Little Things Matter

Also known as “Fun with testing software, episode the infinity-somethingth”.

Today at work the helpdesk calls were coming in fast, all from the customers using the venerable (but stable and more importantly usually working) PC payroll program, complaining that their new FTP passwords (they’re reset periodically for security reasons) to our systems weren’t being accepted. The plot thickened with the discovery mid-morning that pasting the new passwords worked just fine. Keying them failed. By late afternoon, the truth was discovered (and with it, the list of who had not moved over to the newer fully-encrypted FTP module)… The venerable software, written to work with an equally venerable mainframe system that does everything in all caps naturally uppercased everything that went in. Including – ta-da! – the FTP password. Which is – of course – masked, so users couldn’t see that it was busily uppercasing itself.

Such a little thing, and such angst it caused. Yes, now everyone in the programming and test team knows why our passwords were always in all caps in the past.

Lesson learned: do not neglect the little things, for they shall trip you when you least expect it and you shall spend much time going “WTF?” before you figure it out.


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