Archive for October, 2007

Checkbox Fun

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 by The Director

We at are not the only ones who have fun mocking Web form design; the Loose Wire Blog has found an instance of confusing checkbox, sleazy syndrome.

Opted in if you do, opted in if you don’t.

Evidence-Based Scheduling in FogBugz

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 by The Director

Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software explains some of the thinking behind Evidence-Based Scheduling included in the new release of FogBugz.

Over the last year or so at Fog Creek we’ve been developing a system that’s so easy even our grouchiest developers are willing to go along with it. And as far as we can tell, it produces extremely reliable schedules. It’s called Evidence-Based Scheduling, or EBS. You gather evidence, mostly from historical timesheet data, that you feed back into your schedules. What you get is not just one ship date: you get a confidence distribution curve, showing the probability that you will ship on any given date.

Honestly, that’s what you ought to be doing if you’re taking a scientific approach. However, your organization and its schedule builders aren’t scientific, preferring instead to build timelines and effort estimates to fit external constraints, deadlines, or budgets instead of reality.

So, carry on with those unwritten tasks of covering your rump when failures occur.

Typo, or Something More Sinister?

Monday, October 29th, 2007 by The Director

Fox News’s Suzanne Sena has an all-Flash Web site complete with the Click to Activate Control box. But it’s not the interface that’s sinister; it’s the text within her bio.

Developer States The Obvious

Thursday, October 25th, 2007 by The Director

Joel Spolsky provides your team with a handy checklist to ensure that your team collects all the easy ways to fail in software development projects.

Count how many apply to your current situation!

Payout A Software Bug

Thursday, October 25th, 2007 by The Director

You really hate to see stories like this one:

For about an hour last August, Gary Hoffman was a very lucky man.

Hoffman was playing the nickel slot machines at the Sandia Resort and Casino on an Indian reservation in New Mexico when he appeared to hit the jackpot: the machine said he won nearly $1.6 million.

“I became ecstatic,” he said.

But the ecstasy was short-lived. Hoffman says in a lawsuit filed earlier this year that Sandia refused to pay, claiming that the machine malfunctioned. Instead, he said, they gave him about $385 and a few free meals at the casino.

“I won money, fair and square, and I’ve been cheated out of my winnings,” Hoffman told ABC News.

The casino says it’s not responsible for what it describes as a computer error and says it offered Hoffman the maximum payout of $2,500 for that particular slot machine. But, a jury may never decide who is right. Lawyers told ABC News that gamblers like Hoffman may have little legal recourse against Native American casinos, which sometimes operate beyond the reach of U.S. courts.

Because the more this becomes common place (“It’s a bug” or “It’s a malicious attack!”), the more fault-tolerant our society becomes. Which is okay in the course of online sweepstake, but when all standards for business machinery fall to those low levels, certain non-fungible values (money, altitude, and so on) will be held to the same lax standards.

J. Deitch Wasn’t Listening

Thursday, October 25th, 2007 by The Director

Remember when I told you how to check your PDFs? Apparently, J. Deitch, who works for someone who does’s promotions, wasn’t listening.


Deviant Samsung Mini Sweepstakes

Thursday, October 25th, 2007 by The Director

Kudos to the Samsung Mini Sweepstakes for deviating from the norm in ways fashioned to confuse the users.


Tripping Over Your Own Footer Links

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007 by The Director

You remember, our unofficial slogan here at is Everything, every time. That’s because sometimes the little things that a QA staff doesn’t check because they’ve tested something very similar on a similar page or, heaven forfend, there’s no QA team at all and nobody is checking the little things at all.

Take, for instance, this contest to win a Chevy Camaro painted like the Transformer Bumblebee.

Unexpected Server Load = “Malicious Attack”

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007 by The Director

As you well know by now, the Colorado Rockies server suffered a meltdown when World Series tickets came on sale. Rockies officials claim it was a malicious attack:

Colorado Rockies officials said Monday their computer system for online-only World Series ticket sales was the target of an “external malicious attack,” but online ticket sales were to resume at noon Tuesday.

Team spokesperson Jay Alves couldn’t immediately provide details of the attack.

You know what the attack was? Everyone wanted World Series tickets, and each customer was multiplied because as a group, they overcame limitations of 1 user 1 computer:

McLeod said he has Internet access from his apartment building but thought the library’s computers might be faster. His mother, father, uncle and girlfriend were trying to buy tickets from other computers, he said.

Or some overcame bandwidth exemptions:

Super-fast computers normally used only during emergencies were to be staffed Monday so state employees could buy Rockies World Series tickets online.

Until word of the plan got out, that is.

“I need volunteers to help push buttons in attempting access,” David Holm, recently the acting director of the state Division of Emergency Management, said in an e-mail obtained and released by KUSA-TV on Friday. “You will need to use break time, lunch time or leave time to do this and the only real perk I can offer right now is that if someone does not pay for their tickets within 3 days, you will get first crack at them.”

And here’s a guess: some ticket brokers or perhaps some developers came up with scripts that submitted orders to the Web site to improve their chances of getting tickets.

That’s not a “malicious attack.”

The servers failed from overwhelming demand. Of course, admitting that diminishes the brand, I suppose. But your company got to drink from the fire hose, Colorado Rockies; no one can fault you for failing to predict that your team would ever get to the World Series or what that could do to your systems.

Other stories on the breakdown:

And as a reminder, ungentle reader, your friend and mentor The Director would have found a problem here because he doesn’t run sissy load tests. However, no doubt the project would move forward even with the failure under extreme load because the stakeholders would be comfortable blaming DDOS.

That Plays Well In Europe

Monday, October 22nd, 2007 by The Director

I don’t know why the designers behind Cheer’s current sweepstakes decided to go all continental with the date format:

Putting the day before the month
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I guess they wanted to see if I was paying attention.

I was not.

Thankfully, though, the validation helped me out, but I had to stop and think why my birthday was failing on the birth day of 20; obviously, though, that failed validation for a real month.

You Must Disable Security Features To Use This Web Site

Monday, October 22nd, 2007 by The Director

I am not going to pick on the Royal Caribbean Web site because it lacks a non-flash alternative for its main heading image, prompting users to download a plugin:

No non-flash alternative
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“Training Issue” Is No Parry Five

Friday, October 19th, 2007 by The Director

Some developers think the words “Training Issue” are a parry five when it comes to defect resolution. The developers will mark the issue as resolved/won’t fix or some such nonsense, brush the crumbs of QA intransigence from their hands, and go back to voting for the Nintendo Wii over the XBox in an Internet poll.

I don’t know where the developers got the idea of this mythical training upon which they hope to rely to cover their deficient code; none of the places for which I’ve worked or contracted in this century have had actual training departments. Or much of a documentation department. So the developers who deploy the “training issue” defense really mean that a) This issue will be brought up in the 30 minute demo with the check signer where the check signer decides whether to sign that check or b) They really, really hope that a user doesn’t find it or c) “Training Issue” means “customer support issue.”

Gallery of Stack Traces: Number 5 Needs Good Input

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007 by The Director

What do you get when you try to put a string where the application wants a double? Well, some developers would call it a training issue, but we here at QA Hates You call it a beautiful, beautiful stack trace:

Input string in wrong format
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Yeah, you don’t see those every day. Because even QA gets Sunday off most weeks.

Sending An Application To Do A Man’s Work

Monday, October 15th, 2007 by The Director

Throughout much of the IT world, the developers and the people who love them want technology to solve everything for them, to be everything to them. Unfortunately, we in QA spend most of our days steeped in the myriad ways technology fails without remorse on its part and often without remorse on the part of the negligent nabobs who created it.

So you can understand why I’m not an early adopter to the latest gee-whizzery that uses faulty algorithms to supplant fallible people. So when I saw several ads for WhiteSmoke, a product that’s supposed to review and improve your written work, you might think I would be tempted to go to its Web site and review it for grammar. Brother, you know me too well.


I Just Clicked A Link

Friday, October 12th, 2007 by The Director

Some people are born to QA; I must be one of them, since the applications fail at my slightest touch.

Motley Fool tumbles
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Why do the applications come to me to die? Why do the applications come to me to die?

Ask A Silly Question

Thursday, October 11th, 2007 by The Director

In SD Times, columnist David Linthicum asks: Is SOA Quality a Priority?

SOA testing is in the media a bit these days as those who implement SOA have to make sure those new services, abstraction layers and orchestrations are ready for prime time. However, the common approach to SOA deployment is: development now, requirements maybe, and testing if we have the time. You can’t afford to make that mistake; there is too much on the line with this stuff.

Indeed, a recent study by Nucleus Research discovered that existing SOA implementations achieved limited success when considering ROI. Only 37 percent of enterprises have achieved a positive return on their investments from SOA deployments. While the root cause of these low ROI numbers can be attributed to many factors, the key issues relate to a lack of planning and a lack of testing.

Central to this problem is the fact that quality assurance, in general, is an often overlooked concept to most developers and designers. I mean, you’re admitting that your code and resulting services need to be tested. How can that be?

How long have you been in the industry? This is called business as usual in most sectors.

Or, as I like to say (starting today), HIHO: Hubris in, Hopelessness Out.

Almost An Insult

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007 by The Director

If I were an e-mail marketer, I would almost be insulted:

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Of course, it’s hard to be insulted by an e-mail marketing communication rife with typos and a Web site rife with errors.

I realize I single out a lot, but geez, the quality of its e-mails and its Web site are atrocious and worthy of scorn.

Et Tu, Bug Tracker?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007 by The Director

Following the heels of yesterday’s crash, today BugTracker.NET crapped out on me:

BugTracker .NET takes a dirt nap
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Why, it’s almost as though the word is getting out amongst the very tools of the QA trade about me.

Optimism from Developers

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007 by The Director

This post at Worse Than Failure illustrates, in handy chart format, myriad ways that a development project can fail. However, as the post was written by developers, the number of possible ways for complete and utter disaster are probably underrepresented.

Dr. Watson Commits Seppuku

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007 by The Director

How do you know if you’re a good software tester?

Dr. Watson Commits Seppuku

Dr. Watson ends it all rather than continue working with you.

 Good work!

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