Archive for February, 2008

Test experience versus speedy learning


What if your company implemented this new captcha and you had to test it:


Following the thinking of Jeff over at Coding Horror…

What software testers do best is learn.

Yes, this captcha is a joke, but if it was real could you test it? Yeah, yeah, I know there are more test cases than solving the equation. But can you solve the equation?

Right now… I can’t.

Let me at my favorite resource for 1 minute to an hour (the Internet) and I can.

What software testers do best is learn. Remember that next time you are frustrated with a serious testing challenge. Testing capability is not all about experience, it’s also about adaptability, willingness to learn, and the ability to learn quickly. Having those three skills will go a LONG way in the testing world.

Patterns of daily stand-up meetings


A previous coworker of mine Travis Illig recently blogged about why he thinks “It’s not OK to skip the standup“. In this post he provides reference to another about the patterns of daily stand-up meetings and this is great information for those who wonder about or are thinking about daily standup meetings.

“Daily stand-up meetings” now days are attached to the latest and greatest buzzword “agile” in the software development world.  But you, your team, or your company don’t have to follow an agile process to benefit from a daily stand-up. Communication is the foundation of any task that involves two or more people and sadly most people are just plain bad at it. Poor, or no communication flat out just doesn’t work. Bad communication fails us in so many aspects of our life and we don’t even realize it until we start thinking about it and paying attention to it….Work and home. When it fails at home with your spouse what happens? We go to a counselor who advises us to communicate with each other with advice such as “when you get home from work commit 10 minutes to each other (5 minutes each), ask your spouse how their day went, and listen whole-heartedly”… sounds an awful lot like a “stand-up” doesn’t it? I’m no psychologist but I’m here to tell you that this lesson is a fundamental building block for success within society. Home or work.

If you’re a manager, test lead, tester, woman, or man you need to be communicating…Every day. Don’t leave people in the dark. I have personally seen stand-ups work, and WORK EXTREMELY WELL at home and work. Take 2-15 minutes for a stand-up with the people you interact with. You will see an improvement, I have no doubt. Use the patterns of daily stand-up meetings as your guideline.

I added IE 8 to the user agent switcher import file



The IE team announced what the user agent string for IE 8 will be:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 6.0)

This particular one is for Vista. They’ve decided not to use the ‘b’ in ‘MSIE 8.0b’ for the beta version this time due to issues they’ve encountered in the past with that approach. I’ve updated my User Agent Switcher import file to contain the string for Internet Explorer 8 on Vista and XP. As always you can get to that file from the right menu under the “My Testing Tools” section: User-Agent Information and Tools. Load up the new file and go see if your browser detection script will work with IE’s new string.

I also updated it with FireFox 2.0.12 for Vista.

Browser Compatibility Testing Risk Analysis


I did my first presentation for the Phoenix Software Quality Association (PSQA) yesterday evening on “Browser Compatibility Testing Risk Analysis”. Those who attended learned:

“The art of trimming browsers from a browser compatibility test list by knowing your users, understanding how the browser works, OS & browser facts versus misconceptions, and grouping browsers by common component versions to remove redundancy.”

For those that attended I promised to post my presentation and handouts here on my blog. So here they are:

Packaged Download
Browser Compat (1.62 MB)

Individual Downloads
Browser Compatibility Testing.pptx (1.65 MB)
Browser Facts Misconceptions and Experience.docx (29.24 KB)
BrowserCompatCheatSheet.xlsx (14.89 KB)

Setting Browser Compatibility Testing Expectations.docx (13.87 KB)

If you don’t have Office 2007 you can get the Office 2007 viewers here for free.

I’m thinking about screencasting this while it’s fresh in my mind. If I do, it will be posted here within the next few weeks.

PSQA is always looking for presenters or a place to meet. If you can offer up either, the organization would greatly appreciate it (contact If you’re in the valley, have anything to do with QA, and are not already a PSQA member, go sign up. It’s free!

Do or Die Windows Vista


As I type I am downloading Windows Vista Service Pack 1 made available to MSDN subscribers. I’ve been telling myself for quite some time to grin and bear my Vista problems, give it a good chance, and finally: This sucks, but I’ll hold out to see if SP1 makes Vista less annoying and less problematic than Windows XP.

I really want to keep you but…Do or die Vista. Do or die.

A Visual for SharePoint Terminology


I do my best to try to hide my SharePoint/MOSS 2007 skills that I’ve developed over the years. Mostly because, well..let’s just say SharePoint is not fun in my eyes, nor easy to manage. It’s a very powerful and robust machine which can make it quite complicated to administer. And no matter how you administer it, you can’t seem to make everyone happy.

On to the point of the post… For the life of me I can’t find a nice structure and terminology visual aid to give to SharePoint newbies. I’ve needed this a few times in a meetings where we try to derive a usable taxonomy for the company and group. People get lost in the terminology which can pretty quickly knock the meeting productivity to lull. I did happen to find a small verbal  explanation by Mauro Cardarelli though. In an effort to keep a recent meeting inline I created a visual based on Mauro’s definitions. Here it is:


Click the image to get the full size .png or click here for the Visio version (.vsd): (33.81 KB)

uTest Software Testing Company



I just signed up as a tester at uTest. What is uTest? Really there are two parts to uTest, people who want their products tested and the testers:

“uTestTM provides software companies with significant benefits including higher quality software releases, reduction in product release cycle time and overall product time to market while improving overall customer satisfaction. We also provides software companies with significant cost savings including reduction in QA costs by minimizing help desk costs, handling peak QA periods effectively and improving overall quality of released application.

uTestTM customers gain access to a large, diverse and global community of software testing individuals over our secure testing platform. The uTestTM Testing Platform provides a hosted infrastructure to manage complete software QA cycles and projects.

Software application testers who are part of the uTestTM professional testers community are able to test applications in a completely flexible work environment, earn significant additional income and improve technical expertise.”

From the tester’s perspective, the way it works is that you will get paid for defects that are not duplicate and are verified by the company. It’s not apparent what the rates are yet. You can get paid monthly, via a Mastercard debit card from Payoneer, when your balance is greater than $100. I didn’t sign up for the money, I signed up because I’m interested to see what testing is like in a large testing like atmosphere. I’ve only been involved in one other large testing effort for Intel. It was beta testing of hardware and when the testing was complete I got to keep the hardware. The experience was horrible. Mostly because communication sucked and ultimately the product sucked. uTest appears to have a platform built to better manage this type of environment, so I’m excited to see how and if it works well.

I wonder though, since money is involved, will it be more competitive? Will people race to break things and get defects in to make sure theirs isn’t a duplicate? I envisioned a few of the typical project, Developer and QA problems and wrote asking how uTest would handle them. Here were my questions:

Bug being duplicate: What if there is a core bug, but another resulting “bug” is caused by the core bug. An example would be an incorrect global variable that displayed itself on 5 different pages. What if reported one defect for each of the 5 pages (resulting in 5 defects), but somebody else reported the core/global variable issue? How and who will manage duplication in a fair way? How will you prevent companies from marking a bug as duplicate as an excuse to avoid paying?

A bug is really a bug: A common scenario that developers & project managers do is mark a bug as a “feature request” when A) the project is overwhelmed and they are trying to lower the defect numbers or B) if the functionality is not documented specifically/a little loosely in the requirements. How will you protect both sides from abuse?

Verification occurred:  At the end of your registration process you state: “If you have encountered a bug in our registration process please let us know by emailing us at, we will credit your uTest account with cash for every non duplicate bug that you submit and we verify”. I’m assuming this is how it will work when testing for other companies too. How will you protect testers from finding/entering defects and not getting paid because the company we are testing for has run out of budget and decided to use the excuse: “not verified, so we’re not paying”?

Usability: Will there be any money for usability suggestions that are turned into future features?

Here is uTest’s response:

“One very important point I would like to emphasis: Only the company (the software vendor) is entitled to approve or reject a bug. We do NOT interfere in this process since only the software owner can really identify a real bug or a problem. BUT,  we do offer tester’s a few mechanisms to object a company decision:

1.  A Dispute process –  for complaining about invalid rejection reasons. In that case we will investigate this issue and credit the tester if needed. We would do our best to make sure the testers would get paid for their hard job.

2. Budget –  We do make sure that companies would have enough budget before initiate a new testing assignments, so there is  no way testers would work for companies without approved budget.

3. Tracking invalid behaviors – We track every communication between the company and a tester, so once we’ll notice that a certain company act unfairly with the community we would get involve and make sure the testers is getting what they deserve. The testers community has the power to make a change, once a few tester would report a wrong behavior of a company, we would get involved.

Duplication – As part of our testing platform functionality, we’ve developed a duplication engine in order  to identify a duplicate bug once a new bug is being submitted into the system. We then would notify the tester that is there is a possibility that his new bug is already exist and ask him to make sure he is submitting a different one.  We would also publish a list of known bugs so the testers won’t waist their valuable time finding existing bugs.

Usability – we do plan to offer various methods of credit testers who provide usability feedbacks, this would be in the later stages of the platform.”

It sounds like uTest is on the right track. Go check ’em out:

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