Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Interviewing and Tips

I strongly dislike the interview process having gone through it myself many times. I find it very difficult to tell the story of your testing journey in an hour or so.  Plus trying to prove that you are worthy can be disconcerting. I have been lucky in my last few jobs as I was recommended by developers. Even though these interviews were still grueling and merciless, job offers were extended.

Depending on the article you read (123), anywhere from 60-90% of jobs are landed through internal or networking referrals.  So it helps to build good relationships with your co-workers and friends.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Year-end Memories and Thoughts

Year-ends are tough for me. While listening to Trans-Siberian Orchestra this morning I indulged into daydreaming. I was thinking about my family back in Russia and reminiscing about things that happened over the years. I remembered the loved ones that passed on – my grandmother whose birthday was right before Christmas and one of my first bosses in the US who was like a father. It is nice to be able to slow down and unwind over the holidays. It could also be quite unpleasant when some daunting memories surface and make you feel sad. The hardest ones are of me growing up in Siberia.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Look at the Relationship Between Testers and Developers

I believe that one of the important things in the work life of a tester is to have a good working relationship with developers. This will not only make a tester's job and bug advocacy process easier but will also give him the ability to exert influence on quality, promote positive collaboration and learning opportunities.

Roy Osherove interviewed James Bach on “The Role of the Tester” where Bach talks about this. He says that:

‘…developers are the people who create quality; they make the quality happen. Without the developers, nothing would be there; you’d have zero quality.’

After all without developers on the project us – testers – will not have a job!

In the last few years I have worked thoroughly integrated into Agile development teams as a lone tester. I tend to gravitate more towards developers as opposed to testers as I feel that it helps me expand my domain knowledge and technical skills and…be a better tester. Plus programmers are WYSIWYG. I prefer it when people do not beat around the bush when working together.

On occasion I hear and read stories about the challenges and conflicts both sides have experienced in the workplace, as well as tips and recommendations on how to handle difficult situations and work on improvements from the tester’s viewpoint.

I thought it would be interesting to find out from developers what they thought about testers and their skills. I conducted a very unscientific survey of some developers that I have worked with and whom I also consider professional mentors and good friends.

The replies were pretty refreshing. I hope testers find them useful and take them into consideration in how they go about their work.

Here are the results:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Improving the World One Bug at a Time

Like many of my colleagues I appreciate humor and jokes about software testing and testers. I got a chuckle out of reading the Software Testing Humor – Jokes posted by TestingGeek and Bumper Stickers for Testers by Harry Robinson.

My favorite bumper sticker is "A good tester has the heart of a a jar on the desk". But I think that I probably get motivated by this one -"Improving the world one bug at a time". It makes it even better when you find a bug in in the wild and help with a solution.

An anecdotal story happened to me a few months ago. I had to help my mother buy a kitchen appliance with a credit card. One would think that it's easy. It usually is unless your parent lives in Siberia and is terrified of using that "plastic thing" issued by a foreign financial institution. There was no other sensible option however so we agreed that she would visit a few local stores where a card was accepted and the price was reasonable, and then would let me know when and where the purchase would be made.  Once she found a store I alerted my bank about the upcoming transaction to hopefully avoid any surprises and alleviate stress for my mom. I called her on her cell phone before she walked into the store to calm her down and told her to call me right away if anything comes up.

To my bewilderment I got a call about 15-20 minutes later with my mother sobbing on the phone and a sales clerk and the store manager trying to calm her down. The credit card transaction was declined. There was no response code to explain why. This didn’t make sense. We tried to run it again while I was on speaker but it failed. My mother was inconsolable and needless to say I felt mortified. What could have happened? The store manager was trying to be helpful and called the US bank’s Russian subsidiary representative in Moscow. They talked, tried to process the transaction again and got the same results. I was actually amazed how nice and professional both ladies were at the store.  I don’t want to sound facetious but I don’t remember customer service to have been any good in my old country. I had been cursed out by sales clerks on many occasions back in the day.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Testing Mobile Apps with Remote Teams

My former test manager, good friend and a mentor posted the following on Facebook which got me thinking about a major accomplishment this year and prompted this blog post.

For the last year I have been running crowd-sourced test cycles for my company while testing Android and iOS native apps. I learned a lot, met many good testers, and had the privilege of working with and test leading a few unbelievably passionate and talented people.  Leading testers in a remote model where you never meet your team in person is difficult, especially when you have to figure out their strengths and aspirations. Plus test management in this context is something I was never sure about because of the overall responsibility and worrying about the end result and gathered information on product quality. I keep thinking that what if the mission fails due to misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the goals and objectives? What if the team energy and dynamics will not form correctly?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Crowdsourced Testing: Lessons Learned From a Customer's Point of View.

I am frequently asked about crowdsourced software testing companies and how to best work with them. It’s a tough question as every company is different and therefore the approach and strategy has to be customized accordingly based on what they want to get out of utilizing the crowdsourced software testing model.

I have freelanced with crowdsourced testing companies for two years and have learned a lot about the processes, platform tools, freelance tester communities, product management, challenges, and shortcomings from the tester side. In the last year I have expanded my knowledge by running a high volume of testing with crowdsourced testing vendors for Android, iOS and mobile web apps at my current company as a customer. Overall it has been very successful based on the feedback and data that we received from freelance testers. But it hasn't been a bed of roses as it has taken some trial and error as a customer to obtain the right knowledge and experience that in turn helped accomplish our testing goals. I highly recommend that your in-house professional testers handle the relationship with the crowdsourcing company(ies) because they understand your testing needs and your company's business.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How I Became a Tester

Last month I was asked to conduct an online webinar on how I became a mobile tester. It didn’t work out because of my crazy work schedule and miscommunication with the event organizers.  However I had an opportunity to work on my topic with James Bach. I got some helpful guidance, questions and tips from him and then decided to turn the content into a blog post.

I want to mention that James is probably the toughest mentor that I have trained with. But he is also the most approachable, sincere, committed, consistent teacher, in addition to being extremely smart and helpful. I came to him originally without any formal testing background or training. I feel I am a better tester since I started training with him and the fact that he is just a Skype away gives me a lot of confidence when I come across difficult situations in my professional endeavors. I have met many other role models and mentors in our global testing community but imho there is no one like him and I am grateful that I found him.

How did you get into testing? Why did testing attract you?
What initially attracted me to testing was the never-ending process of puzzle solving. I enjoy the creativity involved when you have to come up with a scheme of different ideas and approaches to dig into a program and find what’s broken or what may potentially cause a problem.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

MoDevUx and the Latest On My Testing Journey

I attended another amazing event last week organized by MoDevDC, my local meetup group. The event was called MoDevUx – “A user experience, design and development conference discussing all things mobile.”

MoDevUx was packed with interesting content, amazing speakers and the exuberant energy of its participants from various mobile design and development shops in the Washington, DC area, and some from other parts of the country. The speakers shared their experiences on how to understand users (what users think and want), how to handle feedback, learn from it, and improve the user experience in mobile apps. I thought that the presenters talked from their heart, they were entertaining, witty and insightful. I walked away feeling enriched and that my time was well spent.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kindle Fire Tips on Error Logging, Debugging and Snapshots

I have been testing on the Kindle Fire since December 2011 and have picked up a few good tricks. These include collecting error logs, taking snapshots, debugging with DDMS and installing applications that are currently not available in the Amazon Appstore such as Dropbox.  I am sure there is lots of information scattered around the web and posted on various forums but I want to share my tips and the following blog links in one location for your use.  I will try to add new ones to this post as I learn them.  Feel free to leave comments with your tips.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Skill Learned at CAST 2011 - SBTM

One of the new practical skills I picked up at CAST 2011 was Session-Based Test Management (SBTM). During the testing competition the Miagi-Do team applied this practice to manage time due to the short time-constraints of the competition. We decided on 20-minute test sessions and after each one, Markus Gärtner, our ‘test master’, would hold a 5-minute debrief. It was tough to tune into the discussions at times but I thought it was a brilliant technique that really helped us to achieve our testing mission.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Had a Blast at CAST 2011

CAST 2011 is over. I am still digesting the impressions and events of the last 3 days. I feel both intoxicated from all the information and energy I consumed as well as inspired and giddy. This was my first CAST. As a n00b I had the advantage of experiencing and feeling things more acutely than someone who has already attended a similar event or two like this before.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Questing in Boston

I received a 'QUEST 2011: Thank You Letter' from QAI Global Institute yesterday that was emailed to the participants list. I meant to post a blog about the conference when I came back on April 8 but got carried away with my busy work routine and getting ready for a release. This email brought back good memories and I thought I would share a few sentiments here.

This was my first testing conference and I did not know what to expect. Granted I have been to quite a few international conferences when I worked as an interpreter but those were on oil and gas, US-Russia business relations, auto shows and international law. My responsibility was to help people communicate, negotiate, resolve conflicts and build relationships. 

There were days when I would not have time to eat. Meals were provided of course, followed by scrumptious desert, but I was not able to eat as I was busy talking, or rather people talking with each other but through me. People tend to be more relaxed, personal and prone to heart to heart conversations when they share food. If you add alcohol into this equation then the conversions would get more colorful and run longer. I even had lunch with the Honorable Judges Scalia and Ginsburg and my clients. They were enjoying an amazing lunch and interesting conversation and I was busy passing information back and forth in Russian and English.

Needless to say I never really had time to explore any of those shows as I had to follow a rigid schedule and attend workshops and receptions of the clients' choice. This time it was different. Attendees were IT professionals and mostly testers and QA folks. Of course I know that there are so many of us scattered around the US and the rest of the world but seeing SO many test/qa-obsessed people in one place was something!

I got to my first Quest day at around lunch, registered, picked up my badge and joined the gang of hungry testers. I like people-watching and while sitting by myself and observing I was able to tell the ones who were noobs like me from the ones who have either attended Quest or similar events before. They were vibrantly discussing the agendas, upcoming workshops and instructors that they knew or heard of, liked, disliked or wanted to meet. I overheard people talking about Agile, mobile testing, Jon Bach, etc. I looked through my own 'Quest at a Glance' leaflet and circled additional tutorials based one what I had heard -- just in case!

I defined my objectives and mission for the event but also kept my options open. My plan was to learn as much as possible about Agile and mobile testing, attend Janet Gregory's and Jon Bach's workshops, spend time with the uTest team and network if I was brave enough.

My first tutorial on mobile apps testing was with uTest. Needless to say I was beyond myself excited to finally meet uTesters that I got to know over the last few months through either following the uTest blog or working as a freelance tester evenings and weekends. The tutorial covered planning, mobile testing approaches and challenges as well as crowdsourcing. One of the uTesters gave a hands-on walk-through  demo of an iPad application test. It was great. Participants seemed to share my feelings. They were curious and asked many interesting questions and shared their personal stories.

The tutorial was followed by the uTest reception. Right before it I finally met Peter Shih. Peter and I corresponded via email and the uTest forum. It was so cool to finally meet him and other uTesters face to face. It felt like I have known them for quite some time. I changed my career paths and jobs a few times after I moved to the United States. Working for UUNet Technologies, SRA International and with uTest have been my best gigs by far. 

The next two days were filled with good stuff.  I attended sessions on Agile estimation and dealing with defects, Performance Testing, and Test Planning and Design. Even though the material in some classes was a bit high level and over my head I was still learning about new ideas and how people do things in different organizations.  

Another highlight of my Quest agenda was an evening cruise aboard the Spirit of Boston, sponsored by Microsoft. Boy it was fun! I never thought that testers were such party animals! I tend to get seasick even from minor waves and it was quite windy in Boston that evening. I was nervous that I might get a wicked sea sickness attack at when I least expected it. A little bit of wine and dancing seemed to have taken care of that. A couple of people break danced. How cool is that! No one seemed to mind the waves. I had a light headache the next day but that was a small price to pay considering how much fun we had.

After Thursday’s workshop on Exploratory Testing taught by Jon Bach I was proud to say that I finally met both Bach brothers. I loved Jon’s workshop. It was dynamic, entertaining and full of fun examples and brain teaser exercises. Not only have I learned about the Japan Quake Map but ever since I have been obsessed with finding those special penny coins that don’t have a Lincoln memorial displayed upside down when you flip them over.

Quest 2011 is complete. It’s time to get ready for CAST2011 in August. Again I don’t know what to expect since it will be a whole new experience and a chance to explore. One thing I know is that I will meet other Association for Software Testing members and testers who are passionate about our craft and hopefully both Bach brothers under the same roof.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Through my Eyes

Thanksgiving has a special meaning for me. It is an acquired holiday that I have been celebrating since I came to the US - at first not comprehending what it really meant for many of my local friends even though I studied American history and Thanksgiving. As years have gone by I could not help but feel sentiment and gratitude on that wonderful holiday. I celebrate a 'harvest' of opportunities, dreams that came true, friends that I made in a foreign country that became my homeland. It has not been an easy path but I was well trained to endure the hardships in my native Siberia where I began testing my strengths and weaknesses, where I first realized that thinking outside the box and trying new things and dreaming may open new doors and present opportunities. You may be smacked around for being different at first but if you persevere and follow your dreams they do come true.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trust, But Verify - Доверяй, но проверяй

 - doveryai, no proveryai (an old Russian proverb). I like Russian proverbs and this one is one of my favorites. It is an overused cliché but to me it has so much power. I say it a lot whether it applies to my testing and validating programs or my team reviewing my bug and test reports. It is a two way street. Not sure what prompted me to google for this phrase. Here is what Wikipedia had to say-

"Trust, but verify" was a signature phrase of Ronald Reagan. He used it in public, although he was not the first person known to use it. When Reagan used this phrase, he was usually discussing relations with the Soviet Union and he almost always presented it as a translation of the Russian proverb "doveryai, no proveryai" (Russian: Доверяй, но проверяй) - Trust, but verify. At the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty he used it again and his counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev responded: "You repeat that at every meeting," to which Reagan answered "I like it."

How ironic I thought. It made me think back of my 'previous' life in the former Soviet Union. I learned this and other proverbs at school. Doveryai, no proveryai got me in trouble the most.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Puzzles & Teasers #1

I attended a Learning Tree course on 'Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving: Making Better Decisions' this week which was an eye opening experience and fun. I will try and blog about it later. In the meantime I would like to post a few brain teasers that the Course Instructor challenged us with every morning - some are easy and some were tough. Needless to say that many can be found if you Google them. Try them on your own first. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Selenium RC Experience

So I have decided to give Selenium RC a shot and try to automate some of our web app GUI tests. I worked with WinRunner in the past on a waterfall government project and was familiar with ‘record and playback’ features and editing TSL scripts. On that project we abandoned automated tools as scripts updating became too time-consuming and labor-intensive due to the fact that our test environment was never stable enough for automated regression testing. We successfully ran a few automated tests to validate URL links that we had a ton of and for navigation mapping. I both loved and hated using automated tools at the time. Execution time was fast when scripts worked. Debugging and re-writing scripts was not fun however.
In the case with Selenium RC I ran into a 1) lack of programming experience in Java and 2) lack of knowledge of the current application code issues.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Today's Tester Menu: Fresh Mental Borsch

I don't know what's going on in my head anymore. I have been reading, learning about context-driven and Agile testing, reviewing automated tools, playing with Selenium and trying to create at least simple regression tests in the process while waiting for my developers to finalize their research and design ideas.
It seems the more I play with automated tools the more discouraged I feel...and the less I know...

It feels like Ukrainian Борщ (borsch ) – everything is mixed up - beets, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, salt and spices.
 At least while cooking I have a clear mission and objective. I know what to do and I have an idea what the outcome will be. I have been cooking since I was eight. I learned to cook borsch by watching my grandmother. Most of the recipes and images of the final dishes are in my head. I can cook from scratch by making real stock or if I feel lazy I will make it with bouillon cubes. I improvise with different ingredients and spices. I can add cumin and clove if I want to or use a spice packet picked up from a local Russian store. 
I have upgraded to a really nice Scanpan cooking pot from some el cheapo one. Not sure it makes my soup taste any different but I enjoy the process a lot more.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I am a Tester...Why are you calling me QA?

I actually ask this question in a calm voice with a smile on my face. I make an effort to explain the difference between Testing and QA if the offender is open and willing to receive my message.

What I feel and what I hide from the offender is different from what I hope shows on my face and in my voice. It feels like my hair is standing up on the back of my neck. I feel that my evil tester twin wakes up and starts spewing fire at the offender. I feel like I am bubbling with indignation inside and will explode any second. I want to scream  "How dare you call me a QA? I am a friggin tester! I 'break' software. I don't monitor processes and methods to ensure its quality".

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Paraprosdokian sentences

A co-worker sent the following email today --
A paraprosdokian (from Greek "παρα-", meaning "beyond" and "προσδοκία", meaning "expectation") is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect..

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy Monday on Wednesday

I have been 'allocated' to test fixes for upcoming patch releases for 2 different projects.
I haven't touched Project A since last August and felt rusty. Project B was just released a week ago and the customer reported a bug that must have been introduced shortly before the release. The team missed it as we were too focused on the last minute fixes and, in my case, exploratory and functionality testing. We ran out of time for regression testing.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Big Book of Pictures and Puzzles

My son brought home a Big Book of Pictures and Puzzles that some fellow testers may find interesting. On the cover it says “With Over 4,000 Things To Spot”. The book contains pictures about different people and places from history such as early cities in Mesopotamia, Egyptian Pyramids, European castles in the Middle Ages and many others. It also has sections on the World, Castle and Dinosaur search.

Friday, September 24, 2010

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Buddhist Proverb

And he did. I met James Bach, a teacher, consultant and guru in the software testing field this week.

Here is how it happened. I am a recent involuntary Agile convert after 5-6 years of a solid waterfall testing career. In the course of the last Sprint, while continuously running exploratory tests to no end, I realized that crucial changes need to be made to my testing approaches or I would go crazy. I felt that I could not keep up with the pace of the project cycle. I tried to follow the old patterns of designing elaborate test cases based on high level user stories specs, but I was unable to as the requirements kept changing. My test cases kept getting obsolete, updating the cases slowed down my testing, and I was losing track of time and direction. Plus the whole team was under a lot of pressure. We needed to deliver a product every 3 weeks and we were at the end of the release. I felt anxious and frustrated. I blamed it on the Agile Scrum that I was forced to embrace a few months ago and on the overwhelming number of epic user stories that frequently made no sense. All of this helped move me out of my introverted comfort zone – I now had to talk to developers daily and IN PERSON.

I blamed myself most of all for not being to cope with all this better. I looked through my testing textbooks, I Googled for information on rapid and Agile testing and I read other people’s testing blogs and forums. Soon the realization hit me that what I am going through – growing pains – is not an uncommon phenomenon. Many colleagues of mine also started their quests for answers on how to better themselves and there is a growing ‘army’ of non-conformist testing professionals that consider agile, rapid testing and context-driven testing as a golden opportunity to learn, test effectively and make clients happy.

Somehow I landed on James Bach’s blog site – It felt as if someone directed me right to the site. I noticed that he would be in Virginia within a week to teach his seminars on Rapid Software Testing. Wow! The timing could not have been better for me.