Thursday, April 30, 2009

Old-school programming techniques you probably don't miss

Computer World has an article on techniques you rarely need to consider for so-called 'modern' computer systems.

Among those listed are
- hand-coded sorting algorithms
- GUI elements
- self-modifying code (this is particularly interesting for anyone under 40)
- punch cards
- pointer math
- and much more...

The article is well-written and a fun read. From a QA perspective, the 'other shoe' aspect is that these no longer need to be tested. Whew!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Call for Bloggers

If you are interested in blogging on this site, please send us an email at

If selected, we will ask that you commit to a regular schedule and be subject to editorial approval for a short trial period.

Testing Without a QA Team

Yikes! That sounds like heresy! Regardless, it's the position that many developers find themselves in. Typically, this is for internal applications or small-ish products. There is no easy justification to hire a dedicated person (let alone a whole team) to do the QA. That doesn't mean that testing can't be done.

Here are some tips from a book "Beta Testing for Better Software" by Michael R. Fine on approaching the testing effort when there are no full-time QA assigned to the product.

  • Start with a usable test product
    Even if you have a list of known issues, if you can describe them clearly you can avoid unnecessary churn.
  • Target actual users
    Find people that not only know the domain for which the product is intended for, but also someone that is able to think clearly and provide good feedback.
  • Be sure you are mentally ready for the feedback
    You may have to ask for clarification for bugs that are reported. Users are not experienced in writing bug reports and likely cannot do any sort of analysis on what the root cause is.
  • Be sure your schedule is ready for the feedback
    The users that are helping with the feedback will be more likely to provide feedback if they feel that their issues are addressed quickly. If there is a server portion that is offline for several hours, users may loose confidence in the product. Knowing that it's down and reacting to that quickly is good. If there is a simple fix you can provide, be ready to send that out as appropriate. Even better, plan on updates to the software as a result of the beta testing so that the users can see the improvement (and have some pride knowing that they contributed to this)
  • Have a clear plan
    Knowing how many users is one thing. Clearly guiding them on what new features they should be focusing on or bug fixes to verify is important. You should also have a clear timeframe in which to ask for this feedback.
  • Identify what success looks like
    How do you know if the beta test was successful? How do you know that the new features have been sufficiently exercised? How do you know that your participants provided some value? How do you plan on addressing these issues before you leave 'Beta'? How does this beta compare to previous betas?
The book goes into more details and I encourage you to read it. Even if you have a full-time QA staff, this book provides some insight into how Beta testing can be used effectively within your current processes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Meeting Announcement - April 16th, 2009

Time and Location
The Red Earth QA's meeting will be held on the 3rd floor of 100 N. Broadway from 11:30am-1pm on Thursday, April 16th. Look for the signs to direct you to the correct room.


Sky IT Group will be presenting Quality Center 10 new features.

Requirements Management Only License – enables business analyst & owners to leverage QC to create a central location for requirements management, versioning and reuse.
Versioning - Manage project chaos by versioning requirements, tests and components.
Integrated dashboard module.
New Baseline Functionality - Capture project assets at critical stages with new baselining functionality.
Risk Based Quality Management - Enhanced Risk Based Quality Management with testing effort.
Quality Center Premier Edition.
a Reuse of Requirement / Tests across Projects.
b Defect sharing across Projects.
c Integrated dashboard module across Projects.

The presenter, Sky IT Group will be providing Subway for lunch.
We need a response by Wednesday 8:00 am only if you plan to attend for lunch at 11:30.

Can't attend in Person?

phone dial-in (877) 848-7030

code 8218181

Join the meeting

Computer Audio
To use computer audio, you need speakers and a microphone, or a headset.

First-Time Users
Make sure the Office Live Meeting client is installed before the meeting:

Unable to join the meeting? Launch the Office Live Meeting client and join the meeting with the following information:
Meeting ID: 253cc236575a4d95b7662f69832764d9
Entry Code: sYj1ys9uweq

Office Live Meeting can be used to record meetings. By participating in this meeting, you agree that your communications may be monitored or recorded at any time during the meeting.


  • You can park in Main Street Parking on Main or you can find street parking.
  • From I-40, take the Robinson Exit. Go North on Robinson to Main. Right on Main. You can either go to Main Street Parking or continue to Santa Fe Parking. You will see 100 N Broadway on your left across Broadway. The building says 'Chase' at the top.