IT Enterprise Applications Systems Integrity Group

Monthly Testing Newsletter -- October 2000


Software Development Process

Software Testing & Quality
Career Development/Miscellaneous
Telecommunications Industry
Useful Utilities

Productivity Tips
Just For Fun


Software Development Process

Article: Writing Good Requirements

All too often, software requirements are badly written and hard to follow. Clarifying your specifications will benefit everyone involved. [Editor's Note: This article includes some excellent practical guidelines for writing quality, testable requirements.]

Article: Everyman's Guide to Data Warehousing

Essential questions to be answered before going ahead with a data warehouse project.

Article: Software failure can lead to financial catastrophe

Software failure is a terrifying possibility that should scare the bejeezus out of any company looking to stay in business. Although the media inundates us every day with software success stories, news on the growing economy, and reports that the Internet has caused an information revolution that rivals the advent of Gutenberg's printing press, we rarely hear the flip side of this fairy tale: Hundreds of thousands of software projects fail every year.

Editorial: Long-term thinking (Ed Yourdon)

Measuring the success of an IT project means looking at its long-term benefits, as well as the costs of implementing it.,1199,NAV47_STO52398,00.html

Article: 10 Java Maxims (Bruce Eckel)

Because Java projects are so often tied to mission-critical Web applications, Java developers often find themselves writing applications under cruelly insufficient time frames. The urge to cut corners in an effort to demonstrate progress can be great. But for every shortcut, do not doubt that there is a tradeoff down the line.


Software Testing & Quality

Article: Step-by-Step Test Design

This is an excellent article with a practical approach to creating test cases, procedures, and scenarios for application features/functionality. It offers a comprehensive approach and process for planning tests and includes a very good example. This article is highly recommended.

Article: An Evolutionary Approach to Software Quality Assurance

The amount of rework performed to fix software defects and the associated cost in dollars and missed opportunities, is causing many software organizations to rethink their current process(es) for developing and testing software. Why are there so many defects in software? One theory is that the current role of Software Quality Assurance (SQA) as a tester, is insufficient, and incorrect. Usually, the SQA individual/group tests the software after it has been developed. By this stage, the schedule is often so compressed that much of the planned testing has to be sacrificed so as to deliver the product on time.



Tutorial: Unix Shell Scripting

This is a great little introduction to Unix shell scripting. It gives nice background and makes no assumptions about prior knowledge beyond basic Unix.

Tutorial: Bandwidth

Just as a public utility for gas or water uses metal or plastic pipes to serve your home, an Internet service provider pumps communications bandwidth, or Internet connectivity, into a business or residence via electronic "pipes" such as standard telephone lines, cable connections or dedicated Internet lines.,1199,NAV47-72_STO51713,00.html


Career Development/Miscellaneous

Article: Mired in Meetings

If you think you just can’t sit through another endless session, you’re not alone. How firms are fighting back against the bane of corporate life.


Telecommunications Industry

Article: Bandwidth Be Thy Name

A leading techno-pundit argues that an entirely new new Internet will change our lives. If only we entirely understood his grandiloquent writing.

Article: SBC offers first glimpse of Net voice strategy

SBC Communications will release an early version of its Internet-based voice telephony strategy Tuesday, offering its first business-focused version of the technology.

Article: Small phone companies losing ground to telecom giants

Small phone and Internet providers are struggling as they try to launch new services, upgrade their networks and generally compete with the giants of the communications world.

Analyst Report: IP telephony will suffer growing pains before it is ready for extensive business use

In a time when information sources are blending together, faster is better. The search for an efficient way to transfer data over the Internet has placed Internet Protocol (IP) telephony in a good position to take over the way organizations communicate. However, some IP telephony pundits say the technology is not ready to handle the volume of use it will receive if fully launched for use in the business world. Many experts agree, however, that IP telephony will someday be the key that merges computers, telephones, and television into one integrated information system. [Editor's Note: This article gives an excellent overview of VoIP and some of the issues surrounding its implementation.]


Useful Utilities

X-Setup (Free – Windows NT/9x – 2900kB)

Recommended by Andy Lewis

X-Setup is probably best described as Tweak UI on steroids. This utility allows you to change 500+ internal system settings to improve system performance, customize Windows, etc. The GUI is quite user-friendly with an Explorer-like tree view with the customizations grouped into logical families. The application even supports 3rd-party plug-ins for additional special customizations.


Productivity Tips

Superfast keyboard shortcuts

In addition to using <Ctrl>+<Alt>+letter keyboard shortcuts for your desktop or Start menu icons, you can use single keystroke shortcuts by using numeric keypad keys. To use one of these, right-click on the desired icon and choose Properties. In the Properties window, select the Shortcut tab and place focus on the Shortcut Key edit field. Press the desired key on the numeric keypad. The Shortcut Key field will show "Num" plus the key you pressed. Press OK to save your changes.

Summary results when using voting buttons in MS Outlook

When you need to solicit responses from a group of folks not much beats using the Voting Buttons option in MS Outlook. However, if you receive many responses it's sometimes hard to keep up with the results. To quickly see the results, open the original message that you sent in the Sent Items folder. There will be an additional tab called "Tracking" that includes summary results and the responses of each recipient of the message.

Use Excel and ODBC to retrieve data from Oracle databases

SQL Navigator is a handy tool for querying Oracle databases. Sometimes, though, you just need to pull some data into a spreadsheet to look at it. SQL Navigator allows you to save query results as a comma-separated value (CSV) file. However, you can use ODBC to retrieve your data directly from Oracle into Excel. Here's how to do it:

  1. Launch Excel and open a new workbook (or worksheet).
  2. Select Data | Get External Data à Create New Query… from the menu.
  3. In the Choose Data Source window, select the database that you wish to use. If you haven't already set up the particular database, select <New Data Source> and press OK.
    1. In the Create New Data Source window, enter a name. The best choice is the name of the database from the TNSNAMES.ORA file.
    2. From the driver dropdown list, select Oracle ODBC Driver.
    3. Click on the Connect… button. For Service Name, enter the database name from the TNSNAMES.ORA file. For the User Name and Password, enter the user name and password normally used, such as MRQUERY/MRQUERY. Press OK. You'll know that your entries were correct if the last dropdown list is populated with table names that you recognize from the database.
    4. Press OK to save your new data source.
  4. Excel will then proceed with the Query Wizard to help you build your query. It allows you to select the desired columns, selection criteria, and sorting.
  5. At the end of the Query Wizard, you can choose to display the data in Excel or use the Microsoft Query tool to view/edit the data. Press Save Query… to save the query for reuse.
  6. Select Data | Refresh Data to update the contents of the spreadsheet.

To rerun a previously saved query, select Data | Get External Data à Run Database Query… and select the desired query.


Just For Fun

Humor: Microsoft: The Next 25 Years

Found by Mike Modugno (Remember him?!)

As we "celebrate" the first 25 years of Microsoft. We take a look ahead at what the future holds for the next 25 years at Microsoft.

Parody: IT Olympics

This site is a parody of the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics web site. It features IT-related events, such as cross-country application development (day 3) and requirements fly fishing, and stories of the "participants". Some of the funniest material includes the fake web browser error messages.