Monday, September 19, 2011

Six applications that any tech company must have.

I am doing QA (Quality Assurance) for the last 13 years.

QA job by definition is to make sure the tested features/components/products are working by design and are bugs free.

QA tester needs some applications to make his life easier. For example- if he wants to reproduce and report a bug he may need to do some screenshots or a video of the screen, he might need to debug a code or an error with an advanced text editor, what about running many environments and keeping snapshots of those environments?

Over here you can find list of applications I use on my desktop at work, I think any QA tester can benefit from it and even people not doing QA can find a software or two suitable to their needs.

The list is of 6 applications, the order is unimportant and most of them are Free:

Bug shooting- Screen Capture software.
When one report a bug sometimes he needs to attach a screenshot of the screen showing the bug.
If you have bug shooting- one click on the ‘print screen’ button and you get the screen. If you have more than one connected monitor- you get both screens.
You are able to:
-                        Add graphics and text
-                        Flip screen
-                        Zooming
-                        Undo
-                        Save to few formats
-                        Mark in a red square parts of the screenshot
-                        Crop the desired part of the screen

Wink- Creating movies of your screen.
Sometimes you need to show the entire reproduction from start to end, you need a movie like that will record your steps till the end.
Using wink is easy, light weight (good quality) and Free.
The software creates your movie as many screen captures, each screen can be modified to your needs. You may add
-                        Text
-                        Shapes
-                        Jumping inside the movie
-                        Add delay
-                        <next> <previous> buttons
-                        Goto URL buttons and many more.

Notepad++- Advanced editor
Easy to use, clear to understand, Free, holds many features inside:
-                        Knows to read almost any text format known to mankind
-                        You can open many files in parallel
-                        Easy to debug
-                        Advanced find/replace on every opened file.
-                        Support almost the entire encodings
-                        Support most of programming languages
-                        Able to open xls,csv files with many rows more than excel itself.

VMware- Many machines running on one machine only.
The most important software for a QA and I believe to anyone in the computers industry and it is Free.
You take one physical machine, install Windows or Linux and above install VMware software and that’s it- you can run in parallel many instances of windows or Linux on this one physical machine, each with his own IP and own devices (Hard Disk, CD, Network interface, CPU, etc…).
Think about the money this software save to any company- instead of buying one machine of win2008 and one of XP and other of Linux RH and the other to run Exchange and also pay the power bills and to keep IT person- you just buy one machine and have it all!
What about testing android without even holding a real mobile machine but by running it on one of your instances.
It also let you save snapshot of the machine at one time and be able to revert to that same moment.

Acronis- Backup & Recovery utility.
It is important for QA to install a fresh build from scratch and not over an already installed build which contains many bugs in order to avoid biased issues.

There is a need for software that will insure the machine is like scratched installation:
-                        When you would like to keep the machine at a position- restart your computer while Acronis CD inside to backup the entire machine.
-                        From this point you are allowed to install what ever you need and always you can go back to the moment of creating the image - just run Acronis recover utility to revert the machine to the backup point.
-                        Another use is to backup the machine contains a major release of the tested software and test upgrade with each new build.
-                        A feature inside is to backup incrementally, which means that once you would like to store a better image- recover the current one, upgrade, and backup again.
-                        The backups can be implemented with different compressions and size types.
-                        You can backup entire partitions, part of them, specific folder or files.

mRemote- Many screens in one screen.
Probably the less known software from my list over here, yet the most efficient one and for Free.

Sometimes while working we need to have many windows open- for example one window is doing RDP, second window is doing SSH while third window is doing HTTP Browsing and another one opened on our ESX machine etc…

mRemote will do all using multi tab manager. It supports:
-                        RDP
-                        VNC
-                        ICA
-                        SSH
-                        Telnet
-                        RAW
-                        Rlogin
-                        HTTP/S protocols
-                        Any external application you define.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Internet Explorer is not the Internet.

One day my mother in-law calls to my work and tells me that the internet stopped working and the computer displays a message that she doesn't understand. 
So like every time she was calling with problems, again we went through the process of understanding the problem, including an attempt to solve the problem by restart the computer. 
Since the matter did not work, she had to wait till I get to her house. When I asked her to show me why she thinks that the Internet does not work - she pressed on the 'e' of Microsoft Internet Explorer and the error message appeared.
Those who still did not understand my mother in law thought that if the 'e' of Microsoft does not work then there is no Internet.

What lesson can be learned from this story? Microsoft has some geniuses guys (or at least there used to) which integrated some misconceptions ideas such as my mother in-law sure that the – 'e' of Microsoft is in fact the Internet and if it is not working then there is no internet, all because Microsoft use the word Internet in their software.

What else can you learn from this story? Outside there is a very large community of people who do not even know what a browser is and did not hear of Firefox, nor Chrome not to mention Safari, Netscape, Mozilla, Opera and sorry if I forgot a name or two.

So what is a browser?
Generally, a program capable of surfing the Internet by typing URLs.
But if we look at it a little more than just a simple definition we will find out that it is a software which holds a huge fight going on between giants in the computer world also known as the War of the browsers.
Why? Why is everyone fighting over this program that all it does is go to sites?
A simple question with simpler answermoney and a lot.

 How to make money from a browser?
Let's start by saying that Google is best known for its search engine which makes money and a lot.
So we understand that Google has a very strong interest in traffic coming into its search engine. As long as people will use Microsoft's Explorer they will have the choice to use another search engine. Once they use the Google browser it will be easy to route them to Google's search engine.
In addition it will be easier to Google to adjust new features into its browser which may yield future profits.
Microsoft for the same reasons would like to continue to control the browser market and drive traffic to its search engine (Bing) and its new features.
But hey... how does Firefox that doesn't have a search engine makes money? By redirects users who typing some search words on it browser to the Google search engine and receives commissions for each click.
In fact this is another reason for Google to maintain its own browser - to cancel the coupon clipping of others like Firefox.

Okay, we learned that browsers want to be a center of traffic through them but is there anything else beyond that?
Well certainly there is - the general direction the computer world is going into is the cloud (Computer Cloud) which basically says that what we need from our personal computer already exist somewhere in the Internet world without having our personal computer. All images, documents, project management, file management, tasks management; everything including all will be accessible to us, especially through use of our browser. If you think about it, it means our browsers will know all about our lives and how we use the net hence their obvious need to control this market.

Returning to the story i told at the beginning – Microsoft is having pressure because they lose control of the browser market and more and more people become aware of other browsers, and as we just read controlling this market may be translated into a lot of money in the nearest future and even the distant one.

And now a short note to a little company named Google - if you want to rule the world of browsers you should create awareness among the ordinary consumer who does not know chrome (like my mother in law) and not only among the computers community members.