Archive for April, 2010

Someone Is Competent

Friday, April 30th, 2010 by The Director

I’d have to certify that someone has mad skillz in this basic Microsoft competency: Microsoft Education Competencies: Humor.

Not me, of course, since I’m an expert at finding humor in anything, the teacher would probably say I overdo it and find humor in inappropriate situations. However, whoever composed this for Microsoft was surely a riot.

I Came To Bury The Web Site, Not To Praise The Team

Thursday, April 29th, 2010 by The Director

As some of you know and a few of you ignore (I’m talking about you, Joe, and you poor misguided Minnesotans), the Green Bay Packers are the best football team in the entire universe (that’s North American football, gentle European and Asian readers).

However, the team’s Web site has a new contest on it with a couple of problems.

For starters, who designs a form where the middle initial comes after the last name?


The middle initial that isn't in the middle
Click for full size

I suppose one could make a case for putting the required fields together, but I doubt anyone put any sort of case together at all.

Additionally, if you press ENTER in IE, the browser makes a bang sound at you. If you press ENTER in Firefox, you get this helpful message:


The middle initial that isn't in the middle
Click for full size

It looks as though no fields are required. So what’s the problem?

I bet they got it up on time and on budget, almost, anyway.

I’m Such A Harpist, I Ought To Be In The Symphony

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 by The Director

Another Web study shows that IE 6 is still alive and thrashing on the Internet especially in corporate America :

Security experts, industry analysts and even Microsoft recommend that IT departments upgrade Internet Explorer 6, yet new research shows that while there may have recently been a mock funeral for the aging browser, IE6 is still around and doing well, especially during standard business hours.

Chitika, a search-based online advertising network, conducted a study recently to learn the hour-by-hour market share of some of the leading Internet browsers. The study showed that IE6 ranked fourth among all browsers, grabbing 13% of usage during what many consider peak business hours.

I’m about to go into a project where I pressed the client to get a list of its client’s browser requirements beforehand. Shockingly, to them, the ultimate client used IE6. So I’ve pressed the development team to look at it in IE6 before turning it over to me for testing. If all goes according to prophecy, and by “prophecy” I mean the way it usually goes, they won’t, and I’ll have to load the defect tracker with IE 6 issues.

Just because Google said IE 6 was dead does not make it true.

(Link seen on Andrew Richards‘s Twitter feed.)

I’m Not Sure I Understand This SEO Strategy

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 by The Director

An blog entry on Fox Business:

I found the missing page
Click for full size

The URL now leads to an actual page not found, but for a brief period of time it led to content wrapped in the page not found title.

I’ll leave it to you, gentle reader, to guess why this is. Temporary pages plugging the weekly show? Wonky CMS? Having the content put on the Web by an admin intern?

Zombies Preferred, But Not Required

Monday, April 26th, 2010 by The Director

This job posting says alternative health/lifestyle is a plus:


An alternative health/lifestyle sounds a lot like death.  Or undeath.
Click for full size

I mean, what’s the alternative to health? Undeath.

QA Anthem: Smoke ‘Em If You’ve Got ‘Em

Monday, April 26th, 2010 by The Director

Presented without comment. If it gives QA nightmares, it’s good QA music. Wait, that’s a comment.

QAHY Gets Recognized

Friday, April 23rd, 2010 by The Director

Testingminded lists QAHY as one of the top 100 Software Testing Blogs. Thanks, Steven!

Of course, he doesn’t mention that there are only 112 total testing blogs in the world, so QAHY ain’t exactly the top of the class.

The Kipling Coup de Grace

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 by The Director

The next time you point out that the developer’s assertion that the unreproducible issue only crashes the system the next time two administrators on a multiple administrator system save any data on the same screen at the same time and the project manager agrees it should not be RESOLVED – WON’T FIX, deliver this coup de grâce courtesy of Rudyard Kipling:

Them hemmeridges clears the head. Let him sluice it off!

And remember to add the ess sound to the end of coup de grâce.

QA Anthem: For Those We’ve Lost

Monday, April 19th, 2010 by The Director

There’s only one Pink Floyd song that makes me weepy in my whiskey (that’s whisky for my English readers):

We shared a lot of good times in the bad times, brothers and sisters. But I know you’ve gone to a better place, even if that’s unemployment.

How Did They Know My Children’s Nicknames?

Friday, April 16th, 2010 by The Director

McAlister’s Deli offers a little comment on children:

McAlister's receipt

Perhaps the words “Misc error” refer to the reason why the values were voided; in this case, the actual error was charging for kid’s meals on kids-eat-free night.

However, it does serve as a good reminder that any intentional explanatory text you include on your user-facing messages should probably not look like a software failure.

Fortunately, A Class in C Spared Me From This

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 by The Director

If I only had an English degree, I would have ended up in a career like this: The Rejectionist.

Fortunately, a fortuitously timed class in the C programming language at the community college took me into the wonderful world of Information Technology and the field we all suffer in.

Clients: A Trilogy of Terror

Monday, April 12th, 2010 by The Director

A Web developer enumerates three clients who drove him nuts and why.

It’s true that some clients are total Robertas and don’t understand the Internet. Unfortunately, many of your organization’s client facing people don’t understand the technology, either, and the whole engagement process is designed to get the most money from the ignorant client as possible. So everyone in the process is eager to get the project to move forward no matter how many holes or misconceptions exist in the client’s mind.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the client meetings, as I have occasionally, you need to ask the hard questions and and lock everything down that you can. Bring up the negative to make sure that’s not what the client wants.

If you do everything right, your organization and the client will go into the project with a better understanding than it did before, and you won’t get invited to more client meetings.

QA Anthems: Sixteen Bugs

Monday, April 12th, 2010 by The Director

You know, there are some analogies to QA from other professions.

The chief difference between coal mining and software testing? QA makes your heart black.

Scientific Test Identifies Good QA Candidates

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 by The Director

A new study indicates you can scientifically identify good QA candidates:

The investigators had 16 participants compare a photograph of a visual scene with a preceding scene, and asked them to indicate with a button press whether or not the scene had changed. Scenes differed in whether the changes were obvious or subtle, and in how quickly they were presented. Sensitive persons looked at the scenes that had the subtle differences for a longer time than did non-sensitive persons, and showed significantly greater activation in brain areas involved in associating visual input with other input to the brain and with visual attention (i.e., right claustrum; left occipito-temporal; bilateral temporal, medial, and posterior parietal regions). These areas are not simply used for vision itself, but for a deeper processing of input.

All this and more affected by caffeine. I told you QA was a superpower.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

A Thought For The Project Manager In Your Life

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 by The Director

From Forbes:

Charlie Wohlstetter, who heads up Continental Telephone, passed on to us this anecdote, which I find most apropos at this time as forecasts shower down on all our hapless heads: “Some years ago Herman Kahn told me of the rabbi who was present at the creation. After the sixth day, when the Lord was resting, he looked at his handiwork and turned to the rabbi and asked, ‘Well, Rabbi, what do you think? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?’ The rabbi hesitated, frowned deeply, shook his head and clucked his tongue and finally said to the Lord, ‘Well, I’m optimistic.’ And the Lord, in surprise, said, ‘Well, if you’re optimistic, why are you frowning?’ And the rabbi said, ‘I’m frowning because I believe my optimism is unjustified.'”
— Malcolm Forbes (1983)

If it’s not a thought your project manager has, it’s a thought he or she should have. Daily.

An Ad Targeted Specifically To Neo

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 by The Director

Since he’s the only one who can just read the Matrix, I guess he’s the one this ad is targeted to:


Might as well be 0s and 1s
Click for full size

As you all know, if I were in charge, those little ad insertion routines would check to see if it had something valid to return before it dumped its garbage or broken image icon on the screen. But do you know why they don’t? The same reason every other mid to small software company puts out junk: there’s no retribution from the users. Newspaper and other Web sites throw up a bunch of crap that leaks memory and occasionally delivers a touch of malware, and their hands are clean, since it’s a case of their ad rotators having problem. The blame is thus diffused so as to not be painful or otherwise actionable.

(Thanks to reader “Kip Steele.” That sounds like a testing name to me. At the top of my resume, I put the pseudonym “Mal V. Zance” myself.)

QA Anthem: Reader Recommendation

Monday, April 5th, 2010 by The Director

As you can tell by my musical selections, I’m an old timey rock and roll fan. However, I realize that some members of the underground are biting new victims and turning younger kids in to junior testers, so I’ll heed reader Petr Hanák who thinks this I’ll Attack band and their song “30 Seconds From Mars” is the proper bit to play on the lawn of old timers like me.

It rocks all right.

(Yes, thank you, I know I transposed the band name and the song name. That’s called humor, you damn kids. Faster than you know, this will be classic rock that the kids don’t get.)

Answering My Own QA Interview Question

Friday, April 2nd, 2010 by The Director

On Twitter, I posted the following question for QA candidates: Are you more like Axel Foley or Fletch?

QA is more Fletch.

  • Fletch has a more developed sense of alternative workflows. Sure, Foley is very quick with a story to further his ends, but those are pretty shallow stories easily discarded. Fletch, on the other hand, really inhabits the raiments of the alter-egos, whether it’s a plane mechanic, a medical doctor, or an insurance investigator. Even when he’s not officially on the job, Fletch uses his daydreams as exercises to understand the experiences of other people and other professions and how they do what they do. These talents come in handy when the software tester and QA analyst try to get into the minds and workflows of consumers, chemical engineers, librarians, data modelers, and the myriad other people who will use the software who are not software development professionals.
  • Fletch is not part of the power structure. Foley is part of the enabling power structure that, but for his guile, is clueless and laughable. Fletch is an outsider and can not only stand apart from the power structure, but he can critique it forcefully when it’s corrupt. A QA person should not engrain himself or herself in the sales/project management/development axis. He or she needs to have the distance to say, “Hey, this whole thing sucks rocks.”
  • Fletch works well with deadlines. He’s a newspaperman, used to frequent milestones, and no matter how he says he’s not going to make it, he does. Foley moves at his own pace.
  • Foley takes vacation to further his own pursuits when he’s needed on the job.

I could go on, but I think you get my point. Both of them have snazzy Harold Faltermeyer themes, but one of them is better for QA. Foley is flash, but Fletch is your candidate.

Torpedoes for Your Estimate

Thursday, April 1st, 2010 by The Director

I just revised my standard boilerplate text for my estimates that describes what factors and known unknowns can effectively render the estimate meaningless. Here it is:

The estimate might fall short of actual testing effort necessary due to the following factors:

  • The tester finds a large number of defects. Running test cases is very straightforward. However, discovering issues requires the tester to: return the application to the preceding state; run the test case again to recreate the issue; capture the screenshot of the application state during the issue; and log the issue in the defect tracker. Additionally, time to retest these additional defects adds to the total test effort.
  • The tester finds defects behind functionality behind functionality previously blocked by a defect. Sometimes defects prevent a tester from completing a test case; when the initial defect is corrected, further behavior on the test case path will uncover other defects.
  • The application includes new functionality or hidden complexity. This estimate is provided based on the software demonstration provided. Any additional functionality or application complexity discovered after the completion of the demo might require a greater number of test cases and test effort than anticipated.
  • The application is deployed/built a limited number of times. Each additional build requires a number of tests to check the application state (often called a sanity test or a smoke test). As the number of deployments or builds grows, the test effort grows with them.

So what else torpedoes your estimates?


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