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...