"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, March 11, 2012

Weinberg on more than writing - the Fieldstone method

11th March, 2012 in Bangalore was a beautiful Sunday. Now that it is almost over, I can use the past tense "was". Just the weather making it beautiful is one part but what about the weather within me? I decided to make it beautiful within. Everybody has a pile of books that they bought but never paid its due attention. Weinberg on Writing ( WoW as I want to call now) - The Fieldstone Method was one of the books that hadn't got my time yet. So, I read the first chapter at home, closed the book, went to my wife and asked her if she had any plans for the afternoon. As I had taken her out yesterday, she excused herself out of any plans. Whenever a husband asks "What's your plan?" to his wife, it means, "I have a plan and want to be sure if your plan doesn't disturb mine" :). I took my backpack and scooted to a coffee shop nearby. Coffee, book reading and relaxing was my plan.

About 2 PM, I was all set. I wanted to start with Camomile Tea. I had told my wife that I'd be back only when I am finished with the book, so I was hoping there would be a couple of beverages. I realize now that there is nothing like "finishing the book" because The Fieldstone Method provides an experiential learning to those who want to work with it. Not just that.

I have had the great opportunity to meet with Jerry and spend a couple of days, attending his workshop, being a part of a peer conference that had Jerry, a conference and much more in 2008. I have been a reviewer of Jerry Weinberg's book "The Perfect Software and Other Illusions About Testing". I have read a couple of other Jerry's books that have changed me from time to time. With this book, I felt Jerry sitting next to me and coaching me on the Fieldstone Method. This is no hallucination. I am sure the emotions he had while turning the stones that he used to build this book has rubbed on me and has caused some very good emotions within me. Jerry intends that happens with the experiencers of the book. / OK there is no such word as experiencers in any dictionary /

I haven't published a book yet. If you are thinking I haven't written one yet, you are mistaken. I just haven't published it. I see the light now that will lead me to publishing. That's what I seem to be getting out of The Fieldstone Method because I am going to build my books not write it.

So, why am I telling you all this? To get you buy the book and experience it? To write a review of the book?    You will discover why I am writing about it, if you were to continue reading.

It is all about me. I recognized that I had almost stopped note taking. In other words, I had stopped collecting fieldstones. I guess I was just processing whatever my imperfect memory could store. Isn't it amazing that I stopped doing something that I advocate to other testers - note taking. When I realized this while experiencing the book, I picked my backpack and searched for my Indian version Moleskine and a pen. I must have missed observing a trillion stones but thankfully I have now saved myself from my ignorance that would have led to missing trillion power trillion stones in the future.

Here are some of the stones I collected today that I am pulling from my notebook (and typing it for you):

  • Thought: When you are alone in a coffee shop, you hear people and their conversation you usually wouldn't bother to hear if you were not alone.
  • Retrospective as I read the book: I was probably smart all this while but not happy because I always wanted to be more smart but never wanted to be happy.
  • I shook the coffee table accidentally and a glass of water placed on it started to get its vibration and then I wondered: Pradeep, when was the last time you observed water settle down after being disturbed with a vibration. Your 9 month old kid now would watch it with curiosity. Relation to testing: The first time an information looks interesting and everybody pays attention to it. Once they learn how it happens, they lose interest to observe things that they were once curious about and if there was a different behavior? They would continue to assume they know something. Software is volatile, just like the water. 
  • I was asking myself a question: Does it matter if something takes a long time to learn? What determines "long"?
  • I saw cold coffee on some table and decided to order it. I wrote a note : How did my choice alter after seeing something that caused my brain to demand it.
  • Project Gutenberg quoted in Jerry's book - Awesome
  A friend of mine, Nandan Pujar wanted to meet with me for a consultation and I felt, "What a great time for a good friend to come in. Some of the exercises I want to practice requires such an occasion and a trust worthy friend". I took notes as I was consulting for him:

  • I was reminded of Warren Buffet interview of why he didn't come and invest in India prior to last year. His response was, "Nobody invited me to do so". 1.2 billion people didn't think of knocking that door that way. I felt sad for myself.
  • My friend Nandan said, "Being with mediocre people helps you identify your delta with them and being with intellects helps you fix the delta". I thought it was a cool thing.
  • Made note of words he used "Feudal" and "Artificial scarcity"
 I came back home and made other note of stones I saw, heard, observed, felt, experienced...
  • My 9 month old daughter had to poo. After cleaning the poo, I wrote in my note: As a kid I must have not known this is called "poo" and why people clean it off. Now that I know, I clean the mess I do. I am wondering if testers who recognize the "poo" of their work will ever clean the mess they do. Some of them are stuck with it and they seem to think as though it is a newly grown part of their system. Some who come new to the system see people stuck with the "poo" of their work and assume that, to be experienced, they also need to be stuck to "poo"
It is fantastic. I love it.  Thank you Jerry. You helped me recognize the "poo" I was carrying all this while and I am not going to be one of those who will not clean it. I will clean it. I will not just clean the "poo" I have been carrying for a while but identify with the help of trillions of stones I can see, to not carry any type of "poo" of my life. I also recognize the idea of heuristics and they are fallible.

Till yesterday, I was thinking, "Now that I have accomplished all this in life, how do I change myself?", Weinberg on Writing (or WOW) - The Fieldstone Method is a change catalyst. 11th March, 2012 was a beautiful Sunday in Bangalore. So can everyday be if I were to collect the stones.