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Showing posts from December, 2014

It's the Thought that Counts

A year ago, I wrote about reaching the milestone of 100 blog posts . Part of my initial challenge to myself had been to write regularly: Trying to post around once a week has been a useful discipline. If nothing else it's motivational. I've managed to carve out time even when life and work have been hectic ... Twelve months on and I was surprised to see that I'd gone past the 150 without noticing. Some of my motivation back when I started came from a bit of self-analysis: I started to think more deeply about what I was doing and how I was doing it and tried to tease out where my actions, intuitions, ideas and mistakes were coming from.  Now, having introspected  some more I realise that one of the things I'm getting out of blogging these days is the act itself. Phil Kay talked about "keeping loose" in the interview I quoted  recently and Rick Rubin , describing Eminem , said much the same thing  in another: he is always writing ... he knows 99% of

Oh, Kay!

Phil Kay is a stand-up comedian known for his love of live work and improvisation. In his interview  for The Comedian's Comedian  recently he said some things that resonated with me. When he's talking about the impression others may have that there are rules of improvisation, I'm thinking about testing: There's not a principle that I must avoid things I've done before ... There's plenty of room in the form for doing brand new things [but that's] not the aim, that I must do it brand new. When he's talking about how he constantly watches for and collects data that he hopes will come in useful later, that will help him to make connections and that will keep his mojo working when he's not on stage, I'm thinking about testing: I write notes all the time ... anything interesting that comes to me ... but [the notes] are not the thing. The thing is the fact that I'm watching out for stuff ... like a boxer keeping loose ... on stage I h

The So in Absolute

In a job interview once, the candidate said to me All software requires regression testing and I said   All software requires regression testing? (I didn't think I could put stress on  regression testing  as well. It might have sounded like I was shouting.) The candidate said - after a reasonably lengthy pause - simply Yes.  When reporting something as apparently absolute, I want my testers to caveat, to contextualise, to define the scope of the statement I'm saying X, so long as ... When presented with an unequivocal, absolute, universal statement, I want my testers to be thinking about the ramifications, to be testing it You're saying X,  so  what about ... Well, if I want to stay on the right side of Batman, I want them to do those things so far as it makes sense in their context. So here's a bit of seasonal fun: what scenarios can you think of where software doesn't require regression testing? Be as creative as you like and stuff them int


Bob Marshall , in a bunch of his recent tweets on #NoTesting , quoted Philip Crosby, the author of Quality is Free . Here's a couple: Why spend all this time finding and fixing and fighting when you could prevent the incident in the first place? If managers think testing is the answer to quality, then people will test. One of Crosby's arguments, as I understand it, runs like this: The quality of a thing is the extent to which it conforms to its requirements. The cost of making something, finding it doesn't conform and then fixing or remaking it is higher than the cost of making it to conform in the first place. So you can have a quality thing for (at worst) no additional cost. Which can work, as long as you're prepared to consider anything outside conformance to requirements to also be outside of any quality considerations. In the same  #NoTesting Twitter stream  Marshall said: The problem of testing being seen as the only path to software quality is a ver

Whys After the Event

In the shadow of a failure - and after cleaning the fan - some kind of post-mortem is often requested. The Five Whys is a well-known approach for this kind of analysis and I found myself reading a handful of articles about it recently.  I particularly enjoyed the sceptical take on it in these: The Infinite Hows   by John Allspaw Why Not Ask Why? by Don Gray How Did You Miss That Bug? by Dan Ashby (including the comments)  Image: Amazon