"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, November 16, 2010

Help Chandru to live his testing dreams

I give myself opportunities to meet many different software testers from Bangalore or to the places I travel. One of the ways that's been successful for me is "Coffee with Pradeep". This has brought many testers to my lives who have had a good influence on me. Sharath Byregowda contacted me for a coffee and then we work closely. He is one of the good testers and thinkers I have met. He recently moved to UK and I am already missing him so much.

Meeting Chandrashekar 

On February 10th, this year, Chandrashekar B.N (Chandru) got in touch with me and asked if I would come to meet him over a coffee. I instantly agreed because his emails were showing the passion he had to test. He seemed to give importance to improving his skills. I met him around the third week of March and this guy was silent, taking notes. He and his friend Sunil had come to meet me. Both these guys were mostly silent but took notes of our conversation. Wouldn't be wrong if I say, I liked their seriousness.

When Chandru spoke

At last Chandru spoke. He narrated his story and it was an emotional moment for me. His father died while he was young. His mother, with two kids (Chandru and his younger brother) struggled very hard to get them a basic education. Chandru didn't grow up with any luxury. They lived in a small room for the last 20 years. Chandru got a job as a software tester after his Bachelors and was running test cases. He wasn't happy. He learnt that he has a passion to test and wanted to get skilled at it. He was earning just enough to get 3 meals a day for 3 of his family.

In his situation, someone would have said, "I want to get more money. How do I do that?" but instead he said, "I want to test better. How do I do that?". That was an amazing moment for me. I shall continue to be in India just to meet testers like Chandru who amidst several troubles in life want to test better.

I started to coach him. I got him to network with testers in Bangalore who are as serious as him. He came to Bangalore Workshop on Software Testing. He was enjoying this new found life. His friend Sunil was no less passionate. Both of them didn't stop there. They made a list of books they ought to be reading and went on a book hunt in Bangalore. Chandru quit his job and took up another job with no hike in pay, just to gain more freedom in testing.

When God decided to test Chandru

About 40 days back, I received a call from Sunil and I was shocked to learn that Chandru was diagnosed for Blood Cancer. To be specific it was Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - with Ph+ve - B cell - Blood Cancer. I was in Gurgaon when I got the call. I tried calling his mobile but couldn't speak to him as he was undergoing some tests. That night, I just couldn't sleep. I felt too bad for Chandru. Just when he was about to rise, he got this bloody cancer for no fault of his. I got up in the morning with the little sleep I had and then said to myself, "Should the people who care for him lose hope. Is that the way I should be? Not at all."

The next day, I was fortunate to be able to speak to him. He knew he had cancer. I didn't know how he would talk to me. I didn't allow him to speak much. I was shouting at the top of my voice, "You are a warrior and you will fight this out. You have a dream to be a good tester and you are not letting down yourself or others. That's the only thing that should be running in your mind"

When Chandru decided to take up the challenge

A few days back, I returned from Gurgaon and directly went to to the hospital. The confidence, the smile, the charm that Chandru had when he met me is one of the greatest things I have seen.


He is fighting well. Doctors say he is doing well, except to the part of the bone marrow which he doesn't have a control over. His confidence is amazing. Its one of the most inspiring things for me. I love this guy and he is my hero. I have started to strongly believe that the mind can control the way body accepts and reacts to treatment. He makes me think of Andy Dufrense of Shawshank Redemption.

Where do you come in this story?

Chandru is the only earning member of his family. He being hospitalized and his medical insurance money long depleted, he has no source of income for his treatment. With his treatment cost estimated about 20 lakhs for Chemotherapy / 50 lakhs if bone marrow transplant has to be done to cure him, he has ran out of options.
So what, he has the testing community to help him. I hope I was right in making the statement.

Help, So far

  • Parimala has donated 25,000 INR (I am so proud of her)
  • Weekend Testing funds of 12,000 INR has been donated
  • Mohan Panguluri has given a standing instruction to the bank to transfer a certain amount every month from his income to help Chandru other than sending a mailer to everybody in Test Republic.
  • Couple of people have tweeted seeking support to help Chandru.
  • Chandru's office colleagues have donated a part of their salary to Chandru
  • Some testers who saw the mailer of Test Republic have donated a few thousands.
  • Ajoy has featured this in his Testing Circus magazine
  • STC 2010 conference has confirmed that they would be announcing it during the conference and make more testers aware of an opportunity to save a testers life.
  • Dhanasekar S has come forward to help Chandru. 
  • I am trying to do my bit to such a wonderful man who is brimming with confidence when others might have almost given up. Letting him down would be our biggest sin.
  • Rahul Verma and I are going to be doing fund raising public workshops and donate the fund to Chandru's treatment. If you are from Bangalore / Chennai / Hyderabad interested to attend our workshops whose funds collected would be given to Chandru's treatment email me at my mail id which is pretty public.
Yet, we have fallen short of funds for the bone marrow transplant. So, I kindly request you to come forward and help Chandru. The best part is - he said he is going to treat every rupee that has flown in as an interest free loan and says, "I will get well, continue to work as a tester and pay back all money". For such a guy, I think, you should.

Go team up with all testers you know, talk about how you can help and get it going. The time is now.

Important links & details

Help Chandru Website : http://helpchandru.com ( Website not fully developed )

Cancer Patients Aid Donation Page: https://donations.cpaaindia.org/?projects=For%20Chandrashekhar or http://www.cpaaindia.org/casefile/index.htm#chandrashekhar
Note: Income Tax concession for this mode of transfer / donation
Important note: While donating through CPAA website, please mention that the donation is for Chandrashekar BN in the projects section

Those of you who want to do a wire transfer from India to his bank account can:
Note: No Income Tax concession on this mode of transfer

Name:Chandrashekhar B N
Account Number:218010015960
Branch:Koramangala, Bangalore
Bank:ING Vysya Bank
IFSC Code No:VYSA0002180

Chandru's Paypal account email id: daysofchandru@gmail.com
Note: Income Tax concession subjected to approval in this mode. Approval pending 

Every little help you do, matters a lot. When you donate, please email sunilkumar56@gmail.com / hariprasad.email@gmail.com and let him know the details, so we could confirm on receiving the same. If you are in Bangalore and have O+ve blood and is willing to donate, please get in touch with Sunil or Hari whose numbers you can find in the website http://helpchandru.com

Please,  Help Chandru

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Software testing black swan bites cause pain

This post is about an experience I had recently. An experience that proves to me that there are more hard working people than me and I shouldn't feel too proud of what I have achieved so far. 

I was at a conference recently. I was at several conferences, so don't get confused with what is shown in my Events page. This conference was not listed and doesn't have a conference page either. It happened in Bangalore on 2nd Nov, 2010, right after my return from Google Test Automation Conference - Hyderabad, India.

Due to my popularity, I was hoping people would come, recognize me and talk to me about their testing problems. It just didn't happen. Some other person was getting all attention and there were people surrounding him and asking questions. There were so many people around him that I couldn't get a chance to see the man who was getting all this attention. I was wondering who is this guy getting an edge over me in India?

I then thought it must be someone who traveled to India from a western country. Only then people forget their local guy. Nothing new to me. I was just waiting for my chance to shake hands with that guy and talk to him about testing. Well, I just wanted to know what makes him so special that he is getting all attention in India. 

Check at my stats, I am supposed to be the popular guy out here. If you are seeing the popularity hungry Pradeep now, I must say; I too saw him.  The difference between us is, you might feel ashamed of having known Pradeep and I don't.

An hour passed by and still I could not get to meet that guy. I saw a tester coming out and asked her, 
"What's about the guy in center?" 
"Oh, you don't know him? He is an expert in test estimation"
"Everybody in here is an expert, din't you know that? So which country is he from?" 
"India" she said. 

What? an Indian? and I don't know him yet? I know everybody who blogs from India. At least, everybody who blogs from India knows me. How come I don't know about this guy who seems to be more popular than me? Maybe he doesn't blog but even then I should have known him.

All this was driving me crazy. Added to that were some of the talks I wanted to attend and it had started. I just pushed myself into one of the track hoping I could catch hold of that guy at one of the lunch tables. I have never waited for lunch so much, not even when I was very hungry. I wanted to meet this guy. He was a challenge I wanted to face.

At lunch, same bloody thing that happened in the morning repeated. People surrounded by him and I just cant get to meet him. My ego hurts me a lot if I have to go introduce myself to him amidst other testers who might think that I am not as popular as they thought. So, I picked up a plate and tried to eat alone. Fortunately, some testers who couldn't get to talk to him saw me and approached to have a conversation. My mind was somewhere else. I guess I don't know if I did answer the questions those testers asked me. Maybe they would have stopped reading my blog as I don't know how crazy my answers were. I just wanted to meet that guy.

Finally the moment arrived. The only way I could corner him was in the washroom. I was waiting for him there adjusting my shirt and trousers making it look to other people as though I care too much about my how neatly my shirt is tucked in. There he came. I didn't mind if his hands were wet but just put my hands forward and said, "Hi, I am Pradeep Soundararajan". He shook hands with confidence and said, "Oh, I know you. I read your blog and follow your work closely". 

At one end, I felt happy that the man who was sought much more than me follows my work but it was still aching as to how this guy managed to be the center of attraction amidst my presence. I took courage and asked him, "How come I don't know you. What's so special about you that these people are flogging you?"

"I have learned to help people estimate their work in a way that makes them feel successful following my advice" he said that with a soft and gentle tone. I put a step towards the door closeby and turned to him and said, "Why don't we discuss this off the washroom?"

My intention was to steal the idea. After several years of hard work, I can't allow someone to steal away the limelight I have been enjoying. When I say I wanted to steal, I mean, I wanted to know what his education was. How different was it from mine? 

We sat on a couch and I asked a question that was designed for deception or to learn about what he has learned

"So, what's your source of learning?"
He had a smile on his face before he said, "I read Bach, Bolton, Kaner, Jerry and you"
"Sounds interesting. I do the same too but how come you seem to be doing better than me?"
"I don't know"
I was pissed off but couldn't let it out because I still hadn't got the secret out of him. 
"So, you are suggesting that you learn something more from them than me?"
"No, I haven't met them Pradeep and they don't know about me"
"Pretty sure because if they did know, they would have let me know about you"
"So, let me stop beating around the bush. How do you help people with their estimation problems?"
"I do it ............................................................................... this way"
"Wow. That's cool"
"Where did you learn that?"
"You are so humble Pradeep. You have read it, too. I picked up ideas from Michael Bolton's Test Estimation & Black Swan series of posts, experimented with them, made my own notes, refined them for a while to arrive at this point" and then he walked away saying he had to deliver a talk and it was getting late.

If you had been to the conference, you would have seen me crying on the couch post that meeting. I wasn't crying because someone gained an edge over me but was crying that I learnt the cost of not reading those lengthy posts just because it was lengthy. 

I finished crying and went around looking for that person to thank him for the lesson he offered. He had already left. The series of posts from Michael Bolton on Test Estimation & Black Swans had been lying there on his blog and I just kept feeling lazy to not read those lengthy posts. I am probably in the Twitter Era. I want people to say anything great or stupid in 140 characters and I also hope they say that around my timeline. 

Walked around with disappointment. I decided to go out of the conference venue. I wanted to go home, have a drink and get a tight sleep to forget all this. I thought I was reading everything by Michael Bolton. When he posted about estimation, I thought I had already read enough of estimation from him and he was packaging the same stuff. Just then, the conference was getting over and the final lightening talk was mine. I was called to the stage. I went on the stage with tears still dropping at 1 drop every 10 seconds, forgot about my talk and asked the audience in a shrill voice, "Have you people read the series of post on Test Estimation & Black Swans from Michael Bolton?". 

The responses were, "Its lengthy", "We didn't find time to go through it", "I got a call in between and almost forgot to continue", "I was too busy with my project". Almost everyone were saying the same thing, "No, I didn't read it because it was lengthy". I laughed out loud and walked away as though I had seen myself in hundreds of mirrors placed in front of me. There are so many Pradeep's in our industry. Some Pradeep might not even have got this far on this post because he might have thought, "Oh, this is lengthy". 

If you don't look like Pradeep when you stand in the mirror, here are the posts:

Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 1) 
Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 2)
Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 3)
Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 4)
Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 5): Test Estimation

The next time you don't want to read a post just because its lengthy, remind yourself that if you miss spotting the Black Swan, it doesn't mean Black Swans don't exist.  They bite hard to remind you that they existed and you didn't pay attention to them.