Testing 1 2 3

Peter Jones has been on some Software Testing training and raised the question of “why companies are unwilling or unaware of the cost of not engaging in proper testing practices” (paraphrased heavily)

I was going to leave a comment, but it grew into its own post size blob so here it is:

> So what as programmers can we do to make this situation better?

Does part of the problem stem from the method under which software is produced. i.e. rushed and time/money constrained. With this in mind developers are inclined to give estimates that err on the side of getting it working. Not providing a framework of validation to prove the code works and assisting the next developer, due to the nature of the payoff of “delivery now”. Costs incurred by the next developer are swept under the “last developer is sloppy” rug, and the cycle continues.

With this is mind management also want the cheapest option now, developers are paid/rated by success now, and most people’s morals are willing to be traded. Maybe “good” developers think if managers are willing to deploy systems with insufficient testing then the developer is willing to milk the project then move on. Maybe management are willing to take this line, been willing to get finical results today and risk tomorrow, rather than risk both.

It also may take developers that have a better understanding of financials and complete project life cycle costs to stand up and push for change. I’ve seen also the situations where the “cost” to fix problems in a live system have bean cheaper than testing up front. In situations that this has occurred, I would believe the errors were derived from specification errors/gaps that would have taking great amounts of testing before those areas where ‘what-if’ed.

So it comes down to management understanding the benefits to be gained from testing, developers committing to providing (unit test) tests for there work, and supporting the testing efforts of other “testers”. I have also found in the past that testing is one the invisible things that get sacrificed as time gets tight, which is where I believe the TDD/XP ideas helps by delivering parcels of tested functionality.

The Price of Printing Digital Photos

Michaela and I had stockpiled a years worth of digital photos that we wanted to print. After spending an evening reviewing the 2 gigs of pictures (~1000 pictures). We then reviewed how to get them printed.

We have used FrogPrint in the past, and have no issues with there service. Having a dial-up connection I was not interested in uploading 280Mb to their site. You can send them a CD but I wasn’t interesting in paying to send the CD and then paying to get the photos back. More of a point is their price is $0.60 (100+ run) per picture.

The local Warehouse I only have to pay $0.3729 on a 24 exposure film. Their digital printing can be done the infinitely crappy Kodak picture maker, or on the same machine that is used for normal film. I could not find online there digital print price, but last time I was there it was also around the $0.60 mark. I’ve used this service for one off print enlargements, paying ~$2.00 for a 10 x 8 picture was wonderful as it took longer to chose the frame than get the print done. But still the price difference doesn’t seemed justified when it’s the same machine used to print the photo’s, and yes a technician might have to do a little more, but they are managing the machine anyway, so I’m not really sure there is a justifiable cost increase.

The winner on the day however was digitalmax with their $0.38 per print price (via the $20 prepay card). The best part was we could take our CD of pictures to the local pharmacy, and get the pictures back the next day with no shipping cost incurred, and we only need to pay for the number of picture we had printed at the $0.38 price.

One point to note is that we had 70 of our photo’s take at 5M pixel (6inch x 4.5inch) and the rest at the 3:2 (6inch x 4inch) format. So the 70 larger pictures where printed onto smaller paper (13 x 10cm or 5.3 x 4inch) so that the images were not cropped. This happened due to the instructions been “one of each”. When talking to the print company (not sure who they actually were) the guy said to use “all at 6x4” and then the pictures will be auto-cropped. This would have looked better in our photo album. To give the print guy credit he did say they could reprint them, for free was not explicitly mentioned, but I’ll assume it otherwise the comment was pointless. We didn’t take them up on this, but we will more precise next time.

So my real point is: why does it cost 57% extra to print from a digital media source to the same photo paper as does when processing a film. Processing the film cannot be free, so the price difference is even more. I just feel like I’m getting milked, and I don’t like it. Sure there is cost in having a web front, and the cost a normal shop has will be absorbed/shared across all product sales, but it still seems a high premium to be paying.

digitalmax have a service with a price point that I’d expect, and a willingness to be helpful. So I know where I’ll be going in the future.