Do you really need it?

Drooling about it
Paul knocked a few times on the door. And opened it slowly.
“Are you busy?”
“Yes, but I can make time for you.”
“We’ve got an open door policy, but your door was closed. So..”
Paul waited a few moments.
He gestured to George.
“George said, that I have to bring something to your attention. And ..”
George’s mobile phone went off.
“Excuse me.”
George left the room with the phone to his ear.

“Yes Paul.”
He looked to the door with a desperate look.
“I can wait.”
“What is that piece of paper? You want to show it to me?”
“Actually ..”, Paul started.
He showed it to his manager.
“That’s funny: the phone booth cannot be used.”

Paul pulled himself together:
“Within a month our company will release the car call service. So customers can call their cars and ask, whether enough fuel is in the gas tank.”
Paul’s manager nodded.
“At the moment we are focused on apps on smart phones. We are also testing normal phones. Why not test phone booths?”
“How big is the chance, that a business man calls his car from a phone booth?”
“Pretty small”, Paul admitted. “But there are enough people, who would like to publish a bug about the service on the Web.”
“So your point is…”
“Our slogan is: Your Drive Is Our Drive. People do not like to think about a slow walk to the gas station. Especially after a failed call from a phone booth.”

Ten minutes later George asked Paul:”How did it go?”
“Fine. I have budget to hire a phone booth.”
“How did your phone call go?”
“Nobody called.”
“You mean: no one.”
“Yes” George smiled.
Paul began with: “You are …”
“I am your coach, not your spokesman.”
Paul objected with: “I might not find the proper words to express myself or not find the right arguments. I might miss my drive.”
George just raised an eye brow.

Testing in it
During the training introduction of software testing I told the delegates about a special object in the neighbourhood.
“If you drive your car from Rijswijk to Rotterdam, then you see a huge building next to the highway near Delft. It is blue and yellow.”

I continued with telling, what most people thought. That it was just another furniture shop of a well known brand.
“It is a concept center. In this building ideas for this brand are developed and tested.”

How to Plan a Visit To Amsterdam

Board games are a great way to pass time with children. One of my favourites is Amsterdam. In this game you win, if you are the first one, who have visited 6 random chosen touristic places in the Dutch capital.

Planning as usual

At the beginning of the game my children and I had each 6 cards with touristic places to visit in Amsterdam. So I told them to find the places on the map. Then they had to plan their visit using the canals with a boat. This was more difficult. With some help from me they planned a boat ride by making a stack of 6 cards.

Replanning as usual

In the next step each player placed two bridge blocks, which can be compared with road blocks for cars. Six bridge blocks had a great impact on the planned tours. The ideal routes were blocked or even worse, touristic places were blocked. So the whole process of stacking cards began again. My children did not complain. 

Planning in progress

During the game the bridge blocks can be moved by players. So carefully crafted routes became obsolete. This time I was smart: I adviced my kids to plan a route within a small area of their boats.

Heuristic as a planning

After visiting a touristic place the player gets a yellow card. This can be a nice event like moving bridge blocks or distressing one like going to a boat of another player. My planning advice changed to: go to the touristic place, which can be reached by passing a minimum of bridges.

Planning as a service

So long planning saves time and reduces frustration, it is fine with me.

 

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.

 

An Introduction Mind Map

In 2013 I was asked to be the  track chair of a tutorial of Alan Richardson at TestNet Najaarsevenement. I agreed. This was, how I introduced him.

Remembering after one and half year using a mind map
“Welkom, mijn naam is Han Toan Lim. Dit is de workshop The evil tester’s guide to http proxies. Because the speaker does not understand Dutch, I will continue in English as a courtesy.

One of the trends these days is to stand out in the crowd. Alan Richardson has three websites. On one of the website there is a blog post about zombies. You might be wondering: “What am I doing here?” Please be seated. You are in the right test conference. The websites are sources of knowledge about testing. There are courses about Selenium.

A log in one of the blog posts drew my attention: “Admin woohoo”. In plain English it means, that he could modify anything at the end of the test session. If this would happen in our systems it would be unacceptable for our stakeholders and our customers.

My wife asked me, why I became track chair. On LinkedIn and his blogs I discovered his genuine love for testing and coaching. It is no big surprise, that he won the award for the best tutorial on EuroStar in the capital Amsterdam. Now I leave you in the good hands of Alan Richardson.”

Used mind map
Click on image to get a readable version

Mindful tester - Announcement 15

Breakdown
The first thing I did, was making a mind map about Alan Richardson using a search engine. Then I began making a mind map of the introduction.

Tips

  • Use a mind map tool. Preferably one on your smartphone, which is compatible with a desktop version. Eg Mind Manager and Freemind.
  • Use version control for the mind maps.
  • Let the speaker determine the content of the introduction.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.”

 

Am I lean, doctor?

This summer I went to an extraordinary museum about cars. In the Louwman Museum in The Hague cars, which are landmarks in the history of the automobiles, were shown. The range was from motorized carriages to more familiar cars on the road. The owner had also a special interest in strange cars. I discovered, that electric and hybrid cars were already used at the beginning of the 20th century. Then a piece of furniture drew my attention: the desk of Dr. Toyoda. He worked for Toyota, which has a special approach for Lean Management.

Plans 2.0

For the test project I had two iterations, which took 3 weeks each. My planning for an iteration was simple: two weeks for the functional tests and the last week for the user acceptance test. To be more precisely 40 hours in the last week for 3 end users. I mailed the test plan to everyone and I got polite decline from the end users. In a normal week they had each 8 to 12 hours left in a week. So ideally 36 hours of testing would be filled in. But it was still too short. Overwork was no option. It was time to reschedule the activities.

A few months before I had bought The Toyota Way. It was mentioned several times by experienced Lean practioners, so I bought after browsing it. Heijunka, Level out the work load, came to my mind. If I somehow could move the testing hours of the end users towards the beginning of the test iteration, then the planning problem would be solved. Suppose function A was successfully tested during the Functional Acceptance Test (FAT), why should I wait to let this function tested by the end users? If FAT went well, then the first functions could be tested by the end users in the first week of the iteration. So I made new calculations: in worst case I have 3 end users, who have 8 hours left in 3 weeks, then I come to a total of 72 hours of testing. The new test planning was easily accepted by the end users.

How to convince your manager with a door handle?

“How much time do you need to test this? “ my manager demanded.
“I cannot give an estimation, because I do not know, how it has been corrected.”
Annoyance came in her voice:
“Han Toan, what are you talking about?”
A pressing silence followed.

I looked around for a simple object to make my message clear. A powerful trick I learned from a senior business consultant. My eye fell on the door.
“Suppose, that this door handle had been broken. The supplier fixed it.”
She nodded slightly.
So I continued: “What would you test, if they only replaced the door handle?
The door? The room? The floor? The wing? The building?”
The atmosphere changed in the room: she understood it.

At that moment I did not need to use plan B:
“If the building has been replaced, would you test the structure of the building before testing the door handle?
If the complete wing has been replaced, would you check the water pipes and electrical wiring before testing the door handle?
If the door has been replaced, would you also check the lock?”