July 30, 2010

How To Reproduce Bugs

Find an easy way to reproduce your bugs before you report them.

My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

July 29, 2010

Memorable Summer Jobs

I was listening to NPR's All Things Considered on the way home from work last evening.  They've been running a series called "Summer Jobs", and they have had some really unusual ones.  So I thought I'd share one of my summer jobs, too.

When I was 15, I started working for one of the larger grocery store chains in New England.  I remember that I got $1.19 per hour.  At the time, that was pretty good pay for a part-time job, more than the minimum wage.

During the school year, I only worked a few hours each week.  But during the summers, I worked all the hours they would give me.  Most summers, that ended up being more than 40 hours a week - woohoo, overtime!

In the beginning, I was in the General Department.  That meant that we did whatever needed to be done that nobody else wanted to do.  And for much of the summer, the General Department was only me.

In the morning, before the store opened, I vacuumed the parking lot.  Then I had a to-do list that kept me busy the rest of the day.

One time, I spent weeks up on the roof of the store, scraping and repainting all the air-conditioning units.  While there was a bit of a breeze up there on the roof, it was quite hot and of course no shade.  I learned that this was one way to get a really nice tan.  And I learned that I should use sun screen.

Another time, I was asked to go in on a Sunday, and clean out the grease traps in the meat room.  I didn't know why they wanted it done on Sunday, but I was told to "wear old clothes".  I found out that they wanted this task performed on a day when the store was closed because of the incredible stench that rose up as soon as I opened the cover of the traps.  While I was trying hard to keep my breakfast in my stomach, I had to scoop out the grease, carry it out behind the store, and bury it.  Not the most fun I've had on a weekend.  I learned to work fast and keep my mouth shut.

I cleaned and painted the employee restrooms.  I learned that while I knew from personal experience how foul the Men's Room was, I had never quite imagined how much worse the Women's Room could be.

One of my occasional to-do's was "rounding up the stray grocery carts".   Apparently, lots of local people liked to take a grocery cart home with them.  In contrast, none of them liked to return the cart.  So, I was sent out - in my black 1964 VW Beetle - to drive around, find them and bring them back to the store one by one.  Now, Beetles didn't really have lots of cargo room inside, so I had to remove the passenger seat first.  Then I grabbed a meat hook and some rope and drove off (did I mention that often these carts were dumped in local ponds?)  Once I rounded up enough carts, I spent the rest of the day pounding them back into shape with a sledgehammer, and touching up the rust spots with silver paint.  I learned to return things when done with them.

At one time, stores like this had their own incinerators inside the back room, in which they burned much of their paper, cardboard and wood trash, rather than having it trucked away.  It's not permitted any more, but at the time it was a way to save money.  And all that burning produced a lot of soot, ash, and other less-identifiable residue inside the incinerator.  So periodically, the General Department (me, once) had the pleasure of shutting it down, going inside, and scraping the walls.   I learned what hell must look like, on a day when it's "closed for maintenance".

I liked staying busy, so I appreciated the hours.  In later years, I was "promoted" from the General Department to the Cash Department, and eventually to the Grocery Department, but I still chipped in to help elsewhere on occasion.  And because the pay was good, I stayed on through college - for a while I worked both in a store and in their Corporate Office's IT Department part-time (as a COBOL programmer), while going to school full time.

I learned a lot those summers.  Mostly I learned that I wanted an office job!

My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://strazzere.blogspot.com/.

July 26, 2010

Strange New Planet Found

The good folks at The Software Testing Club (http://www.softwaretestingclub.com/) have reincarnated the former Software Testing Club Magazine.

This time, it has a new name: "The Testing Planet", and a new format: it's more like a newspaper, although it still retains lots of the cutesy graphics that characterized the prior incarnation.

Inside The Testing Planet, you can find some very interesting articles by well-known testing writers, consultants, bloggers and luminaries like:
  • Lisa Crispin
  • Anne-Marie Charrett
  • Parimala Shankaraiah
  • Selena Delesie
  • Scott Barber
  • and others
You can also find links to blog articles (no, none of mine this time), song lyrics, cartoons, games, chat transcripts, and tweets, plus a few ads.

The initial distribution was via print, but now it's available for free download as a PDF at http://blog.softwaretestingclub.com/2010/07/the-testing-planet-has-landed/.

If you have a few minutes, check it out, and let me know what you think.  Excellent?  Useful?  Too cute for its own good?  Would you pay for a printed copy?

My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.

July 21, 2010

Are You Driven?

Over the years, I've seen many cases where the suffix "-driven testing" is used to make an approach, technique or tool seem more interesting or important.

Here's a collection of such terms:
  • Agent-driven testing
  • Automated acceptance-driven testing
  • Behavior-Driven Testing
  • Bug-driven testing
  • Business-driven testing
  • Capability-driven Testing
  • Checklist-driven testing
  • Code-driven testing
  • Community-driven testing
  • Condition-driven testing
  • Context-driven testing
  • Container-driven testing
  • Contract-driven testing
  • Coverage-driven testing
  • Customer-driven testing
  • Data-driven testing
  • Database-driven testing
  • Deadline-driven testing
  • Defect-driven testing
  • Demand-driven testing
  • Design-driven testing
  • Economics-driven testing
  • End user-driven testing
  • Event-driven testing
  • Example-driven testing
  • Excel data-driven testing
  • Experience-driven testing
  • Failure-driven testing
  • Feature-driven testing copyrightjoestrazzere
  • Framework-driven testing
  • Goal-driven testing
  • GUI-driven testing
  • Input/output driven testing
  • Keyword-driven testing
  • Logic-driven testing
  • Menu-driven testing
  • Metrics-driven testing
  • Model-driven testing
  • Modular-driven testing
  • Modularity-driven testing
  • Object-driven Testing
  • Plan-driven Testing
  • Phase-driven testing
  • Priority-driven testing
  • Purpose-driven testing
  • Requirements-driven testing
  • Result-driven testing
  • Risk-driven testing
  • Scenario-driven testing
  • Script-driven testing
  • Specification-driven testing
  • Spreadsheet-driven testing
  • Statistics-driven testing
  • Story-driven testing
  • Structure-driven testing
  • Stupidity-driven testing (I think it was a joke...)
  • Table-driven testing
  • Test-driven testing (I think it was a typo, but perhaps not...)
  • Type-driven testing
  • Use case-driven testing
  • User-driven testing
  • Vulnerability-driven testing

I'm sure these terms are meaningful to some people, in some contexts.  But they mostly just make me laugh.  In many cases I think they result in little more than a difference without a distinction.

Know of any others you'd like to add to the list?

My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.

July 12, 2010

Go West, Young Man!

One year ago this week, my younger son had just graduated from college and landed his first full-time job.  He was a Software Engineer, developing systems marketed to travel agencies for a small division of a large global company.  It was a great first job.  He worked hard, and learned a lot.

Just one year later, he accepted a new position!  He's now a Software Engineer at a startup in California.  They work in the mobile application space, are a very young company, and are based in San Francisco.

My son sold off his car, and most of his larger possessions, then shipped out the rest.  We dropped him off at the airport last week, and now he's moved.  It seems so quick...

He sent back a few emails, so we know he's enjoying himself so far.  He's found some interesting places to eat, has already connected with the volleyball community in his area, likes his work environment, and has a nice apartment.  Life is good.

While we are sad that we won't see him as often, we know that this was an opportunity that he just couldn't refuse.  It's right up his alley, doing the kind of work that he loves doing.  And it's in a great part of the country.

My wife and I are very, very proud.  We'll miss him, and we look forward to his visit back home for the holidays.

My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.

July 2, 2010

Perhaps They Should Have Tested More - Apple iPhone 4

Recently, Apple iPhone 4 users have been complaining about poor reception when the phone was held certain ways. 

Without debating if the diminished reception is real or not, Apple has now figured out that the algorithm for calculating the number of bars to display has been wrong for a long time!
  • Many users are seeing full bars in weak signal areas
  • Bars don't change at all between good and moderate signal
  • Formula for the way signal bars are displayed is "totally wrong" 
  • Bars incorrect in every iPhone from the first-generation model to the latest
  • Apple is "stunned"
  • Apple is making bars 1, 2 and 3 taller, so they will be "easier to see"

From Apple's site:
Dear iPhone 4 Users,
The iPhone 4 has been the most successful product launch in Apple’s history. It has been judged by reviewers around the world to be the best smartphone ever, and users have told us that they love it. So we were surprised when we read reports of reception problems, and we immediately began investigating them. Here is what we have learned.
To start with, gripping almost any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception by 1 or more bars. This is true of iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, as well as many Droid, Nokia and RIM phones. But some users have reported that iPhone 4 can drop 4 or 5 bars when tightly held in a way which covers the black strip in the lower left corner of the metal band. This is a far bigger drop than normal, and as a result some have accused the iPhone 4 of having a faulty antenna design.
At the same time, we continue to read articles and receive hundreds of emails from users saying that iPhone 4 reception is better than the iPhone 3GS. They are delighted. This matches our own experience and testing. What can explain all of this?
We have discovered the cause of this dramatic drop in bars, and it is both simple and surprising.
Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength. For example, we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars. Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because we are erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.
To fix this, we are adopting AT&T’s recently recommended formula for calculating how many bars to display for a given signal strength. The real signal strength remains the same, but the iPhone’s bars will report it far more accurately, providing users a much better indication of the reception they will get in a given area. We are also making bars 1, 2 and 3 a bit taller so they will be easier to see.
We will issue a free software update within a few weeks that incorporates the corrected formula. Since this mistake has been present since the original iPhone, this software update will also be available for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G.
We have gone back to our labs and retested everything, and the results are the same— the iPhone 4’s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped. For the vast majority of users who have not been troubled by this issue, this software update will only make your bars more accurate. For those who have had concerns, we apologize for any anxiety we may have caused.
As a reminder, if you are not fully satisfied, you can return your undamaged iPhone to any Apple Retail Store or the online Apple Store within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.
We hope you love the iPhone 4 as much as we do.
Thank you for your patience and support.

I'm not sure how this will actually solve any reception problems.  And I'm not sure what increasing the height of bars 1, 2, and 3 is supposed to accomplish (were these bars hard to see before?).

Perhaps Apple should have like, totally tested more?  Hello?  Hello?  Can you hear me now?

See also:

My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.