How Much Data Do You Generate In 60 Seconds?

What happens in a minute on the Internet?

If we aren’t Tweeting, we are updating our Facebook status. If we aren’t web browsing, we are sending an email. We are constantly generating data, and substantial amounts of it.

Zack Whittaker recently published a CNet article showing how the sheer amount of data we generate stacks up.

Every minute of the day:

  • Email users send more than 204 million messages
  • Mobile Web receives 217 new users
  • Google receives over 2 million search queries
  • YouTube users upload 48 hours of new video
  • Facebook users share 684,000 bits of content
  • Twitter users send more than 100,000 tweets
  • Consumers spend $272,000 on Web shopping
  • Apple receives around 47,000 application downloads
  • Brands receive more than 34,000 Facebook ‘likes’
  • Tumblr blog owners publish 27,000 new posts
  • Instagram users share 3,600 new photos
  • Flickr users, on the other hand, add 3,125 new photos
  • Foursquare users perform 2,000 check-ins
  • WordPress users publish close to 350 new blog posts

And, per minute an average of 47,000 apps are downloaded.

These stats are truly astounding and send a bigger message to software developers about load and security testing; Confirm your software can hold up under pressure.

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Testing the Limits With Microsoft’s Seth Eliot

Our Testing the Limits guest this month is Seth Eliot, the Senior Knowledge Engineer of Test Excellence at Microsoft. In this role, he focuses on driving best practices for development testing across the entire company. Prior to Microsoft, Seth had a successful stint at Amazon in addition to several startups. Apart from his professional background, Seth is one of the industry’s very best bloggers, writers and presenters. For proof, check out his blog or follow him on Twitter.

In this must-read interview, we ask him about testing challenges at Microsoft, including those of Bing and the new Surface tablet; the notion of testing in production (TiP); the most rewarding testing project he’s ever worked on; big data and more. Enjoy!

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uTest: You’ve spent the bulk of your testing career with two of the most successful companies of all-time: Amazon and Microsoft. Unfortunately, most testers spend their careers with companies that – how shall we put this – aren’t so successful. In your opinion, is testing easier or more rewarding when the company is doing well? And what advice do you have for testers who might be working at a dysfunctional company?

Seth: The most satisfying testing job I ever had was a small startup in Pittsburgh called CoManage. It ultimately fizzled, but at the time we thought we were all going to be millionaires and I was consistently surprised to walk out of the test lab to see it was dark outside and I didn’t even know where the day had gone. If your company is dysfunctional, ask yourself if there is something you can do to turn it around and turn it into one of those dream successes. Learn new strategies and approaches for software engineering, change the direction, and bring new life to the company. At best you will be the hero, at worst you will have learned some valuable skills and lessons for finding that next job.

uTest: Prior to your current role at Microsoft, you were the Senior Test Manager for the team working on Bing, where you were primarily tasked with exabyte storage and data processing challenges. What were some of the specific testing challenges here and how were you and your team able to overcome them?

Seth: Yes, this is an internal system called Cosmos – a massively scalable, distributed data processing system. The technical challenge to put it simply is how do you test something so big and complex? I was fortunate to have a really talented team of testers who built out tools and monitors that enabled us to evaluate end-to-end test cases leveraging actual jobs being run in the production system. This led to us to finding the bugs that really mattered – those that affect real users. We were even able to prioritize our test scenarios based on the revenue impact of the user workflows and on the current pain points experienced by those users. This is an advantage of having an internal customer, but with good monitoring you can also approach this level of insight with external customers too.

uTest: We’d be remiss if we didn’t ask you about the recent launch of Microsoft Surface. First off, did you know about the project beforehand? If so, good job keeping it a secret. Secondly, what are some of the big testing challenges you’d expect to be associated with this project? The hardware? The Windows 8 OS? The touch functionality? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this HUGE Microsoft endeavor.

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How To Write the Perfect (uTest) Bug Report

You may be the best bug hunter in the word, but what good is it to find a quality bug if you cannot communicate it effectively to the developer for the fix? This is precisely the question we asked Nicola Sedgwick, a gold rated uTester since 2010, to speak about in our most recent uMentor webinar on writing quality bug reports. In case you missed it, here are the main highlights:

  • What makes a good bug report
  • Writing accurate reproduction steps
  • How attachments can help your bug reports to be more clear
  • What is expected in bug reports at uTest
  • What happens to bugs after they have been reported

If you have an hour to spare, the recorded session can be found at the bottom of this post. And with over 160 attendees, it’s not a surprise that we received 100+ questions!  While we couldn’t answer them all in the allotted time, we kindly asked Nicola to answer three of the most interesting and popular questions that came up. Here they are…

Is there a standard template for reporting bugs?

Generally a good bug report will detail the steps taken to reproduce the bug, the environment(s) on which the bug was seen and the behavior that was seen in comparison to the behavior that was expected. This should all be headed with a decent “executive summary” that succinctly details the problem. However, there is no one standard template; there seem to be several different templates and best practices depending on the company and their needs.

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Upcoming Webinar: Mobile Usability & What You Need to Know

Update: If you missed the webinar, no worries, watch the recording anytime. Or download our free Mobile Usability eBook.

Are you a mobile app designer or developer who’s confused about usability? Or maybe you just wish you knew more. If you feel this way, you’re not alone. In fact, mobile usability is still a great mystery for the vast majority of developers and testers today. Both the processes and tools are immature, and there are few best practices and guidelines.

uTest wants to help, and we’re joining forces with usability expert Inge De Bleecker for a free webinar that will show you some of the best practices for mobile usability. Join us this Thursday June 26th at 2:00 PM ET, and you’ll learn:

  • The right things to consider when building mobile apps and mobile websites
  • Future trends that could change how you think about mobile development and usability
  • Tips and tools for usability testing your mobile apps and websites

At the conclusion of the webinar, we will also send you a free copy of our newest eBook about mobile usability. Be one of the first to receive this eBook with great tips and advice for your mobile projects.

Interested? Register here >>

Lessons from the Major Security Breaches of 2012

Security BreachThe year is only half over, but there have been some doozies of security breaches. If the constant news stories haven’t scared you into stepping up your security testing, maybe this Dark Reading list will.

6 Biggest Breaches of 2012 So Far

 Zappos
Records Breached: 24 million records, including names, email addresses, phone numbers, last four digits of credit card numbers, and encrypted passwords
Incident: A hacker gained access through a Zappos server into the company’s internal network to snag personal information that could be used to phish Zappos customers.
Lessons Learned: While there may be no such thing as a good breach, many experts believe Zappos stands as a role model in reducing risk factors following a breach. For one, the encryption the company used for its passwords passed muster. Second, the company clearly had an incident response and notification plan in place and used it.

University of North Carolina
Records Breached: 350,000 records
Incident: Two separate incidents, one going back a decade, exposed Social Security numbers and financial information online.
Lessons Learned: System misconfigurations caused back-end university systems to be exposed on the Internet for public consumption. This is an increasingly familiar breach scenario these days

Global Payment Systems
Records Breached: 7 million consumer records, including 1.5 million credit cards
Incident: The credit card processor found in March that 1.5 million credit card records had been exported from its North American processing system. In its investigation, it most recently found that a database of new and past processing applicants had also been hit.
Lessons Learned: Without a doubt the most impactful breach of the year so far, this massive exposure offers a valuable lesson in the folly of point-in-time, check-box compliance.

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Thank You and Congratulations!

Over the past five years, those of us in uTest nation have seen our company grow and succeed.  As of late, we’ve been increasingly fortunate to have that success acknowledged by others.

I found out a few weeks back that I was one of 32 finalists for the New England program of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year© awards. I was surprised and excited to make it that far and to receive an invitation to last night’s gala in Boston.

While I was not selected as a winner, to be nominated alongside such accomplished entrepreneurs as Paul English, Barbara Lynch and the others was an incredible honor I won’t soon forget. I’d like to extend my gratitude to the judges for their generous consideration.

Ernst & Young defines “Entrepreneur” in part as ‘someone who doesn’t believe those who say it can’t be done, someone who sees opportunity in every problem, someone who won’t take “no” for an answer.’  There is no question that last night’s winners certainly fit that description.

Thanks to Ernst & Young for a wonderful evening and for celebrating and honoring the entrepreneurial spirit. And congratulations and thanks to all of the winners and finalists for inspiring those of us in uTest nation with your vision and leadership!  

Native Apps or Mobile Web? – You Decide

People love to choose sides. In the world of sports, Red Sox fans loathe the Yankees and the feeling is reciprocated in kind by denizens of New York. Back in the 80’s we (or our parents) argued whether Miller Lite’s best feature was its taste or the fact that it was less filling. More recently, Twilight fans were asked if they were on Team Edward or Team Jacob (If I recall, my wife abstained, deeming both “scrumptious.” But I digress…).

Nowadays, in the world of mobile development, the argument du jour revolves around whether or not – with the onset of HTML5 – mobile web will one day reign supreme over native apps.

Last week our own inimitable Jamie Saine wrote a post citing a prediction that both content and businesses’ desire to be found easily in browser searches are what will ultimately help mobile web dominate in the long run, if not now.

Yesterday, the newest member of our well-heeled uTest team, Katherine Slattery, offered a slightly more virulent rebuttal, citing numerous sources and pointing out that the native app ship has sailed and we’re all aboard. (There are also unverified rumors that Kate issued dismissive comments about the notion of mobile web surpassing native apps. We’re currently awaiting confirmation as to whether there were utterances of “Oh, come on…” or an insincere “Mmm-hmm, sure.”).

So now we ask you our loyal readers – what do you think? Do you feel mobile web will one day prevail? Or do you feel that native apps are going to remain supreme forever? Take a minute to (re-)read both posts and then choose your final position once and for all! (Or, you know, give us thoughtful, nuanced insight into the values presented by each position.) Either way, let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Avoid Frankenstein-ed UIs

FrankensteinHave you ever come across a system that was clearly patched together from several different projects? Sometimes companies will put a shiny, if simple, UI across the whole thing to make it appear consistent. Other times, they don’t even try. Or a new component is added at a later date and doesn’t fit with the established system UI (a common occurrence as tech keeps progressing at an increasingly rapid pace – touch screens? voice command?). Either way, if a system is Frankenstein-ed together users will notice even the smallest inconsistencies. And they won’t like it.

Here’s a few varying system interfaces Rafe Needleman, of CNET, has come across recently:

  • When I got my Panasonic cordless home phone system about two years ago, I was amused to discover that its voice-announce features used two different voices. The voice that reads the caller ID is female. The one that talks me through the voice-mail options is male. It’s pretty clear that this is not the result of an intentional design decision, nor an homage to “Airplane,” but rather, because these two systems were built separately and grafted together at the last minute.
  • My Denon receiver has one onscreen interface (ugly typefaces, no graphics, but a consistent onscreen menu scheme) for options and settings, but another (nicer fonts, a little graphical love, but relies on buttons on the remote for navigation) for the Internet radio and network streaming functions. There’s an iPad remote app, too. It’s from another planet.
  • An LG TV I got a few months ago is a Sybil of interfaces for control and setup, with overlapping but different menus to access various apps and streaming services. There’s an additional motion-control interface available for this TV. I didn’t buy it. The last thing this set needs is yet another interface.
  • And a bonus insight: Yes, it’s expensive and can slow down development. But there is a value to coordinating product interaction designs, if only to keep users from going insane themselves.

Read the full article at CNET>>>

It all hinges on usability. If your product isn’t intuitive and easy for end users to figure out they aren’t going to be too pleased. And while people don’t often replace phones, TVs or other bigger ticket electronics, an unfriendly interface (or interfaces) will certainly make them hesitate when it comes to brand loyalty.

Just another reason usability testing is so important. Just because it’s not technically buggy doesn’t mean it will be a hit with real life users post-launch. It may function just fine, but if it’s not usable it won’t be used.

It’s a Wrap! The #GenMobile WWDC Party

To say the Appcelerator #GenMobile Party last Wednesday night was a success would be an understatement!  As one of Appcelerator’s newest partners, uTest was thrilled to sponsor their annual Apple WWDC  bash along with Box, InMobi and VentureBeat. Given Appcelerator’s reputation for throwing “the” party of the conference, tickets sold out far in advance.

Starting with a rush at 6:00pm, more than 500 mobile professionals starting pouring out of Moscone Convention Center and packing into Jillian’s in the Metreon for a night of celebration.  Folks from every facet of the mobile ecosystem mingled, hearing about each other’s latest projects and cool innovations in the works.

The diverse crowd included developers, project managers, and executives from companies including Groupon, SAP, Twitter, and Klout, as well as investors from firms like Google Ventures.  Plus, mixed among the familiar faces from VentureBeat were tech stalwarts like Don Clark of the Wall Street Journal, Ryan Lawler of TechCrunch, and Emily Price of Mashable.

If you couldn’t make it to the party, check out this video highlight reel and the photo gallery on Appcelerator’s Facebook page.  And of course we can’t forget about the photo booth!  Too many great photos to be able to pick favorites…

Thanks again, Appcelerator and to everyone that joined in the fun.  See you next year!

Microsoft Surface: Reactions and Reviews

After a week of speculation, Microsoft announced that it will be launching a tablet to call its own: Microsoft Surface. So far, the reviews have been fairly positive, albeit very few have actually gotten their hands on the device. Those that have – including writers at Wired, TechCrunch, Mashable, eWeek and others – were of course quite eager to share their initial impressions.

Here are clips from some of the more notable reviews:

Overall Look and Feel – From Dana Wollman, Engadget:

“None of this might make sense until you touch one yourself, but it’s our job to at least help you understand: the Surface really is as rigid and lightweight as Microsoft’s executive team promised us it would be. The magnesium casing makes it wholly inflexible, and we mean that in the best possible way. As thin and light as it is (9.3mm / 1.49 pounds), there isn’t a hint of give in the whole chassis. Were it not for fear of scratching that 10.6-inch display (HD on the RT model, Full HD 1080p on the Pro), we wouldn’t have too many qualms about accidentally dropping it: the magnesium is as smooth and scratch-resistant as it is sturdy. Heck, even the display is coated in second-generation Gorilla Glass, so maybe we shouldn’t handle this thing with kid gloves. Bonus: the whole package seems relatively impervious to fingerprints — at least on the rear. And remember, this is after dozens of tech writers put their curious paws on it.”

On Kickstands and Covers –  From Colleen Taylor, TechCrunch:

“First we got a look at the kickstand that’s built in to the Surface, which is a clear differentiator from the iPad, for which users have to buy separate accessories. The kickstand was made to click in and out on the tablet with ease and style, and a satisfying “snap” sound — the company says it spent lots of time developing the three hinges that make it work, modeling them after the doors on a luxury car.

Next we looked at the included cover, which doubles as a touch keyboard. It has a soft rubbery feeling, but the keys don’t compress when you touch them. It also does not bend at all, unlike iPad covers — obviously, as it does more than just cover the screen. Microsoft says it made the hinges and cover to give it a bookish feeling. They come in several different colors.”

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