Saturday, July 09, 2016

Testers are human ... so are Programmers

One important aspect of we humans as testers or programmers is how our day-today happenings impact our work at office. While this is not different for we software folks as opposed to any other profession that requires "presence of mind" - being occupied with thoughts about past or future can lead "knowledge workers" to make mistakes and/or forget things.

An incident that occurred this evening made me realize how important is for testers to be "present" while testing so that do not miss things and make mistakes. I went for a shopping mall with my family nearby. While entering I had an argument with a fellow who while reversing the car in parking happened to hit my car. While that incident fresh in my mind - I passed parking ticket counter, collected the ticket (while my mind of full of the car incident little while ago) and gave it to my wife. I generally has a designated place in the car where I keep all these tickets. This time my wife kept the ticket in a place that I generally cannot reach from driver's seat. I did not mindfully record nor my wife remembered clearly where she kept the ticket. Few hours passed by. While returning, my wife and kids went a nearby place and asked me to get the car and pick them up,  While walking back to parking lot - I was confused about where was parking ticket - thought of parking ticket was all over mind. When I reached car, I searched my usual places, did not find the ticket. I panicked on the prospect of paying almost a day's parking fee instead of few hours. I did few more rounds of check around drivers seat, usual places that I keep ticket and pillion seat - did not find the ticket. Finally called wife to check if ticket is with them. I was told that ticket should be in car. I finally gave up and paid the full day fare and came out of the parking.  When my wife comes in the car, she reaches out to glow box at pillion eat and hands over the ticket to me.

Why it did not occur to me check in glow box ? Why my blocked mind did not contemplate on various possibilities and locations for the ticket after all car is not such a big place? I guess two things happened. One - due to argument with other driver at the mall entrance filled my mind so that I did not mindfully register where my wife kept the ticket and second I gave up easily before exploring my options.

What did I learn from this incident that I can apply testing?

Good testing is about having wide range of testing ideas to cover mistakes that other folks do while constructing software. Programmers, Business analysts and others can make mistakes like I did. I urge testers to be mindful while testing, designing test cases and watch out for mistakes/misses that might lead to bugs. Every now and then put your mental abilities about test idea generation to test and develop the skill to look for misses/mistakes. Practice mindfulness and be vigilant at all times. This helps in your personal and life outside office as well - you, yourself are least likely to make mistakes.
This will save time, money, rework and will give you peaceful life. What more - you can do the same for others.

Role of human emotions in software development and testing has been the point of discussions at many testers meets and conferences. I guess the larger software community needs to acknowledge this and develop measures to be mindful.

I suggest mindful meditation and concentration exercises to testers having high level of mental activity (more often than not - nose) - like me. Being mindful and vigilant at all times - seems to be now a skill and capability for testers.