October 24, 2006

Perhaps They Should Have Tested More - Hart InterCivic

Virginia Ballot Glitch Chops Names

By Associated Press

October 24, 2006, 1:35 PM EDT

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- U.S. Senate candidate James H. "Jim" Webb has lost his last name on electronic ballots in three Virginia cities where election computers can't cope with long names.

The glitch in Alexandria, Falls Church and Charlottesville also affects other candidates with long names, officials said.

Webb, a Democrat, appears with his full name on the ballot page where voters make their choices. The error -- referring to him only as James H. "Jim" -- shows up on a summary page, where voters are supposed to review their selections.

Election officials emphasized that the problem shouldn't cause votes to be cast incorrectly, though it might cause some confusion.

The mistake stems from the ballots' larger type size, election officials said.

It affects only the three jurisdictions that use balloting machines manufactured by Hart InterCivic of Austin, Texas.

"We're not happy about it," Webb spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd told The Washington Post, adding that the campaign learned about the problem one week ago. "I don't think it can be remedied by Election Day. Obviously, that's a concern."

Every candidate on Alexandria's summary page has been affected in some way. Even if their full names appear, as is the case with Webb's Republican opponent, incumbent Sen. George F. Allen, their party affiliations have been cut off.

Jean Jensen, secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections, pledged to have the issue fixed by the 2007 statewide elections.

"If I have to personally get on a plane and bring Hart InterCivic people here myself, it'll be corrected," Jensen said.

Hart InterCivic officials said Monday they intend to correct the problem by next fall. Jensen said Hart InterCivic already has written a software upgrade and recently applied for state certification to apply the fix, but the installation process can be time-consuming because of security measures.

In the meantime, Jensen said, the three affected jurisdictions have started educating voters and will place notices in each polling booth to explain the summary page problem.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

October 11, 2006

Perhaps They Should Have Tested More - Linden Lab's Second Life

Oops... virtual nudity!
(Imagine the bug report for that one...)

Oct 11, 2006

Sun Microsystems hosts virtual news conference on Second Life

AP Technology Writer

Sun Microsystems Inc. spared the stodgy PowerPoint slides when it announced its new gaming strategy.

Instead, 60 journalists, analysts and product developers from around the world sent their virtual proxies - known as avatars - to a simulated world on the Internet. The event, hosted by the avatar of Sun Chief Researcher John Gage and held on an island in the online game "Second Life," was billed as the first news conference by a Fortune 500 company in the game.

"Second Life" is a subscription-based 3-D fantasy world devoted to capitalism - a 21st century version of Monopoly that generates real money for successful players. More than 885,000 people have avatars who interact with one another in the virtual world.

"We've been trapped inside the text world for so long," Gage said. "It's time for us all to get more Second Lifey."

Santa Clara-based Sun, which develops hardware and software for corporate networks and for gaming servers, hopes its "Second Life" outpost will become a destination for 4 million people worldwide who help write Sun's open-source code. No more than 22,000 can make it to Sun's annual physical gathering in San Francisco.

"We'll have bean bag chairs, and it will be a great place for people to try out code," Gage's avatar said on an outdoor stage flanked by billowing trees and ocean. "We want it to be just like your local neighborhood."

Brands such as Toyota Motor Corp.'s Scion, Intel Corp., CNet Networks Inc., Advance Publications Inc.'s Wired magazine, Adidas AG and American Apparel Inc. have already been building "Second Life" outposts. In August, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner became the first real-world politician to host a "Second Life" town hall meeting.

"What corporate presence within 'Second Life' allows for is a different type of immersion in the product," said Donald Jones, Georgetown University graduate student writing his thesis on "Second Life." "It provides the corporation with an opportunity to seem like they're cutting edge. It helps them sell their image and their lifestyle within cyberspace."

Sun's virtual news conference Tuesday wasn't entirely glitch-free. The avatar of Philip Rosedale, Linden Lab's founder and CEO, briefly appeared on stage naked because of a software bug.

October 8, 2006

Fall in New England

My wife and I took a trip to Stockbridge, Massachusetts yesterday.  It was a beautiful fall day in New England.  Trees changing color, blue skies, sunny.

We walked around Stockbridge center for a while and had lunch. 

Saw Alice's Restaurant ("You can get anything you want... at Alice's Restuarant.") and the Red Lion Inn.

Went to the Norman Rockwell museum.  Around back they have his workshop.  He had a nice view.

(The view from behind Norman Rockwell's studio.  October 7th, 2006.)

Fall in New England...
with the one you love... 
life doesn't get any better than that!

October 7, 2006

Best and Worst Technical Interview Questions

Recently, Esther Schindler visited SQAForums.com. She's writing an an article for DevSource.com, and as she occasionally does, came by to ask a question and gather ideas.

This time she asked us "What are the best and worst technical interview questions you have heard?" Here are my answers.

Worst Interview Question:
Any brain teasers.

This interviewing fad started a while ago, and got popularized by Microsoft, I believe. Now everyone thinks it's clever to ask "why are manhole covers round" or "how would you test this pencil" or other assorted puzzles.

I always do my best to answer truthfully and without sarcasm. And, while I may not always enjoy them, I'm reasonably good at brain teasers.

But, I usually follow up with a question of my own like "Have you found that people who are good at answering these brain teasers actually turn out to be better employees than those who aren't good at it?"

I have yet to find a potential employer who could honestly answer "Yes" to that question. Usually, they just mumble something about "we just wanted to get a sense of your thought process" and move on.

Sometimes I have to conclude that they just aren't very good at interviewing. I put that on the "potential problem" side of the mental checklist I always keep about prospective employers.

Best Interview Question:

"As a QA Manager - what keeps you awake at night?"

I found it to be a really good question, and led to some really deep discussion about what was important to this company.

I learned a lot about them, they learned a lot about me, we found out that we thought alike.

And yes, I did get hired.

And here's Esther's complete article:

(It was pretty good, but she consistently spelled "Massachusetts" incorrectly. Don't they have editors for that sort of thing?)