PraxIS Sep. 2007

07-09 Contents: Irish Computer Society Awards, Free software testing seminars, other news.

ISSN 1649-2374 This issue online at   [Previous] [Index]  [Next]

Systems Modelling Ltd.: Managing reality in Information Systems - strategies for success  


1) Irish Computer Society 50 years awards
     Your vote is wanted!
2) Quality
     Free Software Testing Seminars in Ireland
3) Spreadsheets
     Apple Numbers introduced
4) Off Topic
     Tech Gripes
5 Web links in this newsletter
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Welcome to PraxIS

This time, it's a lighter edition as I was on holidays last month.


Patrick O'Beirne

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1)  Irish Computer Society events

Interact conference: 19-21 September 2007

This event will bring together Irelandís senior IT executives, North and South, to foster collaboration on common goals. Among its chief aims is the establishment of an all-island forum on IT in public policy and a joint North-South CEO/CIO umbrella group.

Register now at

Have you got a favourite pioneer or technology from the last five decades? If so, register your vote now for the 50 Years of Computing in Ireland Awards!

To register your vote, or for ticket bookings, visit

How private organisations can access government funds

12th September - Lunchtime 12pm - 2pm
As part of the seven-year National Development Plan, Ä476.3 million has been made available this year for upskilling people in and for employment. How can private companies secure these funds for training their employees?

 - Explore the details of the e NDP
 - Learn from other companies who have received grants and are successfully training staff
 - Walk away with the information you need to receive government funding for your organisation

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2) Free Software Testing Seminars in Ireland

SoftTest with the support of the All Ireland Software Network is pleased to announce the following events:

September 19th, Dublin, Venue: Holiday Inn Pearse Street, 2.00pm - 5:30pm
September 20th, Belfast, Venue: Radisson SAS Hotel, The Gasworks, 2.00pm - 5:30pm

Paul Gerrard, Gerrard Consulting - Successful Software Improvement
UPDATE 11-Sep : May be deferred for family reasons - register to be kept informed

Neil Thompson, (TiSCL) - Holistic Test Analysis and Design

Paul Gerrard, Gerrard Consulting
Successful Software Improvement

Do your customers need you to improve the way you develop and implement software?
Have you already tried process improvement but found it difficult to implement change?
Have you found it difficult to motivate your people to support change?
Do your management and business sponsors demand improved communications to take more effective decisions?
Have you implemented change, but found it difficult to quantify the benefits?
Improving software quality is no different to any other form of change it s really difficult to get people to change. Using improvement models can help a little, but we have found again and again that the real barriers to change are organisational and cultural. This talk provides a different perspective on how to improve software in the context of your own organisation and its unique demands.


Neil Thompson, Thompson information Systems Consulting Ltd. (TiSCL)
Holistic Test Analysis and Design
(presentation prepared in collaboration with Mike Smith, Testing Solutions Group)

Abstract: To test professionally and understand software risks fully, we need to know what our tests cover. Counting test cases is not enough that s like sizing business requirements by counting program modules. Neil Thompson presents a test analysis and design method that integrates four key entities into a holistic approach: test items, testable features, test basis documents, and product risks. Testing standards and textbooks have anaesthetized many into the delusion that test cases are a known quantity and all we need to derive them is a few basic techniques. Neil argues that we need a broader approach, incorporating exploratory techniques and new thinking into our testing. We should consider:
 - distinguishing logical and physical coverage;
 - information traceability;
 - how coverage should play a part in governance scorecards; and
 - a measurement framework for management to understand testing better.

3) Spreadsheets

In August, Apple introduced their new spreadsheet "Numbers" but it looks like it won't shift away power users. According to a Mac World review

"Most of the compatibility issues are caused by Numbersí lack of support for all of Excelís formulas. In my worksheets, most of the problems were caused by by a handful of formulas. For instance, I use OFFSET() in Excel to grab a cell value relative to location. Numbers has no apparent equivalent, and thus converts the formula into a value. Similarly, INDIRECT() can be used to reference a cell based on a value in another cell, and it also caused an error in Numbers.  The other big problem area is macros: Excel supports them, and Numbers doesnít. "



Spreadsheet Check and Control: 47 best practices to detect and prevent errorsors Available worldwide from Amazon.  Our offer - free shipping to EU .




Simply send your comments to FEEDBACK (at) SYSMOD (dot) COM

Thank you! Patrick O'Beirne, Editor

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4) Off Topic

UK Train fares site requires UK postcode

I tried to book a train ticket from Edinburgh to London well in advance to get a better price. I tried to book on who run the service but they insist on a UK postcode in the registration. I emailed them and got no reply. I then booked Easyjet. The total cost and travel time is about the same when you consider all the airport transfers and delays, which is why I thought of the train option first.

Tech Gripes

I posted some gripes to my blog during August, for example I discovered that the Creative Zen V player does not have what I would consider a very simple and obvious option: continuous play, ie to advance to the next album after finishing one. They require the user to create playlists, which is double the maintenance effort. I just want to be able to delete and add albums on the player and then hear them all without more fiddly interventions.

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