Journey Of A Passionate Tester

To say that uTester Ajay Balamurugadas has an impressive software testing resume would be an obvious understatement. Coached by Pradeep Soundararajan, he has been awarded a scholarship from the Software Testing Club; is a proud student of  the Miagi-Do School run by Matt Heusser, and co-founded “Weekend Testing.” Oh yeah, and he’s also the latest contributor to our guest blogger series. For more of his work, be sure to check out his blog or follow him on Twitter.

In this post, Ajay takes a stroll down memory lane…

This is an article on my experiences with software testing, the traps I fell into, and the lessons I learned in the process. Before I share my story, let me make one thing clear: I’m no software testing expert. I make mistakes, learn, practice and apply my learning to improve my skills as a tester. To illustrate, I’ve split the journey into five simple stages.

Stage 1: Testing = Find Bugs

I am hired as an Associate QA Engineer at my first job. I was called upon to help remove all bugs in the product before it reached the customer – simple enough. As an obedient student, I did what was expected of me. The execution percentage never reached 100%. I could not complete a cycle of execution in the stipulated time. I did not know that I was checking and not testing. Whenever I tested, I could not achieve 100% execution. Some of the bugs I logged were termed as ‘Deferred – Will not be fixed’. I was bombarded with questions like: “Which user would do that? Good bug, but why did you find it now? Why did you miss it? ”

I did not have an answer for the questions. I myself had more questions than answers.

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Bug Reporting Lessons From Toyota: Are Your Brakes Show Stoppers?

In light of Toyota’s recent quality issues, the number of formal consumer complaints has risen above the norm. To make matters worse, Toyota has had an extremely difficult time making sense of all this new feedback.

Why? Well, if you are an experienced QA professional, you know exactly why.

A recent article about how to write a useful NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety) complaint should strike a chord with software testers. The complaint template is very similar to the bug reports we all know and love. In fact, they both serve the same purpose: defect reporting.

Consumers can learn a few lessons from software testers – and vice versa – by taking a look at some key excerpts from the article:

Include data that will help the manufacturer better understand the problem:

  • Facts about your vehicle and maintenance records
  • What you did and how the vehicle responded
  • Evidence and extra details

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iPad, WePad, We All Play on iPads

With hundreds of thousands of iPads being pre-ordered; and with HP releasing its Slate this year; AND with German company, Neofonie announcing the WePad (running on Android), the tablet market is definitely opening up some unique opportunities for the testing landscape.

According to Flurry Analytics, nearly half of the apps being tested on the iPad fall into the games category — a  whopping 44% of Apple test time.

On the other end of the iPad app testing spectrum (only 3% of app testing falls into the ‘books’ category) but highly anticipated, E-reader companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble are eagerly preparing their iPad apps (see iPad Kindle reader sneak here), gearing up to go head-to-head with Apple’s bookstore.

With the race on to build the first iPad apps, what are the risks of not being able to yet own or hold one? The New York Times reports:

“neither company [Amazon or Barnes & Noble] was given an iPad for testing” and “there are real-world factors that may go undetected with a simulator, like the weight of the device and how people hold it.”

As we all know here around uTest, there’s a world of difference between on-device testing and testing in a simulated environment. And with mobile app testing still maturing as a discipline, what challenges (or opportunities) will iPad, WePad and Slate apps bring to the world of testing?

It Doesn’t Make Census: Software Bugs Slowing Count, Raising Costs

It’s back to the basics for the US Census. After several failed attempts to “modernize” the national headcount with hand held computers, officials are now blaming the resulting confusion, delays and costs on – wait for it – software bugs. You can read more about it here. To save you some time, I’ve summarized the progress made along the way with some telling quotations from those in the know:

Phase I: “Critical software errors are increasing; system performance is still lagging and testing continues to be compressed. A shortfall in testing portends potentially significant technical problems in the field.” – John Thompson, former associate director of the Census Bureau

Phase II: “The testing of the system is continuing to reveal critical defects.” – Todd Zinser, Commerce Department Inspector General

Phase III: “The performance of this system is not taking the load we’d like. It’s not going to accept the load that we will need to get it in about a month or so.” – Robert Groves, Census Director

Results: “They have prepared to do the follow-up using pencil and paper, and they’re very good at that.” – John Thompson (again)

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Battle of the TV Networks Earns Great Ratings

Between our office March Madness bracketology and the Bug Battle of the TV Networks rocking the headlines, it’s been an exciting week here at uTest! The Q1 Bug Battle peaked the interest of several leading pundits and bloggers, including TechCrunch’s Robin Wauters (@robinwauters), VentureBeat’s Robert Mullins (@SiliconMoon) and BostInnovation’s Kyle Psaty (@bostinnovation):

Additional press coverage includes Radio Business Report, NewTeeVee, Broadcast Newsroom and VentureFizz.

Thanks again to all of our cunning uTesters for exploring these web and mobile apps voraciously and hunting down some very crafty bugs. And congratulations to all the winners of the Bug Battle of the TV Networks!

Until the next Bug Battle, happy bug hunting!

Game Developers Conference: A Slideshow

Last week, gaming enthusiasts of all varieties (fans, testers, developers, warlords, etc.) gathered in San Francisco for the annual Game Developers Conference. Among the attendees was uTest Project Manager Justin Forte – our very own man on the street. Though he failed to get the exclusive Mario Brothers interview he promised us, he was able to capture some great pictures of the festivities. We hope you like them.

The images speak for themselves, with one notable exception. You’ll notice one picture showing a booth where guests can meet Steve Wiebe, the long-time owner of the world’s top score in Donkey Kong. You may recall this author’s fascination with the never-ending battle for this top score, as chronicled in King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. Well, as luck would have it, just days before the conference kicked off, Wiebe was de-throned by a plastic surgeon from New York. The bar has been raised, and the barrels don’t lie, so get back to work Steve!

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T.W.I.T: The Heart Hacker – Pacemakers Vulnerable to Wireless Attacks

Before I get into the story of this fascinating bug, I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to T.W.I.T. We liked the “bug-iversary” concept so much here at uTest that we decided to make it a recurring column, called T.W.I.T. or This Week In Testing (also noting the happy coincidence that the word “twit” is synonymous with “fool” and “dope,” words that characterize many of these bug follies ;-)).

But I digress! So, this week in testing brings us an interesting heart device bug discovered March 12, 2008.

A team of computer security researchers were able to gain wireless access to a combination heart defibrillator and pacemaker. According to the New York Times,

[The researchers] were able to reprogram it to shut down and to deliver jolts of electricity that would potentially be fatal. The researchers said they had also been able to glean personal patient data by eavesdropping on signals from the tiny wireless radio embedded in the implant as a way to let doctors monitor and adjust it without surgery.

Full report and more after the bump!

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Where In The World Is Doron Reuveni?

Well, today he’s sticking close to home in Boston. Tomorrow he’ll land in London… and before the week is out, he’ll hit Tel Aviv.

Doron starts Wednesday morning off (after his usual 10-mile run, of course!) in London with some tea and networking with friend and colleague, James Whittaker and UK partner, TCL.

Then he’s off to QCon London, an excellent conference for the enterprise software community. On Friday, 3/12 @ 2pm, he’ll be presenting at QCon re: The Mobile App Quality Challenge & How Crowdsourcing Can Help.

Doron is one of five software testing leaders chosen to present in the “How Do You Test That?” track. This track explores unique solutions created to address situations in which automated testing does not suffice.

And on the last leg of his marathon journey, Doron will present at Garage Geeks in Israel on Monday, 3/15 @ 8pm. There, Doron will be taking a deep dive into the topic of Crowdsourcing, and how smart recruiting, training and incentives can turn an unstructured, loosely assembled mob into a unified, professional community.

So, where in the world is Doron this week?  Catch him if you can!

Old Bug Up To New Tricks

SCMagazine reported this week that researchers in Malta have discovered a decade-old vulnerability, present in all versions of Windows since 2000.  This bug can cause PCs to crash instantaneously and without warning, as well as reeling the compromised machine into a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.  This exploit is only dangerous if the user is duped into running an app with the malicious code (according to Paul Gafa, CTO of 2X Software).


The bug was discovered while Gafa was writing a software testing app:

“You can be the least privileged user on the system and still crash it,” Gafa said. “I believe it is very easy for Microsoft to sort it out. They just need to validate arguments passed to Windows APIs.” (source: SC Magazine)

Microsoft is currently aware of the defect and responded with this insight:

“Our initial assessment of the report is that malicious code would have to already be running or a user would have to be able to run a specially crafted application to cause the system to crash. In either case, the system has already been compromised or the user has rights to logon to the system.”

I’m curious to hear if anyone has other stories of old bugs causing new problems or vulnerabilities?

What Has 47,000+ Thumbs And Now Offers Load & Performance Testing Services?

In the 18 months since our August 2008 launch, the name uTest has become synonymous with functional testing.  We help companies hunt down and kill the bugs in every corner of their web, desktop or mobile apps.  But a funny thing happened along the way:  as our customers have grown (in number, in size, in technical sophistication), we’ve found ourselves getting pulled into QA-related conversations outside of just functional testing.

Among the most popular topics has been load & performance testing.  Companies of all shapes and sizes have been asking for our advice; asking our opinions about various synthetic load tools; asking us what other companies are using; and ultimately, asking us to help them ensure their web apps are ready to perform under peak loads.

So after extensive research and a great deal of planning, uTest is ready to announce a new and better way to perform load testing on your web app.  We’re offering three different flavors of load testing services:

  • Live Load: A team of live testers from around the globe can test an application simultaneously, enabling customers to see how their web app performs under truly real-world usage conditions
  • Simulated Load: Requiring no live testers, uTest’s simulated load testing provides customers with a complete analysis of a web app’s performance under peak synthetic load
  • Hybrid Load: Combining live testers with best-of-breed simulated load tools, uTest’s hybrid load testing enables customers to perform functional testing while their web application is under heavy synthetic load

We think our approach to load testing is altogether unique and will be extremely valuable to companies of all types, but we’re also exceedingly biased.  But our early load testing customers and the software testing pundits seem to agree:

We’ll update this post with more links as the news rolls in.  Questions about how load testing works via a community of professional testers?  Check out our load testing section for details.  Or drop us a note and ask us anything.