Sunday, 20 December 2009

A Xmas Tour

On the first 2 weeks of Xmas the test manager gave to me a test strat-e-geeeee

On the third and fourth weeks of Xmas the test manager gave to me a test plan
( that seemed identical to the test strat-e-geeeee )

On the fifth and sixth weeks of Xmas the testers started to write their test scripts

On the seventh and eight weeks of Xmas the testers used the app to write their test scripts in minute detail

On the ninth and tenth weeks of Xmas the testers ran their test scripts - and found no bugs

on the tenth week plus one day of Xmas I ran some exploratory tests and found a sackful of bugs and spoilt the Xmas par-teee

Saturday, 12 December 2009

497 to read

After a long absence from blogging due to work being totally manic, I find that I have 497 feeds on my blog reader to be read

so another absence from blogging as I catch up with reading them all

and catching up with the work I'm meant to be doing for the upcoming STC magazine

Lots of lessons learned the last few weeks - roll on the long Xmas break when I can blog about them

Sunday, 15 November 2009

It's a beautiful thing

My copy of Beautiful Testing arrived at last.

Managing to read a couple of chapters a day on the commute to work and it's proving to be a good read

Worth buying just for the opening chapter, Linda Wilkinson on "Was It Good For You ?" which was a great reminder to me about why I moved into the testing industry and why I like being a tester

The chapter should be recommended reading for all test and project managers...

Hope the rest of the book follows this high standard, stay tuned for more chapter reviews

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Testing Is Overrated

Current reading is "Talent is Overrated" ( hence the provocative blog title, wonder if I get more hits when I have a negative headline... ) which is about the "nature v nurture" debate.

Is there a 'tester DNA' that people have or is there something more to those testers that seem to have the magic touch and break an app merely by their presence ?

I was thinking about this as a program was delivered to test and within a couple of days I'd broken it so badly that no-one was able to use it's main functionality.No-one else testing the app had found that particular defect. Luck ? maybe - but I do it consistently so there must be more to it than that

The "Talent Is Overrated" book explains how people who are considered gifted have actually been practising hard for years. Tiger Woods is the usual example trotted out - coached from a very early age by his father, Earl. Malcolm Gladwell explored the same area in his book Outliers: The Story of Success

So with 20 years of writing and fixing bugs as a programmer followed by a few years of deliberately trying to find the bugs then is really a surprise that I can find defects more easily than the average tester ?

The book also explains the concept of "deliberate practice" and by coincidence I found a recent blog where Mary Poppendieck had been explaining the concept.
Mary has the following four key components that are required for a person to be using deliberate practice:

  • Mentor - a high skills expert to review, critique, and highlight flaws

  • Challenge - tasks that require greater skill than we currently possess

  • Feedback - review and analysis of results used to improve future attempts

  • Dedication - hard work, time and energy applied diligently

Geoff Colvin, the author of Talent Is Overrated, has the following components

  • It's designed specifically to improve performance - Tiger Woods would drop balls into a sand trap and then step on them and then practice hitting shots to get them out

  • It can be repeated a lot

  • Feedback on results is continuously available

  • It's highly demanding mentally

  • It isn't much fun

Interesting to look at those components and see how many could be used to deliberately practice testing. Any of these in your practices ?

Thursday, 29 October 2009

STC Magazine

In case you haven't already noticed the post on the Software Testing Club website, the Club has decided to start branching out and the first step we have decided to take is to publish a magazine

Here is the official blurb

If you are interested in writing about software testing then why not contribute an article to the Software Testing Club's (STC) new magazine due to be published in January 2010.

The STC are inviting anyone in the software testing community to submit articles for review on any testing subject you want to write about. The STC are accepting articles from anyone working in the testing industry with a testing story to tell. Experienced writers are welcome just as junior testers are. So if you have something to say, post it to the following address:

Visit here for more detailed information regarding your submission.

Exciting times for the STC which has grown rapidly over the last couple of years to become one of THE sites a tester should have in their bookmarks.

Even if I say so myself

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The New Bill Gates ?

On the commute home the other night one of the free London papers had an article about Mark Zuckerberg with the title Facebook’s Boy Wonder: the new Bill Gates?

Maybe he is - carrying on with my research into social media and Web 2.0 I got the error message shown above on Facebook.
A quick Google on the error message led me to the Facebook Developers Forum and a thread all about a similar bug. First reported on 2008-09-05
Later in the thread is a plaintive request "Any chance of getting this bug fixed?" , later on "Any progress on this?" and "Any chance that this well ever be fixed? I see this about a third of the time when I post a new comment."

Later on that evening I found a bizarre bug where searching for "fish" returned an error page, searching for "fosh", "fishy", "fash" and "fush" all returned search pages. Worked fine on the wife's computer and on other peoples computers ( I posted a request on Facebook for other people to try a search for "fish" )

So, to summarise
Bugs that are not fixed for months and months
Random BSOF - Blank Search Of Fish

Maybe the headline had a point...

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Black is black

While investigating the latest in social media applications ( aka wasting time playing games on Facebook ) I got the error message above

Seems that 'hide' is doing such a good job at hiding that is undefined but the message below that saying that 'null' is null is a classic.

Now back to my social media investigations....

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The keys are under the mat

I just checked out the latest on LinkedIn and saw a question on one of the many testing groups from someone wanting advice on how to write a test plan on security testing.

Nothing really new about this, as one of the moderators of The Software Testing Club and regular reader of SQA forums I'm used to people asking the most basic testing questions ( the 'remove post' function can get some heavy use ).

Wonder what will happen to the person asking the question ? He'll probably get told to use Google, he'll find some basic security plans there, incorporate them into his test plan, send them off to the CEO, CIO, CFO, Old Macdonald and the mild mannered janitor, gets it signed off and yet another app with security flaws hits the market.

A test plan for security testing should be very simple.
Find out how important security is to the stakeholders.
If it's important, get a security expert in.

Is that a cop-out ? Should all testers be able to do security testing ? Do you do security testing on top of the other testing activities you do - if so, how confident are you that have done it well enough ?

Friday, 2 October 2009

Taking Up The Challenge From Matt

Matt Heusser has posted a great " How would you test this ? " challenge. It's a great idea and gives a real world problem to solve

Here is my answer:

Day 1: Find company template for Test Strategy and write strategy

Day 2: Send draft test strategy out for review to CEO, CIO, CFO, D0BEDO, Support Team Manager, Training Team Manager, Documentation Lead, Old McDonald and The Janitor ( a mild-mannered one )

Day 3-5: Spend time explaining difference between test scope and test types to various people. Change font of document after feedback from CEO. Receive Out of Office reply from CFO. Add diagrams to document at request of Old McDonald

Day 6: Send out Final Test Strategy for official sign-off.
Receive Out of Office reply from CFO

Day 7: Find company template for Test Plan and write plan

Day 8: Send draft test plan out for review to CEO, CIO, CFO, D0BEDO, Support Team Manager, Training Team Manager, Documentation Lead, Old McDonald and The Janitor ( a mild-mannered one )
Receive Out of Office reply from CFO

Day 9-12: Spend time explaining difference between unit, system, integration and UAT testing to various people. Change font of document after feedback from CEO. Receive Out of Office reply from CFO. Add diagrams to document at request of Old McDonald

Day 13: Send out Final Test Plan for official sign-off.
Receive Out of Office reply from CFO

Day 14: Fill out form HBR-786-ABC-911-999-FOR to request access to test environment

Day 15: Fill out form RRR-987-ASDF-ASDF-GHJ to request testing resource

Day 16: Form HBR-786-ABC-911-999-FOR returned as I hadn't filled in section 16.5.4

Day 17: Form RRR-987-ASDF-ASDF-GHJ as I hadn't filled in section 14.5.9

Oh dear, just re-read Matt's blog

"Keep in mind, this is an agile shop that delivers working software every two weeks"


Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Another New Voice

When I first started to get interested in testing a quick search took me to SQA Forums and TestingReflections. I lurked at these sites for a long time, trying to soak up the knowledge and finally found the courage to join in with a discussion and add a comment to a post.

A while later and I actually started a discussion and the world didn't end and in fact I got a very friendly welcome.

Then it was time to start blogging and it was with a gulp that I first pressed the Publish button to unleash my views on the world. The rational viewpoint should have been that no-one knew I had a blog so even if I wrote rubbish no-one would read it. And even if they did read it and found it was rubbish they didn't know me so what was the big deal ? Still didnt stop me feeling nervous.

I was reminded of this when a friend finally took the plunge and started blogging - you can find it here

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Make sure to mention bX-uu1rwa

While working on my previous post, Blogger had a little hiccup and gave me the error screen shown above.
Really, it's 2009 do applications still show obscure error codes only known to programmers mining the murky depths ?
Not surprisingly, a search of Blogger Help as suggested in the error screen did not find anyone else suffering from the curse of bX-uu1rwa.

But I have followed the last part of the advice and am making sure I mention bX-uu1rwa to all of my readers.
If any of you meet it, say hello from me.

wake up and smell the coffee

Currently reading The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development I came across this passage :

For many years, Hewlett-Packard had morning and afternoon coffee breaks. Engineers would emerge from their cubicles at the same time every day as a coffee cart rolled through the development lab. This enabled informal information exchange between teams. If an engineer was working on a tough power-supply design issue immediately before the break, and he saw another engineer that was an expert on power supplies, the conversation would turn to power supplies. The coffee break cross-pollinated knowledge across teams.

Sadly, as Hewlett-Packard became "professionalized", this coffee break disappeared. To save the cost of a coffee cart attendant, they put coffee stations as the end of the floors. Finally, they stopped giving free coffee and made it available in the cafeteria. These changes made the coffee break asynchronous, eliminating their predictable cadence. This is an interesting case where the heirs of a brilliantly designed system failed to understand the underlying logic of the system. What HP was doing was much less important than why they were doing it.

I'm sure the coffee cart attendant are never a resource on the project plan.
Nor are coffee breaks on a GANNT chart.
But don't underestimate their importance

Sunday, 20 September 2009

7 Influential Books

As mentioned in my last post, I've written an article for T.E.S.T magazine which should be published later this week.

For those of you that don't get my magazine, here is a short version.

The article was inspired by a blog post by Michael Lopp ( aka Rands in Repose ) 'The Book Stalker' where he admitted to having seven precious books.

My list of 7 is

1. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig

A story about a quest for Quality - how could this not be on a testers list ?
I think there should be the equivalent of Godwins Law - call it Pirsigs Law in that a discussion of Quality is over when someone drags out a quote from this book

2. In Search of Excellence - Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies - Tom Peters and Robert Waterman

An interesting read now to see how many of these companies have survived but still a good read about companies striving to be excellent and what they do to try and achieve it

3. Testing Computer Software, 2nd Edition - Cem Kaner, Jack Falk, and Hung Q. Nguyen

The first testing book I read when I was thinking of moving from writing bugs to finding them and a jaw dropping read as I realised that what we called testing was nothing like what it should be. The book I usually loan out to newbie testers

4. Everyday Scripting with Ruby: for Teams, Testers, and You by Brian Marick

Great example of how a language like Ruby can be an invaluable tool to a tester

5 Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit - Mary Poppendieck, Tom Poppendieck

Got me thinking about Agile and how wasteful some projects I had worked on had been, led to me learning about Scrum, Toyota, Theory of Constraints, XP etc etc

6 The Secrets of Consulting - Jerry Weinberg

No list of test/QA books could be complete without a Weinberg book. All seven of my selections could have been his books and the man himself is a fine example. I settled for this one as I was moving into the consulting field and so needed to know about the Law of Raspberry Jam, the Orange Juice Test, Prescott's Pickle Principle and The Jiggler Role. As you might be able to tell from that list, the book is not a checklist of actions to be done - it makes you think about yourself, interactions with people and the role of a consultant

7 Bridging the Communication Gap by Gojko Adzic

I got chatting to Gojko at a Skillsmatter agile event and this meeting led to me being one of the early reviewers of this book. Not only is it a great read but it's given me the idea of writing articles and maybe eventually a book

What books have influenced you ?

I'm also hoping to 'tag' some other bloggers to see what their books list looks like

Monday, 14 September 2009

Infamy, infamy they've all got it infamy

Not content with writing a blog ( even if it has been a bit quiet of late ) and starting discussions on the Software Testing Club I now have an online article in T.E.S.T. magazine with a separate article in the print version out later this month

I think I need to keep Weinbergs Law of Raspberry Jam in mind...

Monday, 31 August 2009

Why Did The Tester Cross The Road ?

Currently working in London, I walk from the mainline train station rather than cram into the hot stuffy sardine tins called The Tube. Only problem with this is the pavements are crammed with tourists taking pictures, studying maps and buying tacky souvenirs.

The way round them is to walk in the road, hopping back onto the pavement when I see a homicidal black taxi steering towards me.

Works fine apart from at the main pedestrian crossing points. The road has big white LOOK RIGHT instructions so the pedestrians dutidully do that - and dont notice the commuter barelling down from the left wanting to get home.

Well, some pedestrians do notice - they are the ones with the tester mentality who know to expect the unexpected and not to blindly follow the manual.

I didn't come up with a punchline to the title of this post - any good suggestions then let me know.

What I did find and I dont know whether to be amused or scared by it is that the TSA ask and answer the question about chickens crossing roads and come up with the answer "because it's a terrorist plot"...

Monday, 10 August 2009

Thar Be Dragons

Waiting for a gate on the runway at Heathrow gave me a chance to look through the American Airlines Sky Mall catalogue.

Is there really a market for people who want a replica of King Tutankhamen's Egyptian Throne Chair ???

The Bacon Genie did get my attention - but sadly I think it would only work with American style bacon and not British back bacon

It was the garden sculptures section that got my real interest

The Zombie of Montclaire Moors is pictured at the top of this post - suitable for garden, office or family room...

The Big Foot Garden Sculpture is somewhat disappointing as it is only 2 feet high - how big a foot can something that size have ? It's the same size as the The Meerkat Gang

Then I got to the Dragon of Falkenburg Castle Moat Lawn Statue

Your neighbors will steer clear when they see this intricately sculpted, more than two-foot-long dragon stretched out in your flower bed. This lifelike sculpture is complete with scales, wings and a treacherous tail.

As testers, we don't just test the programs, we should also make sure that claims made in marketing and advertising can be substantiated.

Anyone seen a real dragon so that they can test that this sculpture is truly 'lifelike' ?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Another Visa Problem

Writing this blog entry from the Webb University Center of Old Dominion University in Virginia but I nearly didn't make it here...

The recent problems of VISA charging people 23 quadrillion dollars have been well documented

I had a problem with a different sort of visa - the one you have to fill in to enter the good old US of A.
The form has been updated and has caught up with the 21st century and there is now an entry for your email address

Except there is only room for 19 characters
I have 3 different email addresses - all of them more than that

So I put as much as I could on the form and hoped it wasn't checked too thoroughly and of course it wasn't.

But how many millions of people have to fill in that form and find the same problem

Now back to my vacation....

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

A professional malpractice after 1995

Reading through Assessment and Control of Software Risks by Capers Jones from 1994 is giving me a few chuckles

"The US software industry is now reaching the end of the start-up phase where consumers will buy almost anything because it is new, different and exciting. In the next mature phase the software industry will be dealing with sophisticated and educated clients who are going to demand high quality, low costs and full support after delivery. "

"Improving customer support, improving HELP function, and improving user documentation are also beneficial, but not easy to accomplish. However, software products such as some Windows applications that require 20 megabytes of hard-disk storage and 8 megabytes of memory to execute are forging new kinds of dissatisfaction"

There was some learning for me as well - I learnt that not only do Brits and Americans differ on how to spell humour, what football is and how to cook a steak but also on how to count Function Points.
A little Googling of this and I found a site that told me all about IPFUG, Mk II Function Points and a new kid on the block, Boeing and their 3D function points.

The site also told me that the first three letters in function points are FUN.
"People who enjoy function point counting and can justify it on that basis should do so"
People who enjoy function point counting need to get out more

But then onto the serious stuff and this quote from the book

"Usage of innacurate metrics is the most serious risk of all, since mistakes derived from this problem can slow productivity and quality progress to a standstill. The usage of inaccurate and paradoxical metrics such as "lines of code" has been a major obstacle to software engineering since the industry began.

This problem is so common and so severe that until it can be overcome, it is unlikely that the phrase "software engineering" will be anything other than an oxymoron. A strong case can be made that the usage of "lines of code" metric should be declared to be a professional malpractice after 1995"

Strong words.
And what has been one of the current buzzes in the blogsphere at the moment ?
Coding Horror and his latest post - Software Engineering: Dead? after reading the latest article from Tom DeMarco Software Engineering:An Idea Whose Time Has Come and Gone? with the quote
"Do I still believe that metrics are a must for any successful software development effort? My answers are no, no, and no."

Matthew Heusser has been done a 3 part series about Metrics, schmetrics, Michael Bolton also recently blogged about Three Kinds of Measurement and Two Ways to Use Them ( and also noticed the DeMarco article ) and even Linda Wilkinson was thinking about a Metric of the Month

So 15 years on from the Capers Jones book the metric argument still rages.

But at least we've solved the problem of high quality applications for sophisticated clients and no longer have Windows applications that require 20 megabytes of hard-disk storage and 8 megabytes of memory to execute...

Monday, 27 July 2009

But you told me to go there

Having recently moved house there is the usual hassle of notifying banks, insurance and utility companies.
And the chance to put said companies to the test...

which some fail badly on

The utility company wanted a reading of my gas and electric usage - sent me a nice little card to fill in the details but they realise it's the 21st century so they provide a web address as well. The letter that came with the card also drew my attention to the website as well

You know where this story is heading, don't you ?
Yup, to an Error 404: NOT FOUND!
How many cards and letters is that address found on ?

Went to the homepage of the site and found the right page
Not very user friendly, asterisks next to the text boxes labelled Full Name, 10 Digit Account No. and email address
No explanation as to what the asterisks were ( of course we all know by now that they are the required fields, don't we ? )

Fill in the fields, press Submit
Blank screen
No 'Thank You', no confirmation that my details had been input

Hope their supply of power is better than their testing

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Beautiful Pirates

I've had some books on pre-order for a while but recently with their publishing dates getting closer more details have been coming out which makes me want the postman to be walking up the path to deliver them

Adam Goucher blogged about the contents of Beautiful Testing, Matthew Heusser has blogged about his chapter as has Karen Johnson

Having ordered it from Amazon their suggestion ( I fall for it every time ) led me to Beautiful Teams which then made it onto my Wish List

Another of the books I am waiting for is James Bach's Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar . Although he made it available as a free download for a limited time period I'm waiting for the hardcopy. It recently got a rave review from Linda Wilkinson ( who also happens to be one of the contributors to Beautiful Testing ). It got me thinking about how I learn stuff which led me to Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware - onto the Wish List it goes

Third book on pre-order is Exploratory Software Testing: Tips, Tricks, Tours, and Techniques to Guide Manual Testers by James Whittaker. His blogs are always entertaining and thought provoking and I have all his "How To Break..." series so this had to be added. Will also help me avoid catching The Plague of Boredom

Whilst waiting for those to arrive I kept reading good reviews for The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development. Might have time to read it before the others arrive

As for Testing Object Oriented Systems: Models, Patterns and Tools I'd better not order that - firstly it will kill the postman and secondly where will I find the time to read 1248 pages ?

I guess I'm trying to make up for the 80% of testers that haven't read a testing book.

Whats on your pre-order and/or wish list ?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Simple Simon

Rob Lambert sent out a tweet at the weekend alerting people about an iPhone giveaway competition. Having had good luck in competitions ( ask me about my £10K holiday to the Seychelles ) I thought I'd give it a go, clicked and got the image above

Anyone see a 'Tweet this' button ? Not me
Tried it in another browser, tried going to different pages but still no 'Tweet this' button appeared

But what really REALLY annoyed me and made me think '**** this' was the word 'Simply'
Made me think I was a moron because I couldn't find the 'Tweet this' button to SIMPLY hit and EASILY enter.
Didn't want an iPhone anyway...

Monday, 13 July 2009

Google Aids Fishing Scam

And I really do mean 'fishing' and not 'phishing'

Thieves in Hull are thought to be using Google Earth to help them steal sought after fish from people's gardens.

Up to 12 cases of fish going missing have been reported during a three-week period, with many of those missing Koi carp, worth several hundred pounds each.

Police believe the online technology is being used as it would otherwise be impossible to locate gardens with fish and ponds in.

( story found here )

Wonder if anyone at Google Testing came up with that scenario when testing Google Earth....

Friday, 10 July 2009

Farewell, Colosseum

A sad day today when I recieved an email from Yahoo
Important notice: GeoCities is closing
Dear Yahoo! GeoCities customer,

We're writing to let you know that Yahoo! GeoCities, our free web site building service and community, is closing on October 26, 2009.

On October 26, 2009, your GeoCities site will no longer appear on the Web, and you will no longer be able to access your GeoCities account and files.

For those who don't know, GeoCities was one of the first websites where users could build their own pages as part of a community. I was in one called Colosseum and it was where I learned all about HTML - and community building, lessons that were to be put to good use when I became a community manager of the Software Testing Club

So the Internet must really be getting old as I can now get nostalgic for the days of "This Site Under Construction" gifs, hit counters and the marquee tag...

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Automating Poets Day

"With an automated test script, correct execution does not present a challenge and a completely reliable test of test objectives is ensures. This also applies to situations where people tend to be negligent, for example on Monday mornings or Friday afternoons, when repeating a test for the nth time within a short period, or when the workload is extremely heavy. Automated testing ensures a greater degree of reliability than manual testing."

I recently read this as one of the benefits of Test Automation

Ignoring all the other aspects of it ( 'does not present a challenge', 'completely reliable' ), it was the 'negligent testers' part that made me chuckle.

Why stop at Friday afternoons and Monday mornings though ?

What if your testers are tennis fans - Wimbledon is on at the moment so they will have one eye on the matches and might be negligent

After that it's the Ashes - any cricket fans wont want to miss that just so they can check a few test results

The day after the office party wouldn't be a good day to run manual tests either

As for next year when the World Cup starts.... better make sure you have a months worth of automated testing you can do then

Oh yeh, make sure you dont write these automated tests on a Friday afternoon or a Monday morning when you are feeling negligent

( for those that dont know about POETS Day - the BBC explain it here except that it's not really 'Push' but another word... )

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Certification Deja Vu

" Get ready for certification. It will improve quality and that's profitable for everyone concerned "

No, not the ISEB/ISTQB marketing machine in full flow.

Carrying on from my last blog post, I'm learning the world of SAP and found that they are also having an ongoing debate about certifications and the value ( or not ) of having them

The quote at the top of this page came from here
( you might find a problem where the site wants you to choose a digital certificate but doesn't offer any in the list )

I found this page after reading What Was Your View of the Latest SAP Certification Debate?
The arguments there had a very familiar ring to them

I’ve been a long time advocate of field experience over SAP certification in my writing, but that’s mostly because all the aspiring SAP folks reading my stuff tend to get roped into this idea that certification will lead them into the promised land of a highly paid SAP career without much effort on their part.


I placed hundreds of SAP folks in the 90s and I can tell you that certification was almost never a good indication of consulting talent. Believe me, when I placed someone who was certified in SAP but who didn’t live up to expectations in other ways, I heard all about it.


In my view, the biggest weakness of the traditional SAP consultant is that the technical folks tended to lack "big picture" business skills and awareness, and the functional folks tended to work in "configuration silos" without a broader view of the business process or a deeper technical know-how


Also, I will be more and more of a fan of the SAP certifications as more field experience is incorporated into them somehow, as you suggest. I’m not saying this will be an easy task. But I think there must be ways of making the certification more real world accountable


I have mixed feelings about SAP emphasizing the importance of certification to customers at this point, only because most folks are still only certified at the Associate level. I worry that hiring becomes overly simplistic when certification is the central point of emphasis

Replace 'SAP Consultant' with tester and 'SAP certification' with ISEB/ISTQB and you have a replay of the often repeated tester certification argument

"plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"
as Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr would say

( or as Rush sang in Circumstances )

Monday, 29 June 2009

Not the best effort - more practice required

Time for me to learn about SAP

So what better place than the main SAP site itself and some white papers and brochures
Especially one about "SAP best business practices for customer relationship management"

Click on the 'read the brochure' link

An error has occurred

We were unable to complete your download request

This File is currently not available in the system

slight hint of irony that a best business practice file is not available...

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Finding the time

Read an interesing blog post about 50% time - 40 hours of work and 20 hours of self-improvement.
Very topical to me at the moment as I've just had a change of assigment and it made me wonder about how many hours a week I spend on self-improvement

Currently joining in with the rat race commuter crowd and spending 2 hours on trains each day plus two 25 minute walks. This means I am losing two things - weight and surfing time.

I'm making up for this by catching up on my big pile of books to be read - fairly easy on the morning ride in, can be a struggle on the way home. Podcasts are a possibility that I should investigate

I've cut down on the blogs I read and find that I'm only scanning the mailing lists I subscribe to. Haven't started a discussion for a while on the Software Testing Club site nor really joined in with the ongoing discussions
( still find the time to deal with spammy users though )

To counter this, the latest assigment is a challenging one and one I'm learning a lot from - you have to put the theory into practice at some point ! And the walks are a good time for reflection - except when you find your path blocked by tourists and free newspaper sellers

That work-life-improve yourself balance thing can be really tricky

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Moving Online

The absence of blog posts the last few weeks has been to me moving house and not arranging for my Internet connection to be moved until the last minute and finding out it takes 2 weeks :(

Finally back in contact with the world again, the hassle of changing address begins, maybe not as bad as it used to be as it can all be done online.
Or maybe not - current count is two places where I got 'service temporarily unavailable' when logging into my account to try and change address.

A lot of work went into the error pages - see the pic above of the apologetic toaster when I tried to access my electricity account. I'd much rather the pages worked 24x7

Or look on the bright side - if these sites don't work then there's some testing work needs doing

Now back to catching up on my 542 blog feeds and 129 mails

Friday, 22 May 2009

Reflecting Bug

Just noticed a slight blip on the TestingReflections site - two feeds have become one
One from Steve Freeman joining with one from Michael Bolton

By happy coincidence it's his blog post where he gives The Software Testing Club a nice plug

Should give Antony Marcano something to think about

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Grand Designs

Projects not meeting the schedule.
Budget spiralling out of control.
Unforeseen problems.
An "anyone can do that it doesn't need a professional" mentality.

No, I'm not talking about the typical s/w project but a TV program, Grand Designs where people build their dream homes - though in the process the dream can become a nightmare. Nice to watch as a counter to those who claim that software projects can learn from the house building industry

The episode I watched last night was a classic - a couple building a home in the French Alps.

Highlights included:

  • Finding out the house didn't have a proper foundation so walls - and the entire house - were in danger of collapsing.

  • Tears and disbelief when the owner found out the builders were not following the spec.

  • The owner realising that trying to manage a building project in the French Alps from England was not working.

  • The owner not understanding the local culture and finding out that the workers would leave for lunch and also had different jobs during the summer which meant they stopped work on the building.

  • The main building foreman being called Monsieur Bastard

Good viewing for project managers ( and a source of ideas for when I land that big lottery win....)

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Give That Man A Job

One of the hot blog posts doing the rounds at the moment is One of the toughest job-interview questions ever where a candidate is asked:

"Explain how you would develop a frequency-sorted list of the ten thousand most-used words in the English language."

His answers might not be the best way to get the interviewer on your side but I like the way he doesn't jump into a techy discussion but tries to nail down the spec and reveals the problem isn't as straightforward as the interviewer would like.

Replace the word 'develop' with 'test' in the question and there you have a great interview questions for testers.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Treat Developers Like Swine

Not one to miss out on an opportunity to jump on the Swine Flu bandwagon, the Catch it. Bin it. Kill it campaign ( who wants an MP3 message for their speaking lift ??? ) and its message of stopping the spread of bugs should strike a chord with any QA Manager.

So order some of the posters and stick them on the developers cubicles.

Change the message in your speaking lift.

Stop those bugs before they spread to the users.

Although the above is flippant, it was inspired by reading a blog post about The biggest issue facing America all about the Health Care crisis.

One of the comments made an observation about the aversion to spending money on preventive medicine which reminded me of the technical debt debate and I wondered if any of the ways preventive medicine is sold could be utilised to sell the message of higher quality code...

I think something more than a speaking lift message about TDD is required though

Friday, 8 May 2009

Irish Space Pencil

In the news recently was the announcement that Ireland was going to scrap the Electronic Voting System that it has spent 51M ( Euro ) on and will return to paper and pencils

Why does this remind me of the NASA Space Pen / Russian pencil story...

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Posting for performance

Always on the lookout for new and interesting blogs, I sometimes come across ones that are anything but that. Blogs full of plagiarised content, blogs that seeem to be the entire ISEB glossary, blogs that are nothing but links...

Sometimes it was obvious that the blogs were there just to try and get some revenue from ads but it seems that some blogs are out there because the authors had been set a performance goal in their review to become involved in blogging. Having set someone that target then of course you have to measure to see if they are doing it and if you have set a target of posts/month and dont take the time to read the content then it's yet another example of how to game the system

More details can be found here - a genuine blog !

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Gender on the agenda

There's been a bit of a storm in a teacup ( or rather D-cup ) in the Ruby world after a presentation at a Ruby conference left one of the female attendees not very amused

This created a further blogstorm, at least one resignation and an interesting blog about influences and associations

Struck a chord with me because

1) I have a daughter working in IT

2) Over on the Software Testing Club some of the female members have been having comments left on their profile pages. Nothing lewd or suggestive but unwanted attention all the same so actions have been taken to stop this behaviour

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Hit By A Poodlebug

The other day I got an email from my wife who got a big shock at home when she heard a big crashing noise outside, went out and found a block of ice on the patio with fragments scattered around the garden.

As we live close to the Heathrow flight path then the obvious explanation seemed to be that it had come from an aircraft and a quick Google found a story about a garden shed being demolished as well as details from the Civil Aviation Authority on how to report an icefall - aka a Poodlebug*

What does all this have to with testing ? well the CAA website says that icefalls are rare and an average of only 25 icefalls are reported a year. But what if my wife hadn't been home to hear the ice falling ? And what if we hadn't bothered to Google it and find out how to report it ? How many times is there an icefall that no-one notices - or cant be bothered to report ?

Which brings me to the recent blog post by CodingHorror about Exception-Driven Development and how users are able to easily report crashes.

Whilst I can see how useful this is, there is also the poodlebug scenario. Only crashes get reported this way - how many other defects wont be ? And how many users bother to send in the crash reports - I dont bother when I get the IE ones.

Do you sit there being smug and thinking that your software only crashes 25 times a year ? or do you look up at the sky every time a plane goes over ?

* Poodlebugs have nothing to do with poodles ( see doodlebugs )

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Thats some book ( or nut ) case

I thought I liked books and then I saw the pictures Jurgen Appelo posted on Twitter on the building and completion of his monstrosity.

I don't even have a house big enough to put up such a structure, would be nice to have them in there and not in cardboard boxes in the loft.

But as someone who loves books and has got so much out of them I just have to applaud Jurgens effort

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

It's About Time

A recent blog post on LosTechies ( great name and logo ) was a rant from Joshua Lockwood - "I don't have time to test" - in which he tells how he became test-infected and sees the value in having testable, maintainable code rather than wasting hours and days debugging.

Whilst it is great to read someone acknowledge that

"learning to test adequately is not a trivial task and can sometimes take years to really get right"

and always good to have developers becoming test-infected, should people still be having this revelation and writing about it ? I first came across this phrase when I found Testing Reflections

A quick Google brings up numerous blogs, discussions and articles going back over the years( 2007,2005, 2003 etc etc etc ) as well as other areas apart from s/w development that I never thought about when it comes to testing...

But even getting test-infected devs isn't enough - next they have to learn to deal with the managers who think you don't have time

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Directions to Cockfosters

I was reading a recent blog entry by Peter Nairn which was a cautionary tale about databases.

I got a bit confused when I read the sentence

"This is their data, spe******ed information that, quite frankly, we don’t claim to understand"

and thought the data was so secret that he had to censor it...

Then I realised that the word was 'specialised' and that the blog s/w had filtered out the letter sequence 'cialis'

As I still have an old blog account on SQA Blogs I tried out various words and found that although I could give someone directions to Cockfosters I couldn't give directions to a major town in Lincolnshire

A quick Google search gave me a list of common spam comment words and I wasn't the first person to wonder why valeofglamorganconservatives is on the list.

Maybe not what Peter Nairn expected me to learn from his blog but as a tester I had to follow my curiosity.

( and I wonder how this blog entry would look on SQA Blogs ? )

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Pair programming in the rain

It was the usual English Bank Holiday weekend, somewhat cold and rainy which actually didn't bother me too much as I have an OU exam coming up very soon so it's revision time.

I did take a break from the books to listen in on Antony Marcano and Andy Palmer doing some pair programming

I'd watched a couple of their videos and got a Facebook invite to join in with a session they were doing Saturday lunchtime. Had some problems following the screen updates, probably me as it was the first time I've used DimDim but it was an interesting experience to hear pair programming being done live. Never done it myself and been awhile since I've looked at any code so it was nice to simply be an audience member and to listen and learn

Though I was able to add something to the event - the video is available here and about 1:47 in Antony wonders if someone is outside as he can hear birds singing - the pleasures of sitting in a conservatory with your laptop.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

5 Questions For Adam Goucher

Adam Goucher was kind enough to answer 5 questions about himself and his Quality through Innovation blog.
Adam is also working on a Beautiful Testing book

1. Why did you start blogging and what were you hoping to get out of it ?
( and have you got what you hoped for ? )

The thing that struck me most when I met James Bach while taking his Rapid Software Testing course was how well thought out his arguments for things are. I figured if I was going to really pursue this testing thing professionally I too needed to develop my opinions, and writing them down seemed a good way to do that.

In addition to still using it as a platform for new or half-baked ideas, I also use it as a form of online memory where I'll post summaries of articles and such that I might find useful sometime later. I hope those are useful to others as well.

2. What have you learned from doing your blog ?

I've learned a lot about the opinions that I thought I had or didn't realize that I had. It's interesting as well to see how my thoughts have evolved over the last 3 years.

3. Do you track your visitors - if so, any unusual searches to find your blog ?

I track the number of RSS subscribers, but I don't measure the 'success' of the blog based on the raw numbers. I blog primarily for myself, but of course, it is nice to see the number of readers graph slowly ticking upwards.

As for interesting stuff reveal by having metrics, I would have to say that it was the couple months where 'How to build a light saber' was the top search that was coming into the site. I had coined the Build your own light saber heuristic about the preference I have to building my own custom tool rather than pay for another one that you don't fully control which had apparently achieved a fairly high Google rank.

4. Do you have a favourite post that you have written ?

I'm not sure that I have a particularly favourite post. Every one I write had a reason for existing, even if it was only for a few minutes. As my ideas and opinions evolve on testing, some posts become less favoured but even those still serve their purpose as a reminder of where I was at that point in time.

That said, if you measure favouritism based on how often I mention a post to someone, then it would be a tie between these two posts
- LOUD (and to a lesser extent this which is related)

5. Any advice to new bloggers ?

- Start now
- Write often
- Write for yourself
- Don't worry about polish. Polish will come in time, just get the ideas out there
- Write often
- Be honest in your writing
- Be yourself
- Write often
- Don't worry about monetizing your blog; the intangible benefits outweigh the direct fiscal ones

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Fool Me Once

Lots of pranks and jolly japes happening yesterday - some on
Twitter, a not very good one on the Software Testing Club and the entire reddit site which changed it's appearance to resemble Digg

Trouble was, I found the Digg layout style to be horrible and like some other people I didn't know there an option to turn it off so didn't visit it again that day.
Reddit lost my traffic as did sites I might have visited from there

Not that I want to be Mr Party Pooper but I wonder how much thought ( and testing ! ) goes into these pranks to make sure they dont have any serious side effects...

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Duty Done

Thanks to Len DiMaggio's Software Testing blog I found a site that will analyse the writing on your blog and reflects your persona

Fed it this site and it nailed me down as an ISTJ - The Duty Fulfillers

Yup, thats me

Must go off and feed it some friends blogs...

Friday, 27 March 2009

5 Questions For Jake Brake

Jake Brake is one of the grizzled veterans of the test/QA scene and can be found blogging here - thats if he ever has spare time from his moderating duties on SQA Forums and telling everyone tales about how he helped the Wright brothers develop an automated landing system for their plane...

1. Why did you start blogging and what were you hoping to get out of it ?
( and have you got what you hoped for ? )

I was asked by friends and acquaintances to consider blogging. I considered. I thought I could learn and help at least one person. I blogged. I continue. I get what I hope(d) for - learning and chances to help a comrade. I think I have helped at least one comrade. I now hope to help another. At least one person has helped me in return. An exchange of help such as that is very rewarding.

2. What have you learned from doing your blog ?

I have found that it is a good vehicle for adding to the diversity of the computing world.

3. Do you track your visitors - if so, any unusual searches to find your blog ?

I do not. I implemented a "free site counter" for about a year. That site either went under or was unaware of why one should performance test.

4. Do you have a favourite post that you have written ?

I have none specifically. I feel that any blog entry that helps someone a) laugh, b) learn, or c) give to the reader of any topic reason to share her/his learnings with me or others. I think any of the latter would qualify as a favo(u)rite.

5. Any advice to new bloggers ?

Be yourself. Read and ponder other blogs. From those other blogs and feedback to your own blog; calibrate yourself with learnings from other blogs.

6. What is your favoro(u)rite motto?

I added this as a boundary test to your question-count algorithm. If for some reason Phil, this shows up in your blog; you need to do more unit testing.
Favo(u)rite motto:

"Remember, you are responsible for the amount of excitement you create."

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Grassroots testing

"When you live in the shadow of insanity, the appearance of another mind that thinks and talks as yours does is something close to a blessed event."

Good to see that a fellow Software Testing Club member, Rob 'M' Lambert, has set up a local testing group for the South of England

Mailing lists, blogs, forums and tweets are all great ways to learn and share information but you still cant beat face-to-face communication

Looking forward to the first meeting

Anyone had any experience of setting up a local group with hints and tips they can pass on ?

" The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then to work outward from there. Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to fix a motorcycle. "

Monday, 23 March 2009

When a test goes wrong

Ever since I was a kid I've been interested in planes, even had vague ambitions of being a pilot. One of the most awesome planes is the SR-71 Blackbird so it was scary and interesting to read about a test flight that went badly wrong

I was also reading another blog about what testing lessons could be learnt from a vampire.
( testers only do it after the sun goes down ? testers suck the lifeblood from you ? dont make a tester cross ? )

Testers do seem to like getting ideas and inspiration from other fields ( I'm sure Amazon saw a big rise in the sales of "How Doctors Think" a couple of years ago after it became a hot topic on tester blogs ) but the Blackbird article did get me thinking about what software testers could learn from other areas of testing.
So off to Amazon I go to see if they have any good books on test pilots ( wonder if there's a Dummies Guide ? )

And I'll also have to dig out my copy of Skunkworks which describes how the Blackbird, U2 and Stealth Fighter were made, I'm sure there's some agile lessons in them...

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

5 Questions For Joel Montvelisky

Joel Montvelisky of PractiTest ( and recent father ) is next up to answer the questions.

1. Why did you start blogging and what were you hoping to get out of it ?
( and have you got what you hoped for ? )

I learned about blogs about 8 years ago when a colleague developer asked me jokingly if I was The Joel from "Joel on Software"...
Then a little over a year ago, after doing consulting for over a year one of my customers suggested I start my own blog and I thought to myself why not. I guess I felt I had stuff to share with other Testers & QA Engineers, specially about the simple things that make the big differences.

What did I hope to get...?
I don't think I hoped to get anything out of it, but I definitely got connected to many people who form the International QA Community.

2. What have you learned from doing your blog?

The trivial thing is that it is harder than it seems to be constant and post good stuff on a regular basis, there are times when you have 10 subjects on your mind and lack the time, and other times when you try to think about something worth posting.

I also learned that there is a strong QA community that is willing to share and learn from one-another

3. Do you track your visitors - if so, any unusual searches to find your blog ?

I remember that after I posted a blog about the Pesticide Paradox I started getting all sorts of weird searches, the funnier one was one about "insecticide residue in kitchens and bathrooms". It certainly got me wondering if I was posting about the correct subjects.

4. Do you have a favorite post that you have written ?

I didn't until you asked...
If I had to choose only one post, it would be "Ask yourself what were you hired to do?" . I wrote it after reading a post by John McConda in TestingReflections, and I think that it reflects in the clearest way my definition of our Jobs as QA Engineers within the R&D Organization.

5. Any advice to new bloggers ?

If you are thinking about blogging, stop thinking and start writing.
Make sure your posts are good and have content that other people find interesting.
If at the beginning you don't get much traction don't get frustrated, continue being constant and in time you will start seeing readers coming back to your site.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Book Review - How We Test Software At Microsoft

I must confess that when I first came across the book "How We Test Software At Microsoft" I had a little snigger.
With Vista not exactly taking the world by storm, the usual raft of security patches being uploaded to my PC and then the Zune problem hitting the press, Microsoft were not exactly the Toyota of the software world and so a book with a title like this reminded me of the Ghandi quote when asked about Western Civilisation
"It would be a good idea "

That was just a lazy opinion though - anyone with an interest in tech should be wondering how one of the giants does what it does - and as a tester I should be finding out how things are done there ( if only so I could do things differently )

I found it to be an excellent book, lots of tales from the trenches, explanations of the problems MS faces, how they try to overcome them - all intermingled with general testing theory
For the full table of contents see here

The first part of the book gives a lot of background of Microsoft - sometimes a bit too rah-rah or maybe it's the reserved English in me that isn't too impressed with a CEO who gets his shirt all sweaty chanting "Developers, developers, developers"

Part II gets onto test techniques and although I thought I'd read most testing theory books written I still came across a few new bits - and the theory is interspersed with tales of it being used in practice.

Part III covers tools and systems and ranges from bug trackers to user feedback ( I think the Send A Smile program would have been better if it had been called Send A Frown ) to testing Software Plus Services.

Finally the book finishes with a look at the future and the test structure in place to try and lead MS there

The best compliment that I can pay the book is that I wrote a lot of Post-It notes whilst reading it and it has already led to a few blog posts and discussions on the Software Testing Club

The HWTSAM site allows you to send the authors feedback and questions

and photos of yourself reading it should you wish...

Friday, 13 March 2009

5 Answers

A few people have asked me what my 5 answers would be to the 5 Questions that I have been asking test bloggers

I sent my answers - plus a bonus one - to Joe Strazzere who posted the answers here

I still have a few more replies to publish and I am grateful to everyone who has taken the time to reply.
Thanks also to Jurgen Appelo, Michael Hunter and Debasis - The Bug Hunter! for giving me the idea

Anyone else that you'd like to see - let me know

and if you are thinking of starting your own blog then there should be plenty of ideas for it - but most importantly the advice seems to be ' Be Yourself '

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

5 Questions For Corey Goldberg

As can be seen from the photo that he will never live down and maybe wishes he never published, Corey Goldberg is one of the most dynamic bloggers out there...
Author of some useful testing tools such as Pylot and fast becoming known as Mr Python, he also publishes the occasional pic of Boston, one of my favourite cities

Here are his answers

1. Why did you start blogging and what were you hoping to get out of it ?
( and have you got what you hoped for ? )

It is nice to have a personal platform to speak from. You can state your opinions and others will read them and respond. I use it as an area to disseminate info, news, and announcements surrounding projects I work on and technical areas I am interested in. I maintain and contribute to many open source projects, and can use my blog to post info for others. I also use it as a repository for code snippets and small programs I don't want to forget. I post them to my blog and then they are indexed and easily searchable from Google. It is nice when you solve a problem for yourself and then blog about it. Readers can use your help to then solve their own similar problems.

2. What have you learned from doing your blog ?

Lots of people who read my blog are a lot smarter than I am :)

3. Do you track your visitors - if so, any unusual searches to find your blog ?

I track my visitors and subscribers like a hawk via Google Analytics and FeedBurner. I'm a bit of a statistics geek, so I keep tabs on everything: location of users, referring pages, search terms, browser/os characteristics, etc.

4. Do you have a favourite post that you have written ?

I don't really have a favorite. I'm most proud of some of the programming snippets I post, but I also like this one: "Test Tools - Open Source Feedback and Participation"

5. Any advice to new bloggers ?

Be yourself. Post about stuff that matters to *you*. Don't just repost links to other content, create your own unique content. Post often. Give proper attributions and don't plagiarize. Have fun with it.

Monday, 9 March 2009

5 Questions For Elisabeth Hendrickson

Still getting more answers to my questions - this time it's Elisabeth Hendrickson aka testobsessed

It's cool that I get to include her in this series as her Ruminations series on her Quality Tree Software site was one of the first testing sites I came across, I found a bug on the site, reported it and was rewarded with a copy of a Bug Hunters Journal that she was giving away.

1. Why did you start blogging and what were you hoping to get out of it ?
( and have you got what you hoped for ? )

I started blogging back in 1997, before the term was coined, by publishing short columns that I called "Ruminations" on my newly launched company website

I had two intents:

The first was marketing. I hoped that providing fresh content I could encourage people to come back frequently. This was back in the day when we were all talking about the need to get "eyeballs." I had no idea how I could convert Ruminations readers into consulting engagements, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to grow a readership.

The second was to give myself a soap box. I had developed various opinions about testing and quality and tools in my time in the industry, and I wanted a place to publish my ideas.

The people around me at the time thought I was crazy to expect to publish new content so frequently.

2. What have you learned from doing your blog ?

Originally I intended to publish new content daily. And for a while I succeeded. But I learned that writing every day is hard. Really hard. I just couldn't keep up the pace and also keep up with the rest of my business activities.

Anyone who has read my blog knows that weeks and sometimes months pass between my updates. I used to apologize about that on my blog. But these days I figure it's best if I just publish something whenever I have something new to say, and have the time to articulate my ideas clearly.

3. Do you track your visitors - if so, any unusual searches to find your blog ?

I used to monitor my visitor stats daily. After separating my blog (at from my company website (still at, I stopped being quite so concerned about visitor, page, and hit counts. These days I only occasionally pay attention to my statistics.

I am always amused by the search strings that land people on my site. Here are some recent ones that made me giggle:

"crank out some of the group 2 delivery test cases" (it seems an oddly specific search; sorry I don't have any group 2 delivery test cases)

"how to write an insect reports" (I'm assuming this is someone studying to be an exterminator)

"big white duck names" (apparently there really is *always* a duck)

"cool fashion jargon" (seriously? my site came up? someone doesn't know me very well.)

4. Do you have a favourite post that you have written ?

I have several favorites.
To understand the "always a duck" reference above, I suggest reading "There's Always a Duck" and the follow up post, "A Duck by Any Other Name"

Both as a testimony of how much I can write when I feel passionate about something, and because I think I managed to say what I meant, I like my post on "Agile Friendly Test Automation Tools" and the related posts on Next Generation tools linked at the end of the article.

And if only because it includes a random test generator, I'm rather fond of "Flush Specific Stack Fiercely"

5. Any advice to new bloggers ?

Be authentic. Say what you want to say. Say it as well as you can. Publish as frequently as is comfortable for you. Write the things you want to write, not the things you think other people want to read. Worry more about finding your voice than attracting readers. And turn on comment moderation or use a blog spam filter, because the nasty blog spammers are everywhere. (Ick.)

Friday, 6 March 2009

5 Questions For Joe Strazzere

Carrying on with my series, next up to the plate is Joe Strazzere and his All Things Quality blog in which he dispenses QA Manager advice, updates on New England sports and finds plenty of examples for his "Perhaps They Should Have Tested More" series

1. Why did you start blogging and what were you hoping to get out of it ?
( and have you got what you hoped for ? )

After reading lots of other blogs, I'd been looking for a good vehicle in which to try my hand at blogging. So when AJ at offered blogs to all members, I thought I'd give it a try.

Over time, I found that it was a nice way to post some thoughts, answers to questions I had been asked, or topics I had been pondering.

It's been a lot of fun. I've gotten some great feedback and thoughtful comments from some really smart people.

2. What have you learned from doing your blog?

I have learned that writing seems a lot easier when I write what is on my mind when it occurs to me, and not force myself to write when it just isn't flowing.

I've also learned to just write what I feel, and not to worry about perfection - even if that goes against my nature.

3. Do you track your visitors - if so, any unusual searches to find your blog ?

I use StatCounter for my web tracker. It's been quite interesting to see so many visitors from so many places around the world. I wasn't sure where Myanmar was, until I saw it show up as the location for a visitor to the blog.

I do get an occasional odd search term leading to my blog. I'm still not sure what the person searching for "is yucart good for your" was seeking, nor if he found it on my blog.

4. Do you have a favorite post that you have written ?

One of my favorite posts, and one that seems to still get a fair number of hits is titled "There are ALWAYS Requirements" I wrote it when I was hearing testers on my team complain that they couldn't start planning their testing because they were waiting for the formal, written requirements. That really frustrated me, because they already knew a lot of what they needed to plan on testing.

5. Any advice to new bloggers ?

I'm not good enough to advise people on how to blog. But I would ask that if new bloggers want to copy and paste the words of others, at least attribute those words to the author! Other than that - just write something you know, something you enjoy. And let me know how to find your blogs, so that I can enjoy them, too!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Testers Not Invited To The Party

Finally getting around to reading Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams

So far I'm liking what I'm reading

"Testers have a foot in each world, understanding the customer viewpoint as well as the complexities of the technical implementation"

"testing skills and experience are vital to project success and that testers do add value to agile teams"

"The whole-team approach involves constant collaboration. Testers collaborate with programmers, the customer team, and other team specialists - and not just for testing tasks but other tasks related to testing such as building infrastructure and designing for testability"

All mouth watering stuff and a brave new world

But they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

The camera never lies.

and there on page 16 is a photo of "a developer discussing an issue with customers"

and what does the text in the book have to say about this ?

"Figure 1.5 shows a developer reviewing reports with two customers and a tester ( not pictured ). "

So a tester is good enough to do every task on the team, adds value, but still cant get into a photo ???

Thats my only complaint about the book so far, 480 pages still to go...

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Even An Ophthalmologist Can See The Problem

My poor wife had a bloodshot swollen eye and headache so after a quick trip to the doctors we were sent off to the eye ward of a local hospital where they had just had a new patient management system installed
Not good timing ( if a bad eye can ever have good timing )

Overheard comments

"I can't scan and attach to email, it complains that the To field has to be filled in but wont let me"

"This patient doesn't show up on my list"
"Have you hit the Refresh button ?"
"What Refresh button ? All I had to do on my old computer was wiggle the mouse "

"I'll try booking you in on this PC whilst I wait for the application to load on mine
Oh, thats not working either, maybe this PC
Oh thats not working either "

Finally got to see the doctor who first of all had to check and update records ( gulp ) and apologised for the delay but they were trying to use the new system.
He gave a big sigh

" I wish they would test these programs before rolling them out... "

Sunday, 1 March 2009

5 Questions For Pradeep Soundararajan

Pradeep Soundararajan of the Tester Tested!" blog took time out to answer my questions.

True to form, his reply didn't just answer my questions, he also asked me some, gave me a Monty Python reference and pointed out there were more than 5 questions " The 5 questions remind me of Michael Hunters interview of DDJ blog plus also reminds me of this scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. "

1. Why did you start blogging and what were you hoping to get out of it ? ( and have you got what you hoped for ? )

I was sharing all my ideas about testing to a friend of mine who worked as a developer. He patiently listen to me and asked me questions about the ideas I shared. One day, he asked me, "These ideas seem to be brilliant. Are you blogging all this for the benefit of the community?" and I asked, "What's that?"

That's how I started to blog.

As maybe everyone else, I got inspired from blogs that have a huge reader base, comments, and influence it has on the community. I hoped my blog would have all that and maybe even more.

I learned that having a dream of huge reader base and lots of visitors is not what I should be aiming for because my mission was to learn to test better and benefit the community of software testers.

I think I am getting that. I am learning to test better each day and I blog about my different kinds of experiences. I have expanded my blogging to audio and video.

If anyone digs deeper on my blog, they would also understand that my writing skills has improved tremendously.

2. What have you learned from doing your blog ?

The first thing I learned after I started blogging was that my ideas weren't as brilliant as I thought. After that I learned a lot of things. As I mentioned, I learned about my writing skills, and my blog opened me up to different channels and people.

3. Do you track your visitors - if so, any unusual searches to find your blog ?

I do track my visitors because its fun. Of late, I have been doing less of that because I have no time for that most times.

As you might be aware I protest against faking experience in testing because I think it is spoiling our craft. I have a podcast and a couple of posts on that topic. I found some people have started to search in Google "Pradeep faking testing experience" to probably find my posts on that topic.

I have observed with some bloggers in India who write posts based on the popularity of search term and I think those posts stink a lot.

4. Do you have a favorite post that you have written ?

All my posts that have irritated bad testers ( that I think are bad testers ) are my favorite. I get all kinds of abusive and harsh worded mails and comments when I have written against commercial certification, fake experience stuff, ROI in testing, ideas of test automation and specifically against scripted testing.

5. Any advice to new bloggers ?

Starting a blog is simple but maintaining it needs dedication, passion, energy, time, experience, willingness to learn and more. You may have all of this but not at required quantity.

Many people give up blogging because no one is reading it. Well, you must understand that your blog is going to live beyond your own life. Maybe it will stay as long as internet, people and the server where you have hosted is alive.

If you want people to like your blog, be yourself.
The success of a blog is not based on the number of readers and or the comments. It is the influence on yourself first and then maybe others.

Enjoy reading your own blog and you'd like to write more.
If you think you are smart and your readers are dumb then you'd be exposing your dumbness to the world. Its free, you may try doing that.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Easy Makes It Hard

Last week I started a discussion on the STC about whether it "was too easy to find bugs ?" ( prompted by reading the HWTSAM book )

At the same time Ben Simo ( aka Quality Frog ) has started a new blog Is There A Problem Here? with problems in the wild and I've been on a roll this week and already submitted two

So maybe that answers my first question - it is too easy to find bugs - and this led to me trying to connect up other discussions that have been happening this week

Again on the STC site, Anna Baik started a discussion about Would you recognise your job description in a careers advice guide? and how it was made to sound boring and dull. I found an article to add to it that basically said the only qualification a tester needed was a pulse...

On StickyMinds Fiona Charles had an article "Not Wanted on the Voyage" about the negative perceptions about testers and testing.

Now I'll try and put it all together...

Developers produce poor quality code
This makes it easy to find bugs - anyone can click around and find something wrong
This can give managers the perception that testing is easy
Testing is seen as something anyone can do and as a stepping stone to other careers, the job is made to seem boring and doesn't attract high quality candidates
The people that end up doing the testing don't really have a clue about how to do the job but are able to find bugs so it seems they are doing something
But they fail to find all the bugs - or the crucial ones
The customers find them
Managers think testing is a waste of time and money
Return to the start and do not collect £200 for passing Go

Thursday, 26 February 2009

5 Questions For Bj Rollison

Butch and Sundance, Fred and Ginger, Laurel and Hardy - having asked Alan Page my questions I had to ask his sidekick William 'Bj' Rollison them as well. He took time out from a boring meeting to do so.

Bj Rollison has many names ( apart from 'Bj' ) - IM Testy and TestingMentor and is also one of the authors of How We Test Software At Microsoft

1. Why did you start blogging and what were you hoping to get out of it ?
( and have you got what you hoped for ? )

I started blogging in order to promote different perspectives of testing, expose aspects of Microsoft’s strategic vision of testing in the future, and to help people realize the testing is much more than simply sitting in front of a computer and questioning the software.

The blog is reasonable successful. Each post gets anywhere between 1000 to 2500 hits, and the feedback is mostly positive.

2. What have you learned from doing your blog ?

It’s a lot of work! Also, controversial posts tend to get more hits and feedback as compared to more technical “best practice” type posts. That being said, the controversial posts are a drain, and take a lot of effort because people who disagree with those posts tend to wander from the actual context of the discussion or introduce tangential topics.

3. Do you track your visitors - if so, any unusual searches to find your blog ?

On my blog I only track unique visitors

4. Do you have a favourite post that you have written ?

Yes…but, I haven’t written it yet :)

5. Any advice to new bloggers ?

If you don’t maintain it on a regular basis you start losing readership. Also responding to each comment is important. Don’t jump to conclusions when reading comments; before blasting someone for an out-of-context comment, twisting the argument, or otherwise going off on a tangent you should ask for clarification in a non-confrontational way. (In other words, don’t follow my example.)
Finally, if you really want an open forum that people feel free to express their opinions and provide feedback allow people to post anonymously and don’t censor the feedback. (Unless a post includes gross profanity I wouldn’t delete it. I might remove offending words or phrases, but if someone wants to make personal attacks, or express irrational thoughts…who am I to cover up, hide, or censor them. Let the other readers see them for who they are.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

5 Questions For Alan Page

Alan Page is the next supplier of answers to my 5 Questions.

Not content with writing his notes and rants blog he's also found the time to be one of the authors of How We Test Software at Microsoft and start a blog that goes along with the book.

He didn't really have the time to answer the questions as he was about to head off on vacation but thought he owed me because I was such a keen reader of the book

1. Why did you start blogging and what were you hoping to get out of it ?
( and have you got what you hoped for ? )

My very first blog post was titled “I’m not a blogger” . I was working on the Windows CE team and wanted a way to share some of my presentations and tools with our customers and get feeback. This worked for a while, and after building up a bit of a pace, I remember struggling a bit with blogging when I moved to the Engineering Excellence team at Microsoft. Eventually, I began to enjoy it …but I still don’t really know why I do it :}

2. What have you learned from doing your blog ?

I’ve learned that it’s hard to blog consistently. I used to go a month or two sometimes between posts, but I’ve finally worked up to where I can post 2-3 times (or more) a week consistently.

I’ve also learned to avoid flippant remarks. Earlier in my blogging I would occasionally post random comments (usually negative) not expecting anyone to ever read them. Eventually, as I got more readers I found out that people would go back and read my old posts (and often have a few words for me). I certainly don’t mind being controversial these days, but I make sure I back up any bold statements.

3. Do you track your visitors - if so, any unusual searches to find your blog ?

I have an adcenter script on my site, but I hardly ever look at it (just a sec..)

OK – oh look – I have more visitors on days when I post a blog entry…and nothing interesting in the searches that found me.

4. Do you have a favourite post that you have written ?

I like The Test Test

5. Any advice to new bloggers ?

Stay within a genre (i.e. don’t try to blog about everything), and make sure something you do – either your job or your hobbies) relate to the topic. The only way I’m able to blog even as often as twice a week is that I am constantly surrounded by blog fodder. When I go to write a post, I mostly just write about whatever I’m thinking about, and that makes the process a lot easier. I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked me to check out their “new blog”. Then they post once, again a month later, then nothing. If you’re going to do it, you really need to have a plan and motivation to go for it.

It’s also good to have a few posts completed and not posted. I try to always have a few at least started so if I’m really slammed with work I can just pull one up, make a few edits (if necessary) and post it.