Archive for December, 2007

And I Said, “That’s Good! One Less Thing.”

Saturday, December 29th, 2007 by The Director

Web browser compatibility testing gets easier:

AOL LLC today pulled the plug on Netscape Navigator, the Web browser that once owned the lion’s share of the market and that was the focus of a landmark federal antitrust case against Microsoft Corp.

In an announcement posted to AOL’s blog for the browser, Tom Drapeau, the director of the company’s Netscape brand, said the team is ending development and would cease issuing security updates as of Feb. 1, 2008.

It gets easier to justify not testing Netscape, anyway. Because, let’s face it, the margin of error still using it will cling to it even though it’s not supported.

And let’s face it, you didn’t even know it was to Netscape 9 now, did you?


Friday, December 28th, 2007 by The Director

While we here at QAHY love what we do, we are not the only ones having fun. Over at Evil Mad Scientist, they have created a sticker which you can purchase in lots of 10 to be sure that all your developer friends have a good supply on hand for any projects they might be currently working on.

Developer Stickers

Creative Validation Message Placement

Thursday, December 27th, 2007 by The Director

Well, this National Guard sign up page does, in fact, perform validation; however, it will place the error messages, one at a time, next to the First Name edit box label. Even if that message does not apply to that control:

Validation location dysfunction
Click here for full size

Well, good enough for government work, apparently.

Maybe The Developer Was A Snake

Thursday, December 27th, 2007 by The Director

The title bar of thissss sweepsstakess ssssurvey page indicates either a typo or something more unholy and eldritch:

Sweepsstakes, indeed
Click here for full size

Eh, who reads the titles anyway, right?

Don’t Go Halfway With Your Validation Messages

Thursday, December 27th, 2007 by The Director

You silly developers and your little halfhearted feints toward usability. Why don’t you just go all the way and not put any effort into it at all?

Take, for instance, the validation messages that display when the user doesn’t enter required data in the Web form on the Washburn Guitars Death By Decibels contest.


Testing With Real Data

Friday, December 21st, 2007 by The Director

An article at Dark Reading explains Real Data in App Testing Poses Real Risks:

If you use real, live customer data in your testing and development of applications, you may want to think twice about the risks of exposing that data.

Organizations that use live data in their testing do so basically because it makes the testing more real-world and better puts the app through its paces. Trouble is, it also can expose sensitive data to engineering staff who normally wouldn’t have access to that data, as well as to consultants and other outside contractors working with your organization on the testing process.

But you don’t have to use the real thing in app testing and development: “It needs to be real enough, but it’s better if it’s not people’s confidential information,” says Gary McGraw, CTO of Cigital.

Still, it’s common practice among many organizations today. According to a new study from the Ponemon Institute, which was commissioned by Compuware, 69 percent of the over 800 IT professionals surveyed said they use live data for testing their applications, and 62 percent say they do so in their software development. Over 50 percent outsource their app testing, and of that group, 49 percent of them share live data with the outsourcing organization.

The article conflates using real data with using live data, but it’s really two different things, both of which comes with its own risks.


Wherein Alyssa Milano Teaches Us A Lesson

Thursday, December 20th, 2007 by The Director

You might have heard me say Every thing, every time before. That means you check every link on every page, too. Sometimes your leaders, developers, or other scoffqualities will encourage you to shortcut this by only checking the important links or only checking the links that have the same targets once and calling it a pass. But the lovely and talented (and by talented, I mean “lovely” although she’s a better actress than Brett Favre) Alyssa Milano helps to illustrate this lesson.


A Key Value, Undefined

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007 by The Director

I don’t know what it means, but, the Major League Baseball compendium of official blogs, has a JavaScript Error on its home page:

A key value, undefined
Click for full size

Something in the variable name, I don’t know, maybe key, would indicate someone should have thought to define it.

They Probably Couldn’t Find It In The Dictionary

Monday, December 17th, 2007 by The Director

If they tried to look professional up in the dictionary the way they spelled it in the alt text, GMC wouldn’t find it:

Professional Grade: F
Click for full size


You can guess what professional grade I give them for sloppy quality.

What To Get Your Team For Christmas

Monday, December 17th, 2007 by The Director

At Christmastime, I like to give my employees a little something extra above and beyond the corporate gift card or gift exchange material. Something to say to my people that they’re not just company employees, they’re my team. Given that QA is often the us and the everyone else is them, I like to keep that distinction clear. So what do you get your group? Well, I recommend…


At Least They’re Not Offal Rules

Thursday, December 13th, 2007 by The Director

A common typo on sweepstakes promotion pages, courtesy of Maxim:

Offcal rules
Click here for full size

I don’t know why, but misspelling official as offical in the official rules link happens an awful lot.

I know why it’s not often caught, though: because quality hurts.

Contending Flash Ads

Thursday, December 13th, 2007 by The Director

Kudos to ComputerWorld for the ability to lay banner ads over the top of other banner ads:

Contending Banner Ads
Click for full size

You’ll note that I have rolled over the expensive PointRollish IBM banner; however, the Postini sub banner ad continues to scroll over it.


I’d tell you what the Postini thing is all about, but the link in the little Flash doohickey doesn’t seem to resolve.

Reminder To Our Client-Facing Co-Workers

Thursday, December 13th, 2007 by The Director

Remember, when you try to whitewash a problem, use enough actual whitewash to adequately cover the problem. Otherwise, you’re merely applying an antique finish to the problem.

Discordant Instructions

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007 by The Director

Sometimes, it becomes obvious that the copy writers and the form designers are not sitting in the same room and are probably contending with each other for dominance in the creative department internal politics of interactive agencies everywhere. Or maybe it only becomes obvious that nobody is paying attention to the actual interface when writing the instructions or paying attention to the actual text when designing the interface. The following examples show a couple of places where these things don’t confluentiate.


Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral?

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007 by The Director

Does alignment matter? The people who put together this Kohl’s sweepstakes don’t think so.


I’ll Take That Under Advisement

Monday, December 10th, 2007 by The Director

What should you do if your banner ad or banner ad delivery software requires Adobe Flash Player 9.0 and the user only has Adobe Flash Player 7.0 installed?

Not this:


The First Step

Monday, December 10th, 2007 by The Director

The first step in fixing a problem is admitting you have a problem:

I am downright embarrassed by the quality of my code. It is buggy, slow, fragile, and a nightmare to maintain. Do you feel the same way? If so, then what is holding you back from realizing your full potential? More importantly, what if anything are you planning to do about it? I enjoy programming and have from a young age (cut my teeth on BASIC on an Apple IIe). I have worked for companies large and small in a variety of languages and platforms. Sadly the one constant in my career is that I am assigned to projects that drift, seemingly aimlessly, from inception to a point where the client runs out of funding.

Unfortunately, a support group coalesces and tells the developer the equivalent of “I’m OK, You’re OK.” Which runs counter to reality, unfortunately, and cowboy coding continues unabated.

Don’t Ask, Or You Might Get An Answer

Thursday, December 6th, 2007 by The Director

Over at TechDirt, this story prompts a question:

It’s one thing to bounce a check and it’s another to be so far in the red Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Donald Trump combined couldn’t come close to bailing you out. A Cobb County man got a letter from his bank with that very shocking news.

“And I open up the letter and I look at it and I’m like, ‘No, you’ve got to be kidding me,’ said Joe Martins.Martins said he recently closed an account at Wachovia Bank and made good on an outstanding check. He just got a letter about the closure and his negative balance — $211,010,028,257,303.00. That’s $211 trillion.

TechDirt asks:

Furthermore, if an error this size gets through all of the checks and balances, then what other, less noticeable errors are falling through the cracks every day?

Let’s just put it this way: Your humble director doesn’t use online bill pay, okay?

Don’t Worry, Though; This Only Happens When QA Does It

Thursday, December 6th, 2007 by The Director

Altering the URL in the wild? Never happens, the developers and project managers will tell you while subtly waving their hands and hoping you’re as weak-minded as they think.  Ignore QA’s shrieking that the application is behaving inappropriately. Here’s the never happening in a big way:

A security flaw in Passport Canada’s website has allowed easy access to the personal information – including social insurance numbers, dates of birth and driver’s licence numbers – of people applying for new passports.

The breach was discovered last week by an Ontario man completing his own passport application. He found he could easily view the applications of others by altering one character in the Internet address displayed by his Web browser.

“I was expecting the site to tell me that I couldn’t do that,” said Jamie Laning of Huntsville. “I’m just curious about these things so I tried it, and boom, there was somebody else’s name and somebody else’s data.”

The site should have told him he couldn’t do that. However, since no real user would do this, the developers of the application didn’t see fit to account for it.

(Link seen on Techdirt.)

Another Maxim

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007 by The Director

Sometimes, even if you have a bunch of tools, all problems still look like a nail if you really want to use a hammer.

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