PraxIS Apr. 2008

08-04 Contents: Heathrow T5, Developer groups, Software Quality & Testing, SoftTest, Eusprig

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

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


1) IT news
     Heathrow Terminal 5
     Irish Microsoft Technology Conference
2) Software Testing
     SQC Dublin conference
     SoftTest Ireland events
3) Spreadsheets
4) Off Topic
     The Voice of the Tube
18 Web links in this newsletter
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Welcome to PraxIS

March was a busy month for conferences! Maybe I'll see one of you at a SoftTest event?

Patrick O'Beirne

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1)  IT news

Heathrow Terminal 5

The problems of T5 have now reached the status of a phrase uttered by project managers "We don't want a Terminal 5". (Well of course they don't, but what are they doing about it?)

On the other hand, other terminals have had baggage handling failures that caused more flights to be delayed than T5, but didn't get the same publicity. commentary on the Risks Digest "Heathrow: The risks of hubris" from Randy Rice's Software Testing & Quality Blog

Google farther back and you can find press releases like "BA head of information management programme Glenn Morgan, remarked: 'I do not know of any other airport that has tested its systems this far ahead of its opening.'”,0,w   Testing The Heathrow Terminal 5 Baggage Handling System – Before It Is Built


Irish Microsoft Technology Conference I attended this event on April 3 & 4 courtesy of the developer's portal.

It featured sessions on Silverlight 2.0, MS whatever 2008, etc. I attended talks on Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) 2008, on SQL Server 2008, Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) 2008, and on the Express editions. For small desktop solutions, MS are now giving away versions of Visual Studio for single user developers. Craig Murphy presented on "Test Driven Development and Code Coverage" using VS2008.

Other developer conferences UK & Ireland  DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper! Day is exactly what it says. (I am irresistibly reminded of )  DDD is coming to Scotland 10 May 2008 Irish Open Source Technology Conference 21-23 May 2008


2) Software Testing

SQC Conference Dublin March 2008 

I presented my talk on spreadsheet risks, see below for a summary.

I enjoyed Tim Willoughby's talk "The Software ecosystem". He is the Assistant Director of  the Local Government Computer Services Board (LGCSB) in Ireland. They manage 34 enterprise data centers, 5,000 servers, 20,000 staff and 1000 websites. I smiled at the picture of the  T-shirt that proclaimed "I don't care if it works on your machine; we are not shipping your machine!"

His slide on the Black Box Theory is worth quoting:
"As an industry we are continually hit with an Open Standards vs Black Box decision
– The Black Box works
– It solves the immediate Problem
– The cost is predictable
– We may be tied in to a proprietary standard, but the next version will be more open!
– The more open standards – Loosely Coupled Solution will definitely work, with some adaptation.
– Who will support my decision?
– Who can support the adaptation if the loose couples become detached?
– Who will share the risk of the Open solution in the same way the Black Box provider will?"

I took part in the panel discussion "Software testers: Perceptions and Professionalism" chaired by Mary Cleary, Professional Development Manager of the Irish Computer Society. It was prompted by the thought that software testing is often an after-thought on projects and commonly looked upon as an unavoidable necessity for software quality assurance. This attitude has an impact on how management view testers and limits the contribution testers can make to software and systems quality. Importantly it impacts on the self-image of testers and inhibits attracting quality people to the testing profession.

Richard Thompson, a Verification Technologist with Liberty Mutual and member of SoftTest Ireland, presented "Testing During The Development Phase Using Open Source Tools"  Liberty Mutual ranks 95th on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. corporations.

His recommendation for places to look for good OSS are:



He recommends:
- Look for an active community
- Regular releases
- more than 90% Activity
- Documentation
- Do the technologies used match those used within the company?
- Perform a single pilot project, review lessons learned, move forward
- ROI: Measure cost to implement on project verses benefits gained
- Factor in ongoing maintenance

Implementation typically requires a higher level of technical ability than Vendor solutions.

More SQS events: 15-18 April Dusseldorf, Germany 29-30 September, London


SoftTest Ireland

We had two presentations in April. Richard Thompson gave his talk on OSS tools from SQC Dublin and "People Challenges for Test Teams"
was presented by Stephen Allott of ElectroMind UK. Both were very well received, as the evaluation forms showed. Steve's approach was to explain some common testing challenges based on recent experience, and ask for the experiences of participants. The workshop facilitators then agreed a list of challenges that all testers face, quick wins, and longer term approaches to solutions.  The next meeting will be 17:30 on Thursday May 15th, featuring:

Business Process Testing by Johan Adriaansen, Citco Global Securities Services Ltd.

Why automation fails, why we should keep trying. Walk through Business Process Testing, why it is so powerful, and examples.

Surviving in an Agile Environment by Markus Clermont of Google Switzerland.

How we try to ensure the quality of our software in the presence of short release-cycles, iterative development, prototyping and the
absence of formal processes and documentation.


3) Spreadsheets

Have Powerpoint, will travel

I have a presentation on "End-User Computing Risks in Spreadsheets" that I can give to groups interested in auditing, software quality, testing, and spreadsheet control. Here is the outline:

1.Current concerns – regulation, compliance
2.What’s the problem?
3.Metrics for Error & Rework Rates
4.Good practice: Prevention, Data Control, Detection
5.Risk assessment, scoping, questions, maturity model
6.High level & detailed review and testing
7.Software tools, some product screenshots


9th EuSpRIG Annual Conference

Title: "In Pursuit of Spreadsheet Excellence".

University of Greenwich, London UK July 10-11 2008

Further Conference information will be at

Abstracts and papers are now being evaluated, and it looks good already!

A new and innovative training and certification programme Spreadsheet Safe™ will be the primary sponsor of the 9th EuSpRIG Conference - 'In Pursuit of Spreadsheet Excellence.

In response to the growing requirements of business to reduce the risks posed by unsound spreadsheets, Q-Validus, in conjunction with its training and testing partners, BPP Learning Media and BTL Learning & Assessment, has developed Spreadsheet Safe™, a training and certification programme designed to help spreadsheet end-users and organisations assure and maintain good spreadsheet design, usage and control.

For further information on Spreadsheet Safe™, please check out 


Spreadsheet Check and Control: 47 best practices to detect and prevent errors 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

_______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________

4) Off Topic

Emma Clarke, the voiceover of 'Mind the gap'  Spoof announcements

Features such gems as (500K MP3, about 10-20 seconds long)

A reminder for American tourists
A reminder for residents of London

Unfortunately, it ended in tears:  The woman who became the "Voice of the Tube" has been sacked after allegedly criticising London Underground (LU).    



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