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Next “Spot On” Interview Jun 2 – Guest Expert Chris Avery

By , May 27, 2010 3:33 pm

3P Vantage Logo3P Vantage Agile Coaching, founded by Gil Broza, is bringing another industry expert to you! Every two months Gil is hosting “Spot On” interviews with an expert on matters that touch, overlap or extend effective agility. The interviews are 45 – 60 minutes long and are free to attend.

June’s guest expert is Christopher Avery. Christopher co-founded the Agile Project Leadership Network dedicated to connecting, developing, and supporting great project leaders. Best-known for his cutting-edge work to develop practical team leadership skills for engineers and other technical professionals, Christopher wrote the popular classic book Teamwork Is An Individual Skill for everyone at work who thinks they must put up with bad teams.

The topic will be “Applying Innate Leadership in an Agile Setting” and the interview will cover:

  • Self-organization, personal leadership, and demonstrating responsibility in Agile teams.
  • What leadership looks like and what the absence of leadership looks like.
  • Leadership and one’s place in the hierarchy.
  • Does everybody truly have innate leadership?
  • Simple ways to develop leadership.

The interview will take place on June 2 at 2:00pm EDT / 12:00 MDT. Register to secure your spot. As an added bonus you can submit questions for Christopher and Gil when you register. If you are unable to attend the call you can register and receive the recording afterwords.

Thinking Challenge #5 – “The Triangle”

By , May 25, 2010 2:17 pm

Here is another of the games and puzzles I offered to share on my blog. Enjoy!

Move only THREE X’s to flip this triangle upside down.


I will not be posting answers to the games and puzzles on my site. Email me if you think you have the answer.

Click here for a full listing of the entries categorized as Games & Puzzles.

Puzzle Difficulty Rating: [ratings]

May 24th What’s New Gram by StickyMinds

By , May 25, 2010 2:01 pm

I am excited to share that my article “Unconscious Limitations to Your Testing” has been published in today’s issue of the What’s New Gram by StickyMinds.

StickyMinds is an excellent resource for software testers offering “…an unrivaled scope of original articles from industry experts, technical papers, industry news, a searchable tools and books guide, discussion forums, and more. StickyMinds.com is the online companion to Better Software magazine and together they are the most comprehensive resource for helping you produce better software. StickyMinds.com is the Web’s first and most popular interactive community. Membership is free.”

If you do not already subscribe to StickyMinds I encourage you to consider it. Check them out at StickyMinds.comwww.stickyminds.com.

I hope you enjoy my article and will consider posting your feedback.

Thinking Challenge #4 – “The Marble Box”

By , May 19, 2010 1:02 pm

Here is another of the games and puzzles I offered to share on my blog. Enjoy!

In a box you have 13 white marbles and 15 black marbles. You also have 28 black marbles outside the box. Remove two marbles, randomly, from the box. If they are of different colors, put the white one back in the box. If they are the same color, take them out and put a black marble back in the box. Continue this until only one marble remains in the box. What color is the last marble?

I will not be posting answers to the games and puzzles on my site. Email me if you think you have the answer.

Click here for a full listing of the entries categorized as Games & Puzzles.

Puzzle Difficulty Rating: [ratings]

“Testing Without a Map”

By , May 15, 2010 10:20 pm

Two weeks ago I shared that I was taking the BBST Foundations course by the Association for Software Testing, AST. I have just wrapped up my second week and the course has been excellent. I am looking forward to the remaining two weeks. Bring it on BBST Foundations, I am ready! ;)

In the first week we covered a lot of ground including the testing mission, strategy, oracles and heuristics. Our first assignment included reading “Testing Without a Map”, by Michael Bolton. This article was published in the 2005 January edition of the Better Software magazine by StickyMinds.

The article speaks to tester’s ability to begin testing without complete specifications. It shares that through the concepts of oracles and heuristics, testers can leverage their knowledge and skills to effectively begin testing.

“An oracle is a principle or mechanism by which we can tell if the software is working according to someone’s criteria; an oracle provides a right answer—according to somebody.”

“A heuristic is a provisional and fallible guide by which we investigate or solve a problem; it’s also a
method by which learning takes place as a result of discoveries informed by exploration.”

The article provides the HICCUPPS mnemonic. HICCUPP was developed by James Bach and Michael later added the “S” for Standards and Statutes. This mnemonic is a listing of heuristics a tester may consider in their strategy including:

  • History
  • Image
  • Comparable Products
  • Claims
  • User Expectations
  • The Product Itself
  • Purpose
  • Standards and Statutes

The article wraps up with an excellent example of testing that applies the “tools” shared to effectively explore without specifications.

This article is excellent and a must read for all software testers. I am hoping to connect this article with testers who may have missed it back in 2005. Enjoy!

Do You Indulge Your Curiosity?

By , May 15, 2010 1:08 pm

Curious Cat ImageLast month Gil Broza kicked off his “Spot On Interviews” by interviewing Michael Bolton. Gil and Michael discussed “Is There A Problem Here?” including:

  • Testing as an Exploratory/Investigative vs. Confirmatory Pursuit
  • The Trouble with the Ubiquitous Testing Goal of Completing Tests
  • Are you Testing, or are you Checking?
  • You Cannot Test Everything, Where do you Invest Your Time?
  • Agile Testing

I enjoyed the recording immensely and made several pages of notes. Although many of the discussion points shared insights I was already familiar with I appreciated the reminders. I found Michael’s perspective and approach to articulating the challenges in testing to be very helpful. I have captured a variety of the discussion points to share with you.

Exploratory vs Confirmatory Testing

  • Exploratory testing is a process where we are seeking new information.
  • Confirmatory testing is a process where we are verifying and validating things that we thought or hope are correct.
  • Testing is a thinking process and we need to be using critical thinking skills. “Critical Thinking is thinking about thinking with the intention of being fooled.” Michael encouraged testers to be mindful of our capacity to be fooled.
  • “It Works.” According to Jerry Weinberg this is the shortest and most ambiguous sentence possible. I believe that is very true and yet it is used so often by testers when questioned about a feature or program they are testing.

Test Planning in Exploratory Testing

  • Planning can be expensive. There are long feedback loops between planning to find something out and then finding it out.
  • “With Exploratory Testing we want to try to find out, in as many ways as we can, as many things as we can, about the program.” Michael encouraged testers to consider that the traditional test planning approaches are not effective in accomplishing this as it leaves out a great deal of learning.

Testing vs Checking

  • Testing vs Checking was covered in the interview. Check out Michael’s blog entry Testing vs Checking for full context on this excellent discussion point.
  • Michael shared an excellent reference from the book Computer Programming Fundamentals by Gerald M. Weinberg and Herbert Leeds. Back in 1961 they wrote that testers are not really in the job of proving repeatability, machines can do that, we are really looking to prove or test adaptability by the machine. The machine can handle whatever we through at it. In order to do this well we need a suspicious nature and a lively imagination. I love that!

Practicing Exploratory Testing

  • Indulge your curiosity. Follow where your research leads you. Be innovative.
  • Play is exploratory learning. Michael referenced the book Play as Exploratory Learning: Studies of Curiosity Behavior by Mary Reilly. The book talks about how we have de-valued play. Kids learn faster than anyone; and kids in pursuit of knowledge are not even aware of their learning.
  • Michael shared his excitement with the Weekend Testing Movement. This was started by four testers in Bangalore. Acting as their own managers, coaches and critics, they find a piece of open source software and test it. As Michael put it, every weekend these testers are sharpening their saws. You can read more about the Weekend Testers here http://weekendtesting.com.

Test Coverage & The Impossibility of Complete Testing

  • “As a tester you are acting as the eyes, ears, nose and fingertips of the client. You are a sensory instrument for your client.” For me, this quote from Michael is one of the best definitions of a tester I have ever heard. Excellent!
  • As that instrument the testers job is to identify the kind of information your client wants. There are things we know we don’t know, and then things we don’t know we don’t know. There are ways to find out about the things we don’t know we don’t know.
  • Development and testing are constantly dancing with circles and feedback loops. It is impossible to schedule invention and discovery. I felt this was another excellent perspective.
  • What is done? Do we honestly believe we know enough to move on? Have we achieved good enough? Can we take the next step with this product (may be a release, or next feature, etc.)? There is no “standard” we can reference to define this.
  • One approach is to consider when the cost of the task exceeds value of the return.
  • “Testing is always sampling strategy. The number of conditions we can test is infinite. The number of platforms and variations on platforms that we can test is intractable if it is not infinite. Perspectives that people have on value are infinite. The input domain of valid input for any program is potentially finite but certainly is intractably large for anything except the most trivial program and invalid inputs are infinite. No matter what we do, we are always doing some subset of the testing that we could do that is asymptotically close to zero.” This was a great description!
  • Michael referenced “Try Again, Fail Again, Fail Better, Fail Faster” by Samuel Beckett.

Regression Testing

  • Michael referenced the RCRCRC mnemonic for regression testing by Karen N. Johnson. The mnemonic stands for:
    • Recent: new features, new areas of code are more vulnerable
    • Core: essential functions must continue to work
    • Risk: some areas of an application pose more risk
    • Configuration sensitive: code that’s dependent on environment settings can be vulnerable
    • Repaired: bug fixes can introduce new issues
    • Chronic: some areas in an application may be perpetually sensitive to breaking

    Here is the link to Karen’s blog entry on this mnemonic: A Heuristic for Regression Testing.

If you have not already heard the interview, I really hope you will take the time to do so. There was a wealth of information covered and each topic warrants a deep dive to fully grasp the concepts presented. I believe that for each of the concepts Michael shared there is a extensive information available on the web in the form of blogs, articles and white papers. I encourage you to indulge your curiosity, follow where your research leads you, and to be innovative in applying your new learning. ;)

Here is the link to the recording: Spot On Interview with Michael Bolton. Enjoy!

A Few Spots Left in the Rapid Software Testing Course

By , May 14, 2010 1:10 pm

There are still a few spots remaining in the upcoming Rapid Software Testing course in Calgary being held June 7th – 9th. This is an excellent opportunity. Don’t miss out!!!!

Rapid Software Testing Image

I am excited to share that Integritas Solutions and Quality Perspectives are offering the Rapid Software Testing course in Calgary. This three day course will be held June 7th – 9th, instructed by Michael Bolton. Michael is an industry recognized thought leader and has instructed the Rapid Software Testing course internationally.

Dates: June 7th – 9th
Times: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: Downtown Calgary (TBD)
Instructor: Michael Bolton

Course Overview

Rapid Software Testing is a course, a mind-set, and a skill set. It teaches students an approach to excellent software testing that is very fast, inexpensive, credible, and accountable.

  • Are you finding it difficult to assess how much time and effort you’re going to need to test effectively?
  • Are you overwhelmed by or uncertain about approaches to test planning, design and execution?
  • Are you working in an environment where some people aren’t following “the rules”?
  • Are you having trouble finding the right balance between planning, documentation, and testing?
  • Are you interested in learning skills and techniques that will help you to become a better tester?
  • Are you finding that “industry best practices” are infeasible and a poor fit for your organization?
  • Do you want to get very good at software testing?

Rapid Software Testing addresses these challenges.

Early bird registration of $1200.00 per person will be offered until April 30, 2010. Starting May 1st registrations will be $1500.00 per person. Fees include training materials and meals. Please note there is a maximum of 24 spots available. If there is sufficient interest additional course offerings will be considered.

Online registration is available at www.integritas.ca/stest.php.

Contact Information
Should you have any questions or comments, please contact Wayne Stark or Lynn McKee.

See the promotional PDF to Read More on the course offering.