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...