What’s my IP address?

Posilan is the hosting company that Pixel8 use for the Trust IV blog and website.
They have a handy (and ad-free) IP checker on their website:

The first one is for conventional browsers.

The second one is useful in case you don’t have a complex browser.

For example in UNIX you could type:

wget http://www.posilan.com/ipplain.php

this downloads a small file to your machine containing your IP address.

V. Handy 🙂

Evian’s “Baby and Me app” performs like a geriatric…..

According to the Danone website, “Baby & Me, created by BETC, shows a street full of people rediscovering their inner youth – and dance moves – as their reflections reveal the baby versions of their adult selves.” If you haven’t seen the advert, you should watch “Baby & Me” on YouTube, it’s fantastic; a perfect example of a viral marketing campaign with over 59 million YouTube views. This advert builds on the success of their “Roller Babies” campaign from a few years ago (69 million views). I’ve shown it to my children and my wife and everybody I’ve mentioned it to seems to have seen it. Evian is reaching a mass market with relatively little TV advertising spend.

To capitalise on the success of the advert, Evian has commissioned the production of a “Baby and Me” app for iOS and Android. On the face of it, this looks like a great idea. The application takes a picture of you as an adult and then uses pattern matching to identify over 70 facial features in a database of baby pictures. The application then creates a composite image of you as a baby. This has great potential for social sharing of images and it isn’t hard to see how this could help to ensure that even more people get the “Release the inner you” message from Evian.

There is no doubt that viral media is a great marketing tool and mobile apps are a great way to use peer interaction and socialisation to spread a message quickly. All good news so far from a marketing / PR perspective, but…….

…….There’s always a “BUT” isn’t there?

Evian Error screenshots
Evian Error screenshots

The Evian app is sadly disappointing.
Anybody who downloads an app that doesn’t work first time is highly likely to delete it and never use it again. Negative publicity from colleagues and friends who can’t use the app will do a great deal to damage any positive marketing messages that the app was intended to create

It is highly likely that the application designers and developers have been forced to work to a difficult schedule to get this application to market. Whilst individual teams may have all tested their application components; it is highly likely that proper end-to-end testing, including testing over relatively slow 3G and Wifi networks has not been done. Performance testing is crucial for applications like this, a poor user experience will result in users abandoning the application and never downloading it again.

So what went wrong?
Whilst performance testing is a well-established profession……
…testers need to evolve.

  • 15 years ago testers needed to understand thick clients and complex client-server apps.
  • 10 years ago, web applications dominated the market and testers skills (and pay rates) started to fall.
  • 5 years ago, Web 2.0 and mobile technologies started to develop and many testers failed to understand the complexity of more complex multi-tier web applications.
  • Now testers need the ability, skills and tools to test across multiple devices and multiple networks and need a deep understanding of application architecture to ensure application stability, scalability and performance under load.

Many testers don’t have the required skills or testing tools to test complex multi-tier applications across different devices and network topologies. Evian have used big-hitting media companies, BETC Digital and B-Reel, to develop their application…. I bet they’re wishing that they had the application tested properly by an independent testing specialist before this week!


Office window time-lapse

As followers of this blog will know, I’ve been experimenting with a Raspberry Pi (RPi) and one of the uses that I found for it is as a webcam server. I have plans to put a permanent webcam in the TrustIV office window in Manchester and I’ll be using a RPi to do this.

My installation is pretty straightforward:

  • Raspberry Pi
  • Logitech C270 webcam
  • Shared windows folder for storage of images

I installed the standard Raspbian operating system and connected the Pi to the Office network. Once I identified it by IP address, I connected to it via SSH. I left the RPi in “headless mode” without a keyboard, monitor or mouse attached.

I installed fswebcam software. Fswebcam is a simple webcam app. It captures images from a V4L1/V4L2 compatible device or file, averages them to reduce noise and outputs the image to PNG or JPEG formats. The resulting image can then be saved to a file, like the image below.

Webcam time-lapse

Click on the image above to see the timelapse, alternatively read on for the geeky bit…

I mounted an external shared windows folder (called nas) using these commands:

cd /mnt
sudo mkdir nas
sudo mount -t cifs -o username=<username>,password=<password> //PC/nas /mnt/nas
(instructions from the Raspberry Pi adventures blog.

Then I wrote a short script called webcam.sh  that created a folder on the NAS and saved images to that share at five-second intervals

mkdir /mnt/nas/$(date +”%Y%m%d”)
sudo fswebcam -r 640×480 -S 15 –jpeg 95 –save /mnt/nas/$(date +”%Y%m%d”)/webcam.jpg

while true
     sudo mv /mnt/nas/$(date +”%Y%m%d”)/webcam.jpg /mnt/nas/$(date
+”%Y%m%d”)/webcam_$(date +”%m%d%Y%H%M%S”).jpg
     sudo fswebcam -r 640×480 -S 15 –jpeg 95 –save /mnt/nas/20130121/webcam.jpg

run using
sudo ./webcam.sh

To “stitch” the video together, I used Windows Live Movie Maker to convert the folder of images to a time-lapse video. Images were replaced every 0.05 seconds, meaning that the “action” was sped up 160x faster than real life.

If you read this far, well done. The video is now on the TrustIV blog page, click the image below to see the timelapse footage, and keep checking back there for the webcam. (When I finally get round to installing it) 🙂

Webcam time-lapse