PraxIS June 2009

09-06 Contents: Google Settlement, ISSA SoftTest ICS events, Eusprig conference, Excel 2007 bugs

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


1) Risk
     ISSA Ireland open event on Microsoft Security 10th June
     Google Books Settlement Class Action

2) Quality
     Softtest Ireland : Professionalism
     CSE  / ICS free event on Agile
     SoftTest free events June 16-18

3) Spreadsheets
     Eusprig 2009 registration open
     Excel 2007 unpredictably losing defined names

4) Off Topic
     Double-take exteriors of buildings by a trompe l'oeil artist

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Welcome to PraxIS

July 2-3 is the European Spreadsheet Risk Interest group annual conference - I hope to see some of you there!

Patrick O'Beirne


1)  Risk

ISSA Ireland open event on Microsoft Security 10th June

The next event for the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) will be from 2 to 5pm on Wednesday June 10th and will be a special event in conjunction with Microsoft, focusing on the upcoming security enhancements in the Windows platform and Microsoft's security work in Dublin. The venue for this seminar is the Academy building at 42 Pearse Street, just around the corner from Pearse Street DART station. This event is free of charge and open to non-members, however registration is required at the URL above and in allocating places priority will be given to ISSA members. For any questions, group bookings, membership renewals, etc please email

Security Improvements in Windows 7 & Server 2008 R2, Dave Northey, Principle Systems Engineer, Microsoft Ireland
How Microsoft Manages Information Security, Frank O'Keeffe, Regional Information Security Manager, Microsoft IT
Microsoft's Malware Research: Conficker Case Study, Elda Dimakiling & Francis Allan Tan Seng, Microsoft Malware Protection Centre
Tools for Securing Windows Environments, Short talks & demos by Irish security professionals


Google Books Settlement Class Action

I attended a presentation organised by Publishing Ireland on the topic of the Google Books settlement given by the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency (ICLA) and the Federation of European Publishers (FEP). The essential points, if you are an author or publisher, are:

(1) Even if you're outside the USA, it applies to you.
    Ignoring the settlement (the ostrich option) gives Google permission to digitize your books in the future and use them in accordance with the settlement.

(2) Opting out does not mean your copyright is safe
    In this context, "opting out" means opting out of the settlement, it does NOT stop Google scanning your books.
Why the Google settlement matters to you.
Nearly every book published before January 5, 2009 is covered by the Google settlement agreement.
Copyright - let the authors beware
Karlin Lillington writes "Samantha Holman, chief executive of the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency, notes that some Irish writers have even found their doctoral thesis listed on the Google settlement site and so she encourages anyone who has ever written anything to search under their name for any works. The settlement “is not the perfect solution by any means. But it is the solution being proposed,” she told authors. “You have to start reading your contracts carefully.” To others who questioned how the company could copy and make available copyright content, Google’s response was basically “so sue us”, Holman says."
"To consider how bizarre this is, consider it in terms of music. Imagine if Apple had just started ripping CDs and converting them without permission into downloads for sale through iTunes. And imagine if a lawsuit brought by musicians and record companies resulted in Apple being given digital rights to all that music and to collecting and distributing revenue for it."

The EU is commissioning a study on the effects of the settlement on European authors.
"The German delegation to the European Council has submitted an "information note" at its most recent meeting. In it, it points out that many of the rights holders that have works that are being scanned by Google reside in the EU, and that European copyright law differs significantly from the US'. Most prominently, the German delegation argues that Google is citing a fair use exception to copyright claims in undertaking its digitization efforts; that exception doesn't exist in Germany and other EU member states. "
4-May Google Books  Information from the German delegation

The Department of Justice in the USA launched an antitrust investigation into the settlement, despite the deal's nonexclusive clauses.
"The inquiry does not necessarily mean that the department will oppose the settlement, which is subject to a court review. But it suggests that some of the concerns raised by critics, who say the settlement would unfairly give Google an exclusive license to profit from millions of books, have resonated with the Justice Department." The settlement came after two years of disputes and negotiations between Google and the AAP. It involves Google shelling out $125 million to establish the Book Rights Registry, which would kill the existing class action lawsuit against Google for its book search.

From Google themselves:
"If You Are A Book Author, Book Publisher Or Other Person Who Owns A Copyright In Books Or Other Writings, Your Rights May Be Affected By A Class Action Settlement Regarding Google’s Digitization Of Books And Other Writings.
Attention Authors And Publishers Outside The United States: The Settlement May Affect Your Rights As Well. Please Read This Notice Carefully."

To participate in the Settlement, you must complete the Claim Form. It is available at

Google has already digitized over seven million books, including millions of Books that are still in copyright in the United States. Google users can search Google’s “digital library” and view “snippets,” meaning several lines of text, from Books.

You should assume that you own a U.S. copyright interest in your Book, unless you are certain that your Book was published in, and that you reside and are located in, one of the few countries that have not had or do not now have copyright relations with the United States.

What happens to the books of authors and publishers who opt out of the settlement?
If an author or publisher opts out of the Settlement, the terms of the Settlement will not apply to this author or publisher. This means that the author or publisher is retaining all rights to bring a legal action against Google, for digitizing and displaying the author’s or publisher’s books and Inserts, and against the Participating Libraries, if desired. It also means that the Settlement neither authorizes Google to make certain uses of these books and Inserts nor does it prohibit Google from doing so.


2) Quality

Softtest Ireland : Professionalism

The May 2009 meeting of SoftTest Ireland was addressed by John McArdle and Anne-Marie Charrett.
Their presentations are now available for download from

John McArdle is Director of the Applications Software Group within Sogeti Ireland

His topic was "Professionalism in Testing"
If you're a tester, check for yourself this list of characteristics of professionals:
•Have acquired skills based on theoretical knowledge
•Join professional associations
•Have undertaken an extensive period of education
•Have undergone testing of their competence
•Have received institutional training
•Have some indeterminacy of knowledge
•Have high mobility

John gave some pointers for learning:
•Understand your preference for learning / Acquiring knowledge (Learning Styles Questionnaire)
•Identify sources of information / learning
•Whitepapers / Articles
•E-learning / Web-sites
•Courses / Certifications
•Professional Bodies / Industry Associations
•Industry experience
•Identify role models and mentors who can share experiences
•Build a Learning Action Plan –liaise with HR / T&D
•Execute your plan
•Monitor and review your progress

Anne-Marie Charrett is a professional software tester and runs her own company Testing Times.
Her topic was "Startups and Software Testing"
Her own list of the characteristics of testers is:
• Communicate
• Open Minded
• Inquisitive
• Technical

She recounted some her own experience which contradicted these myths:
• Startups are not interested in Quality
• Beta testing is the cheap and dirty solution
• Software testing is document heavy

Anne-Marie is organising a  Software Testing Meetup in Dublin at 7:30 pm on 16th June 2009 in the Library Room, 1st Floor, Central Hotel,Exchequer Street


SoftTest free events June 16-18
Date 16/06/09 17/06/09  18/06/09
Location Belfast Dublin   Cork
Venue Radisson SAS Holiday Inn, Pearse Street   Cork Intl Airport Hotel
Time 12 : 00-14:30 12:00-14:30  16:00-18:00
To Register for Belfast -   16/06/09 - please contact
To Register for Dublin -    17/06/09 - Please contact
12:00 -  12:15  Registration
12:15 -  13.10  Evolution of new feature verification in Ericsson – Michael Monaghan
13:10 -  14:00  Software Testing and Global Industry: Future Paradigms- Val Casey
14:00 -  14:30  Networking Lunch

Evolution of new feature verification in Ericsson – Michael Monaghan 

Since the commercial launch of 3G Radio Access Networks in the early part of this decade, the market has been demanding new and more complex features, with ever more demanding time to market requirements. This, combined with demands for continuous improvements in operational excellence, necessitates more efficient development practices. In order to maximise these development efficiencies, it is vital that improvements are also made in verification strategies.This presentation will provide a whistle-stop tour along a timeline from 2004 to today, detailing the challenges encountered in verification of new features, and how they were overcome by shifting verification strategies. Lessons learned and problems encountered will also be addressed. 

 Two case studies will be presented which show how savings in test cost of 70% to 80% were achieved in verification of some features.

Software Testing and Global Industry: Future Paradigms- Val Casey

Today software development has truly become a globally sourced commodity.  In the context of Global Software Development (GSD) to date testing has been perceived as a well defined task that is relatively straightforward and lends itself to being outsourced or offshored.  

 This talk demonstrates that testing in a GSD environment is not necessarily a straightforward activity. In reality it can be negatively impacted by all the factors associated with distributed software development. In this context practical solutions which can be utilised to address these important issues will be considered and discussed. 


CSE  / ICSfree event on Agile, June 9
Improving Your Agility – Injury-free Approaches
Tuesday June 9th, 2009, 9:00am-1:00pm

This event will focus on the Agile Approach as applied in industry from four different perspectives:

Agile Projects – What’s Effective? Ian Lawthers, Centre for Software Engineering. Ian will give an overview of Agile Methods and explain how the Agile approach has been applied in software projects within a number of local companies. He will outline common problems and benefits when an organization implements the agile approach and how these problems can be overcome.

The Daily Scrum - does it Work? Stewart Bourke, ABM Data Systems Ltd. ABM Data Systems implemented the daily scrum as part of project to re-architect one of their core products.  As they moved from a legacy development environment to the .NET platform, they also took the opportunity to review our development practices.  Part of this was the adoption of the daily scrum, and in this presentation they will present their experiences.

Introducing an Agile Development Methodology (EVO) – James Cleere, Cylon Controls. James will speak on how Cylon Controls implemented Tom Gilb’s Evo method. Evo (Evolutionary Project Management) is an agile method that allows frequent project feedback that reflects the actual state of the project. He will also outline how an agile approach was integrated with an existing ISO 9001 Quality Management System.

Being Agile – Dave Halpin, Centre for Software Engineering. Step inside the head of the Agile Expert with the revolutionary new CSE tool DesignOORama.  DesignOORama author, Dave Halpin shows how the tool can be used to maintain and improve your team's agility.

Attendance at this event is free. Refreshments and a light lunch will be provided. The event is co-hosted by the Centre for Software Engineering (CSE) and the Irish Computer Society (ICS) in the ICS at Crescent Hall, Dublin 2. You must register if you wish to attend this event; phone: 01 7005750 or email: office(at)


3) Spreadsheets

Eusprig 2009 registration open

Le rôle des tableurs pour l'excellence dans les organisations
The Role of Spreadsheets in Organizational Excellence
STEF ENS Cachan, Paris, France July 2-3 2009

Early indications of the programme are:
Keynotes from Martin Erwig  and Lousie Pryor   
Patrick O'Beirne  (  Spreadsheet Check and Control    
Susan Allen (HBOS)    Excel modelling, transparency, auditing and Business use    
Tom Grossman, Ozgur Ozluk & Jan Gustavson (UCSF)   The Lookup Technique to Replace Nested-If Formulas    
Leslie Bradley & Kevin McDaid (DKIT)   Error Estimation in Large Spreadsheets using Bayesian Statistics
Angus Dunn  ()  There will be a better way    
John Hunt  ()  An approach for  automated risk assessment 
Matthew Dinmore  (UMB)  Documenting Problem-Solving Knowledge: Annotation Design
Ruth McKeever, Kevin McDaid & Brian Bishop  (DKIT)  An Analysis of the Impact of Named Ranges on  Debugging
Bill Bekenn & Ray Hooper  (Fairway)  Some Spreadsheet Poka-Yoke   
Angela Collins (BDO Stoy Hayward)   Embedded spreadsheet modelling     
Sriram Iyengar & John Shvirbely  ( and UT)  The medical algorithims project    
Françoise Tort, François-Marie Blondel, Éric Bruillard (ENS Cachan)  From errors detection to behaviour observation
Étienne Vandeput  (U. Liège)  Milestones for Teaching the Spreadsheet Program    
Derek Flood, Kevin Mc Daid, Fergal Mc Caffery  (DKIT)  NLP-SIR: A Natural Language Approach for Spreadsheet Information
Grenville Croll  (  The role of spreadsheets in the financial collapse

Excel 2007 unpredictably losing defined names 

This was recently posted on the Excel-L list.

"I am continuously losing range names in Excel 2007. I keep renaming  single cell ranges (e.g. "Project1", "TimePeriod1") only to find the range name missing from the file a few minutes later. Has anyone found a fix or other way to work through this"

Simon Murphy has already mentioned it:

as has the newsgroup microsoft.public.excel.programming :

This sounds like a really bad problem for those modellers who depend heavily on the use of defined names to make their models robust.

I don't think that bug is among the 236 Excel bugs fixed in Office 2007 SP2:
A workbook is available that lists the issues that are fixed by this service pack.


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

SCANXLS - Spreadsheet Files & Links Listing   

ScanXLS scans any given directory and below and obtains a list of all the .XL* files. You then select some or all of these, and it opens each one in turn read-only and reports on some file properties, attributes, the presence of unusual features or settings that may represent a risk or are prone to human error, the error checking statistics provided by Microsoft Excel, a list of other workbooks that it depends on through links, and a scoring on how 'problematic' it might be. SCANXLS can also compare two workbooks to check whether their formulas and/or values are identical.



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

Thank you! Patrick O'Beirne, Editor


4) Off Topic

Double-take exteriors of buildings by a trompe l'oeil artist

The paintings, which have fooled many, were created by John Pugh, who specialises in trompe l'oeil - or 'trick of the eye' - art.
His works can been seen all over the world, including in the artist's home state. The 'earthquake' work shown here is located on Main Street in the town of Los Gatos and was created following a genuine earthquake in 1989.
An Egyptian style mural adorns a wall in Los Gatos, California


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