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Showing posts from February, 2017

The Testing Kraftwerk

If you're around testers or reading about testing it won't be long before someone mentions models. (Probably after context but some time before tacit knowledge .) As a new tester in particular, you may find yourself asking what they are exactly, these models. It can be daunting when, having asked to see someone else's model, you are shown a complex flowchart, or a state diagram, or a stack of UML, a multi-coloured mindmap, or a barrage of blocked-out architectural components linked by complex arrangements of arrows with various degrees of dottedness. But stay strong, my friend, because - while those things and many others can be models and can be useful - models are really just a way of describing a system, typically to aid understanding and often to permit predictions about how the system will behave under given conditions. What's more, the "system" need not be the entirety of whatever you're looking at nor all of the attributes of it. It's p

Before Testing

I happened across Why testers?  by Joel Spolsky at the weekend. Written back in 2010, and - if we're being sceptical - perhaps a kind of honeytrap for Fog Creek's tester recruitment process, it has some memorable lines, including: what testers are supposed to do ... is evaluate new code, find the good things, find the bad things, and give positive and negative reinforcement to the developers. Otherwise it’s depressing to be a programmer. Here I am, typing away, writing all this awesome code, and nobody cares. you really need very smart people as testers, even if they don’t have relevant experience. Many of the best testers I’ve worked with didn’t even realize they wanted to be testers until someone offered them the job. The job advert  that the post points at is still there and reinforces the focus on testing as a service to developers and the sentiments about feedback, although it looks like, these days, they do require test experience. It's common to hear tes

People are Strange

Managers. They're the light in the fridge: when the door is open their value can be seen. But when the door is closed ... well, who knows? Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby reckon they have a good idea. And they aim to show, in the form of an extended story following one manager as he takes over an existing team with problems, the kinds of things that managers can do and do do and - if they're after a decent default starting point - should consider doing. What their book, Behind Closed Doors , isn't - and doesn't claim to be - is the answer to every management problem. The cast of characters in the story represent some of the kinds of personalities you'll find yourself dealing with as a manager, but the depth of the scenarios covered is limited, the set of outcomes covered is generally positive, and the timescales covered are reasonably short. Michael Lopp, in Managing Humans , implores managers to remember that their staff are chaotic beautiful snowflakes .

The Bug in Lessons Learned

The Test team book club read Lessons Learned in Software Testing  the other week. I couldn't find my copy at the time but Karo came across it today, on Rog 's desk, and was delighted to tell me that she'd discovered a bug in it...


What Really Happened in Y2K? That's the question Professor Martyn Thomas is asking in a forthcoming lecture and in a recent Chips With Everything podcast , from which I picked a few quotes that I particularly enjoyed. On why choosing to use two digits for years was arguably a reasonable choice, in its time and context: The problem arose originally because when most of the systems were being programmed before the 1990s computer power was extremely expensive and storage was extremely expensive. It's quite hard to recall that back in 1960 and 1970 a computer would occupy a room the size of a football pitch and be run 24 hours a day and still only support a single organisation. It was because those things were so expensive, because processing was expensive and in particular because storage was so expensive that full dates weren't stored. Only the year digits were stored in the data. On the lack of appreciation that, despite the eventual understated outcome, Y2K expos

You Rang!

So, last year I blogged about an approach I take to managing uncertainty: Put a Ring on It . The post was inspired by a conversation I'd had with several colleagues in a short space of time, where I'd described my mental model of a band I put around all the bits of the problem I can't deal with now, leaving behind the bits that are tractable. After doing that, I can proceed, right now, on whatever is left. I've encircled the uncertainty with a dependency on some outside factor, and I don't need to think about the parts inside it until the dependency is resolved. (Or the context changes.) And this week I was treated to a beautifully simple implementation of it, from one of those colleagues. In a situation in which many things might need doing - but the number and nature is unknown - she controlled the uncertainty with a to-do list and a micro-algorithm: do the thing now, completely, only if it's easy and important do a pragmatic piece now, if it'