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Posts from the ‘Programming’ Category

Who is Doing YOUR QA?

I was looking for some pointers on dynamic assembly loading, reflection, etc. within the .Net framework and found an assembly the author decided to call myAss:
Slipped through QA?
It really struck me that an author or publisher would want to put that verbiage out in the general domain. I went through all of the material and found many instances to myAss – so it’s not like it was overlooked. Why on earth someone did not flag that do be changed to something like myAsm is beyond me.
So that raised the question – who is doing QA and what were they tasked with? Perhaps their scope was merely to make sure the code in question functioned. That would require entering all of the code into individual projects, compiling, running, and verifying their output. Perhaps they were tasked with making sure the wording was technically and grammatically correct.
A third option is that the QA tasks were assigned to someone for whom English was not natively their first language. Given my experience in high school Spanish class, I doubt this to be the case. Learning the naughtier words of the language was virtually a requirement. Sure, we wanted to know what they were because we thought it was funny. But the teaching point was more so you did not make a fool out of yourself (or you at least could reflect on why you made a fool out of yourself) if you slipped up and mispronounced a word that ended up being dirty.
The lesson for today is that you need to have a plan of what you want to QA, how you are going to do it, and who are the right resources to perform those tasks.

Thought For the Day

Unfortunately this thought is not swimming, cycling nor running related. But it struck a chord with me as I spend 40 hours a week dealing in the information technology world architecting and building solutions that solve business problems.

Great employees routinely overcome bad or non-existent process, ineffective leadership and governance, and messy technical architecture. Bad employees just as routinely cause even the best process designs to fail while turning elegant architecture into a tangle of spaghetti, and efficient governance into meaningless committee meetings as projects become eternal.

Read more thoughts on the connection between IT process and leadership. Ignore his rant on the CMM. The paper he cites is from 2005 using data from 2001 and takes a very United States centric view. My experience has been that overseas companies, particularly those in emerging economies have widely adopted CMM and the more recent CMMI-DEV. The reason? They don’t have 50 years of legacy methodologies / code / people that are all resistant to change. But that’s a topic for a different day.

Questioning CAPTCHA Usability

Since the first interactive form was put on the Internet, bot writers have been writing programs to automatically exploit them. To prevent this, programmers began putting those screwy images of warped letters and numbers on the screen and asking you to key them in. This is known as a turing test, a sort of intelligence test to tell a computer and a human apart.
This works fairly well for those of us who have our eyesight, but what about the visually impaired? Yesterday I sent you to get a $40 coupon toward a digital converter box. If you filled out the coupon, you were challenged with a CAPTCHA code. For the visually impaired, you would click on the speaker icon and hear a code for you to type in like this one garbledCaptcha.mp3.
I listen to that sequence and it just sounds terrible. Perhaps the problem is that I have all my senses, so my hearing is not heightened to make up for vision. I guess that the same exploits that attempt to decode CAPTCHA images are also used to parse these audio files, thus the poor quality and background noise. Still, I don’t think I would’ve gotten this one right.
In the case of the digital tv site, they provided a link to download a paper application to fill out. The visually impaired person would still no doubt need help in filling it out, but at least there were other options presented. Many sites don’t offer that capability (think of places like Ticketmaster where the only other option is slow service over the telephone).
Defeating the automated bots is a necessary task, but I think that the evolution needs to continue. Perhaps this would be a good route for a PhD thesis…

Java is becoming the new Cobol

Wow. Something I’ve been feeling for the past year or so is showing up in trends amongst other developers. I guess it’s like going to these new mega churches that are non-denominational and everyone saying “hey, I used to be <fill in your religion> too!”
What is most interesting to me is that the .Net platform that for 6+ years was not ready for prime time is showing up in the 8pm Thursday night time slot (for you non-US readers, the best tv shows in America generally get slotted to air on Thursday nights between 8pm and 10pm). I have been building my fluency in .Net Web Services, Windows Workflow Foundation and Windows Communication Foundation for some time now and am optimistic about the direction these technologies are headed. They kind of remind me of how I felt when Lotus Domino 4.6 came out.
No, I haven’t become a Microsoft fanboy. I’m just an enterprise software architect interested in bringing the widest expanse of knowledge and experience to the table when technology problems are needing to be solved.
Read More ->Java is becoming the new Cobol | InfoWorld | Analysis | 2007-12-28 | By Bill Snyder

Cannot Find File Created By Java IE Plug-in on Vista

The virtualized directories provided by Vista have been both good and bad to me. One thing that keeps biting me is that the privilege level that Internet Explorer has is less than what I have as a user. Thus, when I download files from the Internet or interact with certain plug-ins, I am actually dealing with a sandbox version of my file system.
Today I was generating some XML files using an IE plug-in that allowed me to connect with various systems around the public and private network. When I saved the file, I was saving it to my default Documents folder (they dropped the redundant “My” in all the folder names for Vista). I even saw the other files that were already in my Documents folder. Alas, when I opened Documents, the file I just saved wasn’t there.
What was wierder was when I regenerated the file, it showed up as being there, right next to all the normal files I could see. I was prompted “Overwrite Y/N?”. I overwrote it, when to find it and it still wasn’t there. I executed an “attrib” command on the folder thinking maybe it was hidden, but it wasn’t listed. Then it hit me – the Documents folder I saw in the save dialog was virtualized because I was running the Java plug-in for Internet Explorer. To find the file, I had to navigate to
%userprofile%AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesVirtualizedCUsersmschubertDocuments
Maybe now that I’ve written about it I won’t be caught so off guard in 3 weeks when this happens to me yet again.