27 April, 2009

Testing Intellectual Property Information

Intellectual Property (IP) are legal property rights over creations of the mind, both artistic and commercial, and the corresponding fields of law. Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; ideas, discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Common types of intellectual property include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets. The term intellectual property denotes the specific legal rights described above, and not the intellectual work itself.

Licenses, copyrights, trademarks, patents information are often shipped with the product to the customer. Providing this information indicates to the stakeholders that anybody who encroaches on any of these will have to face legal implications. How often do we as testers focus EULAs(End User License Agreement), Copyrights Information, Trademarks and the patented technology information used in building the product.To a normal tester, these look like the usual boring stuff to read about and he/she would blindly end up clicking the Next/Proceed button as applicable and focus on the so-called 'more important test areas'. For an attentive tester, it only opens up a lot of opportunities to discover very expensive defects.

The EULA Story: Just Imagine that you as a end user ignored the EULA of a new product you recently installed. One fine day, you realise all of a sudden that your system is too slow to respond. The first thought that would come to your mind is 'What was the recent change I made to the system'. The installation of the new product? Do not end up cursing the product! The EULA had warned you of possible problems with the regular updates for the product which you would have known if you had read it! Now you would only spend more time getting your system back to its original speed.

Wanna Copy: From a legal perspective, it is very dangerous when someone else discovers that you have copied exactly their ideas! This is when copyright laws come into picture. In the corporate world, if you are not aware of the copyright laws, and knowingly or unknowingly recreate or copy those ideas, then are in deep trouble if the original creator gets to know it. You may even get sued!

These Symbols are Mine: A trademark identified by the symbols ™ (not yet registered) and ® (registered), is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization or other legal entity to identify that the products and/or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities. It is important to ensure that these are used carefully in the products.

Patent it: Product X is released with a set of patents A,B,C. When the next version of the same product Y is going to be released, but coded using a completely new technology, how far are the patents A,B,C going to be relevant? Should we blindly do a copy-paste of the older patents in the patents information section for the new product? OR should we validate and evaluate the existing list? The answer is a BIG NO! It is a safe thing to revisit the list of patents or third party software used(if any) and provide an updated list.

The above listed ones are highly neglected while testing. It could be because it involves lot of patience, validating the rights and wrongs of it with the Product Management team, verifying the information to the minutest details with the Legal counsel of the organization etc. There could be several reasons to let go of it by not testing it, but even a silly reason cannot save the company of the trauma and financial troubles that such negligence can bring in. Next time around, you encounter these in your testing, make a choice and a good one at that. Like Subroto Bagchi says 'When we make a choice, we must know that each choice entails a set of consequences and we cannot wish away that responsibility.

Happy Testing,
Pari - http://curioustester.blogspot.com/

16 April, 2009

Incorrect PIN

I had been to one of the State Bank of India ATMs in Bangalore to withdraw some money. I keyed in an incorrect PIN out of curiousity to check what happens. Alas! It displayed the Select Transaction page with options like Balance Enquiry, Deposit, Withdrawal etc. Was I logged in successfully with an incorrect PIN? Not really. When I randomly selected the Withdrawal option, the ATM prompted a message that I had entered an incorrect PIN and expected me to enter correct PIN to proceed with my transactions. Why did the software wait for me to select a transaction and then prompt me that the PIN was incorrect. Isn't this a serious usability issue? Isn't the end user(in this case, me) tricked that he/she is already logged into the system.

In the above scenario, ideally if the PIN was incorrect, an error message should have been displayed almost immediately after the validation instead of displaying the Transaction page, letting the user select any transaction and then prompt the message.

Next time you key in an incorrect PIN at an ATM, watch out!

Happy Testing,
Pari - http://curioustester.blogspot.com

13 April, 2009

Re-usability? Good or Bad?

Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) is a Post Office Savings Scheme that doubles your money in 8 years and 7 months with the advantage of premature withdrawal. KVP is sold through all Head Post Offices and other authorised post offices throughout India.

I happened to take a 8 years 7 months KVP for one of my cousins for Rs.50,000. I was given 5 Certificates worth Rs.10,000 each. I was surprised to see the 5 1/2 year Kisan Vikas Patra as the top heading on these certificates. What the heck! I thought that by investing in a 8 years 7 months KVP, my cousin would be the proud owner of Rs.1,00,000 at the end of that duration. Now the Post Master had erroneously given me the 5 1/2 year KVP. I rushed back to him showing him the top heading as though I was handed over incorrect certificates. He calmly explained that they have been using 5 1/2 year Kisan Vikas Patra certificates for 8 years 7 months KVP with a differentiator that the Post Office Seal would specify the duration as 8 years 7 months instead of 5 1/2 years.

I wonder why the government is printing and re-printing 5 1/2 year KVP certficates though this KVP has been shelved long ago and the latest offering is 8 years 7 months KVP? The Post Master answered that these certificates were printed a decade ago. Heights or Re-usability I guess!

Such incidents happen quite often in our Testing Industry as well. We more often cling to existing norms, rules and regulations, processes etc without questioning the value that these bring along in our daily working life. We need to question the existence of each and every such thing that is outdated and hence invalid. We should not follow anything outdated in the name of re-using them if they dont bring any value add to the work that we do . I could not withdraw the KVP though :-(.

Happy Testing,

Pari - http://curioustester.blogspot.com/

09 April, 2009

Wanted - Software Testers!

I just read Pradeep's post on the Change in Hiring and Interviewing Process in India. Wonderful Article. Last time around when I was looking out for a job change, I used to be surprised whenever a HR person called in to check if I had any QA Certification. If my answer was in the negative, they would say that my profile did not suit their requirement. How can people judge me based on a certification? Shouldn't they challenge my ability to test a product instead of asking me whether I have passed a QA Certification or not?

I get excited when I hear that Testers are going to be tested real-time by giving a product/application to test, observe the test report submitted by them and then assess the tester. This is a huge challenge though. Every candidate needs to be given a separate application to test. If a candidate has gone through this test once, then the word spreads that the Organization X gives an application Y to test. Hence the application needs to be sufficiently complex to challenge the candidate no matter how well prepared the candidate is. From the Organization X perspective, it takes a lot of courage, patience and time to adopt this practical method of interviewing software testers. Calling in scores of testers to take up real-time testing challenge, arranging machines for them, reading through their test reports and finally assessing them is definitely very very tough and time consuming when compared to giving a written test and interviewing the highest scorer. Its sad, but true that a lot of testers either interview in this traditional way or get interviewed in this way.

Lets denounce the Traditional Way of Interviewing!

Happy Testing,
Pari - http://curioustester.blogspot.com/