"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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Testing the number of years of software testing experience

I am a software testing coach. I am not the kind of software testing coach who runs through hundred of slides about how to drive a car for those aspiring to drive a car or for those who aspire to drive better. I coach by putting each one of them in drivers seat. That's how James Bach and Michael Bolton coach software testers. I believe they picked up such an approach from Jerry Weinberg.

I am young and will remain young. Some people who sit in my class have a problem with my age. Some people who sit in my class have a problem with their age. They see me as young as they were about a decade ago or half a decade ago and wonder what would I be able to teach them.

This makes my job all the more challenging. I try to crack tough nuts even before I get started off with my class. One such thing happened 2 weeks back in Pune while training for a corporate client when a Test Lead attempted to walk out of my class yelling "this is the most useless class I have ever taken".

Well, I just wondered if he ever walked out of a movie just watching the first minute and deciding the whole movie was useless?

Jerry Weinberg said "Words just carry 10% and the rest is music", which is so true.

I infer from the kind of music I heard from him and the number of white hair he had grown, the problem was not with the class but with his age and mine. Do you ever go out and say "Well, you are inexperienced to teach me?" Don't you just show that in the behavior?

That evening I was conversing about the incident with Manoj Nair and was trying to question "The number of years of experience syndrome".

How many days make an year?

365. 25 ( that's three sixty five and a quarter days )

How many hours make a day?
24 hours ( that's twenty four hours )

When you ask someone about their experience, what metric do they use?
X Number of years of experience

Is that true?

When people say I have 10 years of experience:

Are they trying to say, they worked for 365.25 x 10 = 3652.5 days
Are they trying to say, they worked for 3652.5 x 24 = 87660 hours

We all know that Saturdays and Sundays are holidays and we also have a leave/holiday package an employer gives to all its employees.

So, for those who claim 10 years of experience, ignoring Saturdays, Sundays and average leave/holiday package of 30 days per year plus sick leaves, offs, training time, office events, party - they actually work for about 220 days.

Hold on - 220 are working days.

Assuming their project manager and management goofed up metrics and made their employees work for about 12 hours a working day during those working days, it brings down the actual number of days they worked in an year to 110 days.

Does 110 days make an year?
Well, it may but I am wondering in which planet would that be.

If in one year they actually are at office for 110 days then for 10 years their stay at office is 110 x 10 = 1100 days.

Now how many years of experience does someone who claims to have 10 years of experience has = 1100 / 365.25 = 3.01 years.

Now how much time does a person stays productive out of the 12 hours we calculated?
(You figure out further questions)

Assuming someone hanged around for 5 years ( their idea of an year ) , get promoted to Test Lead and stop running tests. How much time did they actually spend running tests? About an year?

Isn't that their true software test execution experience?

That's why those people who have a problem in my class have more than a problem - with my age and with my questioning skill that makes them feel they are just 3 years of experience and not the huge number that they claim.

"Experience is not the time that has elapsed by. It is what you have done to the time that has elapsed by" - Attributed to some great soul whose name I am unable to find through Google search. This quote impacted my teenage and future thereafter.

Also, that's why people like Michael Bolton, Jerry Weinberg, James Bach, Cem Kaner, Ben Simo, Scott Barber, Jonathan Kohl, Shrini Kulkarni ... are more experienced than what some of us can ever achieve working 110 days an year.

You may continue to say your experience in number of years because it makes you feel good or talk about the things you did and let people figure out what your experience is.

After I finished the workshop and came out of my client's office, I saw someone holding a book "Effective methods of software testing" and I asked her, "Do you know of any ineffective methods to test software?" and her immediate question was: What experience do you have?

My reply : Five million four hundred and thirty six mistakes that I learnt from.

Her response: WHAT!

I definitely might have sounded stupid to her but certainly not as stupid as mentioning I have 10 years of experience although my true stay time at office was 3 years.

Pradeep Soundararajan - http://testertested.blogspot.com - http://www.viddler.com/explore/testertested

Question of the day: Did you read copyrights section in this blog?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Your search for Bug Free Software ends here

Test 2008 was a scintillating software testing conference. I never slept before 2 AM every night around the conference dates. I had great discussions with interesting testing minds like Rahul Verma, Aswin Palaparthi, Shrini Kulkarni, Dhanashekaran , Ravindran, Shyam Sridhar and others.

During one of our conversations the topic of "bug free software" popped up and someone mentioned that he had hope to see bug free software within his life span as technology is growing rapidly.

I have heard a lot of people talk about bug free software so have you. What have your replies to them been? Have you been one such who hoped for bug free software?

Here are my answers:

  • Oh yeah, you don't need to wait for the technology to advance, bug free software already exists. Have you shipped software products to your customers? Were there bugs in the products you shipped? Did you charge your customers for the bugs? Did you make the bugs free for them? So, you did ship a bug free software! So, all software we ship is bug free!
  • I shall give you the link to download a software that remains in bug free state in a specific context. Unfortunately the bugs start showing up if you try downloading the file, opening the file, install the software or start using it. I can guarantee you its bug free if you don't do anything of that sort with it.
  • I think, even, accidentally humans can't produce bug free software. The idea of bug free software itself is the result of imperfect thinking and imperfect understanding of software and bugs. We might end up making better inferences and conjectures about what they are if we are on a continuous learning path.
  • "Software systems can easily become complex. Computers allow us mortals to create complex systems that are beyond our ability to fully understand. We testers seek out software problems based on what we understand. We cannot completely test the software. We use a variety of tools and approaches to learn as much as possible. However, we are unlikely to completely understand a complex software system." - Ben Simo
Here is an example of how imperfect our thinking is getting as the Earth is growing older and older: There are some professions in this world that are existing for thousands of years and yet there are no answers to many questions that people in that profession face. Software as a profession has started to be in existence over the past 30-40 years and most people think there are answers for all questions we face.

Here is another example - I am a perfect thinker.

Pradeep Soundararajan - http://testertested.blogspot.com - pradeep.srajan@gmail.com

"The test doesn't find the bug. A human finds the bug, and the test plays a role in helping the human find it." --Yours truly