Posts in Tools under $100
Pivotal Tracker for SBTM
Rick Grey and I stumbled on this tip on accident, but it turns out that Pivotal Tracker is quite possibly one of the best tools available for session-based test management. Pivotal Tracker is freemium, and provides a dirt-simple interface and workflow for managing stories. We've used it now for a number of projects, and I've really grown to like this tool as a management platform for testing.

When you use the stories as charters, it becomes an awesomely powerful charter management tool. You can do force ranking of charters so people can pull from the top, assign tags for coverage, track issues and comments on charters, and a number of other cool tricks. The tool also allows for export to CSV for access in the test managers most powerful reporting tool - Excel.

If you do session-based test management - check it out.
This tip was part of a brainstorm developed at the September 2011 Indianapolis Workshop on Software Testing on the topic of" Documenting for Testing." The attendees of that workshop (and participants in the brainstorm) included: Charlie Audritsh, Scott Barber, Rick Grey, Michael Kelly, Natalie Mego, Charles Penn, Margie Weaver, and Tina Zaza.
Sauce Labs
In his talk on screen recording APIs, Jason Horn mentioned he's an avid fan of Sauce Labs and their hosted Selenium solutions. There are a host of features and pricing starts from free (Linux and FireFox, limited to 500 min/month) and goes up to monthly and enterprise pricing. You can try some of the premium services with a free trial if you want to check it out. While I haven't personally used the product, I really like the idea and I'll have to check them out on an upcoming project.
I've just spent a few minutes playing around with fivesecondtest. It's a bit addictive. It's an online tool for usability testing. From the site:
People use five second test to locate calls to action, optimize landing pages, and run A/B tests. You can use them for whatever you like.

You can either submit content for testing, or you can be a tester. There are two test scenarios: five second memory test and five second click test. With the memory test, you see an image for five seconds and then you're asked to list five things you remember. With the click test, you're asked to click on things you notice in five seconds, then describe what they are.

The memory test is hard. Five seconds is a lot of time, and I noticed the following patterns with my testing:

  • The more text a site had, the less I remembered

  • The more detailed the graphics the site had, the less I remembered

  • The larger the images, the less I remembered

  • The more correlated the logo and site look and feel were to the product, the more I remembered

  • The less fancy the font, the more I remembered

  • The fewer headings the site had, the more I remembered

The click test was much easier, and for me, more fun. I noticed the following:

  • I clicked on contact information when it was there

  • I clicked on headings when they were there

  • I clicked on social media links when they were there

  • I clicked on forms (submit a question, etc...) when they were there

  • I clicked on user ratings when they were there

I like the idea of using something like this to gauge if a call to action is effective. I also suspect it can help you easily determine if your site might be too busy. I know I froze up on the more complex sites. I both couldn't remember anything and I couldn't focus on anything long enough to click on it before time expired. It became apparent to me what types of designs "worked" for me.

If you need some simple usability feedback, give it a try. If you're a tester and just want something fun to practice on, I found this a nice short diversion. I suspect I'll check back from time to time to test other designs.
I started using Site24x7 a couple of weeks ago, and this morning I purchased an annual subscription (for about $15). Site24x7 offers easy and fast (and it really is easy and fast) web monitoring services. I'm using them to get alerted when a couple of web apps I'm hosting go down. They send email and text messages. They also provide very nice up-time reports (ad hoc and emailed weekly). I'm sure there are free services/tools out there for this, but this was soooo... easy. I had it up and monitoring in less than three minutes. And the alerts have been timely and effective.

If you have a small buisness montioring need, they might be worth checking out. The price is right, and they offer a wide range of monitoring services. And I just noticed they have a web version for the iPhone. I'm going to have to check it out.
New exploratory testing tool
I suspect they don't yet realize it, but Microsoft have just launched a new exploratory testing tool. Its called OneNote and its part of their family of Office products.

OneNote is a new application that is available in the Home and Student edition of 2007 and 2010 beta version.

In Microsoft speak, OneNote is a digital notebook that provides people one place to gather their notes and information, powerful search to find what they are looking for quickly, and easy-to-use shared notebooks so that they can manage information overload and work together effectively.

I see it as a great way of collecting all the information related to a test in one handy area.

For example, you can add snapshots, text, sound direct from the toolbar onto a screen. I like the idea of providing audio notes to a visual snapshot as its a way of simply supplying contextual information thats lacking in a 2 dimensional image.

Unfortunately, it doesn't have a direct button for video, but you can import any video and attach it to the notebook.

You can also create different pages in the notebook, so perhaps you could have one notebook per charter and one page per bug.

OneNote easily integrates with Outlook  making it easy to share information.

They also have plenty of templates to draw from, but I could see no reference to anything on exploratory testing, so I think they haven't yet seen how helpful a tool like this could be in exploratory testing.

Unfortunately, there is always a downside, and that is you have to pay for the Home and Student version of Microsoft Office 2007 as its not available in the 2007 Professional Edition. A bit annoying if you already own Office 2007.