Archive for August, 2010

An Example QA Has Already Tried

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 by The Director

The instructions for this database of teacher salaries in Missouri has an interesting example:

A Null example
click for full size

The instructions? — To see results for people with the last name of “Null” type in Null*.

Hey, that’s always a good idea. What happens if I search for/enter null?

In this case, we discover that there are a lot of Nulls making good money teaching in the state of Missouri.

But I can tell a lot of thought went into writing that sample search term. Thought that could better have been spent on the title tag for the page.

QA Anthem: Channel Self-Loathing Into Something Positive

Monday, August 30th, 2010 by The Director

Who hasn’t felt like this?

The key is to take it out on the software, brothers and sisters. It’s not just a vocation, it’s therapy.

Reminders for Designers, Developers

Thursday, August 26th, 2010 by The Director

Found on the Twitterverse: 10 things non-technical users don’t understand about your software:

If you are writing consumer software you have to understand that you and your average user have a very different level of understanding of computers. When you first start doing support it can be a shock to realize just how vast this gulf is. It doesn’t mean that your users are stupid, just that they haven’t spent the thousands of hours in front of a computer that you have.

This echoes the Roberta scenario that I outlined earlier. When your development staff and design staff get together to design something, they need to remember that not everycat is as hep as they are, dig? Complication, and deviation from other interface standards, will induce user error, and the worst bugs of all are the bugged users.

When One Becomes Two

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 by The Director

So your designers have constrained the input length on your application so you cannot enter more characters than the database can handle. If the developers force the string into all caps, have I got a nasty little trick for you. Ladies and gentlemen, the German eszett:

Also, the eszett or scharfes S (ß) is used. It exists only in a lowercase version since it can never occur at the beginning of a word (there are a few loan words starting with an s followed by a z (e.g. Szegediner Krautfleisch but that is not the same as the eszett which counts as one letter).

In all caps it is converted to SS….

There’s a new unicode symbol for the capital version, but a lot of old applications will still force that into an SS. So a word like confuße might get uppercased to CONFUSSE, and if you set the string to the maxlength, uppercasing it will blow that up.

To be honest, I did discover this when I was working on an application for a German customer and I (and only I of a team of far more seasoned QA people than I at the time) sought out the German alphabet to learn its vagaries.

I just ruined a little of my mystique, didn’t I?

However, if your application might possibly be localized to German, you have my permission to use this. Use this new power only for good. Strangely, though, QA good means evil to everyone else, but that’s not our fault.

Does Your Software Support The New Punctuation?

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 by The Director

It’s not as legitimate as the Indians making up a new symbol for the rupee, but a company in Michigan has made up its own punctuation and is happy to sell the character to you for $1.99:

A Michigan company announced the release of software Tuesday that introduces new punctuation to the typed word: The sarcasm mark.

Sarcasm Inc. of Washington Township said the SarcMark, which resembles an open circle with a dot in the center, can be installed on computers via a program that can be downloaded from for $1.99.

It’s almost worth $1.99 just for how much it will annoy your developers.

(Link seen here.)

The BBC Fail Clown

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 by The Director

You’ve heard of the Twitter Fail Whale? Here’s the BBC Fail Clown:

The Fail Clown
Click for full size

Try harder to not fail again, or again you must face the creepy dead clown.

UPDATE: Reader Hal L., no relation to Superman’s father, informs me that this is Bubbles the Clown from the BBC’s Test Card F. Gee, thanks. Giving him a name hasn’t reduced the creep factor for me any, and seeing the actual test card with the little girl who looks like a character from a Stephen King novel if I’ve ever seen one will give my nightmares new texture.

Will Designers Hold Funerals For Flash?

Monday, August 23rd, 2010 by The Director

Remember when Google held a mock funeral for IE6, and the designers had a party?

Do you think they’ll do the same if Flash goes the way of the dodo?

I’m the last person on earth who wanted to believe Steve Jobs when he told Walt Mossberg at D8 that “Flash has had its day.” I took it as nothing more than showmanship when Jobs shared his thoughts on Flash and wrote that “Flash is closed and proprietary, has major technical drawbacks, and doesn’t support touch based devices.” After spending time playing with Flash Player 10.1 on the new Droid 2, the first Android 2.2 phone to come with the player pre-installed, I’m sad to admit that Steve Jobs was right. Adobe’s offering seems like it’s too little, too late.

So, who’s up for some Silverlight?

(Link seen here.)

QA Music: Berating Satan

Monday, August 23rd, 2010 by The Director

More Motley Crue for you:

If you can shout at the devil, you can certainly convince that developer that a blue screen probably is a critical defect and not a medium, fix-if-we-have-time priority.

Load Testing Asterisks

Friday, August 20th, 2010 by The Director

I’ve recently engaged to do some load testing oversight, and as such, this required some different asterisks for my estimate than my regular functional testing estimates. Some are applicable to load testing in general, but some are specific to the role I’ve taken as sort of a project manager wielding a prod over a third company that will provide the actual scripting and running of the tests.

Here are the asterisks I came up with, the torpedoes that could sink the project or, at the very least, the estimate:

  • Problems with the environment or application require additional work. If the testing environment is not configured correctly or does not mirror the anticipated production environment, the load tests might require additional starting/stopping and run times.
  • Functional defects impede test scripts. If the test scripts encounter functional defects, the load tests might require additional iterations after defects have been corrected.
  • Functional workflow remains the same between load tests. This estimate anticipates that corrections to any defects/load issues found will not require refactoring or rewriting the test scripts. If the application changes in such a fashion, the test team will need additional time to adjust and retest the scripts.
  • Communication between test liaison and test vendor runs smoothly.

What other factors would you add to this list? Why do I bother with these open-ended questions? Because I just like the sound of my own keyboard clicking (yeah, it’s an old school keyboard).

For a more positive spin on load testing efforts, see 7 Steps to Load Testing Bliss.

If You’re Comfortable With Your Quality, I’m Not

Friday, August 20th, 2010 by The Director

A quote in the back of a Baseline magazine got me to thinking.

When asked to characterize their ability to thwart internal breaches, only 34% of respondents are ‘very confident,’ but that response rises to 56 percent [sic] when respondents are asked about their ability to thwart external breaches. – Deloitte’s 2010 Financial Services Security Survey

Frankly, in the QAHY school of QA philosophy, any confidence is overconfidence. If you think you’re catching the bugs and are ready to open the bar, you’re probably missing something, and it’s not going to miss you.

The Best Volunteers Money Can Buy

Thursday, August 19th, 2010 by The Director

MelBugai asked:

Anyone seen this software testing company before? I’m so very skeptical,

A testing company that uses a number instead of a word in its name? Dubious. One looking for resources, and by “resources,” I mean “Volunteers”:

Now seeking expert volunteers
Click for full size

I could do actual work for you, and I get to include that on my resume? Let me think about that. Sounds about as much fun as testing an open source project, except with the knowledge that you’re making money from my servitude.

I just have to ask you one question: if you’re hiring experienced tester who are working for free even though you’re paying for it, what sort of service do you think you’re getting?

SQL Injection Cheat Sheet

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 by The Director

Here’s a SQL Injection Cheat Sheet for you.

Remember to check your form fields for these bad dogs when you can.

(Link courtesy the Twitterverse.)

Two Menus For Multitasking

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 by The Director

I’m really starting to fall out of love with Firefox. It’s becoming a resources hog, makes coming out of hibernation take a long time, and constantly doesn’t play nice with Flash these days. Additionally, I get this particular condition frequently:

Two menus, no waiting

Click for full size

This occurs if you have a large number of tabs open, taxing the browser, and then you use the keyboard to open the Bookmark menu (ALT, then B, then down arrow to start moving down it). Sometimes, it throws open the file menu and then leaves it open when you expose the Bookmarks menu.

On a severity scale, this is a low/cosmetic defect, but it just adds to the sense that the application is turning to crap.

How many cosmetic bugs does your organization think it can leave in a released application before the user thinks it’s crap? I bet the real number is far lower than your dev team thinks it is.

Maybe That’s Protecting The Intellectual Property Too Much

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010 by The Director

I found this hanging out of the receipt printer at a gas pump:

Aggressive IP protection

You know, if you’re copyrighting your single line test messages, maybe you’re overdoing it a little.

Does anyone want to guess whether this printer was untested or whether concerns about the inappropriate nature of this copyright were undiscovered or ignored?

I think I’ll go with tested, but undiscovered.

QA Music: A QA Boy Can Survive

Monday, August 16th, 2010 by The Director

A bit of Bocephus to start the week:

Sure, it’s a country song, but it’s a gritty country song about self-reliance. You know what? QA ain’t respected much among the cool kids in IT, but we maintain our own machines and computer labs, design and develop tests and test scripts, and divine the ill intentions of developers and project managers and act accordingly. QA can do it all, and sometimes we’d like to spit some beechwood into them dudes’ eyes.

Also, note Junior once fell off of a mountain and broke himself up so badly that his brain was exposed to the open air. And that’s before his best years of recording. He’s tough enough for QA.

The School of Hard Designers

Friday, August 13th, 2010 by The Director

I know what these students will be qualified for:

Shcool is cloo

Apparently, this is not a photoshop.

Today’s students, tomorrow’s interface interns.

(Link via Ed Dricsoll.)

Apologies Where Apologies Are Due

Thursday, August 12th, 2010 by The Director

To keep spam down and whatnot, I delete a lot of new user registrations if they don’t look like they have QA names or e-mail addresses, if I don’t recognize the name, or if you don’t immediately leave a comment. I apologize if I’ve deleted your user account by mistake. This means you, Petr, for sure and maybe some others.

So if you want a user account on the site, be sure to pipe up.

Is That An Error Enumerator?

Thursday, August 12th, 2010 by The Director

An error on the Comedy Central embedded media player:

Error #

I see an error message and a number. Is that an error enumerator?

Regardless, this is a troubleshooting message. This is not a message for the user. An error message to the user ought to include some sort of instruction to the user as what he can try to recover from the developer’s screw up.

But the lazy development program that allows these bugs is also the lazy development program that doesn’t bother to include good messages.

A Proper QA Vacation

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 by The Director

This trip was restful.

Toyland Safari

Although, to be honest, tracking down some bugs is harder.

QA Music: Screaming for Vengeance

Monday, August 9th, 2010 by The Director

gimlet thinks my British readers might fancy some Judas Priest.

Sometimes you can have your pudding before you eat your meat. But you’ve got the rest of the week to tear and rend.

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