Archive for December, 2005


Using the Web to keep in touch with and track Santa

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Oops, I forgot to send my list off to Santa year. Actually it’s not really a list, it’s a simple 2 item request: I want “an official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time…” and an XBox 360. I know, I know.. “You’ll shoot your eye out kid” (if Santa only knew what kind of weapons these console games have now days). With two more days left until Christmas I’m pretty sure if I sent off my request via snail-mail it’s not going to make it in time. Thank God for technology, I’ve found a few links that will get the list off quickly through email or instant messages:


If you get this post in time you can email and get a reply within 2 days from here.


You can email and get an INSTANT reply from Ol’ Saint Nick here.


You can “Instant Message” Santa here.


Not sure if your request will be granted? Check the naughty and nice list.


What? You sent your list already? If you’re bored and waiting for your special delivery you can waste some time out at NorthPole.com. They have a ton of Christmasy things to do to help pass the time:


*Send holiday postcards
*Stories to read & color
*Santa’s Birthday Cards
*Games to play
*Christmas Karaoke
*Holiday recipes
*Northpole Wallpaper
*Puzzles & Activities
*Good Deed Calendar
*Visit Elf Pal Academy
*Educational Activities
*Q&A with Santa
*Find the hidden stories
*Naughty or Nice List

Before you know it, Santa and his elves will be packing the big gift bag Christmas Eve day. As Christmas Eve draws in on us make sure and track Santa’s progress as he makes his way around the world using NORAD and CONAD. Even better, track him with more precision (within a few feet) using GPS and Google Earth. Don’t get too caught up in the tracking, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to set out those cookies & milk and crawl into bed to ensure you’re asleep before he arrives.


When it’s all said and done you’ll need to write a Thank You letter to Santa. Now, if we could only do that online… Does anybody know a site I can do that on?


Did you forget something? Viewing JavaScript errors in the browser

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Are you or your test team missing JavaScript errors while testing Web applications? Now days, the errors aren’t so in your face like they used to be. You have to know where to look for them. If I had a quarter for every time I had to ask a tester who was testing browser compatibility on Netscape or FireFox “Where’s your JavaScript console?” I’d have….well at least a few dollars. When the question was asked, sometimes the reply would be “How do I get to that”? Ouch…Uhm, yeah, could you retest that? Sometimes what I consider the basics I guess aren’t so basic. I guess this is a perfect training opportunity for me. Here’s how you do it my friends:


How to view Javascript errors in Internet Explorer 7
By default the popup window with script errors do not display in IE. In order to receive the actual error (when it occurs) you’ll need to enable the following setting: Tools > Internet Options > Advanced > Browsing: Display a notification about every script error


How to view Javascript errors in Internet Explorer 6
By default the popup window with script errors do not display in IE. In order to receive the actual error (when it occurs) you’ll need to enable the following setting: Tools > Internet Options > Advanced > Browsing: Display a notification about every script error


With or without this option selected you’ll always receive an error icon in the bottom-left of the browser window. Double clicking the error icon will display the error window. The icon can be easy to miss though. So IMHO you should enable the “Display a notification about every script error” setting to avoid missing errors.


How to view Javascript errors in FireFox 1.x and Netscape 8.x
Script errors are hidden. In order to see the errors you’ll need to use the JavaScript console. This can be viewed two ways:
1. Type the text “JavaScript:” in the address bar and press enter.
2. Navigate to Tools > JavaScript Console


How to view Javascript errors in FireFox 2,x
Script errors are hidden. In order to see the errors you’ll need to use the JavaScript console. This can be viewed two ways:
1. Type the text “JavaScript:” in the address bar and press enter.
2. Navigate to Tools > Error Console


How to view Javascript errors in Netscape 4.x
Script errors are hidden. In order to see the errors you’ll need to use the JavaScript console. This can be done by:
1. Type the text “JavaScript:” in the address bar and press enter.


How to view Javascript errors in Netscape 6.x
Script errors are hidden. In order to see the errors you’ll need to use the JavaScript console. This can be viewed two ways
1. Type the text “JavaScript:” in the address bar and press enter.
2. Tasks > Tools > JavaScript Console


How to view Javascript errors in Netscape 7.x
Script errors are hidden. In order to see the errors you’ll need to use the JavaScript console. This can be viewed two ways
1. Type the text “JavaScript:” in the address bar and press enter.
2. Tools > Web Development > JavaScript Console


How to view Javascript errors in Opera 8.x
Script errors are hidden. In order to see the errors you’ll need to use the JavaScript console. This can be done by:
1. Tools > Advanced > JavaScript console


With Netscape, FireFox and Opera I advise you to leave the JavaScript console open at all times and in plain view so that when the event/error occurs you know what page you were on and what you were doing to cause the error. This can be painful when running at a small resolution because you end up trying to fit two windows into the display. It doesn’t rank high on the usability or convenience charts, but how often is testing convenient?! Wouldn’t that be a nice testing enhancement if they integrated the console INTO the browser window?


Get in the habit, keep that console open and find those JavaScript errors. No seriously, I’m sick of seeing them when I visit your site… 😉


Support for IE on the Mac ends this month

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Support for Internet Explorer on the Mac will end at the end of this year according to Mactopia:


“Microsoft will end support for Internet Explorer for Mac on December 31st, 2005, and will provide no further security or performance updates.

Additionally, as of January 31st, 2006, Internet Explorer for the Mac will no longer be available for download from Mactopia. It is recommended that Macintosh users migrate to more recent web browsing technologies such as Apple’s Safari.”


It’s interesting and nice of Microsoft to suggest the replacement of Safari. Seems to make sense, why would they promote their biggst threat FireFox?


Over time the end of support will naturally cause the 2% IE/Mac share to migrate over to the other popular browsers available for the Mac… Safari and FireFox.


Kleptomania (copy the uncopyable)

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When testing Web applications in IE how many times have you ever typed/copied, by hand, the JavaScript error from the error window to a defect (for those of you who don’t test Web applications, the IE JavaScript error window doesn’t have the copy function available)? I’m betting you’ve done it TON. Copying by hand is time consuming, painful, and error prone. Stop the nonsense! Use Kleptomania from StructuRise. Kleptomania allows you to copy windows text from anywhere on the screen using OCR (Optical Character Recognition). I use this tool on a daily basis between the error copying and the graphics/screenshot feature. The graphic copying is particularly useful when you are attempting to copy a screenshot of the particular problem instead of the whole desktop or the whole window.


Kleptomania features include (items handy for testing in bold):



  • capture and process on-screen text of any applications, of any registered fonts
  • copy text onto clipboard
  • launch internet browser for recognized URL
  • start email editor for recognized email addresses or addressee name
  • sum selected numbers
  • count a number of words and characters
  • discover font name, size, bold/underlined style of used font. Stop unreliable guessing about fonts on the screen
  • capture and process folder trees, file lists, database reports, text content of messages and dialog boxes, menus, status lines, precisely selected areas of internet browser views, visible text of legacy systems, and more
  • don’t rely on application clipboard support or any communication standards behind the scene
  • when copying, preserve font name, size, bold/underlined style
  • put the captured text onto the clipboard in plain and Rich Text Format
  • full install and uninstall support
  • this is the first solution for capturing text by the means of OCR

The tool sits in you system tray and has about a 3 MB foot print. It’s definitely a must have for testing. It’s been part of my testing arsenal for about 5 years now! The tool has a 40 day trial and is dang cheap to buy. Give it a whirl.



RSS icon consistency between browsers

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We’ve got consistency between browsers! Internet Explorer 7 is going to use the same icon for RSS that FireFox does. Cool beans… Now that we have an icon that represents RSS in the two most used browsers in the world, maybe more of the world will catch onto this RSS thing.


Even better yet, the IE team is claiming this won’t be the last thing that IE and FireFox work together on. What’s going on here?! Consistency and collaboration between enemies? It’s like World War 1 on Christmas day; the guns are laid down and we have a truce. I’m having this huge urge to bust out singing “We are the world”.


Seriously, this is an exciting thing for usability.


Google Analytics… DENIED

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Everybody around me is using Google Analytics to track visitors and site activity on their blogs.


After looking over shoulders for a while now, I thought it would be pretty cool to install it and take a look at what is going on with QAInsight.net. So I go out to Google Analytics and attempt to sign up. Only to receive the depressing message:


“Google Analytics has experienced extremely strong demand, and as a result, we have temporarily limited the number of new signups as we increase capacity. In the meantime, please submit your name and email address and we will notify you as soon as we are ready to add new accounts. Thank you for your patience.”


Dang, Google limiting users? Unbelievable! What’s next? Limited supplies of XBOX 360s from Microsoft? Oh wait…


No literally, “WAIT”.


Spoofing user agent strings with User Agent Switcher

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User Agent Switcher is an extension for FireFox, written by Chris Pederick that allows you to switch the user agent string in FireFox. This is handy for Web testing when you need to masquerade as another browser. For example, when testing Intelligent Authentication, in order to cause the secondary authentication to occur I come into the site (which looks at my user agent string) using FireFox 1.5, after I have some FireFox history built up with Intelligent Authentication I then change the user agent string using User Agent Switcher to Opera 5 which causes IA to ask for secondary authentication. Or another example of its use for testing is when browser sniffing code has been put in place and the result of the sniff is that you are redirected to a certain page or message. With User Agent Switcher you can simply change the user agent string to the desired browser and then masquerade as that browser in order to get to the intended page or message. Pretty spiffy eh? No need to install a ton of different browsers just to see one message. Note: when I say “page” I’m not implying that you are testing this page for browser compatibility; FireFox will still render the page.


Within the extension the list of user agent strings can be modified (which is great because there are 100s of user agent strings). You can modify the list three different ways.



  1. Use the extension “Options” section to input an agent manually.

  2. Use the extensions “Options” section to import a list of agents from an XML file.

  3. Modify the Prefs.js file yourself found in your FireFox profile. The directory should look something like: C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\ogrevxiy.default

User Agent Switcher installs with only a few user agents. This didn’t cut it for my testing, so I created this XML file to extend the user agents.


It’s a great FireFox extension that has real value for Web application testing. Give it a try!


Secure or not secure? That is the question!

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Today Blake Ross points me off to an article about how much more secure FireFox is than Internet Explorer (here):


“Without question, Firefox should be your Web browser. Firefox is safer and more secure, for a start. A Web browser is one of the many doors and windows that viruses and other malicious software exploit to gain access to your PC, which is why security is an intimate part of Firefox’s underlying architecture.


The world should switch to Firefox for its security features, but you’ll want to switch for all of its creature-comforts.”


But then I flip over to BetaNews and see this:


“Proof of concept exploit code for an unpatched security flaw in the newly released Firefox 1.5 was publicly posted Wednesday by Packetstorm Security . The problem involves Firefox’s history database, which cannot handle extremely long page topics. A malicious Web page could cause a buffer overflow that crashes Firefox each time it is started.”


I’m so confused… 🙂 The propaganda is really getting annoying. It’s obviously helping the FireFox numbers though. Don’t get me wrong, I love FireFox, I’m just really tired of the “FireFox is more Secure” marketing.


“There is no security on this earth. Only opportunity.” (Douglas MacArthur).


Productivity Tool: Roboform

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Testing Web sites all day that require credentials can get really annoying (user: test, password: password). Over the course of the day a tester can achieve a good 100 logons easy. (100 logons) x (5 seconds) = 8.33 minutes a day, (8.33 minutes) x (5 days) = 41.66 minutes a week. You can get those 41 minutes a week back by using the tool RoboForm!

RoboForm provides automated logons from your Web browser toolbar (Internet Explorer, FireFox, & Netscape) and makes logging in effortless (1 click). As a tester it also saves you a lot of time by auto-filling forms for you; this is really nice when you don’t actually care about testing the form but the pages that follow the form. I even use RoboForm at home to store all my site credentials. Sounds a bit insecure right? It’s not insecure, the credentials are encrypted on the disk, require a master password to access, and the way the auto-login feature works it will actually prevent you from being phished.


In a nutshell, the main features include:


• AutoSave passwords in browser.
• AutoFill passwords to login form.
• Click Login button for you.
• Fill personal info into online forms.
• Save offline passwords & notes.
• Generate Secure Random Passwords.
• Encrypt passwords and personal data using AES, Blowfish, RC6, 3-DES or 1-DES algorithms.
• All personal info is stored on your computer only.
• Take RoboForm with you on USB disk for ultimate portability.
• Sync your passwords and notes to Palm or Pocket PC .
• Backup & Restore , Print your passwords.
• It is well-behaved : NO ADWARE , NO SPYWARE .
• Works under Windows as an add-on to IE-based browsers .
• Works with Netscape, Mozilla, Firefox under Windows.


Download RoboForm here. “It’s free to try, $29.99 to buy”. Some features are disabled after 30 days (it will limit the number of Passcards you save).


Also, if you’re interested in keeping your credentials stored on a USB drive instead of the disk you should take a look at Pass2Go (Portable RoboForm).


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