Saturday, December 17, 2011

Some amazing blog articles ...

Was it only yesterday I said I was aiming to be quiet?

I did a review of the articles I've read in the last couple of weeks - most are favourited on Twitter (so easy to look back).

Interestingly, reading isn't a silent activity.  And by that I don't mean I mumble when I read.  If you come across good ideas they challenge you, and you also want to champion.  And so here are the articles which most have made me think this last month ...

The Role of Testing

Let's start with Scott Barbers article about 10 things about testing which should die.  If there is just one recommendation of mine you should read, it's this one.  I don't agree with a few of them, but they are really some great points there for you to review as a tester.

The big challenge there is really, stop behaving like a spoiled child.  The idea that some testers relish their ability to disrupt delivery as a kind of power trip.  This was echoed in another article by Eliza F, Oi you tester, where she points out "being a mean tester doesn't make you a clever tester".

It's perhaps right, something about testing we need to challenge, the trait inside us to look at a train wreck and go "if only they'd listened to us".  Rob Lambert also touched on this on the review of a conference, where there was a talk about "them and us" referring to "developers and testers".

I heartily agree, developers and testers need to have a working relationship.  Although my friend Russell went too far when he ended up marrying his tester, Maxine.  Like I've said many times, developers are like strikers in soccer, and testers are goalkeepers.  We do different things, but we're part of the same team, and we need to understand the ways we support each other.

In that vein then, I found the following presentation by David Evans about What testers and developers can learn from each other fascinating.

Talking about developers

If I have a second "must-read" recommendation it's the following article about developer habits.  We all know the stereotype of developers working until late.  Why programmers work at night is just a piece of absolute brilliance.

It explores why when dealing with something complex like programming, your mind needs to focus for long periods of time.  It's not something which can be stop-started by interruptions of meetings etc.  As an ex-developer I agree, when code has clicked in your head, you just can't get it written fast enough, and you need to be left to get it out of your head.  It's a fragile thing and interruptions disrupt it.

What I'd pick up from this is in an ideal world you'd try and have any meetings with developers within the first two hours of the day, and try and leave them to get on with it the rest of the day.  Fits in with the Agile idea of stand up meetings at the start of day.  Pester them and they're less productive.

I will give this to my project managers to have a read on Monday.

Bringing fun right back

Oliver Erlewin's article on Fun, IT and quality was interesting to read.  Are we losing sight of the fact testing should be fun, we should feel engaged rather than down-trod and under pressure?  I know I'm getting guilty of that.

Likewise I loved Brent M Jensen's discussion about how he socialised what testing was doing in his workplace in Speed date your way to better software.  These seem like quirky and silly exercises, but bringing fun into the workplace is about getting testers more engaged on what they're doing rather than doing the "test zombie" workforce who might as well be test automation machines, never varying what they test, never exploring.

Building on from that Olaf Lewitz discussed What makes a good tester, championing problem finders and problem solvers.  We're perhaps more famous as testers for the former over the latter.

And finally

Rosie Sherrie wrote a brief article on The tester and the marketeer.  I am working on more and more projects which are led by marketing, and I do hopes she revisits and expands this.

And finally - just for kicks.  We all know our favourite websites.  Everyone moans every time Facebook or Twitter changes or evolves.  This article reminds us what they looked like when they first launched.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Shhh - the sound of learning ...

I'm going to attempt to be very quiet this month, but I'm going to tell you why ...

Writing this blog is a great experience, and it really helps me in my work.  However as part of an experiment, I'm aiming this month to divert my energies from writing to reading.

Why?  Well just as a way of exposing myself to other testers ideas.

I'd been thinking about this anyway - but then was inspired by Lisa Crispin's article on Professional Growth in the December edition of Teatime With Testers (well there's also an article there by yours truly).

In it she talks of the importance to find time each week for some professional growth.  This is kind of true.  Most of what I've learned is self-taught through home study.

These days though I don't have the time to work through text books like I used to.  I might tackle an area or a chapter.

I find Twitter really useful, and keep a professional Twitter account.  I have a 25 minute commute to work via train, and use it to follow several testers around the world.  I find better than test books is reading blog articles.  They expose you to a small area, with a couple of ideas, and a little bit of opinion. But it's easily digestible.  And they often provoke ideas or reactions.

I'm also a big believer that the best way to learn about testing is to not just learn about testing.  Most of this blog is about looking at things like sport or films or Star Wars (not that Star Wars isn't a film) and looking for the parallels and the parables which we can bring back to our professional life and be better at our job.  Learn but in a fun way that it doesn't feel like learning.

Okay - so here are some great places to start.  There are a few online testers magazines out there, which contain an absolute rogue's gallery (but in a good way) of articles,

Testing Planet (which I sometimes edit articles for, but ironically never been published in) ...

Tea Time With Testers

Testing Circus (which I've had the Agile Haka published in)

I'll try and return at some point and list some of the better articles I've experienced ...