Archive for March, 2009

The Myth of the Automatic Automated Benefit

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 by The Director

Scary Tester does a good bit of putting a positive spin on when it’s best to do automated testing:

Automated tests are suitable for the following purposes:
–    Regression testing for a stable system that will be run on a regular basis
–    Fast data creation in test systems where the database must be wiped on a regular basis

Automated tests are NOT suitable for the following purposes:
–    Testing new functionality – this should be done manually before automated tests are created
–    Regression testing systems that are expected to have significant user interface changes. Large changes to the user interface require a lot of maintenance for automated tests.

You know, testers make these arguments over and over again, but I’ve gone into a number of places to talk about starting QA efforts on major product lines or to work on smaller (160 hour) projects where the principal involved wants automated testing.  Usually on an evolving product and with only one QA person.  Try as I might to dissuade them, they go out and find someone willing to bill them less fruitful hours of QA work because that’s what the client wants.  And the client/employer gets it: an automated effort of some sort, a low defect count (because the QA person spent hours selecting/writing/maintaining automated scripts instead of testing.

But Scary Tester’s and my commentaries fall on sympathetic ears.  Meanwhile, Baseline magazine will run a bunch of ads from software companies selling automated testing software and amid a splashy article about how automated tests can do the work of 20 monkey testers.

I think I’m repeating myself, aren’t I?

An Explanation For QA Salary Surveys

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 by The Director

Studies prove that QA salaries lag behind developers:

Vindictiveness doesn’t pay. This has been demonstrated by a current study at Bonn and Maastricht Universities. According to this study, a person inclined to deal with inequity on a tit-for-tat basis tends to experience more unemployment than other people. Vindictive people also have less friends and are less satisfied with their lives. The study appears in the current edition of the Economic Journal.

What these scientists fail to account for is that to QA people, vindictiveness is its own reward.

An Image Name Is Not Good ALT Text, Redux

Monday, March 30th, 2009 by The Director

Scotts grass tries so hard with its Spring 2009 e-mail, but although it provides decent alt text for some images (Scotts Lawn Photo, Beautiful Lawn Photo, and so on), the filename displays for the product image:

TB Halts 08?  Is that a tuberculosis outbreak casualty headline?
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For Petes’ sakes (all of the Petes, seriously), it takes 20 minutes to run a basic test of HTML marketing e-mails where you mouseover the text and check the links.  But that 20 minutes takes away from the next emergency at the interactive agency.

How Does That Work In Frames?

Friday, March 27th, 2009 by The Director

In case you’ve got nothing else to worry about when thinking about your Web site/Web application, I have something else to fill those hours you’re awake in the night anyway: Does your application work in frames?


I’d Buy That For A Dollar (After A Year)

Thursday, March 26th, 2009 by The Director

Co-blogger sends a lead to this craigslist job listing and probably counts the lead as his annual post:

One whole dollar!
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I know you’re thinking, “How can a compensation of $1 depend on experience. Brother, it’s all in the picture on the dollar?” If you’re just out of college, you get the Zimbabwean dollar; if you’re a low level tech rock star, with things like MCSE and MIT on your resume, you get a loonie.

Speaking of which, he’s hunting for a job in the Minneapolis area. If any of my demicanadian readers know of a QA or, apparently, system administrator/PC technician positions available, drop me a line at thedirector at this domain.

Testing E-mail Addresses The Right Way

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 by The Director

Joe Strazzere offers a list of tests for e-mail addresses.

Go, learn, and do. Don’t make me find them for you.

Chester Cheetah Should Be An Inspiration To Us All

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 by The Director

If you’re working in QA, you need to channel some of your inner Chester Cheetah to thrive.

Keep his devious outside-the-bag thinking in mind and apply his mischief to your applications daily.

QASI: Linux Is A Harsher Mistress Than Windows

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 by The Director

PhilK sends a link to the Original Software Reading Room page, which looks like this:

You know something bad will happen when you click that link, right?
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You know something bad is going to happen when you click that link, right?


A Multiple Choice Question

Monday, March 23rd, 2009 by The Director

What’s the worst problem with this Sponsors set of rotating logos?

Sponsored by!
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Go check it out at the Sports Car Club of America Web site and choose amongst:


The Random ALT Text Generator

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 by The Director

This month’s AAA (American Automobile Association) e-mail uses the super-duper random ALT text generator:

Girls may see diamonds, but not me.
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Well, the image has everything you’d want in a stock road image for United States drivers:

  • Mountains
  • A bald eagle
  • Desert mesas
  • A superimposed road illustration

There is, however, no diamond in the illustration.

A small point, to be sure, but, dammit, doesn’t anyone pay attention?

Don’t answer that; the truth makes it hard for me to get up in the morning.

Maybe the E-mail Had No Friends

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 by The Director

PhilK, who sends me so much material he ought to start his own blog, encounters a problem with an e-mail.

This is from LogiGear, which is supposed to be some sort of newsletter about Strategic Software Testing:

LogiGear doesn't test its own e-mails, apparently.
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If he clicks the Continue Reading link, apparently the rest of the article is less interesting:

This is not the link you're looking for.
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LogiGear’s team has failed a vital step in the e-mail process:  Testing e-mails sent to friendly accounts after the content has been pushed to production but before the e-mail drops go out.  The e-mail drops are blasts of e-mails to subscribers sent in batches to spread the load over a couple of days.

If you’re going to do this the right way, you need to include e-mail addresses in various Web-based clients like Yahoo!, Hotmail, and gmail as well as accounts where you can open the mails in Outlook and Thunderbird to see how they look and that the links go to the right places on the production server with the proper tracking data on the querystring.

I mean, for Pete’s sake, even if the information wasn’t on the production server yet, you would probably see a standard 404 instead of a chiding e-mail from your mailing vendor.

Of course, this could entirely be a screw up on the part of the e-mail vendor, too, but a bit of testing would have uncovered that before PhilK got a chance to pass it on to the meanest software tester on the Web, ainna?

Too Quick on the Quick Polls

Friday, March 13th, 2009 by The Director

Another day, another mishandled quick poll for a sidebar, this time with a stock yes/no answer for a question asking for a grade.

Developers and designers sometimes get the simplest things wrong, and then don’t bother fixing it because it’s not important. What does that say about what you do, day in and day out, fellows?

Simulated Interactive Project Process

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 by The Director

The following is a simulated process for designing anything in the interactive world:

The only difference is that, in a real interactive project, the words would not have been spelled correctly, and sometimes, for no known reason, the design team would use an old, discarded version as the base upon which to make the latest client revisions.

(Link courtesy an interactive project manager in New York.)

Gallery of Stack Traces: You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Disk

Monday, March 9th, 2009 by The Director

Reader Max G. sends in this stack trace, the wailing and lamenting of a Web server lacking a little size where it matters most:

Somebody get that machine a GB transfusion, stat!
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You know how to check for that?  Load testing, perhaps, where you pile in a whole lot of records, I suppose, or overloading an uploading sort of application using your 100Gb test files.

But brace yourself: when you encounter this in a test environment, your developers will tell you it’s due to the limitations of test environment (and you can’t try it on the production server because it’s the production server, and your test might successfully break it on the Internet).  But you have to push back.  Otherwise somebody like Max might find it in production.

Playing Hide The Close Button

Friday, March 6th, 2009 by The Director

A rollout panel from a US Airways banner ad:

Can you tell how to close it before the video starts?
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That’s the sort of panel that rolls out when you’re moving the mouse from the tab bar to the content of the story for scrolling purposes.  Some clever interactive marketing drone knows that if you make the mechanism for closing the panel require user action instead of a mere mouse out and then you hide the way to close the freaking panel, you’re engaging the user and making the ad interactive.

What this design genius fails to understand, or doesn’t care about, is that this ad is not interactive; it’s intervective, and this ad is not building positive brand affinity or whatever fluffy words they used to talk up their simplistic job of making a user look twice.

What’s A Search Engine, Sonny?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009 by The Director

Bugs of a feather flock together.  PhilK sends this one:

The best part is that it's a google naming error on a google site.
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PhilK, whose handle I pronounce the same as the genre of music combining science fiction and fantasy with folk, says:

what is this ‘google’ thing anyway ? ever heard of them ?

Not me, brother.

Same day I get this error which I expect relates to Yahoo!:

Mi Yahoo! es tu Yahoo!
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Ever wonder why JavaScript errors abound?  I got a hint of it when a developer whom I’ve got on my Yahoo! IM set his status like Debugging JavaScript.  I hate it.  The developers think JavaScript is beneath them, so they give it short shrift.  On par with fixing bugs, maybe.

An Indicator The Publishing Business Isn’t Going So Well

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009 by The Director

There is no there there
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It’s also a sign that removal of defunct sites isn’t going so well, either.

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