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Showing posts from April, 2016

Your Testing is a Joke

My second eBook has just been released! It's called Your Testing is a Joke and it's a slight edit of the piece that won the Best Paper prize at EuroSTAR 2015 . Here's the blurb: Edward de Bono, in his Lateral Thinking books, makes a strong connection between humour and creativity. Creativity is key to testing, but jokes? Well, the punchline for a joke could be a violation of some expectation, the exposure of some ambiguity, an observation that no one else has made, or just making a surprising connection. Jokes can make you think and then laugh. But they don't always work. Does that sound familiar? This eBook takes a genuine joke-making process and deconstructs it to make comparisons between aspects of joking and concepts from testing such as the difference between a fault and a failure, oracles, heuristics, factoring, modelling testing as the exploration of a space of possibilities, stopping strategies, bug advocacy and the possibility that a bug, today, in thi

Cambridge Lean Coffee

We hosted this month's Lean Coffee at Linguamatics . Here's some brief, aggregated comments on topics covered by the group I was in. It is fair to refer to testers as "QA"? One test manager talked about how he has renamed his test team as the QA team He has found that it has changed how his team are regarded by their peers (in a positive way). Interestingly, he doesn't call it "Quality Assurance" just "QA"  His team have bought into it. Role titles are a lot about perception: one colleague told him that "QA" feels more like "BA". Another suggestion that "QA" could be "Quality Assisting" We covered the angle that (traditional) QA is more about process and compliance than what most of us generally call testing. We didn't discuss the fairness aspect of the original question. What books have you read recently that contributed something to your testing? The Linguamatics test team ha

It is Possible to be Professional Without Being in a Profession

This guest post is by Abby Bangser , writing on the recent MEWT 5. I enjoyed Abby's talk on the day , I enjoyed the way she spoke about testing both in debate and in conversation and I am very much enjoying her reflections now. I'm also enjoying, and admiring, the open attitude of the MEWT organisers to Abby's comments on gender diversity at the workshop, later on in email and in this piece.  In particular, I like their eagerness to share their intentions, process and feelings about it at  the event and then engage in the wider discussion in the testing community  (e.g.  1 ,  2 , 3 ). MEWT 5 was my first experience in a small peer conference, and the format provided a very interesting style of sharing and learning. A big thanks to Bill and Vernon for organizing, the Association for Software Testing for helping fund the event, and particularly Simon for identifying a common theme. The conference theme of What is a Professional Tester? was a tough one to prepare f


I've said before on here that I enjoy ideas just for their own sake. The CEWT meetings that I run are all about that: exposure to new ideas, novel angles on existing ideas, a view of the evolution, merging, death and resurrection of ideas, and challenges to, or support of, my own ideas and perhaps even my ways of generating or thinking about ideas. So I was delighted to be invited to attend someone else's workshop, MEWT 5, on the topic What is Professional Testing? Apart from anything else, I had a blast simply coming up with what I thought was an interesting angle . The talks and discussion were wide-ranging but I'll just pick out bits from my notes on three of the threads that ran across the day that I found particularly interesting. Relativism Whether someone is acting professionally is entirely subjective. Variables in play include the person doing (the tester in this MEWT's context), the person that's having something done for them (a client; potent

What is What is Professional Testing?

I was invited to the fifth Midlands Exploratory Workshop on Testing (MEWT) yesterday. In it, the MEWTs were asking:  What is Professional Testing? Wikipedia has this to say about what a professional is: A professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns their living from a specified activity.  Hmm. So what’s a profession then?  A profession is a vocation founded upon specialized educational training, the purpose of which is to supply disinterested objective counsel and service to others, for a direct and definite compensation, wholly apart from expectation of other business gain. (also from Wikipedia.)  In MEWT 5 we’ll be asking – what exactly does it mean to be a Professional Tester? And, since I already cited the quotes above. You won’t be allowed to. In fact, we’ll expect you to delve deep and reach far and wide into the many and varied facets of what it means to demonstrate professionalism in the face of a rapidly changing technological and sociological

Luncheon Meet

As manager of a test team I try to get everyone on the team presenting regularly, to the team itself at least. A significant part of the tester role is communication and practising this in a safe environment is useful. There's double benefit, I like to think, because the information presented is generally relevant to the rest of the team. We most often do this by taking turns to present on product features we're working on. I encourage new members of the team to find something to talk about reasonably early in their time with us too. This has some additional motivations, for example to help them to begin to feel at ease in front of the rest of us, and to give the rest of us some knowledge of, familiarity with and empathy for them. I invite (and encourage the team to invite) members of staff from other teams to come to talk to us in our weekly team meeting as well. Again, there are different motivations at play here but most often it is simple data transfer. I used to do

Quality is Value-Value to Somebody

A couple of years ago, in It's a Mandate , I described mandated science : science carried out with the express purpose of informing public policy. There can be tension in such science because it is being directed to find results which can speak to specific policy questions while still being expected to conform to the norms of scientific investigation. Further, such work is often misinterpreted, or its results reframed, to serve the needs of the policy maker. Last night I was watching a lecture by Harry Collins  in which he talks about the relationship between science and democracy and policy. The slide below shows how the values of science and democracy overlap (evidence-based, preference for reproducible results, clarity and others) but how science's results are wrapped by democracy's interests and perspectives and politics to create policies. I spent some time thinking about how these views can serve as analogies for testing as a service to stakeholders. But Co