Archive for May, 2006

Determine browser and system settings with BrowserHawk.com

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Whenever I question my browser type and version, or specific browser and system settings I always hit BrowserHawk.com to get ALL the exact details. Once you hit the home page just click on the “more” link in the header to get a full list of all your browser/system features and settings.



BrowserHawk.com comes in handy for real world development, test and release scenarios like:



  • Determining your exact user-agent string when testing browser detection code
  • Determining your exact user-agent string when spoofing browser user-agents
  • Ensuring your browser version is correct when you are skeptical about running multiple instances of FireFox or Netscape on one machine
  • Quickly determining your JavaScript version to help troubleshoot script errors
  • Troubleshooting release/customer issues by getting all browser and system details by sending customers to BrowserHawk.com

It’s quick, easy, and FREE.


IE7 in Windows Vista is “Internet Explorer 7+”

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To distinguish between IE7 in Vista vs. XP Microsoft has declared that they will be adding a “+” to IE7 for Vista. The difference can also be seen with the following user-agent strings:


  • IE7+ running on Windows Vista:
    Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 6.0)
  • IE7 running on Windows XP:
    Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1)

    Read more here.



  • Web Service and SOAP security papers

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    This week I spent time testing a new Web Service feature in our product IA that utilized SOAP headers. Testing started with scripting my typical functional, use, and boundary tests in SOATest and then wrapping up with my basic security tests (URL encoding, SQL Injection, Cross Site Scripting, etc). Before moving on I spent a bit of time perusing the Web for SOAP header security exploits to see if I could expand my security test suite for this particular feature. The search didn’t yield anything significant but I was re-reminded in my search of a few great papers on Web Service and SOAP security:



    2006 Pacific NW Software Quality Conference (PNSQC)

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    I got wind of the 2006 Pacific NW Software Quality Conference (PNSQC) today.


    2006 Workshops are:



    • Karl Wiegers: Writing Quality Requirements
    • Cem Kaner: Developing Software Testing Courses for Your Staff
    • Rex Black: Assessing Your Test Team Effectiveness, Efficiency, and More
    • Michael Bolton: A Rapid Introduction to Rapid Testing
    • Jean Tabaka: Scrum and the Art of Quality Maintenance

    Keynotes are:



    • Karl Wiegers: Cosmic Truths About Software Quality
    • Andy Hunt: Maintaining Your Competitive Advantage: Strategies to Improve Cognition, and Learning

    The conference is October 9-11 in Portland, Oregon. Sign up early and save some cash. Get more information here.



    Google Analytics has become available to me

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    Last year I wrote about how I tried to get on the Google Analytics band-wagon but was denied. After sitting at my PC and clicking the Send/Receive button every 10 seconds for the last 6 months the invite finally showed up. Good thing, I was getting discouraged (and my click finger was severely cramped). So, today I finally received an email from Google stating:


    “We are ready for you to create your Google Analytics account! Please follow the instructions below to redeem your invitation code.”


    Sweet! Now I can see where you folks are from. I already know that I have readers in China. For some odd reason they are only interested in the hacking errr.. I mean “testing” posts.


    Personal information for 26.5 million veterans is stolen

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    Yet more personal information is stolen, this time from our Veterans. Don’t act so surprised. This one seems to be getting some pretty good press though. Will it change anything? Doubt it. It’s just another instance to add the simmering pot. Someday the pot will start to boil, and then eventually boil over. Who will make them stop and listen? Maybe Brad Pitt and Angela Jolie? Save us Brangela, save us from this wretched mess.


    Read more here.


    Virtual PC 2004 Differencing, Undo and Fixed Disks

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    Last week I spent a bit of time to better understand the different disk options that are available in Microsoft Virtual PC 2004. I was particularly interested in finding the best performance and the best option for having multiple environments that had subtle changes between them (OS and SQL Service Packs, and test app versions). Before I tell you my findings, let me point out a few simple facts about Virtual PC (from my experience):



    • The “Fixed Disk” option is faster than a “Dynamic Disk“. Dynamic grows the file which is slow but Fixed doesn’t.
    • Enabling the “Undo Disk” for any disk type will create a temporary Dynamic Disk that contains all the changes for that session. When you close the Virtual PC down you then have the option to merge the changes from your temporary disk back to the main Physical or Dynamic Disk. Undo disks are slow since the temporary disk is dynamic.

    Remember these facts, its important going forward :)


    The hope of Differencing Disks
    In my little mission, I first looked into the details of what a “Differencing Disk” was. In summary a Differencing Disk gives you the option of having a 2nd Dynamic Disk attached to a main Physical or Dynamic Disk. This 2nd Dynamic Disk holds only the differences from the main disk. This is the ticket I needed to have multiple environments that had subtle changes between them. An image from the VPC help file shows the power of this, the Windows 2000 disk represents the main disk while the others are Differencing Disks with different IE browsers installed:



    I found that the disadvantages of a Differencing Disk are:



    • The Differencing Disk size can grow larger than the main disks size over time so you don’t really save space
    • Differencing Disks are dynamic and can not be fixed, thus slower.
    • Adding an Undo Disk to a Differencing Disk only adds to the slowness

    Here is a step by step on how to create a Differencing Disk at Matt’s blog.


    Making an Undo Disk into a Differencing Disk
    After realizing the good and bad of Differencing Disk I found an article at Invertus.com that explained how to make an Undo Disk into a more efficient Differencing Disk. I tried this out and the file size stayed smaller but the VPC was still slow. Adding the Undo Disk only made slowness worse (about the same as a plain ol’ Differencing Disk).


    Fixed Disks
    Since Fixed Disks are fixed in size the pain of a dynamically resizing file is gone so this is the speediest option. The downfall to a Fixed Disk is that the VPC sizes are large, so if you have as many images as you saw in the picture above at about 10 GBs a piece then you can eat up drive space pretty quickly.


    Conclusion
    When needing multiple environments if you want speed use a Fixed Disk. If you are worried about disk space use Matt’s technique for making an Undo Disk into a Differencing Disk. If you want to keep an environment clean you can either use an Undo Disk and deal with the slowness or you can sacrifice disk space by instead keeping backup copies and copying over the dirty image when you are done with it (doubling your disk space usage).


    Windows Vista requirements released

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    Finally, Microsoft has released some serious requirements for their new OS in the works: Windows Vista. Requirments are broken down into two categories:


    A Windows Vista Capable PC includes at least:


        * A modern processor (at least 800MHz1).
        * 512 MB of system memory.
        * A graphics processor that is DirectX 9 capable.


    A Windows Vista Premium Ready PC includes at least:


        * 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor1.
        * 1 GB of system memory.
        * A graphics processor that runs Windows Aero2.
        * 128 MB of graphics memory.
        * 40 GB of hard drive capacity with 15 GB free space.
        * DVD-ROM Drive3.
        * Audio output capability.
        * Internet access capability.


    Want more info? Visit the Windows Vista Get Ready site here.


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