Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Testing in 2009, a Year in Review


2009. What an eventful year. Eventful in my personal life as well as in my SQA career. A good, eventful year.

I didn’t blog much in 2009, 17 posts in all, and no topics that were SQA groundbreaking.  Yeah, I’m pretty much ashamed of myself and have watched my blog fall off peoples’ radar.If I were to highlight my favorite post it would be my turn from SQA words to illustrations with Do Loop Until Zero. A hit or a miss, I don’t know; I don’t get comments either way on this blog. But none the less, it’s something I enjoy doing. Hopefully you guys will see more of this “comic”, if all works out well, it will be in the 1st issue of the new and upcoming Software Testing Club magazine.

Though the blog was quiet, my SQA and testing career wasn’t. In the last year I had the ability to start filling a large gap that was present in my testing experience portfolio. Prior to 2009 I had no experience in the Linux world and the technologies that surrounded it. Joining a new group within GoDaddy quickly changed this. In 2009 I did a 180 degree turn from my beloved Windows world and submerged myself in Linux in an effort to test and automate a new, internal product. I was scared to make the jump, mostly because my Windows wisdom would be put to little use, and my lack of Linux knowledge would make me a slower tester and automator. Not so enticing when I really pride myself on speed and efficiency (“Hire me, Hire ME! I’m two testers for the price of one!”). Scared or not it was an awesome opportunity to further my skills, and help a 1.0 product using my experience with agile practices and automation. With the help of an awesome two  man development team, I was able to learn, automate and wade through the following technology highlights in 2009:

Product: A storage system (C, mySQL):

  • I used PuTTY as an SSH client to the dev, test and prod environment running CentOS as a flavor of Linux
  • I extended developer unit tests and automated API functional and boundary testing with Perl unit testing (Test::Unit)
  • I extended PHPUnit to serve as an automation framework for automation of functional tests (use case, boundary, error handling,etc). The framework was named TAEL (Test Automation Ecosystem for Linux).

Product: FTP Server that uses the storage system (Perl, mySQL)

  • I automated use cases, and FTP functions using TAEL. FTP functionality was tested using PHP’s FTP  library. Validation was done through FTP responses, and mySQL queries.
  • I performance tested the FTP server and underlying storage system with Apache JMeter. FTP in JMeter is not very robust, and worse yet forces a connection open, logon and close for every request needed, which is not very realistic. Thankfully it’s open source (Java) so I extended it and tweaked it to fit our needs.

Product: User Management Web Service

  • I automated use cases, boundaries, etc with TAEL. Validation was done by querying mySQL or parsing the Web Service response using XPATH queries.

Tool: User Experience Monitor

  • In an effort to monitor response times on an ongoing basis, I wrote a script that executes basic functionality every 15 minutes, stores the timed results in FTP, where they are picked up and  processed by a chron job that puts the results in a database. Chron takes the results puts them into an XML format which are then viewed in a PHP web page using the chart control XML/SWF charts. We found some very interesting activity and trends through this test/monitor. This turned out to be a very interesting almost real-time QA asset for the team.

Product: REST service

Automation with Ruby: With a department wide goal that everybody must do a little automation, I led them down the path of Ruby/Watir (due to cost, and Ruby being pretty easy to learn). The results are looking pretty good, adoption has gone well and progress is being made. Here are a few details about the framework that I built over a few weekends:

  • Uses a pattern that I call “Test, Navigate, Execute, Assert”
  • Manages tests with the Ruby library: Test::Unit
  • Uses Watir for web page automation
  • Web Service automation is done with:  soap4r  & REXML
  • MySQL database validation with the gem:  dbd-mysql
  • Data driven automation from Excel using Roo

Process: Since I’ve been lucky enough to work with a highly motivated, small team of three, our process needs to be and has been really light. We’ve been pretty successful at being extremely agile. For project management we followed a scrum-like process for a little over half a year using the tool Target Process, but then moved to a KanBan approach with our own home-grown tool. Recently we moved from the home-grown tool to a trial with Jira, while trying to maintain the project in KanBan style. I have to  say that I really like KanBan, it works particularly well for our team because it is small. When you’re as small and tight knit as out team is, we always know what each other is working on, so the more light-weight the better. It seems the largest payoff of these types of process and tools for our team is tracking backlog items as well as giving management insight to what we’re up to.

What’s in store for me in 2010? Well, I’ll likely be working on the same products, but as far as major learning and growth opportunity I’m excited to dive into the awesome new features of Visual Studio 2010 for Testers as well as to learn and use some C++. Now, if I can just convince myself to blog about those experiences as I go.

What is Your Software Quality Assurance Rating?



A past article about uTest has got me thinking.

More than usual that is.

Specifically what has me thinking are these quotes from the article:

“…testers receive feedback and can gain in the rankings, just as with any other promotional network where individual users can establish themselves as authorities.”

“Take this developing team model, and it can be applied to a great number of projects that can be rolled out on a variety of websites, allowing uTest to offer specialized niches within its larger network. One way in which this could become particularly helpful is for another one of its upcoming features: a Facebook application. This won’t be a Facebook app like all the others, but a testing platform for app developers. It allows testers to show and their their uTest tester profiles within Facebook (self-promotion at its finest), while also enabling testers to report issues and bugs via the uTest testing platform. This is in fact quite similar to what Facebook itself is taking on with its own Translations Facebook application, which is the social network’s way of better acclimating to the global growth process. Both new developments should work quite well for uTest’s platform, and I think this company has found a great way of letting companies leverage a dedicated, professional social network for quality assurance.”

As testers we have a pretty good feeling of where we stand amongst our team at work and other teams within our company. But how do you think your testing skills rate when you compare them with another company, the whole state, the country, and better yet the nation? The notion of sharing your skills with the world is not new to me, but I think uTest and its feature of Facebook application is cutting edge. It’s brilliant, scary, good, and bad. A couple years ago my first real leap into the social networking space was with, a professional network. has done me well. It has proven to be a fantastic resource…Especially if you know how to sell yourself. But beyond LinkedIn, as a Quality Assurance Engineer, I seem to be lost in the sea of other QA professionals. I’ve attempted to break out a bit with my blog, sharing testing tools I’ve written, posting advice on forums, joining a software testing club, writing a magazine article, and recently my first public presentation, but still… I am one among many.

It will be very interesting to see the dynamics that uTest ratings and feedback will bring for testers. Will I be able to use a testing rank to gain the edge over another person for a job in the real world? Could my rank be considered a real-time “testing certification”? In my opinion a “testing certification”  is useless without a governing authority, but if I have a good rank and a excellent feedback from 200 people is that a better or more acceptable governing authority? What if it works against me? It only takes a few mistakes, misunderstandings, or one jack-ass to throw off your rank (as seen with XBox Live). It takes a long time to get back into good graces once that happens.

We are definitely seeing a trend for career social networking on the Internet. Recruiters, Human Resources and hiring managers are using the Web to check you out now days (Googling your name, look at your LinkedIn feedback, forum posts etc). As a hiring manager, I wouldn’t have a problem with considering your uTest rank and feedback as additional information to help make sure I’m making a good decision about hiring you. Scary huh? Granted, being a good quality assurance engineer isn’t all about testing skills, but the more history and data I have on you, the potential hire, the better.

What are you doing to prove your software quality assurance rating in the social networking space?

Visual Studio 2008 Feature Comparison Between Editions


I’ve scoured the Web for this 3 times now. For your and my benefit I’ll store these hard to find links here for future reference…

Visual Studio 2008 Team Edition feature comparison:

Visual Studio 2008 Pro and Standard Edition comparison:

Keep in mind this blog isn’t just for you dear reader, it’s for my overwhelmed mind too…

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)

Having Fun With Christmas and Santa Online


imageIt’s that time of year again, time to get online and have some last minute Christmas and Santa fun. There are a ton of things on the Web to do. The following links can keep you and your child busy with Santa for hours. Merry Christmas!

Track Santa’s Christmas Eve progress
NORAD and CONAD (Track live, in 3D, with Google Earth)
GPS and Google Earth
NASA Santa Tracker

Write and Send Letters to Santa (submit a form, get a quick email response) (submit a form, come back 8 hours letter to view your response) (submit a form, get a quick email response)



Naughty & Nice Lists

Father-Son Christmas Pictures (in Halo 3)


My oldest son Jake and I often spend our weekend nights playing Halo 3 online. We have a great time playing together and truly enjoy laying down some whoop-ass on others as a father son team. This weekend we spent a little time playing with the video and screen-shot features that are available in Halo 3 and came up with the following Father-Son Xmas Pictures. I tried to talk the wife into putting one of these bonding moments as the front of this year’s Christmas card but it was a no go.










[Say cheese! (Jake is red, I’m blue)]









[Jake and I lighting Xmas candles with the rocket launcher and flame thrower!]









[Red and blue are our favorite Xmas colors!]









[Jake and I enjoying a casual cruise through the Xmas snow on our Ghosts]








[Sometimes we have little disagreements which end up in a sword battle. This disagreement was about if Santa is real]










[You win some, you lose some. Santa is real.]









[Jake and I flying like Xmas angels. Aren’t we cute?]

If you play Halo 3 online look us up, we’d like to punish you. Jake’s gamer tag is iSpartan710 and mine is Major Strange. Oh, and Merry Christmas from iSpartan710 and Major Strange!

Visual Studio 2008 Pro for FREE


Microsoft is doing a Visual Studio 2008 Installfest at various locations across the country!

What specifically is “Installfest”? Tim at Microsoft says:

“Want the latest IDE toolset and start developing solutions in .NET 3.5 using Ajax, Silverlight, LINQ, Astoria and all the good stuff? What are you waiting for?  There are various Visual Studio 2008 Installfests around the country.  My team in the west is no different, but maybe you’ve been having a hard time finding them?  Here’s a list for all those happening in the west!  please feel free to blog and spread the word. We’re providing a location, install dvds (these will be evals because the finals aren’t pressed yet), and food/drinks.  This will be a good time to get some questions answered, get VS 2008 installed, play around, and hang out with your peers.  Each registered and attended individual will receive a special code to receive the fully-licensed Visual Studio 2008 Professional copy sent to them when the full package product is available to ship. Don’t miss these events!!!  Registration is limited, so get in now and mark your calendars!”

If you’re in Phoenix, our Installfest is shaping up to be December 20th. Watch the AZGroups calendar for details.

Instant Messaging Rules of Engagement



Over at WebWorkerDaily there is a post on how instant messaging can make you more productive.  After reading the post and contemplating it a bit…I agree. For me, IM productivity boils down to self discipline. 

After thinking about the post for a while I discovered that I unknowingly have a few silent rules for IM engagement (when I engage), and IM pet peeves (when others engage and don’t follow my silent rules):

When to IM

  1. When the question I’m asking can be answered in 2 sentence or 2 responses.
  2. When a question is too technical via phone and could be better worded through a pre-thought out IM initiation.
  3. When technical information can be utilized by the IM client (e.g. sending a link versus trying to spell it out over the phone).
  4. When you want to document the conversation for legal purposes or future reference (if the IM client logs conversations).
  5. When the recipient is not in the building and you need to share your desktop with them because a visual is better than a long winded, confusing description (if the IM client allows desktop sharing)

When not to IM

  1. When the IM subject is controversial or emotionally charged (in a bad way). Obfuscation of the text can only make things worse.
  2. When what you are going to write would get you in trouble when viewed by others (e.g. somebody is standing over the recipients shoulder or IT logging it).
  3. When the person sits within 20 feet of you (duh?).

A couple Instant Messaging Techniques

  1. Do an initial IM to remove the element of surprise for a complicated question or issue, give the receiver 30 seconds to mull it over. Follow up with a phone call.
  2. Send technical information (Web link) and call immediately.


What are your Rules of IM Engagement or techniques?

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