Sunday, 24 January 2010

A Saturday Afternoon At The Opera

Another weekend and another session of the European Chapter of Weekend Testers

Our mission this week - write some scenarios for Soap Opera testing of Bing Maps.

An interesting challenge which shows why the Weekend Testing movement is such a great resource for a tester. I've read about soap opera testing but never had the chance to put it to work and a session like this was a chance to get a taste for it.
But it was only a taste - by the time the mission was explained, some thoughts about the problem, some interruptions from the Skype icon flashing ( must learn to ignore this ) and then reminders from Markus that we had to send our reports in and the time was gone.

I also lost time as I deviated from the mission and went off and tried out a couple of my scenarios and lost more time as I found a 'script running slowly' error which meant a reload of the app and attempts to reproduce the problem.

Managed to write 2 scenarios and found that writing good ones requires a lot of thought. The good thing about doing this with other testers is that I can now go off and look and see what they came up with and learn from them

Time-up and it was the second-half of the session which is just as valuable ( maybe more so ) than the first which is where the session is discussed and the discussions fly off on all sorts of tangents.

One discussion was the fact that some of us went 'off mission' and actually used the app and got distracted by that. Guilty as charged but in my defence, your honour, I spend all week with people insisting i keep to my mission so their metrics look good so I relish my freedom at the weekend...

We disussed what to do about this as a test manager. Do you want to know if your testers are going off mission, do you encourage it ( maybe you should build in a 20% time a la Google to let testers follow their instincts and maybe you should have some metrics to see if more problems are found when testers go off mission than when they are on it ( sorry, suffering from metric overload on my current project ))

Another tangent was whether I was a SuperHero or not... Being a good tester I've got to know the app I'm working on backwards. I know the business side, the techy side and almost know every word in every requirement doc and tech spec. So when testers new to the project write their tests or think they have found defects they are run by me first to see if they make sense. Does this make me a Hero ? I think not - but does mean the project is suffering from The Bus factor in that there would be a problem if I was to be hit by one

A discussion on conferences and the shortsightedness of companies unwilling to send their tester there. A topical topic as Matt Heusser posted a guide to Conferences On The Cheap - or organise your own as Tony Bruce did ( Tony was on the session and good to have him on board )

So I am totally sold on the Weekend Testing concept
Great way to try out and learn new approaches ( anyone recommend any books/blogs on soap opera testing ? ) and great discussions with fellow testers

Sunday, 17 January 2010

weekend testing

What is weekend testing ? Testing to see how long the coffee stays hot in the coffee machine ? Whether the toast stays the same slice after slice ? How many Sunday supplements can the paper boy deliver ? Those are all good options

Or you can spend the weekend taking part in the first session of the European chapter of Weekend Testing, a chance for testers to test an app and interact with fellow testers and discuss their findings

Thanks to Anna Baik and Markus Gärtner for setting up and to Ajay Balamurugadas for being an excellent facilitator for the session.

We had an image processing program to test and an hour to do it. Not a long time especially as I have a competetive nature and found myself wanting to find some showstopping or cool bugs to show the other testers. I also found myself distracted by moving pencils - the session was held over a Skype chat and people were asking Ajay questions and whenever they did the Skype window would show pencils frantically moving away

After an hour there was an hours discussion on our findings - well it was meant to be an hour but after an hour and 20 minutes Ajay had to try and call a halt to proceedings as I'm sure we could have gone on for a few hours more.

Even though I didn't find any showstopping bugs it was an enjoyable and thought provoking exercise. Having domain knowledge would have helped for certain areas - how do you tell if a posterizing filter has worked correctly ??? asking questions beforehand was useful ( some of the participants were excellent at that ) - good timing as I had just been listening to the Bach brothers podcast about The trap of not asking questions

Overall though it was simply a lot of fun to be interacting with other testers and finding out how they had approached the tasks and their thoughts on it afterwards

More sessions are planned - only slight drawback is the name of the group - 'weekend testing' - I do like my lazy weekends away from work at the moment...

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Farmerror Giles

Farmville is the latest craze on Facebook and has 350 million users

The game itself is a fertile ground for bugs - see the above image for the latest.
Often the game is updated and there are problems, can be slow to load, infuriates people - and yet read those numbers again
200 billion page views a month. 350 million users clock in 200 billion page views.

why bother going for zero defects when you have this many users ?

now pardon me, I have some tomatoes to harvest...

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Leonardo ( not the teenage mutant ninja turtle )

My local library had an IT maintenance weekend so no-one was able to take books out but they were selling old books off very cheaply so I got myself a copy of 'How to think like Leonardo Da Vinci' for the bargain price of 50 pence.

The book has seven Da Vincian principles to follow, all of which seem to be the same principles a great tester would have

Curiosita - an insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for learning

Dimonstrazione - a commitment to test knowleldge through experience, persistence and a willingness to learn from mistakes

Sensazione - the continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience

Sfumato ( literally 'going up in smoke' ) - a willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty

Arte/Scienza - the development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. "Whole-brain thinking"

Corporalita - the cultivation of grace, ambidexteriy, fitness and poise

Connessione - a recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking

Leonardo also seemed to have something to say on the certification debate.
He described himself as uomo senza lettere ( "man without letters" ) and discipello della esprienza ( "disciple of experience" )...