Where’s The Best City For a Startup

Startup CompassThinking about launching a startup but worried that it won’t get any attention because it isn’t in Silicon Valley? Or that it won’t get any attention because it is in Silicon Valley and will be buried under a mountain of other startups?

Well the “Startup Genome” project that got underway last year finally has enough data to make the Startup Compass a valuable tool for measuring your startup against others in the area. It also highlights the hottest startup cities. Here are the details from TechCrunch:

With its data set growing, Startup Genome is beginning to launch a thorough, comparative analysis on those ecosystems in an effort to give startups a more granular glimpse into how (and at what rate) the world’s top entrepreneurial hubs are evolving — and which are leading the way. …

Typically, startups plant themselves close to extant networks of support, be it financial capital, human capital, or technologies. Startups go where the money is — and historically, that’s been Silicon Valley, with Boston and New York City being mentioned as addenda. Yet, over the last few years, things have been changing, and today that’s more apparent than ever, as viable companies are popping up across the globe.

Given this growing abundance of choice, it’s become increasingly important for entrepreneurs to be able to answer questions like, “What are the advantages and disadvantages of particular ecosystems?” and “What are the characteristics that differentiate successful entrepreneurs across those ecosystems?”

The team has begun to uncover valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s startup ecosystems, and as the study progresses, the founders say they hope it will continue to “yield insights for entrepreneurs deciding where to start their company, investors deciding where to allocate their capital, large companies looking for acquisition targets, and policymakers who want to make their entrepreneurship ecosystems flourish.” …

Now that the Startup Genome has a year’s worth of data from more than 16,000 startups they’ve started coming up with some interesting information. To date, the Genome has put out a collection of 20 insights after looking at startups in Silicon Valley, New York City and London. Here’s a sample:

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Bending the Rules of Display Technology with Samsung’s “Youm”

While we still don’t have flying cars or ubiquitous personal jet-packs, the future is constantly bearing down on us when it comes to new mobile display technology. This week, Samsung seems a step closer to unveiling its flexible AMOLED display after officially giving it a name. An “unbreakable” smartphone screen? If that doesn’t scream “the future is here!”, I don’t know what does.

Samsung has already applied to copyright the name “Youm”, complete with logo, with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

News of the technology was first posted from The Verge, sourced from a new Samsung Korea Mobile Display page, where it teases us with the words, thinner, lighter and unbreakable. Comparing its new bendable AMOLED technology to traditional LCD and OLED displays, Samsung explains how it uses film instead of glass thus giving it that flexible quality.

Of course Samsung is not the only manufacturer working on a flexible display. LG recently unveiled its own bendable E-Paper Display claiming it would revolutionize the eBook market. LG’s EPD technology could debut as early as May.

While announcing an official name is certainly a step in the right direction, we’re still no closer to knowing exactly when the Youm flexible AMOLED displays will appear. However there have already been reports that Samsung’s Liquavista electrowetting displays are coming in 2013. So as it would seem, flying cars are taking a backseat to the new display technologies coming out soon. What are your thoughts on Samsung’s Youm flexible displays?  Would flexible displays change mobile apps and testing? Let us know with your comments.

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Malware Catches Up with Macs

Malware effecting Apple computersFull Disclosure: I used to be one of those Mac users who wasn’t too concerned with malicious links and suspicious emails because, hey, I use a Mac and Macs aren’t that susceptible to malware. … Oh how I miss those days.

Mac malware is on the rise, with an estimated 600,000 computers affected but the Flashback Trojan at the moment and another exploit taking advantage of a security flaw in outdated Microsoft Office for Mac files. Here’s some information on the Flashback Trojan’s effects, from PCMag:

The Java flaw exploited by the so-called Flashback Trojan dates back to February, but Apple did not release a patch until April 3. As a result, approximately 550,000 Macs were infected, according to data released this week from anti-virus vendor Doctor Web.

Doctor Web today provided a few more details about the proliferation of the Flashback Trojan. Almost 350,000 of the affected devices were in the U.S., with about 125,000 in Canada, and 75,000 in Great Britain.

In the U.S., Manhattan-based Macs saw the largest number of traceable infections at about 5,000, followed by Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and Chicago. But the whereabouts of almost 18,000 affected Macs was unknown, Doctor Web said.

In Canada, Toronto was hardest hit (14,000), while Londoners were most-impacted in the U.K. (almost 20,000). For more details, see the map below.

As PCMag’s Security Watch noted yesterday, Mac users did not have to download or even interact with the malware to become infected. Websites exploited a Java flaw that let Flashback.K download itself onto Macs without warning. It then asked users to supply an administrative password, but even without that password, the malware was already installed.

And this is how the Microsoft Office exploit works (from PCWorld):

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Blast from the Past: Load Testing the 1940 Census

Two of the most exciting things in the world – load testing and the US census – recently came together to provide us with an interesting case study in launch preparation. I’m talking of course about the new (and free) website on the 1940 census that crumbled under huge traffic last week.

The story is interesting on a number of fronts (particularly, how it was paid for), but for the sake of this blog, I want to stay focused on the load requirements put in place prior to the site’s launch. It’s something we see here at uTest quite frequently: companies simulate what they consider to be an absurd amount of traffic, only to have that figure exceeded after launching. Not the worst problem to have, but a problem nevertheless. This can be caused by a huge media pickup or, as was the case with Inflection, becoming a trending topic on Twitter.

So how well prepared were the operators of the site? Here were the contractual requirements in terms of load testing, according to msn.com:

  • “When browsing from one image to another, each image should be presented to the user in 3 seconds or less.”
  • “When moving from the standard rendered image to each zoom level (e.g. zoom 1x, 2x, 3x), the reformatted image should be rendered in 2 seconds or less.”
  • “Support up to 10 million hits per day while providing response times of less than three seconds for keyword searches of the descriptive metadata.”
  • “Support up to 25,000 concurrent users.”

And how far off were they? Inflection’s general manager was quoted as saying, “We were expecting a flood, but we got a tsunami.” Here were the hard numbers:

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Does Being a Video Game Tester Actually Suck?

When asked what they enjoy most about being a member of the uTest community, testers regularly cite the variety of projects and the pay that comes with them. For proof on both fronts, you can check out the Paid Projects threads in the uTest Forums.

Unfortunately, variety and compensation aren’t always the good parts about being a tester. In fact, they can be the worst parts of the job. Case in point: The gaming industry. Specifically, video game testers.

What may seem like a dream job for many (wait, you’re going to pay me to play video games?) is actually something of a nightmare according to Jimmy Thang, a writer for ign.com. In his recent article The Tough Life of a Games Tester, Thang interviews game testers who’ve decided to break their NDAs and speak out against the tedious tasks, low pay, lack of respect and other plagues of their profession.

I highly encourage you to read the entire article,  but here are a few quick excerpts that I found interesting:

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How Will Google Test Project Glass?

Perhaps you’ve read about Google’s Project Glass – a set of augmented reality glasses that will provide users with real-time information right before their eyes. Literally.

After waiting awhile for an appending “April Fool’s” announcement that never came, we can now safely call your attention to this project’s unique testing challenges. Before we do that, however, here’s a good description of the project from TechCrunch:

To call these things glasses may be a bit of a stretch — early rumors noted that glasses bore a striking resemblance to a pair of Oakley Thumps, but the demo images on Project Glass’s Google+ page don’t look a thing like them. Rather, they appear to be constructed of a solid metal band that runs across the brow line, with a small heads-up display mounted on the right side.

The New York Times‘ Nick Bilton, who broke the Project Glass story today, went on to say that the prototype model seen in the images is just one of the potential designs currently in testing. Among others, one of the potential designs for Project Glass is (thankfully) meant to be attached to a person’s existing pair of glasses.

It’s also worth noting that as downright magical as these things could be, there’s still very little insight into how they would actually work. Bilton’s early write-up notes that the glasses will be capable of establishing a 3G or 4G wireless connection, but how exactly Google will shoehorn those components (just to name a few) into a comfortable headset is still up the air.

After watching the demo/concept video below, it’s clear that in-the-wild testing will have to play a major part in the quality of this product (should it ever come to fruition). And judging from the comments on their Google+ page, finding real-world beta testers will not be an issue. But that’s the easy part. Here’s a look at some heavy testing challenges they are likely to encounter:

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Lessons From the TweetDeck Security-Induced Outage

TweetDeck Taken Offline Because of Security BreachThe recent Tweekdeck issue can teach us two very important lessons: 1. You can’t find all the bugs in-the-lab because there are some issue that will only effect a small, small portion of your user base and those bugs will more often than not only be found in the hands of users, in-the-wild. 2. Security Testing doesn’t just including making sure hackers can’t get into your app. It should also test your app for proper handling of confidentiality, integrity, availability, non-repudiation, authorization and authentication. It’s this last one in particular that caught Tweetdeck off guard. In case you missed the story, here’s a recap from TechCrunch:

Twitter has taken its Tweetdeck app offline after an apparent bug has possibly given some Tweetdeck users access to others’ accounts.

A Sydney, Australia-based Tweetdeck user named Geoff Evason says he discovered today he was somehow able to access hundreds of Twitter and Facebook accounts through Tweetdeck. In an email to TechCrunch, he explained the situation like this:

“I’m a tweetdeck user. A bug has given me access to hundreds of twitter and facebooks account through tweetdeck. I didn’t do anything special to make this happen. I just logged in one day, the account was was slower than normal, and I could post from many more accounts.”

Get more details at TechCrunch >>>

Luckily the person who found this bug, Geoff Evason, wasn’t malicious or a hacker. He could have done cruel things with these twitter accounts and potentially caused even more damage with access to the private information people tend to share on Facebook. Instead, he did a little poking around to prove the bug was valid (like any good tester does) and went about getting the issue addressed and corrected.

The incident was so severe that Twitter (who owns Tweetdeck) took the entire application offline until the issue could be pin pointed and resolved. Kudos to Twitter for treating this as seriously as it did, but the question is, now what? What caused this bug? Was there an update that effected the app? Will Twitter do some comprehensive regression testing to make sure there are no other unnoticed issues? It should probably do some digging to make sure those other facets of security are up to par.

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Unveiling The Next-Gen uTest Platform

Watch a video of the new uTest platform

For much of the past year, we’ve been exploring how to make our software testing platform more usable and more powerful. We’ve analyzed thousands of test cycles looking for underlying usage trends, and after a great deal of research, time, and effort, we’ve launched the shiny, new uTest platform.

For most of our users, this announcement is merely a preview of things to come. We’ll be rolling out the new platform to our customers over the month of April, and our community of testers will see it later this quarter. However, new customers will experience the new UI starting today. (Don’t worry – even though there are multiple UIs, everyone sees the same testing data). Let’s take a look at some of the big new features:

Streams Simplify Issue Tracking & Management

The results stream

Bug report

One of features that’s used more often and intensively in our platform is the bugs list – and what could be more basic in a testing application than a list of bugs? But as our old platform demonstrated, bugs lists are problematic. They’re cumbersome, slow, and difficult to use or skim efficiently. Bugs lists show you too much information or not enough, and you’re constantly wasting time switching from a list view to a detail view – usually losing valuable context in the process.

We sought something better (and not just a better bug list), so we re-examined all the things a bugs list does badly. After much research with customers, we’ve created something new. We call it the stream, and it’s a faster and more useful way to consume all your test results — to skim and scan, and then expand the results to dive deeper.

Like a bugs list, the stream shows your results sequenced in the order in which they’re reported. But there are two major differences:

  1. First, the stream shows you more results than just bugs. Our platform supports a variety of deliverables, include test cases and application reviews. The stream seamlessly shows you all of the work output from your test cycle in a single, easy-to-use place.
  2. Second, unlike a bugs list, you can click on stream items and open them in-line with the rest of your testing results. This means that not only will you be able to consume your results faster, but you’ll also be able to see them in the context of everything else happening with your test cycle. This feature, combined with an all-new search and filtering interface, will absolutely change the way you review your testing results.

Continuous Testing to Support Teams That Utilize Agile Or Continuous Deployment

New test cycle wizard

More and more of our customers use uTest as a partner in agile testing. After finishing a sprint, customers can upload a new build, begin testing, and have results within a matter of hours. Those results then feed into their next sprint, and the cycle continues. Up until now, our platform has treated each of those new builds as a new test cycle; but for agile development, this was not the ideal. New test cycles are disconnected from older test cycles, and important knowledge built through the testing process may not be carried over from test cycle to test cycle.

Today we’re also launching continuous testing, which is designed for agile teams who want to test their apps on a regular basis. With continuous testing, you’ll be able to quickly upload new builds into a single test cycle. All of the existing test cycle settings stay the same, and more importantly, your results stream is kept intact as well.

Keeping the list of testing results from build to build was a top feature request from our hundreds of agile customers. Just because you uploaded a new build doesn’t mean you fixed all of the bugs from the previous build. And our community of uTesters can tell at a glance which bugs are still open from older builds, so they won’t report them again. Once you believe you have fixed a bug, you’ll be able to mark it as resolved and hide it from testers. They’ll be able to report it again if they discover it as a regression to your latest build.

Improved Data Organization

Test cycle list within a project

As customers turn to uTest more and more frequently (we have customers that test daily builds on multiple products, meaning dozens of test cycles per month), they’ve asked us for a way to better organize things. We listened, and we’re introducing two new ways to organize your activities. Test cycles can now be organized into Projects and test cases can be organized into Suites.

Both Projects and Suites enable you to have common settings that are carried over to different members. For example, a Project lets you manage common settings for each test cycle it contains. You’ll be able to work faster and organize your results in a more intuitive and useful form.

Oh, Did We Mention This is HTML?

Of course, we would be silly not to mention that we have moved away from our Flash-based interface and reimplemented everything using HTML. That means you’ll be able to use the uTest platform on any modern browser – and any smartphone or tablet that runs a modern browser.

More to Come…

This is just the beginning. This is an entirely new product, a new workflow, and a new user interface. Over the coming days and weeks, we’ll be adding new features and UX enhancements at a furious pace. We can’t wait to tell you about them.

Have a great idea for our future product releases?  Our tester community members can join the discussions in our testing forums and check out our Platform Feedback section. Customers are welcome to contact their project manager directly or drop us a line day or night.

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Official 2012 uTest Cycling Team Gear Available for Limited Time

We have quite a few cyclists here at uTest (Doron is even competing in CEO Endurance Challenge).  Since Roy, Doron and I have been peer-pressuring each other into buying new cycling equipment, it seemed like it was time to finish the process and order some custom uTest Cycling kits.

We’re pretty excited about how they turned out and we wanted to offer them with anyone else who shares a passion for uTest and cycling.  Voler has set up an online store to take orders and can ship directly to you.  Orders must be submitted to Voler by Sunday, 4/8/12.

The store URL: http://www.voler.com/custom/ordering/li/2392

The finished products will be slightly different from those pictured (i.e. the jerseys read “uTest” down the side and across the back of the shorts and the “In the Wild” spiral logo is on the back of the jerseys).  Additional details are below but feel free to tweet me with any questions; @MattSolar.  We look forward to seeing some pictures of our cycling kits around the world In The Wild!

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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?


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.

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.



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 >>>

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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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