This week in web performance, we take a look at the Mobile World Congress highlights and Google’s new developments in quantum computing.
Barcelona hosts Mobile World Congress
This week, the 2015 Mobile World Congress brought 93,000 attendees to Barcelona, Spain with over 2,000 exhibitors and 3,800 analysts. Over 40 keynotes were given, featuring Mark Zuckerberg and Tom Wheeler, GSMA hosted the GSMA Seminar Program and highlighted the Connected Living innovations, and the 20th Annual Global Mobile Awards recognized outstanding industry leaders. This event reminded us that it’s the Internet of Everything era, with smart cars, appliances, vending machines and even city lights announced. Additional gadgets announced at the MWC included new phones, including the new Galaxy S6, new wearables, including the Huawei Watch, and new virtual reality headsets, including the HTC Vive.
Google improves SSL Warnings
Google has expanded its efforts to keep you safe online. New additions in Chrome, Search, and even advertisements have been made to keep you even safer from sites where unwanted software downloads are available that attempt or make undesired changes on your computer. Adrienne Porter Felt from the Google Security Team highlighted that one of the most important factors of the SSL warnings is that the browser warns only when it’s really under attack. In addition, the team had to strategize on how to best convey the threat in a way users could understand.
Apple Pay fraud increases due to lax bank ID checks
Apple Pay fraud is on the rise, ultimately highlighting a potential problem for all mobile payment systems. Using tokenized Device Account Numbers and the Touch ID fingerprint system, Apple Pay was initially praised for its increased security when it was launched in October 2014. However, reports earlier this week indicate that criminals have successfully set up iPhones with stolen personal information, gaining encrypted versions of victim’s credit cards by calling banks to authenticate a victim’s card on the new device. Banks are already responding by stepping up security measures required to verify your identity, including one-time authorization tokens, calls to customer service and logging into your online banking.
Google Tests First Error-Correction in Quantum Computing
Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Google reported on Wednesday that they had made a significant development in quantum computing, successfully creating the world’s first error-correcting quantum circuit. The system under test was able to stabilize a fragile array of nine qubits, the quantum analogue of the traditional bit. The researchers said they had accomplished this by creating circuits in which they used additional qubits to observe the state of computing qubits without altering their state. “Quantum computing becomes viable when a quantum state can be protected from environment-induced error “ said researchers in the Nature journal article.
Hear of any other interesting web or tech news this week? Let us know in a comment below!
This course contains the equivalent of 4.5 days of live training. However, with e-learning, you can take the training in small pieces.
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It has been said that your first Doctor is your favorite. This is not true in my case; my first Doctor was Tom Baker, but my favorite is Colin Baker. And no, I haven’t seen the new ones with Tobey Maguire and Ed Norton as the Doctor.
It’s a great week on the internet! This week in web performance the preservation of net neutrality and new announcements from Google and Apple make headlines.
FCC votes to preserve net neutrality, classifying broadband as a utility
Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to approve the proposed net neutrality rules for both wireless and fixed broadband. The proposed rules will disallow paid prioritization, as well as the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. After overwhelming public outcry, this win for advocates of net neutrality is being called “the free speech victory of our times” and “an even bigger win than SOPA”. But the debate looks to be far from over.
Response from Verizon came in both morse code and typewriter font saying the rules were “written in the era of the steam locomotive and the telegraph. In addition, a group of 21 republicans sent a response to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler threatening legislation that would “ensure the antitrust laws are the preferred enforcement method against anticompetitive conduct on the Internet” and that “may include a restriction on the FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet.”
Apple to spend $1.9 Billion on European data centers powered by renewable energy
In what will be Apple’s biggest investment in Europe to date, Apple announced plans to build and operate two new data centers in Denmark and Ireland. Running entirely on renewable energy, the data centers will power several of Apple’s online services for European customers, including the iTunes Store®, App Store℠, iMessage®, Maps and Siri®. The operations are expected to launch in 2017 and will include initiatives to restore native trees to Derrydonnell Forest, provide an outdoor education space for local schools, and create a walking trail for the community. “We believe that innovation is about leaving the world better than we found it, and that the time for tackling climate change is now,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environmental Initiatives.
Apple releases new Playgrounds
The new Xcode 6.3 beta 2 now contains improvements to Swift playgrounds, with inline results, stylized text, and a resources folder. The new playgrounds were made to be useful for authors and educators.
Google introduces a new open source HTTP/2 RPC Framework
Google has introduced a new open source (BSD-licensed) cross-platform library for making remote procedure calls. Built on the recently finalized HTTP/2 specification, gRPC will allow for bidirectional streaming, flow control, header compression, multiplexing requests over a single TCP connection and more. In addition to gRPC, Google has released a new version of Protocol Buffers, an open source binary serialization protocol intended to allow easy definition of services and automatic generation of client libraries. The project has support for several different programming languages (C, C++, Java, Go, Node.js, Python, and Ruby) with libraries for several others (Objective-C, PHP and C#) in development. Google indicated that they have begun to use gRPC internally in order to begin transitioning to HTTP/2.
A look ahead: Barcelona will host Mobile World Congress
The first week of March brings along the exciting 2015 Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona, Spain. The four day event is like the Ted Talks of mobile tech, with thought-leadership keynotes from Mark Zuckerberg and Tom Wheeler, numerous panel discussions, and 1900 technology and product exhibitors. The event will feature the Global Mobile Awards, and App Planet, an opportunity for the mobile app community to come together to learn and network. In addition, all attendees will gain access to 4 Years From Now, a 3 day event focused on startups and corporations, led by globally recognized entrepreneurship and innovation experts.
Other headlines this week:
- Final submissions for GCPBuildOff Google Build Off are due Feb 28th.
- New Amazon Redshift features.
- Cloudward Inc. announced the launch of Cloud Snippets Feb 26th.
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This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Fifty Quick Ideas To Improve Your Tests
Behaviour-driven development is becoming increasingly popular over the last few years, and with it the Given-When-Then format for examples. In many ways, Given-When-Then seems as the de-facto standard for expressing functional checks using examples. Introduced by JBehave in 2003, this structure was intended to support conversations between teams and business stakeholders, but also lead those discussions towards a conclusion that would be easy to automate as a test.
Given-When-Then statements are great because they are easy to capture on whiteboards and flipcharts, but also easy to transfer to electronic documents, including plain text files and wiki pages. In addition, there are automation tools for all popular application platforms today that support tests specified as Given-When-Then.
On the other hand, Given-When-Then is a very sharp tool and unless handled properly, it can hurt badly. Without understanding the true purpose of that way of capturing expectations, many teams out there just create tests that are too long, too difficult to maintain, and almost impossible to understand. Here is a typical example:Scenario: Payroll salary calculations Given the admin page is open When the user types John into the 'employee name' and the user types 30000 into the 'salary' and the user clicks 'Add' Then the page reloads And the user types Mike into the 'employee name' and the user types 40000 into the 'salary' and the user clicks 'Add' When the user selects 'Payslips' And the user selects employee number 1 Then the user clicks on 'View' When the user selects 'Info' Then the 'salary' shows 29000 Then the user clicks 'Edit' and the user types 40000 into the 'salary' When the user clicks on 'View' And the 'salary' shows 31000
This example might have been clear to the person who first wrote it, but it’s purpose is unclear – what is it really testing? Is the salary a parameter of the test, or is it an expected outcome? If one of the bottom steps of this scenario fails, it will be very difficult to understand the exact cause of the problem.
Spoken language is ambiguous, and it’s perfectly OK to say ‘Given an employee has a salary …, When the tax deduction is…, then the employee gets a payslip and the payslip shows …’. It’s also OK to say ‘When an employee has a salary …, Given the tax deduction is …’ or ‘Given an employee … and the tax deduction … then the payslip …’. All those combinations mean the same thing, and they will be easily understood within the wider context.
But there is only one right way to describe those conditions with Given-When-Then if you want to get the most out of it from the perspective of long-term test maintenance.
The sequence is important. ‘Given’ comes before ‘When’, and ‘When’ comes before ‘Then’. Those clauses should not be mixed. All parameters should be specified with ‘Given’ clauses, the action under test should be specified with the ‘When’ clause, and all expected outcomes should be listed with ‘Then’ clauses. Each scenario should ideally have only one When clause, that clearly points to the purpose of the test.
Given-When-Then is not just an automation-friendly way of describing expectations, it’s a structural pattern for designing clear specifications. It’s been around for quite a while under different names. When use cases were popular, it was known as Preconditions-Trigger-Postconditions. In unit testing, it’s known as Arrange-Act-Assert.Key benefits
Using Given-When-Then in sequence is a great reminder for several great test design ideas. It suggests that pre-conditions and post-conditions need to be identified and separated. It suggests that the purpose of the test should be clearly communicated, and that each scenario should check one and only one thing. When there is only one action under test, people are forced to look beyond the mechanics of test execution and really identify a clear purpose.
When used correctly, Given-When-Then helps teams design specifications and checks that are easy to understand and maintain. As tests will be focused on one particular action, they will be less brittle and easier to diagnose and troubleshoot. When the parameters and expectations are clearly separated, it’s easier to evaluate if we need to add more examples, and discover missing cases.How to make it work
A good trick, that prevents most of accidental misuse of Given-When-Then, is to use past tense for ‘Given’ clauses, present tense for ‘When’ and future tense for ‘Then’. This makes it clear that ‘Given’ statements are preconditions and parameters, and that ‘Then’ statements are postconditions and expectations.
Make ‘Given’ and ‘Then’ passive – they should describe values rather than actions. Make sure ‘When’ is active – it should describe the action under test.
Try having only one ‘When’ statement for each scenario.
I know it’s a year old, but the topic of this article will never get old: Ways to Say ‘No’ More Effectively:
When asked to help or to do a favor, whether it is to donate money to charity, fill out a questionnaire or let a stranger use a cellphone, research has shown many people will say “yes” simply because saying “no” would make them even more uncomfortable. This is especially true when people have to give their answer face to face, rather than by email.
And even when people do say “no,” they become more likely to say “yes” to subsequent requests. “They feel so guilty about saying ‘no,’ they feel they need to salvage the relationship,” says Vanessa Bohns, assistant professor of management sciences at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
The world could use more No.
“Thunderstruck” by AC/DC:
Yeah, I know. They’ve got a new album out. I’ve got it. But it doesn’t stick in my mind like some of the older stuff.
This song reminds me of a woman I coached in softball back when I was in college. She once put a woman in the hospital with an errant throw, so I nicknamed her Thunderball. Then she got shot down by muggers in front of her kids because she wouldn’t kneel for the muggers.
Doesn’t that brighten up your Monday?
If you're looking for a place to discuss the latest innovations in test automation, then charge your tablets and pack your gumboots - the eighth GTAC (Google Test Automation Conference) will be held on October 28-29, 2014 at Google Kirkland! The Kirkland office is part of the Seattle/Kirkland campus in beautiful Washington state. This campus forms our third largest engineering office in the USA.
GTAC is a periodic conference hosted by Google, bringing together engineers from industry and academia to discuss advances in test automation and the test engineering computer science field. It’s a great opportunity to present, learn, and challenge modern testing technologies and strategies.
You can browse the presentation abstracts, slides, and videos from last year on the GTAC 2013 page.
Stay tuned to this blog and the GTAC website for application information and opportunities to present at GTAC. Subscribing to this blog is the best way to get notified. We're looking forward to seeing you there!
The application process is now open for presentation proposals and attendance for GTAC (Google Test Automation Conference) (see initial announcement) to be held at the Google Kirkland office (near Seattle, WA) on October 28 - 29th, 2014.
GTAC will be streamed live on YouTube again this year, so even if you can’t attend, you’ll be able to watch the conference from your computer.
Presentations are targeted at student, academic, and experienced engineers working on test automation. Full presentations and lightning talks are 45 minutes and 15 minutes respectively. Speakers should be prepared for a question and answer session following their presentation.
For presentation proposals and/or attendance, complete this form. We will be selecting about 300 applicants for the event.
The due date for both presentation and attendance applications is July 28, 2014.
There are no registration fees, and we will send out detailed registration instructions to each invited applicant. Meals will be provided, but speakers and attendees must arrange and pay for their own travel and accommodations.
Update : Our contact email was bouncing - this is now fixed.
The deadline to sign up for GTAC 2014 is next Monday, July 28th, 2014. There is a great deal of interest to both attend and speak, and we’ve received many outstanding proposals. However, it’s not too late to add yours for consideration. If you would like to speak or attend, be sure to complete the form by Monday.
We will be making regular updates to our site over the next several weeks, and you can find conference details there:
For those that have already signed up to attend or speak, we will contact you directly in mid August.
We have completed selection and confirmation of all speakers and attendees for GTAC 2014. You can find the detailed agenda at:
Thank you to all who submitted proposals! It was very hard to make selections from so many fantastic submissions.
There was a tremendous amount of interest in GTAC this year with over 1,500 applicants (up from 533 last year) and 194 of those for speaking (up from 88 last year). Unfortunately, our venue only seats 250. However, don’t despair if you did not receive an invitation. Just like last year, anyone can join us via YouTube live streaming. We’ll also be setting up Google Moderator, so remote attendees can get involved in Q&A after each talk. Information about live streaming, Moderator, and other details will be posted on the GTAC site soon and announced here.
The eighth GTAC commences on Tuesday at the Google Kirkland office. You can find the latest details on the conference at our site, including speaker profiles.
If you are watching remotely, we'll soon be updating the live stream page with the stream link and a Google Moderator link for remote Q&A.
If you have been selected to attend or speak, be sure to note the updated parking information. Google visitors will use off-site parking and shuttles.
We look forward to connecting with the greater testing community and sharing new advances and ideas.
On October 28th and 29th, GTAC 2014, the eighth GTAC (Google Test Automation Conference), was held at the beautiful Google Kirkland office. The conference was completely packed with presenters and attendees from all over the world (Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, many European countries, India, Israel, Korea, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Russia, Taiwan, and many US states), bringing with them a huge diversity of experiences.
Speakers from numerous companies and universities (Adobe, American Express, Comcast, Dropbox, Facebook, FINRA, Google, HP, Medidata Solutions, Mozilla, Netflix, Orange, and University of Waterloo) spoke on a variety of interesting and cutting edge test automation topics.
All of the slides and video recordings are now available on the GTAC site. Photos will be available soon as well.
This was our most popular GTAC to date, with over 1,500 applicants and almost 200 of those for speaking. About 250 people filled our venue to capacity, and the live stream had a peak of about 400 concurrent viewers with 4,700 playbacks during the event. And, there was plenty of interesting Twitter and Google+ activity during the event.
Our goal in hosting GTAC is to make the conference highly relevant and useful for, not only attendees, but the larger test engineering community as a whole. Our post-conference survey shows that we are close to achieving that goal:
If you have any suggestions on how we can improve, please comment on this post.
Thank you to all the speakers, attendees, and online viewers who made this a special event once again. To receive announcements about the next GTAC, subscribe to the Google Testing Blog.
NASA’s been writing mission-critical software for space exploration for decades, and now the organization is turning those guidelines into a coding standard for the software development industry.
The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) Laboratory for Reliable Software recently published a set of code guidelines, “The Power of Ten—Rules for Developing Safety Critical Code.” The paper’s author, JPL lead scientist Gerard J. Holzmann, explained that the mass of existing coding guidelines is inconsistent and full of arbitrary rules, rarely allowing for now-essential tasks such as tool-based compliance checks. Existing guidelines, he said, inundate coders with vague rules, causing code quality of even the most critical applications to suffer.
It’s not The Programmer’s Book of Rules, but it’s worth reading and considering even if your software can’t kill people.
There were a lot of interesting things going on in the web performance world this week! New Google tools and developer news made headlines, as well as the Ocean’s Eleven of cyber crime.Cyber criminals make out with one billion dollars from more than 100 banks
In possibly one of the greatest bank heists ever, hackers installed spyware on the computers of over 100 different financial institutions in 25 different countries, including the US. By mimicking the regular bank workflows, they were able to transfer between $2.5 and $10 million from each bank into their own accounts. The Ocean’s Eleven of cyber attacks is suspected to have gone on for ever two years and isn’t over yet. Kaspersky labs say the “attacks remain active”, naming the malware “Carbanak”.Kaspersky Labs uncovers the most advanced malware publisher they’ve ever seen
Kaspersky Lab recently released a report on a highly sophisticated threat actor they named the Equation group. The group uses multiple techniques to infect victims, ranging from the internet to USB drives. Kaspersky noted the malware’s complexity as “the most advanced threat actor they have ever seen”, also able to infect hard drive firmware. Kaspersky also stated that they believed that the Equation group developers may be the same creators of Stuxnet, a worm discovered in 2010 believed to be the US government.Google adds grace period for developers to fix security flaws
Project Zero, a Google team that aims to significantly reduce the number of people harmed by targeted attacks, gives vendors 90 days to patch security flaws. After that, the company automatically discloses the reported vulnerabilities, regardless of whether a fix is available. Project Zero has adhered to a 90-day deadline, but in order to enforce consistent deadlines for edge cases, a few changes have been added. Deadlines that end on weekends or holidays will move to the next normal work day, a 14-day grace period can be added, and CVE identifiers, an industry standard for identifying vulnerabilities, will be pre-assigned. The rest of Google will now be following the same policy.Google announces a new way to evaluate cloud performance
How do you benchmark cloud providers? Google cloud users were having trouble evaluating the performance of cloud offerings too. One week ago today, Google released a free, open source cloud performance benchmarking framework called PerfKit to do just that. Working with over 30 different researchers, companies, and customers, the Perkit Explorer was made to help you interpret results. In addition to reporting on the most standard metrics of peak performance, it measures the end to end time to provision resources in the cloud. You can try this out new tool out yourself with a free Google Cloud Platform now. I definitely will be.
Also in Google news, this week Google Maps is celebrating their 10 year anniversary! Happy anniversary, Google Maps!A look ahead : The FCC to vote on net neutrality
The FCC will vote on net neutrality regulations during it’s meeting on February 26th. Tom Wheeler has said he will circulate proposed new rules to preserve the internet as an open platform to the FCC, and the vote on whether or not to classify the internet as a public utility will commence at the February 26th meeting.
Hear of any other interesting web or tech news this week? Let us know in a comment!
The Wall Street Journal changes its capitalization of eBay depending upon where it appears.
For example, look at the print edition:
Or this article online: Carl Icahn Boosts Stake in EBay:
Carl Icahn slightly boosted his holdings in eBay Inc. by about $25 million in the fourth quarter, according to the activist investor’s latest quarterly filing.
Let’s look at the discrepancies and inconsistencies:
- In the print edition headlines and drop quotes, only the E is capitalized.
- In the online story, both the E and the B are capitalized in headlines.
- When it appears at the beginning of a sentence, both the E and B are capitalized.
- When the word appears in the middle of the sentence, it is appropriately capitalized as eBay.
This is a style guide issue, as the inconsistent capitalizations are consistent in where they’re inconsistently capitalized.
This doesn’t seem to be a bigger issue regarding trademark capitalization, as iPhone is capitalized correctly, at least online: ‘Staggering’ iPhone Demand Helps Lift Apple’s Quarterly Profit by 38%:
Apple Inc. surpassed even the most bullish Wall Street expectations for its holiday quarter with an improbable trifecta: selling more iPhones at higher prices—and earning more on each sale.
It looks as though the corporate style guide could use a little correction. How about yours?
For teams that need a bit of inspiration during user story refinement workshops, here is a quick reference online mind map with all the ideas from the Fifty Quick Ideas To Improve Your User Stories. The mind map contains a short description and a reminder image for each idea, grouped into categories. Just tap/click a category to open up the details of ideas.
If you like this but you’d prefer something physical rather than electronic, we partnered with DriveThruCards to create a poker-style card deck with all idea summaries. For more info, see drivethrucards.com