Saturday, March 16, 2013

On the Stoplight Heuristic, and 'Mindless' TDD and Test Automation

I read an interesting article this morning about TDD, and one possible outcome where developers are so focused at keeping things 'green' that they may get a bias around their code which drives them to jump to alter the code to make the tests green.  It's an interesting read, and a cautionary warning to developers who may too easily fall into the Test Driven Development groove.  Please read it before making the jump

Monday, July 30, 2012

Tester Reading Challenge: Read Markus Gärtner's ATDD by Example in 15 Days or less!

Are you ready for a Tester Reading Challenge? Read Markus Gärtner's ATDD by Example in 15 Days or less!

Okay, one of my favorite testers, Michael Larsen, AST Board Member, This Week In Software Testing   producer,  a Boy Scoutmaster, and Weekend Testing America's driving member is often found saying, hey make a bold prediction, and then try and meet that prediction, you may just surprise yourself.  Well in the aftermath of CAST 2012 (Conference for Association of Software Testing), I noticed that he and a couple of my favorite testers and MiagiDo members went to by Markus Gärtner's ATDD by Example.  My copy arrived just today, and I've been looking forward to reading it during the next couple of weeks.  I was admiring the cover, and the size of the book is not too hefty, and thought hey, it's a shame I couldn't get Markus's picture with it.  Well actually I did thanks to tweetdeck (see here: As tasteful a picture of a book with my notebook computer as it will come. The thought then occurred to me, this book is 200 hundred pages.

I began to wonder, how long would it take me to read through this, at ten pages a day that would be 20 days.  No, that sounds too easy, and with some free time to read padded in my schedule, I decided to challenge myself, and anyone else so motivated to read Markus's book in 15 days or left.  For myself, I've set myself a challenge of August 12th to finish the reading.  (see:

I have no idea whether that's a reasonable challenge for me given my commute times to and from work at just over an hour and a half both ways.  Nor do i know how much free time I'll have in the next few weeks, yet ten pages a day seems a decent morsel to both read and digest and it's high time I tried something bold.  

Not only that, I'm challenging every tester in the community, who has not already done so to purchase this book, and try to beat, match, or meet the goal of reading this 200 page tome in 15 days or less.  If you take the challenge, I'd love to hear from you, and your impressions of the book as I'm fairly certain it's reading may help many testers look at their craft in new ways.

So, will you take the challenge?

Here's a quick link to the book on Amazon, should your local bookstore not carry it ATDD By Example: A Practical Guide to Acceptance Test-Driven Development

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Are You Prepared for Crisis? Retailers Need a Back-Up Plan for Outages

As I mentioned in my previous post, many around us have been dealing with the effects of the Summer Derecho storm that has impacted much of the eastern US.  Some of us are even effected when our businesses and homes are not located in the path of the storm as its affects no doubt impacted communications for the internet, hosting for many internet sites, and as Matt Heusser has written over at 21st Century It: Cloud Computing: Keeping Things Simple, Except When It Doesn't, an article which discusses how this emergency impacted Amazon's EC2 for several businesses and how some CEOs may react to the outage.

I in turn, posted in the comments there a long comment about how people of non cloud hosted solutions should not feel themselves somehow safer either, but I wanted to also post that comment (edited a bit for grammar) for the rest of my readers to review.  Please take a look and let me know in the comments, what areas you may have seen where companies could do more to avoid catastrophes like this, and in some cases, if it is just an 'Act of God' away from occurring, what can we do to minimize how this affects, not only our own corporate bottom lines, but the citizenry of an ever growing networked society?  Note that I've added a lot to what may be a comment some of you will have already read, but I think it is worth reading a second time.

In an era with ever increasingly severe, and unpredictable weather at times, I find that the story of Amazon's EC2 services outage, (a major outage to be sure) to be just one of many.   Look at the recent storm which has impacted several million citizens in just one night from Indiana, all the way through Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, DC, etc.   So, it isn't just cloud hosted solutions which are vulnerable to outages of this type.  Non-cloud solutions are no safer at times.

A great example are Point of Sale systems, such as those used by so many grocers. retailers, gas stations, convenience stores, restaurants, etc.   When the power is out at many of these locations, the expectation is it will quickly turn back on.  Yet as I a West Virginian look at the news I cannot help but look at major chains, like Krogers, Walmart, Food Lion, Foodland, Dollar General, and others who serve a large area and have now after nearly two plus days of little if any power have had to dispose of millions of dollars, countless tons of perishable products - everything from meats, cheeses, refrigerated juices, prepared meals, milk and deli meats and side items, and also highly time sensitive produce.

It saddens me that in the effort to fine tune profit lines, companies like these which provide vital services are caught just as the local populace without any type of failover plan.  At some stores even things that could be used and necessary in the short term like candles, matches, propane, grills, charcoal, and bottled water remained on shelves because stores had no fail over plan for how to handle inventory when the computers and power were down.   Retailers of all sorts turned people away without cash as credit card and even check verifying machines remained unable to function or connect due to lack of power, or down telephone lines left many desperate consumers stranded without cash.  Even if people had cash though, many stores had insufficient cash reserves, or lack of ability to process and sell merchandise absent the scanner based UPC code look up machines that so many retailers are dependent upon.

What's worse?  (For the corporate bottom line, that is.) People look far outside their normal shopping zones to shop at other stores of the chain, or (perhaps even more likely), customers take their dollars to spend at your competitors, who no doubt raked in cash hand over fist on simple commodities like generators, ice, bottled water, paper plates, cleaning supplies, and canned and other non-perishable items.  Those retailers who had a plan, positioned themselves to not only help the people seeking to find these goods, but likely increased their profit margins in the short term, which no doubt investors of any major retailer will appreciate.

For me at least, this is something that all companies need to address.  Whether they are cloud or not cloud related seems irrelevant at this point.   When I read that retailer X or Y contemplated buying a generator at some point but thought it would be used too infrequently to justify it's cost, I can't help but shake my head as more money is walking out the door in dumpster bins then in their bank accounts. For me, it was sad to see so much, could have been bought, or given away product (if you wanted a public relations effort in this environment), been cooked, and eaten by some who maybe had nothing for that day.  With freak ice storms, out of control wildfires, rain storms, hurricanes and tornadoes, and other such weather phenomena becoming more common in occurrence if I were a CEO I'd be rethinking my fail over plans at the local level when connectivity and power goes down.

Unfortunately, for those of us still stuck in this state of emergency, we are forced to pick up the pieces and begin the clean up as many more tons of lost food, and damaged homes and businesses will have to be performed before we can all get back to a state of normalcy.  So if you happen to live in one of these areas, pay attention to your normal sanitation schedule, and watch for instructions on local news or radio broadcasts on how to properly dispose of the spoilage so as not to attract rodents, and further complicate an already abysmal situation for many of us.

After the July 2012 Derecho Storm: A Call for Service to all

Hello, again, I know it's been a while since I last picked up the blogger's pen.  While the initial cause of my absence was do to many a real life concern that had taken most of my attention, most recently I have accepted a job with Rackspace in Blacksburg, VA starting soon.  I can't wait to start my endeavors there, learning new stacks, new technology, and helping test the things they have coming down the pipe.  I may post more about this transition at some time, but for now I'm playing the blogging idea by ear.

However, before I put the pen down again for a bit as I transition to something new, I have one more thing I feel the urge to write about.  For those not aware, this past Friday, the 29th of June, 2012, the eastern US was hit by a massive fast moving derecho storm which caused destruction on a vast scale and scope.  A state of a emergency was declared in many states, including my home in West Virginia as high winds knocked down power transmission lines, felled trees and limbs, hindered communications, affected water supplies, and a host of other acts of destruction which are still impacting these areas.  My home in Summers County, West Virginia was in an area heavily impacted by this storm, and we went nearly 72 hours without electricity, internet, television, or other modern conveniences like air conditioning.  What's more many of my neighbors lost several hundred pounds of stored food ranging from meats to produce as the thermometer climbed to near 100 Fahrenheit on some days, with brief showers providing only a small respite.

As work crews, continue into their fourth or fifth day of activities in areas where repair times for an entire county may be measured in days or weeks instead of hours, it is easy for many to get hot under the collar, angry at the slow turn around times, gas shortages in some places, hard to find ice or bottled water, so I ask that everyone in these affected areas look to your neighbors.  Help each other, and try to be smart with any purchases you make during this crisis.   This storm is at the least a storm of the decade in terms of damage, but may approach century levels when you consider the amount of Fuel, Food, and equipment deployed in this massive repair effort.   So look to your fellow man or woman, and if it is in your ability to help out even in a small way, please do so.

I have a post I'm working on to illustrate one major testing issue that came to my awareness this past weekend, but I want to take time to revise it a bit before posting it.  So to those who cannot yet read this due to power outages, fear not, help is coming.  For those in unaffected areas, consider donating to your local food banks, and the families of those brave workers who are travelling far from home to help those who are in need.    A donation of food may be very helpful for a food bank or pantry already tapped and stretched to the limit as people in surrounding states tax a system that is already struggling to provide for so many unemployed families.  I encourage you to consider donating a couple canned goods or non perishable items (as defined by your local pantry) in support of relief efforts, not just in these affected areas, but in your home towns and counties, as well as for the areas even now affected by the wild fires in Colorado.

For those who have already given of their time and resources, I want to thank you for your help and offering, those of us who have experienced this crisis may never be able to thank you personally for your hard, tireless, and perhaps round the clock work to help those of us whom you may never even see face to face.  Thank you all.

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.