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Preparation for the Rapid Software Testing Course

In June this year I will be attending the Rapid Software Testing (RST) Course with James Bach, through Testing Times in Australia.

To say I’m excited is an understatement. I have high expectations of this course, based on many excellent reviews that I’ve read in blog posts from testers whom I respect.

What do I intend to achieve from taking the RST course?

  • Improve my testing skills, and add new skills to my testing toolbox
  • Explain my approach to software testing in a professional way
  • Discuss and debate various testing approaches with confidence
  • Approach unexpected challenges with confidence
  • Regularly re-prioritise my testing efforts towards areas of highest risk
  • Learn to grasp the key elements of new concepts quickly
  • Improve my critical thinking skills and questioning skills, particularly when faced with illogical statements that appear reasonable at first glance
  • Write a blog post discussing aspects of the question in my blog URL: Is it good enough yet?

This is quite a list of things to expect from a 3 day course on testing!
From everything I’ve read about this course from past attendees it is also completely achievable, which makes this course unlike any other.

Why didn’t I ask my company to send me? 

This question came up on Twitter. Adding course cost, international flights and 4 days off work including travel time, RST costs a lot of money. Yet I’ve chosen to send myself to the course. Why?

  • Fear of being told no if I had asked my company to send me (i.e. I fear I might find out that I work for a company which doesn’t recognise the innate value of this course)
  • Lack of confidence in my negotiating skills (James Bach is not usually mentioned in a positive way at my company, so I suspect that I’d have some convincing to do…)
  • To prove to myself that I take my career seriously
  • Knowledge that this is a worthwhile investment, and excellent value for money

How am I preparing for the course?

Wow. This started as a short list, and the more I researched, the longer it grew. If I do even half of the things on this list I’ll be a much better tester, without even taking the course! I need to remind myself that they don’t ALL need to be done in the next three months, and practise prioritising.

  • Read some blog posts and resources on satisfice.com
  • Read blog posts about RST experiences (- tick)
  • Lessons Learned in Software Testing – flick through it again
  • Read RST slides and appendices
  • Keep playing the dice game
  • Basically try to prepare myself so that James can’t catch me out. Then acknowledge and accept that I will be caught out, that I will feel uncomfortable, and that I’ll learn something from it
  • Read ‘Thinking fast and slow’ (- in progress)
  • Read ‘Explore It!’ and practice as I read (- in progress)
  • Learn about experiment design
  • Watch 7 Samurai movie (?? This came from David Greenlees)
  • Read “Things that make us smarter”
  • General Systems Thinking – read it again
  • Bill Anders (Also from David’s blog post. “Failure is not an option”? I need to do more research here)
  • Learn some basic Ruby. Everyday Scripting with Ruby: For Teams, Testers, and You, by Brian Marick
  • What are Decision tables?
  • Practise drawing State Models
  • Brush off my dusty Unix shell scripting knowledge (I hope it’s still in there somewhere)

What do I need to remember most during the course?

  • Don’t be afraid to fall into a trap and learn your way out of it
  • Ask for help when you need help
  • Ask questions when you need more information
  • Verify or state your assumptions
  • Don’t get defensive
  • Don’t take anything personally

This post was written by me, for me. If you’ve also received any value out of it – awesome! Let me know in the Comments section.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Test Tweeting

This is a Lightning Talk which I prepared for the Sydney Testers Meetup but was unable to present due to illness.

It is intended for testers who are Twitter newbies and Twitter virgins. My aim is to help get more testers online, tweeting, and contributing to the online global testing community.

I plan to present this talk at an Auckland Testers Meetup. In the meantime I’m asked about this topic almost weekly while I’m meeting new testers and spreading the word about CDT, so I’m making my unpolished slides available:

Test Tweeting slides – updated May 2014

I’ve had some great feedback already to add information about Lists, Apps and Live Tweeting at events.
Beyond that, if you have any feedback, or suggestions of your favourite lists and apps for Twitter, please comment below. Thanks!

Update: I presented this talk last night at #WeTest and it was a success (as defined and judged by me, arbitrarily).
Thanks everyone who provided feedback, and to everyone who attended last night and asked some excellent questions.

To those of you who haven’t signed up to Twitter yet – what are you waiting for? 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Context Driven Testing in a Bureaucratic Environment

After taking the Black Box Software Testing (BBST) Foundations course, I decided to try taking a CDT approach with my next project. As it happened, my next client project was part of a larger Enterprise release, at a large bureaucratic organisation, with multiple other test teams already using established testing processes and procedures.

I was brought in as the Test Team Lead with 2 Test Analysts. On Day 1, the Programme Test Manager (PTM)  handed our team an incomplete and out-of-date requirements document, which had been prepared by the development team and signed off by the business (yes, really). This document had been approved by all stakeholders, despite the most pertinent section of the document consisting of only a heading, with no content. This is when I really understood James Bach‘s comment about testers having a super power – the ability to read.

By lunch time I was asked by the PTM how many test cases my team would need for this release. I protested the futility and absurdity of the request (I was more diplomatic at the time). Why is the number of test cases a useful measure, when tests might take 10 minutes or 2 days to execute? If we do write a certain number of test cases, won’t that number be ever-growing anyway as testers learn more about the product? How can I predict total number of test cases using only an incomplete requirements document? But in the end, a number was needed, so I offered to make up a number – 300 test cases. I was frowned at, and told that a more complex product in the same Enterprise release had predicted only 250 test cases, and that surely we would need less than them. I changed my answer to 200 test cases and that got a smile. I felt that I had given the right answer. But my CDT approach was not off to a great start.

Note: I first presented this information at OZWST 1 in the form of an Experience Report.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2013 in Software Testing

 

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BBST Foundations – Will you take the red pill?

In 2011 I had the good fortune to work for Anne-Marie Charrett, as a Test Team Lead. At the time when other testers were already lining up for her Skype coaching services, I had not yet heard of Anne-Marie or context-driven testing. I still thought that Exploratory Testing meant ad-hoc testing, and that it was impossible to achieve good regression testing without test cases. I think Anne-Marie had a glimmer of hope for me because I held ‘Lessons Learned in Software Testing’ in high regard, and I was genuinely interested in software quality.

Bit-by-bit Anne-Marie managed to lure me away from my false-security blanket of regression test cases and test metrics. Over the course of a few months she left interesting articles on context-driven testing on my desk, suggested that I attend the Sydney Testers meetups, arranged corporate funding for AST membership and held a few re-training sessions for our test team. Eventually I took the leap, and enrolled in the BBST Foundations course to help me understand how I could possibly test the product thoroughly without my regression test cases.

Wow.

I have heard this course described as “taking the red pill” and I think that’s apt. I found the course very challenging, and I greatly enjoyed debating testing ideas with testers around the globe. Concepts which seemed logical to me before I took the course now seem absurd. To think that I have announced in past meetings that testing was 80% complete, or that a release would take 6 weeks to test because that’s how long it took last time, all seems naive now.

Now I think I have the drive and support to be great at what I do, although I find myself currently unemployed. So the challenge I’m facing is – can I get hired at a company that wants great testers or test managers who use a context-driven approach, even though I’m not quite there yet in terms of experience? Or do I find a job within my previous comfort zone of standard test practices, which is like a favourite pair of jeans that no longer fit me quite right?

Either way, I’m glad that I eventually took the red pill.

(First published here)

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2013 in Software Testing

 

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Love the one you’re with

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” – Confucius.

To me this phrase was taunting…

I regularly saw this phrase proven to be true for other people, and it became a background goal for me (which is a convenient term I’ve coined meaning a goal which you think about seldom and do nothing to achieve, eg. Walk the Kokoda trail).

I’ve always enjoyed doing things which I’m good at. Over the years I was successfully advancing my testing career, but all the while I was attempting to figure out what I really wanted to do in life. What do I love to do that I can actually get paid for?

With the help of the online software testing community I have recently discovered that testing can be more creative, engaging and effective than I had thought possible. In the past I enjoyed testing mainly because I was a good tester. Now I look forward to being a great tester because I enjoy what I do.

So the answer to my problem was simpler than I imagined, and it’s along the lines of “Love the one you’re with”.

(First published here)

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2013 in Software Testing

 

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