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Selenium vs Human Testing – Which is Best?


It’s always fun to run a Selenium automation demo for those who have never seen it in action. It looks as if an invisible robot is sitting in front of the screen manually running through a test suite at blazing speed.

Observers from management or HR might look at the invisible tester blasting through a test suite and be tempted by its cost-cutting potential. “Hmmm,” they might think. “Why am I paying for all this QA staff when this magical Selenium thing can run the tests more efficiently and accurately, with no personnel costs at all?”

Everyone has seen impressive videos of robots in manufacturing – machines bolted next to an assembly line where a human assembler used to stand, welding and riveting at amazing speed. Surely, the same efficiencies can be gained by applying virtual “robots” to software testing, right?

This kind of thinking can lead to trouble, if, as has happened at more than a few companies, HR and company leadership doesn’t understand the objectives and strategies of automated software testing.  It can be a costly mistake to trim QA staff under the assumption that Selenium automation is a direct substitute for human testing.

The problem with this cost-cutting logic is that test automation in software development is fundamentally different from automation in manufacturing.  Over the lifecycle of any software product or application, code becomes increasingly complex, with many layers of dependencies pointing in many directions.  As a result, the whole test process becomes heavily dependent on human testers who are thoroughly familiar with the product.  These testers can use their judgement, experience, and savvy to predict the probable weaknesses of a new feature set and use that as a guide to focus their testing efforts. This is a process that works and is impossible to automate.

Unfortunately, no amount of judgement and experience can predict all the ways that a build for a new feature set might fail. Things often break where you expect them to – but they also break in ways that can’t be logically anticipated.  Manual testing is a poor methodology for finding these “edge case” defects simply because it takes too long to run comprehensive test suites by hand.  But this is exactly when test automation becomes really useful – as a complement to human testing rather than a replacement for it.

Automated tests can thoroughly and “automagically” test all the nooks-and-crannies of a product that are assumed to be stable so that human testers can stay focused on new features and functionality. Thus, the combined efforts of humans and “robots” result in test plans of greater depth and breadth and consistency than are ever possible with only one or the other methodology.

So don’t be fooled by the false choice between human and automated testing – or be tempted to cut your QA staff loose because you have added automated testing to your repertoire. You will still need human judgement, experience, and savvy to test all of the new features of your product and to help extract the real benefits of automation.

Missing Icon Overlays in Office 365


OneDrive Limitations on Windows 7 & 8

As companies migrate to Office 365 and make broader use of cloud-based file sharing applications, the interoperability of preferred apps and various operating systems can create some unique technical support challenges.

Recently while providing Tier 2 and 3 support, we had an end-user report that their OneDrive for Business icons had disappeared. These are the little green checkmarks on a synced file that let you know it has made it safely to the Cloud.

OneDrive has 3 icons.  Synced. Syncing. Error.  These icons are actually known as “Icon Overlays.”  The individual icons will be that of a Word Document or an Excel Document, etc. The green checkmark or red X are then overlaid atop the document icon.

There are lots of programs that provide Overlay Icons. OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, DropBox, Google Drive, etc.

A problem occurs when a user gets too many of these applications going at once because there is a limit to how many Overlay Icons can exist in a Windows 7 or 8 system. That limit is 15.

And DropBox, it turns out, adds 8 different OverLay icons on its own.

This particular customer had multiple users with DropBox and OneDrive both working happily. So what happened in this case that made it different?

Of course when I asked the user what changed, I got “Nothing. Nothing at all…”

But – as it turns out – this user had OneDrive for Business and the consumer edition of OneDrive both running.  He ran this way for months without issue, and then system Logs indicated that DropBox was installed a week prior.  And that apparently put the system over the current Icon Overlay limit, causing the failure.

As cloud file services proliferate, I suspect our customers and lots of end users will run into this issue again.  Hope this information helps someone else with this problem.

And in the meantime, hopefully Microsoft and Dropbox have some icon overlay enhancements planned on their product roadmaps!

Should Students Learn How to Code?


With the continued security of jobs within the IT industry, students are being encouraged to learn how to code.  This is especially true with younger students, where many schools are taking into consideration the importance of knowing how to code.  Coding teaches logic and better enables that person to understand the IT industry.  Still, there are different viewpoints on this matter.

One example of this requirement is seen in the Chicago City School System, where the course ‘code writing and computer science’ is required.  Another reason for implementing these types of courses is that they could open the door to success for students who come from low-income areas (http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/20/technology/chicago-coding-education/). Right now, the skill of coding is valuable, so this could help these populations to gain entrance to college and find work.  Teaching students to code could also eliminate the need for outsourced work.  A similar program is also being implemented in the Los Angeles Public School System (http://www.nationaljournal.com/policy/insiders/education/should-schools-mandate-computer-coding-classes-20141027).

Others, however, disagree.  A recent article on the Huffington Post explains that coding education should not be mandatory in high schools because the entire process of coding has not been refined enough to be natural for humans to learn (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emmanuel-straschnov/you-shouldnt-have-to-lear_b_6111914.html?utm_hp_ref=technology&ir=Technology).  Others worry that nurturing an interest in coding at a young age could eventually saturate the job market, causing wages to drop.

What are your thoughts on this? Should coding education be enforced, or should it just be an option?

-The ITS Team

Microsoft Removes Storage Limit for Cloud 365


Microsoft has recently decided to remove the limit of available cloud storage for Office 365. This change is likely to move Microsoft to the same playing field as its competitors that also offer unlimited cloud storage. Competitors include Dropbox and Google, among others. These organizations differ in that they run on a subscription-based model, pricing in around ten or fifteen dollars a month (http://www.infoworld.com/article/2839500/cloud-computing/microsoft-gives-office-365-customers-unlimited-onedrive-storage.html#tk.IFWNLE_techbrief_2014-10-28).

Strategically, Microsoft’s move to provide unlimited cloud storage could prove fruitful. Many businesses already have Office 365, so instead of choosing to pay a subscription fee for another service, they can stick with the product that they already have while receiving the unlimited storage feature.

If you are interested in purchasing Microsoft Office 365 or would like to learn more about the unlimited cloud storage feature, please contact ITSco today at (844) 581-1319 or contact us at: https://www.itsco.com/contact-us/