Tag Archives: technology

Mr. Spock and Star Trek’s Influence on my Life and as a Software Testing Manager

Mr Spock
Picture courtesy of the BBC News Entertainment & Arts.

I was saddened to hear of Leonard Nimoy passing at the age of 83. Trekkies knew he was sick and recently was in the hospital. Of course selfishly I wanted Leonard Nimoy to be part of the 50th anniversary Star Trek movie. It was wonderful to see him in the 2009 Star Trek movie. I loved the scene where he encounters a young Kirk – and greets him warmly with: I have been and always shall be your friend. Such profound and deep words if you really understand the friendship between Kirk and Spock. And Spock’s father who tells him that he married his mother (a human) because he loved her. Those are my favorite scenes from the newer movies – we are to witness some of the Vulcan’s emotions.

Mr. Spock was one of my favorites from Star Trek the original series. As a child I faithfully watched Star Trek in reruns and never got tired of watching it over and over again! The space travel and encountering new worlds and aliens was fascinating. Even today just hearing the Star Trek theme means an adventure awaits! The Enterprise is the most beautiful ship. My love of technology comes from those early days of Star Trek. Over the years we have witnessed how Star Trek has become reality through current technology. Look at their communicators and today we have mobile devices. In The Next Generation Picard uses a small flat screen computer – now we have iPads and Skype! Technology has dramatically changed over the decades. Earlier in my career computers were DOS based and printers were dot-matrix – they were loud and slow! My initial programming classes included writing and executing JCL through punched cards. Luckily that was only one semester! Click here for more information and the below picture is courtesy of wikipedia. But my education served me well as a programmer for 12 years and then many years in the testing field!

Punched card

During the 90’s computer magazines were filled with articles on how technology was changing. Of interest was the Chicago project that ended up being Windows 95. This earlier computer was expensive with a hard drive that was 1 gig. At that time it was considered to be a lot of storage! Those early days of computers with the Apple and Windows wars was exciting

Many nights started with the intention of spending an hour on the computer but ended up with late nights learning the new technology. At work my nickname was “geekette” as I helped my co-workers with the technology that was confusing for them. But for me it was a love affair! Technology was not as common as it is today with everyone having an iPad or a smart phone. Unlike the current generation, in kindergarten we did not have computers. Those of us who understood technology was a smaller group of people and many did not relate to us. But that was okay because we had Star Trek! Never underestimate the Trekkie bond!

Mr. Spock was interesting as he was half human and half Vulcan. He had the logic and self-control of the Vulcan’s but there were times when we witnessed his human emotions. When the Enterprise is under attack or there is a crisis, Spock is logical and in control. He can be heard to tell the crew that there is no reason to yell. Through the decades from TOS and the many movies we learn more about Spock and how he had to learn to keep his emotions under control and not let his human side take over.

I love this picture of the Enterprise and it is courtesy of Once Upon a Geek.
NCC Enterprise

There is an interesting parallel between Mr. Spock and my life as a Software Testing Manager. My love of logic and thinking through a situation by remaining neutral comes from Mr. Spock. Often I have been told I can appreciate both sides of a story and make decisions while remaining neutral and unemotional. I believe this is an important ability for a Testing Manager. We have to keep our emotions in control when the pressure of a pending release is high or we are juggling a lot of risks trying to determine the best use of time. It would be easy to cave into the human emotions. Instead we need to focus on the facts and test assumptions to make the best decisions. High emotions can cause us to have tunnel vision by looking at a narrow piece of the problem instead of trying to understand the overall situation.

My love for technology and logic comes from Star Trek and Mr. Spock. As I write this tribute I have a marathon of TOS playing on our Smart TV and one of my favorite two-part series in currently playing: The Menagerie. One day my husband and I went to Best Buy and I saw the Smart TV and well… had to have it! Some people are dedicated to one operating system whereas I use Windows, IOS, and Android. Charging multiple devices with different operating systems every day seems to be the norm.

Mr spock vulcan
Image courtesy of Fanpop.

Lastly, here is a video where Leonard Nimoy discusses the Jewish story behind Spock’s hand gesture that he brought into Star Trek. Leonard Nimoy will be missed but he left a wonderful legacy and influenced countless lives. But we still hate to part so soon!

What are your Mr. Spock memories?

Live long and Prosper!

Please Participate in the State of Testing 2015 Survey!

It is that time for the second survey on the State of Testing! If you did not participate in the first survey, you will definitely want to participate this year! The first survey had 600 participants and this year we are hoping for at least 1,000! The survey seeks to identify the existing characteristics, practices and challenges facing the testing community in hopes to shed light and provoke a fruitful discussion towards improvement. Click here to participate.

If you are not sure if you want to participate, please take a few minutes to review last year’s survey results. A lot of valuable information on how other Testers are spending their time, how they plan, methodologies used, challenges faced and much more! I hope you will take some time to complete this valuable survey as I believe you will find the information helpful!

Women Testers – October 2014 Edition is Out! How to Keep Yourself Organized When There are Too Many Demands on Your Time!

get organized

I hope you take an opportunity to read the latest edition of Women Testers! For this edition I have an article called: How to Keep Yourself Organized When There are Too Many Demands on Your Time! I plan on writing a second part to this article and would appreciate any questions or feedback that could be addressed in the next edition of Women Testers.

If you would like to submit an article for a future edition or help out in any way, please contact Jyothi Rangaiah at editor@womentesters.com and you can find more information by clicking here. Enjoy the magazine and please let people know about it including women who might be interested in a tech career!

Developing An Interactive Shadowing Program With Videos and Exercises

job shadowing

Recently, I had a high school student spend two-days in the Testing department to gain a basic understanding of what testing is all about. Most of us know the challenges of explaining a Testers’ responsibilities without making it look too easy or so difficult that you completely lose them. Some of these challenges are discussed in a prior posting that you can find here. If you are hosting a shadowing day or any similar opportunity, below are a few ideas to get you started.

I would like to thank the following people who contributed to providing suggestions and links to potential training material. Griffin Jones, Teri Charles, Jennifer Hannon, and Stephen Becht.

  • Create an initial agenda and identify a few alternatives. During the shadowing program there might be a need to change direction based upon how the person is reacting to the information. Some material might progress more quickly than expected. Other material you might decide is not appropriate once you get to know him better. Plus remember to have fun. Do not make it so serious or intense that you lose him! And make it interactive to keep him engaged.
  • Create a Testers’ Profile by asking the Software Testers to answer a few questions on how they selected testing as a career, what they enjoy about their job, and what advice they would give a new Tester. Compile the information in a newsletter or some other fun format to provide as a take away. Host a conversation where the Testers can discuss their careers so he has an opportunity to ask questions. Try to maintain a casual environment. Look for a location that has comfortable chairs like a coffee break room or a conference room that is not the board room.
  • Guru 99 has free software testing videos that last from about 1-minute to 5-minutes. They are basically snippets of information with some of them having small exercises to perform. Once the video is completed, discuss any questions and relate the material to something that he is familiar such as Facebook, Twitter etc. Reinforcing the material is important.
  • Whodunnit? This video is a lot of fun providing some great opportunities for a conversation afterwards. Before playing the video instruct him to write down his observations. Do not watch the end of the video until he writes down observations on what has changed during the murder investigation. Consider replaying the beginning part of the video a few times so he can have a chance to find what has changed. Most people are surprised when they find out how much has changed during that short video.
  • Basketball Awareness Test: Moonwalking Bear. From an awareness perspective a Tester may notice something that does not make sense or is out of scope. At that point, the Tester has to make a decision. Go down the new path to explore or quickly note the observation returning back to the original test. An interesting conversation – if you do not notice the moonwalking bear what does that mean? Is it good or is it bad?
  • Easy Button Exploratory Testing by James and Jonathan Bach. This is a great video since it uses a lot of the testing terms in a fun manner. A great option for after lunch when he might be feeling that carb sleepiness. If possible purchase an Easy Button to reproduce some of the tests and relate them to your Testing department.
  • Cast 2011 Promo 2 Video. Another video by James and Jonathan Bach. The Hidden Puzzle is very interesting since each Tester took different test paths to identify the picture. If possible, recreate the Hidden Puzzle exercise with him and include a few Testers. How did each person approach the testing? Who found the hidden picture? How many tests did it take? This could be a fun exercise while providing some real insight on testing.
  • Steve McQueen, Consulting Software Tester. A short scene from the Towering Inferno with subtitles relating to Testing. It is best to play the video and then play it again but pausing at different times for a discussion.
  • TestBash 2.0 – A-Galumphing We Go James Bach. A longer video. After watching it determine how you will evaluate if he is ready for the material.
  • Open Lecture by James Bach on Software Testing. This video is longer and could work well if you stop it at different points for a discussion.
  • Brain Focus and other similar exercises are great since they can parallel testing in terms of understanding the requirements, working through different testing paths, and the potential danger of making assumptions. When appropriate create a decision table / tree or other diagram similar to how your team approaches a testing problem.
  • Create an exercise form with discussion questions for the videos or other material to be reviewed. This helps foster a conversation between each exercise and provides a place for him to take notes.

And most importantly… do not forget the food! Cookies, donuts, candy, going out for lunch… food is always a nice touch!

Let me know if you have any other ideas on how we might sponsor a shadowing or internship for a student whether high school or college to introduce them to Software Testing!

A New Women Testers E-magazine Has Arrived!

There is a new testing e-magazine called “Women Testers” that has recently been published. I hope you take some time to check out their first edition by clicking here. I would like to thank Jyothi Rangaiah and her team for pulling together this e-magazine, which is a lot of hard work and dedication to make this happen! I wish them much success with bringing together different viewpoints and approaches on testing through this e-magazine. We can all have an impact on testing through the international Testing Community. Take some time to not only read the articles but determine where you can contribute. Can you write an article or perhaps spend some time reviewing articles. Many hands make the work lighter! If you wish to be involved, contact Jyothi at jyothi@womentesters.com.

Gathering Testing Artifacts and Journal Notes

CamStudio
Image Courtesy of CamStudio

Recently, I want to learn more about how Testers are gathering their testing artifacts to help them make a decision on whether the code they are testing is ready to go to production. As Testers we know we will never be able to cover all of the potential tests. People outside of testing often have a hard time understanding why full testing coverage can be impossible especially for larger modules / functionality we are testing. This includes the sheer number of tests to perform, understanding the critical risks, what is important to the customer, among other considerations and then balancing all of that with time available for testing. Recording your testing may seem scary or intimidating at first, but it can have a lot of benefits. A recording can be used when working with a Developer on how to reproduce a problem; demonstrating to another Tester what you saw in testing to determine next steps; and providing physical evidence during an audit.

Recording your testing may or may not help defend your sampling strategy but if you add journal notes with your recordings you may be able to show the progression of your testing and why you made certain decisions. This can be important when you need to go back to review why you made certain decisions or review how you tested something. Most of us cannot rely on our memory to remember why we made certain decisions. Therefore, a certain level of documentation is important.

Understanding why and how we document information is important. A great starting point to understand more about how and why Testers collect journal notes is discussed in Michael Bolton’s article: An Exploratory Tester’s Notebook.

Another great article Have You Considered Evidence of Testing?

I have had a lot of informative conversations with Griffin Jones on the importance of gathering testing evidence. Please refer to his session talk at CAST 2013 What is good evidence? You can learn more about Griffin’s consulting business Congruent Compliance by clicking here.

You can find even more information from Software Testing Club where Testers shared their thoughts on recording tools by clicking here.

I gathered, through social medial, what video recording and documentation tools Testers are using to gather their testing artifacts. I would like to thank the following people for responding: Teri Charles, Raji, Gagan Talwar, Mohinder Khosla, Ajay Balamurugadas, Richard Bradshaw, Lisa Crispin, Srinivas Kadiyala, Adam Yuret, and Griffin Jones. As always, we have an awesome Testing Community that is always willing to share information.

Below is a summary of the findings. Some of these tools are open source and others you must purchase but they may have a short trial period. I would suggest identifying what is important to you in a recording tool before you start your evaluation to make a better decision.

Another suggestion by Lisa Crispin for recording and showing bugs: Quicktime. From Srinivas Kadiyala we have a few additional suggestions: SnagIt , qSnap, Paint (PrintScreen). Lalit has let me know that QTrace is now qTestExplorer! Click here to learn more! And thank you Lalit for the correction! From Kobi Halperin we have Defect Scribe that he hopes to explore and share information about.

Keep the suggestions coming and I will update this page.

How are you gathering your Testing Artifacts?

Do you record your testing?

Do you use screen cap tools?

Or do you have another method to provide your Testing Artifacts?

Over a Cup of Tea – My Interview with Tea-Time with Testers

Earl Grey Tea and Scones

As I have mentioned in a previous posting, I have a lot of admiration for Lalitkumar Bhamare and I was honored when he asked me for an interview for his excellent e-magazine. His interview provides some insight into my professional and personal life. So grab a cup of tea and perhaps a hot scone to not only read my interview but to also enjoy the wonderful articles written by Testers from around the world! My preference is loose Earl Grey Supreme by Harney and Sons. Speaking of scones… here is a great recipe for scones!

Click here for my interview.

What is Your Legacy? Part 5

How to reduce the cost of testing
Image courtesy of Amazon.

Throughout the “What is Your Legacy” series, I have mostly focused on the Testers in the trenches and I hope you enjoyed learning more about Testers that you may not be connected. Perhaps you found one or more Testers that you will start following on Twitter or their blogs. I love how the Testing community supports one another and how we share information within the community. Today I would like to talk about the book “How to Reduce The Cost of Software Testing”.

This book was written by many Testers who responded to a couple of questions posted on LinkedIn. It is an amazing book filled with the collective knowledge of more than 20-Testers from around the world sharing their thoughts and experiences on reducing the cost of Software Testing while still identifying the problems and bugs. A brief bio is provided on each of the authors with most of them having active websites. This is another great way to “meet” more Testers within the community.

This book also introduced me to Testers such as Selena Delesie who wrote an important chapter on “The Cost of Quality”. She presents different processes and approaches to reduce costs while improving quality through a fictional company case study. I think most of us are challenged to reduce the cost of testing but retain a high level of quality testing. We need to understand that cost as we make decisions since there are typically many different paths to choose from.

Another Tester I learned about through this book was Catherine Powell who wrote a chapter called “Opportunity Cost of Testing”. I love this chapter because as Testers every decision we make has a cost. We may select one set of tests over another set based upon the requirements and known risks. Testers are always fighting the clock; therefore understanding the opportunity costs of our decisions is fairly important.

This book is packed with valuable information; a great way to get acquainted with a lot of Testers; and the chapters can be read in any order. It does not get much better than that! Hopefully you will have an opportunity to read this wonderful book and apply what you are learning to your own department.

What is Your Legacy? Part 4

I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am! Today I would like to share what I admire about Lalitkumar Bhamare and Teri Charles.

Lalitkumar Bhamare
I admire Lalit for being a co-founder and Editor of Tea-time With Testers (TTWT). He works endlessly to publish an innovative, quality e-magazine. Think about how much work and time it takes to write one article that is worthy for publication. Now imagine working with authors to write articles, interviews, and other creative ways to keep TTWT fresh and interesting. I would like to share a few initiatives Lalit has been involved. If you go to their home page and scroll down, you will find “Our Story and Testimonials” video, which I was happy to be involved. I hope you take some time to watch it if you are not familiar with TTWT. The concept of the Women in Testing edition published in September 2013 was wonderful to read with so many women sharing their viewpoints on technology. Leah Stockley was the guest editor and she did a wonderful job!

Last year I got an email from Lalit asking if I wanted to participate in the State of Testing 2013 survey that TTWT was partnering with Joel Montvelisky. Joel was looking for information to write a post about the advances in the testing world in the last 5-10 years and he realized that there is no centralized set of information that provides visibility into what is happening and what are the trends in the world of testing today. That is when he turned to Lalit and they decided to turn this into a project. It is an important survey that in the short term you can use it to learn how you compare to other testers and where you might make changes. Over the upcoming years, we will have data to trend to better understand where we are headed as a Testing Community. You can learn more about Lalit at his LinkedIn profile.

Teri Charles
Teri has so much enthusiasm for learning and encouraging others. I “know” Teri through Twitter and I have found she typically is the first person to congratulate or encourage someone. Through her blog Boulder Tester she shares her experiences in developing her testing skills and she is not afraid to get her hands dirty by learning how to write code. On her blog she discusses how coding never came as a natural skill. So what is her approach? Create a plan and then collaborates with a couple of other people to teach an “Introduction to Programming Concepts” course! You really need to read about her journey by going to her blog. Being a former programmer who studied many programming languages at college – I know this is not easy to do on your own. It is typically easier to learn another language once you have studied and understand the basics. So I have to say what Teri is doing is quite impressive!!

I love the article Teri wrote about her testing journey in the article Be a Student for Life for Tea-Time with Testers, September 2013 “Women in Testing Special”. I too am a learner and am always curious about how things work and why they work certain ways. Like Teri I think we both want to know everything and most likely get ourselves a little overbooked because we want to do everything and know everything. I look forward to see what Teri does next! You can learn more about Teri through her LinkedIn profile.

What is Your Legacy – Part 3

I am enjoying writing this series on “What is Your Legacy?” There are so many wonderful testers in the trenches that are making a difference in the Testing community whether it sharing testing approaches or encouraging others to develop and further their skills. In Part 1 and Part 2, I share a few testers and leaders that I admire – even though some are “famous” in their own right I am focusing more on the testers who have found a way to have their voice heard! We may not all write books or speak at conferences but you can make a difference. Find your voice and a medium for it to be heard. Remember Jerry Weinberg, Lisa Crispin, James Bach, and Michael Bolton had to start somewhere! None of them achieved their success over night – instead it was years of dedication and hard work. So much has changed with social media, blogging, Skype, and e-books that the world has become smaller. You can “chat” with people around the world opening up learning opportunities. This provides excellent opportunities to “meet” testers that were not possible at one time. Today I would like to share a couple more testers that I admire. Do not forget to read the first part and the second part of this series.

Jean Ann Harrison
Jean Ann has such a heart and passion for mobile testing and works endlessly in helping companies and individuals understand how mobile testing is different than testing a web-based application. You can often find her offering a free webinar and she is active in social media engaging in meaningful discussions on how we can improve testing. You can learn more about Jean Ann’s impressive background from her LinkedIn profile including her publications. I would like to share a couple of interviews from CAST 2012 that provides meaningful suggestions on Mobile testing that can also be used for other forms of testing.

Jean Ann on Mobile Testing. A short YouTube video where Jean Ann talks about the importance of gathering information to isolate a problem when a developer is not convinced the problem is related to his code. This is a good example of how gathering more intelligence to tell the testing story differently so the developer understands the impact.

Jean Ann on the Complexity of Mobile Testing. A short YouTube video where Jean Ann talks about organizing your exploratory testing for Mobile testing. Through a google search you can locate other webinars that Jean Ann has presented and freely distributes to the Testing community.

Adam Knight
I became acquainted with Adam through a book review committee and was immediately impressed by his feedback in the discussion groups. Subscribing to his blog Software Testing – a Sisyphean Task? I learned more about thread-based testing which is similar to session-based testing. I had been using a similar approach and was glad to read how other testers are addressing testing problems with this approach. Adam shared his thread-based template and how he added a dashboard by using a MySQL database. I loved his approach and adapted it to how we work. So thank you Adam for sharing your approach with the Testing community! I used this article for one of my Lean Coffee Chats and the team really enjoyed the discussion – plus you can read James Bach article on why he came up with thread-based testing.

Adam provided this link within his article along with a lot of other valuable information providing an overall picture. He provides a lot of great research material with his articles and I would recommend that you follow his blog. Plus here is a short video from Adam on Sources of Learning from EuroSTARConference. You can learn more about Adam from his LinkedIn profile.