“Lie to me,” the computer said.

June 13th, 2017 by The Director

I wonder if I could do nothing but posts about CAPTCHAs and what they can teach us; after all, this is my second one recently (see also.)

But here’s another one.

You see, it says Select all squares with street signs, but there are no street signs in the image.

Which made me think of all the forms that ask us to put something into edit boxes other than what the labels describe.

Do your labels all give proper patterns for data entry? Ask for the right thing? Are your end users doing strange workarounds and using data elements to contain different things than expected?

Is your application or your customer support team telling the user to lie to it to make the application work right?

That’s a problem, you know.

Of course you know. But make sure everyone else knows, too.

Here, Hold My Beer Place

June 12th, 2017 by The Director

Putting placeholder text in edit boxes in addition to (or, heaven forfend, instead of) labels became all the rage sometime recently (and, by recently, I’m using the old man’s yardstick of sometime in the last decade).

Placeholder text

Which leads to a simple test often overlooked:

What happens if I type that placeholder text into the edit box?

Now, ungentle reader, what should happen is that the string you type replaces the sample text. If your developers/designers are kludging the equivalent of a placeholder attribute into the control, you might end up typing at the end of the placeholder string which is a bit inconvenient for your users, particularly those who type without clicking on the edit box first (aka your keyboard-loving users).

Now, what happens when you submit?

Well, if the placeholder string fits within the constraints of the data string you can enter in the edit box, your application should accept it.

However, I’ve found situations where the placeholder text, when typed into the edit box, trigger validation messages because the validation logic looked for the placeholder text. This is less a problem when the placeholder text is “First name” but more a problem when the placeholder is “John”.

I got the idea for this post when I typed the placeholder text for an online import edit box that accepts a URL. The sample URL apparently resolves to a real Web site, but one which returns an HTTP 599 error due to a bad certificate (which led to a defect report about an unhelpful error message for HTTP 599 errors).

But typing the placeholder text into edit boxes can prove to be a test that occasionally bears bad fruit. Like any test.

QA Music: Fail Early, Fail Fast

June 5th, 2017 by The Director

Paralandra, “All Fall Down”:

Well, it’s our job to make the software fail early and fail fast.

I Cannot Follow The Instructions

May 25th, 2017 by The Director

The instructions on this Captcha are pretty clear:

Select all the images with cars
Click verify once there are none left

Clearly, I cannot click the sample image. So I can never click Verify.

Remember, kids, when the interface change, make sure to check that the text around the interface elements and instructions as to how to use the interface change to match. In this case, they probably added the sample image after inserting the text.

I would say “Make sure your documentation is correct,” but, ha, ha, what is this, 1997? Nobody writes documentation any more.

QA Music: Only Days Ending In -y

May 22nd, 2017 by The Director

The Mothers of Invention, “Trouble Every Day”:

Don’t just watch the trouble. Be the trouble. For your developers, anyway.

Good Enough For Government Work

May 16th, 2017 by The Director

A consulting company offers this Information Assurance Engineer position to residents of Springfield, Missouri.

Except the job is actually located at Fort Belvoir. Which is near Springfield, Virgina.

A little off-by-1000-miles error.

But good enough for government contract recruiters.

Test Data In Production Leads To Legal Problems

May 16th, 2017 by The Director

Yabba-dabba-darn: Flintstones block sale of Ont. woman’s van:

Documents show fictional characters Fred Flintstone and his daughter, Pebbles, have taken out very real liens against a Perth, Ont. woman’s van.

. . . .

Documents obtained by CTV Toronto show Fred and Pebbles Flintstone listed as debtors claiming liens against Maureen’s vehicle. Their address is listed a 9 Yellow Brick Road, Markham, Ont.
The registering agent is listed as “PPSR Test Data1,” which suggests the lien may have been created as part of a Service Ontario system test. The documents also show other vehicle numbers under liens from the Flintstones, which could trigger more stone-age issues for other motorists.

On the other hand, the software was probably only wildly and not cancellingly over budget and just a couple years late. Incorrect data and legal battles of unknowing users of the software is a small price to pay!

(Source: Someone who reads Fark so I don’t have to.)

QA Music – You Gotta Be

May 15th, 2017 by The Director

Not Des’ree. Motionless in White, “Loud”:

You gotta be loud
You gotta be rude
so the world can hear you
You gotta be crass
You gotta be cold
it’s everything we know

So just be yourself, testers.

I Don’t Envy The Embedded Software Guys

May 12th, 2017 by The Director

It’s hard enough to try to cover all the combinations in desktop and mobile software, or at least the few combinations you can think of that are deemed worthy of testing before shoving it out the door. I can’t even imagine what it’s like on industrial or embedded applications.

So I feel for the guys who didn’t find this:

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said Friday it would recall more than 1.25 million pickup trucks worldwide to address a software error linked to reports of one crash death and two injuries.

The error code could temporarily disable the side air bag and seat belt pretensioner deployment during a vehicle rollover spurred by a significant underbody impact, such as striking onroad debris or driving off-road, the Italian-American automaker said.

Unless there are no testers or someone said, “Who’s going to have a rollover spurred by underbody impact? What is this, Tremors? DEFECT REJECTED!”

In which case I only feel for the users and the former users.

QA Music – Anti-Everything

May 8th, 2017 by The Director

Ded, “Anti Everything”:

Especially Mondays.

QA Music: The Best Load Testing Song Ever

April 24th, 2017 by The Director

Kenny Loggins, “Danger Zone”

You know that’s what I listen to when I set the load testing tool to ramming speed.

QA Music: A Software Testing Career Is A Long, Hard Road

April 17th, 2017 by The Director

Ozzy Osbourne, “The Road to Nowhere”

Which is from one of Ozzy Osbourne’s comeback albums, almost twenty-five years ago, old man.

Only One Computer Program On This List? We Can Do Better!

April 13th, 2017 by The Director

The 5 Most Disastrous Typos In Human History

Fortunately, the interconnected world of Internet of Things and the electronificiation and softwarization of everything will make this list look quite different in ten years, I expect.

Live Action Test Playing

March 30th, 2017 by The Director

Apparently, Amazon is having trouble with its Go store:

Amazon Go is a no go so far.

Amazon postponed the grand opening of its Amazon Go store due to technical difficulties.

Scheduled to debut in early 2017, the small convenience store concept eliminates checkout lines by allowing shoppers with an Amazon Go app to grab what they want from the store and walk out.

The Wall Street Journal says Amazon is having trouble tracking more than 20 customers at a time and keeping tabs on merchandise moved from store shelves.

The store is currently only open to Amazon workers who have been shopping as beta testers before the general public can give it a shot.

Man, I would love to get involved in a project like that. If testing computer stuff is like a tabletop role-playing game, testing that sort of thing would be like a full-scale mock battle at a Society for Creative Anachronism meet-up.

Think of all the crazy things you’d have to try. Juggling the produce before putting it in your cart. Passing the same item among multiple people. Putting the things back in the wrong place and having someone pick them up. And the shoplifting.

Here is a couple things you’d have to consider.

An In Depth Look At Browser Scrolling

March 17th, 2017 by The Director

Over at the Microsoft Edge blog, Nolan Lawson has an in-depth look of the simple scroll:

Scrolling is one of the oldest interactions on the web. Long before we had pull-to-refresh or infinite-loading lists, the humble scrollbar solved the web’s original scaling problem: how can we interact with content that’s stretched beyond the available viewport?

Today, scrolling is still the most fundamental interaction on the web, and perhaps the most misunderstood. For instance, do you know the difference between the following scenarios?

  • User scrolls with two fingers on a touch pad
  • User scrolls with one finger on a touch screen
  • User scrolls with a mouse wheel on a physical mouse
  • User clicks the sidebar and drags it up and down
  • User presses up, down, PageUp, PageDown, or spacebar keys on a keyboard

As you might recall, I onct wrote a song about it: “There Must Be Fifty Ways To Scroll Your Window“.

The piece on the Edge blog goes into greater detail that your developers might find interesting.

If You Don’t Do It Because Jim Holmes and I Told You To….

March 16th, 2017 by The Director

Use the serial/Oxford comma because the Maine courts say you should:

If you have ever doubted the importance of the humble Oxford comma, let this supremely persnickety Maine labor dispute set you straight.

. . . .

This is what the law says about activities that do NOT merit overtime pay. Pay attention to the first sentence:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.

Of course, the Oxford comma gets all the credit, but note the parallel construction also makes it clear which verbs apply: Canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing are gerunds. Shipment and distribution are not. If they were to be included as equivalent, they would be shipping and distributing.

So take the advice of your humble Director: Use the serial comma and parallel construction–verbs ending in -ing, infinitives, gerunds (which are verbs ending in -ing that act as nouns as in the above example), and so on–to clearly express items that are the same in the purpose of the sentence.

Writing and to express oneself clearly are incorrect and confusing.

What’s The Craziest Test You Always Perform?

March 14th, 2017 by The Director

In my back pocket, where normal people carry pictures of their families, I have a list of common things I test every time I encounter a new application. It includes old favorites like the Hamlet test and new favorites like assorted comment strings, but nestled amongst the almost indistinguishable lines of random text, I have a set of SQL keywords:

SELECT FROM WHERE GROUP BY HAVING ORDER BY INSERT UPDATE WHERE MERGE DELETE BEGIN WORK START TRANSACTION COMMIT ROLLBACK CREATE DROP TRUNCATE ALTER

I added this back when I was doing a lot of testing for a company that used an offshore development team for much of its development work, and the offshore team was prone to making the same coding mistakes from project to project. I discovered at one point that they were preventing SQL injection attacks by barring users from entering SQL keywords in edit boxes. So I added the line to the list of tests lo, those many years ago, and I’ve included it in my basic test checklist ever since.

It’s taken me thirty seconds or a minute to run the test every time I’ve encountered a new form in many, many different projects for many, many different clients.

But I found another issue that the string triggered in a recent project, which validated my running the test perpetually, kind of like keeping every little gimcrack and doodad I’ve ever encountered in my closet or garage is validated whenever I need something like it and I don’t have to run to the hardware store to spend a buck to buy a new one.

So what’s the craziest test you always run, and why do you run it?

QA Music: Out of the Frying Pan

March 13th, 2017 by The Director

Skillet, “Feel Invincible”:

It’s Monday, though. The feeling will pass.

QA Music: Sing Me A Song of Itinerant Consulting

March 6th, 2017 by The Director

Cage the Elephant, “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”:

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve some grifting to do.

And He Wants To Sign Up For Your Web Site

March 2nd, 2017 by The Director

Meet the Man Who Claimed to Have the World’s Longest Last Name.

His name was Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfe­schlegel­stein­hausen­berger­dorff­welche­vor­altern­waren­gewissen­haft­schafers­wessen­schafe­waren­wohl­gepflege­und­sorg­faltig­keit­be­schutzen­vor­an­greifen­durch­ihr­raub­gierig­feinde­welche­vor­altern­zwolf­hundert­tausend­jah­res­voran­die­er­scheinen­von­der­erste­erde­mensch­der­raum­schiff­genacht­mit­tung­stein­und­sieben­iridium­elek­trisch­motors­ge­brauch­licht­als­sein­ur­sprung­von­kraft­ge­start­sein­lange­fahrt­hin­zwischen­stern­artig­raum­auf­der­suchen­nach­bar­schaft­der­stern­welche­ge­habt­be­wohn­bar­planeten­kreise­drehen­sich­und­wo­hin­der­neue­rasse­von­ver­stand­ig­mensch­lich­keit­konnte­fort­pflanzen­und­sicher­freuen­an­lebens­lang­lich­freude­und­ru­he­mit­nicht­ein­furcht­vor­an­greifen­vor­anderer­intelligent­ge­schopfs­von­hin­zwischen­stern­art­ig­raum, Senior.

Which is shorter than many names in my address book of test data.

Bonus good points for the long unbroken last name which is good for testing wrapping and truncation.


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