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Archive for the 'Software & Computers' Category

You Tube Problems Resolved on Ubuntu 8.10

Posted by Mike on 21st March 2009

A few weeks ago, I upgraded to Ubuntu 8.10 – Intrepid Ibex.  One thing that I had problems with, and according to my searching many others did too, was playing flash videos like those on You Tube.  It took me some time to resolve it, but the following two guides did the trick.  Not only are they easy to follow, but they did solve my problems with both sound and flash video.

One thing I find when searching forums is that there is a lot of “try this” and “try that.”  That approach can lead to more problems.  It is real useful when the “try this” and “try that” threads get summarized into a tutorial that really works.

I was having two problems with You Tube on my PC.

  1. Sound: I wasn’t getting sound for a lot of different applications, including videos from You Tube. The  Simple guide to Sound Solutions for Hardy,Intrepid and Jaunty Jackalope Users on Ubuntu Geek worked for me.   This guide is truly step-by-step for fixing sound problems.
  2. Flash Video: My flash video in FireFox 3 would just sit there with the circle of dots going round and round in the center of the screen.  I found a guide called Flash not working with Firefox 3 on Ubuntu Intrepid using flashplugin-nonfree after upgrade from Hardy by Jamie Morrison.  It is not as user friendly as the Ubuntu Geek guide, but it worked.  Follow the steps under the Resolution heading.

Hopefully, these two steps will help you like they helped me!

Posted in Software & Computers, Tutorials | No Comments »

Running Citrix on Ubuntu Linux

Posted by Mike on 1st March 2009

Yesterday, I did a rather painless upgrade of Linux on my PC from Ubuntu 7.10 to 8.10.  My PC is setup to dual boot, with the other OS being Windows XP Professional.  I keep that around for Citrix, Quickbooks, and testing webpages on Internet Explorer and Opera.   One of the last things to finish for this upgrade was to get Citrix working.

I use Citrix to work remotely for my employer.  I was never able to get Citrix working in Ubuntu 7.10, although it worked just fine in Ubuntu 6.06.  (Something about library incompatabilities.)  As usual, I Googled for help.  This time I found a great tutorial called Running Citrix ICA client on Linux – Ubuntu 8.10.  Unlike many tutorials, this one was straight-forward, to the point, simple, and it worked!  My thanks to Cary Brown.

Now for the big suprise.  Running Citrix on Linux is twice as fast as it was for me on Windows XP!  What a nice surprise.

Posted in Software & Computers, Tutorials | 2 Comments »

Scrum Videos

Posted by Mike on 30th January 2009

I posted this over at Effectual Working, but thought I would add it here too.

I have been doing some research on agile software development methodologies, specifically Scrum, and found the following videos.

Posted in Management & Business, Productivity, Project Management, Software & Computers, Testing | No Comments »

What makes a good Project Manager?

Posted by Mike on 8th November 2007

I have confessed to my peers that it is hard to assess the effectiveness and performance of a project manager in our organization.  It is probably hard in other organizations too.  “On time” and “under budget” are hard to quantify on information technology projects.  Some may argue this point, but I find that no one really knows what a project will be when these two metrics are established.

I read an interesting post by Scott Berkun.  It is titled Are you a leader or a tracker?.  In it, Scott lists a group of questions to ask a project manager in order to understand what that person really does.  I summarize the questions into a couple key ideas.

  • “Professionalizing” project managers has left many of them without relevant, hands-on roles.  I am finding that information technology executives (CIO, CTO) are wanting more hands-on project managers.  In other words, PMs who have a deeper understanding of the projects they are tasked with completing.
  • Leading the team to the goal is more important than pushing them from behind.  If the focus is on tracking, what leadership value are you bringing?  It is easier to track.  (Hindsight is 20/20.)  Most teams need a leader who can put the next steps and the ultimate goal into better focus.

At the very least, if you are in a project management role, do a self-assessment using Scott’s questions.  Your answers may point you in a better direction that will increase your effectiveness and value.

Posted in Management & Business, Project Management, Software & Computers | No Comments »

IT Publications

Posted by Mike on 23rd October 2007

Out of all the publications I receive as an IT professional, Computerworld is the best.  How can I tell?  It is because rarely can I finish an issue in one sitting.  I will try to skim through it first, but usually get stuck on Don Tennant’s editorial.  Then I get caught reading an article and then dog-earring several others to read later.  This magazine is full of valuable information and insight week after week.

Posted in Management & Business, Productivity, Project Management, Software & Computers | No Comments »


Posted by Mike on 24th October 2006

I just saw this acronym. It stands for Firefox/OpenOffice/GNU/Linux. It is supposed to cover browser, office suite and email.  However, the email part of the equation is not covered in this particular acronym. I use Mozilla Thunderbird. The GNU/Linux distribution I use is Ubuntu, although I am going to try Freespire. Here is an article on free software’s secret weapon: FOOGL.

Posted in Software & Computers | No Comments »


Posted by Mike on 6th July 2006

I received a FEEDBlitz email from Hal Macomber that introduced me to a blog by David Maister. He has an article, titled, Why (Most) Training is Useless. If you are a trainer, or a manager who wants to effect change, I highly recommend that you read it.  In my job, I do a lot of training. It is my experience that what David says is very true. Training should be done at the point of change, in full collaboration with top management. Without this kind of support, most training does not accomplish its’ goals.

Posted in Management & Business, Project Management, Software & Computers | No Comments »

Metrics – Gaming the System

Posted by Mike on 4th April 2006

This is not a new problem to establishing meaningful metrics.  I call it “Gaming the System.”  This behavior has been around since people started measuring the performance of other people.  Those being measured will always find a way to make their numbers look good.

I know someone who used to be a cashier for Kmart. They had a metric for average scan time.  Her time was the best in the store; because she figured out how to make her numbers look good.  She would arrange all the customer’s items with the bar codes ready.  Then, she would quickly scan each item and hit the subtotal button.  At first, the other cashiers were angry with her, saying that she made them look bad.  However, management caught on to what she was doing to get great numbers.  Guess what?  They trained all the other cashiers to do the same thing and the store’s numbers became the best in the district!

Yesterday, I was at Sears buying a dehumidifier. After making my purchase, I went to merchandise pickup.  I scanned my receipt and my name was added to the queue.  I looked at the screen and to my delight; the average wait time was 2.20 minutes.  Great!  I will be out of here in no time!  WRONG. I watched the worker and saw quickly that he was “Gaming the System.”  Once orders were added to the queue, he would take his hand-held device and mark all the orders complete.  Then, everyone would wait.  The metric looked great, but didn’t reflect reality.

Sears probably spent some serious money to develop this system, including lovely computerized voice prompts.  They probably use this average service time metric to determine staffing levels.  I can tell from personal experience that this store is probably under-staffed.  I didn’t have my watch on, so I don’t have the exact time of my wait, but it was much longer than the 1.40 minutes that was recorded. (I would guess that I waited 20 to 25 minutes.)

Sears could have the customer indicate that they received their item as the event that clocks the actual service time.  (Perhaps by scanning their receipt again.)  That would eliminate the “game.”  In this scenario, the customer starts and stops the clock.  (Also, the worker didn’t check my receipt. They probably have a shrink problem too.)

“Gaming the system” is easy to avoid.  You just have to observe the system in action and make adjustments.  Don’t set your metrics program to reward speed, unless you have an independent way to ensure accuracy.  Set it up to reward accuracy.  I can tell you one thing.  The workers at this particular Sears Merchandise Pickup area were not motivated to hustle.

Posted in Management & Business, Project Management, Software & Computers, Testing | No Comments »

WordPress Version 2

Posted by Mike on 14th January 2006

This morning I updated my blog to WordPress Version 2. The upgrade was easy, but you do need some basic website management skills, such as FTP and CPanel. The instructions were clear.

I was interested in this version for the improved spam controls and the easy backup option. The spam controls require that you register with WordPress, in order to access their API. I felt that it was worth it, as spam takes a lot of the enjoyment out of blogging.

One last note. I was on Version 1.2 and in the upgrade, lost my theme. I decided to get a fresh theme, so that did not bother me too much. My only caution is that if you want to preserve your theme from Version 1.2, then do your research, on how to do it, prior to upgrading.

Posted in General, Software & Computers | No Comments »

Software Testing: Education and Certification

Posted by Mike on 30th December 2005

I did some research today to summarize some options for software testing Education and Certification. To begin with, here is James Bach’s thought on certification called Against Certification. I concur with his analysis, but I also realize the practical realities of the corporate world. Certification can help you there. And, if you do it right, you can get some good education by getting a certification.

Formal training is available from several different vendors. I recommend the following approach.

Reading Books
Testing Computer Software by Cem Kamer

Lessons Learned in Software Testing by Cem Kaner, James Bach, and Bret Pettichord.

Online Course
Black Box Software Testing – This is the course that I will be taking my QA & Testing Team through during the first half of 2006. It is free and available from the Florida Institute of Technology.

Classroom Training
Any of the training referenced in the Certification section below.

Introduction to Testing for Business Analysts – I have taken a course from ESI on Requirements Gathering and found that their courses give you good foundational knowledge on the subject. I expect that their testing course would do the same.

In this course, you’ll learn the necessary skills to construct effective test strategies and test plans to verify and validate requirements—enabling you to deliver the quality your business demands. You will also be able to communicate the rationale for and value of planning and conducting the various necessary reviews and inspections. You’ll gain an understanding of black box and glass box (white box) testing from a business analyst’s perspective—and you’ll know how to communicate with those who perform the systems analyst function.

Software Testing for Better Project Management – There is some overlap between this course and Introduction to Testing for Business Analysts, but the main objective of the course is different.

In this course, you will discover why and how to integrate testing throughout the software development process in order to uncover bugs, ensure performance, enhance quality and lower costs. Using a set of integrated classroom exercises beginning with requirements validation and ending with implementation, this course demonstrates how management of testing activities relates to the life cycle of projects involving software development of projects.

There are two main organizations that offer certification programs in the software testing arena. Those are: ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board) and IIST (International Institute for Software Testing). At this time, I do not have a specific recommendation as to which certification program is best.

There are two levels of certification from ISTQB: Foundation Level and Advanced Level.

Software Quality Engineering is a company that offers testing certification courses. Software Testing Certification is their Certified Tester – Foundation Level Training course. The certification exam can be taken after this three-day course.

To qualify to sit for an Advanced Level exam, you must:

  • Have five years of verifiable full-time work experience in software or systems testing, development, quality assurance, engineering or a related field; and
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution in computer science or a related field may be substituted for up to two years of work experience; and
  • Hold an ISTQB Certified Tester – Foundation Level certificate.

Two different certifications are offered by IIST. Certification training is offered by IIST.

Certified Software Test Professional (CSTP)

  • CSTP is an education-based certification, based on a Body of Knowledge that covers areas essential for every test professional to effectively perform their job in testing projects.
  • Two requirements must be satisfied before the CSTP certification can be granted. These are: Formal Education Requirement (10 days and written exams) and Job Experience Requirement (one year). More information is available on their website.

Certified Test Manager (CTM)

  • The CTM Certification was developed to fill the gap in the management skills required by test managers and test leads to effectively manage the test process, the test project and the test organization.
  • Two requirements must be satisfied before the CTM certification can be granted. These are: Formal Education Requirement (10 days and written exams) and Job Experience Requirement (3 years testing and 1 year lead/management). More information is available on their website.

Posted in Software & Computers, Testing | 1 Comment »