By Iain McCowatt

And Dee said “Help Please! Is there any way I can interest you in writing something for the AST newsletter for April?”

Unfortunately, I seldom write like that. I prefer to write when something catches my attention, tickles my fancy, intrigues me: I rarely flick a switch and write on demand. I wracked my brains, and nothing came to mind.

Then a gift arrived.

“YOU have been VOLUNTEERED.” read the email “to test our new corporate social media application.” I’m applying a healthy dose of artistic license, but you get the idea. It turns out that I’m part of the random cross section of our corporate population selected to try out this new tool.

“Please log on and follow the attached script.”

Turns out that writing on demand isn’t my only failing: I’m not very good at following instructions either. Well, I managed the first part, that’s got to count for something.

I rarely have the opportunity to test hands on (excepting time that I sneak on new apps when Mrs M. isn’t looking), so what followed was ten minutes of pure bliss. Bugs galore were simply raining down around me: dodgy encoding of data, branding snafus, my being randomly kicked off the app, and my favorite: a mapping error that showed Nova Scotia floating just off the West coast of Africa (it’s in Canada, last time I checked).

Hang on a minute. This is a bit of a bug fest. What do these guys actually want?

A quick glance at the script: seems like a basic check for connectivity, authentication and “is the data there?” Hmm. I’ve been whacking the piñata, and whilst no singularly delicious piece has fallen out, there’s one heck of a LOT of candy. Perhaps this doesn’t warrant a major kicking just yet.

One short email exchange later: nope, going live next month: let ‘er rip. And it seems that some of my best testers are also included in the pilot.  It looks like we’re going to do a spot of lunchtime testing. Time for some fun.

And the bugs? Turns out, in this case at least, they were everywhere except neatly lined up along the script. Shocking.