"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Intel-igent Testers !

Hi Reader,

You deserve more ... keeping this in mind ...

This post is going to talk about "As a Tester , How can you make a difference to the end user ?" and am sure the learning I had yesterday is of great benefit to me and so to you because we are all one and the same ... TESTER !

__ Intel-igent Testers ! __

My uncle bought a new CPU and it had some problems as it kept rebooting whenever the monitor was attached and so my uncle called the PC Doctor he knows ( that's me ).

After some basic Testing, I concluded that the Non-Intel Mother board wasn't capable to take the monitor load as the monitor was the type which drew power from the CPU's SMPS. I suggested my uncle to go for an Intel Original Mother board and so he did. We went and bought a Genuine Intel 915G Motherboard and WoW ! the problem was solved.

After the PC started working, I loaded a software that was available with Motherboard and again WoW ! I witnessed something amazing. Guess what , as a Tester .. what else could I have found interesting.

Here it is for you - Intel(R) Desktop Utilities - power unleashed -

The software has a Stress Test module into it and any end user can stress test the mother board using that module and can say "bingo" my Motherboard works well.

How the Intel(R) Desktop Utilities Stress Test works ?

  • Video - The video graphics card is exercised with very rapid changing colours in one of the window. This ensures that the response to changing colours is good and the VGA is working absolutely fine and beyond..
  • Audio - Certain test files available within the system are played and the test files are chosen in such a way that the system is able to play different formats and different sampling rates while other parts of the Motherboard is exercised.
  • CD/DVD - In this section the read and write of the CD/DVD drive based extensions/bus are exercised by reading and writing data and checks the throughput and speeds.
  • CPU - In this section MIPS or millions of instructions per second is checked by putting up a lot of addition/subtraction/multiplication/divisions simutaneously.
  • RAM - In this section the RAM is tested by writing many Megabytes of junk data and verifying the same.
  • Disk - The C drive too is not spared and subjected to stress by doing similar write and verification.
  • Network - Here bytes are sent and recieved just like how we do "ping" and the delay and return times are logged
  • MMX - Here there is MMX based Add/Sub/Multiply... which I am not sure what it is..
  • Reporting - After the Stress Test, a very beautiful report is generated which gives the user an idea of how the system has performed

*** The picture you see above is a screen shot while the stress test was on ***

Who is the Tester in Intel ?

Well , as a Tester, I feel responsible to thank the Intel Tester(s) who had done this fabulous job and I wish every organization developing products get inspired by such tools that are available to end user and develop the same. The Intel Testers are -

  1. Who could visualize the need for such tool.
  2. Design the tool, develop the tool, TEST the tool.
  3. Give the end user a value addition to buy their product.

I dont know whether I should thank Intel Testers as an end user or as a fellow Tester who was inspired by their work.

__ Intel-igent Testers ! __

"To know what Stress Testing is say.. "Stress Testing Stress Testing ..." continously without gap..."


Pradeep Soundararajan


Disclaimer : I am not 100% sure whether this is a genuine idea of Intel and also I am not against other Motherboard manufacturing companies, I and you can talk only about what we have seen. Also you could have seen something better or worse, it all depends on your experiences.

Thank Note : I am greatly thankful to CV Sarat, Tanveer Khan , Udaya Chandrika , Amol Agare , Deepak Argade , Rajesh Barde , Mayur, Sangeetha, Keerthi Kailas,Bart ..... and lots lots more who have been encouraging me, for their wonderful words/wishes, which keeps me in right track always and always I shall not dissapoint you all. I thank my blog for giving people like you to me.

Preetam Modur can never be missed out from this as he was the person who made me start blogging !

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Why do you need to be a Tester? Wherever you are …

Hi Reader,

In the past few days I have had great learning and I am trying to digest it before I present it for you. In the mean time I would like to share one of the incident where my testing skills came handy for a problem that was not solved for quite sometime.

__ Why do you need to be a Tester? Wherever you are … __

One of my cousins joined an Ozone System Manufacturing company and his first task was to inspect a few systems that had been installed. While his inspection and training, he was briefed about a problem that occurred frequently with the system that was costing more on maintenance.

The Ozone system in short –

A Shell containing electrodes forms the heart of the system. An inlet pipes takes in oxygen from an oxygen cylinder/pump and another inlet to the shell takes in potable water to form a water-cooling circuit, which is shielded from the electrodes. When a high voltage is passed to the electrodes and oxygen mixed in particular proportion ozone oozes out through the outlet pipe. Did I forget to inform you that a Teflon envelope covers the Aluminian Electrodes?

Now the problem is (was) –

The Teflon envelope, which had a guarantee of 6 months, was facing fatigue and had to be replaced every month in order to produce efficient ozone production.

My cousin is one among those who is confident about my Testing skills and took special permission from his manager to allow me to visit a real time plant. The excitement within me was at peak and especially when I came to know that I would be inspecting the ozone plant of a very famous Multiplex in Bangalore, excitement shot up further.

Testing skills put to use – (this way, down)

Phase – 1 (Study)

* Started off studying the system, theory part of course.
* Being an Instrumentation Engineer (as per my degree certificate), I put the theory learnt to use by inspecting the meters and its calibration.
* Asked the personnel who are in the maintenance job to explain me the process of maintenance they carry over.
* Asked the personnel to show me some sample Teflon envelops – both new ones and the ones that had given up their life.

Phase – 2 (Analysis)

I made an analysis between the documented maintenance procedure and the procedure in practice, later observed and informed the deviation with the two.

I made an analysis that the water-cooling circuit could be the culprit since in any engineering plant when water-cooling system is deployed a problem of corrosion/rust comes into picture. ( Although Teflon is non corrosive …)

I also observed a salt formation over Teflon and hence suggested to scrap the salt formed over and subject it to a chemistry lab test to find out what is the chemical composition of the salt. Of course this result could let anyone know who is any other culprit if any.

Phase – 3 (My progression towards bettering my testing skills)

I admitted that my suggestions are limited to my understanding of the system and my understanding could not be exhaustive as I spent only some time on it. Also I asked them not to put my suggestions to work on a real infrastructure whereas to go ahead and implement my suggestions on an emulated infrastructure, Test it for a month before taking it into the real time infrastructure.
(I should be thanking James Bach here without whom I would have taken a longer time to put such good things into my Testing virtue.)

__ Why do you need to be a Tester? Wherever you are … __

“When a Tester is walking on a road, stay away, he might be Testing the tar laid on …”


Pradeep Soundararajan

Disclaimer: The study, analysis and recommendations are crunched to make it ASAP (As Sweet As Possible). It is a fact that there are enough testing challenges in this world but un attempted due to lack of good quality testers. I am not trying to mean I am a better good quality Tester but for sure I am at least progressing towards it. Who is joining me?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bird eye view !

Hi Reader,

Thanks for all those mails and encouragement that keeps me pushing forward to give good posts to you each time. Here is another researched topic on testing for you and your friends.

The topic says "Bird eye view", could anyone guess what I am trying to explain here ?
For those who guessed right... you win a Tester Tested ! T-Shirt free. ( coming soon... )

Anyhow let me jump in directly to fundas...

I was once asked by my mentor "How do you know what an end user needs when testing a product".

He asked so because I had made a claim that "I was able to suggest changes in design after testing a product"

It actually took 3 months for me to answer his question and here is the case study for you ...

__ Bird eye view __

My career started off with listening to a lot of music, Yes , I was testing Bluetooth Audio Product.

It is a part and parcel of that job to listen to a lot of music while testing and I kept using variants of that product for almost 5 months. Although there were test cases guiding the testing but I realized that there was something else which made me talk to my manager about the design, changes needed and supporting evidence.

One of product variant had 2 MMI ( or buttons ) which had a lot of power packed functions into it. From those two buttons features like ... Play, Pause, F-Fwd , Rew , Connect , Disconnect , Inquiry, Next, Previous, Pairing .... ( what not ).Remember all this in just two buttons, something unbelievable but true.

I was keen on listening to music and was sub-conciously using it as any other user of any audio product. I felt the design of the audio product was not good which made it non-user-friendly, as I was using the same product while doing other work.

I then noted down the issues I faced and putforth the same to the management about the issues I noticed.

The point of concern here is not to look whether management accepts it or not but to look whether we grow up as good testers and one feature of a good tester is to think from end-user's view.

So the above leads to ...

Points to consider to start thinking from a customer's view -

  • If you are a fresher and entering to a domain where you have never used such a product which you are supposed to test, first, at your home take up any product you use in your daily life and prepare a test plan, test case and test it and get it verified with some good tester.( if you find one nearby ) For ex - it could be your own mobile phone.
  • If you have started off with multimedia testing, good, try to inculcate the above point, provided you feel you may take time to come out with a better point than mine.
  • If you have already started your career and are somewhere in between, never late than before, check whether you have had any similar experiences or try to co-relate with any such.Also you could try out the previous point, provided you feel it could help you.
  • End user is concerned about the form factor of the product you are testing, so be cautious to note and let your manager know if there are any.
  • If you get a chance to sit with your customer at the cafetaria, ask him what made him think to suggest a change he had requested sometime back.If it is difficult to find a customer at your premises, catch hold of some requirements/design engineering old chap, he has lots to talk about.( provided you approach him)
  • Always test with an intention that your customer is a better tester/QA than you and he demands more than what you can offer him.
  • Assume you are going to buy the product you are testing and want it in such a way that it is highly user-friendly, bug free and interops well.

__End of Bird eye view __

"When you look from the customer's eyes, you still may hate your manager"


Pradeep Soundararajan


Disclaimer : The above post is based on my own opinion and does not imply that this is the only way you can learn to think from the customer point of view.I also am aware that your experiences could be contradicting my theory and hence would want you to be aware that each one's experience is different from each other.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

We Model Testing

Hi Reader,

In many of the interviews I have been ….

“Pradeep, could you tell me what model of Testing were you following in your previous company”

Before understanding the industry, my answer was…
“I don’t think we follow any Testing Model” and got rejected for not knowing the model.

After understanding the industry, my answer was …
“V Model Testing” and got selected for the next round.

For those who think this industry is full of ideals, this post is not for you.
For those who think one should not lie in the interview, this post is not for you.
For those who think as a Tester they experienced V model, this post is not for you.
For those who think many testers are aware of V model, this post is not for you.
For those who don’t think anything and just test what you are asked to without asking questions … this post is definitely not for you.
For everyone else….

__ We model Testing __

V model Testing is a not only a model but a far more advanced research thesis given by janta (public), for its just another so called good process for testing.

Well I had a request sometime back to explain verification and validation, so here is the mixture…

V- model actually is the verification and validation model. “Ah ! Pradeep there are hundreds of blogs and whitepapers which gives such gyaan, explain us in a better way”

“Sure, my dear readers”

What is Verification?

Let us assume your mom/wife has asked you to buy some vegetables to cook something for the guests expected at your home. Your mom/wife further speaks out that they would like to have W X Y Z vegetables at half a kilo, one-kilo, one and a half kilo and two-kilo respectively.
Now what would you do? (If you love your mom/wife) You would take up a paper and write down their requirements and check with them whether what you have written is meeting their expectation in terms of vegetable variety and weights.

Perfect, what you have done now is Verification. In software or Test terminologies … Verification is a process to check whether the right system is built. (For dummies … Verification is a process to check whether the vegetables noted down are the right ones to be bought)

Then, What is Validation?

Lets say you have got the slip (document) you wrote verified by your mom/wife and you have gone to the market to purchase the same. You buy vegetables W X Y and Z. You doubt the grocer and ask him to weigh the vegetable W for half a kilo, X for one-kilo…

Perfect, what you have done now is Validation. In software or Test terminologies … Validation is a process to check whether the system built is right. (Again, for dummies … Validation is a process to check whether each of the vegetable you have bought really weighs the expected weight)

This V model when expanded in detail has a testing associated with each of the requirement/design/development phase… or if you have got interested over it by now check this link.

Now starts a better story …

During your first 3-4 years of your Testing Career, has your manager/lead explained to you the model they are following or at least were you able to grasp it based on what you are doing?

Not every friend of yours can say, “Yes”

Unfortunately you are expected to answer a question in interview about the model you are supposed to be following. And by chance you get selected and join them and when you do your next switch of job, you will be asked the same damn question for which your answer is (usually) the same and you are consciously making a mistake because you really don’t know what model was followed … Frankly speaking, I have been in 4 companies out of which two are in Fortune Top 50 companies and other two are Unfortunate Top 50 companies. I really didn’t experience any model anywhere.

Is it a Tester’s mistake or a manager’s mistake or the organization’s mistake?

It is the mistake with the attitude that is happening. This mistake of attitude does not spare a Tester, Manager and any Organization. The point I have stressed here maybe small to you but it may affect you on a long time run if you/me is affected with attitude syndrome.

If {
You are a Tester; ask your manager what model you people are supposed to be following.
You are a Lead, ask you manager and let your juniors know what model you were supposed to be following for all this while.
You are a Manager, ask yourself whether you are paid to answer all these stupid questions?
Else {
Flush the buffer, it may contain all the above junk.

__ We model Testing __

“My friend told, his company has a V shaped model and her name is ….”
Pradeep Soundararajan
Disclaimer : If you are one among all those testers who do not have the same experience as me... there is a link above in the page to proceed to some other blog ;-D. I have just shared what I have experienced and what I have researched keeping my friends/co-workers as subjects and I agree that your experience may differ.This post is here to make the fellow testers/readers of this post realize what they should learn apart from getting a pat from the manager for slogging and simply executing test cases in time wont take you a long way.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Testing – Testing Indian Testers

Hi Reader,

One of the worlds renowned Test Expert James Bach wrote in his blog “I was wrong about India” in 2003 November and isn’t that a Big credit to India. We have been progressing in a great way and the whole world is eyeing on India as we keep doing more and more good to the country and to the world market.

Although there has been great progress there are certain elements that still need improvement and let’s discuss those elements here.

__ Testing – Testing Indian Testers __

One such improvement is already discussed in “Are you a Tester or Toolsmith?” and let me discuss other factors that keep me wondering why we can’t improve on the following …

Are you a pink slipper?

Of course I agree there was a boom and need of Test Engineers and to meet the demand many faked experience and joined some MNC. They did take us happily but after they started the background verification, we were pink slipped. Testers contribute a larger percentage of this pink slip community.
Should we spoil our international repute by doing so?
If you are an experienced and passionate Tester and when a junior comes to you to seek advice, tell him/her not to become a pink slipper in future. If you do so you shall progress India one step ahead. (provided he/she listens)
Update : Read this - Fake it and Break it

Are you a pay slipper?

Of course I agree that Test Engineers are not paid as equally as a Developer of the same experience but if you are a comparator when it comes to pay, you are doing something wrong, to yourself, the company hiring you. I had a chance to glance the book “Lessons Learnt from Software Testing” by James Bach, Kem Caner, which had a sentence that “Testers are paid less but in the dot com time, Test Architects were paid more than the Dev guys of the same experience” in lesson 29x (not sure). Well I say, should you worry too much about pay when Testing is your passion and not just career alone.
Should we spoil our international repute becoming a pay slipper?
No! Not always, for passionate Testers pay isn’t a problem as long it is able to bring you bread, butter, jam, some savings. This doesn’t mean settle for a low pay, it means, be a smart negotiator or accept the industry standard pay.

Are you a job slipper?

Of course, I agree that there are hell lots of engineering colleges pumping out many engineers every year. Where will they go? Some take up engineering by paying some donation, some study through loan, some need to clear his/her father’s debt…This doesn’t mean you stick on to something you are not interested at for a long time. As I said earlier in “Why Testing failed in a Freshers mind”, Testing is a forced profession but only a few land up liking it and most use Testing job as a stop gap to jump into development. I also met a surprising person in my previous company who wants to slip from development to Testing just because she got married and need more time for her personal life. Isn’t this a wrong notion and aren’t we spoiling ourselves?
If you want to go to development, don’t take up a Testing job at all (if possible) or work harder to get a development job.

Are you a prestige slipper?

Of course, some insane people still think Testing is not a brainy job and keep talking ill about Testing or Testers. You are unfortunate if you have made them your friends and give an ear to them and shift your career from Testing to Development. I am not against Development, I am against the insane people doing Development and talking ill about Testing or Testers. There is a saying in Tamil “Donkeys don’t know the smell of camphor”. Ignore donkeys and keep smelling the camphor.

Are you any other slipper?

Of course, there are lot of other elements of improvement but if you belong to any of the following category, time to improve buddy –

Yes, I join some QA/Testing groups/forums and keep asking basic questions without doing some ground work or googling it.

Yes, I reply to the queries in QA/Testing groups/forums without exactly knowing the answers as I feel participation is important and I end up confusing the upcoming Testers.

Yes, I don’t read user manuals of Tools that are used in Testing and even for a small doubt I wait for replies from the community.

__ Testing – Testing Indian Testers __

Now there are two possibilities

Choice 1. Yes, I will help my country progress further.
Choice 2. No, I won’t do/repeat any of the above.

Your country will be proud of having you irrespective of your choice being 1 or 2.

“You can make your country proud not only by laying your life in enemy’s hands but also by Testing with passion”


Pradeep Soundararajan
Disclaimer : I am aware that there are many passionate testers in this country who has put our country in such an enviable state and this post is an effort to add more feathers to the crown.If you feel guilty of doing any of the above, thank yourself for feeling guilty and get self inspired after making necassary changes.Dont feel that the above is happening in India only, there are other countries too but first let us set an example.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tested for James Bond !

Hi Reader,

"Wait ! Don't talk about Casino Royale. This is a testing blog, keep it in mind" before anyone of you shout this at me , I wanted to say that " I too have that in mind".

Have you seen a man who uses literally bug free product and if you have seen that man , I too have seen him and he is of course James Bond. Isn't it inspiring to create bug free products but is it possible ? Many say "No" , I don't agree. ( My perception , if you differ , continue testing )

As a Tester I was impressed about one character in Bond movies , any guess ?
No , its not Bond's Blonde instead Mr Q.
Mr Q the gadget man for James Bond, impressed me because I feel he is a good tester.

"Pradeep, anything wrong with you , last time you said Sir Thomas Alva Edison is a Tester and now Mr Q ?" you have all rights to ask this and I too have all rights to share my learning .....

__ Tested for James Bond !__

Mr Q always conveys the limitation of a gadget before handing it over to Bond.
What is great about it ?

"It is a mark of a good tester" is what I would say. You need not believe me but I got this belief after interacting with some good testers across the globe.Hence you can atleast believe those testers.

What we don't do -
  • Whenever we submit a Test/Bug report, we do not include the limitation of the testing.
  • Whenever we interact with the customer, we do not discuss what could be the ill-effects he could face, as there was less time for a testing with respect to a major release.
  • Whenever we are involved in a meeting with a non receptive manager, we do not let out our limitation in testing a case/feature we are assigned to test. ( ego , could be another reason )
  • Whenever we are bored/angry/out of mood we do not test a case and blindly assign a "Pass" and sleep well the same night.

What happens after that -

  • Our Manager or Lead trusts our report and forwards it directly to the customer, ending up with our organization loosing its reputation when a customer comes back shouting that he could find a silly bug after release.
  • Our customer thanks us for making a release at the promised time without knowing that there was a limitation in your testing which may impact his business, provided he pushes the product into market by just putting his seal over it after our release.
  • We give our Manager one more reason to shout at us and sometimes if a critical bug is found by the customer, irrespective of we doing a good job , we may have to face some action.
  • We wake up from sleep to see our Manager's Name on the Mobilephone's LCD display as a prefix to a word "Calling".

What should we ideally do -

  • We should include atleast a sentence about the limitation of the testing along with the Test/Bug report we send to our Leads/Managers, which will help us build a good rapport with them also in turn with the customer.
  • Before our customer thank us for a timely release we should ask him to thank us for sending him the limitation of testing due to lack of time for testing for that release.
  • We knowing that the Manager shouts for invalid reasons should make him shout for a valid reason : Limitation within us about handling a case/feature.
  • If we are bored/out of mood/unable to continue testing , push ourselves hard and do some good work or seek help from colleagues after taking them for a coffee/dosa( india only).

I did not mean that Mr Q did all this to James Bond but why not learn something good without bothering the "good" factor being in a movie or a novel.

By the way did I forget to tell you that "my limitation is that I am unable to convince everyone with one post" and for those who are not convinced with this , unfortunately you need to revisit.

__ End of __ Tested for James Bond !__

"The Bugs you miss out don't Die Another Day instead they gamble with your life as if you lost in ....

Casino Royale"


Pradeep Soundararajan