What’s the Best Mobile Operating System? Android FTW!

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:

  1. Android – 38%
  2. RIM Blackberry – 28%
  3. Apple – 16%
  4. Symbian – 12%
  5. 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…

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Apple Winning the Bug Marathon

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”:

  1. Apple
  2. Oracle
  3. Microsoft
  4. HP
  5. Adobe Systems
  6. IBM
  7. VMware
  8. Cisco
  9. Google
  10. 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:

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Testing the Limits with James Whittaker – Part II

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.

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Testing the Limits with James Whittaker – Part I

It was one year ago (June ’09) that James Whittaker helped us christen our ‘Testing The Limits’ interview series by being our first guest. And for much of the year, he held the distinction of generating the most page views… and then some guy named Patrick Copeland came along and took the lead a few months back.

Well, in honor of our one-year anniversary, James has accepted our invite to be our first-ever return guest – and this marks the start of a new trend. In our 2nd year of Testing the Limits, we’re going to be revisiting some of the past legends and leaders to see what’s changed since they last spoke with us. Of course, we’ll also be blending in some voices we haven’t heard from yet (we’re looking at you, Cem Kaner and Elizabeth Hendrickson) so stay tuned!

In this interview, James discusses his present role at Google; the emergence of Web Test Framework (aka WTF); the next decade of testing innovations; cloud computing and much more. When you’re done with this one, go read Part II.

uTest: A year ago, the big news was about your move from Microsoft to Google. Now that you’re no longer a Noogler, how has this year changed your perspective on testing and the testing industry? What has surprised you most?  Can you share any favorite stories?

JW: Four years ago I made the decision to leave the comfy confines of academe and consultancy and do something more real. It seems there is a steady supply of ex-industry folks going into consulting and not much of a flow the other way. I thought it would challenge me more than anything else I could do. Unfortunately, Microsoft just wasn’t the place to pull that off, ship schedules in the client-server domain simply didn’t allow a fast enough pace to suit me. I’ve been part of more software development in the past year at Google than I had my entire time at Microsoft and my consulting career combined. Things I didn’t think possible like shipping a product from concept to production in a matter of weeks, doing software development in a way that makes testing mostly invisible and creating completely new uses for test techniques that I had dismissed as amateur earlier in my career (e.g., record and playback) have not only surprised me but also now make my days a lot more interesting.

Another perspective that has changed is my appreciation of automated testing has grown. I’ve written extensively about manual testing and the importance of having a brain in-the-loop and I haven’t given it enough credit to automation in the past. Automation is really important and I think the detractors to it, simply don’t know how to do it right or simply don’t have enough experience with it. At the same time my appreciation for manual testing has grown as well, but I no longer advocate doing it without a lot of automated assistance. I’ll explain more about that later.

uTest: In the spirit of “WTF”, can you tell us more about the new, appropriately named, Web Test Framework and the unique control that Chrome and Chrome OS will offer web apps, browsers and the operating systems they are running on?

JW: I work with a developer who believes that WTF (the real meaning of the acronym) is the only appropriate response to a tester who creates yet another test framework. I have to admit, it is a response I often employ as well. Does the world really need another test framework? What the —-?

Well the world needs this one.

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And The BBJ Best Places To Work In Boston Are…

No, not us.  So don’t worry, this isn’t a “look how cool we are” post.  Actually, at Friday’s Boston Business Journal ‘best places to work‘ awards ceremony, we came in 9th out of the 20 finalists in the ‘small company’ category — and we’re very proud to have even been on the list in only our 2nd year of operations.  The finalists included some outstanding Massachusetts companies in the large, mid-sized and small biz categories, including Google, Microsoft, LogMeIn, Intuit and Carbonite.

Setting that aside, the whole experience of getting nominated, making the finals and being around such great companies this morning got me thinking about the importance of company culture — particularly in startups.  As resource-constrained startups, how do you create a culture or a DNA in which people love coming to work, feel passion for what they do, and believe they’re part of something bigger than themselves? In short, how do YOU create a “great place to work”?

As we emerge from the global recession in 2010, this will be imperative for companies of all sizes — but most notably for startups, where our people are our business. So what are you doing to give your company — and your employees — a sense of shared mission and purpose? How will you keep your best people engaged and challenged to conquer the world?

Back to Friday’s award ceremonies, special congrats to the three companies who won 1st place in their categories:

  • Small company category: fama PR (websitetwitter)
  • Mid-sized company category: HubSpot (website | twitter) — way to go, Brian, Dharmesh, Mike, Mark & co!!!
  • Large company category: William Raveis Real Estate (website | twitter)

And in case you think we’re hanging our heads over not bringing home the gold, think again.  We can’t wait to see where we are in 2011. But in the meantime, we’re working on our dance routine in case there’s a talent show at next year’s BBJ event. Would love to hear from other entrepreneurs, founders and startups about what you’re doing to compete for the ultra-scarce resource of talent.

Time Warp Alert: Browser Wars Are Back

Apparently once just wasn’t enough.  In the spirit of skinny jeans, New Kids on the Block, Pez dispensers and the VW Bug, the browser wars are baaaack.

Yes, the storm clouds are gathering.  Off in the distance, we can see Safari 5, IE9, Chrome 5 and Firefox 4 in various stages of envisioning, development or launch.  And just like the good ole days, the combatants aren’t wasting any time in taking aim at the competition.  MG Siegler over at TechCrunch outlines the initial skirmish in what figures to be a protracted battle among 800 lb. heavyweights.

For those who haven’t yet waded in and taken a side in this looming battle, here are a few product reviews (or previews) from some well-respected sources:

We’re just beginning to experiment with the betas here in the uTest offices, but I’m curious to hear if any testers or devs have started using these new versions yet.  If so, drop us a comment and share your thoughts. What’s clear is that the latest round of browser wars will be fought along the lines of speed, tab management & placement, extension management and HTML5 support.

Pac-Man is Like Crack, Man – Google Brings Back a Classic

Worldwide productivity surely took a nose-dive today, as thousands of worker bees (like me) discovered that Google was featuring the classic Pac-Man arcade game on its ever-changing homepage. What began as a scholarly search for “regression testing tips” quickly devolved into “five” minutes of ghost-chomping fun – but don’t tell my boss.

In honor of Pac-Man’s 30th birthday, Google developed the application (in what we presume is HTML5) to look, sound and behave just like the original version from 1980. [UPDATE: Here’s how to download the Pac-Man game for free] We’re not yet sure if this includes the infamous Pac-Man kill-screen bug, but I am determined to find out. I’ll work nights and weekends if that’s what it takes. That’s just the kind of dedicated employee I am.

Anyway, since we’re a software testing company, many of us in the office were curious to see how the application would perform on the various mobile devices we have in-house. Here’s a quick run-down of our findings for each device, including whether or not it worked, along with a few notes:

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uTest Makes BBJ’s List of Best Places to Work In 2010

Boston Business Journal just announced their list of Best Places To Work. And with nearly 450 nominees and only 20 companies making the cut in the Small Company category (20-100 employees), it’s a tough list to get on. But we’ve never shied away from a tough competition, so we threw our hat in the ring. And lo and behold, we’re proud to report that uTest has joined this prestigious list of  the best places to work in Massachusetts!

We’re stoked to be on a list alongside global heavyweights like Google, Microsoft, Ritz-Carlton, Comcast, as well as local startup legends like Carbonite and HubSpot. So, how did we do it? Well, from our open bullpen layout to our always-stocked kitchen to tweeting from the slopes,  to a company outing that consists of climbing Mount Monadnock, uTest is not your typical company… even by startup standards.

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Testing the Limits With Jon Bach – Part I

After Twitter-stalking him, making some harassing phone calls and sending threatening letters, Jon Bach (@jbtestpilot) cheerily agreed to take part in our Testing the Limits series. Much like his brother, Jon has a remarkable understanding of software testing – both in theory and in practice. Having worked for companies like Quardev, LexisNexis, HP and Microsoft, Jon is also a blogger, author and software testing consultant. An expert, in the truest sense of the term.

In the first installment of our two-part interview, we get Jon’s thoughts on sibling rivalry; the blame spiral of software development; the emergence of “agile-fall”;  testing at a startup vs. testing in the enterprise; John Schneider as Jon Bach and more.

uTest: A few months back, we asked your buddy Andy Muns who’d win a fight between you and your brother (this was a big debate in the uTest office). He said you would win hands down. Would he be right? And since you and your brother seem to share the same testing philosophy, what would do you think the fight would be about?

JB: It’s hard to fight with someone who stayed in their room for most of our childhood.  He was either reading or doing science experiments with a microscope or the chemistry set.  It got worse when we got the TRS-80 in 1980.  In fact, that’s probably the last time we fought — over who got computer time next.  My memory may be fuzzy, but just when it came to blows, he programmed a user name and password dialog? Something clever like that. Now it’s better just to learn from him and do my best to keep up — but that’s true for all younger brothers, I think.

As for modern-day fighting, sponsor me for a testing certification and let’s see what he’d do.

uTest: Say you’re named grand poobah of the QA universe… what’s your first decree?

JB: Effective today, “Quality Assurance” is now “Quality Assistance”.

(Try it.  Watch what happens when you start using it.)

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