"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, May 10, 2013

Emailing skills and its power to influence for software testers (no, just me)

No matter how much you probe people who are successful they won't tell you some secrets - not because they don't want to tell you but because they don't all the time recognize the smallest most ignored thing they did great were the secrets.

To me, when people talk about testing skills, they often leave out writing skill. They don't recognize it. Even if they do - there are several forms and forums where testers write and their writing has to vary accordingly to help them influence the project and decisions. Most of us know about bug reporting writing. I don't know of many people who give importance to emailing skill but I attribute emailing skills to be a major contributor to my success so far. In Moolya, we have emailing skill training to everybody and we constantly review good bad and ugly emails to help our folks be better than some of us. At all levels, we keep reporting bad practices on email. Parimala has even used some of my emails to show bad examples in signature section in emails and why it matters to have a signature that helps people reach you when needed.

I was looking into some emails and found a consulting assignment email that I had sent to a client I worked for in 2009 and thought it would be a good idea to put it up for the world. When Parimala reviewed the emails she thought it was brilliant and finally has something to show to testers in Moolya from on the good example side. I asked if I should publish this on my blog and she instantly liked the idea. So, here it goes:

The way I email daily updates is, I go to the previous sent email and send it as a reply to all adding the current day's update. So, if you were to receive a day 12 report, scrolling down, you will see all other day updates. I don't want to give extra gyaan but whatever you can take away from the below email, take it. 

Product information, people name, customer names and other confidential information have been changed to not breach the NDA I signed with them. 

On Thu, Oct 7, 2010 at 11:18 PM, Pradeep Soundararajan <PSoundararajan@Bravo.com> wrote:

Day 14:

         I couldn't sleep yesterday night after finding those issues. I was excited and continued testing till about 2 AM from the guest house.
         Its pretty exciting to be finding these issues and hoping its of value to you.
         I discovered yesterday that Firefox, the application we allow itself is a culprit that can help users bypass the security. Just launch firefox, type c:\ in the address bar, enter, you have access. No policy blocks.
         The other important issue that I have reported includes user being able to change the settings of McAfee virus scan itself. I was able to exclude my desktop to be scanned, downloaded a test virus and it resided without being cleaned or deleted. I could initiate a scan of registry entries, folders.
         By this, I have kind of violated almost all policies set.


         Will be end of the contract day
         I am hoping to report a few more issues that I have been investigating today.
         I shall publish to you my test strategy, test coverage, analysis, suggestions, experience report. As this would take some time to do it, I may send this early next week.

-- Pradeep Soundararajan

On Wed, Oct 6, 2010 at 11:46 PM, Pradeep Soundararajan <PSoundararajan@Bravo.com> wrote:
Day 13
         Continuing the investigations on Deskpro, I figured out more vulnerability today. These are even more serious ones than yesterday's reports.
         I have access to all drives now C:\ Q:\ F:\ this time not over command prompt but through 7Zip
         I could write into these drives. I have left a file C:\TRU\ called pradeephackedthis.txt
         I could copy all visible data to me to my local folders
         I could view individual user accounts, settings, what they have on their desktop, what they have browsed, what cookies are set on their system. 
         I can go write a cookie into their system and steal all data without their knowledge.
         I could install applications into their login. For instance, I put a zip file into Startup folder of users that when opened contains about 50 MB of data in it. There is a way to deny users with space.
         Even if a user discovers it by accident, rest is going to be excitement for him and disappointment for us.
         I could initiate an install of applications with no restrictions from the GUI itself. In fact I did end up reinstalling Tomcat.
         I feel like a super admin without needing the password or login for it.
         The thing to note is: The policy did block me but not all times.
         There are other basic functional issues as well that will be reported.
         These issues will be reported in Jira tomorrow with necessary screenshots and further investigation

-- Pradeep Soundararajan

On Tue, Oct 5, 2010 at 10:43 PM, Pradeep Soundararajan <PSoundararajan@Bravo.com> wrote:
Day 12:
         I continued testing on Deskpro focusing on functional & security issues
         Users email ids, login ids can be accessed: this is privacy policy violations. Customers may sue for privacy violation.
         Lots of open source software for windows desktop are bundled in zip file, when downloaded, all exe run inside zip despite policy restrictions
         Command prompt clones run and allow access to C:\ drive
         I could write files in C:\Windows & C:\Program Files & System32 folders
         I could see the admin policy settings
         Apart from these, I have installed software in C:\Program Files which reflects in not just my account but all users connecting to SRIVER11.
         So, if 50 users are installing 10 applications, every user may see 500 applications installed in his login
         Continue testing Deskpro / Mutro
         Investigate and report issues found today in Jira

-- Pradeep Soundararajan

On Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 11:05 PM, Pradeep Soundararajan <PSoundararajan@Bravo.com> wrote:
Hi All,

Greetings! Hope you had a great weekend and having a good week ahead.

Day 11:
         The netbook I had where I was able to delete the Bravo folder had some issues even after reflashing it. So, about half of the day was spent on waiting that I'd get the netbook in the next 15 minutes. My mistake, should have gone immediately to Deskpro from nLive.
         Post afternoon, I started testing Deskpro from nLive and found some critical issues related to privacy of registered users. I could get access to all thousands of registered users of entire network and their email ids.
         Beyond that, I could install applications and it gets reflected in other people's account as I was able to install it in the C:\Program Files of SRIVER11. So, when logged in with admin privileges from R account, he could get the applications I have installed. This is again, in my opinion, something critical.
         Apart from these I have reported a few functional and Usability related issues.
         I am hoping to get the netbook again tomorrow, even otherwise I have Deskpro through nLive.
         As a side note, I had some amazing discussion with Architect & insights about Mutro, Deskpro & iDrive. 

-- Pradeep Soundararajan

On Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 5:17 PM, Pradeep Soundararajan <PSoundararajan@Bravo.com> wrote:
Hi All,

Day 9:

         QA Review meeting: Thank you for briefing me on what you want me to focus on going forward. This was important for me to be of value to you.
         Focus is on functional problems for 2.0 October release.
         Prior to this & post the meeting, I have reported the functional issues I could find on Mutro

Day 10:

         Testing for functional problems and user based scenario problems on Mutro + iDrive
         Reported a couple of issues on functionality.
         Reported a blocked where after successfully launching iDrive I could move the /home/Bravo folder to trash, making all applications in Mutro to fail.
         I have reported about 19 issues over the last two days and most of them being functionality related.
Week 3:

         Focus on Functionality of iDrive, Mutro and Deskpro
         Find as many important problems as possible and report all of them
         Touch base with Architect and team on a constant basis.


On Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 7:05 PM, Pradeep Soundararajan <PSoundararajan@Bravo.com> wrote:
Hi All,


         Worked entirely on netbook
         Got the test login from Admin Personnel for Server 2008 and explored on it for an hour.
         Covered areas: toolbar options, zones, user scenarios
         Found issues related to Usability, Functionality & User expectation violation
         Reported most of the issues confirmed on Jira
         Rest of the issues that need investigation shall be reported tomorrow.


         Focus of testing Mutro shall continue
         Have asked Admin Personnel for a few policy changes that would bring Deskpro closer to what the users might be using it in future to continue my tests on it.
         QA Progress meeting with PM, TL, Architect & Admin Personnel
         Shall be leaving office in the afternoon

-- Pradeep Soundararajan

Resending the same with updated Subject line (Day 7 instead of Day 6 as per previous email). Sorry.

Hi All,

What I loved:
         I loved the idea of showing what's happening within each zone in the preview mode. For instance I initiated Deskpro and before it completely launched I opened a new zone and went to My Zones, I could see what was opening / happening inside Deskpro in the thumbnail view. 
         That is a real cool feature to provide to the user especially when you allow them to preview multiple zones.
         I spent time investigating some of the issues I had found yesterday
         I did get Netbook and my testing focus is Mutro / Deskpro on Netbook
         I reported issues found on Mutro (Netbook) to Jira
         Dev 2 & I had a bug triage meeting scheduled and this shall be a daily activity from today. We discussed and scrubbed the issues reported. This activity is definitely helpful.
         I also did test Welcome Bravo on Deskpro launched from nLive and shall investigate the same on Netbook before logging it in Jira.
         Some more security issues to be reported for Infra team
         Had a lunch meeting with Admin Personnel on Infrastructure related issues. I learnt that migration will happen to Windows Server 2008. Admin Personnel communicated that he would give me a test login that should help me identify risks and re-test security for Server 2008.
         Wider & Deeper coverage of Mutro on Netbook with focus towards any kind of issues that might impact the business or user experience.

-- Pradeep Soundararajan

On Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 7:34 PM, Pradeep Soundararajan <PSoundararajan@Bravo.com> wrote:
Hi All,


         As said in Day5 report, I started with reporting the issues I had found on Friday which consumed 1/3rd of the time in day.
         The netbook had some issues and later was being fixed by Dev 2 so I still haven't started testing on it but the good thing is I didn't keep mum.
         I continued testing Deskpro from my own laptop this time.
         I continued performing security & functional tests and found a bunch of issues again which would go to Jira soon.

Strategy suggestion:

         Today's testing revealed some more security issues related to Deskpro. I could traverse to get through the Scheduled tasks set on Sriver 11 and could set tasks of my own. For instance, I could see "Orphan Port Delete" scheduled task and its frequency.
         I could get an option to look at the Windows Terminal Network which is connected to the Sriver11 although I couldn't see beyond Sriver11 on it.
         I could access Microsoft Outlook on Sriver11, set accounts on it or send and recieve emails.

         I feel, I have found enough security issues to help the teams rethink about the policies, firewall and system settings.
         Otherwise it would be same kind of information over loaded.
         I think I should focus on other quality criteria henceforth - Functionality & Usability with less focus on Security.
         That way, I can be of more value to you.
         I am open to suggestions from you though.

         Report issues found today with screenshots
         Should be getting the netbook and testing Mutro & Deskpro from that.
         Test for Usability & Functionality

On Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 9:54 AM, Pradeep Soundararajan <PSoundararajan@Bravo.com> wrote:
Hi All,

         The report I had to send on Friday evening is what I am sending now.

         Was covering User Experience Testing of Mutro on Cloudbox
         Found issues related to User Experience & Flows that users are more likely to hit upon
         Focus then shifted to Penetration testing on Deskpro
         Some of the cool security issues were uncovered such as there are competing anti spyware programs that can be installed which gives us access to kill McAfee and take much more control over the system.
         I could uninstall Winamp, see the process running on SRIVER11, kill some of them, run a Spyware scan and so forth.
         Rest assured, these are going to Jira today.
         I shall be reporting the issues found on Friday into Jira
         I should start testing Mutro & Deskpro from Netbook
         Most testing from now on would be from the Netbook
         Focus remains on User Experience & Security

-- Pradeep Soundararajan

On Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 9:45 PM, Pradeep Soundararajan <PSoundararajan@Bravo.com> wrote:
Hi All, 


         Today started off with a meeting with Tester where he showed me the testing he and PM had done on Mutro which gave rise to a few more ideas and scenarios for me.
         I continued to test on Cloud PC for a while tell Dev 2 came in and we decided to move to the latest version ( I was testing on RC3 )
         Post TL and Dev 2 meeting we decided that the issues I report would be considered for fixing post the Customer X/CUSTOMER Y release.
         The upgrade on cloud PC had some issues so instead of watching it get upgraded, I started picking up the issues I found yesterday, investigated and reported them.
         I was on the catch up call with CEO, TL and Dev 2.
         CEO set the goal for Black Box User Perspective Testing on Mutro
         I also continue to add on to my list of the kinds of test coverage we need to be able to achieve a wider and deeper testing.
         At about 6 PM my laptop broke (physically), I have now had a temporary fix to it which can help me continue tomorrow without any significant issues. [ pretty childish? :) ]
         I start testing Mutro from Tablet PC than Cloudbox
         I shall continue to report issues as and when I find.
         I shall log the security issues under the about to be created Security section in Jira
Help & Support:
         Joining you people mid way through your journey of Cloudbox and new customer requests, I am not the best person to be able to judge the priority of the bug, so I request the help of respective module leads to take a look at the bug reports at the end of the day and change its priority accordingly.
         I was under the impression that I was reporting the severity of the problem and not the priority because it is only you who understand the business layer who can set it.
         So, I would continue to report issues with my limited judgement and I shall rely on module leads to change the severity and priority for the issues I report.
         From my end, I shall ensure I provide as much evidence as possible to the bugs I report. 
Thanks for your time and patience that I value,

-- Pradeep Soundararajan
On Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 7:45 PM, Pradeep Soundararajan <PSoundararajan@Bravo.com> wrote:
Hi All,

         I got access to Mutro today
         Half of my time was spent on learning & exploring Mutro & Deskpro through Mutro ( which is towards release 2.0, correct me if I am wrong )

         I reported a few issues in Jira & shall start reporting issues to respective projects henceforth.
         I found issues that breach the security policies which I shall be reporting tomorrow morning into Jira as I am on the final leg of investigation. Issues such as Bravocentre.exe and Welcome_tillSep08.exe can be copied and transported over internet and disassembled.
         TL brought to my attention of a release being made to Customer X / CUSTOMER Y next week and set a goal to find issues of Mutro from users perspective of usage that can be passed to Dev 2 ( did I spell it wrong? )
         I have attached the issues I found so far as a text file to this email ( Not to worry - these will be going to Jira ) and I am set to uncover more such issues tomorrow. 
         As a side note: I am dealing with opportunity cost of finding issues versus reporting them. One takes away time from another.
         I am making a list of things to be covered for testing of Mutro as and when I use it.
Tomorrow's plan:
         Continue testing Mutro and Deskpro for Functional, Usability & Security issues
         Report bugs in Jira
         Sit with Dev 2 once he is back and unlearn things I might have incorrectly learnt about Mutro

-- Pradeep Soundararajan

On Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 8:03 PM, Pradeep Soundararajan <PSoundararajan@Bravo.com> wrote:
Hi All,


         Mixed day ( No power for first 2 hours and then intermittent day coupled with some good issues )
         You would discover that I am emailing from Bravo id, so I got it and Jira access too.
         I am reporting issues in Jira under QA & Testing
         Used the no electricity time to interact with Admin Personnel and understand the infrastructure and security of the Bravo cloud a little deeper
         Used the tea break to discuss with Marketing & Sales team about existing issues.
         I have planned to do a paired testing approach with Marketing and Admin Personnel individually to be able to identify more issues.
         Post TL's meeting with CEO, I learnt the focus doesn't need to be on Live as of now and is on Cloudbox & Deskpro or 2.0 release if I may say so.
         Post discussion with Marketing, I identified I would also need a Data card connection to be able to test from a typical wireless access modelling real user scenario.
         TL is going to help me get a Cloudbox tomorrow and that would also be a part of my testing from tomorrow.
         Read the Bravo Blog

         I have reported about 10 issues in Jira as of today coupled with testing performed.
         Some issues from yesterday's investigation and some with todays. I am covering security and purpose hand in hand while learning more about the product.

         Waiting to get my hands on the Cloudbox & continue to increase the test coverage
Thanks for your time so far,

-- Pradeep Soundararajan


Parimala Hariprasad said...

There are many things I loved about this email chain:
1. Gives a transparent view into a tester's schedule/work on any particular day
2. Express emotions clearly - which help the stakeholders rethink about some bugs
3. Bonding with the team - during coffee, no electricity time and laptop damage time. Demonstrates commitment to work
4. Expressing pain when there is a deviation in mission and quickly recovering from it
5. Reporting bugs with detailed investigation and asking for extra time if needed
6. Highlighting Opportunity Cost
7. Highlighting Value of Testing

In short, this email demonstrates a very high standard of professionalism that every tester must posess!

Btw, I read this email 6 times until now :)

Kudos Pradeep.

Parimala Hariprasad

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

Many thanks Pari. You got me to publish this with the comments you made before I published it. Glad, they are consistent before and after I publish :)

Mohan Raj Rajendran said...

Brave and Bold Attempt Pradeep! Thanks to Parimala for this.

Gentlin said...

Express emotions clearly..,
It sounds well.. :)

This is a great challenge to narrate a mail while after found bundle of bugs..,

However a Good Tester perform as Good in Hard times too..,
Am on the way i think.., :)

Thank you Mr.Pradeep Soundararajan., Am reading your post again and again to reach my way sooooon :)

Happy Testing :) Happy Day :)

Allison said...

This is cool!

Unknown said...

I am going to copy most of the things from here.

Unknown said...

Hello Pradeep Sir,

I have just started my career as a Tester and I am really happy that I came across your blogs. Your writing, teachings truly inspires and helps to think and do better. You are doing great for Indian testing industry.