Archive for the ‘Miscellany’ Category

Item 1 On The List: I Can’t Finish The List

Friday, February 5th, 2016 by The Director

When you log into Slack, it provides you an inspirational message. How positive of the program. This particular item always gets me:

The first item on the list is that I couldn’t complete the list in under 24 hours.

Then we get into the physically impossible.

What, this is a rhetorical question? Then why ask it?

That Could Have Afforded A Couple Testers

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016 by The Director

How to lose $172,222 a second for 45 minutes:

The tale has all the hallmarks of technical debt in a huge, unmaintained, bitrotten codebase (the bug itself due to code that hadn’t been used for 8 years), and a really poor, undisciplined devops story.

I’d always sworn I’d never work for a health devices or financial services company because the risks were so great.

Well, so far, I’m keeping half of that pledge.

I Feel Like I’m Repeating Myself

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016 by The Director

Twitter is all a-tweet about this news:

Internet Explorer has long been the bane of many Web developers’ existence, but here’s some news to brighten your day: Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10 are reaching ‘end of life’ on Tuesday, meaning they’re no longer supported by Microsoft.

Just because Microsoft stops supporting these things does not mean you can stop designing, developing, and testing for these old versions of IE on Wednesday.

When you’re thinking about browser compatibility, you have to judge based on actual market share and your user base’s browser statistics, not press releases.

Otherwise, you risk alienating a certain segment of your user base (“But just the uncool ones!” the kids will say) or frustrating your help desk who now has to handle the callers/emailers complaining about the site not working in IE 8.

(Actually, I am repeating myself.)

QA Music – Lee Aaron Threefer

Monday, January 4th, 2016 by The Director

I got the 1984 Lee Aaron album Metal Queen after the holidays. One listen, and I was transported back to that era amid some inexpensive smoke effects.

To celebrate, here are three Lee Aaron tracks, although only two come from Metal Queen.

“Barely Hanging On”:

“Head Above Water”:

And, of course, “Metal Queen”:

QAsmas Carols Round-Up

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015 by The Director

In case you’re not following me on Twitter, allow me to round up my contribution to this season’s list of QAsmas carols:

  • We pissed off the project managers,
    we pissed off the project managers,
    we pissed off the project managers,
    & hacked off the devs.
  • The Appbreaker Suite
  • Whose Fault Is This?
  • Good Thing Wetestedthis
  • Boundary (With Excess Overflow)
  • In a Build Unstable
  • Mark the Myriad Defects Closed
  • I Logged Three Bugs
  • O Tiny Bug
  • O Test This By Day’s End (Oh, Come On, You PM)
  • Server Farms Are Crashing On Down
  • I Saw Tommy Dissing Selenium
  • Check the Calls (with POSTs of Long Strings)
  • Let’s Futz with An Open File
  • Carol of the NULLs
  • Let Us “No”

Mastering the Art of The Year-End Performance Review

Thursday, December 10th, 2015 by The Director

The end of the year is upon us, and with it comes the annual review. Before you go into your performance review, you should plan your strategy to make your case and to put your best foot forward to get the best possible result. The following video offers good tips and tricks on how to wow your boss(es) in those reviews.

My Kind of Career Planning

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 by The Director

A cartoon in Barron’s answers the interview question, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?”

I Voted For Willcox

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 by The Director

I visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Web site almost daily, and whenever I clear my cookies and cache, the site prompts me to take a survey before I can access the content of an article.

One day, the intra-office rivalry at the marketing department or agency got a little intense as Willcox tried to prove he was the most popular person in the staff by holding a little popularity contest embedded in the polls.

By the end of the survey, even I was voting for Willcox.

Poor Masheika never stood a chance.

Dangerous, Some Interfaces Are

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015 by The Director

I’ve seen some computer interfaces that suffer from this problem:

This is dangerous, you see, because the text that says push here is the glass. Which is not really where you want to push; the user should push on the bar.

So when you’re testing, make sure to evaluate the design of the interface to ensure that the instructions are clear and that the text appropriately indicates what the user should do.

Not just close enough.

QA Music – I’m A Savage/It’s Automatic

Monday, September 14th, 2015 by The Director

Shinedown, “Cut the Cord”:

QA Music: The Choice Is Ours To Make

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015 by The Director

In the 21st century:

and:

Jeez, I need a jump front kick with guitar and some direct-to-video 80s action films, stat.

“Winner Takes It All” by Sammy Hagar. From the Stallone film Over the Top. Which was not, in fact, direct to video; it was a major theatrical release.

A Ping Pong Defect

Friday, August 28th, 2015 by The Director

While sitting in a restaurant, I saw that the closed captioning on the sports program was frequently emitting a string of random characters in the speech:

Forensically speaking, we could assume that this bug occurs in one of the following places:

  • The software transliterating the text to speech. That is, when the software encounters a certain condition, it puts a cartoon curse word into the data.
  • The network transmitting the information. That is, the transmission of the data introduces garbage.
  • The device displaying the transmitted information. That is, the television or satellite box that introduces the captions into the picture inserts the junk every two lines or so.

Okay, I’ll grant you the fourth option: That the broadcasters were actually cursing that much. However, given that the FCC has not announced fines daily, I’m willing to say that it’s nonzero, but unlikely.

The beauty of a defect that could occur almost anywhere, between disparate parts of the product and across different teams and technologies, means that it could ultimately be nobody’s fault. Well, if you ask one of the teams, it’s one of the other team’s fault.

You know, a little something squirrelly happens, you log a defect, and the server, interface, and design teams spend megabytes reassigning the defect to each other and disclaiming responsibility. It drives me nuts.

So what do you do? You find a product owner or someone who’ll take charge of it and pursue it across fiefdoms or who’ll put the screws to the varied factions until it gets fixed.

Because everybody’s got something they’d rather be working on than somebody else’s problem. Even if it’s everybody’s problem.

Apparently, The Screen Size In Production Is Different

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 by The Director

At least, I hope this is the result of the screen size being different in production than it was in the spec.

Otherwise, the implication would be that the interface was not tested.

Remember when you’re testing that the spec or requirements are merely suggestions, and you should go afield of your testing matrix as often as you can.

Suggestions For Your QA Mission Statement

Monday, August 24th, 2015 by The Director

Victor Frankenstein’s creation speaking in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein pretty much sums up my testing approach:

I will revenge my injuries: if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear; and chiefly towards you, my arch-enemy, because my creator, do I swear inextinguishable hatred. Have a care: I will work at your destruction, nor finish until I desolate your heard so that you shall curse the hour of your birth.

Nineteenth century curses are the best.

Here’s a statement of work from Frankenstein himself later in the book:

My present situation was one in which all voluntary thought was swallowed up and lost. I was hurried away by fury; revenge alone endowed me with strength and composure; it moulded my feelings and allowed me to be calculating and calm, at periods when otherwise delirium or death would have been my portion.

Extra Naughty Strings

Thursday, August 13th, 2015 by The Director

As the child of two former United States Marines, I already know plenty of naughty strings; however, a client pointed me to this resource on GitHub: Big List of Naughty Strings.

It is a pretty comprehensive list that includes a couple things not in my standard bag of tricks.

Until now.

Word for the Day: Recrudescence

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 by The Director

Recrudescence:

Recrudescence is the revival of material or behavior that had previously been stabilized, settled, or diminished. In medicine, it is the recurrence of symptoms in a patient whose blood stream infection has previously been at such a low level as not to be clinically demonstrable or cause symptoms, or the reappearance of a disease after it has been quiescent.

I don’t normally mention the mouthfeel of words, but this one has it.

I’m looking forward to using this when reopening bugs whose behavior recurs.

Also note I plan to mispronounce it as re-CRUD-escence.

QA Music: QA Origin Story

Monday, July 20th, 2015 by The Director

“Hell is where I was born/Hell is where I was raised….” Hellyeah doing “Hush”:

Great Moments in Industrial Design

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015 by The Director

I recently replaced an old timey thermostat that measured the temperature in Roman numerals with a new thermostat that the blister case said was programmable but that doesn’t know Java, Ruby, Python or C# at all (which is just as well, since any programming I did in those languages would undoubtedly set my household temperature to null.

Inside, though, note the guide to the internal switches, particularly the last:

To turn the battery monitor off, you have to set the switch to the on position. To turn the battery monitor off, you have to set the switch to the on position. It’s akin to clicking Cancel and getting a confirmation dialog box that has a Cancel button which is to cancel the cancellation and an OK button that is to actually cancel. If you mix in some confusing message on the dialog box to confound the user.

Look closer, though.

There is no switch #4 on the board.

Never mind, it’s more like a 404 error then.

It’s good to see our friends on the hardware side of things getting into the slapdash action we’re accustomed to in software development.

And by ‘good,’ I mean terrifying.

Today’s Required Reading

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 by The Director

7 timeless lessons of programming ‘graybeards’:

The software industry venerates the young. If you have a family, you’re too old to code. If you’re pushing 30 or even 25, you’re already over the hill.

Alas, the whippersnappers aren’t always the best solution. While their brains are full of details about the latest, trendiest architectures, frameworks, and stacks, they lack fundamental experience with how software really works and doesn’t. These experiences come only after many lost weeks of frustration borne of weird and inexplicable bugs.

Like the viewers of “Silicon Valley,” who by the end of episode 1.06 get the satisfaction of watching the boy genius crash and burn, many of us programming graybeards enjoy a wee bit of schadenfraude when those who have ignored us for being “past our prime” end up with a flaming pile of code simply because they didn’t listen to their programming elders.

(Link via tweet.)

Washington University Discovers Appropriate Tests for Testers

Monday, May 11th, 2015 by The Director

Well, no, they tested the eye-hand coordination of Albert Pujols a couple years ago, and the tests seem like they’d be applicable to testers as well:

White, who administers these tests frequently as part of her research and clinical work, was especially surprised by Pujols’ performance on two tests in particular, a finger-tapping exercise that measures gross motor performance and a letter cancellation task that measures ability to conduct rapid searches of the environment to locate a specific target.

Asked to place a mark through a specific letter each time it appeared on a page of randomly positioned letters, Pujols used a search strategy that White had never witnessed in 18 years of administering the test.

“What was remarkable about Mr. Pujols’ performance was not his speed but his unique visual search strategy,” White said. “Most people search for targets on a page from left to right, much as they would when reading. In observing Mr. Pujols’ performance, I initially thought he was searching randomly. As I watched, however, I realized that he was searching as if the page were divided into sectors. After locating a single target within a sector, he moved to another sector. Only after locating a single target within each sector, did he return to previously searched sectors and continue his scan for additional targets.”

Asked to depress a tapper with his index finger as many times as possible in 10 seconds, Pujols scored in the 99th percentile, a score almost identical to one earned by Ruth on a similar test of movement speed and endurance. White was impressed not only by Pujols’ tapping speed (2.4 standard deviations faster than normal), but also by the fact that his performance kept improving after repeated trials.

“It was interesting that he actually tapped faster in later trials of the task, suggesting considerable stamina at a high level of performance,” White noted. “Most people tap somewhat slower as the test progresses because their fingers and hands begin to fatigue.”

Pujols tapped with such force, in fact, that, at one point, he actually knocked the tapping key out of alignment. Pujols then helped White repair the finger tapper, tightening a loosened screw with his fingernail, she said.

On additional test I’d pose is: How many members of an agile team can you depress in ten seconds?


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