Saturday, December 29, 2012

I'm a Black Box Software Tester

More accurately I should say I've passed the Association for Software Testing's Black Box Software Testing Foundations class.

Here's the proof:

What does this mean? It means the instructors think I understood enough of the material to pass me based on the work I did throughout the course which includes discussion forums, assignments, quizzes and a final examination. I feel like I learned a lot from the exercises, readings and watching Cem Kaner's videos.

For those who don't know, Foundations is an intense 4 week class covering the basics of black box testing including the mission of testing, the oracle problem, the measurement problem and the impossibility of complete testing. I'd definitely recommend the class as long as you can spare at least 12+ hours a week to commit to watching the videos, reading the required and recommended readings and participating in the assignments. You must take the Foundations course before you can take any further classes so you learn how they are run.

One of my goals for 2013 is to take the other courses: Bug Advocacy, Test Design and then Instructor!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Bug Bounty Hunter

I haven’t been writing as much as I'd like thanks to an intense software testing class, travel, a few too many energy drinks which lead to some bad sleep and other life musings. New writing topics keep coming to mind and although I haven't had the time to complete my thoughts yet, I plan to get a few more things out before the end of the year.

In the meantime I thought it would be fun to share a graphic my friend Jeremy created for me a few years ago called The Bug Bounty Hunter:

Boba Fett is my favorite Star Wars character so the combination of Q.A. (Quality Assistance or Software Testing) and Boba as a bug bounty hunter was too awesome to pass up. This photo is so awesome that I enlarged it and hung it up over my test lab a few years ago.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Test Group of One

I started the Foundations Black Box Software Testing class earlier this week and we are now into lesson two of six. I thought the discussion question was interesting so I'd like to share it along with my response.

[P]lease describe the role of the test group (services and responsibilities) in your organization. How do you think this mix differs from what you think of as the "typical" test group? How would you change this?

Up until a month ago I was the sole tester in small software company (our entire company was about 11 people). Since then we've been purchased by a large multinational company with over 15,000 people world-wide and I’m still not quite sure what exact group I belong to, what my overall responsibilities are so I’ll focus my answer on the company prior to this acquisition.

Since our company was small so was our technical team, which consisted of 3 full time developers and me. For a few years we also had a CTO who acted as a development manager and occasionally for big projects we’d hire contractors. Like others on our technical team I essentially had two roles in the company: first as a tester of our products and secondly as a jack of all trades, used where-ever I’m needed. My responsibilities and services include:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Google "All Access Disabled" Issue

A few days ago I got this weird "AllAccessDisabled" message when trying to access from my MacBook Pro. I couldn't reproduce this weirdness but I feel it was interesting enough to raise as a possible issue (a potential problem).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

How do you handle regression testing?

Matt Heusser sent the context-driven-testing email group a series of questions about handling regression testing. Specifically he asked:
How do your teams handle regression testing? That is, testing for features /after/ the 'new feature' testing is done. Do you exploratory test the system?  Do you have a standard way to do it? Super-high level mission set?  Session based test management? Do you automate everything and get a green light? Do you have a set of missions, directives, 'test cases', etc that you pass off to a lower-skill/cost group? (or your own group)? Do you run all of those or some risk-adjusted fraction of them?  Do they get old over time? Or something else? I'm curious what your teams are actually doing.  Feel free to reply with /context/ - not just what but why - and how it's working for you. :-)
I thought it was a good line of questioning so I responded to Matt:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Feedback from a Developer (without knowing it)

Recently someone asked one of my developers if we created formal test plans. Since the conversation was in an email, my developer cc’d me on it and responded saying he wasn’t sure but he had *seen* me create test cases in our bug tracker, SpiraTeam. He wasn’t sure if that qualified as a formal test plan.

Upon reading the email I responded asking what the questioner considered a formal test plan. Then I explained how we use Mind Maps to detail test designs and that works for us as a “test plan”. Yet I kept wondering when the last time I wrote a test case was so I went through our system and found a timestamp on the last created case. It read July 7th, 2011.

Curious still, I sent an email to my developer and asked when was the last time he *saw* me create a test case in Spira. His response was:
“I don’t know, didn’t you create some for the release before the DW or something? Maybe it wasn’t test cases, but I’ve seen you do things that take forever in Spira, I always thought they were test plans or test cases.”
“…I’ve seen you do things that take forever!" Yup that’s what writing out test cases will do. They take time to write out, time to “execute”, don’t necessarily help the tester plan their testing, and are abandoned after their use. After numerous years it was time to move onto something more effective.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

MacBook Pro with Retina Benchmarks

I was really impressed with the latest MacBook refresh so much so that I purchased the new 15" MacBook Pro with Retina a few months after its release. Owning a portable computer is a lot more convenient for writing and testing – far more than any tablet could be. (I do like using my iPad for reading, testing iOS apps and taking notes.) As I’ve done in the past let’s look at the benchmarks for this new computer.

The specs of my new 15” MBP w/Retina:
  • 15.4” LED display with 2880-by-1800 resolution 
  • 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor 
  • 256 GB Solid State Drive 
  • 16 GB of 1600MHz DDR3L onboard memory 
  • Weight: 4.46 pounds 
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 1GB of GDDR5 memory 
  • Mac OS X 10.8 
  • 7 Hours battery life 
  • … and many other impressive attributes

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rapid Testing Intensive 2012: Day 5

The final day of the Rapid Testing Intensive #1:

RTI Attendees
The Group photo - taken on the 4th day (I'm in the 2nd row behind the #1)

9:00 AM - We all picked up our Certificates of Satisficity - basically saying we completed Rapid Testing Intensive #1

9:05 AM - Jon, as PM, is starting us off with the RTI Project Status with a background about getting started at eBay. He was forced to do metrics he didn't like, getting bogged down in a ton of meetings and he got the opportunity to train new hires so Jon created a slide deck which he is showing. Going over highlights of the week with some screen images - the first bug filed was eBay Motors experiencing technical difficulties.

9:12 AM - Mark (part of team TRON) continued to get the experiencing technical difficulties problem up until yesterday - it was tied to his account. Wheel Center had about 39% of the bugs, Light Center had 35% of the bugs and the Tire Center had 43% of the bugs. Jon claims that the MyVehicles section only had 1 issue but that's unlikely and that's a reason why metrics need a context and a story before they make sense.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rapid Testing Intensive 2012: Day 4

9:02 AM - James starts us off on Day 4. We are going to look at the status of the test project in terms of what we need to accomplish and look for the holes. This is a typical rapid testing management maneuver. James is showing a graph and reiterates he doesn't believe in fake metrics. The pink bands represent off hours and the clear bands represent on hours. At the beginning there is a very big jump in the number of bugs and then it flattens out.

9:08 AM - Turns out Paul Holland is going slow with checking the bugs - he claims its because there are only 3 people checking the bugs while 100 are reporting them. James wants to go through the bugs and check the risk areas to get general impressions so one of the activities together today or tomorrow might be to place risk measures on beach bug. The graph may make it on the front of the bug report. Dwayne says he isn't sure of the value of the graph and James says he also isn't sure but he doesn't need to know the value because he thinks it will provoke interest of the reader - in this case eBay.

9:12 AM - In rapid testing we don't put up graphs that give the impression we want to give, which is why James will filter out all duplicates and clean out the rest of the noise that could mislead readers. The graph could give the general impression of industriousness of the group over the four days we were here. Keep that skepticism in mind before considering showing metrics like this. You should always have someone doing bug triage otherwise you get a lot of noise in your reports and nothing gets corrected - no pressure. If you don't have a big team, if you can't dedicated someone, you can do it one at time at the time of the reporting.

9:22 AM - If you don't do bug triage then you get a lot of complaints from developers and managers even though they've never looked at them. It takes time but its worth it. James says at Borland they could do 20 bugs an hour and they determined out of the 800 bugs about 400 were legit bugs. You've got to maintain the quality of the list. After the first triage you get a much better feedback loop from that information. After the scrubbing we will want to see what eBay's final decisions are about the bugs. How do they rate the bugs we've created, what do they think of the bugs we've reported, how many do they end up fixing? That's the big thing.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rapid Testing Intensive 2012: Day 3

9:02 AM - Jon kicks off the Intensive with his project meeting. Talking about the communication between us and his eBay team.

9:07 AM - James talking about the upcoming assignments which will be split between onsite and online. Each table will get a 30 min test session. Later today we will be working / testing with tools since both James and Rob has some experience with this.

9:10 AM - James is talking about sympathetic testing.

9:15 AM - James is answering a question about knowledge transfer for regression tests when someone leaves a company. James uses the analogy of someone driving a car, if someone comes in and wants to drive his car he doesn't write down his driving procedures. He assumes that driver has driving skills. A tester should be good at rapid learning, skilled in testing and since most testers are untrained much of the documentation is of poor quality anyways. In Rapid Testing you create concise documentation, take test notes, you can take video but skilled testers should be able to pick up things fast.

9:22 AM - Pay attention to the test coverage outline - maintain it. Maintain the risk coverage outline.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rapid Testing Intensive 2012: Day 2

9:00 AM - Start of the day. James doing some talking about what we did yesterday, he's built a mind map. James and Jon are going over our schedule - gonna try to stick to it better than we did yesterday.

9:23 AM - Jon is doing a de-brief from yesterday / Project Check in. Talking about how good the bugs are that were filed. Nice job.

9:30 AM - Reviewing the TCOs from yesterday. Don't update them if it's going to cost too much. Being critical of one TCO that according to James could be affected by Visual Bias - only test the things they see. This is why we use heuristics strategies.

9:40 AM - Lighting and Wheel center for eBay Motors have been added to the scope of My Vehicles and Tire Center. Session of survey the functionality and do until 10:45 AM. Modify your TCOs.

10:45 AM - Break time!

Rapid Testing Intensive 2012: Day 1 Recap

This is a previous day recap of the things we did in Rapid Testing Intensive #1, Day 1 on Orcas Island, WA in 2012. I hope I remember everything. Some of the information I took from Karen Johnson's internal micro-blog. We've got eBay's support, developers online, ready to help with any bugs we find.

9:00 AM - Description of what we will be doing from Jon and James. How Jira works for reporting bugs, find project documentation, etc.

9:31 AM - First assignment is a Usability Test of eBay Motor's My Vehicle section. Session testing in pairs. There is a script to follow, find and report bugs as well as fill out the script. Post it to Jira when done.

11:35 AM - Wrap up of the first assignment. Get all bugs in.

11:47 AM - Usability test debrief from Jon and James.

12:00 PM - Lunch time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Enrolled in BBST Foundations

It's official. I'm enrolled in the BBST Foundations course for November through AST.

I joined AST (Association for Software Testing) with the end-goal to enroll in the BBST (Black Box Software Testing) Foundations course. I've read about the classes, seen a number of experts whom I trust recommend them and also heard good things from my post on SQA StackExchange. which is home to Cem Kaner and Rebecca Fiedler (the creators of the material) BBST consulting practice say this:
Too many testing courses emphasize a superficial knowledge of basic ideas. This makes things easy for novices and reassures some practitioners that they understand the field. However, it’s not deep enough to help students apply what they learn to their day-to-day work.
The BBST series will attempt to foster a deeper level of learning by giving students more opportunities to practice, discuss, and evaluate what they are learning. The specific learning objectives will vary from course to course (each course will describe its own learning objectives).

Saturday, July 7, 2012

15" MacBook Pro with Retina

I decided against waiting for Christmas and a week ago ordered a new 15" MacBook Pro with Retina display with 16GB of RAM and a 256GB Solid State Drive. What can I say other than I was impressed with the 2012 refresh.

When it does arrive (in about a month or so) I intend to write about my current 13" MacBook Pro's (last years model) performance scores (xbench, SSD benchmarks, etc) and the new 15" MBP with Retina's scores.

In the past I've written a few times about Solid State Drive performance in Apple computers:

I do quite a bit of software testing on a number of different platforms - Mac, Windows - and I think this new computer will do nicely. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Do Software Testers Need a College Education

I came across an old blog post on the uTest blog Do Software Testers Need a College Education. The author says:
Depending on who you ask this question to, you’re likely to receive various degrees (pardon the pun) of yes and no. Or you may find many others who answer in a noncommittal way: “it depends.”
Having worked closely with thousands of software testers in the uTest community, I can attest to the fact that many testers do in fact have impressive resumes with regard to higher education (master’s degrees, PhD.s, etc.). However, there is also convincing evidence that demonstrates quite the opposite. So if you let the data speak for itself, what is one to believe? 
The article goes on to list a few explanations from the For, Against and It depends camps. I was trying to comment on the article but it wasn't working. If they turned off the comments for this article then why is the comment box still available? I must have found a bug! 

Here is my input:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Anyone Can Test, right?

In this video from StarEast Rob Sabourin talks about his experience with just anyone testing.

Anyone can test, right?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

An Impressive 2012 MacBook Pro Refresh

Last year I wrote the 2011 MacBook Pro refresh was a disappointment. Apple updated the graphics, CPU and added the Thunderbolt port but no redesign and no upgrade to an SSD. This year came the changes I was hoping for last year.

I'm not at home often enough to use a desktop which means I need (want) portability with power. Apple's move to a reasonable size solid state drive and 8GB of RAM ensure power. 8GB of RAM is a minimum these days with 16GB a better option. 256GB seems like a reasonable move; I have SSDs in my work and home desktops, both are 128GB and almost full.

Friday, June 1, 2012

AST Membership and Learning Goals

It's official I'm a member of the Association for Software Testing or AST as it's commonly known.

I've been meaning to sign up so I can take the BBST Foundations Course, meet some local (or not so local) context-driven testers, perhaps post on their discussion boards and eventually head to CAST (I'm aware you don't have to join to go).

I've been bouncing around the idea of setting up some type of local tester chapter / meet up place where testers can get together, train with each other, perhaps join in a weekend tester session, learn from each other, etc. The problem is I'm not sure how to go about doing it.

In other news I also signed up for Udacity's Software Testing (CS258) class. I'm not a programmer and it does require Python programming experience so I'm going to focus on getting up to speed before the class. I'm curious as to what they'll teach although the syllabus gives some hint. Units include:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What Testers Need to Learn

Sunday night I attended a live webinar by James Bach entitled "What Testers Need to Learn" that was put on by Tea time with Testers. It seemed like an interesting topic so I joined (it only cost $30).

The webinar got off to a slow start thanks to some technical issues with GoToMeeting but as soon as they were resolved James jumped into his talk: his personal vision of the skills testers need to have based on his many years of experience coaching testers.

James shared his recently updated tester's syllabus (a free download from his site) and then walked through it explaining some of the areas. The syllabus he shared was actually a part of a specially created slide deck composed of existing materials but arranged for this talk. You can download the slide deck here. If you haven't seen (or downloaded) the syllabus these are the main areas:
  1. General Systems
  2. Applied Epistemology
  3. Social and Cognitive Science
  4. Mathematics
  5. Testing Folklore
  6. Communication
  7. Technology
  8. Software Process Dynamics
  9. Self-Management
A synopsis (what I remember) of the walk-through:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Immersed Tester

I registered the domain name on a spur of the moment decision. I was trying to brainstorm cool names / nicknames for myself as a software tester. The writers of the blogs I read often use a nickname to describe themselves or their site like the Evil Tester and TestHead and I though I should do the same.

What would make sense? I like scuba diving. I like software testing.. Hmm.. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary immersed has a few definitions that apply really well:
1: to plunge into something that surrounds or covers; especially: to plunge or dip into a fluid
2: engross, absorb (completely immersed in his work)
I think it fits. As a scuba diver I plunge into the water and as a software tester I'm engrossed or immersed in my work. I'm an immersed tester!

Sometimes its fun to be creative and brainstorm. Sometimes it's just a waste of time and nothing comes of it. I wonder which this will be? As of now the domain just forwards here. =)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Keith Klain's 2012 Star East Keynote

Keith Klain, head of Barclay's Global Test Centre, gave a keynote presentation at StarEast 2012 in Orlando, FL entitled Bridging the Gap: Leading Change in a Community of Testers and it was really well received in the context-driven community.

The story is about how they positioned testing in the organization and how they hire someone, a process Keith refers to as their induction process. Keith also talks about Barclay's approach to testing, how they took mismanaged test teams and realigned them to produce great results and benefit the company. He places a lot of emphasis on knowing what you want from your team. I'd recommend managers take a look.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

1993 World Book definitions for Quality and Testing

According to the 1993 "The World Book Dictionary" the definition for Quality Control is
"[T]he inspection of manufactured products from the raw materials that go into them to their finished form to insure that they meet the standards of quality set by the manufacturer." (pg. 1703.)
That same dictionary didn't have any definition for the word quality assurance and had many definitions for the word quality (7 to be exact).

The most relevant definition for Tester was defined as:
"[A] person or thing that tests." (pg. 2167)
My parents still have their set of 1993 World Book encyclopedia's which came with a two book set of dictionaries.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Throw someone else in to help QA it faster!

“Throw someone else in to help QA it faster!”

I've heard this statement many times in my career but it happened again just recently and it got me thinking. Aside from the poor choice of words, about QAing something (is that really a verb?), why would someone say this?

This seems to happen when management realizes it will take longer to test something than they initially planned and/or some client demands a product sooner. The most recent occurrence came when management didn’t communicate the expected release date and freaked at the estimated test duration. My response was you can have the product whenever you want but let me tell you what won't be tested. This elicited the response "no we don't want to not test it, how about we... throw someone else in to help QA it faster." Clearly someone hasn’t heard of Brook’s law.

Brook’s Law is a term coined by Fred Brooks in his book The Mythical Man-Month which states “adding manpower to a late software project makes it later”. It also appears the person saying this doesn’t understand what Quality Assurance (or QA) means.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Performance Reviews

It’s that time of year at my company when we meet with our respective bosses to discuss how well we did. Review time is probably the least fun time of the year, not because I am fearful of how I might do but, because it's time to give my boss hell for our bad performance management system.

Our company has this standard form that was borrowed from some other companies inept performance management system (most companies I’ve worked for also had bad performance systems). This form has evaluation areas which don’t apply to our roles and some areas that nobody knows how to evaluate. We start by filling out a “self review” and then send it to our respective bosses for their comments and grading - a scale from “didn’t meet expectations” to “far exceeds expectations”.

According to the book The One Minute Entrepreneur there are 3 primary parts to an effective performance management system:
  1. Performance planning. This is where managers and their people get together to agree on goals and objectives to focus on. 
  2. Day to day coaching. This is where managers help their people in anyway they can so they become successful. It doesn't necessarily mean you meet up or talk about how things are going everyday rather that managers work to support their people, praising when things are going right and correcting when things go wrong. This is the stage where feedback happens - where real managing is done. 
  3. Performance evaluation. This is where managers and their people sit down and examine performance over time; also called a performance review. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

How not to welcome a new customer

Way back in October of 2008 when I launched My Technology Fetish I intended to use WordPress as the blogging platform while using the Mac Mini I owned as the server. It didn't take long to realize I didn't know what I was doing (or how to install mySQL navigating a Linux command line in OS X) and I bailed out by setting up with Blogger.

Blogger is a fine blogging platform. Its free and effortless to setup. Yet its' not very customize-able, has no developer community building cool gizmos, gadgets or templates and I get bored with bad designs rather quickly. If you've paid attention over the years this site has gone through a lot changes. At some point in the future I will migrate this site from Blogger to WordPress but in the meantime I'll start with Chris and later merge in Search N Recovery.

I decided to find a web hosting company that specializes in WordPress hosting and at the recommendation of a friend chose iPage. (Matt you owe me lunch once you get that Affiliate credit!) iPage offers unlimited domain hosting, unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth, etc. and the service was promotion-ally cheap. What could go wrong you say?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Testing Idol Worship?

With software testing I've found it important to identify a few key experts in the field to see what they're saying, doing, reading, etc. in order to learn and expand my testing thinking. Maybe it's the size of the industry, the lack of "basic" testing education but there seem to be a number of ways to get trapped in the "hump" of a testing career. Perhaps all industries are like this and this is the first time I'm experiencing it?

Luckily Twitter makes following experts very easy as do blogs. I'm excited so many testers blog! To the untrained eye it might look like I've got a case of testing idol worship. A year ago or so ago I was writing a lot about James Whittaker and now all I seem to be doing is writing about James Bach. (I wonder how my Google page rank looks when searching for the name 'James + software testing'...?)

Don't worry it's not testing idol worship, at least I don't think it is. It's more an exploratory way to learn about the testing body of knowledge and discuss (with myself ha ha ha.... sad face) the things going on.

Bear with me and enjoy the ride.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Role of Testing by James Bach

The following is a summary of the essay The Role of Testing by James Bach from the book Amplifying Your Effectiveness: Collected Essays.

The essay goes like this: After not liking his time as a developer James thought being a testing manager would provide more wiggle room, since testing is a little more vauge than programming.

James says “I used to think that the role of testing is to find problems.”

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Building context like Thomas Jefferson

During a recent trip to Washington DC I got to view the library Thomas Jefferson sold to the Federal Government in 1815 for $24,000. The sale contained some 6,487 books which are now part of the Library of Congress:

(I found this image on Google. Photographs weren't allowed.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rapid Testing Intensive Confirmed!

(Stolen from the Rapid Testing Intensive site)

It's official I'm booked for the onsite Rapid Testing Intensive with James and Jon Bach at the end of July on Orcas Island in Washington. According to the website this testing intensive will be based on "... Session-Based Test Management and Rapid Software Testing methodologies" and will "...allow you to see how the modern theory of testing meets practical work." Sounds like a blast.

There are 10 onsite and 42 online participants as of 4/2/12 and one of those onsite partcipants is Robert Sabourin. I was in his "Using Visual Models for Test Case Design" class last year at StarWest so it will be interesting to work side by site with him as well as a few of the other participants.

As I said in my prior post my goal is for: “Experience and feedback on modern testing methodologies!” Can't wait.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Darth Vader says...

Darth Vader says:

I find your lack of tests disturbing.
Ha! What does the Dark Lord of the Sith know about testing? I mean sure the Death Star was a large, complex project and he was the Project Manager but that whole thermal exhaust port snafu. It caused a catastrophic failure in the system, people got hurt...

Happy Friday!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

James Cameron's Dive to the Mariana Trench

It's a pretty amazing technical achievement to be able to dive to the deepest part of the ocean and today James Cameron did it. A dive to the Mariana Tench's Challenger Deep! As a scuba diver and a software tester I'm pretty amazed.

I bet there was a lot of testing of the submarines equipment and software, talk about a high-pressure assignment. I'd take it!

Congrats to James Cameron as he tweeted:
"Just arrived at the ocean's deepest pt. Hitting bottom never felt so good. Can't wait to share what I'm seeing w/ you "
Read more:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Are Testing "Schools" a Good Idea?

There has been some controversy with Cem Kaner announcing the Context-Driven School of Testing ( will no longer be called a school. Cem believes (as I understand it) calling something a “school” is too divisive resulting in an exclusionary system that might possibly ignore people with great ideas who don’t necessarily identify themselves as being in the school.

Division for classification purposes seems to have worked for numerous scientific branches and to me doesn't seem like something to worry about. I understand how those placed in a school might find it offensive but that doesn't mean the classification should change. It might change how one talks to other testers (i.e. not making it a divisive issue) but I personally don’t feel like I’m trapped in one school and am blind to other peoples ideas.

I’d prefer to hear a debate between James Bach and Cem Kaner but instead a video has surfaced between James and Doug Hoffman called “Are Testing “Schools” a good idea?” from CAST 2011:

HP Officejet 6500 e710n-z driver download

If you want to download the printer or scanner driver for an HP Officejet 6500 e710n or in my case a e710n-z printer all you have to do is go here:

What does it say about HP's website when a quick Google search only returns the forums (aka problems) and no driver download page for this search query?

This particular HP printer software is horrible. The full feature software for Windows 7 64-bit wouldn't extract, it just gave an error. I tried twice with no change. When I installed the basic print and scanner software it runs a wizard which can't find my printer even though I give it the exact IP address of printer. Worse yet if the software can't detect the printer it just doesn't install anything which means I'm left with a printer that Windows can detect and install basic drivers for but I can't use for scanning.

I understand HP is a very large organization with hundreds if not thousands of products but this lack of usable software makes me wonder if they have or use any software testers?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Windows 8 Start Menu - A Usability Problem?

After the release of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview I downloaded and played with it for a while. On the surface the Consumer Preview is much like the Developer Preview however underneath there were supposedly over 100,000 code changes. One major change that is of most concern to every-day users like myself: the Start Menu redesign.

As a long-time Windows user I can attest to the declining usefulness of the Start Menu, in fact these days I prefer to search for the application I want instead of scrolling through the menu. Search is much more efficient than browsing as long as you know what you want. There are a few times where I'm brain dead and are left to browse the list.

The Start Menu user interface is going to change in Windows 8 into a "ribbon" or "tile" like display listing all of the applications on one page that scrolls left and right. At first this concept seems like a natural progression since most of us use tiles or icons to represent applications on our mobile devices. Yet from a desktop or laptop stand point this seems like a less desirable layout. The main input devices for desktop and laptops are still going to be keyboards and mice (touch-pads) and with the new layout you have the same problem: a slow method of locating your applications.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bach Brother's Rapid Testing Intensive

When I was at StarWest in October of last year I had the good fortune of running into James Bach at the end of the day. I participated in a Rapid Software Testing class with his partner in crime Michael Bolton the prior day and sneaked into James' Critical Thinking class earlier this day. He was approachable so I asked what books he recommended for aspiring testers (an easy opening), then when he'd be giving another talk on Rapid Software Testing in the US. I told him I liked the videos of his open lecture's (I’ve blogged about them here and here) and somewhere during the discussion he mentioned a plan to setup a rapid software-like testing session near his home in Washington.

That testing session has been announced as the Rapid Testing Intensive taking place from July 23rd at 6:30pm through July 28th at noon on Orcas Island, Washington. I’m continuously trying to convince the company I work for the session is well worth the expense to go in person. There are two options, join in person or join online. I'd prefer physically being there instead of virtually for the easy of communicating and the overall experience.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Microsoft Web Application Stress Tool

Microsoft’s Web Application Stress tool is a simple, free load generation tool that Microsoft no longer supports or provides the download links to. It seems to still have a small community dedicated to using it and since Windows 7 comes with a virtualized version of XP it could very well be used into the future.

On a few occasions I’ve used it to generate load to test my companies APIs. Its interface is pretty simple, albeit old. There are quite a few sites dedicated to helping users understand it’s functionality which I’ve listed as resources at the bottom page.

I did a quick Google search and found a few sites that had the software which I cite as my original source downloads. I consolidated the tool download with the required DLL (for Windows Vista and higher). The DLL needs to be placed in C:\Windows\System32 before installing the software however I’d recommend if you have Windows 7 you just download Windows Virtual PC and the Windows XP mode and run it naturally from there.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review: Exploratory Software Testing - Tips, tricks, tours and techniques to guide test design

Some of the first testing books I read were James Whittaker’s How to Break Software series. Those books, like this one, are laid out in a practical manner with each chapter focused on a specific attack or approach making them easy to read, reference and apply. Perfect for learning. I picked up this book a few years ago when I started questioning the way I was testing. The material was new to me and made me ask what is exploratory testing and what does touring have to do with it?

Exploratory Software Testing

Monday, January 16, 2012

How to Setup Transactional Replication on SQL Server 2008

Recently I've been testing server-side, mainly database stuff and have become familiar with replication on SQL Server 2008.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Tester's Commitments

Dear Development Team (or whomever it concerns),

My job is to help you look good. My job is to support you as you create quality; to ease that burden instead of adding to it. In that spirit, I make the following commitments to you:

  1. I provide a service. You are an important client of that service. I am not satisfied unless you are satisfied.
  2. I am not the gatekeeper of quality. I don’t “own” quality. Shipping a good product is a goal shared by all of us.
  3. I will test your code as soon as I can after you deliver it to me. I know that you need my test results quickly (especially for fixes and new features).
  4. I will strive to test in a way that allows you to be fully productive
  5. I’ll make every reasonable effort to test, even if I have only partial information about the product.
  6. I will learn the product quickly, and make use of that knowledge to test more cleverly.
  7. I will test important things first, and try to find important problems. (I will also report things you might consider unimportant, just in case they turn out to be important after all, but I will strive to spend less time on those.)
  8. I will strive to test in the interests of everyone whose opinions matter, including you, so that you can make better decisions about the product.
  9. I will write clear, concise, thoughtful, and respectful problem reports. (I may make suggestions about design, but I will never presume to be the designer.)
  10. I will let you know how I’m testing, and invite your comments. And I will confer with you about little things you can do to make the product much easier to test.
  11. I invite your special requests, such as if you need me to spot check something for you, help you document something, or run a special kind of test.
  12. I will not carelessly waste your time.