Type The Words: Captcha Needs More Testing

We’ve all seen them. We’ve all used them. And we’ve all learned a new word or two in the process. I’m talking of course about captchas, which are used to ensure that responses are generated by a person, not an automated script. The most popular use case involves (I think) changing passwords.

Anyway, if you’ve ever doubted the effectiveness of captchas, you’re certainly not alone. Here’s a great story from CNet.com on captcha fail:

A team of Stanford University researchers has bad news to report about captchas, those often unreadable, always annoying distorted letters that you’re required to type in at many a Web site to prove that you’re really a human.

Many Captchas don’t work well at all. More precisely, the researchers invented a standard way to decode those irksome letters and numbers found in Captchas on many major Web sites, including Visa’s Authorize.net, Blizzard, eBay, and Wikipedia.

Their decoding technique borrows concepts from the field of machine vision, which has developed techniques to control robots by removing noise from images and detecting shapes. The Stanford tool, called Decaptcha, uses these algorithms to clean up the image so it can be split into more readily recognized letters and numbers.

What do you suppose could be the main reason why captchas have been less than effective? You guessed it:

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Bug of the Month Winners Announced!

We’re excited to announce winners for our inaugural Bug of the Month contest! The top prize goes to Gagan Talwar from India, who submitted a bug related to invalid payment deductions from a credit card company. In a nutshell, this credit card company invalidly deducted the minimum amount due on a credit card bill without validating whether or not a previous payment was made – minimum, full or somewhere in between. To end on a positive note, he was able to work things about with the credit card company and received a full refund for the invalid deduction.

What is the Bug of the Month contest? If you did not have a chance to enter last month’s contest, here is more information to prepare you for the next one. The contest will run every two months, and is open to the entire uTest tester community. Testers have the opportunity to submit the most intriguing bug(s) they have come across, and fellow testers then rate the submitted bugs from three categories: Exceptionally Valuable, Very Valuable, and Somewhat Valuable (borrowed directly from uTest’s system of tiered bug approvals). After the voting phase is complete, uTest evaluates the votes across all submissions and awards the top three reports based on highest weighted averages.

How do I win? Based on participation from the first competition and standard uTest projects, there are three major tenets to an exceptionally valuable report:

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Happy Halloween From uTest!

It’s not easy to make a connection between software testing and Halloween, but I’ll give it a shot…

Does anyone remember the horrible half-star horror movie from the 1980s called Maximum Overdrive? It starred Emilio Estevez and was based on the Steven King novel. Well, if you have seen it, I apologize. If you haven’t, here’s a quick synopsis from IMDB.com:

For 3 days in 1986, the earth passed through the tail of a mysterious comet. During that time, machines on earth suddenly come to life and terrorize their human creators. A small group of people in a truck stop, surrounded by “alive” semi-trailers, set out to stop the machines before the machines stop them.

The movie also included a soda machine killing a little league head coach, which to my knowledge is a cinema first. Anyway, if you think scenarios like this are reserved for the movies, think again. Here’s a story from Geek.com on a real-life maximum overdrive software bug:

Car manufacturer Jaguar has had to recall nearly 18,000 of its X-Type cars after a serious software bug has been identified in the on-board system of the vehicle. The bug potentially stops a driver from turning off the cruise control system, which is more than a little dangerous.

The good news is there have been no reports of this happening in an X-Type as of yet beyond the Jaguar employee who identified it in his own car. Luckily for Jaguar it only affects a subset of their X-Types, notably those produced between 2006-2010 and having a diesel engine. In total, 17,678 vehicles have been recalled.

What Jaguar has found is in the diesel X-Types the disabling may not work, meaning you could be traveling at 70, hit the brakes, and nothing happens. That would be a very scary moment, especially if there was traffic ahead. If it does happen, then turning off the engine is the only way to regain control.

No word yet from Jaguar’s testing team on what caused this bug, but we’re going to assume it was a rogue comet. This is software testing 101.

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#STPCon Interviews – Boyd Patterson

Next up is Boyd Patterson, President of Patterson Consulting LLC. Boyd has 11 years of experience in test automation from the HPMercury tool suite as well as 7 years of experience in Windows(R) client application development and design principles. Here he explains his presentation on how to Improve Automation Code Quality, Clarity, and Comprehension.

Want to see more interviews from STPCon? Check out the full list here.

#STPCon Interviews – Sreekanth Singaraju

Next up in our STPCon interview series is Sreekanth Singaraju, VP of Testing Services at Alliance Global Services. Sreekanth has more than 12 years of senior technology leadership experience and leads Alliance’s QA & Testing organization in developing cutting edge solutions. In this quick Q&A, he talks about his presentation on Integrated Test Automation for Enterprise Mobile Apps.

Want to see more interviews from STPCon? Check out the full list here.

#STPCon Interviews – Jason Huggins

Next up in our video interview series is Jason Huggins, co-founder and CTO of Sauce Labs, a cloud computing web testing infrastructure service. Jason is the creator of the Selenium project, a cross-platform, cross-browser web automation toolkit. Here, Jason explains the basis of his presentation on Web Testing with Selenium 2.0.

Oh – and did we mention that this video includes a testing robot? Well, now you know!

Want to see more interviews from STPCon? Check out the full list here.