Archive for January, 2008

A Different Kind Of Flash Presentation

Thursday, January 31st, 2008 by The Director

Don’t look at this neighborhood association Web site using Firefox if you have epilepsy.

Also, be warned it might crash your browser.

(Link seen on Dustbury, where the author suspects the site uses a special IE slider that doesn’t play well with other browsers.)

Lesson: You should allow for some maintenance-based browser compatibility testing in the future to make sure that your site, once launched, remains compatible with future browsers.

It’s In The Dictionary

Thursday, January 31st, 2008 by The Director

Trust, but verify.

Misspelling in the
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There’s no i in ornithologst. Well, there’s one, but there should be two.

Don’t Fear The New Window

Thursday, January 31st, 2008 by The Director

NotchedUp, a new service designed to make something that its founder can sell to LinkedIn or when they’re flush, shows us why the links to terms and conditions should open in a new window. I’d throw in a link, but it requires an invitation to view. Regardless, here’s the form:

The offending link
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The poor applicant clicks it, and the terms display in the main window:

Terms of Use in main window
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There you have them, in the main window. With no link to take you back to the form. If you click the magic back button, you’re taken back to the form page, but without any of the data you might have entered.

The site has a mechanism to pop open a smaller child window; I assume its lack in this instance is a simple oversight. However, it does illustrate why these should always got to “_blank”.

Because if you’re a startup with no reputation and with functionality that borders on too-good-to-be-true and replicates some of the stuff other companies do, you can’t afford any abandoned forms.

Wherein QA Takes It Back

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 by The Director

Have I ever gone on about how custom error pages are good? I take it back; I’d had for you to violate Jeff Bezos’s new patent.


(Link seen on Slashdot.)

When Automation Goes To Hell….Plus, a Pipe Dream

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 by The Director

In the January 2008 issue of Software Test and Performance (available as a PDF), the head of Parasoft, a QA software company, explains when automation efforts can go to pieces.


Almost as Fun as a Recursive Abbreviation

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 by The Director

In the spirit of PHP and GNU, we find that many e-mail campaigns offer the View As Web Page link in HTML e-mails that open the e-mail as a Web page version thereof. However, one of the drawbacks of a complete and utter replication of the e-mail is the recursive link:

View as Web page link right on the page
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The Web page links to itself. How silly that is, conceptually. Many of the platforms and technologies that run e-mail campaigns don’t require an exact duplicate of the e-mail, so it’s not a bad idea to slightly alter the Web-hosted version of the e-mail to add a touch of sensibility.

It’s one of my pet peeves, anyway, and when I can exert some control on the situation, I make sure they take it out.

Et Tu, W3C?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 by The Director

I was going to blog about the W3C’s mobile validator which allows you to check your Web site to see if it conforms to the consortium’s best practices for sites as viewed on mobile devices.

Eh, never mind.

500 Error on the validator
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Series of errors
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Eh, another permabeta, probably. That is, something slapped together and released as a beta forever so that the development organization doesn’t have to fix issues before a production release. See also Gmail.

Not that it won’t ever work better than this; however, it will always be Beta, so take its results as such when it says you’re doing fine.

Best Use Of Web Page Title

Sunday, January 27th, 2008 by The Director

If I had an award to give out, I would give it out to these fellowes for efficiency in Web page titling:

Cross-Sell_Version3_sliced and mocked
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If I had any experience in such matters, I would think that this reflects the name of the comp and its status in the Web design process. And since I do, I have.

The Web Site Knows How To Negotiate!

Sunday, January 27th, 2008 by The Director

BMW has a Web site that lets you estimate your payments if you want to lease or buy a new BMW to show your other developer friends that you’re not afraid to be Euro-elite. However, the application has a rather distinct negotiating style. If you select the same parameters in Option 2 as you selected in Option 1, the monthly payment can be higher:

Ask a third time, and you won't be able to afford it.
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Perhaps BMW builds its Web site like it teaches its salespeople to negotiate. Take the first offer, because the second will be worse.

As I am only a highly paid Quality Assurance professional and not a highly paid devigod, I can only assume that it has something to do with the fact that I’ve entered trade-in information into the edit boxes at the top of the form, and then further surmise that only the first option form at the bottom uses them in its calculations for the bottom line and that the Option 2 and Option 3 items are not.

But that’s only the application of science and experimentation to the form, not the magic that the pretty boys and girls bring to the project.

(Thanks to reader gimlet for the pointer, and for the idle speculation as to why he’s pricing BMWs.)

Your Thought For The Day

Saturday, January 26th, 2008 by The Director

Any kiddie in school can love like a fool,
but Hating, my boy, is an Art.

-Ogden Nash, “A Plea for Less Malice Toward None”

Kimberly-Clark Professional Shows Us How To (Not) Do It

Friday, January 25th, 2008 by The Director

Oh, for Pete’s sake.

On October 31, 2007 (as near as I can tell from the numerous stories picked up from the PRNewswire such as this one), the Alien Droppings “viral” campaign (note: campaigns that kick off with a PR Newswire release are not exactly viral) site features the stock elements of a campaign of this sort. A Flash video. A promise of another Flash video. Tell-a-Friend functonality. And a contest to engage the user. Apparently, at the beginning, the site linked to a page on AlienDroppings. com called picked up this original link and posted it, and I had a field day lamenting the poor state of the application, including the following problems.


Show the Precision and Take It Away

Thursday, January 24th, 2008 by The Director

CBS News’s video player shows an awful lot of precision when you play with the Play and Pause buttons:

The precision of the length is impeccable
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The clip length shows to 14 places to the right of the seconds, but it rounds immediately after displaying. If you work it just right, you can get it to display 0 of NaN.

Why the developer chose to display the real number before performing the rounding, I don’t know. Wait, you’re saying it was unplanned? As though the developer just churned out code without thinking? Say it ain’t so!

But while we’re on the subject, let me tell you some of the things I like to do to these Flash media players.


The Opposite of All Is Some Are Not

Thursday, January 24th, 2008 by The Director

Rubbermaid’s contest insists that all information is required:

All information is required, except for that which is not
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Which is odd, because the second line of the address usually is not. Come to try it, and it’s not required here on this form, which means that Rubbermaid’s dev team or designated dev team wasn’t paying attention when putting the boilerplate text up.

Also, what’s up with that State drop-down list? I’ve always been bothered a touch by the controls that are not sized appropriately to handle the text within them.

Tips for Using Automated Link Checking Software

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 by The Director

As you expect, gentle reader, even when it comes to checking the links on Web sites, I prefer manual testing, particularly at the onset of a Web site development project. That is, I do want to personally, with my own index finger, click every single link on every single page, including that repeated navigational menu bar that would never, ever change across the pages (the developers and designers say) and don’t tend to change except when they catastrophically fail, for no discernable reason, on a single page.

That’s not to say that automated link checking doesn’t have its place, because it does. The remainder of this piece talks about its place.



Someone Failed At Boundary Testing

Monday, January 21st, 2008 by The Director

In the World of Warcraft, apparently you can have too much of a good thing:

Today, while skimming over various WoW sites, I noticed two forum posts about the same topic: Players have discovered that there’s a cap on how much money you can carry in the game. Apparently that amount is 214,748 gold, 36 silver, 48 copper. After you reach that lofty sum, you’ll no longer be able to receive money from any source in the game. While some responses to the original posts claim that this exact limit had previously been theorized to exist, there have been no reports of anyone in the game actually achieving this amount via legal means.

I feel for game testers. They really must account for all possible combinations and conditions, because some players have nothing better to do than to try to find all the possible flaws in the system. Like doing really well monetarily.

(Link seen on Slashdot.)

A Designer Tries To Distract QA

Friday, January 18th, 2008 by The Director

A Web designer sends along a flaw with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Web site. Normally, I don’t spend my time critiquing the paper’s Web site because it could keep me busy full time. However, I’ll show this problem to show that sometimes, after they’ve been cowed often enough by actual QA, sometimes designers pay attention to small details.


Thanks, Have a JavaScript Error

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 by The Director

After I completed the form badly on the Newegg Roses & Memories Sweepstakes, I got a JavaScript error before the load of the Thank You page.


Gallery of Stack Traces: QA From The Fourth Dimension

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 by The Director

Developers are from Venus, and QA isn’t from Mars; it’s from a higher plane of existence than mere code monkeys as demonstrated in this stack trace:


QA Doesn’t Have That Many Friends

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 by The Director

The tell-a-friend form for the Built Ford Tough BCS Championship Sweepstakes incorrectly marks all of the Friend’s E-mail fields as required:

You must have at least 5 friends to submit the form?
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It doesn’t look as though the validation holds you to it, but still: someone was playing slops with the copy and paste when building this form, wasn’t he (or she)?


Focus, Developer, Focus

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 by The Director

Is it just me, or is the Ironclad Ultimate Work Truck Giveaway sweepstakes form throwing JavaScript errors on setting focus, changing settings, or most other Web browser events?

JavaScript Error
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No, I guess it’s not me. However, extra chutzpah points for including an e-mail address at the bottom of the form so that I can send the defects to the developer:

E-mail address for problems
Click here for full size

Nothing like coming out and saying directly, “Consumers, you are our quality assurance team.”

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