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Showing posts from March, 2016

Getting Out of Here

Some of the testers from Linguamatics went to Cambridge Escape Rooms yesterday. Why? This is from their FAQ: You are locked in a room ... and have to solve a series of puzzles and mysteries to escape. You will have to search high and low for clues and work together ... You have 60 minutes to escape using only the power of your brain.. Some things that I liked: we talked to each other a lot, we explored, we naturally split up when there was work to do in parallel, we came together when we were stuck, we switched roles and tasks when we were getting nowhere, we paired and changed pairs, we checked each others' conclusions, we were open to being checked (and sometimes we found new insight, made progress, in the checking), we generated and tested hypotheses, we explored solutions, we challenged each other and ourselves, we were open to being challenged, we repeatedly found another approach when the one we were using wasn't working, we made connections, we used tools that we f

Coverage, Ins and Outs

Colouring in affords great opportunity for mind-wandering, I find. And it was while I was assisting my eldest daughter in a felt pen marathon the other evening that I happened upon the thought that, to some approximation, colouring in is a coverage task: you start with a piece of paper empty save for lines  and set yourself a mission to cover paper with ink  until you have finished (by some criteria that matters to someone who matters).   Note that this does not mean that every square inch of paper has to be inked (although to my kids that often seems to be the goal). We'll typically achieve our desired level of coverage by slavishly observing the areas demarcated by lines. Or, rather, by doing our best to do that. Striving for this accuracy has a cost. For many pictures, particularly the very detailed ones my two daughters seem to be doing more and more these days, a significant cost is in the time taken to complete the task and another is the glaring obviousness of smal

Glove It!

Comedians and testers both know that the world can be different and strive to show how, in ways that mean something to someone else. I'm very interested in the connection between the creative processes in, and outcomes of, joking and testing.  The Comedian's Comedian podcast often tries to get into the methods that comedians use to come up with their material. Many times the comedians themselves don't know. There are some, like Phil Kay and Gary Delaney, who, while probably not philosophers of comedy - I don't recall ever hearing any conversation about theories of humour on the podcast, for example - are at least philosophers of their comedy . I got the impression that Spencer Jones is another who thinks about what he's thinking about, and how he thinks about it. Here's a couple of quotes from his recent interview that chimed with me as a parent, tester and manager. [Kids] are like comedians without any rules ... I've got this yellow box, it&


Ideas. Ideas. Ideas. Ahhh, ideas. Ideas are the fabric from which other ideas are made, the surface on which other ideas are sketched and the giants on whose shoulders other ideas stand. Ideas spawn ideas but can also weaken, damage and even destroy them. Ideas are plentiful and powerful and sometimes pathological. But we can't advance without them. The Cambridge Exploratory Workshop on Testing is a place for ideas. CEWT: Cambridge: the local tester community; participants have been to recent meetups . Exploratory: beyond the topic there's no agenda; bring on the ideas. Workshop: not lectures but discussion; not leaders but peers; not handouts but arms open. Testing: I reckon you'll know about testing... The second CEWT ran on 28th February 2016 with the theme When Testing Went Wrong . There were ten presentations of ten minutes, each followed by 20 minutes of discussion. A short blog post can't do justice to the range of material we covered, so here's

Rapid Rapid Rapid Software Testing

I was pleased to be able to get Michael Bolton in for a one-day Rapid Introduction to Rapid Software Testing workshop at Linguamatics yesterday. I wanted to blog about it and, in the spirit of RST, which is about performing testing more quickly and less expensively while still fulfilling a mission, I thought I would (a) time-box and (b) give myself a specific aim for writing. In this case, it's 30 minutes and recounting my personal experience (rather than, for example, anything I wanted to get out of it for my team). And that includes defining the mission and editing. Here goes... I attended full RST with James Bach about four years ago. Despite the fact that I had flu at the time and had to pretty much drag myself there and home again on each of the three days, it was an absolutely enlightening experience. Just a few months earlier I'd started this blog and I'd only even been a tester for a couple of years by then. In the intervening time I've tested a lot, lea

Joking With Jerry Part 3

This is the third part of the transcript of a conversation about the relationship between joking and testing. The jokers were  Jerry Weinberg  (JW),  Michael Bolton  (MB),  James Lyndsay  (JL),  Damian Synadinos  (DS), and  me  (JT). See also  Intro ,  Part 1  and  Part 2 . --00-- JW: There's another kind of joke that I think has a tremendous parallel to testing. I don't know if people still do this but when I was a kid this was done all the time. Somebody might ask you "how did you find these bugs? It looks like magic." And you say "well it is magic." And then you tell them there's a secret phrase you have to say in Sanskrit and if you do that then you discover things. You have to memorise it because you have to get it exactly right. It's three words in Sanskrit. The first word, and you repeat after me, "Owah" All: Owah. JW: The second word is "Tagu". All: Tagu. JW: And the third word is "Syam". A

Fly Girls

I've written before (e.g.  1 , 2 ) about how I like to find fun ways to challenge my children to think about the world and the part they play in it, how they interact with it and others, about the things they take for granted and what possibilities there might be in what they know and what scope there is for possibilities they haven't considered. Some mornings that means we play games, or listen to some records they haven't heard before, or try to make up jokes or songs or noises ("who can do the dirtiest raspberry?") or silly rhymes. Yesterday the conversation over breakfast was Barbie and bickering, and, desperate for something else, I blurted out: "Let's think of some things that fly." Daughters: Plane, bird, space ship, aeroplane ... Me: Isn't aeroplane the same as plane? Daughters: No. They're pulling the 'Duh!' face. The spelling seems to be enough to make a difference to them here. Me: Can you think of any more?

Joking With Jerry Part 2

This is the second part of the transcript of a conversation about the relationship between joking and testing. The jokers were  Jerry Weinberg  (JW),  Michael Bolton  (MB),  James Lyndsay  (JL),  Damian Synadinos  (DS), and  me  (JT). See also  Intro , Part 1 and Part 3 . --00-- JW: What relevance do dirty jokes have to testing? DS: Dirty to whom? JW: Exactly. What I was thinking was you learn that you don't tell certain jokes to certain people. For a certain audience, certain jokes are just not OK. Well, the same thing happens in testing. We censor what we say based on the audience we perceive. Sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for bad reasons. Sometimes you might need to find two versions: dirty and clean. Every time you find an error there's information: about the specific error, about the person who made the error, information about the consequences of the error and that information needs to get distributed. So if you're censoring yourself mindl