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.

Join Us @ QUEST — Quality & Software Testing Conference (April 19-23)

QUEST, one of the top software testing conferences, will be held in Dallas this year (April 19-23).  And uTest is getting geared up and is thrilled to be a part of this conference.

In addition to inviting Doron to be a keynote presenter, QUEST features a week-long agenda packed with more than 100 opportunities for attendees to build new skills and prepare for the testing professions of the future.

From exploratory testing to test automation to security audits to crowdsourced testing,  QUEST will cover a wide range of testing topics that give attendees insight into the latest best practices and innovative approaches to testing today. To learn more, here’s a sneak peek at the QUEST Magazine.

Special Note: Members of the uTest community interested in registering for QUEST are eligible for

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International Date Line Bug Caused Fighter Aircraft Systems Crash

With our testing community currently hammering away in the “Bug Battle of the TV Networks” this week, it’s time to take a moment to reflect on our February bug-iversary.

On February 11, 2007, during its very first overseas deployment to Okinawa, Japan, six F-22 Raptors flying from Hawaii experienced multiple computer crashes, including navigation, communication and fuel system crashes, when crossing the International Date Line.

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Social Networks Pose Security Threats (& An Intro to Tina Fey’s YouFace)

It’s no surprise to our community that social networks have the potential to pose big security threats this year. During the “Battle of the Social Networks,” uTesters found a combined 718 bugs in Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn; and an additional 300+ bugs were discovered in the top five Twitter desktop apps during the Q2 bug battle.

To add more fuel to the fire, today the company Sophos, which surveyed 500+ organizations, came out with a new report stating that in the past year:

  • 57% of users report they have been spammed via social networking sites
  • 36% of users claim they’ve been sent malware via social networking sites
  • 72% of survey respondents think social networks are a danger for their companies (see Mashable article)

What’s the solution? Tina Fey, in her show “30 Rock,” recently spoofed social networks with her creation of “YouFace” (combo of Facebook & MySpace). Terms such as “finger-tagged,” “weirdsie,” and “pho-lo” (for photo and hello) had many ROFL. See video clip after the bump!

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All Circuits Are Currently Busy — A Look Back 20 Years After AT&T Network Crash

Bug-iversary Alert! Tomorrow is the 20-year anniversary of the “crash” of the AT&T Long Distance Network. On January 15, 1990 faulty software was installed on the AT&T Electronic Switching System (Number 4 ESS): a one-line bug incapacitated the entire system, disabling switches throughout half the network.

Known as one of the most serious telecom bugs in history, more than 75 million calls were not connected during 9 hours, an estimated $60 million loss.

Dennis Burke of California Polytechnic said it best: “The Jan. 1990 incident showed how bugs in self-healing software can bring down healthy systems, and the difficulty of detecting obscure load- and time-dependent defects in software.”

Speaking of “load defects,” AT&T — after signing up to be exclusive U.S. provider of iPhone service — has recently come under fire for the quality of its network coverage. Businessweek‘s top headlines read:

In light of this bug-iversary, I can’t help but wonder if more testing should have been done before AT&T took on the massive data demands of modern 3G smartphones? What do you think?

Announcing The 2009 “uTester of the Year” Awards

Today, we announced the results of our 2009 uTester of the Year Awards. Our community is full of professional testers, which made the judging incredibly tough (I can’t believe how much the bar has been raised for testers over the course of 2009). This awards program, however, was designed to recognize those few testers whose testing skills, attention to detail and consistently excellent performance stood out.

The winners were selected by our community management team and project managers, and were based upon testers’ performance across several hundred test cycles for web, desktop and mobile applications.

Brian Rock from Austin, Texas was named the overall uTester of the Year.  Brian joined uTest early in 2009 and brings 10+ years of software engineering experience to our community. Over the course of the year, Brian earned MVT (Most Valuable Tester) awards on multiple test cycles and also wrote a popular uTest guest blog post, “Software Testers: The Eyes of the Battlefield.”  He consistently reports excellent bugs, communicates with customers extremely well, and is very engaged in uTest projects.  Brian had this to say about his experience with uTest:

“Working with uTest challenges me to learn new applications and to solve new testing problems on different products every week,” said Brian Rock. “This keeps things fresh and exciting, and opens my eyes to see systems holistically and keep my defect localization skills sharp. This is what I enjoy most about working with uTest, and I am honored to be among this elite group of testers.”

The complete list of winners of is available after the jump:
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