Archive for category: Development

QA Testing in a Nutshell -or- One Man’s Descent Into Madness

24 Jul
July 24, 2012

If I worked at a doorknob factory testing doorknobs, it would be safe to say that at least once a week the doorknob to the front door of my home would turn to ash in my hand.

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Insert Labeling

19 Jul
July 19, 2012

Recently I was assigned the task of helping to create a solution to replace our current insert labeling process. Specific libraries request that their playaways and views are hand labeled with whatever information they want, for example a bar-code on the box to assist with checking the content in and out, or a spine label to help organize the content on the library shelves. The libraries were not able to facilitate this on their own.  It was a very manual process to get the data, print it out on labels, and put the labels on every unit being shipped. One of the ideas floating around was to try and incorporate all of this information right on the the playaway or views insert cover. The art department made a mock up of what areas on the inserts we could use and gave us a sample of how it could look. Once this idea was approved I started to design the application that would automate this process. I decided to write the application in c# and started to look for a library that would assist with the PDF editing portion of this project. The library I found was the iTextSharp library which allows for adding text and images to preexisting PDFs. The next step was to create bar-codes for the inserts. After doing some research and finding out what specific bar-code formats the library wanted to use, we purchased a bar-code creating software with c# libraries that could incorporated into the project. The bar-codes would be generated as an image, and the image could be inserted onto the PDF.

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Magento Commerce Enterprise Edition Content Staging

02 Jul
July 2, 2012


Greetings and salutations. I am a Java, CMS, and UI developer of nearly 17 years (gasp!), who has recently found himself working with Magento Commerce and Jenkins CI. I have seen the difficulties of learning new technologies, and plan to blog periodically on the pitfalls I encounter, as well as recommended fixes as they arise.

This post involves a Magento Commerce EE feature that appears simple on the surface, but is surprisingly complex in actuality: staging CMS content from a staging website to a production website on the same Magento Commerce EE instance. At its best, this feature allows the content developer to work on content in a sandbox on the production (or other) server, while keeping pre-production code hidden from the public. At its worst, this is a largely undocumented and complicated process, and requires an understanding of what content staging does and does not do. Here are the steps as I understand them.

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Customer Service Phone Call Tracking

29 Jun
June 29, 2012

At Findaway, we realized that one area that needed improvement was in tracking customer service phone calls.  Sales Administrators were taking several customer service phone calls on a daily basis. Other than putting a hash mark on a tracking sheet, there was no other documentation of the phone call. No details were being recorded and there was no follow up on issues. Also there was no reporting available on the phone calls other than the number of calls received.

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Using the Google Map API to Display Customer Locations

21 Jun
June 21, 2012

Libraries make up one of the larger purchasing segments for our products, but demand is driven by the patrons of those libraries. So a challenge is how to reach out to those patrons, and increase demand.

One marketing suggestion was to give library patrons a way to see where libraries were that ‘carried’ our products. Fortunately, Google Maps provides a very easy to use solution for mapping groups of locations.

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Another Python 2 Unicode Mystery Solved

08 Jun
June 8, 2012

The challenges of Unicode with Python 2.x are decried throughout the internet. This little devil had me scratching my head for quite some time. The test script is simple enough:

desc = u"The Quick Brown Fox Jumped over the lazy Dog\u2019s Back!"
print desc

One can easily see that a Unicode string is being created with a special character the \u2019 which is a right apostrophe. Python handles this just fine when run from the command line.
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