Category Archives: Mind trick

Crazy Test Investigation

Summer in Europe and it was warm. I was thinking about an upcoming challenge of #30daysoftesting. I had to create a crazy test.

What about a crazy test with the ultimate penalty, the loss of LinkedIn? That would make me crazy.
Can you imagine that?

It all started with this
This blog post was originally posted on LinkedIn.

  • #LinkedIn Changes I Use
    Some things never change in LinkedIn: total strangers who want to be connected, and a neat CV builder. During my fifteensome years utilising this very service – as we use – LinkedIn did change. This is my personal report about the changes I noticed and am still using.Nowadays requests to be connected can only be handled with a yes or no. To be more precisely v or x. In the past it was possible to have extensive dialogues by replying to invitations, but that is past tense. Apparently some people wanted a standard button.Even replies on job offers are streamlined with three buttons with standard brief answers. They can be summarised as Yes, Maybe and No using pictures of respectively v, a Rolodex card (!), and x. The job offers can still be used for two way communication without the exchange of email addresses.The options for the CV have been extended with voluntary work and certifications. The first is to show that I care about non related work items. The latter are in high demand by abbreviation loving recruiters and HR people (or in reverse order). Somehow they seem to be connected. There is still no proper place to mention, that I am a World Record Holder in juggling.

    A few years ago I noticed that LinkedIn became a more closed community. Profiles can still be found using search engines, but they cannot be viewed without LinkedIn account. The advantage is that I can track views of my profile better than a decade ago. Probably even my own views on my own posts. In particular cases companies and job titles of viewers can be determined. A blog post is not part of a profile, so information of the viewers is being collected. If you are the only reader of this blog post today, I can determine your job title, your location, and your industry.

    The biggest change for me is free blogging on LinkedIn. This is very appealing for a Dutch man. There is a reasonable editor, which offers basic functionality. My first thought was “What You See Is What You Get”, but that was temporary. Extensive editing added random new lines or even unwanted bullets in the blog post. This once led to an embarrassing moment, when I showed a colleague my poorly edited LinkedIn blog post.

    Editing during multiple sessions was an exercise in patience. For months I added a new dummy blog post in order to continue editing my draft blog post. Of course I removed the empty blog posts afterwards, but this was not user friendly. The normal and unusual way is to select “edit profile”, select “see more” in the posts section, and then go to my last draft version. In known blog software profile and blogs are different things. In LinkedIn the blog posts are part of the profile, so no information should be collected from the viewers when indicated. Hereby illustrating an inconsistency with a situation as described a few paragraphs above.

    For a person with no background in marketing like me it was quite challenging to position a picture in the header of the post. A seemingly random chosen rectangle or blow up is selected to be shown. This view can only be changed by moving it left or right. My first reaction was to decrease the resolution of the picture. Then I got a cryptic message, that the resolution must have a minimum specified size. Now I had to figure a way to count the number of pixels in two directions. This added another dimension to voluntary work.

    After having placed my first blog post I got a nice mail with statistics. It was quite hopeful: I scored likes and a decent number of views. Then I noticed some disadvantages: no mails are sent, if my blog posts were viewed a few times. And likes are noted as permanent instead of updated regularly. So my advice to the reader is not to brag about the number of likes.

    A legitimate question for me would be: “Why did you not describe the other LinkedIn changes you stopped using?”. My answer is: “This is a time saver.”

Try hard
Losing my Twitter account is bad, but my LinkedIn account would be worse. I would basically be non existent and therefore have no credibility at all. Especially for recruiters, if they still could find me.

In order to minimise the loss I made a backup of all my contacts, my blog posts , and my profile including recommendations. Check.

Then I hit the Publish button.

I got a final warning. I confirmed my action.

In the days after the publication I expected a polite mail from LinkedIn to express concerns with the contents of the blog post. And an explicit request to remove the blog post. Nothing happened.

Actually tensome people read my blog post. It did not go viral. Nothing to report about. But I just did.

Try hard eith a vengeance
A few weeks later it was summer in Europe and it was warm. I thought about my blog post, that did not concern any people, except me of course.

Obviously the inconsistent use of settings was of no concern for any one. If someone looks to a LinkedIn blog post, the area, where the reader lives, the job title, and the industry of the reader are collected in sets. If I would have one reader a day, then I could easily combine the information. Nobody would flinch, if I told in which industry she /he worked. That left area and job title. This still had a low scary level.

I had the perfect plan to increase the level of craziness for my test by changing the tone of voice. So I twittered:

  • If you click on this link, I know where you live and your job title.
    Lnkd.in/e-Dnk_y
    #crazy #test
    Day 6 of #30dayssoftesting

On that day nobody clicked on the link . I repeat: On that day nobody clicked on the link . And no request to change my blog post. Fortunately.

Déjà vu

Story number 1
My wife and I were enjoying the sun set. We had settled ourselves on a bench with cushions on the beach. A waiter came in our view:
What would you like to drink?
My wife answered:
“One hot chocolate milk please.”
“With or without whipped cream?”
“Without whipped cream.”
Then it was my turn to order a drink:
“One tea without whipped cream. ”
When the waiter went away, my wife remarked something about my joke.

After a few minutes the waiter came back with two hot chocolate milks without whipped cream.
“I did not order this beverage.”
“You ordered a hot chocolate milk without whipped cream. ”
“I ordered a tea without whipped cream. ”
The waiter was silent for a few moments. Then he offered me to bring me a tea.

Story number 2
When I was looking for a parking space for the car, one of my kids said:
“That car has the same colour.”
I said something like “A huh”.

I parked the car and my wife left to do some fast shopping. I stayed with the kids. After a few minutes I noticed movement in the rearview mirror. My wife had changed her coat, hair colour and glasses. And she had shopped.

“Something is wrong.” flashed through my mind. I turned around to have a good look. The woman looked me straight in the eyes. She was surprised. Her view shifted to the license plate. Then she looked to me with an apologising smile.

She slowly turned around, looking for her car. Then her eyes fell on a car with the same colour, the same model and the same brand. And off she went.

Breakdown
The waiter and the woman have some things in common: first they used the auto pilot (System 1). Then they forced themselves to think (System 2). This leads to the following graph:mindful-tester-deja-vu-systems-timeline

Back to business
The following story is fiction. So enjoy.  

Steve was waiting for things to happen. For more than one hour it was just him and his pen. The other stuff was boring: the same people moving on the screens in the same patterns. He noticed, that a pizza delivery boy parked his car on the parking lot. He just knew, that it was a pizza delivery boy. While many of his colleagues were regarding strangers as potential criminals, he just looked and knew.

The young man came to his desk:
“One large pepperoni pizza for mister Neal.”
“Sorry”, Steve replied. “You are not allowed to deliver, because your delivery is not on the list.”
Then a phone call came in.
“Hi Steve, John here. I forgot to notify you, that a pizza would be delivered.”
Steve checked off the following points:

  • It was the internal phone number of John.
  • He had an American accent with Scottish accent.
  • He was always late with meal notifications.

“Sure, no problem. One pizza coming up.”
“Fine. I’m hungry.”
Steve thought: “He always is.”.
He said to the pizza delivery boy:
“You can go the 6th floor. Mister Neal is wearing a T shirt.”
Steve thought: “He always is.”.
The young man nodded and entered the elevator.

Outside a car stopped. The same man came to Steve’s desk. Steve looked at the first car, which was still parked outside. There was something wrong. The pizza delivery boy looked genuine.
“He’s real.”, flashed through his mind.
Steve asked: “One large pepperoni pizza for mister Neal?”
“That’s right. Can I deliver the pizza?” with the same voice.
Steve looked at the monitor, which showed the same delivery boy in the elevator.

He looked to the pizza delivery boy.
“I have to write down the delivery time.”, while tapping 3 times on his watch. 3 short taps is S in morse: Social engineering threat. He felt 3 short vibrations of his watch. Now Steve had 3 minutes to evaluate the situation, before the alarm went off.

In the meantime another pizza delivery boy with the same face had come to his desk:
“One large pepperoni pizza for mister Neal.”
The same face, the same suit and the same voice.
“He’s not an actor. The body language is from a reluctant man trying to earn extra money for his study.”
Steve looked to the two pizza delivery boys standing for his desk: they looked like twins.

John was a hungry programmer: he ordered at most two pizzas at a time. Steve recalled, that John had ordered just one pizza. He pressed his two hand palms on the desk to push himself up. This way he concealed two small movements. With his right index finger he pushed the Down The River button. People inside the building could only leave the building: elevators would only go downstairs; doors would only open to the hallway. Etcetera etcetera. Annoyance crept in Steve’s mind:
“This is the real thing and my intuition failed me for the first time.”

With his left index finger he locked the control panel in front of him. While Steve was standing at ease, he casually placed his right palm on his watch. The watch scanned his palm and vibrated for half a sec: the alarm was confirmed. He imagined himself as a concrete wall. Now he had to stall, until the backup would come. The guitar music from the opening scene of Pulp Fiction started to play in his head. He defocused to get a better view of the situation. This way he could see the two pizza delivery boys and the entrance at the same time. Then tensome pizza delivery boys entered the building. Packed with pizza boxes. The trumpets in his head began to play harder.

Mindreading 101

A mind trick is a trick, which can be used to confuse people. The following mind trick, which I used, happened in the real world. I changed the names of the mobile provider on purpose in this real tale.

A Tale of Two Techies
Once upon a time I had a phone call with a programmer of a supplier. He excused himself for being unreachable. I asked him:
“Are you in Rotterdam?”
[Immediately; strong voice] “Yes.”
“Are you using UVWXYZ [mobile provider]?”
[A little hesitation; normal voice] “Yes.”
“Do you use an Android phone?”
[Long hesitation; trembling voice] “Yes.”

The end

Breakdown
The weekend before I had problems with my mobile phone. So I called my mobile provider. There was a problem in Rotterdam. I asked how I could be reached on my Android phone. Then the customer service agent gave me instructions, how to configure my phone.

When I talked with the programmer, I knew that he was in the office. As a thumb of rule people, whose office is close by the customer’s site, are assigned to a project. Rotterdam was my best guess. Then UVWXYZ became the plausible cause of his unreachability.

The last question was my best guess. Programmers like to tweak things; Android phones are highly tweakable.

Now comes the worst part of my analysis. I really wanted to help this man: tester’s honour. As a tester I provide information to people to let them make an informed decision or perform an informed action. I only get information by asking.  But with my fast moving questions I frightened the man.

At the end of the phone call I had helped the programmer. He could use his mobile phone again.

Tips

  • Score three times yes in a row for unrelated questions and people start freaking out.
  • Put your victim at ease..
  • Be mindful on things happening around you. Especially people.

 

 

Let ‘s make a mind map

On September 11 2012 I held a workshop about Mind mapping and Testing at 8:15 PM. TestNet, the Dutch Special Interest Group in Software Testing, was the organiser of the evening. The people in the room had worked a complete day, had dinner, and enjoyed an engaging introductory workshop about Mind Mapping by Ruud Rensink. It was time to start my workshop.

The Name Trick

After a minute in my workshop I showed my introduction sheet. “This year we had a summer with great sport events. I could ask you to mention a name of a player of the European soccer championship. Or a name of a player of the Olympic Games. Or a name of a player of the Paralympics. ” People started shifting in their chairs. Probably looking for names and ready to put their hand in the air.

“A few years ago the World Championship Table Tennis took place in Rotterdam. Do you know a name of a player?” People let their shoulders hang. Then a member of the audience said: “Erik van Veenendaal.” I continued with “Who does know Erik van Veenendaal? ” 70% of people raised their hands. The remaining people looking puzzled, probably thinking: “Erik Who?”

“Erik van Veenendaal and I were in the Belgium and Netherlands Testing Qualifications Board.” My red laser point was on the board name, which was shown on the screen. “Erik van Veenendaal said: “We have to write a letter. Let’s make a mind map.” Meile Posthuma and Rik Marselis were requested to make one.” In the back of the room Rik sat straight up after hearing his name. “I saw the mind map and it was interesting. That’s why I bought this book.”, while showing a book of Tony Buzan.

Breakdown

On LinkedIn I was linked with Erik van Veenendaal. A few years earlier I got the surprising update, that he was participating in the Table Tennis World Championship. This was so strange, that I still remembered it.

In the Dutch Test community Erik van Veenendaal played an important role. He is an author of several books about testing, which are used by Dutch testers.

Tips

  • Get on social media.
  • Follow people, who are influential in testing.

 

Management by mind mapping

A mind trick is a trick, which can be used to confuse people. The following mind trick I used, happened in the real world. I changed the names of the people on purpose.

The count mind trick
During one of my mind map workshops I asked the participants:
“At the count of three you mention the name of your team lead.
One two three.”
A lot of names were mentioned. It was hard to hear one clearly.

“At the count of three you mention the name of the boss of your team lead.
One two three.”
Fewer names were mentioned. Some names could be distinguished.

“At the count of three you mention the name of the your business unit manager.
One two three.”
Almost every name could be distinguished.

“At the count of three you mention the name of the your division manager.
One two three”
Only three name were mentioned: Peter Red, Tony Purple, and Helen Yellow. “

At the count of three you mention the name of the your CEO.
One two three”
“Jack Orange.”
People were a bit surprised, that the same name was mentioned.

I continued with:
“Last evening there was a meeting in the canteen with Jack Orange, Peter Red, Tony Purple, and Helen Yellow. Jack Orange used a mind map to explain his view on the future of our company. If you go to the canteen, you can still see the mind map.”

Breakdown
On the morning of the workshop I met participant of previous workshop Introduction mind mapping.
“Hi Han Toan, will you give a mind map workshop this morning?”
“Yes, this morning.”
“Derek of facility management told me, that there is a mind map in the canteen. Jack Orange, Peter Red, Tony Purple, and Helen Yellow and other hot shots were making a mind map in the canteen last evening.”
“What? Can I see it?”
“Why not?”

Tips

  • become known as the expert on a subject like mister mind map within and outside the company.
  • stimulate sharing of information about your subject.
  • know the hierarchy of the company.