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 testobsessed.com) from my company website (still at qualitytree.com), 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 SQAForums.com 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.