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 )