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.