Announcing uTest.TV: The World’s First Network Solely for Testers (we think)

One of uTest’s greatest strengths is its 55,000+ professional testers from 188 countries around the world. And we go to great lengths to build such a vibrant community, whether it be via our blog, forums, uMeetups, or other avenues.

And while we’ve leveraged our testing community to take over the worlds of mobile app testing and website testing, as well as app security and usability testing, there’s one area in which the uTest juggernaut has lacked a presence: that’s right, television. But thanks to our recent D Round investment and several hours of work, uTest is pleased to announce the launch of uTest.TV. All testing. All the time. On TV!

“Think about it,” said uTest CMO, Matt Johnston. “uTest has more than 55,000 professional testers, as well as 1,000+ customers – that’s more than the audiences of LifeTime, CSPAN2 and ESPN8 (aka “the Ocho”) combined! If there’s room for them, then there’s almost certainly, probably, possibly room for us… right? No, seriously, I’m asking…”

Let’s hope so. We have a lot riding on the success of this network (remember, we spent, like, an entire afternoon on it). But with the below list of original programs, how can we possibly fail?

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Charlie’s Angel Investors
You thought Shark Tank was riveting television (seriously, did you?) – well, see what happens when angel investing all-stars Chris Dixon, Dave McClure, Ron Conway and Michael Arrington work with fledgling entrepreneur Charlie Sheen to refine, launch and scale his winning startup idea.

Arrested Developers
Level-headed tester Michael Bluth takes over after his entire dev team is imprisoned for “light treason”. But the rest of his spoiled, dysfunctional test team makes his job unbearable. A comedy for smart people, this show is destined to be cancelled within three years tops, so watch it while you can.

Real World: Testing
Spontaneous. Unscripted. Likable. None of these words describe the new season of the Real World, where eight testers will live and test together in the harsh confines of a 25-room mansion. What happens when testers stop being fake and start being force-fed alcohol? Your guess is as good as ours.

Saturday Night Live Load Testing
It’s Saturday night and you’re ready for some laughs, but you won’t find any here. That’s because we use Saturday night for live load tests of our network server. How else can we prepare for literally dozens of viewers? Tune in if you want, but all you’ll see is the same sketches as the week before, plus tons of commercials (bada bing!).

The UX Factor
Simon Cowell is back, and he’s pretty pissed off – this time it’s about poor information architecture, usability, and graphic design. Watch as a cavalcade of designers bring their apps before the toughest judge on TV.

Two and a Half Testers
The life of a free-wheeling, womanizing, alcoholic tester comes to an abrupt halt when his brother and 10-year old nephew move into his test lab. Jokes and laughter will be dubbed in later.

90210.0101010011101100
This new-school drama follows a group of testers in the nation’s most upscale IP address. Will Dylan break Kelly’s code? Will gambling cost Brendan his status as Scrum master? Will Donna Martin graduate with an ISTQB certification? Is Andrea getting too old for testing? You’ll watch, but you probably won’t admit it.

How I Met Your Test Manager
Set in Silicon Valley, this comedic drama follows the recollections of test engineer Ned Tosby, who explains to his co-worker the events that led to his meeting of their test manager. Trust us, it’s funnier than it sounds.

The Young and the Testless
Explore the glamorous world of denial of service, forbidden tester-developer romance and other over-the-top plotlines in uTest TV’s #1 daytime drama. Passionate acting, witty dialogue and believable storylines – this show has none of them. But characters might come back from the dead. Deal?

16 and Testing
She’s only 16, but she’ll do what she wants! In this case, that means software testing. This show follows the lives of 16-year old girls as they enter the adult world of software testing. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll judge.

Kourtney and Kim Test NewYork.com
You’ve seen them test their husbands’ patience, but wait til you see the Kardashian sisters test the Big Apple’s official website! And you thought maybe they couldn’t figure out computers (spoiler alert: they can’t).

CSI: Testing
With new murders each week – grisly murders that can only be solved with the help of low-talking, sunglasses-wearing, bad-guy-strangling software testers – CSI: Testing is the world’s most popular crime testing drama. It’s also the only crime testing drama, but whatever.

The .XML Files
A software tester for the FBI and his skeptical, sometimes attractive sidekick investigate the supernatural and unexplained (like GUI bugs in IE 7) while hidden forces (product & dev) work to impede their efforts.  The truth is out there, but let’s test it anyway.

60 Minutes (of testing)
Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. Watch old people become incredulous at the fads of today’s young test teams. Hidden cameras explore the dangers of exploratory testing. Are jeans at work to blame for the lack of quality in mobile apps? Why are testers constantly on your lawn? To find out, tune in on Sunday night (when all the other good stuff is on).

It’s Always Sunny in Testadelphia
This show follows “The Group”, a gang of underachieving testers who run an unsuccessful testing firm called Testadelphia. Drug use, profanity and strong language are just a few of the reasons to tune in. If you ever wondered what testers on crack would look like, look no further.

 

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Which of these programs will be must-see TV for you? Ready to experience the greatest testing entertainment — or should we say, testertainment — experience of your life? Then check out uTest.TV >>>

Software QA Engineer Tops “Happiest Jobs” List

Super Happy Fun Time!When asked to think about the happiest job in America, does your own job come to mind? What job do you think is the happiest job? When asking this question, did these positions come to mind: Customer Service Representative, Accountant, Bank Teller or even Warehouse Manager?  Well, according to a survey posted on Forbes.com those jobs are listed in the top 20 of “The Happiest Jobs in America.”  The study took nearly a year to compile and coming in at #1 for the Happiest Job in the US is the Software Quality Assurance Engineer!

“Since we tend to spend more waking hours working than doing anything else, our work happiness is a huge factor in our overall happiness,” says CareerBliss’ chief executive, Heidi Golledge.

Well quoted by Heidi Golledge, as this statement is very true.  I spend more time in the office and with my coworkers than I do my own home and family.  So if I work with people who share the same interests as me, as well as enjoy the work I do, work isn’t necessarily work anymore, it becomes more of a second home.

CareerBliss also found that many people appreciate their jobs more in a down economy. “As the job market is improving every day, we see that employees are looking to evaluate if they are happy in their current position and if their company is providing the type of culture they identify with,” Golledge says. “This year will be a very important year for employers as employees look at a possible career or job change to improve their satisfaction at work.”

More than 100,000 workers took part in the survey and rated factors such as workplace happiness and environment, job resources, co-worker relationships and daily tasks on a sale of 1 to 5. In the end, Software Quality Assurance Engineers came out on top.

With an index score of 4.24, software quality assurance engineers said they are more than satisfied with the people they work with and the company they work for. They’re also fairly content with their daily tasks and bosses. …

Golledge says, “In past studies, we have noted that the long hours and intense demands on software engineers’ time caused them to rank as less than happy.  However, we are happy to report that software quality assurance engineers feel rewarded at work, as they are typically the last stop before software goes live and correctly feel that they are an integral part of the job being done at the company.”

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uTest Infographic: Which Android Devices Make App Users Smile?

Do you play a lot of games on your SEMC Xperia Play? Are you a news junkie with an LG Optimus 2X? How do sports apps work on your Samsung Infuse 4G? Ever get frustrated with the music app on your HTC Thunderbolt? In our newest uTest Infographic we let the Android Market app reviews do the talking to find out which devices reign supreme (and which fall flat) in the  major app categories.

uTest Infograpich 2012

You Are Losing the Battle With Hackers. Yes, You.

You Have Been Hacked“We’re not winning. … I don’t see how we ever come out of this without changes in technology or changes in behavior, because with the status quo, it’s an unsustainable model. Unsustainable in that you never get ahead, never become secure, never have a reasonable expectation of privacy or security.”

That’s a quote from Shawn Henry, the FBI’s top cyber cop who has spent two decades with the bureau, from a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal. And he’s not alone in thinking that there needs to be fairly substantial changes to software and network security.

James A. Lewis, a senior fellow on cybersecurity at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that as gloomy as Mr. Henry’s assessment may sound, “I am actually a little bit gloomier. I think we’ve lost the opening battle [with hackers].” Mr. Lewis said he didn’t believe there was a single secure, unclassified computer network in the U.S.

“There’s a kind of willful desire not to admit how bad things are, both in government and certainly in the private sector, so I could see how [Mr. Henry] would be frustrated,” he added.

Big companies, small start-ups, utility providers, government agencies, no one is safe from hackers and many networks are less secure than organizations think.

Mr. Henry, who is leaving government to take a cybersecurity job with an undisclosed firm in Washington, said companies need to make major changes in the way they use computer networks to avoid further damage to national security and the economy. Too many companies, from major multinationals to small start-ups, fail to recognize the financial and legal risks they are taking—or the costs they may have already suffered unknowingly—by operating vulnerable networks, he said. …

Mr. Henry said FBI agents are increasingly coming across data stolen from companies whose executives had no idea their systems had been accessed.

“We have found their data in the middle of other investigations,” he said. “They are shocked and, in many cases, they’ve been breached for many months, in some cases years, which means that an adversary had full visibility into everything occurring on that network, potentially.”

Mr. Henry said that while many company executives recognize the severity of the problem, many others do not, and that has frustrated him. But even when companies build up their defenses, their systems are still penetrated, he said. “We’ve been playing defense for a long time. …You can only build a fence so high, and what we’ve found is that the offense outpaces the defense, and the offense is better than the defense,” he said.

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Advice from 2011’s Testers of the Year

2011 uTesters of the YearEarlier this year we announced the 2011 uTester of Year awards. After all the winners were notified, prizes and certificates created, and a big trip to the post office made, we still didn’t feel like we were done yet! As community managers we want to make sure that we are always engaging with our testers and learning from each other. For this reason we reached out to our 2011 uTesters of the Year once more to ask them a couple questions about winning this award and to share some of their advice with us, and they had quite a lot to say!

What does winning uTester of the Year 2011 mean to you?

“It means that my effort and the energy I have put into my work has been recognized and appreciated, and this pushes me to go further.” Anand Ashish, Australia

“I was truly shocked to get the award. To even be mentioned in the same group as the others was a truly humbling experience and gave me the encouragement I needed to push forward. When I first started I never thought I would be able to do the work that I am doing from home, and it continues to grow!” Peggy Fobbe, USA

“It’s cool to be recognized. You don’t always get that from a corporate job.” John Kotzian, USA

“It’s a great feeling being part of an elite group. Simply, it means my efforts over the last year were truly appreciated by uTest, and it means that uTest cares about people, not just profits.” Amit Kulkarni, India

“It was surprising, but exciting, to have been selected as Android Tester of the Year. I really like working on mobile devices and it’s an honor to be recognized for something I enjoy. uTest is a great platform for all testers and I hope to keep doing this work even more this year.” Lena Houser, USA

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Testing the Limits with Gerald Weinberg

Gerald M. WeinbergIn the latest installment of Testing The Limits we speak with Gerald Weinberg. Jerry has been practicing, teaching, lecturing, consulting, coaching and writing about software programming and testing since the 1950s. With decades of experience and accumulated knowledge he’s written more than 80 books and has dedicated his life to helping others be the best testers they can be – despite ever changing testing trends. In today’s Testing The Limits interview we’ll find out the biggest lessons Jerry’s learned over the years, how his books remain top sellers 20 years after their release and what the biggest issues facing testers today are. To keep up with Jerry visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

uTest: You’ve spent nearly 50 years working with computers and software in one form or another. Obviously, much has changed during this time, but surely some things have stayed the same. In your experience, what is the most notable “constant” in the world of software?

GW: The infatuation with the latest fad which is supposed to “increase productivity” by some arbitrary amount, with no clue as to how that “productivity” is measured. For the most part, these fads are usually a new set of names for old practices. Yet at the same time a segment of the developer population goes ga-ga over the fad, a much larger segment doesn’t even attempt to learn what is good about the fad. The majority of developers are working the same primitive way their predecessors did 50 years ago, just using more machine power to do it.

uTest: In a recent “testing roundtable” discussion, panelists were asked what they considered to be the biggest weakness in the way companies test software. James Bach and Cem Kaner both cited a lack of testing skills and a lack of means to acquire such skills. Do you agree? As a long time consultant, what do you think is the biggest weakness in the way companies test software?

GW: To me, the biggest weakness is not considering software testing anything but a (barely) necessary evil. Testing is seen as something that could be done by a troop of monkeys, so serious testers are treated like third-class individuals. The lack of means of acquiring testing skills arises from this attitude, as do most of the other poor practices in the testing business. You treat people as if they are stupid, then they will wind up acting stupid.

uTest: A good debate has recently sprung up on the subject of whether testers should be able to code. As an expert in programming (and testing) where do you stand on this matter? Are coding skills (or at least a base knowledge of coding) a requirement for good software testing? Are they a nice-to-have? Or are they totally superfluous?

GW: You can be a great tester if you have programming skills. You can also be a great tester if you have no programming skills at all. And, you can be a lousy tester with or without programming skills. A great tester will learn what skills she needs to continue to be great, in her own style.

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Why Localization Testing is So Important

LocalizationThe No. 1 country in the world for both iOS and Android activation is also the country with the fasting growing app session statistics … and it’s not a native English-speaking country. China has recently surpassed the U.S. in terms of new iOS and Android activations and in the past year the number of app sessions has grown by more than 1,000%. From TechCrunch (emphasis added):

New data from mobile analytics firm Flurry indicates the incredible growth potential of the Chinese smartphone market. The country, which ranked 11th place at the start of 2011 in terms of iOS and Android activations, has now climbed into the number one spot, beating out the U.S., now number two.

In addition, looking at data from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012, Flurry found that China led in app session growth as well, increasing 1,126% year-over-year. And the growth is especially notable because China was already the world’s 7th largest country by the end of Q1 2011. …

What this data means is that the gap is now closing between the two countries in terms of installed base, and China, already the world’s second largest app economy, may soon overtake the U.S. as the country with the largest number of smartphone users, too. China today is estimated as having twice the size of the next largest smartphone install base, the U.K., notes Flurry.

Another means of measuring China’s growth comes from examining app session growth. Here, China leads the world with the staggering 1,126% jump on this front over last year. Other emerging markets where app session growth has been climbing, include (in order) Argentina, the Philippines, Russia, Belgium, India, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Turkey.

Flurry also looked at the numbers of app sessions over the past year. Since Q1 2011, the number of sessions in the U.S. has more than doubled, however, its share of total sessions has declined from 56% to 46%. This is a reflection of the U.S. market’s maturity, to some extent: it’s still growing, but other countries are growing more quickly. When combining the #2 through #10 ranked markets (China, the U.K., South Korea, France, Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany and Spain), sessions have collectively increased 3.4 times from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012, and session share has gone from 27% to 30%. The rest of the world combined has gone from 17% to 24% during the same time, or 4x growth. …

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Buffer Overflows Attacks Get Much, Much Harder

It’s been almost 16 years since Aleph One published his classic article titled Smashing The Stack For Fun And Profit. In it, Aleph One (whose real name is Elias Levy) laid out a template for executing buffer overflow attacks that any computer-savvy hacker could follow. Back then, developers were more naive about writing code with rigorous boundary checking, and most applications written in C and C++ had exploitable buffer overflow vulnerabilities. With the growth of connected applications over the Internet (written in C and C++, of course), hackers and worm writers remotely felled software from giants like Microsoft, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and others. Buffer overflows became the scary monster security vulnerability of the late 90s and early 2000s, and even today discovering a buffer overflow is the grand discovery of all security exploits – conferring black-belt status on whoever finds one.

Since then, a lot has changed. Both Intel and AMD have made a number of improvements to x86, and modern computer architectures have made it much harder to exploit buffer overflows. In addition, newer compilers and operating systems have added a number of tricks that make exploiting compiled applications more difficult.

One of those techniques is Address Space Layout Randomization, or ASLR. Exploiting a buffer overflow requires knowing the location of certain memory addresses. It used to be that those addresses were predictable for a given application, but newer operating systems can shake them up each time the app loads. It’s like shuffling a deck of cards and then expecting you to figure out which card is the queen of spades on the first try. If you shuffle it the same way every time, I’ll figure it out pretty quick. But if you make your shuffle truly random, then I’m out of luck.

Microsoft will be improving their implementation of ASLR in Windows 8 to make it much harder to predict the location of addresses for an application as well as all the supporting libraries surrounding the application. That means it will be even harder for an attacker to predict addresses, which makes buffer overflows much harder.

Want to learn more? Ars Technica has a great post about how ASLR will be used to improve the security of IE10. Also, check out this article by Paul Makowski about all the things that have changed with computer security since 1996 that make buffer overflows so much harder to exploit.

Passionate Gamers Go Beyond Just Being Heard

Mass Effect 3, the long awaited sequel to the hit Sci-Fi action adventure series was released earlier this month, and fans have been eager to get their hands on it so they could finally find out what happens to the game’s protagonist and beloved cast. However, shortly after it was released, gamers began to express their disappointment with Mass Effect 3’s ending.

When passionate fans are unhappy with a game’s story, they will react in a number of predictable ways. They’ll complain about it to anyone who will listen, vow never to enjoy anything from said creator ever again, or resort to writing their own fan fiction on any number of websites that publish such things.

In addition to these efforts, many fans of the game are going the extra mile to demand satisfaction from Bioware and Electronic Arts, the game’s developer and publisher respectively.  An online petition regarding the finale of the game has already garnered almost 12,000 signatures. The “Take Back Mass Effect 3″ campaign as it has become known, has 25,000 likes on Facebook, 3,000 Twitter followers and 40,000 backers in a Bioware forum poll. However not all the efforts are so level-headed, one fan was reportedly so disgruntled that he filed a false advertising complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

A piece of good news that has come from all this is that Child’s Play charity has unexpectedly gained a lot of support from the movement. The Retake Mass Effect Child’s Play page has raised over $75,000 for the charity. The campaign organizers state:

“We would like to dispel the perception that we are angry or entitled. We simply wish to express our hope that there could be a different direction for a series we have all grown to love and bring positive attention to our petition for an alternate ending to the fantastic Mass Effect series.”

With most gaming news lately being about fans getting involved in funding and creating the games they love, this is sort of a natural progression of the crowd’s effect on beloved franchises once they are released into the wild.  Bioware is currently “working hard to maintain the right balance” between developer control and fan input on this issue, the company is definitely walking a very thin tightrope to be sure. Hopefully this issue develops into something positive the software and creative industries can learn from rather than spawn an age where designers and developers second guess every decision they make during the production of the apps and games we all use.

Introducing: In-The-Wild Testing, the Blog (aka: The Lighter Side of Testing)

In-The-Wild TestingIf you’re a fan of in-the-wild testing (you know who you are), you’ll be pleased to hear that uTest recently launched a brand new blog dedicated to chronicling products that were tested (or those that should have been tested) under real-world conditions. From unmanned underwater vehicles, to web & mobile apps, to hardware designed to function under extreme conditions, to regular everyday products like cars or door knobs that somehow  fail miserably – and comically – we’ll be covering it all!

The In-The-Wild Testing Blog crew will attempt to put a smile on your face and remind everyone that testing in-the-wild really does pay off.  And to keep things fun and fresh, we’re going to need your help. So if you ever encounter something (online or offline products) that makes you wonder, “How in the world did this make it through testing and into the market?” write it up and send it on over to us at blog@utest.com. We’ll publish it and cite you as an in-the-wild testing rockstar!

And just to get this out of the way so our lawyers can go back to lawyering —  the views expressed in the In-The-Wild Testing Blog are not necessarily those of uTest, but we’ll have some fun along the way and explore the lighter, wilder side of testing.

So check out the newest member of our blog family and be sure to send in those guest posts if you come across something that really could have used some in-the-wild testing!