A few tips on producing bulk test data

I recently had a requirement to run some performance tests against the nopCommerce open source eCommerce application. Whilst the default sample data was useful, if I really wanted to give the application a “work out”, I felt that I should create a large amount of test data.

I needed product descriptions, short descriptions and images for potentially thousands of products.
I considered taking content from other websites, but, conscious of the logal implications of doing this, I decided to produce my own data.

To produce sample images, I took screenshots from the Intechnica company website and saved them as JPG files.
I then ran a batch file to make duplicate copies of each of these files.

e.g. To create 10 copies of a file called Image.jpg, use this command
for /l %i IN (1,1,10) DO COPY Image.jpg Image%i.jpg

To ensure that my test data was not always cached by the server, and was more representative of “real life” I needed to ensure that I used different descriptions for each product. This would ensure that my tests were production-like. I downloaded War and Peace from Project Gutenberg and used the UNIX “SPLIT” command to divide this text file into chunks. I chose 100 byte chunks for the short descriptions and 700 byte chunks for the long descriptions.

e.g. To split WarAndPeace.txt into 700 byte chunks, use this command. (SPLIT comes with CYGWIN)
split WarAndPeace.txt -b 700 -a 6 -d

This creates files called x000000, x000001, x000003 etc.
I needed to rename these to text files for simplicity so i used the DOS REN (rename) command to do this.

e.g. To rename all the new files in the folder
ren * *desc.txt


Using multiple Skype accounts simultaneously

I recently started a new job and I was given a “company Skype account”. Whilst this was useful, I didn’t want to lose my own Skype account and I thought that it would be useful to keep them both. Then I started to wonder if it’s possible to be logged into both accounts at the same time. I had read about doing this by forwarding calls from one account to the other, but I wanted to try and use both at once.

I followed a few sets of instructions that I found on the Internet, but none seemed to work well, so after a little trial and error, I came up with this solution.
(Tested on two separate Windows 7, 64-bit PCs). 

  1. Find your Skype executable and copy the path to the .exe file.
    In my case this was “C:Program Files (x86)SkypePhoneSkype.exe”
  2. Create a new shortcut on your desktop by right-clicking the desktop and choosing New -> Shortcut.
    Paste in the path to your Skype executable.
    Screenshot - creating Skype Shortcut
  3. After clicking “Next” you’re prompted to give your shortcut a sensible name.
    I chose Skype (1)

  4. Repeat the above process but instead of using the path… 
    “C:Program Files (x86)SkypePhoneSkype.exe” 

    “C:Program Files (x86)SkypePhoneSkype.exe” /secondary

  5. Give this second shortcut an appropriate name and you’re done.
    I chose Skype (2)
  6. Both executables then work independently of one another, the only thing that you need to do when opening Skype using the second shortcut is choose the account that you want to login with from the dropdown.
    Example of second instance of Skype

I hope that you find this tip useful.


A guide to Hardard Referencing in Word 2007

A simple guide to adding “Harvard referencing” citations

As an Open University student I’ve had to get to grips with Harvard referencing. Coming from an IT/business background this was very unfamiliar to me, I’m more used to including hypertext links within the body of my documents. One day when I was using Microsoft Word 2007 (MS-Word) to write one of my assignments, I came across the “Citations and Bibliography” option.


At first glance, I thought this had solved my problem but Microsoft does not include the Harvard referencing standard by default when MS-Word is installed. I did a quick Google search and came across the “BibWord” website which includes many referencing styles, including Harvard, that can be downloaded and added into MS-Word.

This step by step guide shows how to download and install Harvard referencing, I hope that it will be useful to other students.

  • Download styles.zip from the BibWord website.
  • If you’re using a recent version of windows, right click on the styles.zip file and use the option to extract its contents to a folder*. Extract the files into your office bibliography folder.

    This is likely to be in one of the following locations.
    C:Program FilesMicrosoft OfficeOffice12BibliographyStyle
    C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficeOffice12BibliographyStyle

    You may be prompted with a warning that access is denied to the destination folder. Click continue when prompted with the warning shown below.

    * The exact option that you are given to extract files will vary depending on whether you have installed WinZip or are relying on windows to unzip files for you.

  • Once you’ve done this, the option for inserting a Harvard reference will have been added to your “Citations and Bibliography” tab in the References “ribbon”.