September 2002 Newsletter


Quotable Quotes


Treat all disasters as if they were trivialities but never treat a triviality as if it were a disaster.   –Quentin Crisp


Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.  –Winston Churchill


Lubarsky's Law of Cybernetic Entomology:  There's always one more bug.


Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don't need to be done.  –Andy Rooney


A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something.   –Wilson Mizner


Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.  –Samuel Johnson


A leader without a sense of humour is apt to be like the grass mower at the cemetery - he has lots of people under him, but nobody is paying him any attention.  –Bob Ross


The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.  –William James



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Software Development Process


Article:  Taking Projects to the Extreme

This article gives an overview of some new techniques in the realm of project management collectively known as "extreme" project management.,10801,72827,00.html


Article:  Behaviors That Foretell Project Trouble

This article discusses some of the warning signs that a project is in trouble and suggests some remedies.


Article: Requirements are Corporate Assets

This article discusses how requirements for software projects are important from the perspective of economic cost and value (including ROI) of them.


Whitepaper:  Features, Use Cases, Requirements, Oh My!

This whitepaper from Rational discusses the differences between some of the various documents often used to define a system.  It focuses on the hierarchy and the appropriate content and level of detail in each.


Editorial: In praise of laziness

This author proposes that in some cases laziness can be a key attribute to IT success.  The concept is that the lazy IT worker is diligent at finding more efficient ways of doing tasks, particularly repetitive ones.


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Software Testing & Quality


Article: Exposing the Fallacy of "Good Enough" Software

This article refutes some of the principles of James Bach’s “Good Enough” software quality and development philosophy.{CCB99129-BFED-480D-A9F1-6B919B30E2B7}


Article:  Painless Bug Tracking

This article outlines the three key elements of a good problem report and includes ten tips for making bug tracking effective and efficient.


Article: Users Losing Billions Due to Bugs

A study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that software defects cost $60 billion annually and the amount could be reduced by $22.5 billion by better testing.  Cem Kaner and Boris Beizer are quoted in the article.,10801,72390,00.html


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Tutorial:  Absolute Beginner's Guide to Database Normalization

This excerpt from a book on database design provides a nice overview of the principles and specific techniques for removing redundancy from your data design.{B5DD9E74-8F83-460D-B6D5-E88B1FE0F007}


Primer:  Much ado about objects

If the terminology about object-oriented (OO) technology is confusing to you, then this is just the article for you.  It explains the basics of OO in plain English.


Primer:  A Web Services Primer

Another nice introduction to the fundamental concepts underlying the web services craze that this taking programming by storm.  The second site includes a number of resources about web services.  The third article addressed five common myths about web services.


Tutorial: SQL basics: SELECT statement options

A nice introduction to how refine and format the results of your database queries.  Nothing too technical, but a good refresher.


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Career Development/Miscellaneous


Article: Gain trust by being consistent

Gaining trust from peers and those that you supervise is a key success factor in the world of business.  Maintaining consistency is one of the cornerstones to building trust.


Article:  Powerful Leadership: How to Unleash the Potential in Others

This article discusses how leaders and managers can be successful in motivating others in a time of great change and stress in the workplace.  It focuses on seven important changes to make to adjust.{08B15AA0-392B-4D30-A8F8-2BA14290996A}


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Useful Utilities


MS Outlook 2000 Team Calendar 2.2 (Free -- Windows 9x/NT/2000 -- 197kB)

Team Calendar 2.0 allows you to view multiple users' calendars simultaneously.  This is convenient for reviewing other's availability before trying to schedule a meeting.  For more information about Team Calendar, see this article.  [Note:  This add-on does not work with Outlook 98.]


MS Outlook 98/2000 Junk E-mail Blocker List (Free)

Although not a utility in the strict sense, this is a very useful download that allows you to update your Outlook junk e-mail sender list with thousands of known spam senders.  Simple instructions on the page show you how to use it.


Folder Cache (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 432kB)

Folder Cache adds a button to all Windows file Open and Save dialogs (including on older applications) that allows you to quickly access your most often used directories/folders.  While newer applications have the “Favorites” option in Open and Save dialogs it is sometimes cumbersome to configure and use.  Folder Cache is more streamlined and intuitive.


Doughnut (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000 – 33kB)

Doughnut is handy utility that allows you to quickly maximize a window either vertically (double-click on title bar) or horizontally (double-click on title bar while pressing <Shift>) or to roll up the window so that only the title bar is visible, by right-clicking on the title bar.  Although this may not sound like much, these are very useful features.


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Productivity Tips


Some handy keyboard shortcuts for MS Excel

MS Excel has some very handy, but not very well documented keyboard shortcuts that can really save time when editing your worksheets.  Here a few of these gems.



<Ctrl>+9 (The "9" on the main keyboard)

Hide the currently selected rows.


Restore the hidden rows.


Change numeric format to currency (e.g., "$8.00").


Change numeric format to percent (e.g., "32%")




Toggle the display of the spreadsheet grid in MS Excel

In some cases in MS Excel, it's nice to turn off the display of spreadsheet grid.  However, the command to do this is usually hidden away.  To activate it, select Tools | Customize…  from the main menu.  In the Customize window, select the Commands tab and choose the Forms item from the Categories list.  In the Commands list, locate the Toggle Grid item and drag and drop it to any of your toolbars.  Press Close in the Customize window.  Now simply press the Toggle Grid button to turn the worksheet grid on or off.


Quick status check of your Internet Explorer Favorites in Windows 2000

The Thumbnail view in Windows 2000 is an excellent way to check for bad or outdated Internet Explorer Favorites shortcuts.  Simply navigate to your Favorites folder (or any folder containing Internet shortcuts) in Windows Explorer.  Then select View | Thumbnails from the main menu in Windows Explorer.  Windows will update each shortcut with a miniature view of the web page referenced by the shortcut.  You can quickly skim these thumbnails to look for shortcuts that return a "404 - not found" error.


Change a calculated value in MS Excel to a static value

In an Excel worksheet, if you'd like to change a cell from a calculated value based on the formula in the cell, to the currently calculated value (i.e., preserve the value and delete the formula), select the desired cell, click in the Formula Bar and press <F9>.  The formula is instantly changed to the current value.  Press <Ctrl>+Z, if you change you mind and want to go back to the formula.



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Just For Fun


ASCII Art Collection

This is an excellent (and massive!) collection of ASCII art:  those drawings that are made with just the normal ASCII characters from your keyboard.  There’s something for everyone at this site.


The "Technology" Behind the Google Search Engine

Ever wonder why so many people think that Google is the best search engine out there?  This tongue-in-cheek page explains the "technology" behind Google's amazing success.


Witness to an Execution

Although this site doesn't fit into the category of "fun", it is a moving, powerful radio story about executions told by the people who actually carry them out at the Texas penitentiary in Huntsville.  Whether you are for or against the death penalty, this is a story you can't miss.



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