April 30, 2009

Perhaps They Should Have Tested More - Manitoba Public Insurance

What does a $100,000 typo look like?

(a $100,000 typo - Manitoba driver's license style)

Everyone knows that a typo is a low-severity, low-priority bug, right?

Well as Manitoba Public Insurance learned, sometimes a typo which slips through into production can be a rather expensive proposition - both monetarily, and politically as well.
Tory MPI critic Cliff Graydon said the money is being wasted as the error was surely preventable, considering the licences should be proofread.

But Graydon was also concerned the error is a sign the government insurer is in over its head when it comes to producing not only regular driver's licences, but the new radio-frequency enhanced licences as well.

"These simple things can't even be controlled, and now they want us to trust them with our privacy on the enhanced IDs?" said Graydon.
Some highlights:
  • num?ro instead of numéro
  • about 45,000 misprinted driver's licenses needed replacing
  • a $100,000 typo
  • licenses should have been proofread
  • error originated with MPI software
Perhaps they should have tested more.  Or failing that, at least proofread more.

See Also:

April 15, 2009

Announcing Twitchr - The First Web 3.0 Social Network

Announcing Twitchr - the world's first Web 3.0 Social Network!

What is Twitchr?
Twitchr is a service for "friends" you haven’t met, stalkers, and co–dependents to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: wat r u doing?
Why use Twitchr?
Why? Because anything you Twit is probably "meaningful" to celebrities, athletes, politicians—especially when it’s cryptic, short, and timely.
  • Biting your nails? Research shows that Hollywood stars want to know.
  • Road rage? Your state Representative might find that useful.
  • Trying to sleep? Your imaginary girlfriend may want to join you.
How does it work?
With Twitchr, you can stay hyper–connected to anyone and everyone.  Always know what they’re doing. Twitches are a stalker’s best friend.

Twitchr puts you in control and becomes a modern path to information overload.  Unlike more primitive social networks, with Twitchr, your messages are 14 characters or less – no more wasteful 140 characters!  Lower-case only – no need to hit that shift key.  And those pesky special characters – fuggedaboudit!
i rly lk it
itz leet
a phenom
who u

is y web xists
feelin down
wanna barf

stay away
no really
help police

Ready to get Twitchy?  Join now!

April 14, 2009

Vacation in Washington, D.C.

(Washington, DC - April, 2009)

Instead of going to Florida again this Spring, we decided to vacation in Washington, D.C.  (It was my turn to choose, and I'm a sucker for museums)

My wife and I had a great time in Washington.  We saw all sorts of things.  Some Cherry Blossoms were past, but some varieties were still blooming - very pretty.

On Thursday, we walked for miles and miles around the Mall, just taking pictures and seeing things.  That night we went on a Monuments by Moonlight bus tour - it was very nice.  The Jefferson Memorial is beautiful.  The Korean War memorial is really spooky at night.  Even in the dark the Vietnam Memorial still chokes me up.

Friday was a nice warm day.  My wife went to Madam Toussaud's Wax Museum and did some shopping while I went to some of the Smithsonians.  They were great.  The Air and Space museum was the best.  One that was unexpected was how nice the new American Indian museum was.  Very pretty and a great food court.

Saturday was drizzly, but we went on a tour of the Capitol, then to the Botanic Gardens.  Later, we walked down toward the center of the City and had a nice dinner at The Chop House.  The Frozen Four college Hockey finals were at the Verizon Center there - Boston University won.  Lots of Hockey people around.

Sunday we were at Lafayette Square.  As we walked toward the White House, the Secret Service had metal detectors set up in front of a small yellow church. Turns out, the Obamas were going to Easter Services there, so we hung out for an hour or so and saw them go into church, then walked around the White House.

Mike Eruzione (from the Miracle on Ice Hockey Team) was staying at our Hotel.  We said Hi and shook his hand in the elevator.  I'm pretty sure I saw Jesse Jackson in the airport on the way home.

All in all a nice vacation - wish I had more days available for the trip.

April 7, 2009

Perhaps They Should Have Tested More - Zecco

On April 1, 2009, online brokerage site Zecco increased about 1% of their customers' Buying Power balances by millions of dollars. Some customers thought it was an April Fool's joke.  The real reason wasn't quite as funny.
  • the surge in "Buying Power" was an accidental extension of credit to the customers' accounts - actual funds were not deposited therein
  • the glitch was due to one of their vendors giving them an incorrect data feed
  • some account balances had suddenly grown by $6 million to $14 million
  • some executed trades on the lines of credit, including one guy who bought over $1 million in shares
  • one customer wondered if he should have spent the money in his account "how am i supposed to know that they are incompetent?"
  • the incident caused some users to question the security of their Zecco account information
  • the notoriously humor-deprived SEC gave the company a ring
On their web site (http://www.zecco.com/aboutus/FreeTradingBusinessModel.aspx) Zecco talks about how they can manage to offer free and low-cost trades by keeping their costs down.  In a sidebar, they say:
"Also, we don't spend money on:

Superbowl Commercials
Some people think they're funny. Some people think they're SERIOUSLY creepy. We just think they're expensive.

One of our competitors has a pretty cool helicopter in their commercial. Why does a brokerage need a helicopter?

Mass Advertising
Seriously Charlie, take a breath. We do advertise, but we don't plaster the world in "talk" bubbles.

Retail Network
Although we have two beautiful buildings in California for our employees, we don't have hundreds of retail branches across the country. We do everything online and over the phone."
Perhaps one of the other things they "don't spend money on" is testing their data feed system?

According to Zecco:
"We take the integrity of our customers’ accounts very seriously and we have taken measures to ensure this does not happen again."
That's nice.  Perhaps they'll test more.

See also:

April 5, 2009

Book: Implementing Automated Software Testing

The newest addition to my QA Bookshelf.

by Elfriede Dustin, Thom Garrett, Bernie Gauf

Implementing Automated Software Testing is a systematic examination of the why and how of large scale automation of big, complex systems.

I. What Is Automated Software Testing and Why Should We Automate?
Chapter 1: What is Automated Software Testing (AST)
Chapter 2: Why Automate?
Chapter 3: The Business Case
Chapter 4: Why Automated Software Testing Fails and Pitfalls to Avoid
II. How to Automate: Top Six Keys for Automation Payoff
Chapter 5: Key 1: Know Your Requirements
Chapter 6: Key 2: Develop the Automated Test Strategy
Chapter 7: Key 3: Test the Automated Softwre Test Framework (ASTF)
Chapter 8: Key 4: Continuously Track Progress — And Adjust Accordingly
Chapter 9: Key 5: Implement AST Processes
Chapter 10: Key 6: Put the Right People on the Project — Know the Skill Sets Required
Appendix A: Process Checklist
Appendix B: AST applied to various testing types
Appendix C: The Right Tool for the Job
Appendix D: Case Study: An Automated Testing Framework (ASTF) Example
While the back cover says "Whether you're a test professional, QA specialist, project manager, or developer, this book can help you bring unprecendented efficiency to testing - and then use AST to improve your entire developement lifecycle", I'm not sure this book is for everyone. 

New QAers or testers, those involved with testing smaller-scale systems, or those involved in projects with smaller budgets and shorter timelines might find the book's recommendations overwhelming.  It seems clear to me that this book is best for those who are charged with determining a test automation approach for very large scale, long-term systems, with large budgets, such as those used by the Department of Defense and larger commercial efforts. 

From the Preface:
"We at IDT have identified a boilerplate solution, strategies, and idea, all provided in this book, that can help increase the chances of your automated testing success."
I agree.  All of the authors and all of the contributing authors are IDT employees.  This is IDT's boilerplate solution.  As with all boilerplate solutions, it may not fit your specific situation.

If it does, you will find a wealth of information.  And even if it doesn't you can still find useful nuggets of information about how some of these "big-project" teams automate their tests.  For example, I particularly liked Chapter 4 - Why Automated Software Testing Fails and Pitfalls to Avoid.  I believe this chapter would be useful for anyone about to embark on a test automation project.

April 1, 2009

How to Achieve Perfect Software Every Time - Without Testing!

Some say that all reasonably complex software contains bugs.

But it doesn't have to be this way.

How to achieve perfect software every time, in just six easy steps:
  1. Release the first build of the software
  2. Wait until a bug report or enhancement request comes in from the field
  3. Invent a time machine
  4. Travel back in time, before the software was released
  5. Fix all known bugs
  6. Add all requested enhancements
  7. Go to step 1
Viola! Zarro Boogs found.

And no testing required - just a bit of thinking outside the box!