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Testing and Quality Meets the Terminator

I gave a keynote speech at Austria's Software Quality Days 2015 conference, and you can catch the video on our YouTube channel now. This talk isn't going to give you urgently-needed ideas you can use today, but it does offer a chance to reflect on where technology is taking us and what it means for testing and quality in the future.

In this "pop culture meets software engineering trends" talk, I discuss the broader implications of the IoT, including refrigerators, autonomous cars, and more. How does human thinking about technology, expressed in myths, art, and movies, inform our thinking about IoT and where technology is going? Was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Phillip Dick's answer to Isaac Asimov's I, Robot series, and whose vision is closer to where we're going? What are the testing and quality implications of software everywhere, connectivity always, and the "if we can dream it we can build it" world that we now live in?

Watch this webinar for a thought-provoking talk. It won't make you more efficient in your job today, but it just might help you think about where your job will be in five years.

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If No One Sees Them, Maybe They're Not There?

Here's a story from a client's Test Manager. Maybe you can relate?

"A program manager stopped me in the hall and said: 'Tell your testers they're finding too many defects.'  My response: 'I think you're talking to the wrong person. The development manager's office is down the hall on the right.' It took him a minute, but he got my point."

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Q: How Would You Test This Clock? A: White-box, Black-box, or Both?

A lot of tester interviews start with questions like, “So, how would you test this pen?” Really great, if you happen to be in the pen-making business and rely on inspector-based quality control rather than modern manufacturing methods. Really silly if you are testing modern software and systems.

However, here’s a realistic alternative, one that actually explores something interesting with testers and how they approach testing.

Check out this video of this elaborate clock in Prague. Cool, huh? Well, imagine you had to test this clock.

Notice, if you were doing black-box testing, you wouldn't care if the logic was based on software or was entirely mechanical. The expected behavior is the same. However, what if you were doing white-box testing? Code and servo-motors work in an entirely different matter than gears and springs.  A good black-box testing can explain how to test the clock’s behaviors. Tester with good black-box and white-box abilities can not only explain how to test the clock’s behaviors, but can also explain how testing a mechanical clock like this one would differ from testing an electronic version of the same abilities.

Feel free to use this video and this mental exercise to interview testers, if you’d like. You’re welcome!

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Better Testing on Outsourced Projects

Are you testing on outsourced projects? Hey, who isn't! Whether the development is outsourced, the testing is outsourced, or both are outsourced to some extent, outsourcing brings a lot of for testing. Learn how to master those challenges.  In this classic webinar, part 1 and part 2, I'll explain how to achieve your testing objectives on outsource projects. If you need more help improving your outsourced testing efforts, from writing contract clauses that actually hold vendors accountable for performance to instituting skills-growth programs that cover your in-house and outsourced teams, contact us for a proposal.

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Corporate Values Are What Your Company Does When You Don't Think Social Media's Watching

An old saying goes, "Character is what you do when no one is watching." At the corporate level, the modern equivalent would be that corporate values are what you do when social media is not watching. The e-mail excerpt above is something I received just today from United. Unless you are living under a rock, you know the infamous incident in question happened quite a while ago, at least as time is measured on the Internet.

Before the video went truly viral and before United realized how much they had damaged their reputation--i.e., before they realized that social media was watching--the United CEO is reported to have sent an internal e-mail to United employees saying that the crew who asked the police to drag Mr. Dao from the plane had actually done nothing wrong and were just following policy.

This kind of behavior isn't just a problem with United. Uber has suffered similar reputational damage--repeatedly, in fact, starting with the "rides of glory" incident--when stories of boorish, sexist, sophomoric, and downright creepy behaviors hit social media.

The important take-away for executives, directors, managers, and even employees is simple: Corporate values are what you do when you think social media isn't watching. If that doesn't motivate you enough, if you've been paying any attention at all, realize that social media is always watching, though sometimes it takes a while to get from the incident itself to the point of maximal reputational immolation.

This is why RBCS has always operated with one very simple company value: we only have happy customers. We go above and beyond for every single one of our customers, from someone ordering a $50 book on our website to a company buying $500,000 in consulting services from us. If you're an RBCS customer and you're not happy with us, we're not happy, and we won't rest until you are happy. I invite the rest of the corporate world to shamelessly copy our corporate value. I certainly look forward to flying on the first airline that does.

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Testers, Don't Master the Irrelevant

There is no award for wasting people's time with irrelevant information

It's fair to say that the more we test, the more we learn, but testing needs to focus on learning (and telling people about) the important aspects of the system.  Not all questions deserve answers.

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Testing: A Hidden Treasure

Do you know what your testing is worth? Most test professionals don't know, but testing is actually a vast hidden treasure in many organizations. Learn how to measure the value of your testing with this classic webinar. Part 1 consists mostly of my presentation, while part 2 is my Q&A with the 100+ people who attended the live webinar. Give a listen, and then let us know if you want help quantifying your testing's value.

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Beware of Geeks Bearing Risks

Risk-based testing is a proven best practice, well established in the ISTQB program and beyond.  Of course, it only works when you get the whole team involved, business stakeholders, technical stakeholders, testers, and beyond. However, when these folks come to geek out on quality risk analysis, are they always rational? In this classic short video, Rex discusses why people aren't always rational about risk, and gives you a pointer to more resources on risk irrationality. Don't crap out. Listen now. Enjoy!

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Software Testing Made Really Simple

In this classic video, RBCS owners Rex Black and Laurel Becker explain software testing in general, and what RBCS does in particular, to elementary students. Hey, if it was simple enough for them to understand, maybe these ideas will help you explain testing to busy stakeholders on your projects.  Enjoy!

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Start Your May in a Bug-squashing Way

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I've got two summits and a black-box bug-a-thon scheduled for the start of May. Here are the details:

What's a bug-a-thon, you ask? Well, check out this video, and then sign up. You will go away a changed person, at least in the way you do black-box testing!

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