Posts in Test Data
Gift Cards for Testing Payment Processing
Do you have to test payment processing? Need to see what happens when I card is declined for being over the available credit limit? Try using a pre-paid VISA gift card. You can likely pick one up near you for $25, and it's easy to go over that limit and see what happens when the card is declined. It's also an easy way to use a "real" card without releasing your personal account information into the wild.

Since we're on the topic, if you're not also familiar with the test accounts that have been setup for each vendor, check those out as well. Your particular payment gateway may also have additional test numbers available.
Test DataMichael Kelly
Data generation on-the-fly
Today's tip comes from Trish Khoo.
In her post "Go faster! Linking data generation to hotkeys" she describes a handy and elegant way of linking data generating Ruby scripts to AutoHotKey.
Windows key + w = Generates 2 random words and copies them to my clipboard.
Windows key + e = Generates a randomized email address that will still point to my account and copies it to my clipboard.
Windows key + c = Randomly selects a URL from a list of test email campaigns and copies it to my clipboard.

That’s everything I need to fill out most forms in the application I’m testing. So when I just need safe, unique inputs, I can save a few seconds on each screen while filling in forms. More importantly, I don’t have to break my focus in order to find or generate appropriate test data.

This is an automation of a special kind. The kind that assists in sapient testing.
Fake Name Generator
In a recent blog post, Erik Petersen mentioned using Fake Name Generator to create test data. From Erik's post:

"The fascinating feature is the ability to create real looking names from various ethnic groups, resulting in a great variety of Anglo-saxon, Arabic, Asian, Scandanavian, Southern, Eastern and Western European names with personal data that seems real (and with fake real email as well!).

On the Fake Name Generator site, they also link to some other cool test data tools.
Build folders with sample files
I've been working with a web application that uses an assortment of graphic file types. I've built a folder with at least a "one of each" file type the application works with. When I need a graphic file, I don't have to go scrambling to find the file of the type I want.

I keep the folder with my project work (on a backed up secure drive) but I also keep the sample graphic folder on a flash drive so that when I switch what computer I'm testing on (this happens frequently) it takes no effort to have my sample files on hand.