As uTest’s October Tour finally winds down, we wanted to share a few more pics with you from abroad. As you know, uTest exec John Montgomery was selected to attend the invite-only Google Test Automation Conference (GTAC) in Hyderabad this week (uTest’s second year in a row!). A few little Twitter birds (Pradeep Soundararajan and Joel Hynoski) also announced that uTest was mentioned several times from the stage during talks of crowdsourced testing and Mozilla’s crowd strategy. A fantastic event overall! Click here for all Day One and Day Two pics.
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Update: Michelle Sullivan from SORBS comments below.
Update 2: Michelle comments again with an explanation of what went wrong.
Update 3: Check out our full interview with Michelle Sullivan about SORBS, blacklisting, the tech running behind the scenes, and their recent database problem.
Did you send an email today that got bounced because of something called SORBS? You’re not alone. Last night, the SORBS anti-spam blacklist (their site is slammed right now) accidentally updated their databases to include an enormous number of the Internet’s mail servers and networks. (The complaining on Twitter is intense.) Large portions of IP addresses owned by Amazon, Google, Rackspace, and others were included in this blacklist and marked as unacceptable for email.
If your mail server happens to live within those IP ranges, then you can’t send emails today to anyone else using the SORBS blacklist. Since tons of companies and people use those ISPs for hosting mail servers, you can imagine the pain and suffering this is causing.
So how does this all work? Anti-spam networks like SORBS were created as a way to reduce the amount of spam sent and received around the world. Spammers, like most email users, tend to send their emails from one or two mail servers. If you can locate the originating mail server for a piece of spam, then it can be put into a “blacklist” of known spammers. Those blacklists are compiled and shared by independent groups, like SORBS.
When an ISP receives a piece of email, it will check with the blacklist to see if that email came from a known spam server. If it did, then the ISP will simply reject the email entirely. It works pretty well – unless the blacklist becomes corrupted.
And that’s the problem with an “off or on” system like this that everyone uses. One corrupted database, accidental data entry, or misconfiguration is all it takes to create mayhem around the world for millions of innocent users.
By the way, if you run an email server that uses SORBS for blacklisting, you might want to disable the SORBS checking until this gets resolved.
Updated: More details from SANS ISC.
October is bursting at the seams in terms of uTest speaking engagements! The exec team will be presenting at leading events all over the world this month — from San Fran to London to Hyderabad and back.
SAN FRANCISCO 10/4-10/7
We start in San Francisco next week at CrowdConf, the world’s first conference dedicated to the world of crowdsourcing and the future of work. CrowdConf will be held at the St. Regis Hotel on October 4th.
Crowdsourcing veterans CEO of oDesk, Gary Swart, and CEO of Elance, Fabio Rosati, will join Doron on a panel to discuss the ways crowdsourcing models are used to maximize a company’s potential and manage costs. More details here!
By the way, we will also be at CTIA in San Fran October 5th – October 7th at both the Mobile Web & Apps Forum (10/5) and the iPad & Tablet Publishing/Entertainment Apps (10/6) event. CTIA will be held at Moscone Center West. Let us know if you’ll be there!
LONDON 10/13 & 10/19
Next stop – the UK! On October 13th, Co-Founder of uTest Roy Solomon will be speaking at TCL’s Star Testing event in London. Other speakers include our friends James Whittaker (two-time Testing The Limits veteran!) and Tom Lounibos, CEO of SOASTA. This event will be held at One Alfred Place.
On October 19th, uTest exec Matt Johnston will be among the outstanding line-up of more than 40 speakers at Mobile App World, which includes Google, Microsoft, Ericsson, Orange Global and the BBC, who will be discussing the future of mobile apps.
Next stop – India! uTest was selected to attend the invite-only Google Test Automation Conference (GTAC) in Hyderabad on October 28 for the second year in a row! uTest exec John Montgomery will be there.
Last but not least, Matt will be speaking at TiE CON 2010 in Dearborn, Michigan on October 28 at 1pm in the Crowdsourcing track.
And that’s it! (Where’s an exhausted emoticon when you need one?) If you want to meet up with us at any of these events, please shoot us a note. We’d love to share a coffee break with you.
In hot tech news today, Google releases its goo.gl URL shortener (cool!), Facebook upgrades its photos (cooler!), Foursquare 2.0 for Android arrives (nice!), Twitter’s Promoted Trends appear at the top of the trends (meh) AND… the winners of the “Where’s The App For That?” Twitter contest are announced (woooo!!!).
Thank you again to everyone who participated, including the incredible voter turn out! 621 people turned up to support their favorite apps. Special thanks to our honorable mentions @linzlovesyou, @statelessSH, @Omeriko21, @the_qa_guy and @eurekalopes.
There were so many good ideas – let’s hope someone out there is listening and creates them for us. We’d be happy to test them!
From Lady Gaga to uTest, everyone is implementing social sign-in. Website users are tired of having so many accounts and they’re eager to start using their Facebook or Twitter accounts as their keys to the web. With social sign-in, it’s as simple as telling a website that “Facebook knows who I am,” and then have their login just work through Facebook from then on.
But with so many different companies offering social login, a new question has arisen: which social networks do people actually prefer for hosting their identity? We asked our testers that question in our weekly What Do uThink polls in our tester forums, and the answers were surprising.
A staggering 58% of our testers preferred using Google’s Authentication Services. Facebook was preferred by 18% of testers, and Twitter and LinkedIn carried the rest. When asked why they chose Google, testers listed ease of use, privacy, and ubiquity (Google is everywhere!) as the reasons they preferred it. But Facebook’s fans were just as vocal, pointing out that Facebook was everywhere as well and just as easy.
So what did our Facebook community think? Well unsurprisingly, 75% of them preferred Facebook with just 25% preferring Google.
What do you think?
August 17, 2010 by Mike Brown /
Rumors of the mobile web’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Despite some compelling arguments in Wired’s latest series – where experts assert that native apps have (or will soon) totally displace the web as a medium of choice – we’re not quite ready to pull the plug. Apparently, neither is the general public. Not just yet.
More on that in a second, but first, let’s examine why some are making this claim. It’s true that there’s been a meaningful shift towards native apps over the last few years, thanks mostly to the iPhone and its offspring (i.e. smartphones). What was once the Great Wide Open, the Internet has been parceled into what Wired calls “semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display.”
In other words:
You wake up and check your email on your bedside iPad — that’s one app. During breakfast you browse Facebook, Twitter, and The New York Times — three more apps. On the way to the office, you listen to a podcast on your smartphone. Another app. At work, you scroll through RSS feeds in a reader and have Skype and IM conversations. More apps. At the end of the day, you come home, make dinner while listening to Pandora, play some games on Xbox Live, and watch a movie on Netflix’s streaming service….
You’ve spent the day on the Internet — but not on the Web. And you are not alone…
Quite true. But you are also NOT alone if you’re still using the mobile web. As part of our weekly “What Do uThink” poll question, we asked our community whether they prefer to get information via native apps or the mobile web. Here were the results:
As long as we’ve had the World Wide Web, we’ve needed software to browse it. Originally, that meant using a tool like Mosaic or Lynx. Today, we have a wide variety of browsers from which to choose, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
So it was in this spirit that we polled our community of testers to find out which of the next-generation browsers they were most excited about as part of our weekly What Do uThink polls in our forums. The outcome was tight, with Firefox 4 and Chrome 6 together taking 86% of the votes (Firefox 4 had 46% of the votes and Chrome 6 had 40%). Internet Explorer 9 came in third and garnered the bulk of the remainder.
We posed the same question to users on Facebook, and the results were nearly the same. Firefox won with 50% of the votes, but Chrome was right behind with 33%.
So which do you prefer? Are you excited by Chrome’s astonishing performance improvements and built-in PDF reader? Or are you looking forward to Firefox’s Tab Candy interface? Of course, you don’t have to agree with our community. Internet Explorer 9 features some rocking speed improvements and support for HTML5, while Opera 10.60 now features some killer geolocation features. And don’t forget about Safari 5, which now supports extensions for easy modification.
The browser wars are hardly over, and I couldn’t be more excited. That’s probably why I use all of them! What do you think?
July 22, 2010 by Mike Brown /
What’s the square root of Pi? Who led the NBA in rebounding in 1988? Are there really rattlesnakes in Vermont? Is Silly Putty edible?*
Here’s another question for you: Where do you go for answers online? If you’re not sure, we suggest that you ask Google, because that’s where almost everyone submits their online inquiries these days.
To make it a bit more scientific, we decided to make this question the topic of our weekly “What Do uThink?” poll. Here are the results from the uTest Forums:
- Google (search) – 91%
- Wikipedia – 4%
- Bing (search) – 2%
- Other – 2%
Clearly, Google pretty much owns the online answers space, which came as no surprise. However, when we posed the exact same question to our Facebook users the results were slightly different. Google still came in first place, but with “only” 53% of the total vote. Rounding out the totals were Wikipedia (18%); YahooAnswers (12%); Bing (6%) and WikiAnswers (6%).
So what makes Google the go-to place for answers? uTest Forums member “scornik” explains:
According to tech analyst firm IDC, U.S. companies paid a record $14.2 billion for paid keyword-driven contextual ads in 2009, with Google dominating 55% of that revenue, Yahoo 9% and Microsoft 6%.
More dollars = More fraudsters. Period.
The company Click Forensics just released a report on the overall click fraud rates for the paid search industry. According to SearchEngineLand, the report said click fraud was up from 17.4% last quarter to 18.6% in Q2 of 2010. Traffic across 300+ ad networks is reflected in the data.
In addition, it was found that the countries outside North America with the greatest volume of click fraud were Singapore, Pakistan, Japan, Ukraine and China respectively.
Recent research by marketing intelligence company Visual IQ came out with similar numbers earlier this month. The company estimates marketers lose an average of 16.7 percent of their pay-per-click budgets to fraud.
So why is click fraud slowly trending higher and higher? The CEO of Click Forensics, Paul Pellman, stipulates that “the main reasons appear to be the continued sophistication of botnets and malware prevalent in the fast-growing search marketing space.”
According to Inc. Magazine, click scams use the following techniques:
- Manual clicking. Workers might be paid to click to run up totals.
- Software clicks. Automated clicks.
- Bot networks. Using malware to harness unsuspecting users’ computers, criminals can create large networks of computers employing programs that imitate clicks.
Despite detection innovations, click fraud rates show no signs of slowing. Attacks are becoming more sophisticated. Criminals are making more money. So what can we do? Any advice out there on how to mitigate it?
July 15, 2010 by Mike Brown /
The mobile wars are heating up! Microsoft is aggressively luring app developers for its Windows Phone 7 OS, while Android quietly gains market share. Blackberry expects big things out of OS 6, while The Big Apple deals with antenna issues, the yellow screen of death and the (remote) possibility of a recall. Interesting times indeed.
As part of our newly-launched “What Do uThink?” series (more on this shortly), we decided to ask our community which mobile OS they considered to be the best. Here are the results:
- Android – 38%
- RIM Blackberry – 28%
- Apple – 16%
- Symbian – 12%
- Windows Mobile – 6%
“What do uThink?” is a weekly poll, where we’ll be asking the uTest community their preferences and feedback on various apps, operating systems and other technologies. To encourage voting, we’ll be awarding monthly and quarterly prizes to randomly selected participants. This quarter, for instance, we’re giving away an iPod Touch. The weekly polls open every Tuesday afternoon and voting takes place in the uTest Forums available to registered testers) as well as on our Facebook page. Got it?
Good. Now back to the mobile OS results…
July 13, 2010 by Mike Brown /
Take that Oracle! You just let Apple capture the lead in the 2010 Bug Marathon, otherwise known as Secunia’s Half Year Report (PDF). Worth the read, the 20-page report identifies the ten largest vendors with the most vulnerabilities (in all their products) and ranks them for the first half of 2010 – great entertainment for those who like to track bugs and keep score.
I mean, the World Cup is over and nobody really cares about baseball until September, so perhaps this could help fill the competitive void in the meantime…
Here are the current “standings”:
- Adobe Systems
- Mozilla Organization
As noted earlier, this is really more of a marathon than a sprint, so it would be useful if we went back a little longer than six months to crown a winner. Thankfully, Secunia did just that as part of their key findings:
In the second part of our Testing the Limits interview with James Whittaker, we tackle Google vs. Microsoft; dogs vs. cats; why SCRUM is just a name; his advice for college graduates; bad habits of exploratory testing and more. If you missed Part I, you can find it here.
If you want to read more of James’ work, bookmarking the Google Testing Blog would be a good place to start. You can also read his 2009 book Exploratory Software Testing or check out some of his uTest eBooks and webinars.
uTest: The Microsoft vs. Google battle continues to play out very publicly in the media. Just last week, Computerworld wrote this story: “Microsoft: No Matter What Google Says, Windows Is Secure.” Having been at both companies, we think you have a unique perspective on this one. Any thoughts?
JW: Let me say right away that I enjoyed my time at Microsoft and admire the company and the smart people who work there. As a resident of Seattle, it is in my best interest for Microsoft to prosper! But the two companies are vastly different regarding the way their talent is managed and their products are built. Google is an engineering-centric company where innovation comes from individuals who are empowered to do whatever they need to get ideas into production. Much has been made of Google’s game-theory approach to managing people where rewards are given quickly for impactful behavior. It works. Morale is high and people work very hard and take quality very seriously.
Does this mean we produce more secure or more reliable products? We try hard to do so; Microsoft tries equally hard. I think we have the advantage of less legacy and a more modern and reliable platform (the Web as opposed to client operating systems) to work from. But the secret sauce at both companies is the same: hard work and due diligence.
uTest: You shared with us (as the pioneer of Testing the Limits posts) that your first assignment at Google was “To raise the level of testing precision and diligence.” So, how did it go?
JW: It didn’t take long. Google was mostly already there so I can’t really take credit for it. Now I am busy raising the bar further.
uTest: Top tester Glory Leung is curious: What are your views on SCRUM testing in general? Are people doing it properly? What is the ideal situation?
JW: Scrum is just a name. I don’t like names, they feel too confining and people have their own ideas of what they mean. I took a lot of flak for using the name ‘exploratory testing’ for my book. People love to confine you to how they view a specific named idea or technique. Flexibility is required.