Friday, 30 December 2011

A functional end

This time last year I was enjoying an extended Xmas break and was using the time to learn Selenium and Java. I'd installed Eclipse on my laptop and was enjoying doing some coding again. In fact I was enjoying it so much and hating the commute into work that thoughts of a job change started.

And this is how the year has finished - a new job opportunity and I've just installed the Haskell Platform and I'm reading up on functional programming.

The job may change but the learning doesn't stop - only now I'm not doing it on my own and doing it on sample projects. I'm now working with projects that use all the stuff that I was reading about.

Looking back on the year:

  • I'm learning how to use Git and Vim.

  • Read Agile Web Development with Rails and followed the examples so I had a RoR website up and running on my laptop.

  • Tested my first mobile apps

  • Learnt about several sectors of industry that I previously knew nothing about.

  • Attended Tester Gatherings in London, Oxford and Winchester and met Lisa Crispin and Michael Bolton.

  • Attended 2 Tester Gatherings in Grand Rapids, Michigan and met Pete Walen and Mel Bugai.

  • Met Matt Heusser and went out for a buffalo burger ( sadly sold out ) and tester chat.

  • Spent 8 weeks with my finger in a splint after getting Mallet Finger playing Extreme Frisbee with new work colleagues.

  • Celebrated the landmark figure of 10,000 members of the Software Testing Club.

  • Terminated numerous STC posts and accounts, some of whom got pissed at me.

  • Increased my library with numerous books

  • Doubled the size of my Amazon Wish List

Goals for next year:

  • Finalise my move to the US - the visa process is slow

  • Get a deeper understanding of Ruby by looking at real projects

  • Attend CAST 2012

  • Finish reading the books I have before starting on my Wish List

  • Continue growing the STC both in terms of numbers and influence

  • Be an active member of GR Testers

Whilst writing this post other testers have posted their reflections on the year. I was struck by how two entries also emphasised learning - Anne-Marie Charrett (The Maverick Tester ) and Pete Walen. And I'm fortunate to be working at a place that also emphasises a culture of learning

Another blog post also got my attention, from Timothy Western aka Veretax/Discovered Tester - Reflections on 2011, a year of trial, growth, and questions
My current role on project has me pondering though. I've heard it debated around twitter, about whether you can be both a programmer and a tester. I know I can do either, but at some point do you not need to decide which to specialize in? The reality is there are only so many hours in the day for study and growth, and the opportunity cost of each new learning investment, in effect is at a loss for learning something else. This is a reality that I've now come face to face with in the last two months. I still have the knowledge from what I learned as a tester, but it has been hard to try and keep up on my learning where testing is concerned, especially when my current responsibilities require me to act in a more code-centric role

I'm enjoying poking around in code and even enjoying the headache that looking at Haskell and functional programming is giving me. But I've also started reading Thinking Fast and Slow which is giving me a lot of thoughts about bias in testing.

Which to devote more time to ? How to find the right balance ?
Something I'll have to try and answer in 2012

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Recipe Test

I have to admit to getting hooked on a reality TV show - Masterchef Australia ( who knew there were so many ways to cook a kangaroo ? ).

The series is basically about a bunch of amateur cooks who are set a series of challenges and whittled down week after week until there is a winner.
A recent episode made for great blog material.
The challenge was for the four cooks left in the competition to come up with a recipe - and then write it down so that a home cook could follow it and make the dish.

All four finalists were great cooks, had delivered some amazing dishes and thrived under pressure. Putting this skill and talent onto paper proved to be a very difficult task.

The rule of the challenge was that the home cooks had to follow the recipe, they could not use their own initiative. Very simple mistakes caused large problems for the people trying to follow the recipes.

One mistake was that a recipe said to use 'juice' but juice did not appear on the list of ingredients. So what flavour of juice ? How much ? The recipe writer had removed it from the list of ingredients but forgot to remove it from the recipe making instructions.

Another recipe which was for a 3-layered cake came unstuck because although it said to divide the mixture into 3 it also only specified using 2 baking trays and so the home cook ended up with a 2 layer cake.

The contestants found the task difficult, the home cooks found it confusing and the judges found the results inedible...