"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.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Trio Exploratory Testing - Session Notes & Discussions & The Big Dice

Oredev conference was super duper. The people I met and what I could learn from them was amazing. Siggie got a bunch of speakers for the test track and I was one of them. I met some context driven testers and good humans I was longing to meet. Selena was full of energy. Zeger was artful. Siggie has a cool style. I'd vote him for the next James Bond. After lot of talk (beer), talk (err, beer) and talk (and err beer) and little beer, the Kung Fu Panda in me said, "Enough talk, lets test". Update: How did I forget my country cousin, Henrik? OMG. He and I had enough beer one day that I need to recover from the hangover of our talk. What I am attempting to do with Moolya is what he is trying with House of Test. Another update: Another beer made me forget my dear friend Ola Hylten. He took me home and it was made this as one of the nicest trip ever. Miss him.

I got hold of Rikard Edgren and Shmuel Gershon and we decided to do an exploratory testing session. Here is what we did.

Click on the image to enlarge

All three of us enjoyed doing this so much that we hope we can do more of this in all future conferences we meet. What was more interesting was the de-brief and discussions that followed. After we finished testing, Rikard said, "Oh my, you write a lot of notes. I would spend that time to find more issues". That is brilliant but I explained to him about why I do it. It helps me tell a story of how I did things even years later. I pulled a test session I did 6 months back and narrated a story of how the session went. I then mentioned that my style of note taking could be useful in situations of high accountability.

Oh, our Rapid Reporter Shmuel was there. We talked about Rapid Reporter and its use in Session Based Test Management. Shmuel brought shared with us a feedback  : A tester doing scripted testing and using Rapid Reporter found that he was taking notes and found it very useful that he could learn a lot. He said he started making notes of things he used to miss in the past without it.

Rikard shared stories of his testing style. His style appeared to be like one where he didn't want documentation to act as a hindrance to the progress he wanted to make in finding bugs. Well, I think he is right. It shouldn't. For those who have seen how I test, I do the notes part so quick that it doesn't compromise the goal I want to achieve. I felt I was defending my style too much. Yeah, to an extent but then hey it is my style.

We then started to talk about how each one of us adopted SBTM what James and Jon had provided long ago. I talked about how I tried doing it with the style I have seen James doing and how I failed :) It also meant lot of questions from James that I could not answer. The only way I could answer to his questions is to adopt SBTM to my style of testing.

We had an interesting interruptions in between. Some people were constantly checking with us what we are up to. One of us took the job of engaging them in a conversation while other two continued the discussion.

It was one of my nicest experiences to have tested along as good testers as Rikard and Shmuel. I simply love them and am a fan of their work. My sleep is interrupted with the potato and rapid reporter :P. Fortunate for me, I use Black Viper Testing Technique to solve many problems.

Shmuel has come out with idea of BIG EXPLORATORY TESTING DICE inspired by Rapid Software Testing Heuristics and I think this is one of the coolest contributions from Shmuel other than his Rapid Reporter. I have a pair of them on my desk.

 Oh you too see the Cartoon Tester in the background? Hate this guy, he is everywhere in Moolya :)

How to use it? Here is the tutorial : Roll the dice and read what is written on it. Ask yourselves if you have asked questions about what you read. For instance, I roll the dice and see "Support-ability". It reminds me to ask questions about what kind of support-ability is built into the system I am testing. How could someone recover logs from crash? How will the support staff know what the user has done? How will the user know how to explain what happened? So cool.

If I have missed anything interesting, I am hoping Shmuel and Rikard can't resist themselves to add their comments on this post.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gifting someone a life and they f****** it up

Oh my! I was reminded of this story. It is a hard to digest story for me but I can't just hold myself from telling it.

About two years back, I did work for a client in India and they had to pay me about a couple of thousand dollars. Meanwhile, a fresh college graduate who was trained by some testing institute came to me seeking help in getting a job. He convinced me that I should help him. I was emotionally touched by the way his parents struggled to help him complete his engineering bachelor degree course.

His parents were daily wage farmers in some village in Andhra Pradesh. His parents were getting paid something like 3 to 4 dollars per day and they used to save as much as they could in that money to help this guy study.

He also seemed to express interest in doing some creative style testing and thinking. Convinced that this guy needs an uplift in life, I called up my client and said, "The money you were wanting to pay me is important to me. It would make a small difference to my current life style but God has helped me be happy with what I have right now so I need to ask a favor from you. I know this guy, XXXXX , who needs a job to help his family in basic shape. So if you could give him a job and pay him what you owe me, I'd be more than happy to engage with you again"

The client was very open to the idea but checked with me that I am not making up my mind to gift him life because it comes at a cost. I thought I knew how much it would cost.

With a couple of thousand dollars, you could buy lots of things or be happy having it in bank. My wife and parents were proud of what I did. This guy thanked me for gifting him a great opportunity. I told him that he is being given an opportunity with his parents in mind and he needs to work really hard and learn to do very good testing. He nodded like a doll.

I was constantly checking with my client of this fella's progress. The client said he was good and I was happy that he was doing good. A couple of months later when I tried to check again  I found that this guy had not been performing as good as he used to be. He seemed to be enjoying his life more than learning and improving skills. I wrote to him about it but the response didn't seem to suggest to me that he was serious. We then watched him for a couple more days and I called up my client to ask them to fire him because they didn't do it thinking I'd be offended.

He was fired. He lamented about his mistakes over a call with me but it was too late. I lost my money and possibly the reputation I had built with this client. Its sad that I lost money and faith about people asking my help. It reminded me of the stories I read in Panchathanthra. They are so true even after 5000 years.

Well, it helps me become wiser but makes me nervous to help somebody who brings up the emotional angle. Decisions in life are always based on emotions or the lack of it and they are heuristics.

I am not telling all I have helped have done this to me but even if one does, it creates an imbalance to the way I was dealing about helping people. Passion to foster good testing and good testers continue to guide me take decisions like the one above. I hope I have enough strength and money to pursue my goals despite such cases. You never know how much your decisions are going to cost you. I am not pained at having lost couple of thousand dollars but feel sorry for that guy's parents. The last I heard from that guy, he still wasn't able to find another job. 

Reminds me that sometimes opportunity knocks only once. Other times, we have to create it. If we aren't skilled, there is no way we can create opportunities.