Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Looking for something ?

Are you testing something that has a Search function ?

If so, have you tested it with reserved words ?
Reserved what ? Do you know if there any ? Do you know how your Search feature has been implemented ?

It might be built with Lucene for example - in which case, try not to get caught out like this, or this or maybe even this

Certainly some food for thought in those:

If you have a website that is for computer languages, can you search for C++ ?

If you are searching for names what happens if you use OR as a middle name ?

And from the last one:

"In Dutch, the word "OR" is important because it has a meaning for "Ondernemings Raad". It is used in many texts, and it needs to be found. For example "or" does work, but does not return texts matching the term "OR". How can I make it searchable? "

Have you been caught out when testing Search ?
Does your testing include reserved words ?
Will it now ?

Monday, 28 January 2013

It's Snow Trouble At All

My first winter in Michigan and the arrival of snow.

At the moment it's fun, there wasn't much snow in England and so it's still a novelty and it's been nice powdery snow that crunches underfoot. But it does mean that driveway and sidewalk have to be cleared.

We haven't gone hi-tech yet and got a snowblower and are using the old-fashioned shovel. Gets us some fresh air and works off the Xmas excess.

There hasn't been huge amounts of snow ( yet no jinx touch wood ) and we've kept on top if with regular shoveling so it hasn't been that hard.

Hmmm, somewhat like not letting the technical debt pile up or waiting until there's a huge pile of bugs.

Want to see what that looks like ?

( and yeh, guilty as charged for breaking my rule about I Hate "Testing Is Like..." posts )

Monday, 21 January 2013

No Comment

Wokingham Town U13G football team.

Heard of them ? Probably not - but go back several years and many US youth soccer teams had heard about this small town in Wokingham, Berkshire, England and the great girls team that they had. Some wanted to come over and play them, others wanted to know if they were planning a tour of the US so they could play them, others sent over pins and patches from their club.

How did this happen ?
My daughter has been playing footy from a very early age - and still does. I started a website for the team so that I could get them some publicity - and also learn about using the Internet and creating and running websites. This was in the earlier days of the Internet - so sites still had 'under construction' gifs, guestbooks were popular, marquee tags could often be found and there was no concept of 'Liking' a page

I connected with a lot of teams by signing the guestbook, made connections with teams that signed mine and my site became quite popular. It was helped that it was an English girls footy team - girls soccer is huge in the US but not so much the UK so it was pretty easy to stand out and the US teams loved having an English visitor on the site. And so the benefits I outlined at the start of the post came along - patches and pins in the post and invitations to play.

So I have carried on with this behaviour, but now with testing blogs rather than footy sites.
I don't comment on every blog I read but try to do so on a regular basis. Why ?

  • It helps make connections.
  • The author of the blog usually appreciates it and it encourages them to carry on writing
  • It's an opportunity to think - did the blog make you think ? Do you agree with everything in the post ? Could you play the Devils Advocate ? 
  • Conversely, if the blog does not make you think and you never have any comment to make about it, why are you reading it ?

Captchas can make leaving a comment a real pain but is that the main reason people don't comment ? Do you bother leaving comments ? If you don't, then please leave a comment explaining why :)

As an exercise, try leaving one comment a week. If you cant, then reflect on why not, does it mean the blogs you read are not making you think enough ?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Nametag Test

Last night I went to an AIMWest (the Interactive Association of West Michigan - so why isn't it IAMWest ?? ) to listen to a talk on entrepreneurship. community and family. A good chance to broaden my horizons and meet up with people who weren't Grand Rapids testers

As usual at these events, as you walked in you were given a nametag to put on with your name (duh) and company.

I had a couple of people look at my name badge, recognise the company name and tell me they knew it and what a great company it was.

So maybe that's a test for where you work now.
Are you proud to wear a badge with the company name on it ?
How do people react when they see the name - do they know it ?
If they do know it, what are their reactions ?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Roll The Bones

Last year I finally took the AST BBST Foundations course after I'd read so much about it.
I plan to write a post on it soon but basically it lived up to its billing and was a great learning experience.

Last night I finally got to take part in the Dice Game
If you've read blogs from other testers then it's likely you'll have heard about it - a quick Google brought me blog posts from Lynn McKeeDarren McMillanGeordie KeittEric JacobsonJesper Lindholt OttosenBrian OsmanPekka Marjam√§ki...

So I think you get the idea - that playing The Dice Game is almost a rite of passage for a tester, the testing equivalent of a Masonic Handshake
"Have you played the Dice Game ?" gets a knowing nod in return and then the exchange of stories about the time there was THIS rule that took 3 hours to figure out...

I'd read about it but not actually done it but the moment finally arrived when Pete Walen made the January session of GR Testers a games night.

Introductions done, pizza eaten, let the games begin and out came the dice
I used the place mat to start taking notes of the dice rolled and the results
Kicked myself when I realised that the dice did not have to be rolled and shaken at every turn - one of the many lessons the game teaches you.

Then I got it.
I knew what the rule was - or was pretty sure I did
Re-arranged some of the dice to make sure
A big rush and a great sense of achievement and satisfaction

Pete then showed us the pen game and the coin game and even Johnny Whoop - all variations on a theme but one I was starting to recognize
How many times have I been in front of a program saying "why did it do that ?" and then trying to narrow down and reproduce exactly what the 'why' was.
Careful observation, looking outside the obvious, remembering other similar games - all coming together to an answer

The Dice Game ?
Yeh, I've played that

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Overcoming My Fear of Raspberry Jam

I've now started blogging for STP

I did this after reading this post from Matt Heusser, writing that he was a lone voice on there and asking for others to come along and help the community. So yeh, the 'C' word got me, it's something I like to do and a chance to reach others seemed a great opportunity.

This blog will keep going, I can keep this for the more personal and quirky stuff.

And I also regularly blog  for Atomic Object on their Atomic Spin site as this is part of the company values and mantras - everyone has to help with marketing and blog once a month.

I did wonder if I would be getting in trouble with The Law of Raspberry Jam:

the law that describes how any Great Message gets diluted when carried too far: 
"The wider you spread it, the thinner it gets."  

It's a valid concern but:
  • My STP and Atomic Spin blogs are not daily or even weekly blogs, I dont have to churn out daily content
  • I like writing, it makes me think
  • I like connecting with the test community, STP has a far wider reach than this blog
  • Now that I've moved to the US I no longer spend 3-4 hours a day commuting. and Atomic values a sustainable pace of work and aims which means I have more spare time
  • If I find I dont have anything to write about then that's a sign (to me) that something is wrong
That's the intention anyway, time will tell if the blogs posts will tail off like members at a gym...

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Stretching Ol' Blue Eyes on the Rack to get Slim


Lots of buzzwords that I had heard of, some I vaguely knew what they were, a couple ( Ruby ) I had a more deeper understanding of.

But I'd never really understood how they all worked together and what they really meant.

Luckily for me, Jeff Nyman came along with a series of blog posts about installing all the required frameworks and utilities to get a web app up and running on Heroku.

I followed along, downloaded everything needed, typed in all the code ( not using Cut n Paste ) and learnt an awful lot.

I learnt that my dabblings in vi 20 years ago seem to have imprinted themselves and I was able to edit files without having to Google for the commands

I felt a great sense of achievement when I pushed to Heroku and was able to see my app up and running from there.

I was able to see first hand how things can go wrong when I started adding Javascript and missing brackets, semi-colons and incorrect brackets caused problems. The expected output was not happening but there was no error to tell me what had gone wrong ( yeh, I was not doing TDD, that's for my next learning adventure )

I still don't fully understand what I did - but I now have a very basic understanding and now have the ability to play around and see what breaks and what works and can dive deeper into each of the components to understand it more.

I also learned that following along and typing in rather than using copy n paste helps develop muscle and mind memory so by lesson 6 I was typing the commands without having to refer back to the earlier lessons and my file edits were quick and not cumbersome and error prone.

In a recent blog post, Alan Page talks about learning and practice and says:

you don’t really know the practice until you’ve tried it yourself 

Following along with the posts from Jeff gave me some practice, confidence - and now I have the framework in place to experiment and explore.

And it shows what a great resource the Internet is - thanks to Jeff for taking the time ( and it must have taken quite some time and effort ) to share his learnings.

Next up is tackling the Ruby on Rails tutorial and after the fun I had remembering and using vi then I'll go off and see if I can learn me some vim.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Testing a Bullit

Ever seen the film Bullit with Steve McQueen and one of the best car chase scenes ever filmed ?

In 2001 Ford made a limited edition Ford Mustang Bullit to celebrate the film, production was limited to 5582 and of those only 722 were in blue.
That's what you can see in the photo - one of the very rare blue ones. The father, Mickey, of my son-in-law has one and over the Xmas holiday period I got a chance to sit in it and was taken for a ride.

We both loved the sound of the engine and Mickey said that he didn't have to use a higher gear than 3rd as that was easily enough to get him to the speed limit.

Which got me thinking about testing...

How would you test this car ?

Would you spend more time and effort into testing the lower gears given that they were enough to drive everywhere and the higher gears would only be used at illegal speeds ?

Mickey was complaining that the new Mustangs just didn't sound like the old ones - so would you even think about testing the sound the car made ? How would you know a 'good' sound from a poor one ?

Given that the car is named after the film, how far do you take the 'consistent with image' heuristic ? Do you test it looks 'cool' like Steve McQueen (define 'coolness' !) or that it can survive a car chase through San Fransisco?

Thoughts ?

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

From Ruby to Watch City with a whistle - plans for 2013

Happy New Year to all and time to join in with the usual posts outlining plans for the year ahead...



Trying out an online course - Introduction to Databases from Stanford University.
I didn't pay too much attention to my DB course when I was at uni and as it was also a long time ago then it's time I had a refresher course

I've dabbled with these for a long time but I'd like to stop the dabbling and get more serious.
Resources I will be using:

Ruby on Rails tutorial book

Following along with a new series of blog posts by Jeff Nyman on Building Simple Web Apps with Ruby

The screencasts from Cheezy on using Ruby and Cucumber - and reading his book Cucumber and Cheese

Possibly doing the Selenium2 Webdriver basics course offered by Alan Richardson (@eviltester)

Test Design
Having completed the AST BBST Foundations ( blog post to come ) the next one in my sights is Test Design in April

Carry on moderating and growing the Software Testing Club - which is now 12,200 and counting

Keep trying to answer questions on QA Stack Exchange

Keep attending the monthly GR Testers Meetups

Now I am on the US side of The Big Pond then no excuses for not attending CAST 2103 in August in Madison, WI

Currently reading Impact Mapping and Tap into Mobile App Testing - finish these and post reviews on my blog

Already mentioned Cucumber and Cheese which I'll be reading as I learn Ruby and Cucumber

I really must finish Thinking Fast and Slow - though it's taken me so long that I should start again from the beginning

Thanks to a bug competition from Matt Heusser I have a copy of Quiet: The Power of Introverts which has been on my Wish List for a long time

This blog has been neglected the last few months - a move across The Pond and a new job is not a bad excuse but now that I've been here a few months I cant keep using it. I'm aiming to keep a regular series of posts and to keep connected with other bloggers

Away from testing I have a Grade 8 soccer referee class in January so that I can referee older age groups.

I'll be joining the crowd of people resolving to lose weight and get fit this year - but I do have goals to help me keep this going, one is being fit enough so that I can referee 8 games in a weekend and the second is so that I can finish the Warrior Dash in Michigan in September in a respectable time

I'm getting an interest in Steampunk so am thinking of going to some conventions - Denver at the end of March and Watch City in Massachussetts in May

That's the plan - let's see how it pans out....