Four Things That Caught Our Attention at #CTIA12

It’s been a busy month for the uTest travel team. First there was STAREAST, then QUEST and now CTIA, one of the world’s largest conferences for the mobile & wireless industry. Basically, if there was an event in all CAPS, chances are uTest was there.

Not that you could tell from the picture, but uTest is actually well-represented down in New Orleans, where several employees were sent to mingle with the attendees and to see what’s new and what’s next in the world of mobile (check out the uTest Flickr stream for some great pictures of the event).

Note from Erica, one of our proud uTest representatives at CTIA: We’re bringing the show to you up-to-the moment on our Twitter stream.  But we also urge you to follow the official hashtag of #CTIA12 to get the scoop from other exhibitors and media, too.

Anyway, events like this are always a good time for companies to make headlines. This year has been no exception thus far. Here were four recent stories from CTIA that caught our attention:

  1. Mozilla CEO Touts HTML5: Gary Kovacs, CEO of the company that makes the Mozilla Firefox web browser, encouraged his audience today to support HTML 5 as a way to insure that users will have a world of choice when it comes to mobile apps. “It is impossible for me to believe that one or two companies will be able to curate all the content,” said Kovacs. “Imagine the explosion of innovation if we could unload 5 or 6 million developers onto the ecosystem that is the web.” Read more…
  2. New Mobile Devices: The new Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC Evo V 4G made all the early headlines, but new waterproof devices from Kyocera (remember them?) as well as Clarity (who make smartphones for seniors) also caught the media’s attention. Read more…
  3. Apple? Amazon? Bueller?: That’s right, Amazon and Apple – two mainstays of the mobile industry – decided not to attend this year’s event. Ina Fried discusses their absence and what it means for rival tablet makers. Read more…
  4. More Data Please: Top brass from Verizon and T-Mobile said that “the future of data use, such as streaming video and photos, is at risk if more airwaves, or spectrum, aren’t put to use.” Read more…

What other stories are you following from CTIA? Be sure to let us know in the comment section.

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Crowdsourced Games Lead to Medical Breakthroughs

An online game helps sequence DNAJournalist Jeff Howe defined crowdsourcing as “The act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.” And what’s the best way to get people to willingly respond to that open call and perform a (at times grueling) task? Make it a game.

And, as unlikely as it sounds, that’s exactly what medical researchers have done. It turns out that: A. people are very good at finding patterns and coming up with different ways to solve puzzles and B. two minds are better than one, and there are a lot of minds on the internet. That’s why games like Phylo and Biogames’ Telpathology game are growing in popularity while helping researchers solve critical problems.

Phylo is a web-based game that “harnesses the computing power of mankind to solve a common problem: Multiple Sequence Alignments.” Here’s what Phylo has players doing and how it’s helping researchers identify potentially lifesaving DNA patterns:

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3 Signs That It’s Time to Quit Your Testing Job

A former co-worker of mine once worked for a prominent job-search site. I won’t disclose which one, but let’s just say they were a monster in the industry (wink wink). Anyway, she told me that traffic to the site peaked first thing on Monday morning, when disgruntled employees would return from a nice weekend back to a job they loathed. Some would call this a case of the Mondays.

This being Monday morning, chances are there are a few testers out there considering whether or not to quit. To help make that decision a little easier, I wanted to share this advice from a recent Mashable piece, 3 Signs That It’s Time To Quit Your Job. Since it was written for a general audience, I’ve inserted some testing-specific commentary.

1. Your Values Do Not Align With The Company’s Values

It is stressful to be in a situation when you are asked to carry out practices that contradict a company’s written policies or stated values, or that conflict with your own personal values. The cognitive dissonance alone can drive an employee up the wall.

You may decide that the reasons for leaving are mainly because your personal values do not fit with an organization’s values (even if at one time they were aligned), or you may decide to leave because an ​​organization does not even live up to its own values and contradicts its own written rules of professional conduct. Figure out what values are most important to you and what brings you job satisfaction.

In the tester world, I suppose one example of this could be the adoption (or lack thereof) of the agile methodology. A company or department saying they value the agile method is different from actually adhering to its principles. This has been called “fake agile” by Elisabeth Hendrickson and it can make dev and testing teams quite dysfunctional. Bottom line: As a tester, if you’re unable to influence key decision-makers about the benefits of a particular approach – and it’s hampering your ability to do your job – then it may be time to leave.

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[Video] MORE uTest Interviews from #QUEST 2012

As QUEST 2012 wraps up our intrepid videographer Stanton Champion snagged one more interview to keep the rest of us non conference goers up-to-date.

This time Stanton checks in with Anaf Durrani, of Orbitz, and gets a recap of Anaf’s standing-room-only presentation on mobile testing and continuous integration.

Orbitz wanted to be on the forefront of the mobile trend and realized they needed to refine their testing strategy. Anaf discussed how Orbitz went about choosing the tools they use and how they decided on the company’s unique combination of testing. Here, we’ll let Anaf explain:

Be sure to visit the uTest Youtube Channel to see the rest of our QUEST 2012 interviews, including time with Ann Hungate, Director of Quality for Nationwide Insurance, and Microsoft Evangelista Angela Dugan.

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The Best of In-The-Wild Testing (so far)

A few weeks ago we launched our In-The-Wild Testing blog, dedicated to the lighter side of testing (amoung other topics). If you haven’t visited yet, you’re really missing out. Here are a few of the top stories so far:

Sharks With Frickin’ Laser Beams Attached To Them
What better way to test your latest laser product than by attaching it to a live shark? Dr. Evil would be proud.

Test Requirement: Proofread
When testing, it’s important to read the content carefully to see if you any words out.

The World’s Worst Water Slide
It looks like it was designed by Dr. Suess, but this water slide is definitely not for kids. Or adults. Or even crash test dummies.

Coding Error Disturbs Coding Contest
Making mistakes is embarrassing enough, but making a coding mistake in a system designed to sell tickets for a coding event to coders is a whole new level of red-faced “oh-uh.”

Five Products That Will Make You Angry
The Pringles can, the over-sized power adapter and other products that will make you want to kill indiscriminately (or just get mildly annoyed).

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uTest Launches AppGrader for Android

There’s only a few things that can happen when a user downloads your mobile app. Unfortunately, most of them are bad. Here are a few common outcomes:

  • The app crashes
  • The app hangs
  • The app stalls
  • The app works exactly as expected

The point is this: Without proper testing, you’ll never really know how users are experiencing your mobile app. This is particularly true of the Android operating system, with its seemingly countless permutations of devices.

So to help make the mobile app testing process a little less complex, uTest is pleased to launch a new tool that we hope will help you catch some of these problems before your users do. We call it AppGrader, and today we’re launching it as a way to quickly test your Android apps.

What is AppGrader?
AppGrader is a free online tool that can be used to quickly test your mobile application on a variety of common devices. With AppGrader, you can load your application on several devices and get basic reporting about bugs associated with installing, loading and running your application.

Why Does It Matter?
As a proponent of in-the-wild testing, we believe that an application is only properly tested once it has been evaluated by real users, with real devices, in a wide number of locations. AppGrader is a way to provide a taste of in-the-wild testing, by accessing the real devices component (albiet in an automated fashion).

Those who are interested in what AppGrader has to offer will likely appreciate uTest’s full suite of testing services.

What Do You Get?
With AppGrader, you can get a custom score for your application. You’ll also receive a comparison of how well your app works compared to dozens of other popular apps on the same devices. If your app should crash on the device, you can quickly download a crash log to get a deeper look at the problem.

What Devices Does it Cover?
At this point in time, AppGrader is just for Android devices (and yes, we do have plans to launch this service for other mobile operating systems). Devices tested include:

  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Google Nexus S
  • LG Nitro HD
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab
  • HTC Thunderbolt
  • Sony Ericson Xperia
  • Motorola Droid X2
  • T-Mobile My Touch

AppGrader will also evaluate your application on devices across several popular carriers, including AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint.

What Does It Cost?
Only your soul. Just kidding. It’s free.

How Do I Get Started?
To get started, simply fill out a brief form and upload your Android APK. Once your results are ready, you’ll be notified by email within minutes.

So what are you waiting for?

Try AppGrader Today >>>

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[Video] uTest Interviews From #QUEST 2012

This week in Chicago, uTest joined hundreds of testing thought leaders, enthusiasts and practitioners for QUEST 2012 – one of the industry’s very best testing conferences. The week-long event features some exceptional classes, tutorials, educational sessions, workshops and other networking events.

Couldn’t attend this year? Not to worry. Like past events, we brought a camera crew Stanton Champion to interview some of the conference’s notable presenters, including Karen Johnson, Angela Dugan and Anne Hungate. Enjoy!

Testing expert Karen Johnson discussed testing for data warehousing applications.

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Mobile is the Nail in the Coffin of Web 2.0

The Age of Mobile is killing Web 2.0Hamish McKenzie over at PandoDaily wrote an amazing piece about the “Age of Mobile” being in full swing and causing the death of Web 2.0 – and any companies that can’t keep up.

The main influencers in his theory are the meteoric rise of Instagram, the raging success of mobile first companies and the substantial falterings currently being experienced by Facebook and Google. It’s definitely worth a full read, but in the mean time here are a few of my favorite points:

  • There are more than 500 million Android and iOS devices on the market, and giant countries like China and Indonesia are only just getting started in their smartphone and tablet push. Global mobile 3G subscribers are growing at over 35 percent, year on year, and there’s a lot more room to move – there are 5.6 billion mobile subscribers on our fair planet.
  • Steve Jobs brought the first iPhone into the world in 2007. Android soon followed. The iPad is only two years old. Google, on the other hand, has been around for 14 years. Facebook: eight. They’re veritable geriatrics. And that’s why they’re behind on mobile.
  • [From Facebook’s S-1 filing] We do not currently directly generate any meaningful revenue from the use of Facebook mobile products, and our ability to do so successfully is unproven. Accordingly, if users continue to increasingly access Facebook mobile products as a substitute for access through personal computers, and if we are unable to successfully implement monetization strategies for our mobile users, our revenue and financial results may be negatively affected.

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Why Testing Your Business App is Important

Make sure your app makes senseAs the age of mobile tightens its grip on the world, companies are working double-time to figure out exactly how the use of smartphones and tablets fit into their working world. While some companies have navigated this new terrain fairly easily, many companies are struggling to find the right balance when it comes to mobile programs. Their biggest downfalls are trying to completely recreate a desktop program into a clunky, over-stuffed mobile app and not understanding the tenets mobile design.

In fact, this is such an issue that it’s poised to cost US and UK based companies a pretty penny in the next year and a half. Here’s some research from Antenna Software that highlights the problem (from Computer Business Review):

U.K. and U.S business are planning to spend an estimated £285k on mobile software tools for their employees in the next year and a half, but much of that money will be wasted.

According to research released by Antenna Software, only 25% of IT and business decision makers said their employees had embraced their mobile initiatives. …

According to the Mobile Business Forecast 2012 report, many companies are failing to engage their employees on mobile projects because of poorly designed applications that lack business logic and usability.

“More businesses than ever are now building mobile apps to help employees work more effectively, but it’s clear that a good deal of time and money is going to waste through poor design,” said Ken Parmelee, Senior Director of Product Management at Antenna. “Companies need to pay more attention to the end user and how and when they are going to use the app.”

The important lesson here is that just because your app is free and has a built-in market doesn’t mean you can lower your standards or ignore what end users like. It isn’t enough to take a program employees use on a computer and make it “more accessible” by translating it into an app. You need to fully understand how the program can be useful on-the-go and focus solely on the features that would be handy and increase productivity in a mobile, untethered setting.

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Please Register Your Dead Dog (and other testing stories of the day)

Last week, I received a notice from the town of Ashland informing me that I was being fined for failing to register my dog Buster. Three things struck me as odd. First, I don’t own a dog. Second, the letter was not issued to me, but rather the last occupant of my house (who really needs to change his address). Third, Buster has apparently been deceased for a number of years.

How could this have happened? If you guessed software glitch, give yourself a pat on the back.

According to a post on the town’s website today, a glitch in the Town Clerk’s computer software caused notices to be sent to dog owners whose pets might have died or moved out  of town.

“If your dog has moved or passed away, please notify us,” said Clerk Tara Ward’s post.

The post said a software crash also caused purple notices about fines for dog licenses to be sent to residents whose dogs might already be registered.

That’s one of many interesting testing stories of the day. Here were a few others that caught my attention:

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Famous Techies Recognized

CongratulationsMajor names in the world of technology and computers have been officially recognized in a few different outlets recently. First, a few notables appeared on Time‘s 2012 list of “100 Most Influential People in the World.” Then the Internet Society announced the creation and first class of the Internet Hall of Fame. In case you missed any of these events, here’s a recap of who was honored where.

Time put Pete Cashmore (CEO and founder of Mashable), Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook), Tim Cook (Apple’s new CEO) and Marc Andreessen (a technology investor) in their top 100 list this year. You can read more about each honoree and what Time had to say about them in an Information Week article dedicated to the four tech-focused winners.

Meanwhile, the 10-year-old Internet Society, a nonprofit “dedicated to ensuring that the Internet stays open, transparent and defined by you,” has just created the Internet Hall of Fame. The Society’s CEO, Lynn St.Amour, has this to say about the Hall (in an official statement):

“While the inductees have extremely diverse backgrounds and represent many different countries, each individual has an incredible passion for their work. We all benefit from their outstanding contributions to a global Internet, making it one of the greatest catalysts of economic and societal development of all time.”

Thirty-three people were inducted across three categories – Pioneers, Global Connectors and Innovators – as part of the Hall’s first class. In all, the inductees represent nine countries and include 11 PhD and one law degree holders, 11 published authors, one Academy Award Winner, one Emmy Award winner, one Nobel Prize Winner and one member who has been officially knighted.

Vint Cerf, the “father of the internet,” and 13 others were inducted as Pioneers. Nine people, including Al Gore, make up the first class of Global Connectors. And Tim Berners-Lee (you know, the guy who invented the World Wide Web), along with nine others were named as Innovators. Check out the full list and read each member’s bio at the Internet Hall of Fame.

Congratulations to all those who have been honored lately! We look forward to seeing who will be recognized for their work in the future!

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Why Being a Freelance Tester Pays Off

VacationAs part of the community management team I hear exactly what our testers love about working with uTest. They’ve mentioned that the freelance work they perform with us­ allows them the flexibility to work as little or as much as they want; it helps keep their technical skills sharp; and they are exposed to wide variety of really interesting applications before anyone else. But let’s be honest, the number one perk of working for uTest is the extra income they earn!  We reached out to our community to find out what their first payments from uTest went to and here is what they had to say:

  • “My first spend from uTest payouts went toward booking a 2-night hotel stay with my family. Even my wife approves of me doing uTest work at home.”
  • “I used it to buy Super Mario Land 3D!”
  • “My first payments went to paying boring bill related things. But I did use some of last year’s earnings to take my Mom on a long weekend away.”
  • “I use it for things that we need but ordinarily wouldn’t be able to get, like roof repairs, snow tires, etc. I’ve also used it to buy computers and devices for testing.”
  • “My payments went in this order: bills, a purse for my wife, then donations for my bike ride to conquer cancer.”
  • “My first spend was on some RAM for my computer. Upgraded from 2GB to 8GB. The second, which was just yesterday, was a kite! I have done wind-surfing and kite-surfing for more than 10 years, and all the material is a bit expensive. uTest allowed me to buy a new toy and replace my old and unsafe one.”
  • “I used my first payment to purchase a gadget. Yup, for testing purposes! I added to my environment with the expectation of more testing opportunities for me.”

Whether it’s hobbies, gadgets or just paying the bills, it’s clear that uTest provides our testers more financial and professional flexibility. As one of our top rated testers pointed out, with all the great benefits being a uTester has to offer, “uTest is to a tester what a candy store is to a little kid!” Whatever floats your boat, you can find out more information on joining uTest as a tester here.

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