Archive for September, 2012

When That SaaS You Use Goes Night-Night

Friday, September 28th, 2012 by The Director

So I’m having a devil of a time finding just one crushable c-crown black fedora with a 4″ crown and 2 or 2 1/4″ brim in large or size 7 1/4. The ones from Zappos are all contemporary, short brim hats that make the wearer look like Jimmy Olsen.

So, I went through my options and tried to implement Desperation Plan B, Acquire Wool Felt To Make Own Hat.

So I thought about Joann Fabrics, which might have felt, or wool that I can felt:

Joann Fabrics of Time and Space

Down at the bottom, it has a link to a store locator, wherein I could find out how early I can go into the store since I’m not sleeping so well without my hat (note: you actually can clutch a crushable felt fedora to your chest while you sleep, and it will snap back into shape when it’s time to slip into the rain).

So I click the store locator link, and:

The third party software has gone night-night, and not in the queen-with-a-sword-way.

The company apparently uses a third party bit of software that has gone night-night, and not in the cool queen with a sword way.

Which brings to mind a pretty good question: What do you do if your third party applications stop working? Do you have a back-up plan for an important Web site feature like the store locator? Do you just hope to wait it out and hope your vendor has not just been shut down by an overzealous government prosecutor in New Zealand? How fast do you act? Do you hide the link immediately while you frantically call your vendor’s customer support line, whose technician has left that particular cell phone in the club last night?

These are important questions to ask when choosing a third party piece of software, especially one sold as a service. It’s a bad thing to have to decide very suddenly.

And thank you for your concern about my ongoing hat situation. I’m back to Desperation Plan A: Hanging Out In Blues Bars and Hoping To Win A Cool Hat in a Poker Game or Steal One.

Tips on Working With QA

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 by The Director

Working with Someone You Don’t Like?

Summary: It’s all in your head as you resent your own shortcomings and project them onto QA. Which is not perfect, but is better than you.

Strike That. No, That.

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 by The Director

So I wore a hole in my favorite fedora, and I now live in a city without a hat shop in it. Not so much because it’s a small city, but because not many cities have hat shops any more. Well, the malls have baseball cap shops, but do you think I’m the sort of man who wears a baseball cap?

So I go to Zappos because I know they have a very liberal return policy, and I fully expect that I’ll have to try on and return a dozen or more hats before I settle on one (to illustrate: On my last visit to the venerable Donges in the venerable Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I tried on so many hats that the discouraged salesman muttered to a coworker that I wasn’t going to buy anything. I bought my third fedora that day).

And I browsed and I searched Zappos, and as I was looking the site over, I noticed something.

When you filter by brand, size, variety, color, and so on, it adds the filters to a pseudo-breadcrumb trail looking list above the individual selections. You can click the filter to remove it. Me, I was looking for the filter to eliminate hipsters wearing their fedora brims turned up. Come on, guys, what’s the deal? The brim is for keeping the sun off, not for catching the rain, you twee tweethings.

And I noticed something:

The Zappos misstrike, which would be a cool name for a Robert Ludlum novel

When you mouse over one of the terms, the tooltip explains you can click it to remove it. But the filters immediately to the right displays in the <strike> form with a line through the text.

Looks like someone got his or her index values mixed up in an array.

You know how you find these things? You mouse over the damn things. Or you don’t, and you don’t find them.

Me? I mouse over them.

(I know, you’re wondering: how does one wear a hole in a fedora? Well, my fourth fedora here, which I bought at a hat shop in Memphis just off the train tracks in 1997 or 1998, I wore almost daily for many years, gave it a breather, and have worn it again daily for some time. The hole is at the fold in the crown at the front where you grab it to take the hat off or to put it on. It’s also the spot that touches the pavement when you’ve got the fedora upside down on the sidewalk while you’re Street QAin’ for tips. So it’s natural that it would wear unevenly here. Strangely enough, my fourth fedora lasted longer than the first three.)

QA, Educator

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 by The Director

Over at Dice TV, Cat Miller identifies some of the things software engineers don’t learn in school:

I agree with many of the things she presents, but I’d also like to point out what other thing computer science students don’t learn in school that’s important, but often overlooked: Domain knowledge.

It’s not the same as listening to your customer, because your customer and/or user has one perspective on domain knowledge, and it might not be deep nor broad. The customer might have just started the job last week and is trying to tell you how to write software to assist him with a job that he doesn’t know how to do himself.

Can you write computer software without domain knowledge? Yes. Heck, my whole schtick is that I don’t need a lot of domain knowledge when testing an application because software fails in predictable places because it’s software, irrespective of industry.

But I do pick up some domain knowledge from a little research to help supplement my understanding of how the user will use the software and to try to predict some patterns of behavior that real users will attempt when confronted with this strange piece of programming during the workday.

I’m not keeping it very secret, am I? Because I want the developers to pay attention to it, too. And project managers. And client engagement vice presidents. Try to glean a little about the problems the software is trying to solve instead of just solutions presented to you to code. Because where your assumptions and their assumptions differ, danger lies.

QA Music: Metrics

Monday, September 24th, 2012 by The Director

Well, the song is called “Still Counting” by Volbeat.

If I ever present at a conference, you can bet this will be the song that plays as I ascend the stage.

Uh, language warning.

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