Sunday, April 1, 2012

Blogs I Like and Some Blog Post Musings

I haven’t blogged much lately. However I follow and read plenty of other people’ posts and tweets.  I re-tweet them if I find them useful or interesting, and I ponder various ideas and viewpoints. My favorite blogs are uTest.com, Creative Chaos, The Blog of Tim Ferriss and LukeW Blog Ideation & Design. To me they are good reads that are well-written, entertaining, and full of different themes, color, and vigor. For the testing community I'd like to highlight 3 blog posts in the last week at uTest that caught my attention.

  1. Advice from 2011′s Testers of the Year
  2. Testing the Limits with Gerald Weinberg
  3. Software QA Engineer Tops “Happiest Jobs” List
I am still in awe that I was picked the Android Tester of the Year 2011. I expected nothing but am thrilled to be recognized for something I truly love doing. I met uTesters that have far better mobile testing expertise and skills. I followed them from projects to projects and was mesmerized with their bug reports and ability to convince various customers to accept their bugs as very valuable. I have worked with most of the uTesters from the 2011 Tester of the Year list. Some of them have become my close friends. Their comments and advise are good for any beginning tester and as a refresher for all testers. They are true professionals, great humans who give our craft a great name.

I hope uTest introduces more awards. They have started another great program within the community called uMentor.
"The uMentor Program is a resource designed to foster collaborative learning within the uTest community by identifying experts in our (uTest) community, called uMentors, and giving them an avenue to address questions from the larger community. This program will help new testers get ramped up and learn the skills they need to become gold testers, as well as help seasoned testers learn new skills and expand upon their testing knowledge."

I hope it continues to expand and offer testers more opportunities to learn, polish their skills and network. I contributed an Introductory to iOS Testing (101) topic and hope to contribute more with time.

I was giddy as a child when I read Jerry’s interview with uTest. It brought tears to my eyes. I shared the blog link with anyone I could think of who cares/works with/misunderstands/underestimates/dislikes/respects testers. His words and phrases are simple but very sincere and powerful. Some quotes are:

“The majority of developers are working the same primitive way their predecessors did 50 years ago, just using more machine power to do it.”

“The lack of means of acquiring testing skills arises from this attitude, as do most of the other poor practices in the testing business. **You treat people as if they are stupid, then they will wind up acting stupid.**”

“Poorly managed organizations seem to have no trouble finding new areas in which to mess things up.”

And my favorite part of the blog:
"uTest: The most vital skill for a software tester to have is ____?
GW: Courage. As Kipling put it, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.” That’s what testers need."

That one just hit the spot. Can I relate? Absolutely. I am sure many of us can share horror stories when we were faced with unpleasantries while reporting issues or when something was found in production software that either you or your team was not aware of, missed, or you reported it but it was ignored.

I gather my courage every time before I report something that my team does not want to hear or deal with. I know I may be ‘bitten’ or argued with, but I follow my professional instincts. It’s OK if in the end developers take credit for addressing a problem. It hurts when you get chewed up for something you warned your team about but no one seemed to remember. It hurts even more when you realize that you missed a problem that popped up in the user environment. But you have got to move on and learn from your shortcomings and continue facing new challenges with courage.

I have one of Jerry’s books – ‘Perfect Software’ on my desk. It’s a great companion. I turn to it often to regain sanity when things get tough or if I need advice while thinking on what decision I should make in handling my tasks and challenges.

I read ‘The Happiest Jobs In America’ article before the uTest blog was posted. I nearly fell off my chair when I saw that a Software Quality Assurance Engineer job was in the lead. According to the article CareerBliss gathered a list of the 20 happiest jobs based on a survey conducted with 100-400 employees who rated 10 factors affecting workplace happiness such as relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks, and control over the work one does on a daily basis. And #1 turned out to be a QA Engineer! Wow! Who would have thought?

Granted most of the job description was not accurate but I was thrilled that this information made it to the mainstream media and hopefully will get some people interested in our field or at least give them an idea of what may be involved. I have been trying for years to explain to my neighbors and relatives what I do for living and they still have no clue.

“Professionals with this job title are typically involved in the entire software development process to ensure the quality of the final product.” – I haven’t heard of many QA/Testers who are ‘typically’ involved in the ‘entire’ process. Parts maybe but not the whole process, and those who work in waterfall environments will most likely get access to requirements closer to the end. I personally have been involved in “requirements gathering and documentation, change management, configuration management, release management, and (obviously) the actual testing of the software”, but not at the same degree in every job.

It also says that Testers and QA are ‘the gatekeepers for releasing high quality software products…” I haven’t met a single tester who considered himself a ‘gatekeeper of quality’. Of course we give our feedback and recommendations on whether we think a software product can be shipped but the final decision of “quality” is not up to us.

Regardless of how goofy this article is, it makes me feel good that there are other testers and QA professionals who love their job. It’s been a long time coming for me. I have tried many different jobs before I arrived at being a tester but I love what I do. If loving what you do was the only criteria then all testers would agree we are the happiest workers in the world. ;-) 

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