The Advantages of Having Personal Productivity Software

Personal productivity software is an application that no business should be without. This is because of the simple fact that this piece of software makes a great contribution when it comes to ensuring productivity in the workplace. But if you are not too convinced about the importance of purchasing personal productivity software just yet, well, this is actually normal. A lot of business men do become wary when presented with the notion of purchasing such software because computer software is a bit pricey in the market right now. However, when presented with the many benefits businesses enjoy with these software applications, the activity of convincing businessmen becomes very, very easy to do.

So, why exactly do you need personal productivity software in running your business? First of all, this piece of software can give any type and size business the professional touch it needs. The software comes with applications and programs that make it very easy for you to produce professional looking letterheads, marketing reports, brochures, mailing campaigns, and the like. Even the simple act of developing professional looking paychecks is easily done with the use of such software as well. And this is just one of the minor benefits that come with such software!

When you get the basic package, you actually get a word processor, a spreadsheet application, presentation software, and the like. For a more cost-efficient option, you could consider getting one of those suites that contain a number of these tools. This way, you are sure to get more value for your money. Some examples of these suites include Microsoft Office, Sun Staroffice 8, Microsoft Works, or Corel WordPerfect Office. An interesting fact about Microsoft Works is that it actually comes free with personal computers. Aside from these suites, you can also choose to get supplementary software packages that can make your whole life easier.

One of the popular software packages includes QuickBooks. This choice is popular because it is known to be very efficient in handling and managing inventory and business finances, such as payroll and benefits packages. Now, with all these abilities, you have to be sure to allot a hefty budget for your suite of tool and the additional applications and programs you would be getting. The typical price for suites and the individual applications range from a hundred to five hundred dollars. So, if your PC is meant for more than just doing the regular email and the basics on word processing, then you should consider this option thoroughly.

You may also be worried about the hidden and recurring fees that might come with having personal productivity software installed in your system. Yes, they do come with long term costs, but these are just minimal when you compare them to the benefits you would come to enjoy with the software. An upgrade would occasionally be needed, especially after a few years or so with your own application suite. Plus, your business should be growing in a few years, right? Thus, it would make much sense to avail of this upgrade, to foster improvement for your company in the business setting. Do not worry too much about upgrade expenses because they would definitely be lower than that of the original purchase.

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Computer Hardware Course – The Advantages of Taking It

Computer hardware courses are an excellent way to learn how to manage the inevitable computer failures that you will encounter as you find yourself hanging on your computer more and more everyday. While you do have the option of taking your computer to the service center it can cost you a lot of time and money. Your computer hardware course is invaluable for helping you understand the hardware requirements for your computer that will be enable you to jump to the rescue instead of trudging along to the repair shop.

It does not take an engineer or a technician to be successful in learning about computer hardware. If you are interested in engineering or technician positions however, a background in computer hardware can make you a far more valuable person in your field and can enhance your employability tremendously.

To troubleshoot your computer you can do very well with a simple computer hardware course. You can become your own specialist and forgo spending the money on an IT specialist.

The time invested in a computer hardware study program will pay off quickly when things go wrong. But, this is not the only reason taking a computer hardware course would be a good plan.

Not only will you be able to fix your computer, but you will have the knowledge to build a computer from scratch. The cost of computer parts is often far less expensive than buying a pre-made package. You will also be able to customize your computer so that it is perfectly designed for your needs.

By avoiding the cost of labor from the computer store you will have a far less expensive computer that is perfect for you. You will also no longer need to worry about taking your computer in for repairs as you will know just how to fix what goes wrong.

Computer knowledge is in high demand no matter what career you are involved in. With the information you learn in a computer hardware course you will be able to take on an IT position. Such positions are in high demand as a limited number of people have the knowledge to take on an IT role.

The time needed to take a computer hardware course is well worth the investment. Learning about software and programming can only make you even better with your computer goals. If you are limited in time, not to worry. Many courses are available online or on CD for you to do at home.

Take some time to discover exactly what will be covered in your course. The computer technology field is huge, so you will need to focus. You will never be able to learn everything about computer hardware in a single course. It takes a lifetime of study to learn, and with technology constantly changing you will need to continuously work on keeping your knowledge up to date. A computer hardware course will bring you a chance to get ahead of the game and keep up with your own computer.

Louis Zhang, computerhardwarecute dot com

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The Importance Of Excel In The Workplace

Excel is perhaps the most important computer software program used in the workplace today. That’s why so many workers and prospective employees are required to learn Excel in order to enter or remain in the workplace.

From the viewpoint of the employer, particularly those in the field of information systems, the use of Excel as an end-user computing tool is essential. Not only are many business professionals using Excel to perform everyday functional tasks in the workplace, an increasing number of employers rely on Excel for decision support.

In general, Excel dominates the spreadsheet product industry with a market share estimated at 90 percent. Excel 2007 has the capacity for spreadsheets of up to a million rows by 16,000 columns, enabling the user to import and work with massive amounts of data and achieve faster calculation performance than ever before.

Outside the workplace, Excel is in broad use for everyday problem solving.

Let’s say you have a home office. You can use Excel to calculate sales tax on a purchase, calculate the cost of a trip by car, create a temperature converter, calculate the price of pizza per square inch and do analysis of inputted data. You can track your debt, income and assets, determine your debt to income ratio, calculate your net worth, and use this information to prepare for the process of applying for a mortgage on a new house. The personal uses for Excel are almost as endless as the business uses for this software – and an Excel tutorial delves into the practical uses of the program for personal and business use.

The use of spreadsheets on computers is not new. Spreadsheets, in electronic form, have been in existence since before the introduction of the personal computer. Forerunners to Excel and Lotus 1-2-3 were packages such as VisiCalc, developed and modeled on the accountant’s financial ledger. Since 1987, spreadsheet programs have been impacting the business world. Along the way, computerized spreadsheets have become a pervasive and increasingly effective tool for comparative data analysis throughout the world.

Today, end users employ Excel to create and modify spreadsheets as well as to author web pages with links and complex formatting specifications. They create macros and scripts. While some of these programs are small, one-shot calculations, many are much more critical and affect significant financial decisions and business transactions.

Widely used by businesses, service agencies, volunteer groups, private sector organizations, scientists, students, educators, trainers, researchers, journalists, accountants and others, Microsoft Excel has become a staple of end users and business professionals.

The beauty of Excel is that it can be used as a receiver of workplace or business data, or as a calculator, a decision support tool, a data converter or even a display spreadsheet for information interpretation. Excel can create a chart or graph, operate in conjunction with Mail Merge functions, import data from the Internet, create a concept map and sequentially rank information by importance.

Excel offers new data analysis and visualization tools that assist in analyzing information, spotting trends and accessing information more easily than in the past. Using conditional formatting with rich data display schemes, you can evaluate and illustrate important trends and highlight exceptions with colored gradients, data bars and icons.

Indeed, Excel can be customized to perform such a wide variety of functions that many businesses can’t operate without it. Excel training has become mandatory in many workplaces; in fact, computer software training is a must for any workplace trying to keep up with the times.

Let’s say you’re an employer with 97 workers, 17 of whom called in sick today, and you want to know the percentage represented by absentees. Excel can do that. You can learn Excel and use it to determine the ratio of male to female employees, the percentage of minorities on the payroll, and the ranking of each worker by compensation package amount, including the percentages of that package according to pay and benefits. You can use Excel to keep track of production by department, information that may assist you in future development plans. You can create additional spreadsheets to track data on vendors and customers while maintaining an ongoing inventory of product stock.

Let’s say you want to know your business production versus cost. You don’t have to be a math wiz – you just have to learn Excel. Excel allows you to input all of the data, analyze it, sort it according to your customized format, and display the results with color, shading, backgrounds, icons and other gimmicks that offer time-saving assistance in later locating precisely the information desired. If this spreadsheet is for presentation purposes, Excel helps you put it together in such a visually appealing way that the data may seem to pop and sparkle.

The single most important thing an employer may do is learn Excel – it is one of the most essential tools of the workplace.

Excel and Microsoft are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation, registered in the U.S. and other countries. Lotus is a registered trademark of International Business Machines Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.

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The Advantages of Working With a Software Boutique Company

First of all, a boutique is a small shop where clients can find dedicated merchandise and unique items, or products which are produced in small quantities. The advantage of entering in such a shop, compared to big supermarkets, is that here you’ll also find staff ready to assist you and to give you guidance step by step. Indeed, one may say that a boutique charges higher prices, also in comparison to chain stores, which is definitely true. However, once you bought something from a boutique you’ll have the feeling that you own a unique item, which will differentiate you from the rest, and isn’t this what we all want – to be unique?

Software boutiques are a new way of defining petite software companies which are focused on a certain niche, and which are able to offer specialized support to their customers. Even more, such a firm is able to offer a unique product, tailored on the client’s needs and requirements. But, let’s see what advantages does a customer have when collaborating with a software boutique company:

Tailored product

A software boutique takes the client’s specifications and transforms them into a customized piece of software. Practically, if you are not satisfied by the mass-produced software programs which you can find, then a boutique company will tailor a product according to each and everyone of your requirements. The outcome will be a software product which is able to fit perfectly your company’s needs.

Niche focus

Generally, a boutique company is focused on a certain niche, for example developing applications and software products using Microsoft technologies. The advantage of having such a partner, is that you’ll have the confidence that he has the knowledge and proven experience to offer you the best advices regarding that specific area, and that he’s always updated with the latest technologies.

Crystal clear communication and dedicated support

Having a smaller amount of projects, a boutique software company can offer its clients dedicated support, according to every client’s need through a direct communication flow. This means that the information won’t need to travel through several departments until it reaches you, so that you’ll always be updated with the status and the quality of the work.

A good communication, not only that can save time, but also can make the development process more efficient. For example if you want a specific functionality for your application, collaborating with a boutique firm, you’ll able to keep track of the development process and promptly interfere in the development process if the work isn’t going in the desired direction, or if you want to change the approach. Also, fewer the clients, better the support. Practically, a software boutique will offer you their entire attention and expertise, whenever this is required.

Every client is important

For a boutique company every client is important, and because they can’t afford to lose a client, they can’t really afford to do a bad job. Every development project is treated with care, and you’ll know for sure that your project will be handled by the best men.

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Schedule Slippage – Root Causes

“The single most important task of a project: setting realistic expectations. Unrealistic expectations based on inaccurate estimates are the single largest cause of software failure.”- Futrell, Shafer

Introduction

With global and competitive market, it is very important to launch a product or service in the market on time, ahead of competitors. Definitely, timely launch depends on on-time-completion of the product development projects. Project planning has lots of challenges to overcome in order to finish the project on time – right from schedule predictability, envisioning future/possible risks and coming up with mitigation plans.

This article talks about some of the challenges, often faced in the Software Product Development industry that causes the schedule slippage.

Schedule slippage: Delay in the project completion from its initial estimated date of completion.

Each project plan will have a planned completion date (NRA, RA), and a bounding box or upper limit in schedule. Nowadays, it is a common practice to have three dates associated with any project plan:

  • Non-Risk Adjusted (NRA) date: Project completion date assuming no hurdles – Ideal conditions.
  • Risk Adjusted (RA) date: Project completion date assuming some risks will come on the way and will need extra time to attend to them.
  • Bounding Box (BB) or upper limit: The upper limit on the project plan before which the project has to be finished under any circumstances – Generally decided by the top management based on product/services roadmap and launch in the market.

Under ideal circumstances, any project is scheduled to complete by NRA date. Considering some risks that may come on the way and would eat some time off the schedule, the project should be over by RA date. If the risks were not envisioned and hence not planned well, then project may get delayed and would complete after RA date. Project completion crossing the RA or upper limit is neither good nor expected out of a well-planned project.

Root Causes

As we always plan for a project to get over before RA date, seldom is the case it happens as expected. There are multiples reasons for schedule slippage, right from improper planning, lack of resources to unplanned requirements and rework that eat away vital time off the planned schedule.

A typical project development process – Each project will have a team (development, testing and other functions) that will work through a process (requirement analysis, schedule estimation, design, implementation and testing) to deliver a product to the customer/end user. Each entity that participate in the project – directly or indirectly affect the schedule.

From the development process, we can identify the items that can cause delay in the execution of the project – for example, misinterpreted or unclear requirement adds up to completion time, unavailability of development tools or resources can prolong the project duration. Various processes like schedule estimation, detailed design and product development if not executed skillfully, may significantly blow up the project cycle.

For better understanding all these possible causes that may result in schedule slippage are categorized .

Let’s have a detailed look at the root causes of schedule slippage category wise.

1) Schedule Estimation: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey

For a project to be executed on time, it is very important to have it planned very well. Any mistake in project schedule estimation reflects as delay in the project completion from its deadline. There are several factors that contribute to improper schedule estimation:

· Underestimation of technical complexities: At the start of the project, many of the team members may not have thorough knowledge of technical complexities and hence their estimation would be incorrect. Sometimes it may so happen that the person giving estimates for a particular task is having no idea about the technical challenges involved in carrying out that particular task. You might hear, towards the mid/end of the project life cycle when the task is not finished on time – “Oh, I didn’t know that this feature also requires 5 more tasks to be done!” or “I was thinking this task to be so simple, but I under estimated it!”. · Lack of Design/Big picture: It is important to have a bigger picture / overview of the complete project to understand how a particular module/feature would fit in to complete project. Product or system level design helps in understanding the interfaces among other modules and the required coordination for product assembly and hence, a better insight into the work involved. Often, estimates without focus on detailed design tend to deviate more from the actual time taken for finishing the job. · Integration Testing: While making a project plan, testing also needs to be accommodated in the schedule. At times, the unit testing or testing done by individual contributors on their module is taken into account but not the system level testing. Toward the release, when all the individually tested modules are brought together, a system level or integration testing is a must. Having the time for integration testing not accounted in the overall project schedule will cause delay in the project completion.

· Unplanned dependencies: Project planning is not only about breaking the project into minute tasks and managing them. A well-planned project schedule also needs to consider certain unplanned dependencies. Some of these are:

o People: Optimum utilization of human resources calls for same set of people working in multiple projects. A person may not be available to work for currently planned/assigned project due to extended/unplanned work in another parallel project. Another issue related to people could be unplanned/unexpected attrition that will affect the project plan. Time is also lost in mentoring of new member by a senior (more experienced) person which goes unaccounted if not planned.

o Tools & Equipments: Project can be delayed if team is waiting for release of upgrade or procurement of any vital tool (hardware or software being used in the project) or if the equipments required for development and testing are not available. “We had a 3-months project for validating our existing solution on new product platform using customer DUT (device under test). We had to wait for the DUT for nearly 1.5 months as it got stuck in customs. After getting the DUT, we realized that it’s been damaged partially during transportation. As a result we had to ask for another DUT and whole project took more than 5 months to get finished.” – I am sure that such cases will be quite familiar to many organizations. Other reason for timely unavailability of tools / equipments is that they are shared among various projects to reduce the operating cost. Any unplanned dependency on their usage or wrong assumption about availability of these shared resources would cause delay in the program. Team members might have to work on shifts to optimize the usage of shared resources which can cause reduced work hours and/or productivity loss and results to schedule slippage.

“I was waiting for Matlab license to be released by another person in the team but he left the office without doing so and I lost 3 hours figuring out what to do?” – is it something you faced before?

o Other programs: If multiple programs have deliverable dependencies, then delay in one project will have cascaded effect on other projects, which directly or indirectly depend on its deliverable. “We got delayed because we had to wait for a critical UI component from the framework project team” or “We didn’t plan for bug fixes for a component which was supposed to be delivered defect free for our usage” are the common scenarios for delays in program which are dependent on other program deliverables. Parallel programs may affect the schedule of your program in a different way as well – Sometimes, management changes the priority of the programs running in parallel. If your project is considered as a low priority one then there might be lack of resources assigned to your project that may result in schedule slippage.

· Beta releases: How many times we seek feedback on our product during development? And how often we allocate time for it? It’s important to plan beta releases if we desire to have our product validated by expert users or lighthouse customers during development. Getting feedback from beta customers becomes important especially when their requirements echo that of a mass customer base. Process of giving workable releases to customers, collecting their experience, having their feedback analyzed, and then incorporating in the final product version takes significant time.

· Risk mitigation and plan B: Every project will have some or the other risks. These risks can be of varying severity and probabilities. While making project plan, it is important to treat the risk individually based on their severity and probability of occurrence. If high probable risks with higher severity are not planned with their mitigation plan (or plan B), they will have huge impact on schedule deviation from planned one. As in one of the previous examples quoted, getting a DUT on time for validation was a risk. Had there been a mitigate plan (plan B) like – Validate with other DUT or if DUT is not available here, let one developer travel to customer’s place and finish the validation on time, the schedule slippage would have been avoided.

2) People: Ultimately, projects are executed by people who may not be skilled or talented. Hence, looking for perfection in projects involving human beings may not be a feasible thought. Certain unpredictable and hence unavoidable issues under this category are:

· Poor leadership: Before thinking of project execution, it is project planning that actually would set the platform of success. Execution of the project depends on its team while planning is taken care by the project leader. The project leader is expected to have enough technical know-how to understand the project goals and to the details of the tasks involved. Poor leadership and superficial knowledge of assignments often results in invalid effort estimation and ad hoc task delegation causing stress and possible delay in project execution. People leading the team are also responsible for keeping the team spirit and motivation level upbeat. Poor personal commitment due to lack of motivation results in loss of productivity and may cause schedule to slip. Another reason that adds up to delay in projects is inability of leadership team to track the schedule progress and take the correction action.

· Attrition: If the project duration is large and job market is hot, it may be difficult to retain people in the project till its completion. Attrition may further delay the completion especially if the person leaving the job was in critical path. A person leaving the organization would leave a gap in the project that a new person may not fill immediately, which in turn causes sudden reduction in the task force.

· Learning curve: When ever a new person or team member is included in the project, he or she may require some time to understand the project to keep in pace with other members. Learning curve is needed for new team members, joining the team either due to attrition or due to any specific technical competency requirement. · Context switching: In smaller organization or groups where people work on multiple projects simultaneously, it is important to have some buffer for context switching. A person planned to work in project ‘A’ for two hours after a gap of two weeks, would take more than scheduled time to complete that task. Gap of two weeks and the fact that he or she was involved in other project would require some time for the member to get back to the context of current project. · Global development teams: In an era of globalization and outsourcing, it is common these days to have development team distributed over different geographical regions. Project plan needs to account for different time zones and working culture. You might expect an input for your task on Monday morning your time but it may be Sunday late evening for that person and finally when the input arrives, you might be on your way to home after work.

Sometimes schedule estimation might go completely wrong if you have not understood the work culture of the region your teammate belongs to – “In my previous work, I was given a task to be completed with a heads up that its very critical task and needs immediate attention’. When I asked my project lead how many days/hours I have for it, I had been time for 2 weeks for high priority and ‘immediate-attention’ work.” Definition of ‘urgent’, ‘high priority tasks’ changes with culture and region.

· Communication Issues: People communicate differently. If important issues are not brought to the notice of the team members, or are not escalated on time, the entire project may suffer. Often fear of embarrassment stops team members from reporting issues faced during execution leading to more time being spent on that task that can easily be executed additional help.

3) Customer Involvement: These issues are quite serious if customer or end users of the product are involved in the development phase. Understanding customer’s priorities, defining your expectation from their involvement needs to be clear and in agreement with both the parties.

· Expert user testing: In the beginning of the project, expert user testing cycle needs to be planned. Process of giving builds or releases for testing and collecting their feedback, analyzing and incorporating them in your product takes significant time which, if not planned, can delay your program. · Timely feedback: “I got feedback from customers for features, delivered in development milestone-1, after milestone-5 towards the release. These feedbacks are critical but now I am worried how to incorporate them without affecting the schedule.” It sounds like a common problem. Incorporation of feedback from customers needs to be planned well taking a commitment from the customer. · Product requirement specification review: Having a product requirement review planned and executed will keep you on right track throughout the project. Reviewing the requirement specification will avoid requirement related defects fixing which otherwise would have delayed, the project.

4) Ambiguous Project Requirement: For any project to be initiated, the first thing is to have requirements for it. In the product development life cycle, requirement phase acts like a foundation. Clear requirement or vision for the project navigates the team to success. However, requirements may not be clear at the time of estimation and may result in delay in the project completion. Issues related:

· Evolving specs: If you are making a product based on a standard which is not yet matured or still evolving, you are more prone to have this risk. Frequency changes in the specs will change the requirement for the project during different stages of product development and team will continue to work on something that is not yet evolved. This results in rework that would delay the project if time for dealing with these changes is not accommodated in the schedule. “We developed an algorithm and hence measurement that was based on certain industry standard. Towards the release of the product, the specs changed and our measurement was no more valid. We had to redo the algorithm to reflect the changes in the specs. This caused our product release delayed by 2 months.” · New requirements: Sometimes new requirements are added as the project evolves towards completion. Implementation of new requirements is not planned at the beginning of the project and hence is not accounted in schedule. Adding new feature without revising the schedule may result in delay.

· Untold expectation: Requirements from the customers may be of two types – implicit or explicit. It is important to have the requirements well documented. Implicit requirements needs to be better defined and documented to avoid any confusion towards the end of the project. Customers may not describe their requirements related to system performance, memory issues, user interface quality and usability but they are very keen on providing feedback in those aspects once the product is given for expert user testing. If we are not clear about such requirements, out design might not address them. Addressing them towards the end of the project may call for design changes and extra work that would delay the project.

5) Unplanned Tasks / Reworks: Bounding box for the project is set by higher management and often lack buffer for unplanned task(s). Having more of unplanned task that creep up at different phases of project can cause schedule slippage. The unplanned tasks or rework may arise due to:

· Sustaining work: In smaller organizations, some of the project team may also be responsible for sustaining / customer support of existing products. These unplanned tasks, which come on event basis, related to customer support are always of high priority. Excess or prolonged sustaining work may take resource out of the planned project causing a potential threat for schedule slippage. · Defect fixes: Defects are bad as they degrade the product quality and consume extra time/effort to fix them. It is good to have testing of the intermediate releases of the project to find and fix defects sooner in the development life cycle. If the fixing-cycle for such internal-milestone defects is not planned, then either the project is either going to slip or product is going to be of poorer quality. Poor programming skill of the team, not adapting to modern programming practices and having ad hoc development processes may lead to higher number of defects which would take more time to fix then planned and cause slippage.

· Task spillover from previous milestone: Tasks that are not completed in previous milestone, due to whatever reason (inefficiency, vacation of the team member, resource crunch etc), will have to be completed in the next milestone thereby increasing the load on the team. If adequate buffer is not planned, these tasks spilled from previous milestone over to next, can delay the project. · Requirement change / refinement: Requirement changes during the product development will result in rework of what has been previously done with first version of requirement(s). Addressing changes in the requirements needs extra time and effort and may cause schedule slippage. In some cases, the requirement from customer is misunderstood resulting in wrong system design and implementation. Additional, unplanned time is lost in correcting the design/implementation which causes schedule slippage.

Conclusion

On time delivery is the challenge software development companies are facing globally. To have a complete control over estimated schedule, it is very important to identify the elements in the development cycle that cause schedule slippage. This article uncovers and explains the root causes of delay in programs using examples from real world. Having an insight to the root causes will help the program managers to make good decisions to avoid future schedule slippage.

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Examining Computer Hardware Components

1. Checking the Screen or Monitor
The screen of your computer or monitor has pixels. These pixels have three colors: Red, green and blue. Pixels can often be damaged or stop functioning properly displaying only one color or just being black.

There is an online tool to check for bad pixels called "CheckPixels" The test at CheckPixels will display your three main colors mentioned above and if a pixel is dead, it will show as a black spot and if a pixel is glowing a different color ( Malfunctioning) you will see that too.

2. Checking the Keyboard
The keyboard might not seem important as a hardware component, but it is used in almost all tasks and taken for granted. For laptop users, the keyboard is very important. If one has to send the laptop away for repair the entire computer must go with it. There is also an online test tool available to test all your keyboard keys called "KeyboardTester".

3. Checking the Disk Drive (HDD & SSD)
Your HDD / SSD has your operating system and most of your applications and files. Having your HDD / SDD completely healthy is very important. This is most imperative when dealing with a used computer since you have no awareness of the previous history or care of the used computer and its HDD / SDD.

Different tools are available to check the condition and health of the HDD / SDD.

HDSentinel is one you can use for your HDD. The left hand side of the screen will display drives connected the computer. Health is the main parameter to look for. HD Sentinel will explain the meaning of the health percentages and the steps that you should take based on the results. As an example, you should not throw out your HDD just because of a few bad disk sectors and IO errors.

SSDlife is another tool specifically for an SSD. It also shows health in percentages and the expected life of the drive. Similar to hard disks, bad sectors can occur in SSDs.

4. Checking the Processing Units (CPU & GPU)

The main components that do all the processing are the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). These are the components that allow you to run your office applications and your games. These are also essential components to ensure are in perfect working order. So it is necessary that these two components should be in perfect condition. For testing both, we use CPU speed test

For testing your GPU, the tool.Base Mark Web 3.0 works just fine.

5. Checking the Random Access Memory (RAM)

RAM is the one essential component that has the most immediate impact on your computers performance. MemTest from HCI Design is a great tool to check your unused memory for errors. Identifying and fixing errors with your RAM is important. Errors in RAM cause the infamous "blue screen of death". Boot problems can also be attributed to RAM errors.

Conclusion
Besides the hardware component tests above, you should also check your Ethernet ports and connection, wireless connection from the wireless card (internal or external), HDMI, DVI and USB connections using available cabling and devices.

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Why Do We Need Software Engineering?

To understand the necessity for software engineering, we must pause briefly to look back at the recent history of computing. This history will help us to understand the problems that started to become obvious in the late sixties and early seventies, and the solutions that have led to the creation of the field of software engineering. These problems were referred to by some as “The software Crisis,” so named for the symptoms of the problem. The situation might also been called “The Complexity Barrier,” so named for the primary cause of the problems. Some refer to the software crisis in the past tense. The crisis is far from over, but thanks to the development of many new techniques that are now included under the title of software engineering, we have made and are continuing to make progress.

In the early days of computing the primary concern was with building or acquiring the hardware. Software was almost expected to take care of itself. The consensus held that “hardware” is “hard” to change, while “software” is “soft,” or easy to change. According, most people in the industry carefully planned hardware development but gave considerably less forethought to the software. If the software didn’t work, they believed, it would be easy enough to change it until it did work. In that case, why make the effort to plan?

The cost of software amounted to such a small fraction of the cost of the hardware that no one considered it very important to manage its development. Everyone, however, saw the importance of producing programs that were efficient and ran fast because this saved time on the expensive hardware. People time was assumed to save machine time. Making the people process efficient received little priority.

This approach proved satisfactory in the early days of computing, when the software was simple. However, as computing matured, programs became more complex and projects grew larger whereas programs had since been routinely specified, written, operated, and maintained all by the same person, programs began to be developed by teams of programmers to meet someone else’s expectations.

Individual effort gave way to team effort. Communication and coordination which once went on within the head of one person had to occur between the heads of many persons, making the whole process very much more complicated. As a result, communication, management, planning and documentation became critical.

Consider this analogy: a carpenter might work alone to build a simple house for himself or herself without more than a general concept of a plan. He or she could work things out or make adjustments as the work progressed. That’s how early programs were written. But if the home is more elaborate, or if it is built for someone else, the carpenter has to plan more carefully how the house is to be built. Plans need to be reviewed with the future owner before construction starts. And if the house is to be built by many carpenters, the whole project certainly has to be planned before work starts so that as one carpenter builds one part of the house, another is not building the other side of a different house. Scheduling becomes a key element so that cement contractors pour the basement walls before the carpenters start the framing. As the house becomes more complex and more people’s work has to be coordinated, blueprints and management plans are required.

As programs became more complex, the early methods used to make blueprints (flowcharts) were no longer satisfactory to represent this greater complexity. And thus it became difficult for one person who needed a program written to convey to another person, the programmer, just what was wanted, or for programmers to convey to each other what they were doing. In fact, without better methods of representation it became difficult for even one programmer to keep track of what he or she is doing.

The times required to write programs and their costs began to exceed to all estimates. It was not unusual for systems to cost more than twice what had been estimated and to take weeks, months or years longer than expected to complete. The systems turned over to the client frequently did not work correctly because the money or time had run out before the programs could be made to work as originally intended. Or the program was so complex that every attempt to fix a problem produced more problems than it fixed. As clients finally saw what they were getting, they often changed their minds about what they wanted. At least one very large military software systems project costing several hundred million dollars was abandoned because it could never be made to work properly.

The quality of programs also became a big concern. As computers and their programs were used for more vital tasks, like monitoring life support equipment, program quality took on new meaning. Since we had increased our dependency on computers and in many cases could no longer get along without them, we discovered how important it is that they work correctly.

Making a change within a complex program turned out to be very expensive. Often even to get the program to do something slightly different was so hard that it was easier to throw out the old program and start over. This, of course, was costly. Part of the evolution in the software engineering approach was learning to develop systems that are built well enough the first time so that simple changes can be made easily.

At the same time, hardware was growing ever less expensive. Tubes were replaced by transistors and transistors were replaced by integrated circuits until micro computers costing less than three thousand dollars have become several million dollars. As an indication of how fast change was occurring, the cost of a given amount of computing decreases by one half every two years. Given this realignment, the times and costs to develop the software were no longer so small, compared to the hardware, that they could be ignored.

As the cost of hardware plummeted, software continued to be written by humans, whose wages were rising. The savings from productivity improvements in software development from the use of assemblers, compilers, and data base management systems did not proceed as rapidly as the savings in hardware costs. Indeed, today software costs not only can no longer be ignored, they have become larger than the hardware costs. Some current developments, such as nonprocedural (fourth generation) languages and the use of artificial intelligence (fifth generation), show promise of increasing software development productivity, but we are only beginning to see their potential.

Another problem was that in the past programs were often before it was fully understood what the program needed to do. Once the program had been written, the client began to express dissatisfaction. And if the client is dissatisfied, ultimately the producer, too, was unhappy. As time went by software developers learned to lay out with paper and pencil exactly what they intended to do before starting. Then they could review the plans with the client to see if they met the client’s expectations. It is simpler and less expensive to make changes to this paper-and-pencil version than to make them after the system has been built. Using good planning makes it less likely that changes will have to be made once the program is finished.

Unfortunately, until several years ago no good method of representation existed to describe satisfactorily systems as complex as those that are being developed today. The only good representation of what the product will look like was the finished product itself. Developers could not show clients what they were planning. And clients could not see whether what the software was what they wanted until it was finally built. Then it was too expensive to change.

Again, consider the analogy of building construction. An architect can draw a floor plan. The client can usually gain some understanding of what the architect has planned and give feed back as to whether it is appropriate. Floor plans are reasonably easy for the layperson to understand because most people are familiar with the drawings representing geometrical objects. The architect and the client share common concepts about space and geometry. But the software engineer must represent for the client a system involving logic and information processing. Since they do not already have a language of common concepts, the software engineer must teach a new language to the client before they can communicate.

Moreover, it is important that this language be simple so it can be learned quickly.

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Determining the Best Type of Fastener to Use For Outdoor Furniture Construction

If you want to learn about selecting hardware for your next outdoor furniture project, then you'll want to read this article. Specifically, I'll be telling you about what type of hardware will perform best, why the type of metal used for fasteners and the finish used are important considerations, and how properly protecting or limiting exposure of your furniture to wet and winter conditions can increase Life span. After you're done with this article you will understand that the best choice of hardware for your outdoor furniture project is dependent on furniture style, material used for construction, selected location for the furniture and budget.

Selecting proper hardware for your furniture will help ensure a long life span, as well as improve the overall appearance of your furniture. Part of the problem is knowing what hardware to select when there are so many options available at the hardware store. The typical Lowes or Home Depot carries a huge selection of stainless steel, hot dipped galvanized, bright galvanized, plain steel, coated steel and brass bolts, nuts, washers and screws. Each type of fastener is suitable for certain applications, but not all are ideal for outdoor furniture applications.

In fact, choosing the wrong fasteners can greatly shorten the lifespan of your furniture, contribute to rot of wood furniture, cause unsightly staining, and even make your furniture unsafe to use.

One thing that needs to be noted right up front is, do not ever use unprotected steel fasteners for outdoor furniture, they will rust very quickly, and the steel will react with the tannic acid in the wood causing streaks and staining. The tannic acid actually speeds up the corrosion of the fasteners. Have you ever seen a wooden fence with black streaks running down the boards from the nails? This fence was installed with the wrong type of fasteners. The same thing will happen to your furniture. Even worse, as the fasteners rust, they will speed up the decay process of the wood around the rusted fasteners, ruining your furniture and making it potentially unsafe to use.

Hot Dipped Galvanized

Screws and bolts treated by hot dipped galvanizing are specifically designed for use outdoors. Electroplated galvanized or bright galvanized fasteners will very well not hold up as well as the hot dipped galvanized hardware. Zinc is used as a coating in both methods, and acts as a barrier against the elements and the tannic acids in the wood.

I strongly recommend only using screws or bolts in the construction of outdoor furniture, however. The galvanized finish on nails, either electroplated or hot dipped, can easily become damaged while hammering them in, exposing the nail head to the elements and allowing them to begin rusting quickly.

Adequate care must be taken when installing galvanized screws. Drill pilot holes in hardwoods, and be sure to use a bit that is not worn and intolerable to skipping in the screw head. For whatever reason, the galvanized screws seem to not be as well tempered as other steel fasteners, and are more likely to either snap off or have the heads strip out while installing them. Due to the permission required for the hot dipped coating, galvanized bolts do not have as tight of tolerance on the threads, and are more likely to strip if over tightened.

Hot dipped galvanized fasteners are a fine choice for many outdoor furniture applications, including Adirondack Chairs, but are not the best choice for use in woods, such as teak.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is the best choice for use in woods with higher levels of tannic acid, such as teak. Stainless steel is an alloy or blend of steel, nickel and chrome. The ratio of the other metals with the steel determine the weather and corrosion resistance of stainless steel. Because the steel is mixed with other softer metals, the stainless steel is not as strong, so predrilling of screw holes is highly recommended in all applications, and essential in hardwoods such as teak and mahogany. The added corrosion resistance more than outweighs any shortcomings that the metal may have, especially in outdoor furniture applications.

While stainless steel fasteners are the most rust resistant, they are also the most expensive of the options we are discussing. However, using stainless steel fasteners will add years of life to your furniture. In the respect, they are an investment that will pay out for years to come.

Brass

I have seen brass used in some commercially produced outdoor furniture, but do not recommend it. While brass does not form red rust, and is well suited for many wet applications such as toilets and sinks, it does tarnish and corrode. It is also very susceptible to the tannic acids in wood, which will cause it to fail more quickly. Brass screws in particular Do not have sufficient strength for outdoor furniture applications.

Outdoor or deck screws

In the past several years a number of manufacturers have introduced outdoor fastening products specifically marketed for deck building. These will typically be green, gray, tan or brown. These screws are either ceramic or plastic coated to delay the metal reacting with the wood acids. The specific coating methods are proprietary to each manufacturer, and can be a combination of electroplated galvanizing and plastic, or a baked on ceramic.

I have used these fasteners in furniture applications and they perform just fine. Unfortunately, I have not come across bolts with this type of finish. The brand of screw I used was Deck Mate, and they were available in tan and brown, so that the color can be selected to better match the wood being used. These screws are ceramic covered, and the manufacturer provided a coated bit for installation, which was designed to not damage the ceramic coating at the screw head. If you choose this type of fastener, be sure to compare the cost with stainless steel, as the price will vary. If the stainless steel is reasonably comparable in cost, it would be the recommended fastener.

Always be sure to read the manufacturers specifications on the box to be sure that the screws are suitable for your application.

Other Considerations

If you are building furniture that will be located on a covered porch or patio where it will be protected from the elements, the concern will be the interaction between the wood and the fasteners, much more so than the weather. Furniture that will be exposed to the elements all year, such as a garden bench, or an adirondack chair in the corner of your garden, will have to be constructed with much more care and concern to ensure that they hold up more than just one or Two winters.

Additional considerations must be made beyond just the choice of what type of fastener to use, though this is very important. For example, fasteners should not be located where water where collect and sit on the fasteners for an extended period of time. The screws that attach the seat slats to an Adirondack chair are a prime example- typically these screws will be countersunk below the surface of the wood. This will allow water to collect in the screw holes, shortening the life span of all but stainless steel fasteners, and prolonging the exposure of the wood to water, which will increase the rate of decay. In applications where the furniture will be exposed to the elements year round the screw heads should be driven flush with the surface of the surrounding wood.

Construction and design of the furniture are also important considerations. Are the horizontal surfaces of the furniture constructed in such a way that will allow them to shed water, rather than collect it? Think of a picnic table with a slatted or board top. The gaps between the boards allow water a way to run off the top and not pool up.

Conclusion

Stainless steel is usually the best choice for outdoor furniture applications, although the cost may be prohibitive for some. There are other less expensive fastener options available that will perform acceptably. Do not use unprotected steel fasteners for outdoor furniture applications under any circumstances. Know where and how you intend to use your furniture and design it for the conditions it will be subjected to.

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Surviving Missing Futon Frame Hardware Nightmares

There seems to be quite a few of us who have owned a futon frame and ended up losing the connecting hardware at one time or another. I myself bought a futon from the retail store I worked in for a number of years back in the early 1990s when futons were all the rage. Maybe you purchased your futon in college, purchased it from a friend or maybe made the purchase for a family room. If you're lucky to live out your life in the same house or apartment there will never be a need to move your futon except except to a different room or location. Obtaining replacement futon frame hardware involves several steps approached in order to locate exactly what you need.

In the first place do not panic just yet. Without the hardware to attach everything back together you're in some serious trouble. However there are ways to obtain what you need. At this point we could explain the many benefits of using a small bag to contain the hardware and attach it to a part of the frame with heavy packing tape so it's easily found. Who am I kidding though? I've moved mine now about three times and each time I ended up missing a bolt, a barrel nut, a nylon roller here and there. Heck, I was lucky I had all the wood components show up at each new move let alone any hardware that happened to make it as well. Besides, is not moving your home stressful enough without having to keep track of a small bag of metal hardware among a sea of ​​furniture, clothing, dishes, toys and appliances?

Pursuing this further we must calmly step back and think for a moment. Yes, we're stressed out and fuming at either our spouse or the moving company for losing the futon hardware but we need to move past that now. To be sure the futon needs our help and we're the only ones who can do it at this point. It's time for us to go through the steps of obtaining replacement hardware and there is a specific order in which we do this to obtain the fastest results. I would suggest the following steps to start tracking down replacement hardware as soon as possible.

First – identify your futon frame.
Having worked retail, it's quite possibly the toughest situation when a customer comes into the store requiring assistance but can not identify the product to the salesperson or service individual when requesting parts. Granted you're going to have to do a little research by pulling your receipt when you bought the futon from the store and identify the model or name of the futon. If you inherited the futon, found it by the side of the road or bought it at a garage sale you're in for a tough road ahead. Fear not however as the internet can be used to help you find the design and attach a name to it for use in tracking down hardware. Be aware that there are dozens of manufacturers out there using different hardware in their frames including many that have since closed their doors. Hopefully the manufacturer of your frame is still around.

Second – speak to the retailer.
Of course if you purchased your futon frame through a local retail store it's time to head down there and see if they can track down the hardware for your frame. Bring your receipt. If you do not have a receipt, then bring an image of the futon frame with you. Hopefully the salesperson or service representative is knowledgeable about the products that they've carried in the past. Best case scenario, they either can provide you with the name of the manufacturer with contact information or have the parts on hand to get you back up and running. Worst case scenario the store you purchased it is out of business or if the store is still around they have no clue about the product anymore.

Third – search online.
Supposing we've hit the worse case scenario it's time to use the web to search for the manufacturer or the name of the style of futon you have. I'd suggest using Google, Bing or Yahoo and use the name adding the word futon to the search. If you were not able to locate a name you're going to have to become a very good spotter and sift through the many images of futon frames till you find one that is very close to what you have. Identify the name of the style and the manufacturer and then proceed to locate the manufacturer of the futon frame.

Fourth – speak to the manufacturer.
Assuming the retailer did not have parts but could identify the manufacturer for you then at least have something to go on. Perhaps you were able to locate your frame style through the search engines. Again, search online using the websites previously discussed using the name of the manufacturer. You'll likely get some online retail stores off of the search. Filter them out visually until you find a link for the manufacturer. Most do have websites, locate a contact phone number or email address and contact them for information on obtaining hardware. If you're unable to locate the manufacturer's website go ahead and contact one of the many futon stores that pop-up in the search results and email them with your issue and ask if they can either sell you hardware or point you in the right direction For finding the manufacturer in hopes of tracking down hardware.

Finally – the last resort.
If you were unable to determine the name of the futon frame or the name of the manufacturer you are indeed in a tight spot. At this point your options are limited to heading down to a hardware store and seeing if you can locate some generic parts that might get you back up and running. The problem will be in the way of connecting bolts and barrel nuts and getting the right lengths if available. I would suggest taking one of the wood arms and a stretcher rail with you to the store. Begin plugging in different bolts and nuts till you find a combination that connects correctly. You'll also need to track down connecting pins, washers and clips for the seat and back section as well as the four nylon rollers that most futon frames use on the back rest. If you're lucky these may still be attached to the backrest deck making your job a bit easier.

In conclusion we've discussed the issues presented with lost futon hardware and how to go about tracking down the hardware you need. Basically identify your frame through a receipt or spotting it online. Visit the retailer store you purchased it from and obtain parts through them if they are still open. If you purchased it privately or inherited the frame track down the manufacturer using a search engine of your choice and speak to them about ordering replacements. If you are not able to locate the manufacturer but have found stores online contact one of them to see if they can sell you hardware. If all else fails visit the local hardware store with your wood futon sections in hand and begin trying bolts and nuts till you find some that work. I sincerely hope you're able to obtain the needed hardware to get your futon frame back up and running. I wish you the best of luck to you and your futon.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Professional Shopping Cart Software

Advantages & Disadvantages of professional shopping cart software As e-Commerce is becoming a regular technique in the business industry it appears that more and more software development firms are developing professional shopping cart software to be released in the market. There is currently a huge range of free shopping cart software that has been released, and it seems that most e-Commerce website owners prefer these free systems over paid for professional shopping cart software. In this article we are going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of professional shopping cart software.

Advantages

• Even though you will have to pay for the solution, you get a cart package that has been fully developed, tested and used in the real working world by other e-Commerce websites. If the solution is used by a popular website service then the chances are it has been under more than enough testing to be deemed ready for use.

• Professional shopping cart software will be supported by the people who developed it. A lot of free solutions out there are simply developed and then discontinued as the freelance developers move onto their next project. Support is essential if you are going to want upgrades as mentioned in our next point.

• As the system is supported, the development team are likely to fix any bugs that may occur and provide patches and security fixes. This means the shopping cart software will only get better as time goes on and furthermore improve your e-Commerce website.

• Your site is likely to be more secure when using a professional software solution as in most cases the it developed house private content management systems. This improves security as public content management systems such as WordPress are constantly under threat from hackers as they try to compromise the free source code.

• Another huge advantage of using professionally developed software in e-Commerce is that they will already support a huge range of different payment options for your customers. There are various carts – that only offer PayPal for payment by standard, and it can take a very long time to find plug-ins or figure out how to add other methods yourself. With professional software you can save time and possibly money as it is all included.

Disadvantages

• Your e-Commerce venture might be a small time project and professional cart does cost money which you may not have. In this case you may have to make do with a free shopping cart solution. The good part of conducting business online is that after you have made profit with the free system you can reinvest your money to buy a professional package.

• You trust the developers to do everything they promise to ensure the best experience. It might be slightly difficult to use at first and you might have to spend some time getting used to the bespoke system. You also have to understand that you are vulnerable until patches are made if a security flaw is found.

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