July 31, 2009

The Wow Factor - Puffery for Your QA Department

I was reading a free, ad-supported trade magazine for the QA and Tester market, and was struck by the sheer volume of puffery in nearly every ad.

According to Wikipedia, "puffery as a legal term refers to promotional statements and claims that express subjective rather than objective views, such that no reasonable person would take literally. Puffery is especially featured in testimonials."

I understand that this is what ad-writers and marketers do.  I understand that you aren't supposed to take it literally.  But this seemed even more over-the-top than usual.

From an Application Lifecycle Management provider:
  • 50% faster to market
  • 25% more productive
  • You can avoid cutting heads
  • Ensure your Agile success
From a test tool vendor:
  • Cut testing time in half
  • Test faster while protecting quality
From a testing services vendor:
  • Compete with confidence
  • Optimizing complex test enviroments
  • Accelerated results unmatched in the industry
From an automation design tool vendor:
  • A New Era of Automated Web Testing
  • Unprecedented productivity
  • Boost productivity and communication!
From a training vendor:
  • Accelerate Your Career
  • World-Class Expert Instructors
  • Perfect solution
  • One of the best investments you can make
This all sounds great.  Who wouldn't want to ensure success, protect quality, have optimized, unmatched results, and find a perfect solution in a new era?  Very exciting.  Very - Wow!  Should I go right out and purchase all of them?

So what if we started talking about our QA efforts within our own companies using similar language?  From now on, let's add a bunch of Wow Factor in how we speak:
  • A New Era in Quality Software Releases!
  • 99% fewer bugs in the field!
  • Ensure corporate success
  • Perfect bug reports
  • Unprecedented quality
Will we get a higher salary?  Would we get more time to test?  Might we get more resources?
Maybe not.

July 29, 2009

Optimists, Pessimists, and a Terrific Comic Strip

If you've read my article comparing Optimistic Developers to Pessimistic Testers (http://strazzere.blogspot.com/2010/04/optimistic-developers-pessimistic.html), then you know that the topic interests me.

And you can imagine how pleased I was to stumble across this particular comic strip. *
Urban Jungle by David Wilborn

The main protagonist of Urban Jungle is a developer named Zack.  According to the website:
Zack is the only human being in an office full of animals. He does software development for a large pharmaceutical company. Single, thirty-something, and hanging on to the last shreds of his optimism. He was raised by wolves.
Good stuff!  You should definitely check it out.

Note that I haven't yet figured out what the QA Tester character is supposed to be:
  • an opossum?
  • a rat?
  • a weasel?
I guess any of them could be appropriate!

I've asked the artist.  I'll post his reply once I get it.

Update:  According to David (the artist) her name is Sharon, and "she's a possum".  Apparently, Sharon is a somewhat pessimistic possum.  I like it!

* My friend "The Director" at http://qahatesyou.com points out that I "stumbled across" this excellent comic strip through his site. I think he's right, but in my defense I look at lots of blogs/sites in the early morning hours.  Sometimes I'm lucky if I can remember if I drank my coffee or not.  Don't hate on a fellow QAer, now!

July 26, 2009

The Blue Screen of Jeff

My QA Team gets together every two weeks to informally talk about QA and testing. We often take turns presenting something we think will be of interest to the entire team.

One of the Senior QAers has recently been presenting a series of 10-15 minute slideshow talks full of useful hints and tips.

He wanted to come up with a good name for the series, and eventually settled on:

The Blue Screen of Jeff

How cool is that?

July 13, 2009

Bad Vacation Weather - Good Vacation News

We took our annual vacation to York Beach, Maine.

(York Beach, Maine - The best day of the week!)

The bad news was the weather.  This was by far the worst weather vacation I can recall.  It rained every day.

Our last day of vacation was the best.  We had a nice morning on the beach.  But mid-afternoon, the clouds rolled in again, and severe thunderstorms in the area forced the lifeguards to empty the beach.

While we always have a few activities ready for the inevitable rainy day, my patience with shopping, eating, and walking in the rain was wearning thin.

For the entire eight-day vacation, we had a total of six hours of sun!  Oh well.

This year, instead of the usual three or so books, I decided to bring just one book for summer reading: 'Red and Me - My Coach, My Lifelong Friend' by Bill Russell.  Not bad, but a bit short and light, even for summer reading.  In addition I had loaded my iPod with some podcasts, to see how that would work out.  Not bad!  While I tried a bunch, the three that I particularly liked ended up being:
  • Patriots Football Weekly in Progress
  • NPR Science Friday
  • Scientific American
As bad as the weather was, we did receive two bits of great family news.

My older son, who had been searching for months, finally got approval on a mortgage and was able to close and move into his new condominium.  With the economy the way it is, the condo prices were good, but despite having been pre-approved, the approval process was very painful.  We spent several days during vacation going to banks, faxing statements to loan officers, etc.  Fortunately, it all worked out, and he's happily moved into a lovely condo, in a terrific area.

My younger son had graduated college and was looking for a job.  He had been getting just a few interviews, and no offers.  During vacation, he got two offers, and accepted one!  He'll be a (gasp!) Software Engineer, developing systems marketed to travel agencies.  It's with a small division of a large global company.  It seems like a great job, right up his alley, with lots of potential.  I'm really happy for him, and very proud.

So while not the most relaxing vacation, and certainly not the best weather, it was a really good week family-wise.