Monthly Archives: March 2008

Clear Specs

A recent email underscores why written specs are never sufficient to communicate complete details. (Now, throw in that both parties are not communicating in their native languages…)

Fair work, help for people

Good time of day. You are disturbed by the charitable company Redd Cross of Slovenia. We have the business offer for you. We can offer to you of earnings, thus your salary will make from 1000$ to 2000$ per one month, at an incomplete working day. Your earnings can be and higher. The more and forces you will give time, the there will be your salary more. If it is interesting to you, you write on the address of e-mail of our agent: he will contact you within 24 hours and will throw off to you all details, and will answer you on all your questions.

Thank you for attention Redd Cross of Slovenia!

My Favorites

  • Good time of day.
  • You are disturbed by the charitable company…
  • your salary…at an incomplete working day.
  • The more and forces you will give time…[the bigger your salary]

Makes me want to sign right up!

Software that works for its user’s “user!”

Out of the blue, I get a call this morning from Eric Theoret — since it shows up as Quebec on my phone, I decide to answer. I have some very good friends and associates in Quebec… It could have been Jean-Claude or Mathieu!

On Sunday, I had placed an internet order with MacMall (I used to do all sorts of business with PCMall with 4 PCs in the house, but now i have 2 iMacs for home and a MacBook Pro as a my development/work laptop).

Eric (an Account Executive) noticed my order and saw that a 1 TeraByte HD was back-ordered. Through his energy and knowledge of various support software, Eric was able to find a HD (which the internet system was unable to locate) and add it into my order. So he called me to tell me…

Eric also mentioned how he gets into work every day before most folks, and puts in some extra time looking over the accounts and seeing what he can do to help. Well, his ability to help was very much appreciated — now i’ll get my stuff sooner.

I must say, I was very impressed:

  • with eric’s personal drive
  • that he proactively found a missing part of my order
  • and that there was good “back office” software at Mac/PCMall to allow Eric to learn about my account (he saw it stemmed from the TogetherSoft days) and really provide quality customer service.

Kudos to Eric and MacMall!

Hope he doesn’t mind, but if you need anything computer-related you can reach him from North America at 1-800-555-MALL ext 8542. Without a lot of fuss or muss, I have always found good prices and selection and quick response from Mac/PCMall… now Eric has raised the bar even further.

As a software development guy, I like to think of the software and integration and workflow that all goes into something as seemingly “simple” as what Eric was able to do.

Think about that next time you design some software… many times the benefactor is twice removed from the user!

a little bug – part 1

The Bug: Certain questions that were supposed to be included due to server-side logic were not being properly included.

There was an odd chain of events… The deeply embedded process (shown below) did not seem to behave properly. A couple of developers set about to test a bit more thoroughly. They discovered that the order of the choices for the questions that were supposed to be included affected whether they were successfully included or not. Mind you… there are only two choices: INCLUDE and EXCLUDE.

Context: The application is very loosely a Questionnaire app…. just so happens that some of the questions get processed by this third-party black box which determines if some of the questions should be required/included or not. Required in the sever process world means “included” in the UI world.

I’ll start you off with some code to peruse, full comments and all:

for each (var qstnTO : QuestionTO in processedQuestionArray) {

  for each (var qstn : QuestionVO in __localQuestionsToProcess) {

    if (qstn.questionID == qstnTO.questionID) {

        if (qstnTO.required) {

        for each (choice in qstn.choices) {

          choice.selected = (choice.displayText == "INCLUDE") ? true : false;


          // ?? Not sure if the following is necessary or not

          choice.enabled  = true;

          choice.visible  = true;

          qstn.section.visible = true;

          qstn.section.enabled = true;

          // ??






Can you spot anything that might point to why the testers saw different behavior based on the order of choices?

I’ll be back later to elaborate…