back to article Ever wondered why tech products fail so frequently? No, me neither

It's not working. Sorry, this has never happened to me before. Actually it has, frequently, but let that pass. Can we try again in a few minutes? Foolishly, I agreed to help an ex-colleague with some user acceptability testing this week. It's a chore I swore I'd never do again, such that for my own digital publishing projects …

  1. Potemkine! Silver badge

    You're really lucky!

    When you are unlucky, things break down one day or two after the warranty expires :doh!:

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: You're really lucky!

      Agreed, as a kid with a Commodore 64, the Cheetah Mac II joysticks very reliably failed within the guarantee for years on end - take back to store, return with new one, good for another 11 months.

      That, of course was the mid eighties, manufacture has come a long way to fine tune both materials and manufacturing to ensure products fail more often outside of the guarantee.

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: C64 Joysticks

        Was the phase of joystick failure related in any way to the release of Daley Thompson's Decathlon?

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: C64 Joysticks

          Was the phase of joystick failure related in any way to the release of Daley Thompson's Decathlon?

          No, I did once break the chair I was sitting on playing Combat School the choice of forward-backward rhythm rather than the more common left-right for the assault course was seriously malicious.

        2. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: C64 Joysticks

          Daley Thompson's Decathlon cost me two Sinclair Interface Two's, two edge connector repairs and no-end of joysticks.

          Damn game.

          And only because it was the closest I ever got to playing Hyper Sports, which I used to coo over because it looked so fun (hint: still is, but the weightlifting event is just RIDICULOUSLY difficult).

        3. MrT

          Re: Daley Thompson's Decathlon

          Wasn't the best trick on DTD to hit the 'Z' & 'X' keys (or whatever was mapped to left and right steps) simultaneously? Max speed every time - just have a supplier of replacement ZX Spectrum keyboard membranes on friendly terms...

          I had a joystick for my QL that used microswitches - at least they could be repaired. Problem was, they were so loud that it was never used enough to break - self-preservation through induced tinnitus...

        4. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Real Ale is Best
        Boffin

        Re: You're really lucky!

        The Commodore 64 joysticks were so bad I eventually built myself a replacement using an industrial microswitch joystick. I still have it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You're really lucky!

      "When you are unlucky, things break down one day or two after the warranty expires"

      That's called "quality design". There was an old joke that any component on a cart - that didn't fail one day after the warranty expired - had obviously been over-engineered.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        " There was an old joke that any component on a cart - that didn't fail one day after the"

        It's actually called the "One horse Shay" design, after a short poem about such a cart.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: " There was an old joke that any component on a cart"

          "It's actually called the "One horse Shay" design, after a short poem about such a cart."

          No.

          It's a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes and it tells a completely different story. It begins "Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay, that was built in such a logical way it ran a hundred years to a day?"

          The Deacons Masterpiece

          It's the exact opposite. The wonderful one-hoss shay is made from the perfect materials for every single part. As a result it lasts for an entire century and then every single part wears out at the same time.

          It's worth reading, especially if you like working in wood.

          Extract:

          Now in building of chaises, I tell you what,

          There is always somewhere a weakest spot, —

          In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,

          In panel, or crossbar, or floor, or sill,

          In screw, bolt, thoroughbrace, — lurking still,

          Find it somewhere you must and will, —

          Above or below, or within or without, —

          And that’s the reason, beyond a doubt,

          A chaise breaks down, but doesn’t wear out.

          (It doesn't mention iPhone batteries.)

          1. Oh Homer

            Re: "the wonderful one-hoss shay"

            I have a queue of millennials here asking for an Amazon link to this product, and whether it accepts a standard USB charger.

    3. Oh Homer
      Childcatcher

      False economy

      Everything is shit for a reason. Unfortunately that reason is completely bogus.

      It started with the Industrial Revolution, the pretext for which was, in essence, better living through mass production, both in terms of better employment opportunities and more diverse, cheaper yet better goods. In reality, the motive was warfare - the need to mass produce arms faster than the "competition".

      This was the birth of the War Economy, and subsequently Consumerism. It also marked the end of self-sufficiency, or what is retrospectively defined as the "Cottage Industry", and with it the art of craftsmanship.

      The end result is goods and services that are certainly "cheap" in quality, but not in price; diversity that is not really as diverse as we like to pretend, due to both corporate monopolisation and product normalisation; and jobs that are increasingly minimum wage, zero-hour contracts that are barely enough to survive on.

      In modern parlance, it's a race to the bottom, and sadly that race is now over.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: False economy

        Indeed, the main reason why the British army in the Napoleonic wars was as effective in a firefight with ranks two deep rather than the European three deep configuration was because the brown bess musket was produced in an early form of standardised mass production and every soldier had one*, with musket balls of the right calibre.

        Your European squaddie on the other hand could be equipped with a number of different arms, not necessarily the one they were trained on with not necessarily the right calibre ammunition.

        Which meant as many muskets fired effectively in a British 2 rank front than an average European three rank front.

        Sure the British troops were also heavily trained but the standardised, reliable equipment played a big part.

        *other than those in the rifle sections of course.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: False economy

        "It started with the Industrial Revolution, the pretext for which was, in essence, better living through mass production, both in terms of better employment opportunities and more diverse, cheaper yet better goods. In reality, the motive was warfare"

        A large part of the industrial revolution was in the textile industry. I suppose they could have been mass producing cushions to smother the enemy.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: False economy

          I suppose they could have been mass producing cushions to smother the enemy.

          Nah. Everyone knows soft cushions are a weapon of the Spanish Inquisition.

          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: False economy

            "Nah. Everyone knows soft cushions are a weapon of the Spanish Inquisition."

            It's actually unexpected.

    4. fishman

      Re: You're really lucky!

      My two best (?) lucks - I had a transmission replaced at 35K miles under the 36K mile warranty, and a refrigerator compressor replaced at 4 years 11 months under the 5 year warranty. Of course, better luck would have been no repairs needed at all.

      1. Montreal Sean

        Re: You're really lucky!

        My best luck was having my car totalled with 3 months left on the replacement warranty.

        Car had just gone over the 100k kms manufacturer's warranty, needed a clutch, wheel bearings, ball joints and timing belt, all of which I had just scheduled to have done.

        Lucky for me the replacement warranty was time based and not mileage based.

        Saved myself a good couple of thousand dollars, and got a brand new car at no charge.

        Even better? The accident was undeniably the other driver's fault as he ran a red light and hit me.

        1. itzman

          Re: You're really lucky!

          how much did you pay him?

        2. 404 Silver badge

          Re: You're really lucky!

          Replacement warranty? On a car? Wut? - Confused colonial...

          Really, not kidding.

          1. Montreal Sean

            Re: You're really lucky!

            When I financed my new 2004 Kia Rio I was given the option to pay a one time fee of $1200 for a replacement value warranty (or maybe they called it replacement value insurance?).

            This warranty was time based (5 years), and would provide me with a brand new Kia Rio of the same trim level (or cash in the amount of my original purchase price on the car) in the event of theft or total loss due to accident.

            For most people it would be a total waste of money, but it was a very good investment in my case.

            Similar coverage can be gotten from your insurer, but it does increase your monthly premium.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Joysticks

              TAC2 for me. All metal turned shaft that sat in a lump of neoprene the size of a docker's dump and which simply pressed against one or two of a number of thick metal plates to make the contact.

    5. Little Mouse

      Re: You're really lucky!

      Slightly off-topic, but have you noticed in local news stories about really unlucky people who manage to suffer bizarre & unlikely combinations of being impaled/burned/blown up/run over etc, that they always say the same thing from their hospital beds?

      "I'm the luckiest man alive."

  2. jake Silver badge

    Software testing?

    Isn't that what users are for?

    (To stop things breaking on first use or earlier, don't purchase crap. Seriously, I'd rather spend $100 on a good (if minimal) socket set, than $19.95 on a "197 piece chromed vanadium tool set with fitted case" ... You gets what you pays for. Except iThingies, of course.)

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Software testing?

      You gets what you pays for

      Ah, the Vimes boot thing.

      I'd suggest you get what you pay alot for upfront (or possibly on the hire purchase).

      I'm almost inclined to think they don't believe you really need it or deserve it, if you are not prepared to go into hock for it orginally.

      Paying quadruple over a number of years for a series of substandard versions not considered.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Software testing?

        What, pray tell, is "the Vimes boot thing"?

        1. Stumpy

          Re: Software testing?

          I presume he means the Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice:

          https://wiki.lspace.org/mediawiki/Sam_Vimes_Theory_of_Economic_Injustice

        2. sed gawk

          Re: Software testing?

          “The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

          Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

          But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

          This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Software testing?

            "This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness."

            I have started to question my boot buying policy. I previously have bought good quality leather boots for a few hundred pounds from our specialist outdoor supplies shop - one pair each for summer/winter. The winter ones need to be bigger for the extra sock thickness.

            Tramping the city streets the heels wear down in six months. So on the seasonal change they are sent off to the specialist repairer for re-soling with the same official Vibram soles. This costs about GBP80 a time.

            I do wonder if spending less than £80 in a cheaper shop for new pair would be a better option.

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: Software testing?

              Ye gads I'd consider spending £80 on boots "going all out for long term boots"

              How much trampoing do you do? on city streets?

              Perhaps you should buy your own specialist repair gear.

              I'd suggest your several hundred pound boots that dont last 6 months are over priced.

              Also an £80 repair that only lasts six months is overpriced ...

              I dont know where to start ... how about you just get a taxi everywhere, see how that pans out.

              FYI "cheap" footwear is between 10 and 20 pounds , or 0 to £10 if you wait for the sales. Look in the toy section at Lidl aor Aldi for instance.

              I suggest you buy cheapest shit you can find, and im sure itll last 6 months.

              thereby inproving your fottwera value-for -money ration by "several Hundred" to 10

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Software testing?

                Boot theory is interesting. Not that I've been keeping track or anything.

                I walk 2 miles a day on pavement [Commute] and a further ~3 miles at work [~1300 miles per year] and go through shoes very fast.

                In 2017 my shoe cost varied from £20 to £100. I spent £300 over the year over all. I've tried sticking to known brands:

                I call a shoe dead when the sole is worn through as opposed to the footbed or lining. Resoling would only become economical at ~ £200.00 + Per pair.

                So with a bit of spreadsheeting from 2016 -2018:

                £10 Shoes are £86.00 per year [But are horrible]

                £20 shoes are £173 per year

                £60 Shoes are £260 per year

                £100 shoes are £260 per year

                £120 shoes [estimated] are £180 per year

                So either buy as cheap as possible or go straight to the expensive end of the market.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Software testing?

                  In 2017 my shoe cost varied from £20 to £100. I spent £300 over the year over all.

                  My most enduring footwear are a pair of Hi-tec (brand) walking boots. They cost about £35 some twenty years old, still solid, still got the original laces, and they've seen service from the Russian winter to the top of Mount Sinai, and a whole load in between. Admittedly they don't get worn most weekends, but SOMETIMES you do get a bargain. And they're comfortable, too.

                2. Montreal Sean

                  Re: Software testing?

                  Bokt theory doesn't seem to hold true when it comes to steel toed safety boots.

                  It seems that price doesn't have any correlation to longevity.

                  $70CAD boots by Workload (Walmart brand) vs $70CAD Kodiak boots vs $160CAD boots by Dickies...

                  All lasted 1 year before the soles started to separate from the boot.

                  The difference? The cheaper boots felt like workboots (stiff and heavy) and the Dickies felt like a pair of trainers and weighed nothing at all due to the use of a composite plate footsole instead of steel.

                  We're the Dickies twice as comfortable to justify twice the price? I'm not convinced.

                  1. EarthDog

                    Re: Software testing?

                    a heavier boot causes more fatigue

                    1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
                      Coat

                      Re: Software testing?

                      With all the talk of cheap and expensive boots, perhaps what we need is a good boot manager..

                      1. jake Silver badge

                        Re: Software testing?

                        I have a GREAT boot manager! She's a smooth Collie. No matter where we leave our boots in the house, she very carefully puts them away down in the mud room. Her kennel name is Martha, but I call her Lilo ...

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Software testing?

                "I'd suggest your several hundred pound boots that dont last 6 months are over priced."

                The boots themselves last forever. I've just consigned the 1990 pair to gardening duties as a lace lug is starting to fail. The newer two pairs were only bought in the shop's annual sale when they reduced them by a significant amount.

                Vibram rubber soles seem to be an industry standard for upmarket walking boots. There is something that literally puts a spring in your step with a recoil action in the heel. Makes the weight of the boots less onerous. To be truthful I have always worn out my shoes at the heels. Must be something about the way I walk. I do tend to walk rather fast - so the heel probably comes down at an angle.

              3. Oh Homer
                Windows

                Re: "cheap footwear"

                The only shoes I can wear for extended periods, without experiencing excruciating pain, is memory foam loafers.

                The first example of such a shoe that I ever tried was "Skechers Go Walk Pro 3" at around £60. They lasted about 3 months of constant use as indoor workwear, before falling apart.

                Meanwhile, a functionally identical pair of shoes from shoezone cost just £10, and lasted exactly the same length of time.

                There are two important points to note here:

                First, the "more expensive shoe that lasts longer", in this instance, simply doesn't exist. It's not that people are making bad choices, or even that they can't afford good choices, it's simply that better choices are not available, because today's market comprises goods that are universally shit, regardless of price.

                Second, given the universal shittiness of all things in today's disposable culture, spending more to get better quality actually doesn't make any sense, because "better quality" now amounts to nothing more than marketing drivel, devoid of any real substance.

                In the case of the above example, both the £60 branded and £10 unbranded shoes were probably made by the same children, in the same Indian sweatshop, for the same total production cost of less than $1. The price differential is purely aesthetic, just a marketing ploy, or in free market economic terms "as much as the market will bear", and has no correlation to the actual production cost or quality whatsoever.

                The same is true of pretty much everything else in the market, until you get into the upper echelons of esoteric goods - Ferraris and so forth - a market that services a tiny fraction of 1% of the world's population.

                That is the "gift" that first industrialism, then subsequently capitalism, has given to the world.

                1. itzman

                  Re: "cheap footwear"

                  " today's market comprises goods that are universally shit, regardless of price."

                  Correct. Just had to repair a screen on a smartphone - it cost nearly as much as the phone. 'These aren't really designed to come apart' . What about the more expensive ones. "Even worse".

                  Dishwasher broke 6 months out of three year warranty. £200 to fix. "Can you recommend a model that doesn't break or costs less to fix?". "Not these days mate."

                  Firefox runs slower and freezes more than it dido ten years ago., Even Thunderbird now regularly goes into guru meditation mode.

                  Latest Linux kernel 4.,4 now crashes the laptop on screensave.

                  I'm running a 13 year old car - why? It's better than a new one. Especially after the £300 labour charge to replace a £6 thermostat.

                  A well known banks website simply does not work. The sent me a letter presumably to tick some boxes in their quality of care policy document. The site still doesn't work after 6 months.

                  I never thought I would be living through Joseph Tainter's 'Collapse of Complex Societies' as well as '1984'

                  1. Oh Homer

                    Re: "Collapse of Complex Societies"

                    As far as I can tell, the increasingly poor quality of goods and services seems to be directly proportional to the exponentially increasing economic inequality in society. More precisely, money that should be spent on better craftsmanship (and, in passing, better wages) is actually lining the pockets of billionaires instead, at a rapidly increasing rate.

                2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                  Re: "cheap footwear"

                  There's also the fact that once a brand gets a reputation of being good, reliable, effective or whatever the brand becomes much more valuable for marketing. So the beancounters want to make money by selling the brand name rather than the product. They sell the name or else produce shit products themselves with the name on it, relying on that for the sales. Virgin Media isn't really Virgin it's Liberty Global or some such bunch And so on. For a while Timberland clothes stopped being the quality items with a discrete badge and some lines at least became really quite trashy, but with TIMBERLAND written in big print all over them.

                  Even "high end" stuff follows this line, with expensive "designer" clothes or sun glasses that are really not much more than just the usual mass produced lines that come out of a factory in China or Bangladesh and have probably never even been seen by the designer whose name they carry.

                3. John Lilburne Silver badge

                  Re: "cheap footwear"

                  both the £60 branded and £10 unbranded shoes were probably made by the same children

                  Most probably their siblings. The production system will be mostly the same but shadow system will lack the QC dept that the branded system has. So the £10 shoe may last as long as the £60 one, or maybe not.

                  What does happen though is that the branded version has a very small window before the counterfeits enter the market. In some case the counterfeits are out before the branded ones. This leads to ever increasing pressure to make the things obsolete, either by function or form to encourage consumer churn.

              4. EarthDog

                Re: Software testing?

                Did you know you could in a thrift store find either:

                1) cheap boots that you can dispose of and replace with cheap boots at a thrift store?

                2) The same of "gently worn" expensive almost brand new boots which will last for years.

                I have done both and after doing the math for deeply discounted boots worked out how to be ahead on those sorts of deals.

                Most of my clothes come from thrift shops these at a fraction of retail.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Software testing?

                  Can't wear another man's boots. No two pairs of feet are the same. If you wear somebody else's, you'll have foot trouble guaranteed.

                2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

                  Re: Software testing?

                  Thrift shops...

                  My wife turns up her nose at my purchases, therefore, I now refer to said shop as The Source That Shall Not Be Named

            2. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

              Re: Software testing?

              I do wonder if spending less than £80 in a cheaper shop for new pair would be a better option.

              I would recommend starting with a different brand of expensive boot.

              My experience is that until the last time I changed shoes/boots, the durability of my footwear was more or less independent of the price I paid. It seriously didn't seem to matter what brand I bought or how much I paid. In six to nine months they would be knackered in one way or another.

              Then the local centre commercial (it's not an indoor shopping centre, nor a shopping mall, because it's in France, sorry) had a temporary Timberland stand just before Christmas 2015. I needed to replace the latest footwear disaster, so I dropped 220 euros on a pair of "plain" Timberland boots.

              More than two years later, they are still going strong. The water-resist is a bit the worse for wear, and I will soon need to replace the (original) laces, but after two years of walking a bit more than seven kilometres a day(1), five days a week, I have not had to do *anything* even vaguely related to maintenance on them.

              (1) That figure is based on the results of carrying a Wii Fit U "Fit Meter" pedometer, and comparative measurements by GPS suggest that the true figure is closer to 9km per day.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Software testing? [Boot buying Policy subclause] :)

              Answer to your question is NO !!!

              This is not because the sole on the cheap pair would not last (Accidental pun) but that the rest of the boot would not.

              I have proven this after trying the 'Cheap boot' idea myself, and found that the soles tend to be very similar in wear rate BUT the cheap boot structure tends to fall apart.

              The material that makes up the upper part of the boot will be too thin and crease with use that then leads to cracks/holes/leaks.

              I have thrown away multiple boots that had years of wear left in the soles but cracking and leaking uppers.

              Buy good leather boots that can take the wear and that have quality leather that does not crease/crack.

              Regularly treat the boots to a good clean and an intensive re-wax/re-proof.

              Use Saddle soap to clean the leather (that you can buy quite cheaply in large tubs).

              Do not fast dry the boots near radiators or fires as this will encourage cracking.

              Most specialist proofing materials are not much better than the use of a good old fashioned Wax or Dubbin.

              Just remember to use plenty of Wax/Dubbin, the more the merrier, until the leather has been fully saturated.

              Old trick is to use the back of a heated spoon to apply or the modern version is to use a Hairdryer to melt the Wax/Dubbin into the leather. Care needs to be taken to NOT overheat/dry-out the leather when doing this. You will see the heated leather 'soak up' the liquid Wax/Dubbin.

              Fully saturated leather should shrug off external running water and NOT suffer from water staining if you have been standing in water for some time. Obviously, the application of Wax/Dubbin will change the colour of the leather, which should not be a surprise.

              All learnt the hard way over 20 years walking dogs through everything from Grass/mud to Sand & Salt-Water. Always favoured Synthetic boots for lightness and supposed material durability BUT discovered that old fashioned Leather & Wax wins in the real world. !!!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Software testing? [Boot buying Policy subclause] :)

                "I have thrown away multiple boots that had years of wear left in the soles but cracking and leaking uppers."

                Duct tape them.

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Software testing?

              I've gotten sick of spending too much on winter boots that either didn't last or weren't as warm or waterproof as they should be and living on the east coast of Canada that can be important. So, I bought a pair of Canadian Armed Forces boots at the local Army surplus store and they've been very comfortable. A little Kiwi polish and all good. They range in price from about 14 to about 40 or 50 Canadian. Mine were 14, a small tear in the interior lining was all that I could see and they've been great thus far this winter. Granted I don't work outside, but I'd bet they'd be fine for that.

            5. sandman

              Re: Software testing?

              Don't tramp city streets in Vibram-soled walking boots - they're really made for tracks/mud/rock/grass, etc. I had the same problem with my walking boots - they're due to be sent off for their second re-soling. :-(

          2. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Software testing?

            Indeed. This plays into the utterly bizarre truth that it's very, very expensive to be poor.

          3. Unicornpiss Silver badge
            Alert

            Re: Software testing?

            "Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

            I don't disagree with that, at least not entirely. Look at financial products--the richer people with good credit get the loans with the best interest rates. (if they even need a loan at all) They also get the credit cards with the most benefits and no fees and can afford the education, attire, and schmoozing to get a job that pays better and has better benefits.

            It's the poor that always get crapped on by life (and by the rich), and it's extremely difficult to escape from the vicious cycle that keeps the poor where they are.

            When I was young I worked with a guy that had about 2 cents to rub together and one day he was fretting about having to go to court. Which prompted him to say something I've remembered all these years-- "It's easy to get stuck in jail when you're poor." Nuff said.

            1. 404 Silver badge

              Re: Software testing?

              "It's easy to get stuck in jail when you're poor."

              True statement. Public Defender= Jail

              I don't care if you have to pawn your kids temporarily, get a real lawyer.

              :|

            2. martinusher Silver badge

              Re: Software testing?

              I've actually had quite good luck with my purchases, the problem is that because stuff doesn't break down I can't convince the wife it needs replacing. However, I do have one big beef with technology, and that's software. I've spent most of my working life writing embedded software, code for 'things' that you switch on and then leave for a decade or two. They get a lot of testing; sometimes its frustrating, you're wondering about adding Ricin in the QA guy's coffee, but its unfortunately necessary. Then I have applications code to work with; its as if the 'rapid prototyping' or whatever its called actually means 'hose the code at the side of a barn wall and see what sticks'. There seems to be no thought given to resource management, error handling or any of those details -- I'd guess that the general philosophy is 'if it doesn't crash (runs overnight) then its obviously OK'.

              The fact that certain organizations make code that 'just works' just serves to highlight just how bad a lot of the other stuff is. Abuse of Javascript should be a hanging offense.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Software testing?

                "use of Javascript should be a hanging offense."

                FTFY. No charge.

            3. Robert 22

              Re: Software testing?

              Also, people of limited means, if they do try to save for retirement, are likely to get steered into financial products having high fees.

        3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Software testing?

          "What, pray tell, is "the Vimes boot thing"?"

          Jake, fortunately you never claim to be an expert on economics, so you don't get your Internet Economist card revoked.

          If they don't teach the Vimes Boot at Harvard Business School, that will be because they attribute it to a US author.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Software testing?

            Voyna, I got my MBA in '88, before Vimes was known to the public ...

            All, I must confess to a cardinal sin. I have not yet read the Discworld series. I've read a chapter or three of a couple of the books, enough to know that I'll read them all eventually. In fact, I have the complete set in the "Barrister Bookcase" over my right shoulder that also contains a bunch of other books that I intend to read some day. A couple years ago, the Wife etched the top glass panel with the words "In case of retirement, Break Glass".

      2. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

        Re: Software testing?

        Steel toe cap leather boots that can pass as shoes if required. Screwfix £20 polish up nice as well. They lasted longer than the pair I bought for a funeral.. £15 reduced from £80 apparently, lasted the night until the heel fell off in the taxi home.

        As for sockets, Snap-on for the useful stuff that I wear out / break / screwdrivers, knuckle bars etc it's worth paying 4x the price for a lifetime guarantee and have never been refused a replacement :)

        1. whileI'mhere

          Re: FailCEO

          THIS! "Screwfix £20 polish up nice as well."

          Bought a pair of own-brand steel toecap 'Chelsea' style boots from Screwfix for £40. Would have expected to pay 2-3 times that at a 'shoe shop' selling brands. Workwear can often be very economically viable.

        2. Montreal Sean

          Re: Software testing?

          Snap On are really nice, wish I could afford them.

          I go for MasterCraft (Canadian Tire's house brand). They are reasonably priced and have a no questions asked lifetime replacement warranty.

          I've used their standard (non-impact rated) deep sockets with my impact wrench for years when working on my cars, and if they've cracked I've had no trouble getting warranty replacements.

          That said, if I was doing car repairs professionally I'd definitely go with Snap On!

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Software testing?

            SnapOn are good tools, but I rarely have time for the truck to come when I have a broken tool that needs replacing. So I use Craftsman, as there is almost always a local Sears store (and now OSH, Ace et alia) that is open when I need a replacement. The "free replacement" thing seemed important to me 40-odd years ago, when I started buying my own tools, but I've only had to use the option a couple dozen or so times since I started building the collection ... That said, Craftsman quality has been slipping. I might choose to move to SnapOn for new purchases.

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Software testing?

      I'd rather spend $100 on a good (if minimal) socket set, than $19.95 on a "197 piece chromed vanadium tool set with fitted case

      Actually for socket sets buying the cheapest crappiest one makes sense if when a socket you actually use gets knackered you replace that part with a really good quality one so after a while you have a socket set where the ones you need are of high quality and the ones you never use are crap.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Software testing?

        "the ones you never use"

        What are these mythical sockets that I never use? I never heard of such a thing. Sounds like a daft concept to me.

    3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Jake

      They know about you. The manufacturer of that $19.95 197 piece fragile tool set puts the reject parts in smaller boxes and sells them for $99.99.

    4. John Lilburne Silver badge

      Re: Software testing?

      The problem is perfectly outlined here:

      "Evidently, they are my fault for not testing within the narrow confines of the script and can therefore be safely ignored."

      QA tends to know how some functionality is supposed to be used, so they won't typically try to open a lock with a screwdriver. But apply the screwdriver to the lock and it will immediately bust apart.

      At one point I'd take on a task of destructive testing some new code functionality I call it "Hammer & Smash" now most wouldn't use a negative, or zero tolerance but does the software accept one, and what happens afterwards? In other cases you'd apply the code to some situation that it was not designed for and watch it drive a 15000 rpm spindle into a ton of metal.

      Not a realistic example come the cry. Perhaps, but given enough time I could produce a realistic example that invokes the same bug. There are situations that aren't being handled. Fecking fix em.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Software testing?

        Fuzzing is quite popular these days as a test method

        Simplistically, chucking any old stuff at an API etc and see how well it copes (or not!).

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Software testing?

        "QA tends to know how some functionality is supposed to be used, so they won't typically try to open a lock with a screwdriver."

        QA that does this is seriously incompetent QA. A good QA person is actively looking for ways to make the product malfunction, not just doing "happy path" testing.

      3. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Software testing?

        We have an application called "monkey" that randomly* splats mouse clicks and keypresses into the AUT.

        It finds so many issues.

        So far it hasn't produced a work of Shakespeare, but we live in hope.

        * Yes, it logs everything it does and can repeat sequences as needed.

      4. EarthDog

        Re: Software testing?

        Yes what he was describing in the article was "happy path" testing which tells you nothing. And makes the assumption the dev. teams knows what the happy path actually is (don't get me started on arrogant developers who think they no more than the users ).

        Negative testing must be done and is often done best by naive users who do not know of the happy path.

        A negative test may pass by failing if it handles the negative test gracefully. Like trapping bad input, preventing it from harming the rest of the system, and giving the user appropriate feedback.

        What the writer described was really bad QA practice.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Software testing?

          Boots? Get the best quality you can. Eat rice & beans instead of meat for a couple weeks if you have to in order to get the best. You'll survive the diet just fine, and your feet will thank you for years thereafter.

          I wear Ariats around the livestock, my normal work boots are RedWing (steel toed and standard), and my logging hobnails are Hi-Tec "Magnum", which are no longer available, alas. (I got my three pair "for the price of one!" ~19 years ago in a close-out at the factory store in Riverbank, CA ... I had to add to hobnails myself. Best boot purchase ever.) All my current collection have been re-soled at least once, except one pair of the Magnums.

          The way I see it, boots aren't properly broken in until they've been through at least one set of soles. The exception to this rule is my wellies, which get replaced every couple years. They are made by the Muck Boot Company ... Look it up if you're not familiar with the name. Worth the price, if you need a good set of warm, dry wellies that you can wear all day without destroying your feet.

    5. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Software testing?

      "You gets what you pays for"

      If you live by that motto then you are consigning yourself to never getting a bargain , and most likely not being able to afford things.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Software testing?

        Trust me, Jeltz, I know a good bargain when I see one. Sometimes I'll wait a year or more before finding the right price on a piece of equipment. Haste makes waste ... unless it's an emergency, of course. But I can't remember the last time I had to make an emergency equipment purchase.

        I can afford what I need, when I need it. Part of the reason for this is because I only buy equipment once.

    6. Halfmad

      Isn't that what users are for?

      Absolutely going by every game I've seen released on PC in the past couple of years. Ironically the indy games seem to have better support and fewer game breaking bugs than the big studio guff.

      Long live Rimworld (Google it, I'm not being rude, much.)

    7. mr.K
      Unhappy

      Re: Software testing?

      Let us assume that cheap equals crap, and this if for the most part true. Then it doesn't follow that expensive equals quality. Actually on scale from one to five where one is the cheapest the highest average quality often can be around two. Where a large part of the fives are the same junk as ones, but with better branding. The caveat here is of course that this is only true for the average within each price range. The highest quality products you will still find hidden among the fives. My problem is that I am happy to pay 200£ for a pair of boots, but actually getting a good pair that last at a minimum ten years of regular use is unlikely.

      I blame the stupidity of consumers. We accept buying products without specifications.

    8. Unicornpiss Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Software testing?

      These days I find it best to not buy the cheapest nor the most expensive version of an item.

      That way when it fails prematurely (as it still does), I'm at least not kicking myself for spending a fortune or blaming myself for the failure because I cheaped out on it.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I have a solution!

    Stop buying so much cruft! Sure your breakdown percentage will remain the same, but frequency will decline ;-}

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Games testing? Don't make me laugh!

    "Stand in this corner and jump 1000 times"

    Its not fucking fun!

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Re: Games testing? Don't make me laugh!

      Just get speedrunners to do your testing. They'll have the whole thing falling apart in a minute or two.

  5. smudge Silver badge
    Alien

    The Dabbs Luck

    With your luck, there is no way the Puppeteers will let you breed.

    1. RockBurner

      Re: The Dabbs Luck

      Too late (IIRC)

      1. 404 Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: The Dabbs Luck

        Here's to the Dabb's kids! May they far exceed their warranty!

  6. Alan Johnson

    Test is part of engineering!

    "Put this down to poor engineering if you like but that's too glib to be a full explanation. I prefer to blame inadequate prototype testing, where design flaws, manufacturing niggles or, in my UAT example above, a system's unsuitability to real-world requirements might be nipped in the bud."

    Test is NOT The solution to all quality issues but test is part of engineering and the monitoring and control of build quality and consistency is part of production engineering so yes it is poor engineering somewhere whether it is design, implementation, production or shipping, unless it was a deliberate trade off of quality against cost which I doubt.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Test is part of engineering!

      Most of the problems at any stage can be put down not being given enough time to do anything.

      QA aren't allowed to deviate from their script as they might find something which could hold things up.

      1. Blank Reg

        Re: Test is part of engineering!

        Having done software QA I know that you really need to be a sadistic bastard. Your goal has to be to break the software, not follow some silly script. Users don't follow scripts, they will do what seems obvious to someone that didn't write the code and never read the instructions.

        Sure,you do need to test that things work correctly when you use the software in the expected manner, but never assume that users will do what is expected.

        And good QA engineers don't just throw bugs over the cubicle walls to development, they should be offering suggestions on how to improve the user experience as they are often the first people to use the software that weren't involved in writing or designing the software.

        1. dajames Silver badge

          Re: Test is part of engineering!

          Your goal has to be to break the software

          No, the software is broken already. Your goal is to find out where.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UAT Testing

    In my experience of doing UAT the defined script is usually something someone has already tested beforehand. I prefer the tried and trusted method of UAT which is "go and break it if you can", much more reliable and sets a challenge.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: UAT Testing

      Well yes,

      Evidently, they are my fault for not testing within the narrow confines of the script and can therefore be safely ignored

      We teach kids in primary science at about 8 years old to think of a fair test. But Dabbsy's quote (above) however tongue in cheek does confirm my own suspicion that products are only tested according to some vague dream about how the product should be used. For the rest it's tough luck and should have been more careful.

      A few minutes before I read this I was watching a TV programme in which the most recent passport design was being criticised because they've put the chip where it's most vulnerable, but then blame the public when the sodding thing stops working and ask them to pay for a new passport. Or the handles on my Bosch fridge-freezer that were designed to be used with an upturned hand, which, according to the engineer, is why they kept breaking, until they redesigned them

      And I know the control panel on my new Canon Pixma is going to get broken because they've designed it so that it has to be lifted up like a flap to actually print with the damn thing..

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      I also use this as an opportunity to moan about my (also Bosch) dishwasher,which was designed by/for people who never have soup, cereal or anything else consumed from a bowl, because there isn't actually any slots that a bowl will fit into.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: UAT Testing

        "...products are only tested according to some vague dream about how the product should be used. For the rest it's tough luck and should have been more careful."

        Hence the long list of disclaimer and Do's/Don'ts in the documentation before you even get to the actual instructions.

      2. itzman

        Re: UAT Testing

        I also use this as an opportunity to moan about my (also Bosch) dishwasher,which was designed by/for people who never have soup, cereal or anything else consumed from a bowl, because there isn't actually any slots that a bowl will fit into.

        Don't worry, it will be beyond economic repair three months after the warranty expires.

        Then you can buy the new model which wont take 12" plates either.

      3. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: UAT Testing

        @ Terry 6

        Bosch (and Philips and others) design what they want you to have, not so that you can have what you want. They have what I now call Windows syndrome; they have a commanding position in the marketplace, think they know better thanmere customers so make and sell stuff that often not totally fit for purpose. They will also brook no criticism, I know I've tried writing to them, you don't get any kind of meaningful reply.

        On the shoe front, Redwings in the US make outstanding shoes and boots, not cheap but keep going for years and made to be repairable.

        I have a mate who is a cowboy and works in Texas and New Mexico, he swears by them and anything that stands up to working with cows is going to be good. I know you can buy the riggers boots in the UK, don't know about the rest of their line.

        '

    2. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: UAT Testing

      Too bloody right!

      UAT testing should be 10 mins on script.

      Then over to the actual important stuff -

      Does it do what I need it to do?

      Can I break it? if not, can I get it to do something unexpected?

      If it is an upgrade - Does it still do what it did before (correctly)? or did they break that too?

      Give UAT to the people who actually use the system day to day, just like any changes should be what the users can demonstrate a need for.

      The end users should be the ones who are tasked with signing off the UAT- it is their own fault if things don't work properly afterwards if they skimped on testing.

      That should fill out the time sheet nicely too.

      Yes I do feel strongly about this, why do you ask?

    3. Scoured Frisbee

      Re: UAT Testing

      That's why professional software testers automate everything they can, so the next time they get to break it by doing something else. Now if someone can point me to a vendor that has enough testers to automate and also meet schedules I will buy only from them henceforth.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: UAT Testing

        Microsoft, they get every single user to test it whether they like it or not.

      2. EarthDog

        Re: UAT Testing

        though the trap in automation it is regression testing only. Unless you are very clever about using random input and cross products of tests.

    4. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: UAT Testing

      I know that some companies employ a team of specialist testers who are, basically a bunch of people who hate the industry, the people who work in it and everything that they do. They get so much satisfaction from finding faults in products that they will approach the task of "here's something - try to find a way to break it" with unparalleled zeal.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: UAT Testing

        In our co we had an EA for an exec who could not for the life of herself, her firstborn or the Exec manage to compete *anything* without calling the helpdesk for assistance (sending an email with an attachment was a 10 minute call to HD). When said exec left, she was moved sideways to lead a QA testing team for an application set that is core business. Perfect.

    5. LDS Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: UAT Testing

      My user acceptability testing is done to discover which users are acceptable to the software. That solves a lot of problems.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: UAT Testing

        My user acceptability testing is done to discover which users are acceptable to the software.

        "Unix is user friendly. It's just picky about who it allows to become a friend."

      2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: UAT Testing

        "My user acceptability testing is done to discover which users are acceptable to the software. That solves a lot of problems."

        Didn't Virgin Mobile start off on that idea? By being more or less online only, they limited themselves to customers who were capable of doing stuff online, and who were therefore less likely to need handholding with technical products. Giffgaff and now Smarty went one better by not supplying phones at all, thus reducing overhead to the bone.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why IT Projects and Products suck

    Being very general here and basing the following points on more than a few decades of experience there are some blindingly obvious things that keep on happenings time and time again.

    1) The "We must be first to market this widget"

    No need for further explanation

    2) The "Make it prettier/sexier" demand.

    Bling over functionality.

    3) Feature creep.

    Especially true for Government projects. The 'Wouldn't it be nice...' things that are added with no respect for budget or timescales.

    4) Lack of testing

    The - you did the unit tests. That's good enough. Ship it!

    5) Documentation - both for users and support.

    No one RTFM's any more so don't spend time doing stuff that isn't wanted.

    There are many, many more that I'm sure the commentards here can add.

    But often it goes down to

    "What will go wrong, will..."

    But PHB's and MBA's don't care.

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: Why IT Projects and Products suck

      But PHB's and MBA's don't care.

      If it can be made to work for this quarter the PHB will get his, see the Ex-Presidents Club for why this is usually a 'his', bonus, after that, who cares.

  9. DailyLlama
    FAIL

    Oh, the irony!

    I clicked the link from the email, and Lo! was presented with this error:

    Your connection is not secure

    The owner of www.theregister.co.uk has configured their web site improperly. To protect your information from being stolen, Firefox has not connected to this web site.

    Learn more…

    Report errors like this to help Mozilla identify and block malicious sites

    www.theregister.co.uk uses an invalid security certificate.

    The certificate is not trusted because the issuer certificate is unknown.

    The server might not be sending the appropriate intermediate certificates.

    An additional root certificate may need to be imported.

    Error code: SEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER

    I initially thought it was deliberate, but alas, I can't open any El Reg pages in FF today...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ...uses an invalid security certificate.

      I also seem to get this occasionally (also FF), although not (yet) on ElReg. I can't ever seem to work out why, despite looking. However, it usually it goes away after a day or so.

    2. Jos V

      Re: Oh, the irony!

      DailyLlama,

      This is not necessarily caused by mis-configuration on ElReg. There are a number of other reasons for this to happen, like a corporate network monitoring product intercepting secure traffic and replacing certificates, Microsoft safe "Family" settings, which replace the certificates with a MS certificate so they can do monitor/filter traffic, or your local security software doing much the same (ESET, AVAST, BitDefender, etc.)....

  10. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Know thy user

    Sometimes you need a tester who truly understands the environment.

    In meeting in which a vendor showed off a 'improved signal processor line replaceable unit hardened to survive the naval environment'. Program manager handed it to his deputy and said, "You're former navy. Does this look sailor-proof to you?"

    Deputy... "I dunno..." Smashes it into edge of table, kicks it across the floor, slaps it into floor. Stuff rattles inside. "No, sir! Not sailor proof!"

    Vendor ... 'WTF!!!??? That cost ten grand!!!... You're gonna.. "

    PM? "Yeah, ten G. But it's not worth $#!t!"

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Know thy user

      Also known as the "Fourteen stone sergeant product stand on test".

  11. Dr_N Silver badge

    Appliance Failures

    I think it's all down to abuse.

    Having two vacuum cleaners failing within a year? Hmmmmm...

    Catch the girlfriend vacuuming the bare, slightly damp concrete floor of the garage because "It's quicker than sweeping up the dust. I've always done it this way. What's the problem?" A real lightbulb moment.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Appliance Failures

      >> I think it's all down to abuse.

      As I said, perhaps I broke my spectacles by looking through them too hard.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Appliance Failures

        You can never look too hard in spectacles.

      2. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: Appliance Failures

        Designer glasses are (pretty much) all made in one factory in Italy, so easy to investigate?

        And they pretty much have a lifetime guarantee. (In France you can get "free" glasses every 2 years under mutual health cover schemes so maybe they are built to last days?.)

    2. bat

      Re: Appliance Failures

      you can see your garage floor, where do you store all the old IT Kit!

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Appliance Failures

        Nah, I think Dabbsy should just give up this pretence of being a mild(ish) mannered journalist and admin that he actually is Superman...

    3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Appliance Failures

      We have a Sears washing machine with a lid-switch held in with a u-shaped tab. *When* (not *if* it breaks, and you have to fit in a new one, the piece is so tricky to install properly, the tab on the NEW one breaks in the process of installing it. I can't help but think it was *intentionally* made that way to force you into paying for an (expensive) Sears "Service" Technician to install it for you.

      So instead I just leave the top panel unscrewed, and just reach inside to pull the switch into position to start a load running. feck them.

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        At Jelabarre59, re: that switch.

        I think we either have the same make of machine or else Sears' quality has been flushed down the shitter. Just after the warranty expired on my machine that damned clip started breaking with freakish regularity. After about the 3rd time that damned clip broke I examined the clip, took a thick paperclip & a pair of needle nosed pliers, & recreated the clip shape out of the paperclip.

        Guess what? it's been nearly a year since I did that & I've yet to need to replace that bit o' bent wire. The lid works, the switch works, but that original piece of shitty plastic clip is no longer part of the loop.

        Grab yourself a few paperclips (for practice), a pair of needle nosed pliers, the old clip, & fiddle with the paperclips until you can make a plausable fake. You'll save money & headache meds galore.

        Cheers!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At Jelabarre59, re: that switch.

          In the late 1980s I did a re-plumb of the house central heating using two Honeywell motorised three port valves. The motors used to fail quite often. Fortunately you could buy spare motors - although a "real" plumber would have changed the whole expensive valve unit.

          Then they stopped failing. Presumably at some point Honeywell had had enough warranty returns to figure out the problem.

        2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          Re: At Jelabarre59, re: that switch.

          Zen and the Art of Washing Machine Maintenance?

  12. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    They also serve

    who only sit and test.

  13. Bill M

    UAT vs Speadsheet

    UAT: That number is wrong

    Dev: In what way ?

    UAT: Not the same as my spreadsheet

    Dev: Can you email me your spreadsheet so I can cross check

    Next day

    Dev: I found a bug in your spreadsheet, here's a fixed version of it

    UAT: Your spreadsheet is wrong

    Dev: In what way ?

    UAT: Not the same as my spreadsheet

    Dev: You mean the spreadsheet with the bug in it that used local Darwin time for KPI's and compared them to targets based on GMT ?

    I don't jest, I came across this with some metrics peoples' performances / bonuses were being measured against . There had been argument's going on for years - When people get short changed on bonuses are not happy, but strangely keep quiet on receiving a bonus they don't deserve. Somebody had even been wrongly fired. Eventually I got hauled in front of the board to explain. The FD was competent, soon grasped the issue and got the poor chap who had been fired reinstated shortly before the industrial tribunal was due.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UAT vs Speadsheet

      Bill M,

      Well Done !!!

      Also well done to your FD who had the integrity to accept the Company was at fault and got someone their job back.

      More usual is the problem is fixed (by you) but the whole episode is swept under the carpet as it shows the Company up and might have an impact on the Directors Bonuses and/or Salary increases, which is a definite No No !!!

      As Industrial Tribunals are a 'Flip of a Coin' most times, particularly when the Company 'sics' their 'pack' of in house lawyers on the poor ex-employee, I have seen Companies continue the Industrial Tribunal process even when they know they are in the wrong. The odds are seen as being worth it versus a possible loss and the subsequent 'Bad Publicity'.

  14. steelpillow Silver badge
    Holmes

    Time to market

    It's because consumers demand tomorrow's fashion yesterday. Creators are forced to bring stuff to the market before it is ready or miss the boat.

  15. macjules Silver badge

    UAT/QA Testing

    Never heard of Selenium for testing?

    1) Developer writes script for testing page

    2) QA/UAT tester runs script in browser with minimal effort required

    3) Test fails - push it back to developer

    4) Test passes - move to done

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UAT/QA Testing

      > "Never heard of Selenium for testing?"

      Selenium tests are OK for basic checking (does element get rendered? can I do X?), but they have their limits (can I easily see button Y?). They also tend to be slow and brittle (I've been subjected to a project where the Selenium test suite took over 8 hours to run, and have seen /all/ the tests start failing because Chrome/Firefox autoupdated and broke the driver [and there wasn't an updated version available yet]).

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: UAT/QA Testing

      And test scripts should ideally be written by a different dev / tester to the code being tested.

      As if the original dev had missed something important in implementation, chances are would not suddenly remember to add that to the tests of their own code.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: original devs

        You might be surprised. Testing (or even writing a user guide) can often be enough to make the original dev think about edge cases and sometimes they are the only people who know where the edges are. Or to put it in the language of testing, you need white-box testing as well as black-box testing.

        Writing a user manual is another activity that can make the original dev consider their work from a new angle. I know no-one reads them anymore, but that doesn't mean there is no value in writing them.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: original devs

          "I know no-one reads them anymore"

          That's because nobody writes them any more.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: original devs

            No, it's because no one expects to need to read them anymore. If a device isn't pick-up-and-play intuitive without directions, it's considered too complicated.

            1. dajames Silver badge

              User Manuals

              No, it's because no one expects to need to read them anymore. If a device isn't pick-up-and-play intuitive without directions, it's considered too complicated.

              Nevertheless, I know people who complain that they can't use modern software because they haven't got a manual to read. The idea of FWITIW (Eff With I Till It Works) doesn't seem to appeal to them.

              Some modern software just is user-hostile crap (and a manual would make that failing more obvious) but some users do seem to need a manual even to use the best-designed programs.

              1. EarthDog

                Re: User Manuals

                When you are on 2 week sprints FWITIW doesn'tt work.

          2. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: original devs

            Somewhere about 1990 manuals started to explain in excessive detail anything that might be blindingly obvious - while omitting to explain anything that was complicated or hidden. At which point they became a bit useless.

            As in a full explanation about how to use the on/off button, but not a word about how the switch works that somehow managed both to open one end of the dust collector and also release the other end from the device body for fuller cleaning.

        2. DJO Silver badge

          Re: original devs

          Writing a user manual is another activity that can make the original dev consider their work from a new angle

          Devs are generally the worst people to write manuals, you end up with Microsoft style documentation which goes into extreme detail telling you everything except the things you actually need to know. This might one of the reasons that hardly anybody looks at them.

          Get a proper technical author and have the dev provide copious notes, of course that note creation can have the same serendipitous benefit for the devs you suggested.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: original devs

            Yeah in my post an hour or so before DJO's I didn't attribute this to Microsoft in particular, because it's so common, but their "Help" is a particularly egregious example of explaining the obvious while ignoring the stuff that isn't apparent. In my opinion the nadir was Win 8.x because they just wanted users to click on the big icons and run the programmes like phone apps- no user interaction required.

            1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

              Re: original devs

              @Terry6

              Re Microsoft "Help"

              I thought I was the only one who'd noticed this. There also seem to be points awarded for how many clicks they can get out of you while continuing to avoid providing any useful information.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UAT/QA Testing

      RE: "Never heard of Selenium for testing?

      1) Developer writes script for testing page

      2) QA/UAT tester runs script in browser with minimal effort required

      3) Test fails - push it back to developer

      4) Test passes - move to done"

      Not according to our QA dept.

      Devs write junit tests. QA writes Selenium tests, and ensures you can only build them in the special QA environment based on special complete builds of everything in the world. Devs can only be told summaries, like today's testing degraded from 1500 passes to 1400, with problems in some broad area. QA then writes up one or two of the worst as detailed manual reproduction steps, and files bugs. They don't see the point in "letting" developers run selenium.

      Of course, it also took 6 months, and detailed traces of build times with and without my personal SSD, along with cost analysis to approve getting those, and close to 2 years to get some Devs to use VMs instead of uninstall versions of multiple apps, install old versions, do patch, repeat.

      Anon for some reason...

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: UAT/QA Testing

        Yep. Know the feeling.

        Moved Dev testing to CI integrated Sonar testing only to get bitched at by devs when their ‘code’ fails to pass unit tests and Jenkins spits the errors back at them. We now have to write out full QA tests, the Loadtests and just about everything except send them loo rolls to do the obvious.

    4. EarthDog

      Re: UAT/QA Testing

      No! No! No! No! Developers never write Selenium (or related products) tests. Modern QA practice require Qas to have scripting or flat out developer skills with the devious mind of a QA and the ability to remain ignorant of any but the functional requirements.

  16. WibbleMe

    Real people want humanity enhancing devices, not crap Tec that's sold in the local pound shop

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Real people want humanity enhancing devices, not crap Tec that's sold in the local pound shop

      You mean there are real people out there?

      Can't be. Look at the local pound shop...

  17. Chasola

    Mark E Smith

    I'm glad to see that you share the grief of the North.

    Victoria will be very upset.

    I'll raise a glass to him tonight at the Hex Induction Hour.

    Sorry for the irrelevant comment but some things are more important than tech.

    chas

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Mark E Smith

      Hit the North! Nice of Dabbsy to sneak the tribute in.

      Pint, for Mark E Smith, of course.

  18. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    my retail goods usually fail when I lend them to someone else . Strange that.

  19. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Has anyone noticed that software testing jobs appear to pay almost as much as software developer jobs , and much more than most I.T support jobs? They seem to be much higher up the tree than you'd have thought.

    ..and yes I know there will be certain skillset , and certain tools to be familiar with - but same and more so for all the other IT jobs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You think we do this for the money? Hell no. Nothing beats the soft blubbing of a pm as they slowly fall apart, or the dull, beaten, lifeless gaze of a dev you twisted into knots with his own logic? Money? That is for mortals.

    2. EarthDog

      I put this in another post but will place it here too.

      A good QA should have a devious mind, be good at scripting or full scale software development, good at following the functional design of a product, the ability to communicate with both managers and developers, and able write good tests (as opposed to writing scripts if you catch the difference). Programming is a much narrower pursuit.It is not a position to dump your worst developers into.

      1. Helldesk Dogsbody

        One group you can also throw at QA, particularly for regression testing, are your support staff. Been there, done that. When told "But NOBODY would ever do that! It's not a valid test!" all you need to do is pull up the previous weeks first line tickets...

  20. Fading Silver badge

    UAT....

    There are five stages of UAT;

    Denial: - this is not what we specified

    Anger: - No really this is not what we asked for the damn thing doesn't even do what the old system did!

    Bargaining: - if you can just make it do the original thing we might be able to sign off the first phase?

    Depression: - I can't believe we paid so much and we will have to use this.

    and Acceptance.

    UAT - testing the users until they accept what you have developed.

  21. W4YBO

    Emitting a loud "crack!...

    "Emitting a loud "crack!" they actually exploded into several plastic artefacts while sitting on my face as I was reading. I dunno, maybe I was looking through them too hard."

    I had a freshly ground prescription lens do something similar. New wire-rimmed spectacles, just a couple of hours after picking them up, and I noticed a curved line emanating from a corner of the right lens. Just as I was removing them, POP!, and the right lens was in several pieces on my desk. LensCrafters technician told me the grinding lab probably forgot to stress relieve the lens, and pressure from being mounted in the rim drove the stresses past the point of self-disassembly.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Emitting a loud "crack!...

      "the grinding lab probably forgot to stress relieve the lens"

      Glass can have lots of internal stresses. For my degree project I devised an experiment which required a number of stands made out of glass rod with 6 bends in each (think of those Bauhaus tubular frames chairs and you get the idea). Over a few weeks each of the initial bunch made out of soda glass developed cracks at at least one joint. They had to be remade in Pyrex.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Emitting a loud "crack!...

        "Over a few weeks each of the initial bunch made out of soda glass developed cracks at at least one joint. They had to be remade in Pyrex."

        Soda glass needs careful annealing; borosilicate has a much lower coefficient of thermal expansion and doesn't.

        I've watched the (amazing) machine that makes laboratory glass tubing. It's enormously long, so as the molten glass is extruded and drawn to correct diameter it cools slowly enough not to lock in stress. But having said that, if you have a lot of bends that need careful cooling, it will probably save a lot of time if you use borosilicate glass in the first place.

  22. jason 7

    What raises my eyebrow is when...

    ...you see an item on Amazon that has 4000 5 star reviews and 5 1 star reviews.

    When you look at the 5 1 star they usually say just -

    "Doesn't work with Mac!"

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: What raises my eyebrow is when...

      Or 5000 reviews of a phone battery.

      75% 5* "Looks like a battery" or just "Works"

      25% 1* "Fake battery, exploded / caught fire"

      1. Oh Homer

        Re: What raises my eyebrow is when...

        Of more concern is 5000 reviews where all but one of them are five star and look like they were written by the same person, typically in pidgin English.

        I tend not to buy those.

  23. RancidOrange

    Mark E Smith

    Thank you for the Fall YouTube link. I'm just amazed MES managed to survive for so long.

  24. Jos V

    QA...

    Many moons ago I was put in the lead for putting a newly acquired company's product line through QA testing (the company I work for was a big global corp).

    The company paid muchos dineros for said company+product, so they wanted it in their active product line as soon as possible.

    The only problem was, that even though it was a reasonably good product, for 6 months it kept failing my tests on the sometimes smallest of details (a fix in the T1 protocol would introduce a bug in E1 mode, things like that).

    Every change meant I did a full regression test.

    In the mean time all the PMs, AMs, and direct managers were hammering on me to release the product. I kept wondering for how long I would keep my job...

    6 months was the end of it. Not my job though. The newly acquired company and their product were canned.

    It was one of those rare companies where in the end, QA/QC was taken very serious..

    Not anonymous, as the company doesn't exist anymore, or speaks French now.

    1. EarthDog

      Re: QA...

      You can't do that any more under the "sprint" model. You'd have to verify it in 2 to 3 weeks.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: QA...

      "It was one of those rare companies where in the end, QA/QC was taken very serious.."

      I strongly suspect the only reason they paid attention here was because the product in question fell under particular regulatory scrutiny, so they couldn't pass it along because the regulators would want to see the homework.

  25. dakliegg

    Gosh. Yet another argument for BDD!

    Instead of forcing creative multi-discipline IT journalists into their weakest skill set, engerineering teams should wrap all their code with tests. Maybe stuff would break less.

  26. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    The Dabbs Luck

    Mme D refers to this phenomenon ironically as "The Dabbs Luck". Since shacking up with yours truly, she too has been forced to share this curse and knows it to be true.

    In some cultures, it is customary to make some sort of offering or sacrifice in the hope of improving one's situation. Have you done that? Mme D would no doubt be very cross if you were to offer or sacrifice her, so how about an iPhone or iPad?

  27. Flywheel Silver badge

    Coffee...

    I've had coffee shops serve me a caffe-latte in which they forgot to include any coffee

    That'll be Starbucks - they'll serve you scalding-hot milk that'll neutralise your taste buds, and there's a coffee stain on the foam. That's "normal".

  28. GOM256

    Meredith's first law of software: it is easy to make software do what it is supposed to; it is very difficult to make it not do what it is not supposed to. That's why you entrust testing it to people who don't know what it is supposed to do (and therefore don't know what it is not supposed to do).

  29. onefang Silver badge

    Expensive boots? Cheap shoes? Pffft!

    You are all spending waaaay too much on footwear. I walk everywhere, sometimes long distances, sometimes carrying heavy loads, and the bare feet I use are still the same pair of bare feet I got for free over fifty years ago. Admittedly my parents gave them to me, but I don't think they paid for them either. Sure sometimes the outer leather breaks, but they tend to magically repair themselves soon enough. No need to replace shoe laces, and I've never had to spend money on boot polish.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Expensive boots? Cheap shoes? Pffft!

      I wonder if you'd change your tune if you were ever forced to walk on very rough, sharp, or uncertain ground. The feel of sharp stones (on a ground full of them so no way to step around them), broken debris, or deep mud start to make you wish for something to cover your feet. Oh, and the ever-present threat of tetanus, which can hit you from a cut from a hidden object.

      And this from another frequent barefooter. But this barefooter has encountered all of the aforesaid, including buried rusty nails that embedded in the soles of my shoes.

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Expensive boots? Cheap shoes? Pffft!

        "I wonder if you'd change your tune if you were ever forced to walk on very rough, sharp, or uncertain ground. The feel of sharp stones (on a ground full of them so no way to step around them), broken debris, or deep mud start to make you wish for something to cover your feet. Oh, and the ever-present threat of tetanus, which can hit you from a cut from a hidden object.

        "And this from another frequent barefooter. But this barefooter has encountered all of the aforesaid, including buried rusty nails that embedded in the soles of my shoes."

        Been there, walked over it, got the t-shirt. On top of that I live in sub-tropical Australia, the ground tends to get very hot in summer. Though I do find sharp stones to be worse than broken glass. It annoys me that half the footpaths around here are pebbles embedded in concrete. My hyper active immune system tends to take care of things like tetanus. I've had a rusty nail all the way through a foot once, cleaning up misplaced bits of house after a cyclone.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Expensive boots? Cheap shoes? Pffft!

          I've disliked having to wear footwear since before I can remember, There is Super8 film of me playing in the snow without shoes when I was around 4 years old. In grade school I was often yelled at when the teacher finally noticed I wasn't wearing shoes. A good portion of my Uni career was at Berkeley & Stanford, sans shoes. In my early 20s, I did a rim-to-rim-to-rim[0] without footwear. When I worked for HP and DEC, I rarely wore shoes. The one time I've been bitten by a rattler, I was wearing boots (so they must be bad, right?). As I type, my feet are bare.

          However, I'm not getting any younger. I've come to view shoes as a useful tool. Working around large animals, or in mud for hours at a time, or working in the woods, or with heavy equipment, or restoring old steam powered equipment, or helping friends dig out after the recent big burns here in Sonoma County all would be fool-hardy without the proper tools on my feet. To say nothing of taking the dogs out late at night, with only the moon for illumination.

          So while I don't like it, I grok the utility of footwear. And I make sure I have the best for my feet, and my situation. YMMV.

          [0] That's in the Grand Canyon ... S. Kaibab trail down, N. Kaibab up & back down, Bright Angel ("the easy trail") back up. Works out to about 44 miles, with over 21,000 feet of total elevation change. Not being in any hurry, I did it in 3 nights on the trail. Some people run it in under 10 hours. Not barefoot, though ;-)

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Expensive boots? Cheap shoes? Pffft!

            That's me. If I'm in familiar territory, I'm frequently barefoot. Most times if I'm outdoors, a simple pair of flip-flops are all I need. Right now, though, it's ice-cold winter, so I concede to laceless shoes when I make any trip of significance. Plus, because of dress codes ("no shirt, no shoes, no service"), I'm forced to at least have footwear most shops and locations I have to go, and I MUST wear proper shoes at work.

            PS. I'd be scared of hyperactive immune systems as they're the most frequent source of allergies.

            1. jake Silver badge

              I'm officially old. (was: Re: Expensive boots? Cheap shoes? Pffft!)

              My daughter (who reads ElReg, but rarely posts) just rang. She's the official keeper of the family's film video archive, mainly because she's the one who volunteered to digitize it many moons ago. The reason for her call?

              "Daddy, you know that video of you shoeless in the snow? It isn't Super8, it's Standard8. Super8 didn't exist when you were 4 years old." I guess the mind really is the first thing to go ...

              Same phone call: grand-daughter, age 7, learning the fine art of B&W film photography from her mother and telling me all about her adventures in the darkroom, commented "You old people did things funny."

              ::sighs::

            2. onefang Silver badge

              Re: Expensive boots? Cheap shoes? Pffft!

              "I'm forced to at least have footwear most shops and locations I have to go, and I MUST wear proper shoes at work."

              Much less of that sort of nonsense here, the number of shops I can't go into barefoot I can count on one hand. I remember one job interview where the CEO and the head programmer wore just socks, I felt over dressed. Got that job. B-)

              "PS. I'd be scared of hyperactive immune systems as they're the most frequent source of allergies."

              My doctor calls it a double edged sword. Yes I have allergies, but I know what my allergies are, and they are things that are easy to avoid most of the time. "I gotta avoid eggs" vs "I rarely catch diseases or get infections" means the bad edge of that sword is very dull, and the good edge is razor sharp. I can't have flu vaccines coz of the egg allergy, but I don't catch the flu anyway, so no biggie.

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