Unfortunately, I Only Have A Year’s Experience

July 17th, 2018 by The Director

Hopefully this consulting company can find the Senior Hemissourlp Desk person it’s looking for.

Heaven knows, good hemissourlp desk people are hard to find.

QA Music: Metal Makes Everything Better

July 16th, 2018 by The Director

As you probably know, I’m a big fan of Leo Morachiolli, a Norwegian scientist proving every week that metal makes everything better.

Here is his cover of Peter somebody’s song “Sledgehammer”:

“I want to be your sledgehammer” is right on my business card.

I’m Unclear On The GDPR Implications

June 29th, 2018 by The Director

So what happens if I regard this test email sent out to the production mailing list?

I mean, the only content of the message is a Forward to a Friend button.

Which works.

So, is this a successful test or not?

Not My Office, Naturally

June 26th, 2018 by The Director

To be honest, I’ve worked some places where only scapegoats are recognized.

QA Music: The Mondayest Song Ever

June 25th, 2018 by The Director

Three Days Grace, “The Mountain”:

Clearly, The Graphic Designer Was Not A Ninja

June 21st, 2018 by The Director

It’s been a while since I’ve made fun of advertisements in software magazines, but since SD Times is still sending me free copies of their buzzword-laden collection of advertisements amid laudatory stories about their advertisers, I might as well go on with the show.

Check this guy out:

I suspect the designer is trying to show a unit-testing ninja throwing a flying sidekick. But the feet are in the wrong position for it. With a sidekick, the kicking foot is horizontal with the toes forward, and the toes on the bottom foot should not be pointing straight down. The front kick features the foot vertical with the toes drawn back, and but there’s not a leaping variant where the non-kicking foot tucks up like that.

Maybe the fellow is just Russian dancing.

Also note that the product has mock right in the name. How could I not?

You’re More Than A Number To Us

May 11th, 2018 by The Director

A purported eBay missive tells me that I’m more than a number to them:

I’m an alphanumeric variable to them.

You know, it could be a phishing scam. Or it could be an expensive start to a research project that looks no better than a sophisticated phishing scam due to a failed mail merge.

I’m engaging it the same way in either case.

How Can I Improve On That?

May 10th, 2018 by The Director

According to LinkedIn, people found my profile using these search terms:

Tower Insurance + EIFFEL + Reality Television + Alternate

Because, really, that pretty much sums up my career.

Of all those things, the only thing I recognize is that I once wrote an article about the Eiffel tower which got published.

I have to wonder how far into the list of results the searcher had to go to find me.

For a few dollars more, I could bump myself further up in the results.

The Opposite Of The Sound Of Silence

May 3rd, 2018 by The Director

What, you expect me to turn down the Iron Maiden when I dial into the daily stand-up?

Think again.

QA Music: Some Projects Be Like

March 19th, 2018 by The Director

Testament, “Centuries of Suffering”:

Yes, I just got the new Testament album, Brotherhood of the Snake. Which is what I’m planning to call the Testers’ Union when I get enough signatures.

It Was As Though Millions Of Style Guides Cried Out At Once And Were Suddenly Updated

December 7th, 2017 by The Director

Walmart changes name, dropping ‘stores’ and hyphen, as it underscores online image:

What’s in a name? For Walmart, it will soon be a little less.

The company, which became the largest retailer in the world with a huge chain of stores, is changing its name to reflect its increasing emphasis on e-commerce.

As of Feb. 1, it will no longer be “Wal-Mart Stores” and will get rid of the hyphen and drop “stores” from its legal name.

Just kidding; please continue with the normal mishmash of capitalization when referring to corporations, especially our own clients.

Walmart has brought some confusion upon itself, with signage and logos that do not include the hyphen but the corporate name and formal documents probably did.

Ideally, internal communications would use the proper branding so that the habits built into the copy writers, designers, and other communicators would automatically use it whenever they do their jobs, but too often the shorthand name for a company works its way into the copy or iconography. Which just looks sloppy.

Nothing explains the purple Comic Sans, though. Why does the CEO do that in his emails?

To Be Honest, The Pikachu Suit Is In My Standard Test Plan, Too

November 16th, 2017 by The Director

I might have mentioned it before, but I would not mind testing Amazon’s new cashier-less stores (Amazon’s Cashierless Store Is Almost Ready for Prime Time):

Employees have tried to fool the technology. One day, three enterprising Amazonians donned bright yellow Pikachu costumes and cruised around grabbing sandwiches, drinks and snacks. The algorithms nailed it, according to a person familiar with the situation, correctly identifying the employees and charging their Amazon accounts, even though they were obscured behind yellow polyester.

I mean, the Pikachu suit is an integral part of any well-designed test plan.

But I am not running those test cases today.

In the case of Amazon Go, though, the Pikachu suits are a showy bit of theatre, but the real tests would involve more elaborate and time-tested mechanisms for criminal shrinkage like false-bottomed boxes and whatnot. Also, you’d definitely want to try out false positives, where teams would pass the items around and see who gets charged or who gets wrongly charged.

QA Music: Georgia On My Mind

October 30th, 2017 by The Director

Fozzy, “Judas”:

Now go out there and betray some friendly software for a couple bits of silver.

QA Music: Indestructible

October 23rd, 2017 by The Director

“Indestructible” by Disturbed.

I know, the song is almost as old as this blog is. That doesn’t make it any less relevant.

We Thought You’d Never Leave

October 17th, 2017 by The Director

Apparently, I did something unexpected at GitHub: I logged out.

No user would ever do that!

Note the presence of the new hotness, the interrobang (‽) character, a cartoonish mash-up of the question mark and the exclamation point that is becoming popular on error pages. I just made a developer take it off one of the sites I work on because it’s currently a developer and technology field-centric thing, and to a consumer-level user, it looks like poor kerning.

Someday, it might be more mainstream, but that is not today.

Unlike, say, logging out, which should be supported without error.

A Smart Aleck and Slack

October 12th, 2017 by The Director

When signing up for yet another Slack (and adding to the possibility that you’ll end up saying something to the wrong client or team), one sees this message regarding passwords:

However, its denial to the contrary, Slack thinks
password, 123456 or abcdef.
is a great password.

You don’t have to be a complete smart aleck to work in this industry, but you do need to be a complete smart aleck to thrive.

You Would Think I’d Agree With This Thesis, But….

October 6th, 2017 by The Director

The Atlantic Monthly has a piece entitled “The Coming Software Apocalypse” that starts out with some examples of computer problems akin to what I post here:

There were six hours during the night of April 10, 2014, when the entire population of Washington State had no 911 service. People who called for help got a busy signal. One Seattle woman dialed 911 at least 37 times while a stranger was trying to break into her house. When he finally crawled into her living room through a window, she picked up a kitchen knife. The man fled.

The 911 outage, at the time the largest ever reported, was traced to software running on a server in Englewood, Colorado. Operated by a systems provider named Intrado, the server kept a running counter of how many calls it had routed to 911 dispatchers around the country. Intrado programmers had set a threshold for how high the counter could go. They picked a number in the millions.

Shortly before midnight on April 10, the counter exceeded that number, resulting in chaos. Because the counter was used to generating a unique identifier for each call, new calls were rejected. And because the programmers hadn’t anticipated the problem, they hadn’t created alarms to call attention to it. Nobody knew what was happening. Dispatch centers in Washington, California, Florida, the Carolinas, and Minnesota, serving 11 million Americans, struggled to make sense of reports that callers were getting busy signals. It took until morning to realize that Intrado’s software in Englewood was responsible, and that the fix was to change a single number.

Not long ago, emergency calls were handled locally. Outages were small and easily diagnosed and fixed. The rise of cellphones and the promise of new capabilities—what if you could text 911? or send videos to the dispatcher?—drove the development of a more complex system that relied on the internet. For the first time, there could be such a thing as a national 911 outage. There have now been four in as many years.

It’s been said that software is “eating the world.” More and more, critical systems that were once controlled mechanically, or by people, are coming to depend on code. This was perhaps never clearer than in the summer of 2015, when on a single day, United Airlines grounded its fleet because of a problem with its departure-management system; trading was suspended on the New York Stock Exchange after an upgrade; the front page of The Wall Street Journal’s website crashed; and Seattle’s 911 system went down again, this time because a different router failed. The simultaneous failure of so many software systems smelled at first of a coordinated cyberattack. Almost more frightening was the realization, late in the day, that it was just a coincidence.

Okay, I agree with a lot of the premise of the article. But I know that the author is not a computer expert of any stripe when we get to this passage:

Since the 1980s, the way programmers work and the tools they use have changed remarkably little.

Well, that’s a remarkably daft statement. I wrote a bit of code in the 1980s (for pay once, but I was young and I needed the money). What has changed since then?

  • IDEs.
  • Object-oriented programming.
  • Never mind, let’s go back to functional programming again.
  • Client-server architecture.
  • Web-based software.
  • IDEs and other scaffolding mechanism building a bunch of code you don’t understand or need automatically.
  • Inserting open-source libraries and dependencies in your code for everything.
  • Distributed architectures where different machines handle different bits of your code.
  • Cutting and pasting from Stack Overflow.

And so on and so on.

The rest of the article seems to be a white paper for business object-based development. Which is totally a new thing that will change everything. Except that it’s not new; it’s as old at least as Versata, a company I invested in around the turn of the century and that was founded in 1989.

You know why this never takes off? Because the code making the pretty replacement for the code is code itself and an abstraction of the type that this article claims is the problem.

You know what the real problem is?

Computer programming rarely, and even rarelier now, gets to a mature and proven technology. If you’ve been in the business for any number of years, you’ve seen technology stacks come and go along with the various frameworks, architectures, programming languages, and development methodologies. Every couple of years, they rise and fall, and projects, products, and features get started, kludged on using, or completely rebuilt in the new languages and frameworks. Then, a couple years later, something else comes up and something gets started anew.

I know this reads a little bit like Old Man Yells At The Cloud, but there’s a lot of institutional knowledge lost when these ebbs and flows occur. Nobody’s gotten node.js right yet, but don’t worry, there’ll be something new in two years to take its place, and all of our defects can be washed clean and rebuilt in the new hotness.

The article compares software architecture to old timey physical engineering, but it draws the wrong lessons. Instead of trying to make programming more visual like things in the physical world are, we need to ensure that the ‘best practices’ are learned and applied as universally as possible, and to slow down so we can learn what they are and to work with them and with mature technologies to create things that work.

Instead, companies will continue to chase the newest technologies and languages and minimum viable products as fast as they can with the result that computer science is less like science and more like Dungeons and Dragons Wild Magick rules.

Old School QA Slang That I Just Made Up

September 28th, 2017 by The Director

Snakeskin (n)
Evidence of a defect that is not the defect itself.

Have you ever seen something that you know is wrong, but you’re not sure what made it wrong so you’re a little hesitant to log it (but you log it anyway because, hey, someone else might see it, and it’s best to know something is wrong)? That’s a snakeskin.

If you’re in the southern United States, feel free to call this a cicada shell.

QA Music: The Tester In Our Nature

September 25th, 2017 by The Director

Currently on heavy rotation deep in my darkened QA lair is this song by Rise Against, “The Violence”:

Clearly, I’ve been clicking the replay button too much to do any real writing lately.

Words of the Master

September 11th, 2017 by The Director

“It is only the (truly) virtuous man, who can love, or who can hate, others.” –Confucius

You better believe that’s going on my resume in the Awards and Achievements section: Truly virtuous, awarded by the Chinese sage. Although anyone familiar with Confucius reading my resume would instantly throw it into the discard pile, because he or she would know Confucius did not think of himself as particularly sagacious.


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