Can we scale down the tests? Part 2

Sometimes you have a harmonica with the wrong scale. It is hard to scale it down.  A simple solution is to buy harmonicas in all scales. It will cost time and money, but it might save the day.

If a manager walks into your cubicle with a suggestion to scale down tests, then it is time to get the big picture before the decision to skip tests. Let’s go back to George.

Quality is an option
At eleven o’ clock in the morning George joined the meeting of the software testers. Cynthia was not looking very happy.
“What’s wrong with you, Cynthia?”, George asked.
“Management decided to skip the user acceptance test for the navigation system to save time.”, Cynthia answered.
“Did you point out the consequences?”
“Of course the interface can really be improved.”
“Can you prove it?”
“Sure.”
“OK, let’s call the PO for his opinion.”

John joined the meeting of the software testers.
“Hi Cynthia, this is supposed to be a tester only meeting.”
“You are welcome.” Cynthia reassured him. “We won’t bite you.”
“Would you give me a permission to let the other testers have a look to the navigation system?”
“No problem.”

George was studying his laptop.
“According to the user story it is possible to enter the right destination using voice commands within 10 seconds.
Your aunt asked you to come to Paris, which is in the neighborhood of Tupelo.”

First test:
“The destination is Paris.”, Pete said.
“What is destination?” was the answer of the navigation system.
“I want to go to Paris.”
“What means “I want to”?”
“Go to Paris.”
“Go to Paris go to Paris is an invalid voice command.”

Second test:
“Go to Paris.”
“Do you want to go to Paris in Arkansas, Paris in California, Paris in Idaho, Paris in Illinois, Paris in Kentucky, Paris in Maine, Paris in Michigan, Paris in Mississippi, Paris in Missouri, Paris in New York, Paris in Ohio, Paris in Pennsylvania, Paris in Tennessee, Paris in Texas, Paris in Virginia, Paris in Grant County in Wisconsin or Paris in Kenosha County in Wisconsin?”

Third test:
“Go to Paris in the neighborhood of Tupelo.”
“What is neighborhood?”
“Begin again.”
“Go to Paris, which is near Tupelo.”
“How far is near?”
“I don’t know.”
“Give an estimation.”
“I don’t know.”

Fourth test:
“Go to Paris via Tupelo.”
“Do you want to go to Paris in Arkansas, Paris in California, Paris in Idaho, Paris in Illinois, Paris in Kentucky, Paris in Maine, Paris in Michigan, Paris in Mississippi, Paris in Missouri, Paris in New York, Paris in Ohio, Paris in Pennsylvania, Paris in Tennessee, Paris in Texas, Paris in Virginia, Paris in Grant County in Wisconsin or Paris in Kenosha County in Wisconsin?”

Fifth test:
“Go to Tupelo.”
“The destination is Tupelo.”
“Go to Paris, which is closest to Tupelo.”
“Give an estimation.”
“Uuuuuh.”
”What is Uuuuuh?”

George looked at the PO:
“Do you think, that a user acceptance test is a considerable option?”

Are you appreciated as a tester?

Some people might wonder at the size of the cup. My answer is, that I got it from a famous tester. Then the following list of action points is likely to be proposed:

  • Sell it on eBay.
  • Gather proof i.e. pictures.
  • Request Huib Schoots to sign a certificate of authenticity, that he gave this cup to Han Toan Lim for the most intensive and concentrated test session at ..

At that  moment I would interrupt with:
“Time Out dude. You cannot buy appreciation; you have to earn it.”

Test right there
The consultant with a strong HR background in IT looked at me.
“I see those small wheels spinning in your head. If you can read a design document, you can probably write one.”
“I already did.”, I admitted.
He continued: “Then you can describe the flow. If you can describe the flow, then you can program.”
He looked to me with the silent question:
“Why do you not move up the ladder?”

At that moment the time slowed down to a stop. Internally I sighed for 3 seconds. Then time accelerated to the normal speed. Reality snapped back and I was confused. Only a tenth of a second had passed in reality. I saw a man looking at me and waiting for an answer. Like a stubborn school boy I stated: “I just want to test.”

Talking about talking kids
During the holiday my wife talked about the show for children: “The theme is job. So a member of the animation team asked the kids about the job of their father.” I heard, that one of my kids answered with “Not a real job.”. I groaned. Another one said: “Software tester.” My wife imitated the small, hesitant voice of animator: “A software tester?!”

Then she prepared me, that something worse would come. I steeled myself. The next kid said: “Police agent.” The voice of the animator became enthusiastic: “Police agent. Did you hear that: police agent. That is great!” My wife was not pleased. Neither was I.

Yours gratefully
On my last day in the office and my last workday I noticed, that one of the functional application  managers had not dropped by to say goodbye. So I went to his desk. The talk, that followed, was about gone times, the present time and  times to come.

During the talk we had walked to the door to the corridor. It was the door to a new future for me. It was time to say goodbye. While shaking hands the functional application manager extended his left arm and patted on my shoulder. He let his smile disappear and instead he pressed his lips together to suppress his sadness. “You fare well.”
At that very moment I really felt appreciated as a tester.

 

Can we scale down the tests?

The harmonica is a music instrument to carry with you easily. It has a disadvantage. If you have one with E scale, then it is difficult to play songs in another scale. You miss tones and it is harder to change tones. There are different solutions to this problem: you could bend tones or just buy a chromatic harmonica. But it will still be awkward to play tunes in another scale. So it is difficult to scale down.

If a manager walks into your cubicle with a suggestion to scale down tests, then it is time to get the big picture before the decision to skip tests. Let’s go back to George, my favorite fictive tester, and his fictive testers, whom he coach, and their fictive technology.

No real reason to scale down

At eleven o’clock in the morning George joined the meeting of the software testers.
“Hi every one, you had a nice weekend?”
“Yes, I just got back from Texas”, Pete said.
“The last time you advised me to sneak in testing terms instead of clarifying the test definitions and their benefits. Especially after a kind manager request to scale down the tests.”
George nodded.
“So I went to my boss and I said:
“The customer wanted a leather steering wheel. It is advisable to do a regression test: can you still steer the car in the right direction?”
My boss got the point and arranged, that I could join the car test team in Texas with the latest version of the leather steering wheel.”

Pete started fiddling with his smart phone.
“You really have to see this.
Jack, could you please open a port on the projector, so I can stream this movie?”
The screen showed a picture of the latest car model under test in a desert. The reactions of the other testers came directly:
“Nice headlights!”
“Great design.”
“Hey, I tested those side mirrors.”
George noticed: “This footage looks professional.”
Pete answered: “This is a standard procedure. There are 4 cameras recording. The one, whose images are shown on the screen, is from the observer at the start.”

“That’s me.”
On screen Pete came walking with a filled bottle of Vodka.
“Now you have to watch this and listen.”
Pete said on screen: “Hey guys, as promised: I will lose this bottle, if I do not find a bug.”
Chuckling was heard from the speakers and in the room.
Pete put the bottle on the ground and started the car.
He drove a small circle around the bottle.
“Yes, your bottle is still there.”
Another circle followed by another one.

A commanding voice was heard from the speaker:
“Enough playing around, Pete. Head to the track.”
The circling continued and the car started to gain speed and slip.
“Pete, stop the car.”
The sounds of the car became harder.
“I repeat: Pete, stop the car. ”
After 10 seconds
“Okay, hit the emergency button.”
The car stood still and Pete got out of the car dizzy.

On the screen a man with a red cap wearing a head set and a microphone came in view. He went straight to the bottle. “The seal is broken. You drank.”
Pete protested: “That’s not true.”
He pulled out a breathalyzer test from his pocket and blew hard on it.
The man with red cap snatched the test from Pete´s hands and observed the test.
He continued meekly:
“So you are sober. But what went wrong with the car?”

At the background the voice of a mechanic was heard.
After a shout of pain he said: “The steering wheel is real hot under the leather. I almost burnt my hand.”
Pete said to the red cap: “I found my bug. Give me high five.”
Before the red cap knew, what was happening, he gave a high five.
“So what is your diagnosis, tester?”
“Did you burn your hand, when you gave me a high five?”
The red cap looked astonished to his hand: “Of course not.”

“In this car model a special form of servo assisted steering is used using sensors, so car drivers do not have to grip the steering wheel. A car driver can move his hand above the wheel and the car will automatically turn.“
The red cap nodded.
“While you were preparing everything for the test drive, the leather steering wheel started heating up in a closed car in the desert. Because my hand is cooler than the leather, the sensors ignored the movement of my hand. But the sensors determined, that my hands were in another position based on the temperature measurements. With the consequence, that the car made small circles.”

The red cap was impressed.
George looked also impressed: “The next time they will pay more attention to the product risks than to the solved issues.”