Friday, 30 January 2009

Size Shouldn't Matter

Over on the Software Testing Club, the old chestnut of the ideal dev/test ratio came up
( I really should add this topic to my list of testing cliches )

The person asking the question mentioned the 1:1 ratio that Microsoft has and that
"As my company aren't the size of Microsoft, nor have the budget I don't think that will go down well"

Which got me wondering what the scale is - is it a linear scale, a logarithmic one ?
Maybe it's even simpler
Company Size < 100 Ratio 10:1
Company Size < 1000 Ratio 5:1
Company Size < 5000 Ratio 3:1
Company = Microsft Ratio 1:1

But what happens if you are a company the size of Microsoft but without their budget ?
Or a company smaller than Microsoft but with their budget ?

Do the directors of companies asking these questions simply cross their fingers and hope the devs dont produce too many bugs so they can then grow enough to start employing testers ? and also hope that by that stage the code hasn't grown into an unmaintainable pile of spaghetti

Whilst writing this blog I read a tweet from Simon Godfrey trying to deal with devs complaining that test hadn't found all the defects and wanting the test cost to be 15% of the dev budget
( hmm, wonder what percentage of the dev budget is spent on customer support... )

I'm blaming Philip Crosby and his Quality Is Free slogan, managers saw the title but never read the content...

Monday, 26 January 2009

Not just the good guys

This phishing email arrived in my account the other day

Dear Valued Client
Due to security reasons we will want you to confirm your access details by clicking on the verfiy my account details link below

This is due to the fact that a recent review of your account by our security team shows that the use of your account might have been compromised. for security reasons we will want you to verify your account information withing 24 hours

Verify My account Details

Failure to do this will lead to restricted access to your account for security reason.

Sorry for the inconviences

Bad grammar and spelling mistakes - 'verfiy', 'withing','inconviences'

Whilst I was thinking about this, Joe Strazzere posted an example of his own of a phishing phailure.

Almost comforting to know that the bad guys are having the same problems as us but I did wonder about how they operate...
Do they have specs ?
Argue about waterfall or agile ?
Do their testers write test plans, regression tests, run performance tests on their fake sites ?
Is the testing outsourced ?
( waiting for an " I have to test phishing emails pls hlp " posting on SQA Forums )

Is there a crime overlord somewhere pounding a desk with his fist wanting to know why testing didn't find the bugs that me and Joe found ?

Sunday, 25 January 2009

There be bugs

Arrrrr, what sort of members do I need ?

The scurvy dev that wrote this bug should be keel hauled and the tester that missed it will be walking the plank

Friday, 23 January 2009

8 or 10 ?

I usually send website mistakes off to QA Hates You but when it's a testing site that makes a mistake...

FutureTest 2009 seems undecided if there are 8 or 10 reasons to attend

The graphic says 8 Great Reasons
The alt tag says Top Ten
The link URL is 'topten.aspx'
The actual pages lists 8

All I want is a bit of consistency !

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Saving Bletchley Park

Read a blog post from Jason Gorman - Blogging For Bletchley and thought it was worth a mention on my blog.

Lee Copeland has his 9 Forgettings talk, one of those is not to forget our beginnings and another is to to honour each other. As Jason mentions in his post, Bletchley did two important things

1.Some very clever people cracked the German Enigma code, which allowed the allies to intercept vital information and even spread vital disinformation that led directly to victory in World War II.

2.The same very clever people did this by inventing the world's first electronic computer

So no problem at all for me bring Saving Bletchley Park to your attention - and to encourage any readers to visit the site and mention it on their blogs.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

From Shu to Ha

Read an interesting blog post today about Software Testing Crafsmanship and moving through the stages from apprentice to journeyman and then master and relating this to the Japanese martial arts concept of Shu Ha Ri

I'd also read an article over the weekend Hard Work and Practice in Programming about how to practice and improve
One quote from there is this
"So, I think we'd all agree that you can't learn to program without actually programming. Just like you can't learn to drive without actually driving. You can't learn math without doing math. Yet, one of the hardest things to accomplish in teaching is to get students (end users) to actually program or do math or work on the skill it is they are trying to acquire."

For programming I can see how you can practice and become better - write a program, see if it works, refactor it to make it more efficient. The end result is there - the program will work or not
If you wanted to learn HTML/CSS then find some web pages you like, view the source and try it our yourself

Over on Matthew Heussers latest blog, The Craft of Sofware ( tagline "Ten Years. 10,000 hours. Discipline, Rigor, Effort, and Reward" ) he has a post about outliers with a link to Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years which has suggestions for becoming an expert programmer

Is there a similar list to becoming an expert tester ?
Get hold of a program and try and find bugs in it ?
Join an open source project ?
Sign up to be a beta tester ?

The problem with testing compared to programming is that although the definition of testing may be 'providing information to the stakeholders' if you are practising testing then designing and running 20 tests that all pass isn't going to give you the same feelgood factor as writing then running a program

Going along with some of s/w development analogies
It's like cooking - the more you practice the better the food will taste
It's like music - from a slow few chords that vaguely sound like Smoke on the Water to being able to crank out Eruption

With testing you want to be able to find the serious bugs as soon as possible, so how can you practice that ? Is there a supply of programs with bugs in that your tests will find ?
( I can just imagine the reponses I'm going to get to that ! )

Suggestions welcome

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Testing Developers

Jurgen Appelo, author of "The #1 Blog in Europe for Software Development Managers" recently published a post "100 Interview Questions for Software Developers"

It was good to see there were 10 questions about testing so I thought it would be fun to put my old ex-dev hat on and see what answers I would have come up with a few years ago...

Do you know what a regression test is?
How do you verify that new changes have not broken existing features?

Blank stare
We ship the software and the customers tell us

How can you implement unit testing when there are dependencies between a business layer and a data layer?

Unit whatting ?
Blank stare

Which tools are essential to you for testing the quality of your code?

Turning on compiler warnings ?

What types of problems have you encountered most often in your products after deployment?

Too many bugs in them that need months of fix-ship-fix-ship cycles

Do you know what code coverage is?
What types of code coverage are there?

Blank stare
Blank stare

Do you know the difference between functional testing and exploratory testing?
How would you test a web site?

Blank stare.
Click about on the web site and see if it crashes

What is the difference between a test suite, a test case and a test plan?
How would you organize testing?

Blank stare
Have a bug bash just before we ship

What kind of tests would you include for a smoke test of an ecommerce web site?

Login and buy something

What can you do reduce the chance that a customer finds things that he doesn't like during acceptance testing?

Don't send him the program ?

Can you tell me something that you have learned about testing and quality assurance in the last year?

It would be nice if we had some

The blog also got me thinking if I could come up with 100 questions for testers

And it's a good thing Jurgen wasn't interviewing me a few years ago...

Monday, 12 January 2009

Pesky Foreign Accents

Over on the uTest blog there's a list of some of the high profile bugs that have been in the news recently. There's also plenty of minor bugs around that aren't going to make the news.

Saturday night I switched TV channels to Sky Sports to watch the Spanish football, hit the Info button on the remote to find out who was playing and found out that one of the teams was apparently Deportivo de La Coru204321a

The team is actually Deportivo de La Coruña, seems there was some problem with the ' ñ ' character

Maybe I should subscribe to the foreign film channel to see if there are any other problems, purely in the cause of research of course...

Saturday, 10 January 2009

There in black and white

On the website for the MS book "How We Test Software at Microsoft Alan Page writes about how it felt to have copy of his own book in his hands

Got a small taste of that for myself today
Along with others I'd helped review the latest book from Gojko Adzic - Bridging the Communication Gap and Gojko was nice enough to send me a copy of the published book...

and there was a quote from yours truly at the start and a namecheck in the Acknowledgements section and it is a good feeling

I'll re-read the book soon and post a review, bur first I have that MS Book to finish...

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Is it really 2009 ?

Whilst browsing reddit programming I found a blog about The Dysfunctional State of Bug Tracking

It seems to have the usual confusion between QA and QC

"QA is rarely treated as a part of the development process."

If QA isn't part of the development process then what else is there for QA to do ?

"I've been in more than a few places where most of the testers were Art School dropouts"

( any Art School droputs reading this blog ? )

Maybe the best solution is something none of us have thought of before.
I recommend to start by making QA a real part of the development process. This integrating QA and development. Allow testers to influence development and allow developers to influence the test process somewhat. Let's make code easier to test

It's 2009
I really shouldn't be reading stuff like this where suggesting QA really does QA and testers and devs are both involved seems like a radical notion

Happy New Year everyone