Archive for May, 2010

QA Anthem: Creep

Monday, May 31st, 2010 by The Director

In the beautiful world of IT, tester, you know where you belong.

Yeah, that’s what they think about you. Now what are you going to do about it?

Yeah, I know, in the United State, it’s a business holiday. But if you’re on another continent or you’re self-employed, it’s not.

Testing Ability: Blessing or Curse?

Thursday, May 27th, 2010 by The Director

I’ve lamented on Twitter recently that the innate ability to break software is as much a curse as a blessing. When I’m trying to use software, it breaks.

Case in point: I went out and bought Adobe Acrobat 9, shelling out the big $250 to support a project that will net me only a little more than that, and when I tried to use it on the single file I needed to modify, Adobe Acrobat crashed to the desktop without a by-your-leave. You bet I sent those crash reports to Microsoft automatically so they could snicker about Acrobat.

Secondly, I lassoed a couple of files on the desktop and dragged them to the recycle bin, and they were no longer available to delete, but were caught between the dimensions like Captain Kirk in The Tholian Web. They flickered in the corner of the screen regardless of what application covered the desktop:


Rig the transporter to somehow beam those icons to the recycling bin
Click for full size

I had to restart to clean them up.

Is it that I am just that good, or is it that software sucks in 2010? More plaintively, I raise my eyes to the heavens and ask, “Why does the That Will Never Happen keep happening to me?”

An Option For Waldo

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 by The Director

The most interesting option that I have ever seen for a Country drop-down list resides over on the Search Open Jobs page in the employment section of Omnicom Group (hi, guys!).

To find it, click the Select Locations link beside the State/Province edit box. A new window opens with a Country drop-down list to narrow things down a bit.

Unless you select this option:


Unknown, but outside of USA
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Now what would prompt someone to select Unknown, but outside of USA?

  • It’s for Waldo of Where’s Waldo fame.
  • It’s for job seekers coming off of a bender.
  • It’s for job seekers using the Internet wi-fi on a cruise ship.
  • It’s for job seekers who have been kidnapped by guerrillas and possibly moved over an international border.

Add your own speculation in the comments.

They Wonder Why The Campaign’s Response Rate Is So Low

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 by The Director

Reader Dave H. sends in this sample e-mail:


Hey, an e-mail with free stuff
Click for full size

Click that free reward button, and you get a reward all right. If you’re a tester, you want no bigger reward than a stack trace:


Bingo!
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As I mention ad nauseum (disclosure: Pepto Bismol pays me to do things ad nauseum), when you’re doing an e-mail campaign or working with an application that triggers the e-mails, you always need to send the e-mail to yourself to test it. Click the dagnabbitic links, dagnabbit.

In the interactive world, they call the test e-mail sent through the bulk e-mails the friendlies, which is exactly what I would call a horror film about QA: “The Friendlies”. At least that’s what they called them where I worked. Apparently, the agency behind this campaign never heard of them. Or they’ve seen the script for my film and think that sending out friendlies is akin to saying “Candyman” the third time.

Regardless. Test your e-mails. Click the links. Period.

QA Anthem: Living’s In The Way We QA

Monday, May 24th, 2010 by The Director

You know, most of a-ha’s catalog of music is kinda melancholy, but this song kicks you right in the nihilism:

Note this is not the version from the film of the same name. As a matter of fact, a-ha was not very happy with that version, which led to a dust-up with the filmmakers. As this song should lead you to have a dust-up with pretty much everyone in your organization. If you weren’t going to have one on general principle, I mean.

A Newspaper Editor On Performance Reviews

Friday, May 21st, 2010 by The Director

Newspaper editor Larry McCoy discusses his last performance review. Note that it expresses how many of us really feel, so the language is a little salty.

Sometimes, You Can Spot The Poor Speller

Thursday, May 20th, 2010 by The Director

The word misspelled in the image:


The misspelled word in the image
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But not in the alt text:


The word spelled correctly in the alt text
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That points not to the copywriter, but to the designer/producer for sloppy work.

And to the company putting it together for Lowe’s without, you know, checking it.

QA Anthem: Rockwell Asks, QA Answers

Monday, May 17th, 2010 by The Director

Dear Rockwell,

QA is watching you. And everyone else.

TroyBilt, QAHYBroke

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 by The Director

The TroyBilt Web site, particularly the part that allows you to buy parts for your TroyBilt outdoor maintenance equipment, drove me crazy when I tried to use it.

Here’s just one of many things awry:


Is that a pattern to match in your label, or are you just happy to see me?
Click for full size

Note the pattern provided by the phone number. In some phone numbers, parentheses go around the area code here in the United States. Because I am that way, I put parentheses around the whole thing to see what would happen. It gave me the above error message.

I fixed it. Then, as I was trying to opt into the newsletter to take a look at it and see if it was worthy of mockery, I entered an e-mail address and a password. The application returned new error messages from the server-side to tell me I needed a number in the password. So I cleared it out and tried again, but because it was server-side, it abandoned my credit card information, so I had to type that back in. Finally, I successfully ordered an out-of-date part I found looking at exploded diagrams of my new tiller which I rendered inoperative within 10 minutes of firing it up. The listing for the part told me the part was out of date, but I’ll be hung if I was going to spend any more time fishing around on the site to find it since it did not provide me a link to the updated part.

Gah. I feel bad for professionals who have to deal with that particular utility daily.

Funny, We Have The Same Message In Our Defect Tracker

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 by The Director

The state of Missouri has put a form on the Internet so that teenagers can anonymously report bullying behavior in their schools. As a normal piece of government work, it’s a bit of a slapdash form, but it does feature the following JavaScript validation message that matches one in our defect tracker:


Please select the type of violence in question 3
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Strangely, though, the state of Missouri’s form doesn’t have the option I select most: Ultra.

We’ve All Had This Demo

Monday, May 10th, 2010 by The Director

When demonstrating a collision detection system, a Volvo rams the back end of a truck. Because the collision detection system didn’t work, you see.

We’ve all sat through demos where this happens with our software. Sometimes very short demonstrations indeed.

In good news, the truck end was unharmed.

QA Anthem: Enter Sandman

Monday, May 10th, 2010 by The Director

Metallica’s Enter Sandman:

It’s a rousing song for QA, because we are the sandmen. This song celebrates the nightmares we create for dev and project management every night.

Rotation or Revolution

Thursday, May 6th, 2010 by The Director

This article on career rotation reminds me of a point.

In Big, the hit movie from the late 1980s, star Tom Hanks rises from a clerk in data processing—that’s what technology was called back then—to become vice president of product development for a toy company. That quantum leap in status and pay took him all of a week to pull off. Some would-be fast-trackers might call that the ideal job rotation.

Some companies have always encouraged ambitious employees to rotate out of their discipline—technology, finance, marketing, operations, etc.—and into a different department, often one in which they’d have to push themselves to succeed.

The rationale is simple: By seeing how other areas of the company operate—getting the proverbial big picture—an employee becomes more valuable, and the organization as a whole gains. Six to 18 months in a new assignment arms an employee with additional knowledge and layers of skills.

That career advice is more geared to people in big corporations who aren’t in tech jobs but managerial or other non-tech components (business analysts, project managers). Nobody is going to take a technical writer and try him out in QA, for example, or give him 18 months to taste development. However, rotation is important to keep your peeps, especially your QA bunnies, from burning out.

Let me explain. No, there is too much.

One of the shortest postings in my career came when I was put on a QA team on a long deathmarch of a multimillion (and I mean two) and multiyear (and I mean like four) project to develop a custom piece of software for a client. I joined the team some months in, when they had a mostly working Java desktop application (perish the thought! because the application surely perished). I started testing an area of it and tearing it up. The client didn’t like this, didn’t like that, wanted more of that, and altered the specs so that my employer had to change it. I spent nine months essentially testing the same features of the same application and often logging the same issues when I left.

Don’t do that to your testers. Let them see different things, different projects. If you swap them around, they get more experience with the gestalt of the application/business/et cetera as well as learn new techniques, technologies, and music fitting for QA when they work with different people.

Oh, That Checkbox

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 by The Director

I’d wondered why it had gotten so silent around here after the upgrade. Apparently, I forgot to let you people register or re-register for comments.

You long time commenters have discovered that your old logins did not survive the upgrade. I’m sorry about that. However, now if you so choose, there is a registration form so you can register again.

No doubt to tell me what a dunce of a blogger I am. You’re QA. I’d expect nothing less, and frankly, I deserve your opprobrium.

My Feelings On Meetings, Echoed

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 by The Director

Minnesota humorist James Lileks on meetings:

But. A fine day, even if it had a meeting. A meeting with many stakeholders. For the most part I want there to be one stakeholder, and I want it to be me, and I want the stake to be wooden, and I want to be holding it as it’s in the chest cavity of a vampire, who is dead. Anything else and you’re asking for trouble.

We’ve Got Answers, All Right

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 by The Director

An interesting split of job duties in this job posting:

You want the A?  You can't handle the A!

Testing and Q&A. I’m not sure if you’d be responsible for the answers or the questions or both. Maybe it would be something fun like Jeopardy! where you get answers and you have to provide the questions. I should apply. I love Jeopardy!

Wait, it’s a Q&A Analyst. Maybe you just have to score Q&A sessions, maybe in realtime. The CEO holds an all-hands meeting, and you sit in the back flashing number cards with every obfuscation he dissembles.

Twitter Feed Of The Day

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 by The Director

DeadByCubicle, apparently an office manager for a call center staffed by ex-convicts and whatnot.

Kinda reminds me of some of the places I’ve worked. The cool places.

Another Gestalt Test From A Children’s Book

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 by The Director

Hey, here’s another quick game of spot-the-defect from the children’s book Henry and Mudge and the Funny Lunch. Look at this page:


Henry and Mudge 1

Click for full size

Now, another page two pages hence:


Henry and Mudge 2

Click for full size

Now, who can spot the disconnect between the designer (artist) and developer (writer)?

Come on, Joe, you’re good at this.

QA Anthem: More Pink Floyd

Monday, May 3rd, 2010 by The Director

Here’s a bit more Pink Floyd to get you contemplating existence, QA, and the shape of things to break:

For my money, no song captures the role of QA in the SDLC quite like “Eclipse”.


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