Archive for March, 2010

That’s Not The Friendlies List, Josh

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 by The Director

Josh at Mediababy LLC makes a mistake:

Josh sends out a beta e-mail.

Click for full size

Well, Josh, since you went through all the trouble to send me your beta e-mail, here are a couple things:

  • Your View as Web page offering needs work; the heading is not centered, etc.
  • Capitalization of your alt text should match the images or captions.
  • Your boilerplate footer has hard line breaks and does not stretch the width of the e-mail body.
  • A box surrounds supporter image in Firefox, but not IE (applies to Web mail only, but might impact Thunderbird vs. Office).
  • I did not sign up with Media Baby. You bought my e-mail from a list. Don’t lie to me.

Better luck with the next iteration, but if you want me to recheck or to review your future efforts, please contact me professionally (info available on the Sez Who? page) instead of sending your friendlies out to the list you purchased.

I Buy Mine With Cash, Wearing Dark Glasses and a Hat, In The Bookstore In The Next Town

Monday, March 29th, 2010 by The Director

You know what I like to pick up whenever I can? 2600.

I’m not a hacker of any sort, nor do I play one on the Internet, but the creative ways that some of the writers get around different security things sort of mirrors the mindset when you’re testing an application. You need to look outside the pathways that the developers and designers lay out for you and try to subvert the will of the code.

Of course, if you’re a security tester, then everything in the magazine applies more directly.

QA Anthems: I Said Oh, No

Monday, March 29th, 2010 by The Director

Two John Cougar Mellancamp Songs to get you into the mood this morning.

First, a reminder that we fight authority, and authority always wins:

Next, the result – the walls come crumbling down.

Putting Your Footer In Your Mouth

Thursday, March 25th, 2010 by The Director

A new e-mail from Wisk® includes something that every single e-mail from Wisk® includes: the stock footer.

However, this one does it badly:

Maybe this is actually a hoofer, not a footer.
Click for full size

The whole e-mail renders poorly when viewed through Hotmail, so I cannot tell if it’s a failure related to that or if someone forgot to copy part of the boilerplate before pasting into the new message. I can tell you, though, it ain’t right.

It’s An Alternative Form Of Input

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 by The Director

Here’s someone thinking like QA:

That's an alternative form of data entry.

Sure, the keyboard, mouse, and data import features are some of the several obvious ways that data gets into your system. Are there any others? Scanners perhaps? Photo recognition or OCR?

You’ve got to be devious to be a tester whom I respect.

Footnoting A Tweet

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 by The Director

On Twitter, I said:

Some applications make me feel like Simo Häyhä.

My Finnish readers know who that is:

Simo Häyhä (December 17, 1905 – April 1, 2002), nicknamed “White Death” by the Red Army, was a Finnish marksman. Using a standard iron-sighted, bolt action rifle in the Winter War, he has the highest recorded number (505) of confirmed kills in any major war.

Sometimes, when I get a new build or site to test, the bottleneck in my defect logging is my typing speed.

Test Data Leads To Police Raids

Monday, March 22nd, 2010 by The Director

In New York City, some test data made it into production. Unfortunately, it was a police system and led to police raiding a couple’s home fifty times:

The snafu started in 2002, when police used the Brooklyn address as part of what Browne called “random material” to test an automated computer system that tracks crime complaints and records of other internal police information. Before that, the work was done manually.

The couple first complained about the harrowing police visits in 2007, when Rose Martin wrote a letter to Kelly. “And we identified the problem then,” Browne said. “It was a mistake by the police department.”

So what do you do to manufacture test data with the foresight of knowing that it could go into production? You could make it obvious, such as “Blah blah blah test,” but then it looks silly when that leaks up.

I, on the other hand, prefer to use a set of standard user names that include non-obvious markers such as using the company’s name as the last name. For the address, I always use the business address or the CEO’s home address.

I’m not keen on playing with a snapshot of real people’s data because something like this can happen. And if it’s the CEO’s door getting banged on by the SWAT team, you can bet it won’t take 50 visits to get it fixed.

(Link to this story seen in the Twitterverse, but I was tracking the story from before that because this sounded like a bad data issue even without the confirmation. Not to mention a poor process on the part of the police to require a fiftieth bad raid to make them fix it.)

QA Anthem: Greet Your Co-Workers

Monday, March 22nd, 2010 by The Director

Good morning, sunshine! It’s Monday again, and here’s a little ditty to greet your development team by name.

Warning: salty language sampled throughout.

It’s British, And It’s Poor

Friday, March 19th, 2010 by The Director

It’s probably too late to grab a lot of my British readership with that inflammatory title this morning, but I’m just trying to help this poor Web site with its vocabuary:

Poor behaviour, all undefined and stuff.
Click for full size

The Web site uses a quizzing widget that I’ve never seen before and probably ran into a little trouble with a surge in load from a link from a popular Web log. When I first tried to load the page, it showed a lot of broken images and a loading icon; eventually, when I wandered back to the window, it displayed this error message.

Someone didn’t load test before launching. By “someone,” I mean “most Web companies.”

False Appositive

Thursday, March 18th, 2010 by The Director

This is an even better example of why one should use the serial comma than the one I traditionally use:

…highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.

(Link seen via @iamdez.)

A Choose Your Own Adventure For QA

Thursday, March 18th, 2010 by The Director

Software Testing Club and Rob Lambert have come up with a choose your own adventure for QA: You are stopped by a manager and quizzed about a bug …..what do you do?

Personally, since it’s too late to roll for a hide in shadows attempt to try a backstab, I just roll for combat initiative.

Sure, it’s not on the flowchart they provide. But since when do its job properly following the rules?

Building Brand Equity Through Torture Porn

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 by The Director

How could Warner Brothers and its interactive proxies not think that the Flash game described here would cause a problem?

The link is, and it takes you to a website, where you will find an attractive, young blond waiting for you to keep her awake. How’re you going to do that? She keeps yawning. She’s sooo sleepy.

It’s going to be a long night, so you start with something light. You click an icon and her alarm clock rings. You make her jump up and down on her bed in her underpants. You get her to read a book. But that’s no fun, right? Maybe you’re a little bored.

You put her in the shower, naked, natch, where the camera wanders across her body. You make her do jumping jacks and watch her boobs bounce in that very tight T-shirt she’s wearing. Still, there’s something missing. Isn’t there something else you can do? Something, say, more … fun?

You decide to apply more aggressive methods. You click the switchblade icon, and she picks up a knife. As you watch, she cuts herself in the side with it, gasping. Hm, not bad, you think. You try another. You click the icon that looks like a lighter, and she picks it up. You look on while she burns her arm, trembling in agony. If you’d known torture was this easy, well …

Unfortunately, now you’ve run out of tricks, and it seems your options are more limited than 18 U.S.C. § 2340. Don’t you hate it when that happens? Slowly, she falls asleep. Suffice to say, in the end, she dies. Too bad all your torturing couldn’t, er, save her.

Don’t worry! It’s not all for naught. You can kill her all over again, or, better yet, show off your torturing expertise by posting how effective your torture session was on your Facebook page. And they said social networking was good for nothing.

Holy cannoli. There’s edgy, and then there’s offensive. No doubt this interactive team lacked a certain presence, say QA, who was willing to say, “Hey, this might go too far.

Interactive agencies are filled with the intertwees who lack any perspective on how this sort of thing will play outside their hip and self-referential little societies. A good quality quality assurance team needs to be there to say, “Whoa.”

Rest assured, QA, I’m not saying you have to have anything but poor taste personally; however, you need to have perspective enough to pretend otherwise for the sake of the decent people traveling the Internet.

(Link seen on

Technique for Improving Your QA Team’s Communication

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 by The Director

Gang signs.

QA gang signs

Come on. Flashing gang signs to your peeps is a great way to:

  • Build team spirit.
  • Impress and somewhat frighten, in a deep and subtle way, the other people in your organization.
  • Signal through the glass wall of the meeting room that your associates headed to the coffee shop should pick you up another quint latte.

Also, remember those awesome QAnarchy shirts are available here.

Dilbert on the Ship Date

Monday, March 15th, 2010 by The Director

QA Anthem: We’re On A Deadline Here

Monday, March 15th, 2010 by The Director

Yeah, the build is late and the milestone hasn’t moved. The Project Manager? He’s got some sort of cosmic rationale.

You? You’ve got eight business hours and twenty-four working hours to run all the tests and find all the bugs.

Game on.

There Ain’t No Cure, There Ain’t No Cure, There Ain’t No Cure For QA

Friday, March 12th, 2010 by The Director

This article might get developers’ hopes up: When Anger Is An Illness:

Scream at the boss? Snap at a colleague? Throw your cell phone into your @#$%%&* computer monitor? If so, you may find yourself headed to anger-management classes, which have become an all-purpose antidote for fit-throwing celebrities, chair-throwing coaches, vandals, road ragers, delinquent teens, disruptive airline passengers, and obstreperous employees.

Demand for such programs is coming from courts seeking alternatives to jail sentences and companies hoping to avoid lawsuits and office blowups. Aware that high-pressure jobs can make for hot tempers, some professions offer pre-emptive anger management. A few state bar associations now require “civility” training for lawyers renewing their licenses. And as of last year, hospitals must have programs for “disruptive” physicians as a condition of accreditation.

Programs run the gamut from $300-an-hour private therapists to one-day intensive seminars, weekly group sessions or online courses with no human interaction. Many advertise that they satisfy court requirements—even if all they offer is six CDs and a certificate of completion.

It’s not clear if the programs work, as few studies have analyzed their effectiveness. There are no licensing requirements for anger-management trainers—anyone can open a business. And since participants don’t usually sign up voluntarily, trainers say it’s possible to complete a program without actually changing one’s behavior.

Part of the problem is that professionals can’t agree whether a pattern of angry outbursts signals a mental illness or simply a behavior issue. As a result, people who need psychiatric help may instead get shunted into a short-term anger-management course. Employers and courts may not adequately evaluate people before sending them for anger interventions, nor provide sufficient follow-up.

No, you cannot call the mindset of QA an illness and hope it can be cured.

Security Protocols Needed For Medical Devices

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 by The Director

As a skeptic of the line of thought that thinks putting something on the Internet for convenience (and because the developers know how to do it easily and cheaply), I can heartily say that I would not want something implanted in my body that’s accessible to anyone via an IP address.

Unlike previous medical devices, the latest generation can be controlled automatically or remotely over the Internet. The benefits are obvious–they allow patients much greater mobility and the need for daily trips to a doctor’s office are obviated. In addition, these devices can dramatically lower health care costs, guaranteeing their wider user and acceptance moving forward.

While nobody worried about the 6 Million Dollar Man being hacked, the time has come to seriously consider the security protocols, or lack thereof, of today’s modern medical devices. As the story below indicates, the integration of technology into the human body has created opportunities for newer and more serious forms computer crime and hacking. In the past, a hacker might have been able to illegally enter a desktop computer system, read a targets personal data or even gain control of another person’s financial accounts. In comparison to the potential threat from Internet-based medical devices, the threats from “old-school” hacking seem mild by comparison.

This goes pretty much for any critical infrastructure. You, there, testing embedded devices, manufacturing controls, transformers, and so on. Seriously, isn’t it worth a little effort (okay, a lot of extra effort) to put that on a secure, dedicated network to make sure that some punk in Montreal doesn’t kill someone with your product?

QA Anthem: QAing with the Devil

Monday, March 8th, 2010 by The Director

Here’s a little something to get you through the afternoon: Van Halen’s “Runnin’ with the Devil”.

Although, personally speaking, I think I’m more short track speed skating with the devil and getting disqualified for tripping him in the final turn.

100% Chance Of Mocking Ziff-Davis E-mail

Monday, March 8th, 2010 by The Director

The following e-mail provocatively asked me in the subject line What’s in your forcast?

Forcast says!
Click for full size

I have to say: it was an effective subject line since it caused me to open the mail and to load the images to make sure they spelled it right in the e-mail, which they did.

You can test the e-mails’ HTML all you want, but you really need someone with an eye for quality to look at the friendlies, too. (The friendlies, for those of you not in the e-mail campaign world, are test e-mails sent through the bulk e-mail sender to a small list of internal people for final approval.)

Swag Follows The QAHY Lifestyle

Friday, March 5th, 2010 by The Director

Not mine, but Thinkgeek has a Venn diagram that follows closely on this post from Monday:

Conan Venn diagram

(Link seen on The Zeray Gazette.)

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