Google

In yesterday’s article about Google Buzz, I guessed that “the problem was that the population for whom the system was designed wasn’t necessarily the only population actually using the system.”  I gave Google the benefit of the doubt:

I am certain Google tested their application thoroughly.  They’ve been known to do extensive usability tests for the seemingly tiniest of changes to their web site.  But even the most well-implemented tests are incomplete if they’re not performed on a statistically representative sample of the audience.

But today, the BBC reported that Google has admitted that they only tested Buzz internally, and bypassed their regular rigorous testing procedures — possibly in an attempt to get it out the door as soon as possible. I’ll let the pundits decide if it did more harm than good to the firm, but it’s a warning to other software developers: skipping testing can lead to embarrassing failures.

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In the first few days after the release of Google Buzz many people (including myself) criticized Google for exposing their users’ private information.  This was a couple of weeks after Apple got a lot flak for their unfortunately-named iPad, and the same week that we heard reports of a woman who broke up with her boyfriend after finding some suggestive text messages on his cell phone - messages that came pre-loaded on the phone.  I think that all these cases were not caused by a lack testing, but by testing the wrong audience.  Let’s examine these three cases and see what we can learn from them:

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© 2019 Aijaz Ansari
The Joy of Hack by Aijaz Ansari is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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