Testers

Effective testing is crucial to producing reliable and dependable software systems. However, there are few guidelines or formal criteria to determine whether someone is or might become an effective software tester. Also, testing is often viewed as an undesirable and unchallenging career track. Some organizations staff testing groups primarily with new hires and mediocre or failed programmers. The implication is clear: Testing is not that important to product success. [Editor's Note: Used by permission.]

Paper/Presentation: The Indispensable Test Team: Gaining and Maintaining Value in 2000 and Beyond

Found by Tim Cotton

Quite often in the world of software engineering, testers and Quality Assurance (QA) managers find themselves to be the "last hired" and the "first fired." In some IT shops, QA does not exist at all. In spite of this, recent years have brought major breakthroughs in the areas of software testing and quality assurance.



Reference: Data communications and telecommunications protocols and terms

This site includes a number of useful references on data communications and telecom protocols and terms. Some include PDF format "posters" with protocols families and interrelationships.

Tutorial: Applets and Servlets

Applets and servlets, small applications usually written in Java, can enhance the display and delivery of Web pages. This article provides an overview of both, the application of each, and the differences.,1199,NAV47-72_STO53912,00.html


Telecommunications Industry

Article: Long-distance: Elevated earnings or eventual erosion?

While telecom giants AT&T, WorldCom and Sprint are all taking different approaches to converting themselves into data-services companies, they all worship one gospel truth: The consumer long-distance business is dead.

Article: Bandwidth boom to benefit surviving telecoms

Two new telecommunications studies suggest that the ugly fallout under way among cash-poor network operators could result in more business for the survivors as the need for network capacity grows.


Useful Utilities

Sub Desktop (Free – Windows 9x/NT – 463kB)

Sub Desktop is a neat little twist on many system tray utilities that give you access to your desktop icons without minimizing all of the currently displayed windows. Sub Desktop is unique in that it displays the desktop in another window. This allows you to have the "desktop" available as a standard window on the taskbar.

Microsoft Word, Excel, and IE 4/5 Keyboard Shortcuts (Free – Windows 9x/NT – 167 kB)

This is a handy little "cheat sheet" with dozens of keyboard shortcuts for Word 97, Excel 97, and IE 4/5.


Productivity Tips

Replace the Print button in MS Office applications

One of the annoying (in my humble opinion!) "features" in the MS Office applications is that the Print button on the Standard toolbar immediately prints the current document instead of displaying the Print dialog. Here's a quick fix:

  1. Select View | Toolbars à Customize… from the menu.
  2. With the Customize dialog displayed, click the current Print button and drag it onto the Customize dialog. This will delete it from the toolbar.
  3. Select the Commands tab and choose File in the Categories list. In the Commands list choose "Print…" (with the ellipsis) and drag it onto the toolbar.
  4. Press Close.

Print only what you need in MS Excel

By default, Excel will print the entire current (active) sheet. If you only need to print a portion of your worksheet, but don't want to change the regular print area, simply select the desired range and select File | Print from the menu (or <Ctrl>-P). In the Print options dialog, choose Selection in the "Print what" box. Press OK to print or Preview.

Quick table and column names from SQL Navigator

When preparing an e-mail or document in which you need to include the name of a database table or column, let a little-known feature in SQL Navigator do some of the work. In the DB Navigator view, copy the text (name) of the currently selected item (table, column, procedure, view, etc.) by simply pressing <Ctrl>-C (or selecting "Copy text" from the context menu).

Shortcuts to selecting blocks of text in MS Word

In MS Word, selecting large blocks of text is sometimes difficult, especially if the desired selection extends beyond the display area. Here are a couple of tips to save time and effort in this task:

Just For Fun

Humor: U.S. presidency listed for sale on eBay

With confusion increasing over who will be the 43rd president of the United States, one eBay auctioneer had put the presidency up for bid.

Article: "Minesweeper" could uncover math conundrum

"Minesweeper," a seemingly simple game included on most personal computers, could help mathematicians crack one of the field's most intriguing problems.