Sunday, 31 July 2011

Grandad, what's a VCR ?

Currently on vacation in the US, I found that a new series of Hells Kitchen had started - worth watching to see if you agree that Ramsey is a great consultant or just a foul mouthed bully...

Having missed the first episodes, we used On Demand to watch them - with the added bonus that we'd be able to skip the commercials that appear every 6 minutes



we couldn't.
Hit Fast Forward and the message

" VCR Controls are disabled "

appeared on the screen.
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat ?
Several Ramsey style expletives later, my tester senses kicked in.

What does "VCR" stand for ? Video Cassette Recorder
I'm not using a Video Cassette Recorder, no tapes are involved in this operation, why is the message referring to an ancient technology ?

And only the fast forward control is disabled, I could still pause and rewind so the message itself is lying to me.

All of which reminded me of the FAILURE mnemonic from Ben Simo.

The message was not Appropriate - I was not using a VCR and I can imagine some users not even knowing what a VCR was.
( how long ago did people stop using VCRs ? )

Impact - the message told me the controls were disabled which was incorrect

UI - should the error message really be using terminology of another technology ?

Emotions - seeing this message certainly made me mad !

But at least I got a blog post out of it - not that it makes up for commercials every 6 minutes.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Uninstallers - so square

I had to uninstall TweetDeck and got the not-very-helpful dialog shown above.

I know it's hard to imagine that users would want to uninstall the amazing life-changing program that you've worked on but always worth checking that if they want to do so, they can

Monday, 18 July 2011

Goodbye 17" seat

Just one more week of squeezing into a narrow seat* on the train and trying not to get seat rage.

Maybe I shouldn't complain as at least I do get a seat, two stations further on and it's standing room only for the remaining 50 minutes of the journey.

No more parking in side streets close to the station to avoid the rip-off £8 a day parking charge.

No more seeing cash-signs in taxs drivers eyes when trains are cancelled, the promised bus replacements never turn up so the only option is a cab share.

No more reminders to please remember to take my personal belongings with me.

No more dark mutterings when I read that train fares are due to increase by over 10%

No longer will I waste two days a year simply standing looking at departure boards to see what platform the train leaves from before joining the stampeding herd to get on it.

Apologies to all the tourists who's pictures I've ruined by getting in them - but I want to get home and not wait around whilst you take your picture of St Pauls and the City skyline from Embankment bridge.

I wont get to hear how the divorce proceedings of the woman who sat behind me pan out.

No more adding items to my Amazon wish list knowing I'd have no time to read them.

No more telling Rosie and Rob that I dont have time to write an article for the next Testing Planet.

End of an era and start of a new adventure - more details soon
( it's gonna be Grand and it's gonna be rapid )

*BBC has 43cm as being 18in when in fact it is 16.9291339 so 17"

'View from the 17" seat' would have made a great title for a blog on the joys of commuting. Too late now for me to use - any rat race commuters reading this, please feel free to use

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

left hand meet right hand

Rob Lambert recently blogged about Checking what other system allow - an online form asked for his Twitter name but wasn't able to process it as it didn't allow the same range of characters that Twitter does.

Maybe it was this post that made me more alert for examples of this as after reading this I found a discrepancy within a system ( never mind between systems ).

An app allows a user to be created and gives some guidance on creating a name and suggests using your email name. Makes sense as user names are system wide so as soon as someone has created 'Bob' then the second Bob has to try Bob1 or BobC and after a few months the ninety ninth bob has to spend several minutes trying to find a Bob that isn't taken.

So far so good.

Then an enhancement is proposed for the app that generates some output files. The files have to be given unique names but ones that are associated with the user. So the spec suggests using the username as part of the file name and gives an example as 'data_Mark.txt'.
Seems almost reasonable until you remember the earlier suggestion of using your email as a username. '' doesn't seem such a good idea...

so thanks to Rob for making me aware of checking the consistency of a system - and shows how testing memes can spread

Monday, 11 July 2011

Rock n Roll Characters

Google News had problems with the umlauts in Motorhead and Wurzel

But they are in esteemed company, the #AskObama Live Twitter event had a similar problem - great explanation of this can be found here

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

SpongeBob TestyPants

Just read a good blog post about Sponge Learning by Alex Rosen who hangs around on Hacker News ( as do I ) and soaks up infomation from the posts and comments there.

Reminded me a lot about my first moves into testing where I lurked on SQA Forums and Testing Reflections ( when I was not reading books )
The soak possibilities have increased the last few years - the awesome Software Testing Club site, blogs galore, podcasts and I suppose it's possible to soak a few drops from Twitter.

Simon Morley recently ranted about being given a headache by some of the questions that get posted on the forums ( and he doesn't get to see a lot of the posts that get Terminated as soon as I notice them )

But, as Darren McMillan points out in his latest blog post An untapped sea of knowledge, once you move on from soaking to interacting and participating in the community there are some great rewards.

If you're reading this then chances are I'm preaching to the converted but I'll try and remember how much I get out of the community and restrain my Twitter rants next time I open up the STC and find a post
"Plz tell me the Best Practices and Tool for naming Sanity Test Cases in an Agile team"