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.
Sometimes I end up modifying my recipe after realizing that I don't have all the vegetables that are required. No big deal if I don't have cabbage today. I don't have hang-ups about borsch being exactly traditional. It will still turn out good in the end. There are so many variations of borsch. It is so popular in Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and each country has it's own recipe. You can't go wrong adding even if you add mushrooms or green peas.

A few things I feel lucky about - I no longer have to stand in line to buy a kilo of '"мясо" ("myaso"- meat in Russian) and write a number on my hand to reserve a spot in a queue. I don't have to worry that it will turn out worse than my mother's or grandmother's. My husband and son will eat it anyway.

I find cooking fun and rewarding. Looking for and finding bugs is fun and rewarding as well. It is not infrequent that I don't have all the specs and details at hand to prepare myself for a 'bug attack'. I try to move forward regardless. I scribble down my ideas, I draw what remotely resembles flowcharts – mind-maps of some sort. I wonder in my mind whether new features will be important and intuitive to the users. I try to think of what I might be able to break first and how big of a risk it might be. I plan to run my first tests in IE browser because they are most likely to be successful. I write down questions – for myself and for the programmers. Of course I talk to programmers, sometimes I have to wait till the circumstances and time are right or as I like to say - 'auspicious'.

We are a small team of five. The product owner and scrum master is one person. Our application system is very complex. It is “a web-based, decision support solution that delivers real-time reporting and analysis, which allows aircraft operators to view current and future airport surface conditions, manage the movement of aircraft on the airport surface and optimize the flow of traffic at the airport and throughout the entire network” (copied from the company's public website). I have never worked on anything so challenging in my entire IT career! I know I will be able to tackle almost any subject matter after this assignment.

We are working on the situation display piece now. It is really tough and we all are under a lot of pressure, especially the programmers. Things have been a little slower for me but they are working really hard on piecing things together and dealing with certain constraints and other challenges such as lack of sample live data and learning new tools on the fly. I am included in all the meetings. I try to attend them all. I listen attentively and do my best at trying to comprehend what they are talking about with subject matter experts  and among themselves. I know that most of it will make sense soon even at the moment my brain hurts when I hear people discuss the impact of de-icing on taxi time modeling. I admire my teammates for being so intelligent and creative in turning these requirements into an application. So when the time is right I will ask all my questions. In the meantime I will let my mental 'borsch' simmer and cook.

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