May 27, 2011

Own a Kindle? Visit These Sites!



If you own a Kindle (or even if you just use the Kindle app on some other device), you owe it to yourself to check out the following.

The easiest way to keep track of new book offerings for your Kindle.
I subscribe to their service that emails me all the new free books as soon as they become available on Amazon
A terrific blog with news and information about the Kindle, and other e-readers.
Another good Kindle blog, particularly for those with limited computer experience.
http://www.kindleboards.com/
A very active Kindle community.
http://calibre-ebook.com/
A terrific e-book management system.  Very handy for anyone using a Kindle, or other e-reader.
http://www.klip.me/sendtokindle/
The Send to Kindle browser extension makes it easy to read web content off-line on your Kindle.


This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

May 26, 2011

Testing Terms Have Their Own Page



Recently, I moved my Glossary of Testing Terms to its own page:

It has pretty consistently been the most-used page on this blog, so I felt that it deserved a prominent place of its own.

If you have any terms I should add or change, or any thoughts about this Glossary, send me a note.  Thanks!


This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

May 25, 2011

Code Freeze



Yet I'm still waiting for Code Freeze...


This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

May 24, 2011

A new Free Kindle Game - Thread Words


Amazon released yet another new (free) game for the Kindle - Thread Words.
Thread Words is a word search game for Kindle. 
Your goal is to find words in a 5 high grid of letters. Find words by selecting one letter from each column. On each level there are ten pairs of shapes. Make words matching each shape on the left with the same shape on the right to unlock the next level. After matching all shapes you can continue to find the rest of the words for a higher score or immediately move on to the next level. 
The game progresses through 4 levels of difficulty, with grids that increase from 4 to 7 letters across. Each word you find is worth 20 points per letter, and if you find all of the qualifying words you get an 800 point bonus! Try to beat the clock or take your time in relaxed mode. The game tracks separate high scores for each mode. 
I really enjoyed this one.  I seem to like pretty much all the Kindle games in the "word puzzle game" category. I haven't yet been able to complete the 7-letter-word level, but I'm still trying.

If I were a believer in puzzle-style interview tests, this would be one that I'd use.  Instead, it might be a good vocabulary builder, or it might just be fun.

Note: This game was free at the time I downloaded it from Amazon.  As with all free items, you must check before you download, since it may no longer be free.


This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

May 23, 2011

Songs about Testing, QA





I was looking for some music related to Testing or QA to use in a presentation.  The pickings are slim, but I found these.




Works on My Box
- Art Leonard
http://artleonard.com
http://artleonard.com/audio/ART_LEONARD-Works_on_My_Box.mp3
Art Leonard is a Seattle-based Christian, radio and novelty songwriter / performer. His software engineering anthem, "Works on My Box", made a big splash at a major software development company and is now played to new employees at orientation.



Feature Creep
- Geordie Keitt
http://tester.geordiekeitt.com
http://tester.geordiekeitt.com/2009/08/cast2009-feature-creep-song-video/

I performed this a month or so ago at CAST2009 in Colorado Springs, where Becky Fiedler recorded it. The intro to this song went, “This song is written from the perspective of a piece of bloatware that used to be sleek and clean.” I did this during a Lightning Talks session, meaning I had to bring it in under 4 minutes. That’s why there’s little time for dramatic pauses…



Black Box

Cem Kaner and James Bach presented a course on Black Box Software Testing that I took circa 2003. I performed this song, Black Box, to wrap up the training.




Rapid Tester
- Geordie Keitt
I this wrote on the occasion of attending my first RST class at James Bach’s Satisfice world headquarters in Front Royal, VA. I’ve edited it slightly since then as my understanding of the material has grown, but the essence remains the same. It borrows pretty much everything from Steve Earle’s beautiful song “Someday”.




Not on The Test
- Tom Chapin and John Forster
http://www.notonthetest.com/
http://www.notonthetest.com/NotOnTheTest.mp3
Ok, so this one isn't really about QA or software testing.  It still made me laugh and has a few poignant lessons about metrics and relying solely on a script, rather than on rational thinking:  ".. Don't think about thinking, it's not on the test!"




Bugs
- Ron Brown
http://www.songsforteaching.com/intellitunes/bugs.htm
http://www.songsforteaching.com/intellitunes/clips/bbbbugs.mp3
Another one that isn't really about software.  But it's a cute song, and how can you not like a song that starts off "B-b-b-bugs, bugs, bugs"?




I was particularly looking for a music video that James Whittaker and some of his students performed a while back (I think it was called "Piece of Crap" or something similar).  I tried all the searches I could think of, but no luck.  If you know where I might find it, please send me a note!

Know of any others I could add to this list?



This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

May 20, 2011

WinTask DbSelect(), DbGetFieldString(), DbGetFieldNumeric()


WinTask uses the DbSelect() function to query the database and create a result set, and the DbGetFieldString() to retrieve values from that result set.

DbSelect
The DbSelect function creates the dataset by selecting the desired records in the ODBC database.
Syntax
Ret=DbSelect({SQL_selection}[,DYNASET|SNAPSHOT])

DbGetFieldString
The DbGetFieldString function retrieves the contents of any non-numeric field within the current record for the dataset in use. 
Syntax
Ret=DbGetFieldString({field_name},{string})
DbGetFieldNumeric
The DbGetFieldNumeric function retrieves the value of a numeric field (integer) within the current record for the dataset in use.
Syntax
Ret=DbGetFieldNumeric({field_name},{value})

The {SQL selection} argument of DbSelect() is not case-sensitive, but the {field name} of DbGetFieldString() and DbGetFieldNumeric() is.

Thus:
DbSelect(“select cusip from fund_desc”, SNAPSHOT)
DbGetFieldString(“CUSIP”,Var$)
You can visualize this using PL/SQL Developer.  DbSelect() accepts the same SQL statement that the SQL Window accepts.  DbGetFieldString() requires the column  name that PL/SQL Developer produces as output.


Similarly, when using Cast() as in  :
DbSelect(“select CAST(CIK as VARCHAR2(10)) from fund_desc where CIK > 10000”, SNAPSHOT)
DbGetFieldString(“CAST(CIKASVARCHAR2(10))”,Var$)
You can see the field name created as output :



This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

Amazon AdMash - Crowdsourced A/B Testing on the Kindle



Yesterday, Amazon released a new Kindle Game/Thing with Active Content called AdMash:
Step into the driver's seat and tell us which sponsored screensavers you'd like to see on Kindle with Special Offers. Anyone can vote; it's fun and easy. 
Here's how it works. AdMash will show you two different screensavers and then ask you to vote for the one you like best. Scrutinize them or go with your gut, it's up to you. Once you've made your choice, it's on to the next round. The ones that get the most votes can become Kindle Sponsored Screensavers. It's up to you and the rest of the community to pick your favorites. 
Download AdMash and start voting now. Play as often as you like and we'll keep adding new screensavers for you to vote on.
This is an interesting way to get A/B Testing done on some potential advertisements.

  • Easy? Yes, quite easy.
  • Fun? Meh, pretty boring if you ask me!
  • Play? Not really my idea of play.

Pretty clever - enlisting the hoards of Kindle users in tuning up ads - crowdsourcing.

I'm a bit surprised that Amazon isn't offering something in return for folks using this "app" and providing valuable feedback.  It wouldn't need to be much to keep people working on it - a free download, a gift coupon, etc.

Perhaps they are already getting enough responses such that rewards aren't even needed?

See:

This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

May 19, 2011

Free Kindle Games


The Kindle, with its e-ink black-and-white display and limited processing power, isn't ideally suited to be a gaming platform.  But that's fine, since I'm not much of a gamer.

Still, simple games can be a nice diversion on occasion.  And if they are free, why not?  So when a free Kindle game becomes available, I download it.  And occasionally I play it.

Here are the games I have so far:




This is pretty much the classic PC game of mine sweeper, just using the Kindle's 5-way controller rather than a mouse.
The objective of Mine Sweeper is to find all of the mines that are hidden on the game grid. When you uncover a location on the grid, the number of mines adjacent to that location is revealed. The game ends when you have successfully identified all the mines and uncovered all the unoccupied locations - or, when you inadvertently uncover a location that contains a mine. The clock is ticking, so challenge yourself to go faster and faster with each game.
For me, it quickly gets pretty boring.




Blackjack is the one gambling game that I actually enjoy.  And the Kindle implementation is pretty well done.
The Kindle version features all of the most common aspects of the game including splits, double down, surrender and insurance, as well as multiple options for customization that allow you to play the style of Blackjack that you want to play. For example, you can configure the game to match specific structures like 'Dealer must hit soft 17' - a common rule variation in many Las Vegas casinos. 
The built-in advice feature, which you can turn on and off at any time, applies basic strategy and will recommend the best course of action to maximize your chances of winning.

If I have a few minutes to spare and I'm not reading, a few hands of Blackjack can fit in quite nicely.  And next time I plan to play for money, I'll spend some time practicing on my Kindle.




I'm not a big fan of Video Poker.  But the Kindle implementation is well done, so I would imagine it works well for those who do like the game itself.
Video Poker accurately simulates the Vegas-style video poker machine known as Jacks or Better. After making a bet, you will be dealt five cards. You select which of these five cards to hold, and redraw the rest to try to make the best poker hand possible. A hand with a pair of Jacks or better wins.
The built-in Strategy feature, which you can turn on and off at any time, will provide recommendations for how to play given the hand you were dealt, and will give you hints on how to improve if you fail to make the best move. This guidance will help you learn how to play the game, and how to maximize your payouts.
For me, there's very little strategy, and doesn't hold my interest.




This is the classic kids game.
In Dots and Boxes, you are presented with a set of dots in a 5x5 grid. One by one, each player must fill in a horizontal or vertical line between two dots. The player that completes a box by filling in the fourth side captures that box. Completing a box allows a player to immediately make another move. When all 16 boxes are claimed, the player with the most boxes wins.  
Play against Kindle at Easy, Medium or Hard difficulty levels. You can also play against another person in Pass 'n' Play mode and select whether a match requires 2, 3 or 4 wins to complete. Dots and Boxes comes with tips and instructions to help you if you get stuck, and also tracks your best scores, wins, and ties for each difficulty level. 
It didn't hold my interest, but might be fun to hand over to one of your children for a while.




Another classic puzzle game.
In Number Slide, you are presented with a set of numbered tiles on a grid. One tile is removed and the remaining tiles are scrambled. The objective is to get all the tiles into proper numeric order by moving the tiles into the one open space and sliding them around until they are back where they belong.  
Number Slide features hundreds of randomly generated game grids for you to enjoy. You can choose between a small (3x3), medium (4x4) or large (5x5) puzzle grid with larger grids being more difficult. You can also challenge yourself by trying to beat your best time on each puzzle. 
Again, I'm not a big fan of the game itself.




I do like word games.  And Every Word is pretty well done on the Kindle.
If you like word scrambles then Every Word is the game for you. Test your vocabulary as you try to find as many words from the scrambled letters in this fun and fast-paced word game. 
You are given six or seven scrambled letters with the goal of finding as many words as you can. You score points by filling out the words in each empty spot on the board using only the letters that appear at the top of the game board. Keep at it until time runs out or until you fill up the board. The more words you make, the higher your score! 
Your score is comprised of two components: first make a lot of words, second try to make the longest word possible. The best way to increase your score is to do both. Why? Because when you do, you earn the right to play a new level with a brand new set of letters. As long as you keep finding the longest word, you can move on to a new level and push your score higher and higher.
Not a bad way to spend a few free minutes.



Another good word game.  Again, the Kindle platform works well for this sort of game.

The tiles are added to your row one at a time so you'll constantly be working with a new set of letters. After you submit a word, the letters you used will be removed and new ones will be added. Increase your score by using less common letters. Create longer words and increase your score even more. 
If you don't use the letters fast enough, they'll disappear and new ones will take their place, so you'll have to decide if you want to play it safe and use short words or try to wait for more letters to form longer words.
Pretty good for using your vocabulary skills.

Note: These games were free at the time I downloaded them from Amazon.  As with all free items, you must check before you download, since they may no longer be free.


This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

May 18, 2011

Exploratory Testing

Hmm.  So will the world actually end in 2012?

Let's do a little exploratory testing...




Whoa...


This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

May 17, 2011

Testing Is...


According to Google (and Google knows everything), testing is...
  • Testing is easy
  • Testing is boring
  • Testing is fun
  • Testing is not teaching
  • Testing is overrated
  • Testing is not entertainment
  • Testing is under way
  • Testing is useless
  • Testing is qualitative only if you can't count
  • Testing is back in style
  • Testing is not snake oil
  • Testing is a waste of time
  • Testing is our competence
  • Testing is expensive
  • Testing is more than code; it's a philosophy
  • Testing is changing
  • Testing is not a substitute for thinking
  • Testing is context dependent
  • Testing is an example of prevention costs
  • Testing is static execution of code
  • Testing is in progress
  • Testing is a box of many colors
  • Testing is a must
  • Testing is an excellent investment
  • Testing is not checking

Can you add to the list?


This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

May 16, 2011

Vacation in San Francisco


The Golden Gate Bridge
as seen from Ghirardelli Square

For our Spring vacation this year, we decided to go visit my son in San Francisco. He moved out there last summer after landing a job as a Software Engineer at a startup in the mobile security field.

We had a wonderful time visiting Tim and his girlfriend Sara.  They live in a really nice apartment complex, and have very nice roommates and neighbors.  We stayed with them for the first part of our vacation, had Easter dinner with them and their friends, then moved to a hotel in Fisherman's Wharf.

We got to do a lot of "touristy" things, but a lot of other things as well.
  • We walked over the Golden Gate Bridge.  A beautiful view of the Pacific, the Bay, Angel Island and Alcatraz.  We saw some surfers, and some sea lions, too.
  • We walked the steep climb up Telegraph Hill, then I went to the top of the Coit Tower.  Terrific view up there!
  • Tim showed us around the SOMA area, and took us to his office.  We got to meet the CEO and CTO.  Although they both look like kids (it's a very young startup), they were very polite and said nice things about Tim.  I can see why he likes working there so much - lots of energy.
  • We drove through Sausalito.  Lovely town.
  • We spent a night and day in Napa Valley.  It was interesting to see all the vineyards and the hills covered with grass, rather than covered with trees as they would be in New England.  We went to a wine tasting.  I liked them all, but my wife didn't - she prefers sweeter wines.
  • San Francisco has some terrific Food Trucks, so we had lunch at one parked near City Hall Plaza.  They all have their own web sites, and Twitter accounts, and seem to have very loyal followings.  Not something I've seen before, but very good.
  • We walked over to Ghirardelli Square.  You get a free piece of chocolate just for entering a shop there - delicious!  We had a nice lunch there one day, and a terrific Ice Cream Sundae one evening.
  • We walked everywhere in Fisherman's Wharf.  Ate at the Boudin Bakery.  Saw the Sea Lions at Pier 39.  Saw the street performer painted gold.  It's a fun place.
  • We drove to the Cliff House Restaurant to see the Pacific.
  • We saw the playground where Joe DiMaggio played baseball as a boy.  We saw the playground where O.J. Simpson played football as a boy.  
  • We took a few bus tours and saw lots of points of interest, including the building at which they filmed The Towering Inferno, the streets they used for the car chase scenes in the movie Bullit, the TransAmerica building, and many more.
  • We ate at a bunch of terrific restaurants.  San Francisco seems to have a restaurant every three feet!  One was a tiny Italian seafood restaurant.  No chicken, no beef, and no dessert - just really good seafood.
  • We drove down Lombard Street ("the crookedest street in the world")
  • And a bunch of other fun things.
We had a great time, and will definitely go back.


This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

May 15, 2011

Google Blogger (and All Things Quality) Goes Dark


Last week, Google's Blogger service experienced a multi-day outage.  For the first part of the outage, blogs (including this one) were completely inaccessible.  Later, most blogs were back up, but recent content changes were missing.  Eventually, Google was able to restore most of the missing content.

From Google:
Here’s what happened: during scheduled maintenance work Wednesday night, we experienced some data corruption that impacted Blogger’s behavior. Since then, bloggers and readers may have experienced a variety of anomalies including intermittent outages, disappearing posts, and arriving at unintended blogs or error pages. A small subset of Blogger users (we estimate 0.16%) may have encountered additional problems specific to their accounts
This leads some to rightly question what it would have been like if this had happened to other Google services like GMail or Google Docs?  And what if you had moved your business "to the cloud" and entrusted its online presence to the availability of these services?  That's a pretty scary thought.

Now I use lots of Google sites and services.  I think they are terrific, well thought out, and priced right (mostly free).  But would I bet my business on their availability?  Probably not.

See also:
http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/blogger/thread?tid=7b6d0384a4f5fa00&hl=en

And:


This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

Unusual Search Term?



While reviewing some site analytics for this blog, I looked through the search terms used to find us.  I saw one that I hadn't seen before:
швейцарский нож
Using Google Translate, I found that this is Russian for "Swiss Army Knife".  Interesting!

Welcome, friends from Russia!  I hope you found something interesting?


This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

May 14, 2011

You Should Check Out sqa.stackexchange.com


For a different spin on an SQA forum, check out Software Quality Assurance and Testing - Stack Exchange at http://sqa.stackexchange.com/

From their FAQ:
Software Quality Assurance and Testing - Stack Exchange is for software quality control experts, automation engineers, and software testers.
Based on the Stack Exchange platform, the site is currently in the Public Beta phase.  If this site gets a critical mass of activity, it becomes a full member of the Stack Exchange Network.  If not, it may be deleted.

It seems to be gathering some momentum, and already has some very smart people answering very good questions.  Check it out.  If you like what you see, join in!


This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

May 11, 2011

Tools I've Been Using A Lot Lately


It's good to have lots of tools in your toolbox.  But I tend go through periods of time where I'm using a smaller set of tools a large percent of the time.

For instance, lately we've been using these tools quite a bit:


WinTask
http://www.wintask.com
We use WinTask for most of our website automation tasks, regression tests, etc.  It's very easy to use, yet amazingly powerful.


BareTail
http://www.baremetalsoft.com/baretail/index.php
Our systems tend to have fairly comprehensive logs which provide a lot of useful information for analyzing the results of tests.  BareTail makes it easy to watch several logs simultaneously, and highlight areas of interest.

BareGrep
http://www.baremetalsoft.com/baregrep/index.php
Our systems tend to have a lot of configuration files.  BareGrep makes it easy to search through them and find the desired settings.

PL/SQL Developer
http://www.allroundautomations.com/plsqldev.html
We use this for pretty much all of our analysis of database activity, for creating test data, for testing stored procedures, etc.

WinMerge
http://winmerge.org/
Often our testing involves comparing the recent output to baselines.  Sometimes the output comes from our system-under-test, sometimes the output is created during our automated tests. WinMerge makes comparison with the baseline, and analysis of the differences, very efficient.

SharePoint
http://sharepoint.microsoft.com
We keep our development and test assets (Requirements, Specs, Test Plans, Schedules, Checklists, etc) in SharePoint.

Bugzilla
http://www.bugzilla.org/
Our bug-tracking tool of choice.

MWSnap
http://www.mirekw.com/winfreeware/mwsnap.html

We're currently using MWSnap for screenshots, typically for attaching to bug reports.


This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.