Archive for October, 2008

How To Make Your Product Update Look Suspicious, Courtesy of Corel

Thursday, October 30th, 2008 by The Director

Step 1: Have an unnamed Product Update screen display by the system tray on product startup:

Something's calling for you

Given how long the newer version I have (Paint Shop Pro Photo X2) takes to load, I often click its icon and then go back about my business so it can show its splash screen for 30 seconds while I work in an active application.

Step 2: When I click for More information, show me yet another screen that doesn’t tell me any information.

Something's downloading
Click for full size

Well, what can it hurt? By this time I’ve figured it’s probably PSP since I can sometimes get to this screen and sometimes I can get to PSP. So I start the download, hoping I’m not getting Weatherbug 2009.

But here’s the thing: in the middle of the download, I decided to lament to it to you guys, and I clicked Cancel to stop it so I could get those lovely screenshots for you. The Updater dispelled the progress bar window, but it left Paint Shop Pro in a modal form so I could not actually get to it. I had to kill it from the taskbar.

Eventuallly, though, after I mucked around with those things enough, I got to the installer, and it finally, finally identified the product:

Progress or congress
Click for full size


Corel should have branded each and every of the preceding screens, but for some reason did not. Poor form, Peter. Now, maybe some day they can un-screw-up a great product that they had to tart up and, more inanely, change keyboard shortcuts that had been part of the product for a freakin’ decade. Yeah, when I get wed to a product, I get wed to a product and its custom shortcuts.

For Want Of A Conditional

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 by The Director

This is the sort of defect I really hate.  Not that it’s broken, not that it’s a simple fix, but this is the sort of defect that you spend more time arguing about than it would take fixing.

The application is a little flow charting piece called RF Flow.  I recommend it for building handy flowcharts to graphically illustrate the processes that everyone in your organization ignores.  However, right after you first install or reinstall version 5 (four years old now), the recent file list includes empty numbers since you haven’t actually opened 9 files yet:

Someday, this problem will solve itself
Click for full size

It would be simple enough to not populate the menu with recent filenames where the recent filename==null.


In a real development environment, the sequence of this would be:

  1. QA logs the defect.
  2. Project manager, who’s been happy path testing and whatnot, reviews defect and says he cannot recreate it.
  3. QA explains that it only happens when the recent file list is empty.
  4. Developer says it won’t be a problem once user has opened 9 files, so  it’s not worth fixing since there’s a workaround.
  5. QA says, come on, it’s a single conditional.  We could fix it ourselves but we don’t fix problems.
  6. Developer comes back from lunch at the Thai place and says, but how many people will see this problem?
  7. QA responds, “How many customers will we have?”
  8. Developer recommends that on first launch, application should open 9 sample files maybe.  He’ll wait for someone in the Training/Documentation department to create them.  As soon as the company creates a Training/Documentation department.
  9. Quibbling continues until launch date approaches.  As this small thing is not a critical defect, it does not stop the launch.
  10. Developer attends launch party; QA waits in its lair, plotting against or hexing the developer who spent several hours over several weeks dodging a far smaller amount of work.

From this crucible, Known Issues Lists emerge.

And hey, RF Flow is an easy tool for flowcharting and cheaper than Microsoft Vizio.

That’s What Friendlies Are For

Monday, October 27th, 2008 by The Director

If you’re working at an interactive agency that does e-mail campaigns or even if you’re working on an application that sends e-mails, you’d better make sure you get to look at those e-mails before the public does.


Funny you should ask.

To keep something like this from showing up in my e-mail box:

That's a different sort of tag, unsupported by Web browsers
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Also, maybe one should have tested at the e-mail vendor to make sure that the links that were properly formed actually went somewhere:

 This is getting us nowhere
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As you can see, the problem occurs at the e-mail vendor site, not on the target Web site.

If QA had looked at this, they might have seen it.

Below the fold, another e-mail sending lesson. (more…)

QA Didn’t Even Have To Physically Convince Deziner

Friday, October 24th, 2008 by The Director

Deziner Folio says, “Do some IE homework!

He then proceeds to provide a list of handy tools you developers and designers can use as you create sites that should work with the dominant Web browser, but often don’t because you’re too bound to Safari or Firefox (“It works on my machine!”)

Here at QAHY, we’ll still use our preferred tool to test Web sites for IE compatibility: freakin’ IE.

That’s Flashy

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 by The Director

You know how I always say, Suppress your Adobe Flash Player Context Menu?  It’s because it will sometimes helpfully conceal flaws within your Flash application’s logic, such as the one found on The Spanish Quarter’s Web site.

Because, you see, if you have a page inside the site exposed (that is, one of the scroll up Flash detail things associated with the menu items), you can expose the complete Flash context menu:

The dreaded context menu
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Notice that this particular bit of Flash is set to Loop.  What happens if you select Play?

Whomp!  There it is, the loading screen anyway
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Or, if you time it just right, the home panel overlays the content:

Whomp! There it is, the home panel
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You prevent that from occurring just by hiding the default context menu!

Granted, that won’t solve/mask all of your problems, such as a spare menu item that doesn’t animate itself off-screen when you click it (such as About the Wine, hear inappropriately displaying when the user mouses over the Downloads menu item after the user closes the About the Wine panel):

Whomp!  There it is, the menu item that should have disappeared
Click for full size

But, jeez, you Flash designers who don’t bother testing, hiding the context menu is a start.

I know, you’re saying, gee, Mr. Director, how hard is it to find these things?  Are you spending hours doing it or what?  No, I spent like 20 minutes playing with the site and taking the screenshots, laddies.  Because I can suss out the expected behavior (or, for my British readers, the behaviour) and I can pay attention.  My ungentle readers, most Flash designers and “developers” cannot even bother (or, for my British readers, botheur) to do that.

Updating the Defect

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 by The Director

On Monday, I wrote out a post about MapQuest’s printing behavior.  Called out by a commenter, I have added detail about how the appearance of a disclaimer on the printed page really isn’t a good workaround.

Any Man Who Comes To Me Is My Kind Of Man; Recruiters, Not So Much

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 by The Director

I made an online resume for one of the online job search companies so I could apply for a part-time sort of contract position.  The online job resume didn’t get any attention for the position I applied, but now my name comes up on QA searches so the new, hungry recruiters that cast a wide, wide net can try to shoehorn me into their entry-level positions.  So imagine my pleasure when I got an e-mail that sounded sort of interesting, as it seemed to be a higher level position:

Date: 9/22/2008
Subject:  Mr. Director, we may have immediate openings at DBP

Delany, Byczinski & Potamkin
West Loop Center, 10 Riverside Plaza, Suite 1800
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: 312-474-6018 FAX: 877-222-8019

Are you still in the market?

We felt your resume indicated that we may have immediate openings at DBP that could be right for you. However, if you are interested, we need some added information.

Delaney enjoys a growing reputation as a fast growing recruiting service. Our clients include small and large employers, growth companies, and Fortune 1,000 corporations. We deal only in professional and executive openings and there are no fees.

To register with us, as well as to review current situations at your income level and in your geographic area, please do the following.

Click on

The “register now” button will take you to the profile information that we need.


Charles Williams
Senior Vice President
Delany, Byczinski & Potamkin

To opt out from further email messages please visit

Interesting.  But, wait, they want me to register?  Hmm.

Well, it let it lie fallow for a week, and I got the following, er, follow-up:

Date: 9/29/2008
Subject: Mr. Director, are you still on the market?
Are you still in the market?

We felt your resume indicated that we may have immediate openings at DBP that could be right for you. However, if you are interested, we need some added information.

Delany enjoys a growing reputation as a fast growing recruiting service. Our clients include small and large employers, growth companies, and Fortune 1,000 corporations. We deal only in professional and executive openings and there are no fees.

To register with us, as well as to review current situations at your income level and in your geographic area, please do the following:

Click on

The “register now” button will take you to the profile information that we need.


Charls Williams
Senior Vice President

To opt out from further email messages please visit

Did I say “follow-up”?  I meant another boilerplate pitch.  No doubt my resume was scoured algorithmically from the job site and the pitch was sent.  Hey, Charles, your name is misspelled in the last one, too.

Note that was September.  Fast forward to the second to last week of October, and here we come again with the same sort of 22nd of the month scam with a  different company name attached:

Date: 10/22/2008
Subject:  Mr. Director, are you still on the market?

Are you still in the market for either a professional or executive job? Your resume indicates that we may have openings at Executive Search Online that are appropriate to consider. However, if you are interested, we need some added information.

Executive Search Online enjoys a growing reputation in executive circles as a fast growing recruiting service. our clients include a mixture of small and large firms, growth companies, and Fortune 1,000 corporations. We deal only in profesional and executive openings and their are no fees.

To register with us, as well as to review current situations at your income level and in your geographic area, please do the following:

Click on

The “register now” button will take you to the profile information that we need.


Bryce Decker
Senior Vice President

To opt out from further email messages please visit
Executive Openings 8547 E. Arapahoe Road, Suite #J 136 Greenwood Village, CO 80112-1430.

Right, then, it is a scam of some sort.  I guess I’ll be hearing from this server twice a month from now on.

Remember, kids, if it’s too good to be true, it’s either an online scam or a project plan.  Since the latter is often sent in e-mail, perhaps I’m being redundant.

UPDATE: (more…)

Start Your Monday Off Right with a QA Maxim

Monday, October 20th, 2008 by The Director

Optimism is a failure of the imagination.

Turn Right Immediately After Temporal Distortion Field

Thursday, October 16th, 2008 by The Director

Flaw with the printer driver?  Image captured for printing while repainting after the map was moved?  Who knows?

The time and space rift was moving north/northeast at 35 miles per hour
Click for full size

All I know is that I hoped I go through a shimmering curtain to a world where the developers cared about quality as much as they care about tweeting clever but trite insults about their disfavored presidential candidates  But all I got was closer to Arnold, Missouri.

UPDATE: (more…)

Counting The Errors From My Inbox

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008 by The Director

I took a couple of hours and cleaned out the newsletters and whatnot from my inbox.  They’d accumulated for some time, which explains why this blog was almost filled with product announcements trumpeting the advances of the 8088 chip and what that would do for testing.

As you know, I hold a particular disdain for magazine/newspaper/Web periodical site quality.  If you want to know why, here’s a list of the errors I encountered while reading some of the articles from a month and a half’s worth of newsletters and whitepaper come-ons.


In Canada, Ultra Means Ultra

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008 by The Director

Found something interesting on the Wal-mart Canadian site today.

No, not the standard JavaScript syntax error:

The obligatory JavaScript syntax error on
Click for full size

No, it’s the very ultra nature of this ultra product:


Credibility Double-Tapped

Monday, October 13th, 2008 by The Director

If you’re writing an article about language, how about spelling all the words in the headline correctly?

There's a word mispelled here, or a grammer error, or something
Click for full size

Someone will have to tell me what the article’s about.  I couldn’t make it past the headline.  Also, I’m not reading Australian news for fun; I’m reading it because PhilK pointed out the problem.

When Your Filename Outs Your Typo, erm, Typing Ways

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 by The Director

The title tag and text are correct:

 A little less involved than it should be
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The filename, though, indicates someone mistyped when creating the blog post’s draft:

Hey, I’ve done it too, as anyone who’s paid attention to the archives can attest.  However, you should not be shy, ungentle reader, against logging defects against misspellings in the directories and filenames in your Web applications.  Remember, they too are visible and should be impeccable to put your organization/application in the best light.

Teeth for Section 508 Compliance

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008 by The Director

Target settles litigation that its site didn’t work with screen readers very well:

According to the settlement, Target must ensure that blind users running screen-reader software can obtain the same information and perform the same transactions as all other users. Target also agreed to provide periodic training sessions for its Web developers and a quarterly summary of complaints received about accessibility to the NFB, the settlement noted.

The plaintiffs in the case — which also included the NFB of California and a blind college student Bruce Sexton — claimed that Target’s Web site was inaccessible and in violation of federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities. Experts have said that this case may serve to expand the scope of how disability laws affect Web sites.

If your sites don’t work well with JAWS, your turn is coming:

“Following Target’s settlement, I think it is likely that online retailers can expect a rapid surge in litigation of this type.”

James Whittaker Has A Blog? Why Wasn’t I Informed?

Monday, October 6th, 2008 by The Director

Well, I guess I was, or I wouldn’t be posting on it.  Here it is: JW on Test.

When Your Error Page Generates A Timeout, You’ve Crashed Hard

Monday, October 6th, 2008 by The Director

More fun with Twitter, secondhand:

If your error page is timing out, you're in trouble
Click for full size

It has crashed so badly that not only is the update portion not working, but it’s returning a 408 error, which means that the Web server is timing out while looking for the custom error page.

Which leads me into a short bit of rant about a piece entitled In A Web 2.0 World, Quality Is Irrelevant (link seen here):

Still, I’m not in full rosy concurrence with the idea that we should kick quality completely to the curb. For one, it’s not that quality doesn’t matter — it’s that the definition of what constitutes quality is changing. The old idea that quality is defined by editing an article six ways from Sunday so that it’s denatured of all passion and advocacy, and so that that it has every freakin’ semicolon and middle initial in the correct place — that’s what’s dead.

So what’s the new definition of quality? It’s a bit early to say definitively, but I believe what’s gelling is consistent with the post-literate society I believe we’re now amidst. (At this point I should probably send a friendly text message to my teenage daughter. To which she’ll respond: KK LOL ROFFL TTYL.) Namely, quality is now measured out more in engagement — videos, pictures, short and pithy commentary — than in llooooooonng, boring blocks of dense text. Which nobody reads anyway!

The author is speaking mostly about writing style and typos, but of course developers are happy to generalize it to code and everything else.  However, shifting the definition of quality away from, you know, quality and to strengths the definer has (speed, relevance, authenticity, a blog on a magazine’s domain, an espresso machine in the kitchen) ultimately only serves the complacency of someone who defines quality down.

For in a Web 2.0 world, particularly one with eager Noah Websters out there who’ll tell you their application is the alpha and the omega, flaws and all, quality will remain a differentiator, and a bigger differentiator at that.  Although one expected a certain floor of minimum quality standards with most products up until about 1996, with software and applications, particularly those written poorly like Twitter, one gets first-to-market as the goal or tipping-point users or something other than stability and quality.  Once better quality products come out, though, users will migrate to them.  Blogs with fewer typographical errors will garner respect more than those rife with things like Steev Jobs had a herat attack!!!!

Of course, if your goal is to build it and cash out rapidly or to grab the youth market where newness and authenticity trump quality and stability instead of building a solid, long term user base, I guess quality isn’t for you, but then again, you probably don’t have a test team anyway, so worrying about redefining quality isn’t even a problem you’re addressing.

The CMS Behind The Curtain

Friday, October 3rd, 2008 by The Director

If your organization uses a content management system, your people have probably done this a time or two:

Clicky no worky
Click for full size

Fortunately, the site uses an IP whitelist, since it didn’t show me the admin interface when I clicked the link:

Error message indicates I'm unwanted
Click for full size

That HTTP Error 403.6 – Forbidden: IP address of the client has been rejected. error indicates I’m not on the whitelist or inside the firewall or something and I cannot, rightly, edit the site.

So if you’re using a CMS, remember to do your automated link checking frequently and remember that if you’re running the link checker from a machine with allowed admin access to the site, this link will not trigger an error message.  Instead, it will return a login page or the actual editing page (if you’re logged in).

You need to run your link check from a machine not allowed access to the CMS, or you need to run the link check and run a report that will identify the targets of outgoing links and then find any outgoing links to your CMS system.

Odds are you’ll find one.


Thursday, October 2nd, 2008 by The Director

Borrowed from not-Bangalore Joe:

We can’t spell BUGS without U

Get Into The Important Meetings

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008 by The Director

If you’ve worked in QA for any amount of time, you’ve often found yourself “accidentally” ignored from meeting invitation lists, meaning that various and sundry process, status, kickoff, requirements, and lunch-serving meetings go on without you.  Much to the detriment of the product and your company, of course.

QAHY offers you the proper technique to make sure you get to the other side of that glass wall and locked door to provide the input, insight, and insult that your co-workers need.  Never miss a meeting again!


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