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September 2005 Newsletter

Quotable Quotes


Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.  Epictetus


Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership. The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others. If a leader can't get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn't even matter.   Gilbert Amelio


Silent gratitude isn't very much use to anyone.  –Gertrude Stein


Four short words sum up what has lifted most successful individuals above the crowd: a little bit more. They did all that was expected of them and a little bit more.  –A. Lou Vickery


Excessive or irrational schedules are probably the single most destructive influence in all of software.  Capers Jones


In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: They must be fit for it. They must not do too much of it. And they must have a sense of success in it.  –John Ruskin


A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions—as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.  –Friedrich Nietzsche


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Software Development Process

Article:  Architectural Care and Feeding

Software architectures don't happen by accident.  This article discusses how to establish and nurture a successful software architecture process.



Article:  Calculating the True Price of Software

This author uses some interesting concepts from the financial world, including the Black-Scholes options pricing model, to estimate the true price and cost of software.



Excerpt:  Light Touch Project Management

For agile development to be successful, an entirely different philosophy must be adopted.  Agile methodology expert Sanjiv Augustine discusses the “light touch” project management model in this except from his book.  The main premise of this pattern is that collaborative structure is preferred to the standard hierarchical organization.



Article:  Painless Software Schedules

This “classic” (written about 5 years ago!) article provides some practical advice on creating and maintaining realistic software development plans and schedules.  A couple of salient points are that estimating needs to be done by those doing the work and that management should not ask workers to reduce estimates to fit the pre-defined schedule.



Article:  Learn From What Works in Paper-Based Systems

Often, the best way to design and develop a new system is to careful examine and understand how the current pencil-and-paper system works.  In particular, the designer needs to pay attention to how to make the system fail gracefully and in such a way that the failure is obvious.



Editorial:  The Next Programming Models

In this opinion piece, the writer looks at what he believes to be the two “most likely to succeed” programming models of the near future:  composite applications based on SOA and Rich Internet Applications (RIAs).



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Software Testing & Quality

Article:  Should We Be Doing More Unit Testing?

This author makes a strong case for the importance and value of good unit testing processes.   He discusses the benefits to both the individual developer and to the overall project.



Editorial:  Poor Quality Invites Lawsuits

As if the potential direct damage to business (operations problems, loss of sales revenues) were not enough, this editorial indicates that low quality software is frequently a precipitating factor lawsuits between software vendors and users.



Site:  Software Testing Blog

This is a new weblog about software testing.  While new, it includes some well-organized and thoughtful perspectives on testing and where it fits into the overall development process.



Article:  Value Without Numbers

One the great struggles of any testing organization is to demonstrate the added value provided by testing.  In many cases, it is difficult to measure the value in any traditional sense (e.g., ROI, etc.).  This article gives some ideas about how to “sell” testing without specific savings numbers.



Interview:  Testing is moving away from IT

In this interview, Keane’s head of global services (outsourcing) discusses how system and application testing needs to be viewed from an overall business perspective instead of as a system development task.



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Site:  FreeTechBooks.com

This site provides a catalog-style listing of hundreds of free programming (and other related topics) books available online.  The site does not host the books themselves, but provides links to the author’s and/or publisher’s sites.  Excellent resource for basic programming topics.



Site:  OOTips

OOTips is a site dedicated to brief, but thorough tips to help practitioners apply object-oriented (OO) techniques.  The site is well-organized topically and seems to have an emphasis on applying OO in agile methodologies.



Article:  The Writing Tools

Everyone can use a little help improving their writing skills.  This article (actually, collection of articles) provides 50 tips on how to enrich your writing.  You don’t have to use all of the tips, but over time, applying a variety of these ideas will strengthen your writing.



Tutorial:  Bash Tutorial

This is a brief, introductory tutorial for new Linux/Unix users to the bash shell.  It focuses only on the basics of using bash in interactive mode, but includes a links to some bash shell scripting tutorials.



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Career Development/Miscellaneous

Article:  Ten Years of the Net

Yes, I know that the Internet has been around for over 30 years, but this is an enlightening article celebrating the fast-paced last ten years starting with the milestone of the IPO of Netscape.



Article:  CEOs are faking it, Stanford professor says

A new report indicates that most CEOs have to walk a fine line between appearing indecisive and dealing with the recognition of their own fallibility and weaknesses.  The study also indicates that CEOs have less impact on company results the larger the company.



Site:  Creative Think

Creative Think is a resource for improving your creativity and for the philosophy of creativity.  The page randomly displays one of hundreds of ideas for breaking out of your old thought “ruts”.  Just click the Give Me Another Creative Whack button (or refresh the page) for a new idea.



Article:  Offshoring 101: How to minimize the risk to your career

This article looks at some practical steps that you can take to either prevent your job from being outsourced or to mitigating the impact if it happens.



Article:  Learn to Live the 80/20 Way

This author posits that by apply the Pareto principle (the idea that 80% of results come from 20% of causes) in our daily lives, especially as it relates to how we spend our time, we can accomplish more by doing less.  This is not some sort of “get-rich-quick” scheme, but rather a whole paradigm shift about our activities.  Truly interesting ideas.



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Telecommunications/Networking Industry

Article:  Telecom Mergers Good For Competition: Study

A recent study by a George Mason University economist indicates that the mega-mergers in the telecom industry will actually encourage competition.



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Useful Utilities

Browsershots (Free – OS independent – Online)

If you design web sites for public use, Browsershots is a great tool to see how various browsers render and display your site.  Simply provide the URL to your site and in a few minutes (typically, less than 30), Browsershots will return image file displays of your site at various resolutions for popular browsers, including Safari (Mac OS X), MSIE, Firefox, Opera, and Konqueror.



The Regulator (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP plus .NET Framework – 3.2MB)

The Regulator is a free regular expression (regex) development, testing, and learning tool.  It provides an excellent hierarchical representation of the parsing and allows you to verify the regex against direct input or input from a file or Web.  Extraordinarily comprehensive and powerful tool.



My Protopage (Free – OS independent – Online)

My Protopage is a free online service that allows you to create a page with multiple links “panels” for links and “sticky notes”.  All of your items are saved online and you can move and rearrange the panels however you desire.  You can even choose your own color scheme and wallpaper.



Folder Size for Windows Explorer (Free – Windows 2000/XP – 190kB)

Folder Size adds a new column to the Details view in Windows Explorer which shows the size of the contents of folders, in addition to the size of files themselves.  This is very handy to determine which folders are taking up the most space on your hard drive and to determine if the contents will fit on a CD-ROM.



Synergy (Free/Open Source – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP, Linux/Unix, and Macintosh -- < 1MB)

Synergy allows you to share a keyboard and mouse between multiple computers, even running different OSes, which each have their own monitor/display.  You simply move your mouse cursor off of one screen to activate the mouse and keyboard on another system.  Synergy “merges” clipboards between the systems allowing cut and paste between them.  (Synergy is powerful, but sometimes a little finicky to set up.  See this article for step-by-step instructions.)



Crowbar (Free – Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP – 1.83MB)

Crowbar is a small, simple multifunction tool for windows.  It displays a configurable bar on your desktop above (and docked to) the task bar.  Available bar functions (via plug-ins) are a launcher (similar to Windows Quick Launch Bar), drive space indicators, local weather information, and network I/O.  All of these fit within a single unobtrusive desktop bar.



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Productivity Tips

Removing formatting from text pasted into MS Word

When you paste text into an MS Word document from another source (e.g., HTML page), Word will keep the formatting, if any, from the source.  If you want to quickly remove the formatting of the pasted text, simply select the desired text and press <Ctrl>+<Space>.  An alternative is to add the following macro to your Normal document template to paste text unformatted:

Sub PasteUnformatted()


' PasteUnformatted Macro


    Selection.PasteSpecial Link:=False, DataType:=wdPasteText, Placement:= _

        wdInLine, DisplayAsIcon:=False

End Sub

Then you can assign this macro to a toolbar button or keyboard shortcut for quick access.


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Just For Fun

National Punctuation Day

Well, we missed it this year, but now you have something to look forward to on next August 22!  This site, while humorous at times, is really an effort to emphasize the importance of good punctuation in your writing to ensure that you properly convey the desired meaning.  For even more punctuation fun, play the free online Eats, Shoots and Leaves quiz.  (OK…  I couldn’t resist this one, since I am a bit particular about grammar and punctuation!)



Color Perception Optical Illusions

This site presents three truly amazing optical illusions related to shading and coloring.  The third illusion is absolutely incredible and you’ll think that you are crazy (or on drugs) when you check it out.



Worst Jobs in History

Most folks get frustrated with their jobs from time to time.  But all in all, most of us have it pretty good.  Visit this site for 2000 years of history of terrible jobs.  The site is of British origin and is presented with the typical dry British sense of humor.



Fedex Furniture

This site features pictures and some instructions from a guy who built furniture (sofas, desks, beds, etc.) entirely out of Fedex boxes and other packing containers.



Swank Signs

This frequently-updated site presents funny, but true signs from around the world.  You can submit your own entries of strange signs from your own neck of the woods.



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