"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, March 27, 2007

Bugs and emotions

After deciding to get married, I floated my profile across various matrimonial websites in India. Matrimonial websites in India are as popular as dating websites in western countries and the net savvy generation of India who decides to get married, try to find their partner over such matrimonial portals.

The current generation is pretty much aware that they need to diversify their search and hence they register in all websites that provide an online matrimonial service. Myself being a part of the same generation and moreover a rapid tester who knows that I need to diversify too, I did it.

I floated my profile across several matrimonial websites or in other words diversified my search. And the story begins...

Each of these websites send updates and information about new people getting registered or brief profile information, matching hard coded criteria of a partner to an e-mail id that a user specified during registration with these websites.

I did get a lot of automated e-mails about new people registering and about people who are matching my hard coded partner search. I was skeptic about these websites as they would spam my inbox and hence created a different e-mail id for partner search and used that for registration. I am now happy that I used a different e-mail id for registering with those websites.

On reading one such e-mail which claimed to have a list of people who matched my hard coded criteria, I found a link - to login and look for more such profiles. I clicked the link and it took me to login page. I used the e-mail id and password to login.

"Congratulations, you have successfully expressed interest to Profile123_XYZ" , flashed on my screen and left me puzzled.

Jesus, I just logged in and I never intended to express interest to someone. I was wondering if I clicked the wrong link. I logged out and looked for a similar e-mail that I received from the same portal and there again I saw a link in the e-mail that says: "Click here to look for similar profiles" . I took a risk of clicking the link and logging in... Bingo, it's reproducible.

I then had to write to those two people explaining what had happened and apologized in case they might have been hurt by someone expressing interest to marry them and retracting the interest later.

I don't intend to reproduce that ( could be a bug ) more than once and keep playing with emotions of people ( which includes me). The first thing I did is to delete my profile in that specific portal, unregister with them.
So far, I haven't seen such a thing happening in other portals that I have registered my profile and kinda feel safe.

There is more than one possibility to such a thing happening:

1. The text in the e-mail was not linked properly.
2. A bug in the program - an integration issue or anything else, too .
3. It might be a mistake of mine too. ( I cross-checked and it appears to me that I did what any other user would and did not click on a link to express interest )
4. Something(s) that I am failing to see.

Bugs that play with emotions:

There is no better context for me than this to explain that bugs play with emotions of people. The lesser the bugs in all products you use the better your health. Such bugs cause a stress/strain to your mental health and you never know that such bugs are slow poison.

In my opinion, under the context explained above, we ( testers) make the world better. We catch most of these bugs that could otherwise affect the emotions of people and help them live longer, peacefully.

We aren't paid for that, either! :-)

Well, here is a little secret of becoming a good tester - Be happy, be humorous and you see you do lot better testing !

I have observed a few discussions from a few testers in few online groups who state, testing as an activity that affects their personal life. Aren't they

Testers are ones contributing towards making world a better place!

Lesser bugs in products, happy is the customer, longer he lives, more he pays, more you get paid :)

Interacting with experts like James Bach, Michael Bolton, Jerry Weinberg... I realized that they have a great sense of humor and in my opinion that is another reason why they are experts because their humor is always accompanied with a thought process to all who laugh at the joke.

A discussion of metrics took place between a group of managers from one of India's most respected IT company with Michael Bolton when they invited him to their office during his visit to India a few months back. Michael Bolton, in my opinion is not just a test expert but a philosopher too.

The managers there asked Michael Bolton, "Is there a better way to measure the health of the project than the metric we are collecting?"

MB: "Oh yes! Check the Blood Pressure of your team members after a meeting or few days away from shipping date"

LOL! Wasn't he joking and at the same time making sense about a metric that could be more practical than the metric that people collect to check the health of the project ?

Jerry Weinberg, recently wrote a fairy tale to help test managers learn a lesson. I heard from MB that Jerry Weinberg also used to "smell" the health of the project. My manager once said "Pradeep, please go home, take bath and come back. You are stinking". I had stayed 3 days 2 nights and that is the kind of pressure that people today work in.

"Jerry, your metric works!"

The experts are all happy people and make others happy because they realize, as testers and as philosophers, they have made/making the world a better place each day.

If you aren't happy as a tester, it might be because you aren't aware that you are making the world a better place.

I am one of the happiest tester in this world and I need not be an expert to say this. Let's see who is lucky to marry one of the happiest tester of the world ;)

So, if it works for you, start looking testing as an activity of giving and taking happiness to and from the world. You might see yourself testing in a lot better way.

-- Pradeep Soundararajan - pradeep.srajan@gmail.com - +91-98451-76817

"Pradeep's first language is not English--his first language appears to be testing." -- Michael Bolton

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mixing Scripted and Exploratory Testing

Over the past few days, I have been talking and listening to a lot of testers, leads and managers in Bangalore IT organizations through my Mirchi Test Masala talk and it's a great experience.

I solved interesting problems that boosts my confidence of solving testing problems that Indian IT companies face and I have already started to receive great feedback from testers and managers who attended my talk. I usually don't believe on the feedback forms but I do believe when people talk the change happening in their workplace and that is always a true feedback.

One such problem that I solved for an organization is this:

Manager: I usually ask my testers to focus on finding issues that are important to the release and I see that not everyone in my team finds those bugs that I/management/customer is interested to see with that particular release we make.

Tester: Well, we do follow what he says but he is not being convinced about the work we do. We are finding problems but the problems we find are not of the stake holders interest sometimes.

Manager: There was once a design and code change to optimize performance and we did not have the test cases ready and I had to ask them to do it in an exploratory way but I could see that it did not work well for any of us.

Tester: Thanks that our manager communicated that he is interested to listen more about performance related issues on a specific release and we did exploratory testing but we are not sure why we couldn't find bugs.

Pradeep: Ah! Interesting problem!

This is what I did:

  1. First I launched an explanation of my understanding of the problem and asked them, if I understood the problem.
  2. On getting a go from both sides, I started to question them individually.
  3. The questioning skill plays a vital role, in seeking more information, analyzing the problem and get hold of contexts in which they are speaking.
  4. I asked the manager and testers a couple of common and uncommon questions and made them to listen to each other.
  5. A specific question that I asked, "What is your definition of performance and exploratory testing?" revealed the solution to the problem for everyone in the room.
  6. Interestingly, the manager had a different definition of Exploratory testing from each of the tester. The testers too had their own definitions of Exploratory testing and it differed from each other.
  7. I insisted the testers to hereafter ask for what the manager meant by a word/terminology when he assigns them to do a specific task.
  8. After that I got them off to a discussion based on a topic over which the manger thought his testers fumbled upon and did a bad job. Interestingly, both ends were now convinced that they could find those important problems quickly since they questioned each other.
Now, there is another problem that testers in all organizations I have been so far and I am going to be for my one day testing exercises workshop will ask my help to solve:

How to mix scripted and exploratory testing?

I understand the fact that Indian IT companies do not want try exploratory testing as a full fledged activity for their projects unless they see results for themselves and they still want to try it out to see if it adds value to their testing.

In one of the projects I worked, I mixed scripted and exploratory testing and the results that the organization saw was amazing. Ah! it worked for me but I can't guarantee that it would work for you but I can guarantee you that it's worth a try.

Before you know how to mix scripted testing and exploratory testing, I suggest you to go through Jon Bach's video on Exploratory Testing and RST appendices . Now, if you crave for more you might want to have a look at Elizabeth Hendrickson's Test heuristic cheat sheet and form something like that to suit your project needs. Of course don't forget to run my screen saver which is now installed and used by all testers in an organization and I am happy to hear that it has been helping them.

Now, it's time to know how to mix it without adding too much cost to the organization and yet find those important problems, quickly.

For every scripted test case you execute, run a test that is not documented in your test case suite, which is fast enough to run and yet not add too much of time. You might want to consider using heuristics for getting on the fly ideas to test the product that you have been asked to.

It's left to you and your skills, to decide the ratio of mixture of Scripted test and Exploratory test and also don't get surprised at the results as you keep practicing this and learn to do it much better.

Rakesh VK, a Senior Tester in DELL is well known within his company for being the tester who finds most number of important problems quickly. While delivering my talk at DELL, I had a chance to talk with him over the secret of being the tester who finds problems that matters the most.

He simply had to say this: "I mix scripted and exploratory testing and I always have been a tester who finds most number of important problems and I enjoy remaining in this position. Also, this has led my manager to get convinced that ET adds great value and he now is happy of other team members doing ET"

Wow! So who is the next Indian tester to become one like Rakesh?

-- Pradeep Soundararajan - pradeep.srajan@gmail.com - +91-98451-76817

"Pradeep's first language is not English--his first language appears to be testing." -- Michael Bolton

Friday, March 09, 2007

The 2 hour Mirchi Test Masala

Is there one day in a month that you sit free in office?

Yes, in my experience there have been times where there is more than a day free but let's assume you have 2 hours, wanting to listen or watch something exciting and unfortunately videos and audios are blocked.

Ah! I have had this experience, I wanted to learn a lot but restrictions from the IT department did not allow me to watch all those interesting stuff on internet about testing and what people have been saying about testing. Also, in my knowledge there is not someone who is accessible to be called for a 2 hour talk on testing that excites a tester to do a lot better testing.

Satisfice Tester, Pradeep Soundararajan is now available for these 2 hour talks for FREE*!

* - Free means, absolutely Free! (This would work out a great deal for companies in Bangalore)

Am I stupid to do it for Free* (or) I have so much money that even if I charge you for that, it wouldn't make a a difference?

Actually, it makes a difference for me if I charge you but as I understand the importance of making difference, I love to make a difference for you in 2 hours in terms of the knowledge and skills I can share or display.

Well it is this simple. This 2 hour talk on testing does also help me a lot - I meet a lot of testers, interact with them, get and ask questions, learn new things, help testers learn new things, pass on some valuable information for free... who knows the company might come back asking for a consulting from me!

I must agree that this is one of my marketing strategy. My research and interaction with a few experts in Software Testing says, "Indian companies do need skilled testing but unfortunately they haven't realized that they need it" and here is a chance for them to realize through my 2 hour free talk. I am not only helping myself but I am helping companies to realize that they can do a lot better testing.

Michael Hunter from Microsoft mentioned that I am one of the rising and shining star of Indian testing. Being in India, don't you think "do we really have such a wonderful tester in India and why don't we try him out?" ( A wonderful tester doesn't mean I am an expert but I certainly am one, in future)

I am not the only wonderful tester in India, even you could be one but perhaps I have been tried and tested by many testers. In the recent past I have been coaching a tester from Germany who gets so enthusiastic and excited after each interaction we have and he has been recommending me to many others.

I guess I also need to bring Shrinivas Kulkarni to limelight. If you aren't bent on listening to me you might want to listen to a senior test manager of iGate who is behind success of test automation of iGate. He is a giant when it comes to getting success on automation. People are all around, tap their shoulder and they could do wonders for you. ( I don't know Shrini's schedule but pushing him to do this)

Now here is a small wonder I can do, as I have said earlier: I offer all corporate or testing training centre in Bengalooru ( Bangalore ) or any other place in India a FREE* 2 hour Mirchi Test Masala.

For those non-Indian readers of my blog, Mirchi Masala means "spices"!

So, pick your phone and dial +91-98451-76817 and say "Mirchi Test Masala Needed", the IVR ( me ) would ask you "Please mention a date and time" and if the date and time is free in Pradeep's schedule, the IVR ( me ) would say, "Confirmed: 2 hour Mirchi Test Masala would be delivered on [date] and [time] at your office".

Come on test the IVR, I heard it doesn't crash!

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

"Pradeep's first language is not English--his first language appears to be testing." -- Michael Bolton

Update : 19/03/07 : Huawei, Ionidea, DELL, Celstream and a lot of individuals... in just one week. Are you sure you or your company want to miss this?

Update : 27/03/07 : Hasten Technologies and now Mirchi Talk is going to Chennai, too.
It's now or never!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Braidy Tester interviews Tester Tested

Before I started to write Tester Tested, I spent a lot of time researching on existing blogs on testing and software testing. I still remember that Braidy Tester blog topped the search and I did have a look at it.

I am sure there were lot of factors that made me addicted to read Braidy Tester's blog and I kept going through it frequently. "Making developers cry since 1995" - That's amazing, that's Braidy Tester.

You now know Tester Tested! is me ( Pradeep Soundararajan ) and I want to make sure, you are aware that Braidy Tester is Michael J Hunter of Microsoft.

Michael J Hunter, interviewed me for Dr Dobb's Portal and here is your chance to read it. I also strongly recommend you to read other interviews in the same list.

James Bach had to say this after reading the interview : "hey, that's a great story", " ..a fabulous bug story!".

I think you shouldn't miss reading it. The feeling of "First Indian on the list" is sensational!

Equally sensational moment was to know that Braidy Tester said: "I find Pradeep's blog Tester Tested a fascinating read".

All this has left me so happy because I now have turbo power fuel to push myself to work more hard and contribute to the testing community, and Indian testing community in particular.

If you are reading this line without reading the interview, you shouldn't be reading further :-)

Pradeep Soundararajan - pradeep.srajan@gmail.com - +91-98451-76817

"Pradeep's first language is not English--his first language appears to be testing." -- Michael Bolton