PraxIS Sep. 2008

08-09 Contents: Lee Copeland, Appalling Vista, Cult of Significance, X

LTest enters beta

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

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


1) Software Testing
     SoftTest Ireland events with Lee Copeland 15-17 Sept.

2) An appalling Vista
     Vista gets my back up
     The cult of statistical significance

3) Spreadsheets
     XLTest nears release

4) Off Topic
     Holiday snaps
12 Web links in this newsletter
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Welcome to PraxIS

We had a great holiday! I'm ready to answer your needs for Excel spreadsheet development, testing, model review and audit.

Patrick O'Beirne

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1)  Software Testing

SoftTest Ireland events with Lee Copeland 15-17 Sept.

Monday 15 September, 9am-12.30pm, IBEC, Confederation House, 84/86 Lower Baggot St, Dublin
Tuesday 16 September, 9am-12.30pm, Kingsley Hotel, Cork
Wednesday 17 September, 9am-12.30pm, Radisson SAS Hotel, The Gasworks, Belfast

Sponsors: Insight Test Services, SQS Ireland, All-Island Software Network, The Software Skillnet

To register your attendance for the Dublin or Belfast events, please contact ruth.walmsley <at> stating which event you would like to attend, or for the Cork event, contact admin <at>

Choosing the Best of the Plan-Driven and Agile Development Methods

Both groups want to achieve exactly the same goal: quality software that meets customer needs within the constraints of time,
budget, staff, and technology.  Lee Copeland offers insights and suggestions on the methods and approaches that will be most valued
on your project—control vs. flexibility, individual contribution vs. process guidance, and contractual specification vs. adaptable delivery.

Testing Hyper-Complex Systems: What can we know? What can we claim?

Lee Copeland explains that claims about quality require knowledge of test “coverage,” an unknowable quantity in hyper-complex
systems. Are testers now going beyond our limits to provide useful information about the quality of systems to our clients?


2) An appalling Vista

Well, I finally got a new PC because my old one was just getting too slow and cramped. I got a quad-processor Dell Vostro 410 with 4GB memory. Actually there is only 3.25 GB visible in 32-bit Windows but that's another story. 1.5TB (2x750GB) disk space should do for a while. So, I transferred my files from the old PC and started the long process of installing the software I want to use on Vista Business.

Vista gets my back up

How can Microsoft spend so long and so much money on an operating system that is actively unhelpful and has fewer features than before in essential facilities like backup? 

After copying my files I wanted to set up a backup on the ones I modified, using the archive attribute bit obviously. My Winzip version did not run on Vista, so I tried 7-Zip, but that does not use the archive attribute. I then tried Vista backup. I'm fairly mild-mannered but I was soon producing expletives similar to this infuriated blogger:

"This is actually a backup tool that doesn't let you choose what to back up. "

James Random of Licrosoft apologises.

I've looked for some alternatives and may try the free Cobian Backup:

Windows Explorer

I view a folder the way I want - descending date order. I save one JPG into the directory and now Vista decides to switch the order to Name, remove the Date Modified column and show columns for Date Taken, Tags, etc ,  all of which are blank. I just want it the way *I* set it up.

I wanted to view a file on the boot drive D: and was told I was denied permission. I'm the administrator. I'll view my own bloody file if I want to. I set UAC to automatically escalate, to get away from the kind of  pestering mocked by Apple in the videos below. The Vista Security Alerts still nag at me in the system tray. Kaspersky warns me that my computer security is at risk because I'm still on a free trial rather than a paid for copy. Nag, nag, nag.

Apple videos mock Vista   "Apple  - Surgery"   "PC vs Mac - Vista Security"   "Should Apple be making fun of Vista UAC?"

Windows Search

In Vista, I type in PERSONAL.XLS into the search box - it's not found. I run CMD, do DIR /S and there are several versions. OK, forget that one. Try Google Desktop Search. After a couple of days indexing, it can now find some files, but not my Thunderbird emails. (By the way, setting Thunderbird to use the existing profile I had copied from the old PC was just so easy and the way software should work.)  I then tried Copernic Desktop Search. It works better than I remembered from a few years ago, I can specify extra file types which GDS cannot do. It finds the emails - but provides no way to click on them to open. OK, I can work around that but I won't pay for a commercial license for CDS.  I've looked at Agent Ransack and theoretically it should be very slow as it does not use an index. But in practice, 1 minute to find strings compared to 30 seconds in Copernic is not so bad. I'll go on trying both to see what suits my usage better,

Anything else?  Like the way IE goes frosty from time to time and I have to kill the process? And Excel 2003 seems to crash more often than in XP? To conclude, here is one list among many of free software sources:  Ideas for free software

The cult of statistical significance

I've come across this recently, and  it looks interesting:
The Cult of Statistical Significance: How the Standard Error Costs Us Jobs, Justice, and Lives by Deirdre Nansen McCloskey and Steve Ziliak.
"The focus on statistical significance often means that researchers fail to ask whether their findings matter."
"Vioxx was a formulation developed by Merck designed to combat pain. In clinical trials Vioxx had about five times the number of fatalities as a generic version of a control drug (naproxen). Because the number of observations did not reach the appropriate size, the 5 to 1 ratio of excess fatalities caused by Vioxx was deemed statistically insignificant."



3) Spreadsheets

XLTest nears release

My new add-in will have the following features:

Colours cells by data type and input/output type
Colours cells by distinct formula (R1C1)
Remove interior fill colours of cells
Colour by Precedents count
Colour by Dependents count
Colour by Conditional Format Formulas
Colour by Data Validation Formulas
Create $INF sheet with warnings and format list
Remove protection of sheet contents
Reset worksheet window views and settings
Keeps an info window open on current selection 
Places an audit note and flag on the cell for the table of contents
Toggle between Toolbar and Menu interface
Create $APP sheet to document application settings
Create $DOC sheet for Workbook and sheets documentation
Create $Readme sheet checklist for review
Create $Colors sheet to check workbook colour settings
Compare two worksheets
Compare two workbooks (including VBA)
Help on colours and keyboard shortcuts
User and License information

Contact me for more information!

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

Our holiday reports are at:
Blog report :


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