Archive for September, 2010

QA Anthem: Time To Roll With Your Mates

Monday, September 6th, 2010 by The Director

Frankly, I cannot listen to this song without thinking of a street gang. Did I say a street gang? I meant my QA team.

Love and darkness and my sidearm. Hey, élan, indeed.

And our southside? Conference Room 2, baby. Where the status meeting happens.

Insights into Market Penetration and Tipping Points

Friday, September 3rd, 2010 by The Director

The Five Key Myths About HTML5 contains a lot of insight into market penetration and tipping points regarding new technologies, including browser market share and Flash version penetration.

There’s a tipping point where a technology reaches enough users to be worthwhile for designers and developers to use; however, the thesis is that HTML5 isn’t there yet.

But you can apply the lessons from the article to other technologies your organization might want to use.

The Other Testers

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010 by The Director

You know what you need to add to your standard testing repertoire?

On a recent Monday morning, inside an unremarkable, low-slung building in Yonkers, N.Y., blue-coated technicians conducted lab work. Among their calibrated tools: Cheez Whiz, pig’s blood and Maine coon cat hair.

They’re testers for Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine and website whose ratings drive spending decisions on some 3,000 product models annually, from vacuums and lawn mowers to strollers, shower heads and smoothies.

That’s some boundary analysis I wish I could try.

In the lab, technicians are always developing ways to accelerate the wear and tear products normally experience over the course of years. Treadmills, for instance, get pounded repeatedly with a spinning metal drum imbedded with rubber green balls that mimic running feet. (The device’s nickname: Johnnie Walker.) Stainless-steel grills are stationed in a conditioning chamber and pelted with a salty spray to test for rust potential. Sometimes the goal is to mimic extreme scenarios, like an accident, in which bicycle helmets get strapped on a metal head form and dropped from various heights onto sharp and rounded objects.

I try to apply that same sort of creativity when I face an application.

Meanwhile, do you suppose mechanical engineers around the world post comments on the Consumer Reports Web site about how no one would do that? Probably not, because unlike software “engineers,” mechanical engineers have a sense of shame.

Automated Testers, Take Note

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 by The Director

Don’t be held in contempt for Selenium discharges:

Patriot Coal Corp. was found in contempt of court by a federal judge on Wednesday and ordered to clean up selenium pollution at two mines in West Virginia.

I guess that’s not something a tester is going to do necessarily, but I don’t think it’s effective branding for the automated testing product.

Who’s Proofreading Your Error Messages?

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 by The Director

I was rolling through some programs (that is, contest Web sites) the other day, and I hit upon a motherlode of misspelled error messages:

Your need read and accept the official rules
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Field name in error message
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Entered Your Birthdate
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Some developers will make the case that the last one refers to the Your Birthdate field, but it’s still weird to read.

I’d like to point out that I did not have to troll a bunch of contests to find these three examples. This is three out of five I visited. In 60% of the Web sites I visited, the error messages contained misspellings and other problems (such as poor placement in the last case).

A user who encounters an error and then encounters your error message, if your error message is rife with misspellings or other problems, the user might think that the error was the fault of your crappy application and not his or her problem.

So you need to pay attention to your error messaging and display as much as any other feature of your application. Because if your error message isn’t part of the solution (that is, helping the user understand what’s wrong and how to fix it), it’s part of the problem.

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