October 2003 Newsletter


Quotable Quotes

Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.  –Dandemis


There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.  –Marshall McLuhan


Everything that is happening at this moment is a result of the choices you've made in the past.  –Deepak Chopra


Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise.  Seek what they sought.  Basho


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Software Development Process

Editorial:  Baseball lessons for software teams

This editorial applies the lessons outlined in the book Moneyball about how the Oakland Athletics are one of the best baseball teams with one of the smallest payrolls by using measurement and statistics to IT.



Article:  Immelt's Four Rules For Fostering Innovation

General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt outlines four principles for promoting innovation in large businesses.  He focuses on how senior management can create an environment where employees have the freedom to create original ideas.



Tutorial:  An Introduction to Project Management

While the overriding objective of this tutorial is to sell the company’s project management tools, this tutorial does give a good overview of basic project management terminology and techniques.



Article:  Business Rules Come First

This article, which is an excerpt from a new book, recommends that IT projects should not be undertaken until clear business rules defining how the business works have been documented.  Furthermore, it outlines some important concepts surrounding business rules.



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Software Testing & Quality

Article:  When in the cycle does formal testing begin?

New research from the Cutter Consortium shows that nearly half of organizations wait until coding is finished to begin testing.  Respondents using “agile methods” indicated that testing was easy and few “major” problems were found by testing while developing.



Article:  The Payoff From Software Quality

Watts Humphrey, developer of the SEI CMM, discusses the business and financial benefits of developing quality software.



Article:  A legal fix for software flaws?

With the high profile of the MSBlast and SoBig worms recently, many customers are pondering criminal, civil, and financial liability of software vendors.



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Online Text:  Picking Up Perl

Perl has become the de facto standard for automation in the Unix/Linux world.  This tutorial provides a nice introduction and basic reference to the language.



Article:  Create an effective data model for your database

This article covers the basics of creating a solid data model through the process of creating conceptual, logical, and physical data models for a system.  It includes a number of links to other valuable resources.



Site:  JavaCertificate.com

This site is a free online certification center to help programmers pass the Sun Certified Programmer for Java(tm) 2 Platform exam (SCJP 1.4, exam-number CX-310-035).  It requires registration and provides access to over 300 sample tests for all topics covered on the exam.



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Career Development/Miscellaneous

Article:  Good As Gone

This article looks at the theory that, as the economy improves, highly-qualified technology workers are likely to leave their current jobs for greener pastures.



Article:  Linux on the Desktop: The Whole Story

Gartner research shows that moving desktop systems from Windows to Linux is not as cost-effective as originally perceived, when training and other costs are factored in.



Article:  British Company Bans E-Mail

A British mobile phone retailer with 2500 employees has banned all use of e-mail for internal communication.  The CEO expects to save three hours per day and one million pounds sterling each month as a result of the move.



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Useful Utilities

LS-Tools Collection (Free – Windows NT/2000/XP – 72kB)

LS-Tools are a set of command-line interface administrative utilities for Windows NT-based systems.  Some of the utilities include ln for creating hard links (junction points) on NTFS drives; down to shut down, reboot, log off, or hibernate the system at a certain time; scacl to display and modify security (access control list) settings for Windows services; and more.



CutePDF Printer (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 4.17MB)

CutePDF is a free Adobe Acrobat file creating utility.  It works with any Windows application that can print to convert output to Acrobat format.  This application is completely free and does not include advertising or watermarks.  CutePDF is essentially a user-friendly front end for GNU Ghostscript, and includes version 7.05 of essential Ghostscript utilities.



LaunchTab (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 182kB)

LaunchTab is another application launcher with some neat features.  LaunchTab places a set of tabs (like index tabs on manila folders) at the bottom of the screen.  When the mouse hovers over tab, it opens allowing you to select the application to launch.  It’s very nice because it takes very little screen space, but provide quick accessibility.  Multiple tabs can be defined to categorize your applications.



AstroGrep (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 1981kB)

AstroGrep is a freeware, GUI-based grep utility for Windows.  It provides support for regular text string searches and regular expressions.  As well, AstroGrep can search within files in a single directory or recursively in all directories below the one specified.



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Productivity Tips

Create a shortcut to lock workstation in Windows 2000

Windows 2000 does not have a quick method to lock your workstation.  However, in some cases, you might prefer to quickly lock your system to prevent others from seeing confidential information on your desktop.  Here’s how to create such a shortcut:  Right click on the desktop and choose New à Shortcut.  In the Type the location of the item field, enter rundll32.exe user32.dll,LockWorkStation and press Next >.  Give the shortcut an appropriate name, such as Lock Workstation and press Finish.  Right click on the new shortcut and select Properties.  In the Shortcut tab, specify a Shortcut key, such as <Ctrl>-<Alt>-L and press OK.  The next time you need to quickly lock your workstation, press the shortcut key combination.


Make Shift key release Caps Lock in Windows 2000/XP

Typewriters (remember those things?!) had a feature that if you pressed Caps Lock, the next time that you pressed Shift, the Caps Lock was released.  Computers don’t behave this way.  However, in Windows 2000/XP, a simple registry tweak can set this behavior:  Open the Registry Editor (Start | Run à regedit).  Navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Keyboard Layout registry key and create a new DWORD value named Attributes.  Set this value to 0x0001000 (65536 decimal).  Close the Registry Editor and restart your system for the change to take effect. Viola!  No more tYPING lIKE tHIS!  (Note:  This change indeed makes Windows behave like a typewriter.  Caps Lock is no longer a toggle key and always turns Caps on.  You must use Shift to turn off Caps Lock.)


Use MS Excel’s “implied” drop-down lists for improved accuracy

Often MS Excel spreadsheets contain lists for which a particular column only contains a few values/choices.  The spreadsheet can be designed use only certain values.  However, Excel can also create an “implied” list of choices from the values already included in the cells above the current cell in a particular column.  To access this “implied” list, select the desired cell and enter <Alt>- (<Alt>-Down Arrow).  Excel will display a small drop-down list of all of the values in the cells above.


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Just For Fun

Free Classic Books in PDF Format

This is a collection of 40+ (and growing) classic works of literature in PDF format.  While these same texts are available elsewhere, these are nice versions because they have already been converted to PDF format for reading in Acrobat Reader.  Each book comes a regular format for desktop versions of Acrobat Reader and “tagged” format for PDAs/handhelds.



The Unix-Hater’s Handbook

A collection of Microsoft-sponsored essays about why Unix (and other *nix operating systems) are bad.



City Creator

City Creator is a Flash-based site that allows you to design your own city using “pre-fab” components, including building blocks, people, vehicles, roadways, etc.  Current designs include medieval village, snow village, and futuristic city themes.  Watch out!  This one is addictive.



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