Archive for March, 2008

Very Specific Validation Message

Friday, March 14th, 2008 by The Director

If you’re under 18, not only are you ineligible to enter the PowerBlock Hot Rod Truck Giveaway sweepstakes, they don’t even want you on the page:

Minors not wanted
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Now that’s just harsh.

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Success Pages Redirect To Empty Content

Friday, March 14th, 2008 by The Director

Fill out the sweepstakes entry form for the Bridal Guide Luxury Spa Retreat sweepstakes, and the confirmation page leads you to an index page nested deeply:

Empty Content Warning
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I bet that’s supposed to be the home page, complete with featured content in the center left panel.

Remember, kiddies, you have to fill those forms out to see what happens when the form submission succeeds. At the very least, you’ll find problems like this. At the very best, you might win lots of neat consolation prizes, as I have.

Also, keep in mind that URL and make sure that you’re not nesting into uncharted territories. Some Web site layouts are forgiving of bad URLs and subdirectories, but some have, erm, quirks, as this site makes obvious.

TMV

Friday, March 14th, 2008 by The Director

There is such a thing as too much validation. Rather, there is such a thing as displaying too many validation indicators, as this program from Bed Bath and Beyond [sic] indicates:

Too much validation
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Note that the Address 2 label displays in red, even though it’s not a required field. Thanks for the bad advice, fellows. Given that this label displays in red when any validation is tripped, I expect you’re going to have a lot of junk in your database.

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On The Plus Side, The Defect Didn’t Kill Him

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008 by The Director

A touching story in a very special Daily WTF article wherein an apparent software defect leads to a trip downtown (yes, that downtown) for a cellular phone customer.

It Must Have Looked Good To Someone

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008 by The Director

What do you get when apparently nobody looks at your form? This:

The label, Captain, she's backward!
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You get a single control whose label displays to the right of the controls and a checkbox separated from its label by a line.

Jeez, I hope nobody looked at it. Otherwise that would imply that nobody cares.

That’s our motto. QA: We Care. Sometimes With Tire Irons.

When QA Software Companies Try Viral

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008 by The Director

Borland puts up TuffRunner.com to make fun of load testing software made by the other guys.

Of course, your Director finds it funny that the company behind the ad mocks the pricing structure of other companies, which are convoluted to maximize the software company’s revenue at your expense. I note that Borland.com’s pages for SilkPerformer, its competing product, don’t feature an idea of its pricing scheme. Instead, you’re urged to contact sales, where various high-pressure people can try to tailor the cost to the most you can afford.

Which reminds me why I hated trying to find QA software; most of the high-end players in the space play these sorts of games, allowing you to waste time trying out their products and then helping you discover that you have the choice of a couple of testers at desks or their products. I hate evaluating products, particularly when it’s only one of my duties in a spate of other emergencies.

At any rate, it’s viral, all right, or at least that’s what someone sold them. Aside from a few mentions, it’s not like something that’s going to get watched over and over nor is it something that will be reviewed time and again. I only clicked through to it via a banner ad buy, so I didn’t get it through its virtues. Also, jeez, spend a little dough to get a real content delivery solution. The video at the heart of the promotion had to stop like 10 times to buffer another couple of seconds. Most people will bail on that video before getting anywhere with it.

You Hates QA, Too

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008 by The Director

Joe Strazzere links to a story about how Cosmi blamed its QA team publicly for a problem:

A woman was stunned and a software company apologetic after an offensive word showed up on a computerized typing test. Monica Loadholdt was using Perfect Typing Pro, a software program made by Cosmi, when the ‘N word’ showed up in one of the typing exercises.

“I just stopped,” Monica remembers. “I said, ‘What did I just type here?'”

Monica quickly sent an e-mail to the Cosmi Corportation. Cosmi replied to CBS station KOVR-TV in Sacramento, saying, “It is in no way something we would ever desire to have in our software. It was a mistake not caught by our quality assurance team.'” [sic]

Strazzere digs a little deeper and finds:

It turns out that the typing tests included in the product are based on classic literature – “The Iliad”, “The Odyssey”, “Through the Looking Glass”, etc.

I ran a quick scan of the text, and sure enough, the offending word shows up in two of the exams – one based on “Three Partners” by Bret Harte and one based on “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.

Shame on those QA staffs for not reading the entire Western literary canon for offensive words.

On the other hand, Joe then says that it’s not a bug if it’s not in the requirements; however, this, too, would identify a place where QA could pipe up and say, “Are you sure you want the word nigger in our application?”

Kind of like I would have said to WCCO news, “Are you sure you want an obscene acronym in your URL?”

Still, if I worked for a company like Cosmi that would publicly blame gaffes on its QA staff, well, I’d be hitting Dice.com from the comfort of my home this morning. Cosmi has really declined since the days of Super Huey anyway.

Remember Thine Tab Stops

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008 by The Director

I like to pretend I’m an old-school computer user, steeped in the command line world of old operating systems and the dark screen and keyboard unfettered by the need to use a mouse. I know all the operating system hot keys. I like the Tab key. I don’t like wasting the time to move my hand a couple inches to the left to inelegantly maneuver a collection of pixels on my screen so I can work. I know, with that much attempt at cred, you’d think I’d learn to touch type, but this article isn’t about my shortcomings. It’s about the shortcomings of interfaces that don’t allow you to interact with the application without the mouse.

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Well, That Simplifies Compatibility Testing

Monday, March 10th, 2008 by The Director

No Flash for iPhone anytime soon, Jobs says

Of course, it will cause minor head explosions amongst the Apple-loving designer set, who insist upon doing everything in cool and highly dependent Flash and who insist upon living through their iPhones.

Text Is So Limiting

Monday, March 10th, 2008 by The Director

This confirmation e-mail rendered in text has one thing going for it: The composers knew that the trademark and the registered trademark symbols don’t render correctly, so they replaced those symbols with ™ and (r) respectively.

Too bad nobody thought about the smart apostrophe in Tony’s(r).

A smart apostrophe makes you look dumb
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Remember, if you’re using Microsoft Word or other popular programs, the applications will replace straight quotes in the copy with smart quotes, and most people are not smart enough to know the difference. You, fellow QAer, must.

Taking the Opt out of Opt In

Monday, March 10th, 2008 by The Director

In the new Discover Down Under program, the opt-in checkbox must be checked:

There is no opt; there is only in
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That sort of takes the spirit out of the “Opt In,” does it not?

The Dog That Didn’t Bark Until After It Bit

Friday, March 7th, 2008 by The Director

So I look at the Dirt Up Close Sweepstakes form, and it occurs to me that something missing.

Can you spot it?

Something's missing
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Well, if you cannot see it, fill out the form.

Oh, so I didn't select my state
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I once sent a form to a client that lacked the Zip Code field, so I’m not above reproach. However, I’d like to point out that QA is not perfect, it’s only better than you developers.

Could Mean Pink Slips Tomorrow

Thursday, March 6th, 2008 by The Director

On Yahoo! Finance, the full time number of employees for Micrel, Inc. shows NaN, or Not a Number:

Full time employees is null
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It could mean a problem with the Yahoo! Finance integration with its data provider, but I would start sending resumes out just in case.

No One Wants To Look Dumb, But Sometimes Does

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 by The Director

MSN has a new viral thing going on, NoOneWantsToLookDumb.com. Like Ms. Dewey, this relies on a lot of Adobe Flash stuff (instead of Silverlight, oddly, but probably because no one has installed the Microsoft product). It’s clear it wasn’t tested thoroughly, or perhaps it was tested thoroughly but the issues were ignored. Behold, how using the < Back and Next > buttons will overlay two separate “Wait” sorts of graphics: the one that shows the player for the viral thing and the other a “Checking” animation that indicates the application is checking the user’s data entry. This “Checking” displays first and then the media player controls replace it when you go through it in order, but they overlay each other if you have already entered data and clicked < Back, then Next >:

Wait, then wait!
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A pretty basic problem and one that users would find on an anticipated workflow.

Remember, kiddies, Flash applications don’t handle the basics out of the box as default control behaviors, so you can snarl up rich media applications much easier than regular applications because your developers/designers won’t think to build in idiot-proofing on their own.

Perhaps Everyone Can Play

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 by The Director

Microsoft Offers $100K to Testers of Office Live Workspace:

To try to spur interest in its upcoming Office Live Workspace service, Microsoft Corp. plans to announce Tuesday that it is running a sweepstakes with a US$100,000 grand prize for U.S. beta testers of the Web-based document storage and collaboration offering.

The easy joke is: What is a Microsoft Beta tester? Someone who adopts a Microsoft technology before SP2.

Once in a While

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008 by The Director

Leap bug days happen, as Joe Strazzere reminds us:

It’s hard for me to believe that systems still experience Leap Day bugs.

But, apparently, it’s still happening.

Indeed, they do. Remember, it’s not enough to test to make sure your application handles user-entered leap days correctly (and prevents users from putting leap days in years where they don’t occur). You need to mock some data up to find out what happens when your application calculates values that should accommodate leap days as well (that is, something coming due 30 days after January 30, 2008 comes due on February 29, 2008).

Stating the Obvious

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008 by The Director

Frequent reader gimlet sends along this helpful bit of information appearing on his XBox 360 Live screen:

Yes, it is in fact string text
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Yes, yes, it is, in fact, string text. However, it’s that it is the default string text that is so galling.

Remember, gentle reader, to test your applications to make sure that it does not accept the placeholder text as user-entered text.

Somebody’s Not Listening

Monday, March 3rd, 2008 by The Director

Remember, friends, your friend The Director reminds you to use Internet Explorer when reviewing your Web sites because it identifies JavaScript errors for you. I realize that JavaScript is a startling new technology like a pulse of Internet energy that developers can barely control, which explains the following problems.

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