Archive for February, 2009

It’s A Monster, All Right

Friday, February 27th, 2009 by The Director

Fervent reader Dave H. sends in a comment about Monster.com’s daily search e-mails:

I have a job that is stable (in this economy, I’m thankful)….but someone within Monster is toying with those unfortunate souls that happen to be looking for a new challenge in the field with this type of email content…

Is it not as simple as ‘if no job title and no job location exists, don’t include it in the email content that gets sliced, snafed and emailed out every day?’

His e-mail looks like this:

That job information is classified.
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Now, I tried to recreate this, but I couldn’t, probably because I don’t have enough clearance to see the classified jobs listed.  However, I did note a couple of things of note on Monster.com.

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MovieTickets.com Sends Me A Message

Thursday, February 26th, 2009 by The Director

If it’s February, it must be time to pick on MovieTickets.com again.  In addition to not having fixed the error I mentioned last February, I encountered a couple of new ones today that kinda send a message, if you know what I mean.

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Genghis Khan Needs Web Developers

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 by The Director

Courtesy of Isarian, we get this broken news from gmail:

Skills must be current to 1000 BC.
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One of the fringe benefits for QA for an actual barbarian is that you get to keep what you kill.  If only we did that in America, I’d own millions of dollars in software.

Poor Design Decision of the Day

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 by The Director

Put your marketing tagline in the upper right hand corner of the page, separated by pipes:

Is that a menu, or are you just happy to see me?
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Fortunately, there’s nothing else in Web page design that would look like that.

Me, I wanted to click on Accurate, but apparently that page doesn’t exist.

Test All Banner Ad Sizes, Please

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 by The Director

There’s a banner ad for the DVD release of Disaster Movie that caught my eye:

The banner ad.
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Why did it catch my eye?  Because I like stupid-funny films?  No, because I had to mouse over it to get to the text in the Web site beneath it, and a panel rolled out that didn’t make sense.

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Interesting Read On Security

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 by The Director

The Office of Inadequate Security.

Can you learn something from it?  Maybe.

But you can sure feel glad that your organization isn’t on it.  Yet.

I Use That Excuse When It’s Housecleaning Time

Friday, February 20th, 2009 by The Director

Having some difficulty keeping up with visits, Caveland.us showed me this error:

You're gonna need a bigger closet
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I always tell my wife, “Not enough storage is available to complete this operation.  I’ll just have to keep these old copies of Quality Assurance Analyst of Fortune scattered on the living room furniture.”

 

Forget Jumping The Shark; Here’s Some New Slang For You

Thursday, February 19th, 2009 by The Director

Bite the Shark: to demonstrate fierce and possibly foolish loyalty for someone or something.

I’d bite the shark for this company!

Source:

In my case, of course, it would be something like I’d bite a customer account manager for my team!  Not so much out of loyalty, though.  I like the taste.

The Solution: Vodka

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 by The Director

You know how I feel about re-upping for free magazines; not so much that they want to keep their lead list accurate, but that they make it so tedious for me to do so.

I’m also less than impressed with the quality of the online forms.  Here’s an error I encountered completing the one for the SD Times, which to their credit is less onerous than most:

Options: Null.  Solution: vodka
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You know what the solution to an options is null error is?

Vodka.  Lots of vodka. Sure, your options will still be null, but you won’t care.

I Need A Volunteer

Monday, February 16th, 2009 by The Director

Well, it’s a purported “job posting” for a IT Program Quality and Compliance Manager, but the compensation offered tells a different story:

 Compensation: 0
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Many jobs on Craigslist cover the fact that they pay nothing relative to the professional scale by using terms like market or depends on experience.  This company, on the other hand, comes right out and says it.

If you’re interested, remember to put JOB TITLE in the subject line of your message.

You Want Good, Improvisational Agile Training?

Friday, February 13th, 2009 by The Director

This ain’t it:

Laughing. Overcoming embarrassment. Out-and-out goofy behavior. These are not normally the skills managers seek in their developers. But some agile development advocates believe these skills are critical for successful software projects.

A growing number of artistically inclined corporate trainers are promoting the principles of the Agile Manifesto with techniques from acting, improvisation and other art forms. Such exercises attempt to prepare software developers for changing requirements and other unexpected occurrences throughout the agile development process. Developers learn better ways to work together and how to put the team before the individual.

If you want to train them how it really works, you do the same thing I do to train new QA people: You cut the electricity, pull the fire alarm, and wait by the stairwell with an old American Gladiators padded quarterstaff you bought off of eBay.

Anyone who makes it out of the building can survive the ever-changing timelines and predictable, avoidable, but always sudden “emergencies” that, well, emerge. Anyone who knocks me off my feet or separates me from the quarterstaff gets a field promotion to Senior Test Engineer.

Or if you want to simply waste an afternoon, I guess you could hire these Agile training consultants for some entertainment and then go back to work the next day doing it the same way you’ve always done it.

Failing the Basic, Again

Thursday, February 12th, 2009 by The Director

In the United States, Sesame Street is a popular television program for children, much like Manchester United football is in the UK. Its Web site is sesamestreet.org. Now, suppose you were visiting the site looking for some simple, puppet-based best practices videos that you hope against type that your project managers could understand. Say, “Elmo Learns About Gathering Requirements.”

You click the Videos link at the top and then you can click the GO link beside the Search Videos edit box.

Oops, it doesn’t validate to make sure the user has entered something besides the default label value Search videos. The search results display for videos containing or somehow relating to Search videos:

Searching videos for
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One more video. Click Next.

The last result
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These results don’t show what I’m looking for, so I’ll go Back.

Now, what’s wrong with this picture?

A new set of search results?  Not quite
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Notice that the results are in a different order. Not only on this page, but the result which had been number 10 on the second page now displays on the first page.

This is really, really crazy when you have 10 pages of results, such as the search for “Abby Teaches Zoe Not To Mark Defects As Closed When Zoe Wants To Improve Defect Counts For Client Milestone Meetings.” In this case, if you go backwards, you will see a completely different set of results as though it had conducted a completely new search.

You know, result pagination and not re-sorting results without user input are pretty basic functions. Unfortunately, so many times organizations and development staffs take basic things for granted and don’t test them. After all, they’re only re-implementing the wheel, not re-inventing it. So they don’t bother checking to see if they inflated the tire, or as you call it in the UK, the boot bonnet tyre.

Don’t Be Stupid

Monday, February 9th, 2009 by The Director

You remember that Google problem that flagged the whole Internet as malicious?

Shall we count the myriad failures inherent in it?

  1. They trusted administrators to be infallible. The process or tool they use to perform the updates didn’t question whether the user really meant to flag the whole Internet. It did not validate on obvious problems. If it’s like anyplace I’ve ever worked, the administrative tool is a pasted together bit of interface and workarounds, rife with problems and untested or undertested because only administrators would use it.
  2. They didn’t test it immediately. The “on-call site reliability team” took care of it. That sounds like me that either an automated process dialed some pagers or a help desk person got a phone call. They probably ought to have someone check that right away, hey? Nah, they’re Google. Everything they touch turns to good.
  3. A variety of sources show that Google blames its data provider initially. That is a sign of hubris of the commonest order. Maybe they shouldn’t have been so hasty to lay blame before understanding and fixing the problem. On the other hand, Google did fix it quickly. Some organizations spend more time on the casting aspersions part of the program, sometimes foregoing fixing the problem entirely.

If Google can make these mistakes, so can your company. The key is not to use that as an excuse when your organization blows it (“Hey, it’s okay, even Google does it!”). You have to learn from these mistakes and make sure your company doesn’t trust its administrators and tests things the minute changes are made.

I’ve Heard of Hidden Fields, But Hidden Questions?

Friday, February 6th, 2009 by The Director

Small problem with this Westlake Ace Hardware survey.

Question nine asks me about how much my spending this last year has been relative to other years:

Ace is the place with the problem survey, man.
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So I choose a little more than usual, since I did some landscaping last year.  I click Next>>

Suddenly, I’m warped ahead to question 11:

And welcome to day twelve.
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Whoa, Rufus.  Not only did I travel into the future, but now I am being asked not about my purchases in the last year, but about why I spent more in the last six months.  But I didn’t; I spent more in the first six months of the last year, and about the same in the final six months, that is the last six months of the year.

This is a logical rift that can only be solved by attending a project kickoff meeting, where we will not plan on spending more than average on the first half of the project, but that first half’s effort will take up eighty percent of the allotted time for the project, leaving us 20% at the end for development and telling the name of the project to testing (Good name?  QA approved the project!).

Special bonus ding; apparently, I will be rewarded for a coupon for use on President’s Day.  Say, specifically, which single President do we celebrate on that day?

Poetic Interlude

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 by The Director

Drop these lines of Robert Burns’s Impromptu on Carron Iron Works where you see fit:

We cam na here to view your warks,
In hopes to be mair wise,
But only, lest we gang to hell,
It may be nae surprise

That will give you the opportunity to use that bad Darrell-Hammond-as-Sean-Connery Scottish accent upon which you unfairly pride yourself.

What Is The Unhappy Path, Alex?

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009 by The Director

If you’re like me, you think you’re smarter than you are.  If you’re really, really like me, you’ve taken the Jeopardy! online contestant search, a scheduled, timed little application that allows you to perform the equivalent of the old written test.  If you’re not like me, though, you followed the unhappy path and could have missed out on the test.

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Only Works with Bucks @ Cavs

Monday, February 2nd, 2009 by The Director

The Listen Live portion of WSSP’s Web site apparently can only handle ten or fourteen characters of dynamic text gracefully.

Now playing, someone.
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Seems to me someone should have questioned that requirement a little earlier.


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