Friendly-HTTP is unfriendly when testing

If you’re involved in the testing process for a web application and you use Internet Explorer for testing, one of the first things that you will need to do is to turn off “friendly HTTP error messages”. This option is turned on by default and I can understand why Microsoft did it because most people are ordinary consumers who won’t be bothered with deciphering the error messages that the server throws back.

Turning this option off will display the error message returned from the server in all its techno-geek glory that only IT people can decipher. Incidentally, these error messages are also often useful when testing. For instance, Weblogic Server Developer License only allows 5 unique IP addresses and it will inform you via the error message if you should exceed that. However, if friendly HTTP is on, you will only know that access has been denied without knowing the reason.

If you have trouble finding this option in your IE options, I’ve reproduced a screenshot below.


Friendly HTTP Error Message option
Friendly HTTP Error Message option

Passing the Hot Potato

During the course of your daily work routine, you will probably come across certain tasks that I would term as a “hot potato”. These “hot potatoes” are tasks that do not require much of your time to handle, but you risk being the bottleneck if you do not respond promptly.

Literally, no one wants to hold a hot potato for too long (unless you’re masochistic). If all it requires is just a small diversion from whatever you’re doing, then just handle it quickly and pass the hot potato on. Of course, it will require some skill and experience to determine whether a task is a hot potato.

A “hot potato” is a task where:


  • You hold up progress if you do not act on it
  • It does not take much of your time to do your part and pass it on
  • Once you pass it on, you can forget about it and continue with whatever you were doing in the first place

7 days is the max

Keep chanting it to yourself as a mantra. “7 days is the max… 7 days is the max…”

Whether you are doing up a project plan yourself or accepting a project plan from vendors, each task on the project plan should last no longer than 7 days. If any task exceeds 7 days, then it becomes difficult to track the progress and the people working on the task may also not develop a sense of urgency since the discernible milestone to them is still some time away.

Most, if not all, tasks can be broken down to a maximum 7 day duration. If you find that you are unable to do it or you are working with a project planner who says “It’s impossible” (incidentally a much too common refrain from vendors…), then TRY HARDER.

Editing Sharepoint 2003 Lists using Microsoft Excel

Sharepoint may be a useful collaboration portal for people involved in a project to work together, but certain functions are still quite clunky. Not sure if it wasn’t setup properly by the company’s IT Infrstructure team or if its just MS software being wonky, but the “Edit in Datasheet” button that is available for all Sharepoint lists does not work properly. Whenever it is clicked, there is an error stating that something is wrong about ActiveX or that a compatible application is not installed.

SharePoint error
SharePoint error

What to do? It can be quite a pain to manage lists through the UI especially if you have to consolidate information and copy-and-paste information between spreadsheets. Typing in each new row one-by-one is an option only for those with great patience and a huge amount of time. Thankfully, I managed to work out one way…

First of all, export the list to a spreadsheet. You will be given a file with the extension .iqy. Open this file using Microsoft Excel and your list’s data will appear. You can make any changes you like to this list, but instead of clicking on Save, you right-click on the sheet, go to Lists/Synchronise Lists. This will automagically update the list on Sharepoint!

Synchronising list with SharePoint using Excel
Synchronising list with SharePoint using Excel

Google Desktop for Enterprise

The ordinary Google Desktop is not useful for my workplace as it is unable to index Lotus Notes. Luckily Google Desktop for Enterprise (GDE) is here!

Now I don’t think I can do without GDE at work. Its really convenient to just type in keywords and retrieve all documents related to the keywords. Unfortunately, sometimes I need to manually clean up the index because GDE also indexes my browser history and it throws up irrelevant pages as a result.

If you want to find out more about GDE, you can go to the GDE website.

If you carry your notebook around, you should use this

Carrying your notebook around increases the possibility of it getting lost. How much the possibility increases depends on how careful a person you are. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you lost your notebook? Don’t even think about the financial cost of replacing the notebook. What about all that data?

First of all, you really should have the discipline to backup your documents if you do not already do so  –Think I’ll cover that in another article. The next thing to do will be to encrypt your data so even if your notebook gets into the hands of another person, they will have no access to that data.

I highly recommend FreeOTFE for this purpose. I have been using it for a while now and its extremely stable. Think the resource footprint is also quite small as you won’t even remember you have it running until you shutdown your notebook and you’re reminded by FreeOTFE to dismount all secure volumes before shutdown.