Archive for August, 2011

Gotta Collect Them All

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 by The Director

My first 417 Server Error, I think:

All errors can be considered 417 errors in this area code

Here’s a checklist of them all. I can mark this one off.

This error occurred on a page-initiated reload, which makes it double awesome.

QA Music: Nintendo Metal

Monday, August 29th, 2011 by The Director

How was I not informed of the genre of music called Nintendo metal?

DragonForce: Through Fire and Rain

Yeah, you know you’re going to need some of that. Here are some handy links:

Only Google Can Multiply By Infinity

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 by The Director

Take a look at this image; the original is infinitely larger than the thumbnail:

To infinity, and beyond!

As big as an image scaled infinityx seems, any mathematician knows there are at least two numbers larger than infinity.

And when Google discovers them, it will become self-aware.

About Those Users Of Yours

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 by The Director

Trust them to be computer savvy? Your first mistake.

This week, I talked with Dan Russell, a search anthropologist at Google, about the time he spends with random people studying how they search for stuff. One statistic blew my mind. 90 percent of people in their studies don’t know how to use CTRL/Command + F to find a word in a document or web page! I probably use that trick 20 times per day and yet the vast majority of people don’t use it at all.

“90 percent of the US Internet population does not know that. This is on a sample size of thousands,” Russell said. “I do these field studies and I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve sat in somebody’s house as they’ve read through a long document trying to find the result they’re looking for. At the end I’ll say to them, ‘Let me show one little trick here,’ and very often people will say, ‘I can’t believe I’ve been wasting my life!'”

Most computer users are not computer professionals, and many of them don’t spend 10 hours a day at the keyboard. Remember!

QA Music: Fell On Black Days

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 by The Director

A little QA power ballad from Soundgarden:

Keep This In Mind When Negotiating Salary

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 by The Director

Mean people make more money:

It may not pay to be nice in the workplace.

A new study finds that agreeable workers earn significantly lower incomes than less agreeable ones. The gap is especially wide for men.

The researchers examined “agreeableness” using self-reported survey data and found that men who measured below average on agreeableness earned about 18% more—or $9,772 more annually in their sample—than nicer guys. Ruder women, meanwhile, earned about 5% or $1,828 more than their agreeable counterparts.

Wouldn’t this then predict that QA should be by far the best compensated sector of the IT industry? Well, it would, but come on: We all know too many QA people who are too nice and let the developers get away with anything. They’re dragging our average down.

(Link seen here.)

Out: Monkey Testing. In: Otter Testing

Monday, August 15th, 2011 by The Director

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Text story here.

Come on: we’re all submitting budgets for next year with a line item for trained elephant, aren’t we?

QA Music: I’ll Be Mellow When I’m Dead

Monday, August 15th, 2011 by The Director

Into every life, some Weird Al must fall:

Not to put too fine a point on it, but that song is from his debut album from 1983, which is 28 years ago. That would make it a, what’s the word I’m looking for here, oh, yeah, oldie. It’s like listening, in 1983, to “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” or Dinah Shore sing.

That would make me, what’s the word for it, oh, yeah, old.

Is The Savings Worth All Your Money?

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 by The Director

Don’t have enough money in the budget for adequate QA, including penetration testing? How much do you have in your total bank account, then? Hackers Shift Attacks to Small Firms:

Recent hacking attacks on Sony Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. grabbed headlines. What happened at City Newsstand Inc. last year did not.

Unbeknownst to owner Joe Angelastri, cyber thieves planted a software program on the cash registers at his two Chicago-area magazine shops that sent customer credit-card numbers to Russia. MasterCard Inc. demanded an investigation, at Mr. Angelastri’s expense, and the whole ordeal left him out about $22,000.

His experience highlights a growing threat to small businesses. Hackers are expanding their sights beyond multinationals to include any business that stores data in electronic form. Small companies, which are making the leap to computerized systems and digital records, have now become hackers’ main target.

“Who would want to break into us?” asked Mr. Angelastri, who says the breach cut his annual profit in half. “We’re not running a bank.”

With limited budgets and few or no technical experts on staff, small businesses generally have weak security.

The story lists a number of people and businesses who have run into serious financial difficulty or ruin after someone attacked their small businesses.

Unfortunately, in a lot of these cases, the small businesses are buying off-the-shelf solutions from vendors who themselves are small businesses that do not budget QA into their software development, which adds a layer of abstraction to the problem since the people who are ultimately on the hook don’t know the questions to ask and the people who do know don’t suffer directly from cutting out the QA man and passing those savings onto you.

If you plan to buy some software from a small vendor, it would behoove you to ask about their quality assurance and testing practices. Especially if you’re hooking that software up to your bank account.

Also, it might not be a bad idea to hire some technical support help or have the guy at your local computer shop stop by and secure your PCs, too.

QA Music: Doesn’t Matter Anyway

Monday, August 8th, 2011 by The Director

Remind me again, why are we here?

Look For What’s Not There

Thursday, August 4th, 2011 by The Director

Let’s all play Abraham Ward:

During WWII, Hungarian-born mathematician Abraham Wald undertook a study with the British Air Ministry to use statistical analysis to help protect bombers flying over enemy territory. The data to be crunched included the number and location of bullet holes on returning aircraft, and the goal was to use this information to determine where to best add armor to the plane’s structure.

A nifty little chart was created to show where the maximum number of bullet holes were located on returning aircraft. This chart showed the greatest damage not on the main wing and tail spars, engines, and core fuselage areas, but rather on the aircraft extremities. Based on this, the Air Ministry suggested adding armor to those extremities. Wald suggested they were dead wrong.

Wald said more armor should go on the places that had the least holes. Huh? What was he thinking?

Wald was keeping the Air Ministry from falling into the “survivorship bias”: they were forgetting the their data did not include the planes that had been lost. If the returning planes had no holes in their wing spars and engines, the better assumption to make is that even a few holes in those places were deadly: no damage was recorded in those areas because those planes were the ones that had crashed. Wald recommended more armor in those data-free areas.

That’s a good lesson for testing and quality assurance. Apply them thusly:

  • Your requirements lack certain conditions and workflows to account for. You can hope users will follow your happy paths, but what if they do not?
  • If certain elements of the application are not yielding defects, you’re not testing them enough. You’ll find something to complain about everywhere if you look.
  • If your customers aren’t calling the help desk with questions or problems about certain features, they’re not using them. Can you drop some? Seriously, you want to give every user an avatar that only shows on login and on the edit profile page. Why do you hate humanity?
  • If certain people don’t play foosball with QA, what, are they some kind of continental foosball snobs afraid of three men on the goalie rod and unable to handle the patented QA bank-off-of-the-side-of-the-rightmost-man-on-the-goalie-rod slop shot?

(Note this story did appear on SQA Forums, but I saw it elsewhere since I don’t loiter over there much these days.)

Is Your Automated Testing A Mechanical Turk?

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 by The Director

The Mechanical Turk was a chess-playing device constructed in the 18th century that used a complex set of gears and pistons and whatnot to play chess. Well, it used those things to convey the impression that it was playing chess. Instead, a man sat hidden inside the machine to do the actual work:

The Turk, the Mechanical Turk or Automaton Chess Player was a fake chess-playing machine constructed in the late 18th century. From 1770 until its destruction by fire in 1854, it was exhibited by various owners as an automaton, though it was exposed in the early 1820s as an elaborate hoax.[1] Constructed and unveiled in 1770 by Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734–1804) to impress the Empress Maria Theresa, the mechanism appeared to be able to play a strong game of chess against a human opponent, as well as perform the knight’s tour, a puzzle that requires the player to move a knight to occupy every square of a chessboard exactly once.

The Turk was in fact a mechanical illusion that allowed a human chess master hiding inside to operate the machine. With a skilled operator, the Turk won most of the games played during its demonstrations around Europe and the Americas for nearly 84 years, playing and defeating many challengers including statesmen such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. Although many had suspected the hidden human operator, the hoax was initially revealed only in the 1820s by the Londoner Robert Willis.[2] The operator(s) within the mechanism during Kempelen’s original tour remains a mystery. When the device was later purchased in 1804 and exhibited by Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, the chess masters who secretly operated it included Johann Allgaier, Boncourt, Aaron Alexandre, William Lewis, Jacques Mouret, and William Schlumberger.

If you’re automation effort requires the active, ongoing effort of someone to keep the fragile scripts built with an unperfect test tool up-to-date with the application, you’re not building an automated test suite–you’re building The Turk.

QA Music: More of The Lonely Island

Monday, August 1st, 2011 by The Director

“Cool Guys Don’t Look At Explosions”:

Oh, like I’m the only one who imagines myself walking away in slow motion from a stack trace I just caused.


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