"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.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Test Leads - Where are they leading you to ?

Hi Reader,

It has been great feedback from you all and some people even asking me to post something on Test Approach , Strategy ....

Well, I would always love to give something what you want more than what I think you want as.
( Learning from Guy Kawasaki's book The Macintosh way )

Here is one such topic which has bothered and has been bothering me for the past few years.

As a Tester, if you had a chance to work under a Test Lead or expecting to be one soon, this post is going to list a few points what a Test Lead needs to know ( apart from what he knows/claims to know)-

I always would give practical examples ( as a tester ) to support whatever I write ... Here it goes for you -

__The Test Lead - Where are they leading you to ? ___

Due to my job as a consultant/contractor I have the rich experience of working with many Test Leads, both good and bad.( What's bad? )

I happened to work for an XYZ company and Mr M was my Test Lead , he had 5 years experience in support but somehow managed to cling to a Test Lead position.

There were 4 people working under him , of course including me.

The company recruited me anticipating a project which could come up for which I possessed the experience to test that product's wouldn't claim I was an expert in testing that product but still to some extend I had a confidence that I could match an expert's testing.

For 3 months of my joining there were no signs of the project kick off and it is the usual management strategy to keep their employees engaged with something when such kind of situation arises and so the new Test Lead ( new - test lead position was new to him too ) called for a meeting to clarify what the 4 working under them were doing. Only I was bold enough to tell him "I did'nt do anything productive to the company".
Of course I still doubt how others were productive when project was not in hand including Mr M.

"Pradeep , this is a time for you to improve your skills" Mr M ( usual gyaan anyone would have given)
"Thanks Mr M , could you let me know where all could I improve?" - I chuckled.
"Ok, I give you an assignment , write 100 test cases for the project we are planning",MrM.
"Mr M , it is not possible unless you let me know what project and some documents related to that" - again.
"I give you one week time, I am checking your skills in this domain" he went way.
One week later "So are you ready with the cases?"
"No !" obviously even you would have replied the same.
"You are junk, fit for nothing , I am going to complain , you are not respecting me , you are arrogant , you dont want to learn , you would hav to face the manager soon" the true colours came out.

There were a series of chain reactions and I and the other 2 in his team quit the job ( without a job in hand and confidence in myself).
1) We quit , not with a fear factor but keeping our career into mind as we spent more time on managing our Test Lead. ( the reverse way )
2) The project approval or kick off ... was yet to take place ( 4 months , mind it ).
3) We thought we had learnt great lessons and we all were pretty sure we would grow up to be Good Test Lead in the future because we know what mistakes are.
4) We also had a belief that someone would have faced the same situation and would understand us and give us a job.

Were we wrong ?

__ End of Test Lead - Where are they leading you to ?___

Points to ponder when you become a Test Lead for the first time or in a new domain -

1) Dont try to impress your manager by stressing on your subordinates , your manager is a single person and your subordinates are many.( In-dia , majority wins )
2) Your subordinates would love you more if you admit your lack of clarity in something and get technical/non-technical help from them.
3) It takes time to get respect and it cannot happen all of a sudden.
4) Just for the sake of getting close to your subordinates dont act , subordinates can easily make out the difference between an act and fact.
5) You should inspire your subordinate by showing him how fast and accurate you learn and not by showing him your powers always.
6) You should act as bridge between your subordinates and the manager/management and not act as a barrier.
7) Dont spy when you know your subordinates are talking ill about you, they would enjoy their success then.
8) Your subordinate knows you too are a man who makes mistake and dont abuse them as a super man when they make mistakes.
9) Admit your small/silly mistakes with your subordinates and instead dont crib infront of your manager.
10) Dont end up loosing your subordinates then you will remain a test lead without no one working under you.
11) Understand your subordinate before you even assign him something. You are paid to even manage a raging bull and sometimes the bull will hit you , dont fire the bull. Success is when the same bull listens to you after you managing/training it.
12) Please mind it - when you go out with your subordinates and especailly when you are New ( Test Lead or new to them ) dont talk ill about anything( even if you want ) everyone has their own sentiments , it could affect your relationship with them.
13) There is a way of saying "NO" , learn it.
14) Speak in English and not your mother tounge even if one of your subordinate does not understand your mother tounge.

" Everyone are Leads by birth , yes it is a fact , I Lead my life , What about you ?"

Till date I have watched Gladiator movie more than a hundred times , can you guess why ?

Maximus , the Hero of the movie orders to release the prisoners and does everything for the people under him even seconds before his death and that is a mark of a true leader, I would love to work under such a gladiator and be a Gladiator in the near future!

Thanks and Regards

Pradeep Soundararajan

Disclaimer : I am aware that there are Good Test Leads too and this post is not to complain against any organization/person in particular.Its just an expression or statements I wanted to make to Mr M/any such because a duty of a good subordinate is to help his leader to come out of his mistakes.As a tester who has gone through such a face I beg the new Test Leads to behave in a way that they gain respect and my fellow testers, learn from others mistakes and not by commiting such.I even know a friend of mine who was working in other company planning to commit suicide unable to bear his Leads torture.Today he is happy ! he isnt in that company.

Update : The mention of the movie 'gladiator' is not to show everyone should be ideal but just atleast close to practical if possible. Its true that I myself havent yet become a Lead so I may be wrong , still I would wish to learn from my mistakes too.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Hot ! Coffee Mug Story and Testing Lessons

Hi Reader,

As more and more people are appreciating the content here, it is my responsibility to post stuff that keep meeting your/their expectations. Initially although I felt its tough but it is getting easier once I re-collect my experiences in this testing career !

As Rita Mae Brown says:
"Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment"
( the above quote taken from http://www.wisdomquotes.com/cat_experience.html )

Here is an interesting story for you all .....

One usual day at work I called up my friend who sits 3 floors below me
"Preetam , baro maga !"( I meant , "Preetam come on" in kannada language)
"Ok dude , meet you at Smoking Zone" was his reply.

We both usually share , chit chat , gyan-ify at SZ , a great place we often visit.
We were having coffee and I started off a discussion as to how this coffee cup would have undergone testing and ...

I thank myself for probing people to come out with their experiences/learnings , I usually end up having a great learning as this one !

He told a story , he says its true and it could be the story of your company too !

__ The Hot ! Coffee Mug story ___

Once a company decided to give a surprize gift to its employees on some occasion of a festival/anniversary and impress them further with an innovative gift.

After a group discussion by the senior management they zeroed on of presenting a coffee mug.
Now what's the innovation there ?

They consulted design experts , art experts and with lot of hardwork they came out with a prototype design and the senior management were happy and confident of the prototype form factor.

They were optimistic on it and went ahead placing the order after a count on head-count ( is this english , write ? :D ) they had to distribute !

The D-Day( decided day, i meant ) came and it was distributed , on opening the gift the employees were thrilled to see design , art and innovation that has gone in to making of a 'great coffee mug' they had recieved as a gift.

After a few days on a regular sortie to all cubicles by one of the senior management employee found that everyone used the 'great coffee mug' as a pen stand .... no hot air :-D noticed above the brim of the 'great coffee mug'.

In a meeting the senior management employee mentioned his observation to other fellas and they were puzzled !

"Why ?" , " not even one had a coffee in it ?" , "were you around them during odd times ?" were some excited queries.

They started researching on it with a high priority since they knew how much time they had spent in the making of 'the great coffee' mug.

In the next status meeting there was an answer to it based on the comments/feedback from the employees...

Want to know what went wrong ?

Simple !

The 'great coffee mug' despite being great at looks and design was unable to fit inside the coffee vending machine available in that company !

Twas tall !

__ End of Hot ! Coffee Mug story ___

Now , How is this anyway related to testing Pradeep ? ( could be your question )

Learnings as a product tester -

1) A requirement collection missed/escape defect.

2) After a prototype is done and by any chance if it looks dazzling and you just want to enjoy staring at it , call for a tester - he would let you know how better it can be done.

3) If you want to surprize someone with a gift like this test it before you give it !

4) Excitement about doing something good should accompany a fear factor that "there could be a major requirement/test case missing".

5) When something looks too good it isn't always !

6) Before you invest on production ensure nothing has escaped from you ! in simple words "test it".

7) To become or to continue to be a good tester you should develop the ability to learn from anything you see around you.

8) Tomorrow or Today , if you are a CEO ensure that one of the senior you hire for your cabinet was a good tester and cotinues to be so even after becoming a senior.

"It could be a simple toilet paper , yet test it else it would end up loosing its worth even in the toilet"

Thanks and Regards

Pradeep Soundararajan

Disclaimer : This post is not to complain against any organization that has gone through the above phase , its just a true concern as a tester to improve the organization's effort to give better gifts to employees and also a token of appreciation to the management of that company who planned , spent time and money to gift 'the great coffee mug'. This post/blog is not pro-tester but learnings of a pro-product-tester.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Technology that failed in India ( Testing Bowl of the world )

Hi Reader,

Once while at work I was getting my test cases reviewed about a project/domain which I was new to and one of my colleague gave a strong comment "Pradeep , please think of more cases".

I was a bit dissapointed because already there were enough test cases that it will take 3 days to complete a cycle and I thought "should I further shoot at my own legs ?" ( the more cases I write , more I have to test , its painful , isnt it ? ) .

I tried to defend that testing would become complex if more cases are there than beyond the objective of the release/product requirements.

Ha ! thanks to what I told , he tshared with me a great story which happened in his previous company and it is one of the best lessons I have had as a tester !

__ This (could be a) is True Story that happened in some company ___

A digital camera was released in the market and after sometime a customer came back complaining that .......

Problem :The camera's software was crashing continously while he tried to capture images.

FIR : They first asked some basic information from the customer and made an attempt to reproduce the issue but it was not reproducible.

Analysis :

1) Software is crashing - so they listed out all possible scenarios where the software could crash.
2) Tried putting the camera to all listed possibilities.
3) Giving a report to the management that it was unable to be reproduced.

Further Analysis :

Taking this as a challenge , a great tester had the following concern -

1) He was concerened what festival was it ?
2) He was concerned what was the customer was trying to capture ?
3) He was concerned what is the frequency of the crash the customer noticed ?
4) He was concerened about all other surrounding factors like temperuature , place where the festival was celebrated ... etc ?

Outcome of Analysis :

1) The festival was Diwali or Deepavali !
2) The customer was trying to capture fire crackers , explosion , fireworks display in an open ground at around 22 00 hours ( night ).

What a fantastic tester was he !

He identified the problem and told the developers

"The camera software is crashing when the viewfinder is black ( because of dark night ) and a sudden gush of light through the firecracker explosion is putting the DSP ( digital signal processor ) to a load/stress beyond its boundaries to display the image. And at this point of time when the user tries to capture it simply crashes"

What he said ?

was right !

Finally they fixed it and now today its a robust digital camera !

____ End of a probable true story _____

Summary of lessons -

1) Collect real time data for testing a product/application.
2) When you are unable to reproduce an issue , think out of the box , think out of the black box.
3) When you are unable to reproduce an issue call someone who can dig deeper than you.
4) Dont assign test case draft to the person who is going to test it, he may omit complicated cases to bring down his/her complexity in executing it.
5) Review the cases with a non team member/customers/domain specailist/tester network.
6) When you release a product : aniticpate and be prepared to face such situation.
7) Hate the product while testing and love the product after its release - emotional testing ( ha new concept introduced by me , i do it , to be frank )
8) Good Testers not only report bugs , they suggest a solution ! ( more to come abt this )
9) Keep learning to be a good tester !
10) Test all your products in India , its Testing Bowl of the world !
11) Dont terminate an issue just because you are unable to reproduce , it could kill your company !

"If you are a good tester you win your customers heart , Mind it she could be beautiful !"

Thanks and Regards

Pradeep Soundararajan

Disclaimer : This post is no way in any intent to showcase how bad or good a company's product is but it is for sole use to learn a few good lessons for the software or testing community. This may/maynot be a true story and it is posted here not to affect their business or reputation ! This post is dedicated to that tester who saved his company from drowning ( provided its true ).I and any tester would love every product that is there in this world because we know how much of effort has gone through to bring down the product to have just few bugs or one bug as the above example.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Google talk(ed) to me / How to support a bug report ?

Hi Reader,

I not only observe or dig out bugs with products I use/see but as a 'so called' good tester I take responsibility to inform the organization what I observe (Psst ! will you believe I noticed a low severity bug in an ATM)

One such example of me submitting a defect/bug I noticed in Google Talk Beta is here for you -
From: Pradeep.S
To: Google Team talk-feedback@google.com
Date: Nov 30, 2005 9:39 AMSubject: Re: [#39773933] Application Window - blank/jitters - copy paste of mail id from Gmail !


Problem description : In order to add a contact, copy paste of user name from one of the mail recieved in Gmail from another Gmail account to the Contact field available in Google Talk results in the contact field to go blank/jitter.

Reproducibility : 100%

Steps to Reproduce :

1) Keep the Gmail signed in and open one of the recieved mail which hasthe 'From' field :
xxxx@gmail.com .
2) Sign in to Google Talk and click the mouse on "Add Contacts" so that the cursor keeps blinking.
3) Copy ( using Ctrl - C )the username part from the mail opened by following step one of this test procedure

4) Click again on the Search contacts field where the cursor is already blinking and paste (using Ctrl-V).

Expected result : As per your design , if the contact does not exist the list section is blank.

Actual Result : After the paste operation there are few black dots/blank/jittered displayin "Search for Contacts" field.

OS : Win XP : ProIE : 6.0.2800
Other info :
1) Logged in MSN messenger.
2) Parallely logged in Yahoo messenger through www5.meebo.cominterface.

Pradeep Soundararajan

IssueType: bugsLanguage: enOS: winxpproNetwork: corporateLANWireless: noClient: talkProblem: friends.addorremove"

Well , I did get a mail of acceptance of the Bug/defect from the Google Talk team.

1) I was amazed to see their prompt replies and this I feel this is one of their pros for which Google is being/becoming the most admired company.

2) Did you know , there is a datalogger along with Google Talk Beta, they would ask you to enable it if they need some logs for any issue you may observe in future. ( Psst ! its something like Microsoft "Send Report" for the rare crash/hang you may wuld have noticed infrequently)

3) My intent of putting up the above is not to showcase the bug but to inform you all what data an organization would need if you have to raise a CR/Bug/Defect.

4) A checklist of how to raise/inform an issue to an organization is ...
a) Operating System details ( version/patches and not whether it is pirated or not :D )
b)Internet browser - Internet explorer ,Firefox ,Mozilla ,Netscape...
c) Whether anyfirewalls/antispyware/spam/virus areenabled ?
d) Clear steps of reproduction , Screen shots , Logs ( if available)
e) Other information that will make them understand/solve/support your claim of having found a defect/bug.

Hope this helps atleast one reader ! being good at something isnt a curse always.
Help organizations to resolve the bugs you notice by reporting them in a way where developers/analysis team spends less time to accept/resolve/reject your claim.

Thanks and Regards

Pradeep Soundararajan

update_1 : sorry folks ! thrice i tried to insert/add the screenshot i gave but failed, will do it once am back to office.
update_2: Unable to load *.bmp images - If anyone from google looks at this , pls try to fix it !

Friday, January 20, 2006

Pandavas and their testing skills ! ( of course my own )

Hi Reader,

I ran my imagination wild enough to think of the oldest testing exercise and had to pick one from the epic Mahabarata !

__ most indians would know this story for other country folks ___
__extracted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arjuna ___

Guru Dronacharya once decided to test his students. He hung a wooden bird from the branch of a tree and then summoned his students. One by one, he asked his students to aim for the eye of the wooden bird and be ready to shoot; then, when they were ready, he would ask the student to describe all that he was able to see. The students generally described

1) the garden
2) the tree
3) flowers
4) the branch from which the bird was suspended
5) bird itself.

Guru Dronacharya then asked them to step aside, saying that they were not fit to shoot.
It was now Arjuna's turn. Guru Dronacharya asked him the same question:

"What do you see, Arjuna?"
He replied "I see the eye of the wooden bird". "What else do you see, Arjuna?". "Nothing".

"Come now, Arjuna, describe all that you see". "I see the black eye of a wooden bird, sir". Such was his concentration! Dronacharya bade him shoot; needless to say, he hit the target exactly.

___the actual excerpt ends here __

Although Aruna was asked to shoot can you guess what others can be branded as ......

Of course others were branded as "good testers" ...

Why ? - They could visualize the whole system . The bird could be a feature of a system but the entire system consisted of the tree , branches , flowers , leaves.

1) A good tester should always look at the entire system when given a product/application for test.
2) A good tester should be able to list what all he understands.
3) A good tester should be able to collect the right test data and think of right tools for the product/application under test.
4) A good tester should be able to justify whether the test data collected is enough or not.
5) A good tester should be able to report the observations well.
6) A good tester should be able to defer and defend a defect/bug.
7) A good tester should be able to suggest changes in design.
8) A good tester should be able to grasp any new environment.
9) A good tester should be able to learn things from the domain experts.
10) A good tester should be able to do good documentation.
11) A good tester should not confuse/pass wrong info to others about testing and its meaning/definitions/types/limitations/career_options.

12) Good testers are not made in centres that offer tools training but after testing for years and getting inspired by people who are real good testers.

Thanks and Regards,

Pradeep Soundararajan

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tester tested in interview(s) !

Hi Reader,

"I appreciate you for the respect you show to other's time" was one of the compliments from an acquaintance I received and keeping this in mind I am sharing some of my interesting interview experiences as a tester !

I was lucky to have attended 60+ interviews in this short span of 3 years in this industry... you would be amazed if I give you the list of companies that has interviewed me !

Here are a few interesting experiences -


"Pradeep , How would you test a pencil" Mr Satyan from Microsoft asked me on a face to face session..
"Could you give me a couple of minutes to think ?" my usual way to take time to answer any question ( tricky or simple )

After 5 minutes or so I shooted out some interesting test cases...

"Hmm ! all these are fine but could you tell me one case where only you could have thought but not other testers"Satyan ( an attempt to test the tester ) !
That was tough but I told the most foolish answer yet it made huge sense in context of testing[marketing].

"Sir , I would eat a few pencils" of course I did reply.
Satyan " what ? and why ?"

I cooked up "Sir, Pencils are targetted to children and they have the habit of chewing the back , by myself eating a few pencils would later ensure , it is not toxic and if it happens to have a good aroma and taste well then no wonder the pencil sales would increase as children would more often have it as a breakfast item or apetizer before their lunch session"

"Impressive" ( I expected it and with no hesitation , thankfully that was the reply)
I have actually been reading and inculcating a lot of marketing and sales technique which helped me to give such an answer.

While the interview was on a fire alarm started making sounds as if it was programmed to... and I watched above and nearby to see whether it was really a fire alarm " No , its false , dont worry" Satyan removed my anxiety to leave the place by telling so.

"Sir , looks like it hasnt been tested properly?" my brain send this information to my mouth and mouth responded to it.
"Pradeep, it can be a case where they are testing it" Satyan countered.
"Sir , Then we both are the giuena pigs :-D"...

Satyan laughed for a few minutes before he gave his verdict "You are good at testing , I would like to have you in , it may take time , do you mind waiting"
"Please take your own time Sir" actually this is not what my brain told me but the bloody mouth is unwise sometimes.

Hmmm ! am still waiting for the Redmond call , I hate taking up interviews and telephonic calls at odd times cos I am bored at it.

___ end of microsoft interview experience ___

The list of companies that have interviewed me are Cisco , McAfee , Aztec , Emuzed , SCT , Huawei , Celstream , Impulsesoft , Cisc , Sling media , nVidia , Qualcomm , Mindtree , WebtekLabs , Wipro , Infosys , efi , Socrates , L&T Infotech , Motorola , Zazu , Harita Infoserve , Mistral , Sasken ... ( wait i am searching my gmail for the companies that have interviewed me ) ... Tavant , Cassina ... hmm more ...more .... ( each company averaging 2-3 rounds )

To be frank and surprize you ... in all the above and beyond companies .... i wasnt disqualified in tech interviews ..... that is something i hate about HR ...

I would tell i learnt most of the theory of testing in the interviews and i would recommend young testers to attend interviews for the sake of improvement , it shows what are your voids and gives an opportunity to fill those voids.

I have never hesitated to ask what are the answers for the ones which i did not know and also have made a good homework too...

Edison says "A genius is a person who has done his/her homework well"... i hear this daily cos he talks to me ! ( just an illusion , could not be fasle too )

Best Wishes

Pradeep Soundararajan

Note : If there happens to be a typo or spelling mistake you notice , ignore ...i too have seen it :-D

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Start ! 10 minutes later "A good start"

Hi Reader,

On my first post let me tell something about me and why did I start a blog !

Thanks to my friend Preetam Modur who is currently my team mate in Motorola , for highlighting the importance of a blog and why I should blog.( although i knew the significance of the blog in today's net savvy generation)

He did schooling along with me in Kumarans , Bangalore and after that we were split geographically for getting an engineering degree.I got it from Trichy ( of course not REC )Mookambigai college of engineering with specialization in Electronics and Instrumentation and he from NIE , Mysore.He felt I should start a blog on testing as I am good at testing and can learn and share knowledge from such a community.

He sometimes admires me of having worked with companies like Impulsesoft , McAfee , ISRO and Department of Science and Technology of India and on projects that has made my resume one of the best.I have worked on technologies like Bluetooth and Multimedia. I claim to be good at testing only after having solid proof and examples where I have been self inspired.

Whatever I write about me anywhere , I have never left out a person's name who has changed my whole life downside up .... Sir Thomas Alva Edison.You may would have seen movies like Mask where a person turns 'zero to hero' and something similar in my life happened after watching a movie Edison,The Man. Yes , it did turn my life downside up and it took me 8 years to realize the change The Man had put in me.

If you intend to continue reading my blog in the future I am planning the following things for you -
1) Testing ( please don't misunderstand testing means only software testing )

2) Updates about testing happening worldwide ( To the best of my ability )

3) You wouldn't have to read more than a page.

4) 4 to 5 posts per week at the max and a min of 2-3 posts per week.

5) No junk posts ( junk is relative term , so be aware of it :-D )

6) Product analysis and the bugs i see in it ( I hope this does not put me in any contro with any company )'Folks let me know , whether i can blog the bugs/defects I observe/research about a product'

7) Experiences I had in my testing career.

8) Why , How , When , What does a tester crib about?

If you would like more as and when you frequently visit here please let me know through pradeep.srajan@gmail.com
Thanks and Regards

Pradeep Soundararajan

_____ Defect_1.0_Blogspot_Gmail_Format _____________

Could you get anything more than this at the first post itself -

Defect I noticed after/while creating this post !

Description - Formatting is lost after copy paste of a post from Gmail !

Steps to Reproduce -

1) Create an account in www.blogspot.com
2) Create a new post/fresh post if you already have an account.
3) Key in a few lines/sentences and format them with numbering , indent , font or any other available formatting.
4) Open your Gmail account and initiate a 'compose'.
5) Copy the text that has been formatted in the planned post in www.blogspot.com
6) Paste it in Gmail Compose new mail section.
7) Copy whatever you have pasted in Gmail Compose new mail and paste it in the same place where the post is being edited.

Expected Result -

1) After step 6 , formatting remains along with the text being pasted in Gmail.
2) After step 7 , formatting remains along with the text being pasted at www.blogpot.com

Observed Result -

1) After step 6, formatting remains along with text being pasted in Gmail.
2) After step 7 , formatting is lost after pasting the text in edit of the post section.

Note :

1) The intention of me pasting the post in Gmail was to check for spelling or typo's.
2) This could be a WAD ( works as designed ) but yet it is something affecting the user's experience here.

Risk :

1) Becomes a non-user friendly factor for bloggers here.
2) User needs to spend time re-formatting the entire post.

Proposed Solution :

1) Formatting can be stored or general formatting can be applied from template so that time spend on re-formatting comes down.
2) Fixing the code if its not a WAD.

_________________ End of Defect Report for Defect_0.1 _____________

Disclaimer : This defect report is not to complain against an organization or to impact their business. Every good tester knows and respects that there cannot be any bug/defect free product in this world. I respect a developer equally as i respect a tester.This effort to put in a blog was to point out the scope of improving the user friendliness of a product/application I used. I need not be a tester to point this out but I need to be a good tester to describe and explain where the defect is and how can it be encountered.