Our CEO Can Run Faster Than Yours Can

A quick post that has absolutely nothing to do with testing, mobile apps, start-ups or agile.  Today, Doron is running the Boston Marathon… admittedly, it’s a bigger deal to us than it is to him, since it’s his 7th or 8th time.  So while Doron’s banging out 7-minute miles (or some such nonsense), we’re all rootin’ for him.

We’ll be back later with Doron’s mid-race splits — or at least with his final time.  Happy marathon day, Boston!  Do you know anyone running the marathon today?

UPDATE: Doron’s Post-Race Results!

Facebook, South Park and the Value of User Feedback

For most software companies, user feedback generally comes in the form of emails, surveys, bug reports and the like. For Facebook, it recently came in the form of an entire South Park episode (warning: spoiler alert!).

Earlier this week, South Park lampooned the social media giant (along with Jim Cramer, chat roulette, Tron and Yahtzee) in an episode with major usability undertones. You can watch the entire episode here, but in case you’re at work, here’s brief synopsis from Wikipedia:

When Kyle, Cartman and Kenny make Stan a Facebook profile without his knowledge, he becomes frustrated with everyone asking him for friend requests. After he gets fed up with Facebook, Stan tries to delete his profile but is sucked into a virtual Facebook world. Meanwhile, Kyle starts trying to find ways to get more friends on Facebook after he drastically starts losing them due to his befriending of a third-grade friendless Facebook user, who everyone thinks is a loser.

Compared to other South Park “guests”, Facebook made it through the episode relatively unscathed, and for that they should be thankful. That said, it’s still South Park, a place where weaknesses must be exploited. So, here are a few feedback items I was able to relate to typical user feedback:

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uTest Scores A Spot On 2010 ‘OnDemand Top 100′ List

Quick award update! Yesterday, uTest was recognized as a rapidly growing private company and SaaS leader by being named an OnDemand Top 100 winner (by AlwaysOn).

The list includes top SaaS and Cloud companies that demonstrate leadership among peers, success in the marketplace and innovative tech. We are honored to be listed alongside industry pioneers, such as SOASTA, LiveOffice and Wordstream.

The winners were selected from among hundreds of tech companies nominated by investors, bankers, journalists and industry insiders based on a set of five criteria:

– Innovation
— Market potential
— Commercialization
— Stakeholder value and
— Media buzz

CONGRATS to all the winners!

We’ll be attending and presenting at AlwaysOn’s OnDemand event on April 20th @ HP’s Worldwide Headquarters in Palo Alto, where the Top 100 companies will also be honored. Check out how the program is shaping up!

If you happen to be in the area, shoot us a note!

uTest Taps Crowd To Test Food, Chemicals, Paternity, Driving & More

In the past year, we’ve made tremendous strides in our march to change the world of software testing.  We started by doing functional testing for web apps.  Then came desktop apps.  And then mobile apps.  More recently, we’ve expanded to provide load testing services.

Since we clearly have nothing left to prove in the software testing game, we’ve set our sights on other testing markets that are in desperate need of our special brand of crowd-driven innovation.  And after months of market research (mostly just watching movies), focus groups (a collection of bobblehead dolls we bought on eBay), and with the help of the brilliant consultants at Prestige Worldwide (NSFW), we’re pleased to announce our revolutionary new testing services in the following categories:

Driving tests:  Can’t keep it between the lines?  Don’t know how to parallel park?  Not even sure what “10 & 2″ means?  No problem.  With a community of 24,000+ testers from 162 countries around the world, we have people who know how to drive on the left- or right-hand side of the road.  We can help with the written exam and the road test (Please note: this would be considered 2 separate test projects).

Food tests:  Afraid someone’s trying to poison you?  Think someone may have slipped something into your drink?  Or maybe you’re just concerned that your soup is too hot?  Taking unnecessary risks with your food is now a thing of the past.  Just ping uTest and we’ll have a tester on-site in minutes, ready to sample your food or beverage and deal with the consequences.

Paternity tests:  Not sure what your responsibilities are?  Scared to learn the results?  With this latest service, you don’t have to be.  We’ve got testers everywhere and we’re happy to help you pass the test of a lifetime.  A member of our community can either take the test for you or help you study for it yourself.

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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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