August 31, 2011

A New Version of WinTask - 3.8

WinTask 3.8 - now supports Firefox


The good folks at TaskWare have released a new version of the favorite tool in my toolbox - WinTask.


The big news here is that WinTask has now added support for Firefox 5 and above as well as for Internet Explorer 9!

A few new functions were also added:

  • EnabledHTMLElement, returns 1 if the specified HTML element is enabled, returns 0 if it is disabled
  • PreviousPage() simulates a Go previous page in the browser window which has the focus. 

Here is the vendor's version history of WinTask: http://www.wintask.com/version-history.php

Check this tool out at http://www.wintask.com/

You can see some of my WinTask utility scripts here, using the WinTask tag.



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/.

August 30, 2011

A New Free Kindle Game - Jigsaw Words


Amazon released yet another new (free) game for the Kindle - Jigsaw Words.
Jigsaw Words is a word game that challenges you to combine groups of letters into words that match the clues given. 
In each Jigsaw Words puzzle, you start with a set of 10 clues. You also have a set of randomly arranged puzzle pieces with letters on them. Your goal is to solve the clues in the puzzle by arranging the puzzle pieces so that the letters form the word that matches each clue. Start with the easiest clues first. As you use each puzzle piece, it is removed from play, making it easier to find the more difficult matches. You can also shuffle the grid of puzzle pieces at any time for a different perspective. 
Jigsaw Words has 100 puzzles and each puzzle has 10 clues to solve. The puzzles are organized into 10 themed categories like Holidays and Animals, and you can use the theme to help you solve the clues. 
If you enjoy working with words and patterns, try Jigsaw Words and test your ability to build words today!
I don't care for this game as much as some of the other Kindle word games. For example, I like Thread Words a lot more.

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/.

August 29, 2011

How To Sell Testing - You Should Read This!

How to Sell Testing by Jim Hazen

Jim Hazen has written an excellent article "The secret skill – How to sell testing" in the August 2011 issue of Software Test & Quality Assurance Magazine. You can get it at http://www.softwaretestpro.com/Publication/p/STPM (free registration required).

I particularly liked how he listed some of the constituents being served
  • Project Management
  • Development
  • Marketing/Sales
  • Technical Support/IT & Customer Services
  • End User
  • C-Level and Senior Management
what they need from QA/Testing, and the kind of language that should be used to convey that information.

According to the bio in the article:
"Jim Hazen is a veteran of the software testing trenches. He has over twenty years of experience testing applications on the PC and Web platforms. Mr. Hazen has been involved with the startup of testing groups at multiple companies and has done consulting work for the last 10 years. He has helped clients implement tools for functional automation, performance testing and test management. And worked with clientele management to achieve efficiency gains and the financial benefits associated to testing. Mr. Hazen has been a speaker at QA and test conferences."
Jim is a really smart guy, and a long-time friend. When it comes to QA, Testing, Test Automation, and Diving - he knows his stuff.

Check it out!


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/.

August 25, 2011

Metrics Are...

Metrics are

According to Google (and Google knows everything), metrics are ...
  • Metrics are bunk
  • Metrics are not available
  • Metrics are used in marketing
  • Metrics are important
  • Metrics are the message
  • Metrics are worthless
  • Metrics are crap
  • Metrics are horrible
  • Metrics are changing
  • Metrics are killing creativity
  • Metrics are wrong
  • Metrics are dangerous
  • Metrics are king!
  • Metrics are just candy for the boss
  • Metrics are not enough
  • Metrics are critical for startups
  • Metrics are a false idol
  • Metrics are in 'Crisis'
  • Metrics are hard to kill
  • Metrics are outdated
  • Metrics are too simple
  • Metrics are coming!
  • Metrics are spreading
  • Metrics are essential
  • Metrics are needed
  • Metrics are awesome
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/.

August 24, 2011

Dancing Out Of Our Comfort Zone

Not actually us

I've been seeing a number of articles recently about how you should step outside your comfort zone on occasion, how you should do something different, something less routine, something that makes you stretch a bit. A few months ago, my wife and I did just that.

When our son got engaged last year, my wife told me "It's our son's wedding. I don't want to just sway back and forth on the dance floor like we usually do." She was right. This was important. We needed to learn how to dance.

Now my wife is never uncomfortable just going out and trying something. She doesn't care what others think of her or how she looks doing something new - she'll jump right in and give it a shot. Me - not so much. I tend to be very self-conscious, and very concerned that I'll look foolish. As much as I'd like it to be otherwise, that's just my nature.

I searched around the internet for some self-help dancing instruction. I looked at online video, checked out some websites, even purchased a "Dancing for Dummies" style book. None of that seemed to make any sense to me. I couldn't see how it all fit together.

So we decided more drastic measures were in order. I found a local dance studio that offered ballroom dancing instruction. I called and explained what we were looking for and the instructor suggested that their Beginner Ballroom Dancing would be appropriate. It was a six-week session teaching the basics of Foxtrot, Waltz, Rumba, and Swing.

While we were both a bit nervous the first night, we quickly learned that everyone was at the same beginner stage and that concentrating on learning meant that nobody cared how the others looked, nobody looked foolish, nobody would be judgmental. We were all just learners.

The first few weeks, we weren't sure we'd get it. It was hard to remember what we had learned last week, even though we practiced at home. And it was hard to believe it would ever feel comfortable. But the instructors were terrific. They took us through the beginning steps, started each lesson off with a review of the past week, and introduced new steps very gradually. They showed us what it would look like when we were doing it correctly, and what it might look like when done incorrectly.

Around the third week, we began to feel like "we can do this". While it was still hard work, we started to relax and have fun with it. We even attended a few extra dances that were offered, where we could try out what we had learned.

By the time the wedding rolled around, we were able to get out on the floor and dance many of the dances. We didn't always know what we were doing, since the wedding wasn't limited to the four dances we had practiced, but we were more confident, and more willing to just give it a shot. It was a lot of fun. Several people even asked if we had taken dance lessons.

I learned a little bit about my personal learning style. While I am able to learn a lot by reading and watching, for me that doesn't translate well into physical activity. For something like dancing, I needed someone to show me how to do it, tell me what I was doing wrong, and help me learn.

And I added another "out of my comfort zone" activity to my life. (Writing this blog was another "out of my comfort zone" stretch for me as well.)

Will all of this translate to my work life? Perhaps, I don't really know. But I do know that my wife and I have gone dancing a few times even after my son's wedding, and have had a fun time with it - and that's not half bad!


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/.

August 23, 2011

Did You Feel That?

Earthquake (not quite drawn to scale)

Earlier today I was in a meeting, and felt something unusual. It felt like the room was moving a bit side-to-side - nothing really bad, but noticeable. I looked around and didn't see anyone react, so I thought it was just me.  (I had forgotten to take my high blood pressure medication this morning, and I thought it was some sort of side-effect.) I was wondering if I should get up and get a drink of water or something.

Then I thought maybe it was the train track repairs going on just outside our building. They had been rolling trains through for a few hours - I thought maybe a particularly big train was on the repaired tracks.

Finally, the head of our division came into the meeting room and asked "Did anyone else feel that? My vertical blinds are swaying."

It was an earthquake.

Apparently, an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale occurred in Virginia just before 2:00 PM local time, and it shook the Eastern Seaboard, including the Boston area. We are on the fifth floor of an older building, which might have made the shaking a bit more pronounced.

At the time, I couldn't tell what was going on. But now I know what a mild earthquake feels like. As far as I can recall, I haven't experienced one before. Then again, I might have felt it before, but just thought I was getting sick.

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/.

Kayaking on Field Pond, Andover MA

Field Pond, Andover MA

Sunday afternoon was hot and sticky.  So my wife and I packed a picnic lunch, put the kayaks on the car, and went to Field Pond in Andover.

Field Pond is in the Harold Parker State Forest, so there are plenty of folks in the area hiking, trail biking, fishing, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking.  The pond itself was very quiet (about a dozen people and a few dogs in the water), and there was a bit of a breeze.

Not too much in the way of wildlife - some birds, a few geese, some turtles, and a few small fish that the younger children were catching.

We paddled around to check out the pond, ate our lunch, and paddled some more.  It was a nice, relaxing way to spend a hot afternoon.


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/.

August 22, 2011

I'm Voting For SQAForums!


Once again the Automated Testing Institute is conducting their annual "Automation Honors" voting. From their website:
The ATI Automation Honors celebrate the best in the discipline of software test automation. With these awards, automation practitioners determine who the nominees are and who takes home the prize.
In the category of "Best Automated Testing Forum" my vote goes to SQAForums.com.  

With over 190,000 registered members and numerous tool-specific and tool-agnostic forums, SQAForums is the best place I've found to ask questions and get answers about all facets of test automation, as well as general test and QA issues. And, I'm lucky enough to be one of the Moderators!

If you like SQAForums, as much as I do, you can go here to vote:

And if you haven't visited SQAForums yet, why not come and pay a visit at:

Tell them your friend Joe sent you!


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/.

August 19, 2011

QA Is Not A Verb

QA


qual·i·ty as·sur·ance
Noun: The maintenance of a desired level of quality in a service or product, especially by means of attention to every stage of the process of delivery or production.



QA is not a verb.  QA stands for Quality Assurance.

So when you say "can you please QA this build", you are asking "can you please Quality Assurance this build?"  That's probably not what you meant.

Perhaps you mean:
  • Can you please check this build?
  • Can you please test this build? copyrightjoestrazzere
  • Can you please use your vast Quality Assurance skills to help ensure this build is of sufficient quality for our important stakeholders?

You wouldn't say:
  • Can you please IT this computer?
  • Can you please Development this code?
  • Can you please Engineering this system?
  • Can you please Product Management this requirement?

So please, don't use QA as a verb?

(Thank you for taking the time to Reader this article.)

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/.

August 18, 2011

Patriots Training Camp 2011

New England Patriots Training Camp 2011

Last Saturday, my wife and I went down to Foxboro to see the New England Patriots Training Camp.

These sessions are open to the public, and free.  I've been going for years now and really enjoy them.  Not only do you get to see a taste of football from a different, up-close angle, but you get to see lots of behind-the-scenes work.  It's fascinating to see how the Patriots structure their practices, how some of their time is spent in small groups with positional coaches, while some time is spent in team drills.

One really interesting part is the one-on-one sessions, where receivers work one-on-one against defensive backs, or running backs work one-on-one against linebackers.  From repetition to repetition, you can see the players try to adjust their moves to improve.

It's also interesting to see Bill Belichick and watch what he decides to do during each drill.  During some of the full-team and seven-on-seven drills, he would pick up a blocking pad and throw it at the quarterback as he was preparing to throw. Presumably, this prepares the player to be better able to deal with bodies coming at him during real games.  It's also interesting to see Belichick and the other coaches correct players who make mistakes and congratulate players after making a good play.  At one point, Belichick instructed the team to run the next play from the right hash.  When the team started to shift over, he said "No, the other right hash", and everyone laughed.

A few player observations:
  • Tom Brady was very sharp.  He dropped some passes just inches over the fingertips of the defenders.
  • Rob Gronkowski continues to be unstoppable so far. He catches everything.
  • Wes Welker looked really fast, and really sharp making cuts.
  • Chad Ochocinco seems to still have a lot to learn about the Pats offense.  When not actively practicing, he often stands right beside Brady and discusses what they are seeing - smart.
  • Ryan Mallet has a gun for an arm, but holds the ball for a long, long time.

Once again, I'm really looking forward to the football year.

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/.

August 17, 2011

Free Kindle Cloud Reader



Amazon recently released a free new Kindle "feature", the Kindle Cloud Reader.
  • Read your e-books in your browser
  • You can access all of your Amazon-hosted e-books, or you can download them locally for offline reading
  • Currently works only in Chrome and Safari
  • Simple, clean interface
  • Can view your entire e-book library at a glance
  • Allows you to keep your last-page-read indication "in the Cloud" so you can start reading on one device, and pick up right where you left off on another device


I've tried it in Chrome, and it works quite nicely.  Fast, responsive, looks good, and makes it trivially easy to synch across devices.  It doesn't do a lot, but what it does, it seems to do quite well.  I expect enhancements to be implemented quickly.

I hear that this feature is targeted at Apple.  The Kindle Cloud Reader is a replacement for their Kindle App on the iPad.  Apple wanted to control the purchasing experience on all iPad apps, so this browser-based approach bypasses Apple's control.  Amazon can have their convenient Kindle Store button go directly to Amazon without Apple being involved, thank you very much.

Now, if the lawsuit against Apple and Publishers over the agency concept can only make some progress, we might see more competition (and reduced prices) for e-books.

To be honest, I'm not completely sure when I'll use the Cloud Reader, other than when I forget my Kindle and want/need to read something at lunchtime.  Still, it's nice to know it exists, and it's 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/.

August 16, 2011

People Are Not Fungible



fun·gi·ble

[fuhn-juh-buhl]
adjective Law.(especially of goods) being of such nature or kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part, for another of like nature or kind.
Origin: 

1755–65; Medieval Latin fungibilis,  equivalent to Latin fung ī )to perform the office of + -ibilis 



Money is fungible. One bill can be freely exchanged for another. Gasoline is basically fungible. You can fill your car up at one station or another without worrying that you are putting something different in your gas tank.

But people are not fungible. Bob is not the same as Bill. Patty is not the same as Paula. Keith is not the same as Carla.

And, while I like for everyone on my small QA Team to be well-rounded, knowledgeable, and flexible, they aren't all the same. Some of them have more experience than others. Some of them are better at testing back-end systems than others, some of them are better at front-end systems. Some are terrific at deeply analyzing systems having no written Requirements, while others need more guidance. Some are particularly good at test automation, while others tend to focus on manual testing. They are people, and people are not fungible. copyrightjoestrazzere

So, I get particularly annoyed when I am asked to "throw some QA" at a project and the implication is that I can just pick whoever happens to have 2 weeks available at that particular time and assign him or her for some testing. And if nobody happens to be available in that slot, I'm annoyed at the suggestion that I can just bring in someone new and have them be productive on day one, hour one.

We don't roll people from one random project to another without any thought and without any preparation. We can do better! We put more thought into it - thought about what is the best for the project, best for the company, best for the individual tester. We match up the skill set and the availability with the project needs, in order to achieve the best work we can do. We owe that to the business.

If all testing were the same, and my test team consisted of a hoard of mindless, faceless robots - then it wouldn't matter. Two weeks of testing needed? No problem, clone number 336 is scheduled to be available then. We don't have any clones available for that project in December? No problem, we'll rent two from uClone.

But all testing is not the same. And in particular all people are not the same. Testers (and people in general) are not fungible!

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/.

August 15, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011

Nubble Light - York, Maine


My wife and I took our annual vacation in York Beach, Maine last week. We had a great time.

As usual, we spent a lot of time on the beach, did some swimming, did a lot of walking and sightseeing, and had some great food. This year, we also took a drive to Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, saw some of the sights, and took a boat ride. The weather was terrific pretty much of the week, and we had lots of fun! Spending time with my wife in a warm climate is one of the things I love the most.

While I enjoy the ocean, the outdoors, and the company of my wife immensely, a few bits of technology helped me enjoy the week even more.

3G Kindle

I love to read. And vacations give me enough down time that I can read a lot.

In past years, I'd scour the bookstores, and particularly the discount racks, pick up three or four books, and bring them along. This year, I didn't bring any books, just my Kindle.

I've enjoyed my Kindle even more that I thought I would when I bought it last year. For me, I can open up one of the 200 or so books I have downloaded, and lose myself in the reading experience without caring about the platform. The interface is easy to use, and the e-ink screen makes it a pleasure to read indoors, or outside in the sun. I knocked off several enjoyable books.

When I researched the Kindle, I debated about which version I should purchase - the Wifi-only version, or the 3G+Wifi version. I think I made the right decision for me by opting for the slightly more expensive 3G+Wifi. This model provides both internet access as well the ability to download books via Wifi when it is available, and via 3G when it isn't. I don't even need to buy a data plan - the 3G access is free forever (and I always like free).

The 3G access was particularly useful on this vacation. The condo where we stay in Maine doesn't provide Wifi. But I was able to get a good enough 3G signal so that I could browse the internet, and stay up on the news. In particular, I was able to follow the New England Patriots training camp news - that makes me happy.

Since the Kindle isn't the fastest platform for browsing the internet, it's good if there's a mobile version of the websites you like to visit. So prior to vacation, I quickly whipped up a reasonably mobile-friendly website of my own (http://mobilestrazz.blogspot.com) and used it to house links to mobile-friendly versions of some of my favorite websites. Quick access, via free 3G, from the condo and the beach - very nice!


Bifocal Sunglasses

In past years, I had to bring along sunglasses and reading glasses wherever I went. I'm still not used to this whole glasses-wearing thing, so invariably I'd forget one or the other, and suffer for it.

This year, one of my wife's patients mentioned that they owned a pair of bifocal sunglasses. So we went to our local L.L. Bean store and found some. What a difference they make! I was able to bring just one pair of good glasses, and still could see in the sun without squinting as well as while driving or reading. Having a way to avoid tiring out my eyes made the days all that much more comfortable and enjoyable.


iPod

I brought along my iPod. And as I've done in the past, I loaded it up with some of my favorite podcasts.
  • PFW in Progress is a two-hour podcast with the writers of Patriots Football Weekly. This is what I listen to in the summer when I want to hear about what's going on with the New England Patriots.
  • APM: Marketplace Tech Report is a series of daily, short, lighthearted podcasts from American Public Media dealing with technology, and hosted by John Moe.
  • Science Friday is a weekly podcast from NPR. Some really good discussions of science and technology, hosted by Ira Flatow.
  • Science Talk is a weekly podcast from Scientific American. Host Steve Mirsky interviews leading scientists and journalists about the latest developments in the world of science.
When I want to close my eyes and relax, or when I take a long walk alone, I turn on the iPod and listen. Sometimes I listen to good music, and other times I listen to great discussions.


All in all, it was a great week of not thinking about work, having a wonderful time with my wife, and relaxing.


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/.