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October 2005 Newsletter


Quotable Quotes


A man is measured by the size of things that anger him.  Geof Greenleaf


Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.  –Christopher Morley


When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.  –Helen Keller


Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no matter how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity but with it you can accomplish miracles.  Og Mandino


It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.  –Thomas Paine


The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.  –Eric Hoffer


Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.  –Cecil Beaton


If things are not going well with you, begin your effort at correcting the situation by carefully examining the service you are rendering, and especially the spirit in which you are rendering it.  –Roger Babson


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Software Development Process

Article:  Work vs. Progress

It’s typically easy to determine if work is getting done, but in software development efforts, determining if you are making progress toward your goal is sometimes elusive.  This article looks at some ways to assess whether progress is being made.



Editorial:  Requirements Gathering

In this column, the author challenges the conventional wisdom of requirements gathering involving getting the details of what the customer wants the system or application to do and recommends focusing more on what problem the system or application is intended to solve.



Article:  Test Driven Development and the Scientific Method

This author uses the traditional scientific method as the pattern for developing and implementing test driven development paradigm of extreme programming.



Report:  The New World of Application Development

Software developers are dealing with new and special challenges in creating systems.  This report looks at some of these, including services-oriented architectures, distributed teams, and managing expectations of multiple project stakeholders.



Editorial:  Focus IT Therapy for Best Effects

This pieces uses the interesting analogy of looking for a “miracle cure” for what ails you to business requests to IT.  But the kicker is that IT has some responsibility and accountability in this conundrum, too.



Article:  Introduction to Capability Cases

IT alignment with business objectives is one of the hot topics in business circles today.  This book excerpt provides an overview of what the authors call “capability cases”, which claim to provide a systematic way to translate business vision into effective system designs and plans.



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Software Testing & Quality

Article:  Quality Assurance:  Much More than Testing

Good quality assurance (QA) is not only about testing and technologies involved, but also about processes, methods, and approaches.  This article looks at the principles that apply to QA for all software development projects.  The article includes some excellent commentary/feedback.



Article:  Why Software Fails

This article provides an overview of the common causes of software project failure and the consequences of such failure.  It goes on to talk about how the risks of such failure can be properly mitigated.



Blog:  Testing Reflections

This is a blog dedicated to a wide variety of software testing topics.  One of the nicest features is that it is more focused on testing methodology than on test automation, but the later is well represented.



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Article:  A Really, Really, Really Good Introduction to XML

The self-aggrandizing title aside, this article is a very good overview of XML and where it fits into the development landscape.  The article provides nice, non-technical explanation of XML and how it is used for data management in web services.



Reference:  Cheat Sheet Roundup

This site provides links to over 30 “cheat sheets” for various development topics, including web development, programming languages, databases, and more.



Article:  25 SQL Commandments

This article presents over two dozen tips from writing better SQL statements for Oracle database systems.  The hints range from the simple to the sublime.



Article:  Successful Strategies for Commenting Code

This comprehensive article, based on the author’s thorough review of available literature on the topic, gives some nice guidelines on commenting source code, including examples.  The article is very generous in that provides a number of different strategies with the advantages and disadvantages of each.



Article:  Beating a Dead Horse: What's a SOA Again? All About Service-Orientation...

With all of the recent discussion and commentary about service-oriented architectures (SOA), sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what SOA is.  This simple article tries to provide some needed context on this topic.



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Career Development/Miscellaneous

Article:  ADT Magazine 2005 Salary Survey

This new salary survey for development professionals and management shows some modest gains over 2004.  Overall, application developer salaries were up, while system administration salaries were down.



Article:  C’mon Kids, Let’s Play Programmer

Often, learning to programming is not the most intuitive of tasks.  A software developer has created a children’s board game to help teach the logical skills necessary for developing good programmers.



Editorial:  Survival Skills

Many IT workers worry about job stability and the future for their profession.  This author suggests that adapting the analysis and debugging skills gained in IT to apply them in fixing bottlenecks and problems within the business operations is a good approach.



Article:  Is Your Boss a Psychopath?

A relatively new idea is that many managers and executives in companies fit the formal psychological definition of a psychopath.  This article looks at the impact that a psychopathic boss has on the workers and the company as an organization.



Article:  Leonardo da Vinci:  Qualities of a Genius and How to Think Productively

Everyone can learn something from the pattern/model put down by Leonardo da Vinci concerning how to make the most of your latent creativity.  This article looks at how Leonarda approached problem solving.



Article:  Business truths bite the dust

In a recent study by respected Stanford business school professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, he found that many of the commonly held standard tenets of business (cost cutting for low-margin businesses, performance-based pay, greater accountability, etc.) may actually have a negative effect on business performance and turn an organization into a environment that encourages people to lie.



Article:  10 Steps to Better Meetings

This brief article outlines 10 simple points for having more effective meetings.  The key point that the author makes is that you need to be sure that having a meeting in the first place is appropriate and necessary.



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Telecommunications/Networking Industry

Article:  Congress releases draft broadband bill

The US Congress has posted a draft 77-page revision to current telecommunications law.  Some of the major changes include requirements for BITS (broadband Internet transmission service) to level playing field between DSL and cable providers and regulation of VOIP services.



Article:  U.S. Is Close to Approving Deals Altering the Telephone Industry

U.S. regulators are close to finalizing the SBC-AT&T and Verizon-MCI mergers.  Apparently, one of the conditions of these acquisitions will be to force providers to unbundled DSL services.  Likewise, asset divestures will likely be required.



Article:  Broadband penetration slowing

After several years of substantial growth in use broadband Internet connectivity, the growth rate for first half of 2005 was only 3%, according to a new study.  Nevertheless, in the US, over half of Internet users now use broadband, up from 35% at end of 2003.



Article:  VPNs gain with users; frame relay declines

Companies are moving from traditional services (frame relay and ATM) to IP-based VPNs to support better security and new applications that require IP transport.



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Useful Utilities

What Is Transferring?  (Free – Windows 2000/XP – 705kB)

What Is Transferring? (WIT, for short) is a simple, easy to use TCP/IP packet sniffer for Windows that does not require a packet capture driver.  It captures and displays packets in either text or hex/ASCII format for examining all types of data.  Very good tool when comprehensive tools, like Ethereal, are overkill.



WinExt (Free – Windows 2000/XP – 1127kB)

WinExt is a combination application launcher and multi-function toolbar for Windows.  It puts a small, unobtrusive toolbar at the top of your desktop which replaces the built-in Quick Launch Bar, provides access to Start Menu items, Internet Favorites, and much more.  Some of the customizable functions include system hotkeys, user-defined aliases to common commands, system information, such as CPU and memory usage, and more.



HandyFind (Free – Windows NT/2000/XP – 327kB)

HandyFind is a universal replacement for the standard application “Find” dialog box.  You simply enable “find” mode and type the series of characters that you want to search for and HandyFind jumps to the first occurrence.  Then just use to right and left arrow keys to search forward and backward.  Works with MS Word, Internet Explorer, Notepad, and other applications.



Lektora (Free – Windows 2000/XP, MacOS, or Linux – 1.66MB)

Lektora is a free RSS reader that embeds seamlessly into Internet Explorer or Firefox (on Windows).  It will combine the various RSS feeds into a newspaper-style page that you can browse.



Online Note Paper

This handy online tool lets you create ruled note paper in PDF format.  The paper can be customized with your name, e-mail, and phone number (or most anything else) and includes a monthly calendar and (optionally) a summary section.



RapidShare (Free – OS independent/online)

RapidShare is a free online web space hosting location for sharing files.  You can upload and download as many files as you want up to 30 MB in size.  They will host the file indefinitely as long as the file gets downloaded at least once every 30 days.  You can delete the file any time.  Hosting is ad sponsored; you must view ads when downloading the file.



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Just For Fun


This site is a tongue-in-cheek satire of Wikipedia.  Uncyclopedia is really just a set of humor articles that are written with dry wit to seem real.  The results are very funny.



Optical Illusions and Visual Phenomena

This site presents more than 50 optical illusions, each with some background history and explanations of why we observe what we do.  Extremely interesting and enlightening.




Each year, Beloit College publishes a list of interesting facts about the society and culture related to the entering freshman class (based on the fact that most of them are 18 years old).  If you’re like me, some of these tidbits will make you feel rather old.



Office Slang

Like any subculture, office workers have developed their own jargon relating to their environment.  This humorous site collects and defines the vernacular of the office space (pun intended).




This site allows you to take any text string and turn it into a Google-like logo.  Personalize Google with your own name if you like.  After you enter the text, the site displays the Google main page with your special logo.  Kind of fun!



Happy News

Much (most?) of the news today is dominated by war, strife, hunger, poverty, and other “bad news”.  Certainly, we can’t turn away from these stories, but sometimes you might want a little “good news” for change.  Happy News does just that.  Their credo is “Real News, Compelling Stories, Always Positive”.



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