Category Archives: Psychology

No violence intended

A few weeks ago I talked about a locker problem with a woman of my sport school.
“I put my stuff in locker 8, but the door came loose.”
She smiled:
“Thank you for reporting. We’ll pick this and ..”

“then I moved all my stuff to locker 6.”, I continued at the same pace.
The woman halted. Wrinkles of concern appeared on her face.
“I could not close the door, because there was no current. Then I moved all my stuff to locker 4.”

I waited for a moment.
The woman could not wait any longer:
“What went wrong this time?”
“This one was all right.”
The apologising smile was back on full strength.
I got another set of apologies and a promise to fix.

Incoming heading

What about the rest?
It is not my purpose to leave a trail of bug reports behind. I just noticed something and I shared this with someone who was really interested.

I did not use any violence to break the door off. The hinges had been clicked to the locker. They just unclicked and the woman rememberedthis within milliseconds. I was also Non Violent. I used an element of Non Violent Communication.

What I did, was to tell my observation in an objective way. I did not use any upsetting adjectives like stupid or dumb. It was just a door.

I did not have to use the other parts of model, the feeling the need, and the request. The woman had enough information to fix.

In my previous blog post I already mentioned Non Violent Communication. I realised that I did not write enough about the non violent part. So this is my rebound blog post.

Feeling
After the observation I could tell about my feeling. “I felt annoyed. ”
Wait a sec. Annoyed reads very offensive. It is a feeling that I had at that moment. I am writing for myself. It is not targeted at a person. I just had an experience and I was annoyed about it.

I know there are people who would consider this as an attack. This should not be the case. That is the responsibility of the person who hears my story.

Need

That’s a proper heading.

I had a need for perfection. As a tester I am aware that this is not always possible. But the opening and closing of the lockers can easily be arranged. Common technology I would write.

My need is personal. Some people might whine about it or like it. That is their responsibility. I am the boss of my own feelings and needs. Of course you can help me to determine them, but I can tell which are appropriate. To me.

Request

My request would be like:
“Would you please repair lockers 8 and 6?”

Please notice “Please”. This is a request. It is also used in other languages: bitte, s’il vous plaît, or alstublieft. It actually means: if it pleases you. So it is completely fair to disregard this request.

I just stress it again: it is no order. I am a customer and not a boss. The action would help me, who asks for this action. My bad feeling will go away and my need be fulfilled. That is rather pleasing. For me.

My sport school could do nothing with my request. Depending on previous requests from my side I could stop my subscription.

So I am heading to …

The closing section
Once I read a tweet of some one. I interpreted that this person had enough of a situation. I tweeted:
” I would determine my need and make a reasonable request.”

In my next blog post I will write about being Non Violent in the testing field.

DUMB heuristic

During the Rapid Software Testing course James Bach advised to name things. If I cannot tell, what I am doing, my boss would think: “What the < beep > is he doing?”
So after the course I came up with the DUMB heuristic. This heuristic I use frequently during my testing.

Suppose my boss asks me how the testing goes. My answer could be: “I do uh my best.” A busy tester is always good, but if I am too busy things might go wrong. All my energy and brain power are focused on the work at hand. I forget to think. That’s DUMB.

When I figured out my heuristic, I had to find some smart explanation for this abbreviation. It became Do Uh My Best. Most heuristics are acronyms or lists of words. In turn every word is explained in detail. You know: turned upside down and shaken. But I just stick to the abbreviation.

Some readers have a good reason to ask. So hold on. The emphasis of the heuristic is on Uh. This is an alarm bell. Hesitation is a sign, that too much is going on in my head. I might forget to pay the deserved attention to the real problem.

This following discussion I had several times with my scrum master:
“I am writing test cases.”
“Why do you make test cases?
How often will the tests be executed? Who will maintain the test cases?”
So I was doing my best. And my scrum master got an Uh out of me.
He let me reflect on my work. What was I doing? And why?

Many test heuristics I know are acronyms. Some I do use. The S in SFDIPOT stands for Structure, how is the application under test built? So which components do I have to test? Etcetera.

If I apply this to DUMB then I would get things like: Do is the activity I am involved at that moment. It can be taking notes in my test charter or just thinking. Etc. Etc. The only thing I need on that moment is a short reminder to reflect on my work. DUMB. One syllable. Keep it sweet and short.

When do I use this heuristic? If there is a lot of work to do. When I have hours of straight testing ahead, I can go in my little cocoon and do something testy and something nice comes out. Tadah.

What about the focus and defocus stuff? Most of the time I use this when I got stuck. What can I do now? Let’s take a step back. Now I see the big picture. I figure out at a high level. Let me zoom in.

The point is, that doing my best is equal to doing stuff which is in front of my nose. I just pick it up and start running. Maybe I get it done today or this morning. Completely forgetting to ask for the reason. And that is DUMB. NOK?

When I was writing this blog, something hit me in the face. That was my imaginary hand palm. This so called heuristic is maybe already known under another name or in another way. Like a proverb.

And yes Madam within a few minutes the following proverbs came in my mind:
Eile mit Weile
Dépechez lentement
Easy does it

A day later followed by
Haastige spoed is zelden goed.

So why am I not using proverbs to keep my testing right? It is too long. Maybe a short heuristic could be useful.

“My scrum master would say something like Does it help?

This is really STUPID which stands for Some Thing …. I Do. UP are two words, so ….

Do I have to figure this out? WHY?”
“We Hear Yes.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“GIRLS”
“Good In Real Life Software”

 

 

“GUYS”
“Graphic Userinterface You See”

 

 

“PLEASE”
“People Lik E A Software Errooor”

“CHEERS”
“Co Herent Entertaining Erroneous Random Synthesis”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you are a mindful reader. Congrats. Here is the bonus.

Why did I not throw this blog post in the waste bin? People already thought about it and distilled their experiences to proverbs.

It is about my thought process. I do not want to stop thinking. Once in a while I discover that other people already have figured it out. Sometimes I find something new. But apart of discovery of new thingies it is about thinking thingies through. Getting better to verbalise my thoughts and explain them to you the reader.

That was what I forget a while ago. Thanks for the attention.

Optional reading Also Known As scientific stuff for nerds like me
When I Do Uh My Best, System 1 is operating. More information about System 1 can be found in this blog post.

WYSIATE stands for What You See Is All There Is. If I am too busy, I forget to look for other relevant information as mentioned in Thinking Fast and Slow.

The Lindy effect is about using knowledge especially from books. Thinking Fast and Slow is quoted for years by some testers. If a book is relevant for 5 years, it will probably remain relevant for another 5 years.

Backtracking for testers

“I cannot reproduce it.”, I admitted to my scrum master. He replied with:
“You can do exploratory testing, but you have to note down the steps, which led to this situation.”

How did I get in this mess?
I sanitised this story BTW.

On my screen were some filters and buttons. It was not possible to use the action button any more. That was NOK. I made a partial screen shot and put it into my test charter. I would later come back to reproduce it.

Somewhat later I looked at the screen shot. I thought it would be easy to reproduce the situation. After three attempts I gave up. That was NOK.

My scrum master had a point though. I had lame excuses like no recording tools and extra bureaucratic steps. Back to The Bug. If I could find it.

A little bit of theory
Backtracking is a term I picked up during my study. It took me years to understand the principles.

It is basically solving a labyrinth: continuously pick a direction and walk, until a dead end is encountered. Then go back to the place where the last wrong decision was taken and take a new direction.
Rinse and repeat.

This tactic can be applied to find the toilet or to solve a puzzle.

Sorry for this theory interruption. I will now continue with my blog post.

A lot of practice
The first thing was to examine the screen shot again. I realised I was on the wrong screen. So I switched screens.

Then I rebuilt the situation. I added the filters with the same values. I pressed the action button. That went right. I kept my mouse on the button. It could be used again.

I used the other buttons on the screen. After a few presses I returned to the action button, which was still completely functional.

I did a reset and started to rebuild the situation. If I pressed the other buttons before the action button, then it might become insensitive. After adding the last filter I pressed on one of the other buttons and clicked on the action button. It was still functional. Business as usual.

It was time for my visual memory. The adding of the filters went from left to right. It felt great. Every time the set of available filters became smaller. It was like dealing cards. The stack became smaller and the cards were put from left to right.

I looked to the most left filter. It was a date filter. I already had filed some bug reports on that one. Wait a sec. This was my starting point for bugs. I might have set it to a wrong value and quickly checked the side effects.

The word quickly triggered my mind. I was so used to this filter, that all date filter related actions were absolutely normal for me. It became natural and therefore easy to forget. Because I moved my mouse so fast, the movement was not stored in my memory. That made sense to me.

So another attempt to reproduce my bug began. I set the date filter to a single bad number and added the other filters from left to right. And I pressed the action button. It worked. Then I tried to use it again, but that was not possible. Bug reproduced.

Now I wanted to reduce the number of steps. My assumption was that the invalid value in the date filter triggered the bug. Time for a short cut.

I reset the screen and only added the bad date filter. The second push on the action button was useless as expected. I was able to backtrack my steps and reduce them afterwards. That was OK.

At the end of business day my scrum master groaned, when I showed him the bug.
“What else did you find?”

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.

Fetching, fast and slow

Let’s start with a simple observation of the following sentence:

Do I communicate (without a mouse)?

 

If you were fast, then there is a high probability you were thinking: “The word mouse is used by the author instead of the word mouth. So the spelling is wrong.”

If you thought hard, then there is a high probability you were thinking: “The mouse is probably a computer accessory. So the question could be rephrased as follows: do I communicate (without a computer)?”

I once heard a great story from an experienced test manager René. He told me, that his project members were communicating with emails. It did not even change, when they sat in the same room. He just set a daily limit of 3 emails, which they could send. This lead to more face to face communication, which improved the project spirit and group cohesion significantly.

Breakdown
In the introduction I used a mind trick on you. This is a trick, which can be used to confuse people.  For the fast observations System 1 is used in most cases. This way of thinking provides fast, almost effortless way to digest information. Like walking to the office.

For the thoughtful observations System 2 is used. Doing complex operations like testing in the office. Both systems have been discussed in depth by Daniel Kahneman in the book Thinking, fast and slow. The title of this blog is based on the title of this book. And fetching is short for fetching coffee.

In March 2015 James Bach introduced the term testopsy. He analysed, what the tester did during a test. I thought about a post autopsy or blog post autopsy.  It is tempting to concatenate the strings post and opsy. But as a Dutch native speaker I do not take any chances. 

Just let me perform an autopsy for a blog post: how did I construct the blog post Do I communicate (without a mouse )?

Because I wrote the blog post, I have the original mind map, which was used as a basis. In the following picture I highlight, which System is used and the corresponding trends. System 2 is used in certain parts of the blog post and System 1 in other parts.

mindful-tester-mindmap-System1-Sytem2

A manager would say:
“This is nice. And that’s all. The relationship between the parts of the blog post and Systems is meager at most. ”

Time for a graph make over.

Graph SOS
There is a British car program, in which they deconstruct and construct a beloved car wreck. For people, who earn it.  And as a reader you definitely earn a better graph.

In case you did not read this blog post Do I communicate (without a mouse)?, please do. It makes the following graph understandable.

 

mindful-tester-timeline-system1-system2

In the graph above I show my usage of Systems 1 and 2 on the vertical axis. The horizontal axis shows the different parts of the post in reading order. So it is possible to observe, that System 2 is used less and less until the end of story.

A manager might be more interested in this graph than the previous one:
“So what you are basically stating, is, that people use System 2 for learning. And participating.”
Or even better:
“I wonder, whether System 1 is used during the meetings in my company .”

Breakdown 2
Over the years I saw a recurring pattern. Every time I boarded a project or got a new room, I had to change my coffee fetching list. And somehow I reduced the spent time. I eliminated waste: it looked to me, that I was lean. This story I carried with me for more than a year. Telling and retelling it to myself over and over again.

Then it was time to put it in a blog post. I started with the mind map with the condensed and descriptive title Coffee. The first branch contained the story. Then I added two funny anecdotes to add some flavour to the blog post.

In the meantime I had lost my favourite mug out of view: a bear, who juggles, while praising the owner of the mug. (That’s me.) After I had found the mug, I made a photo with my smartphone. The mug was on the foreground and my markers right behind them. Then I noticed my mouse: it was behind the markers and not on the photo. So I changed the view for the next picture: the mouse is on the background. Unreachable for normal use.

A few days later I noticed, that I was missing a photo with a funny text for the blog post. I needed something, that could be connected with coffee or tea. Then I remembered the picture of my mug, which was a major obstruction for using my mouse. A thought about communication entered my mind: Do I always need a mouse for communication? It was relatively simple to write an introduction from this point.

Most stories have a lesson at the end. I think, that it is highly predictable (and a bit boring). I wanted to give the reader a choice out of 3 lessons. But that was not entertaining enough. So I placed myself in the spotlights (again). If I could let my voices speak, then I would have a more recognisable situations instead of some abstract and concise questions without any explanation. I took the following voices:

  • The lean machine in me, cutting wastes on his way to the future
  • A woman constantly looking for her needs, while brainstorming and chatting
  • A service desk agent concerned about an implementation of a new functionality
  • A curious software tester looking for clues.

I somehow used a Dutch style form: the circle is round. I started with the title Do I communicate (without a mouse)? And ended with the same question.