Archive for August, 2009

She Forgot “In Four Hours”

Monday, August 31st, 2009 by The Director

Trisherino explains the Carl Sagan Cosmos of tests she could find in a single edit box in a post entitled Just Test Everything.

It’s a nice little piece, but it lacks a little framework to give it a real cinéma vérité effect.  Now, imagine her developer saying “Just test everything” when delivering a testable product only a matter of hours (or a day) before the drop-dead go live date and then disappearing to his or her developer lair with all communications cut off to get some sleep after a 48-hour caffeine-fueled and typo-eruptive coding blitz.

Then you get the real sense of QA.

Direct Object Lesson

Friday, August 28th, 2009 by The Director

A system administrator explains the importance of good grammar.

He’s not a designer or a developer, so he won’t be able to apply that good insight into tangible product benefits for us, but you can use his illustrations to explain why grammar is important not only in communication, but also in specifications and requirements.  Ha, who am I kidding?  Poorly composed e-mails lacking in capitalization and punctuation are the specifications and requirements.  If they were written correctly, maybe we wouldn’t have to come in to work on Saturday to test the build that fixes the misconceptions.

And The Company Name Sounds Like It Should Sell Geiger Counters

Thursday, August 27th, 2009 by The Director

g33klady sends in something for the Gallery of Stack Traces:

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Unable to validate the data, huh?  You know how you can avoid this stack trace?  Client-side validation.  But no.

If you’ve worked with testing software at all, you know that it is as buggy as regular software.

Add to this the Web site, which is probably under the rubric of the marketing department, and suddenly you’ve got a bunch of people in the organization saying It is what it is.  One would think that software marketed to testers would be, you know, tested, but one would be wrong.

Microsoft Fails At Localization, But Who Doesn’t?

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 by The Director

Like most everyone else, Microsoft has run into problems with localizing its Web site from English to Polish.  For example, Engadget finds an instance where someone altered, badly, a stock photo instead of getting a new one.

Poking around the site, I found a couple additional flaws.


It Takes One To Tangle

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 by The Director

Hey, have you noticed how commonplace PHP/MySQL errors are?

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I hate to see how easily users become accustomed to this behavior.  It just rolls off the eyes like another banner ad.  An advertisement to an inexpensive technology, where inexpensive means cheap.

That Jersey Only Looks Defective

Friday, August 21st, 2009 by The Director

There’s a small chance that there will be a number of NFL jerseys with the word Null printed on the back.

They will not actually be defective.

Poor Form, Peter. Literally.

Friday, August 21st, 2009 by The Director

I received an e-mail with this form embedded in it yesterday:

A form in an e-mail?  The only way it could be better is AJAX-enabled forms in e-mail
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Immediately, I beset it with submission without anything in it, and the submit button did not work.  I put in simply d and clicked, and the submit button did not work.  Curious, I looked at the source, and I determined there is not form tag, no action associated with it, nothing but a filled with controls.

And a Click here if you’re having trouble link that verifies your e-mail address and opts you into the newsletter.

That’s damn dirty pool, fellows.  On most Web sites, the quick poll feature lets you have a quick say without obligating you to bu.  This trick poll feature makes you think something is wrong with you when there’s really something wrong with your design.

How charming.

It Sounded Good In The Meeting

Thursday, August 20th, 2009 by The Director

Joe Strazzere spots this rich banner ad on CBS Sports, where he spends all of his mornings arranging his fantasy football teams which bear as close of a resemblance to the New England Patriots starting lineup as possible:

There should have been a tweet there.

Oh, yes, I can see the account executives and the creative director telling them that they had to hook the banner ad up to the Twitter API so the banner ads could run the latest tweets.  Because using Twitter is cool!

Interactive agencies often do things, and sell the clients things, that the interactive agency personnel think are cool.  See also those annoying 3-d Flash immersion landscapes.  These things often really don’t add anything for the user, and as this ad shows, sometimes outstrip the actual technical ability of the interactive agencies.

But we have to put a Twitter feed into a banner ad because we can.  Then we will tell our other clients we’re experts at it.  Then we’ll sell ourselves as experts at it, and we’ll do it over and over even though putting a RT @bonnie YEAH! in your banner ad does nothing but use a social media technology just to use it.  And it will go on until they find a nice, new shiny object.


A Triumvirate Your Developers Should Meet

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 by The Director

Meet Phyllis, Gladys, and Agnes of,, and

An interesting idea, but you know what the campaign lacks?  The ability to send appropriate postcards to your developer friends.

(Link courtesy of Trisherino.)

A Conservative Approach to Spelling

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 by The Director

Is it always i before e except after c?  This error message from GoDaddy tries a conservative approach:

I before AND after e.
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Well, that particular developer left nothing to chance and put an e on either side of the i.

And nobody else looked at the error message.

A Label 404

Monday, August 17th, 2009 by The Director

Found on a box:

That data is in another box.

Uh huh.

You know, if you’re ever called upon to test label printers, scanners, or any of the various and sundry other peripherals your software will use or interact with, you get those printers, scanners, or peripherals and test on them.  Don’t trust the developers and whatever emulators they might have concocted.  Then, build a complete set of test cases for the apparatus.  Then, run those test cases.  Finally, make developers fix the problems you find.

Sure, it’s not as sexy as the main module of your shipping software or the Web interface or the other fun things developers want to do.  However, it is the basic thing your software needs to do.  It’s what your users expect it to do.  And it better do it.

That’s Not Supposed To Be An Overlay

Thursday, August 13th, 2009 by The Director

This Wired product review looks as though its laying the product shot over some title text and is then overlaying that on the text of the product review itself:

The microwave in Firefox.
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In Wired’s defense, it only looks this bad in Firefox, a relatively unknown browser.  In Internet Explorer, its shortcomings are fewer.

I mean, skip the obligatory JavaScript error:

A JavaScript error?  No way!
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Now, at least you can read the product review unimpeded:

At least I can read the review
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I’d repeat the old “Can’t anybody here play this game?” quote, but it’s not like that at all.  It’s like cricket in America.  Sure, maybe someone could play the game, but nobody bothers to try.

All Dialog Boxes Should Have This Button

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 by The Director

Please add this button to all of your interface standards.

If only I could add sound effects to the defect tracker’s Add link.

Marcus Aurelius on Project Management

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 by The Director

From Meditations, V 17:

To look for the impossible is folly: and it is impossible that bad men should not do bad deeds.

Whether you use this quote to besmirch developers or to defend your own nefarious test cases is up to you.

(Alternate translation here.)

Internet-Enabled Grill Required

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 by The Director

If you want to combine software with barbecuing, we have a job for you:

It doesn't say whether the grill should be hot or not
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(I know, they probably mean the AWeber e-mail software package, but that’s not what it says, is it?)

Tell Your Boss You Need One For The Testing Lab

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 by The Director

I’d not thought of it, but apparently the Playstation 3 has a Web browser in it.  Don’t you wonder how your Web sites work in it?

This fellow has done some investigation of the browser and some compatibility testing.

I bring this up because I saw it in a referrer string for one of my Web sites today.  No doubt they cannot see the Monday Morning Musical Interludes either.

Monday Morning Anthem

Monday, August 10th, 2009 by The Director

It’s Monday.  Time to imitate the action of the tiger, stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage, hen lend the eye a terrible aspect, and heed the Skid Row.

IE users can see it here.

Turn up your computer speakers and let the rest of your cube block know QA has arrived.

There’s a metaphor for software development and QA in the song.  I’ll leave it to you to determine it.

The Extraneous ‘U’s Did Him In

Thursday, August 6th, 2009 by The Director

Phil K. has some trouble mounting his own British invasion:

I had a problem with a different sort of visa – the one you have to fill in to enter the good old US of A.
The form has been updated and has caught up with the 21st century and there is now an entry for your email address

Except there is only room for 19 characters
I have 3 different email addresses – all of them more than that

Well, if you stripped your e-mail addresses and domains of all the extraneous Us you Brits favor, maybe you wouldn’t have this problem.  Or maybe it’s that the United States government doesn’t want your kind–quality professionals–coming here.

After all, this is not the golden age of United States government Web sites:

  • The CARS Web site for Cash for Clunkers keeps crashing under the load of dealers trying to fill out the forms.
  • The contract for the redesign of is worth $18 million dollarsFor a Web site redesign.

In the United States, we have a saying: Good enough for government work.  That’s not setting the bar high.

Well, They Have Software Architects, So Why Not?

Thursday, August 6th, 2009 by The Director

In Minneapolis, apparently they’re looking for software carpenters/remodelers:

A step up from software maintenance man, one presumes.
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But you know what?  I start out every morning with a brief internal prayer of “If I Had A Hammer” myself.  Except we don’t get to verses about songs or bells, and it’s Thor’s hammer I’m wielding, and….


&ouml Is HTML For “Barf”

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 by The Director

Isarian sends in a case of encoding flagrante dilecto:

You think that's bad, you try a macron.
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Take it from one who’s worked on any number of brands with cockamamie weird foreign characters in brand names (and I mean worse than the random British u or c instead of s): Those things are poison.  Fortunately, the name of the Web site isn’t Schrödinger’s Cat, otherwise you’d see exactly how many ways they could get it wrong.

ThinkGeek, apparently, is a site staffed for geeks, by geeks, so someone told them about the problem and they fixed it.

Well, except for the title text:

They missed a spot
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For the record, here are some of the places to check for crazy encoded characters:

  • Page titles.
  • Alt text.
  • Title text, both on images and links.
  • Page text.
  • Meta tags.
  • Images with the word.

Note on the page in question, the ampersand in the encoding has been encoded itself.  Haven’t we seen that before?  Oh, yes, we have.

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