Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Elevator Optimization Challenge: Part 2

Earlier I posted an Elevator Optimization Challenge and asked for feed back on what kinds of questions you might need to ask in order to begin suggesting a course of action to make the elevator's usage more efficient.

If however you missed it, please return to Elevator Optimization Challenge for an overview.

Once you've familiarized yourself, you can continue after the jump.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Elevator Optimization Challenge

In my life I've lived, worked, and visited many buildings with elevators.  Some had a single elevator and a single digit number of floors.  Some had multiple public, private, or service related elevators, twenty or more floors.  Some count starting at Ground or 1 (First Floor), some have basements, sub basements, garages, or other floors outside the normal first floor up to the top floor.  I once lived in a dormitory that had a ground and zero floor, consider that for possible context.

Much has been written about elevator optimization, and I feel just as I would for many other problems that optimizing the elevator's function might not only depend on the context of the tenants and users of the building's elevator.  The context could even change as tenants moved in and out of the building not just through the day, but throughout the life time of the building.

So the thought occurred to me, what if a tester were approached to work for an elevator tuning company to help optimize the flow of traffic in the elevators.  What common questions would need to be asked to figure out the building's context?  So here's the challenge.  Below I am presenting four different building possibilities. I'm less concerned about the optimization of each building in the future but how to currently maximize its efficiency.   So here are the Buildings:

Building 1:
Office Building A:
Floors: 5 Numbered 1 - 5
Entry/Exit: Floor 1
Elevators: 2: 1 Public
Floor 1: 2, Law Office, CPA's office
Floor 2: File Storage, Break Room, Copy Center
Floor 3: Conference Room, Reception area, Storage
Floor: 4: Software Company: Management, Developer Offices
Floor: 5: Training Room, Support Desk Cubes

Building 2:
Apartment Complex
Floors: 12 Numbered B, G, 0-9
Entry/Exit: Floors B and G
Elevators: 2 Public Single controller
Floor B: Small Commerce, Post Office, Book Store, Weight Room
Floor G: Managers Office, Cafe, Storage
Floors 0-9: Tenants about 25 apartments per floor (for the purpose of the exercise assume an assortment of, 2, 3, Bedroom furnishings, with kitchen, living room, and a single bathroom (not shared)

Building 3:
Floors: 15 Numbered, B, G1, G2, 1-13
Entry/Exit: B, G1, G2, 1
Elevators: 8 4 Public 4 Service/Maintenance   (2 separate banks on separate controllers)
B: Basement/Storage, limited diagnostic laboratories
G1: Garage First Floor entrance/exit, Walk in Clinic
G2: Garage Second Floor, Reception area, and Shop, Cafeteria.
Floors 1-13 Various layouts for residents, surgery, etc Exact arrangement doesn't matter
Visiting Hours are typically from 8-11 AM, and from 3-830 PM for the hospital

Building 4
Small Office Building
Floors: 5 Numbered 1-5
Entry/Exit: 1, 2, 3
Elevators: 2, separate banks and controllers
Floors 1 and 2 are parking garages, where Floor 1 is the least used of the two.
Floors 3-5 are office spaces, most of the traffic is to floors 4 and 5 though

So given these buildings, what questions would you first need to answer before you could begin to recommend suggestions for optimization?  I know I have a few in mind myself, but I'll leave this post be for now, and then maybe add a continuation post later on.  What questions would you ask to accomplish the optimization?

Note: This is probably the first time I've proposed an idea for a Test Challenge, so if its formulation or presentation seem off, or missing something, please feel free to let me know.  You can drop me an email if you'd rather not post in the comments.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is the Context Driven School of Testing - Dead?

Earlier this week, Scott Barber pointed out an update to the Context-Driven-Testing page which has served as a starting point for people who want to learn about Context Driven Testing. In this post Kem Caner, one of the 'big four' of the Context Driven School gives an impression that the idea of Context Driven Testing being a 'School' has perhaps reached a point where it no longer exists.  He goes on to cite differences in vision among the founders of the movement, and I'll let you read his post above to draw your own conclusions.  However, when I was asked this question, I felt that I didn't agree.   I've seen places where friends or close colleagues go their separate ways because of a polarizing my way or the high way sort of mentality.  I'm not sure that's quite what Kem is referring too.

I debated whether to post my response or thoughts to this here at all as no doubt everyone involved or outside this movement will have their own opinions and beliefs.   I decided that for posterity's sake that I would indeed.  I have discussed this a bit with some fellow testers in the MiagiDo group, and Michael Larsen another MiagiDo member recently made a post giving his view on things (In Support of Context Driven Testing).  It's worth a read, and his thoughts were a bit similar but also slightly different from my own initial response to this question which I gave a bit earlier.  What follows was my initial response to this question of whether Context Driven School of Testing is Dead as it was originally shared with others in MiagiDo.  The only changes are the addition of Italics, and  a few grammatical improvements.
I'll have to quote Monty Python on this one. 
"I'm not dead yet!" 
I read Scott Barber's post, and I read the information there.  I really chaffe a bit and comparing this to the polarization of a few figure heads within the American republican party.  Kaner mentions Gingrich, who no doubt is a polarizing figure. If you're an American, you likely either like him, or you hate him, there probably isn't  a middle ground for most Americans.  However, I think perhaps the 4 Founders have gotten a bit too caught up in their own mystique. 
I see the same thing within our American political discourse.  People at the so called top seem so polarizing, and the media tries to frame discussions a certain way, and yet most of us at the bottom, outside that top so called 'chosen' echelon are not polarizing, we are not so closed minded or resistant to having honest discussions about things.   
I think this is true also for the Context-Driven Community, whether we call it a School or not, to me is irrelevant.   The point is we are making a fundamental distinction in where our thinking begins.  I see this same problem in the US Education system.  A lot of people expect school, especially college to prepare them for everything they need to succeed in a career.  The reality is quite opposite, it's a base, a starting point.  If you get that strong base, I believe a strong education helps you succeed no matter what you apply your life too.  I feel the same here with Context-Driven School of testing. 
Listen, so the four founders of the movement disagree.  There are four gospels in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, (I use this as an example), and all four a bit different, varied, and share some similarities too.   Those guys were alive at the time right?  Yet they were not the same as each other, they had differences and disagreements no doubt. So let's be clear the entire point of our School (in my estimation) is to not have Drone or Fake testing right?  I believe the point, as I understand it, is to encourage people to use and develop their critical thinking skills, and to not be satisfied with testing that feels lacking in covering the real risks of a project. 
Let's look at this another way.  James Bach gave a talk (I believe this was at Oredev, see James videos posted at his site at www.satisfice.org if interested) about Renaissance thinking a few years ago.  He describes what was fundamentally different about it, and how it wasn't just what was happening In Italy, or Scotland, or wherever else, that there were little movements pretty much elsewhere.  Think about the artists themselves, they all approached art a bit differently, yet they don't look like carbon copies even if they've learned some of the same skills and techniques.  This is no different than how we each approach testing in the Context Driven School of testing.  We are still different then what has come before.  We are still different than the more agile-centered testers. 
We cannot deny who we are.  We've been enlightened, we've grown as a community, a school.  It would be impossible for us to try to put the genie back in the bottle now.  What's done is done, the shot has been fired and heard around the world now.  The question is, in any revolution, what will each of us do because of it.

That's my feelings on it anyways.
Hope that wasn't too preachy,
-Tim Western

So in conclusion, while there may clearly be differences between the founders of the Context Driven moment, its principals and the School of thinking that it began, I must stand up and say, hey I'm still Context Driven, I still belong to that School of testing.   Now I do think there is a risk here.  There's a risk in perhaps holding too close to the fundamentals of the school.  We need to be aware of other ways of doing things, even if we may find that our way is better.  As an engineer, a tester, or a scientist I would be looking for ways to prove my own methods wrong, just as so many other scientists have done for centuries.  Yet for now, as a Dynamic and not a Static individual, my understanding of testing, and Context Driven Testing will only grow from here out.  It isn't a one time thing to learn, but a thing I will continue to learn and grow and mature as a tester as I put the ideas I've encountered into practice, as I test them, and work through the problems I face professionally.

So what about you?  What do you think is the Context Driven School of Testing really dead?

Note:  Since I set this post up for posting Scott Barber has added a part II on his thinking With the Context-Driven School "closed" what's next? He brings up a very good point about the need for testers to focus on the value they need to provide within their contexts, which I can totally agree with as I am driven to do whatever I can to provide value on a project.

Also I will note that James Bach has also put up a response (which I just now read) If you want to know James Bach's side, I suggest you read Context Driven Testing at a Crossroads.


Since posting this, I've found Markus Gärtner blog about this at Lessons Learned from Context-driven testing  And note that Cem Kaner has given his comments on this as well.  It's definitely worth a read.

Additionally, Cem Kaner has added another response (blog) entry at http://context-driven-testing.com/?p=23 that I encourage everyone to read.   This certainly sheds some light on some of the issues that Cem is concerned about, and feels a bit clearer to me about what the issue as he saw it is.