Five for Friday – January 12, 2018

  • I’m finally reading Pat Lencioni’s latest book on Ideal Teams. I’m a huge fan of Pat Lencioni’s business novels, and enjoying this one just as much as the others.
  • You’ve probably already seen this article on testing microservices. I shared it with my team this week, and think it’s a good read.
  • All About Lean has an article on The Toyota Employee Evaluation System. Some good stuff there, and some stuff to ignore. As an aside, I so do not miss the msft annual review process.
  • A few months ago, I mentioned the neuroma in my left foot. To give my foot an even better chance of lasting longer running distances, I recently switched to Altra running shoes. Altra’s have two unique features: a wide toe box (to give my toes more room to spread out and not pinch the nerve; and a “zero drop” – meaning that the heel and toe are at the same level. So far, they’ve been fantastic.
  • The 2018 State of Testing survey is out. While I’m not often a fan of these surveys (too much room for bias in the interpretation for me), this one is the best one, and the only one I take and read about. If you haven’t filled it out already, go ahead and give it a shot.

Five for Friday – January 5, 2018

I’ve missed doing these, but glad to get started again.

  • “The world doesn’t reward perfection. It rewards productivity.” – 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman
  • I’ve been working my way through Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris and finding a lot of ideas and a lot of inspiration.
  • While on the subject of Tim, I also recommend his recent podcast where he “interviews” Terry Crews (I use quotes because Terry really interviews himself).
  • Speaking of books, I just bought the Humble Bundle Python pack – if you’re not aware of Humble Bundle, they sell packages of books, games, comics and more on a scaled pay-what-you-will basis…with proceeds going to charity. I bought their Data Science bundle a few months back as well.
  • Camille Fournier (author of The Manager’s Path) recently posted about her (self) Yearly Review. I value (and use) self-reflection a lot, but have never applied it on a full year. I’m working through the list myself and finding it valuable.


The angryweasel guide to safe backups

Warning – not software quality related, but perhaps even more important information follows.

I am diligent about backups (and paranoid about losing files)…and frugal, so dumping my backup strategy here for those who may be like minded.

First thing to be paranoid about is work in progress. If it’s code or text based, put it in github and push often. For docs, drawings, and other files, put them in google drive, drop box, or similar. Several times in the past few years I’ve had Windows problems that just couldn’t be solved (and this was working at Microsoft), so having backups in onedrive (and google drive today) make it brain-dead easy to pave a machine and pick up where I left off as quickly as possible. Of course, the same method makes it just as easy to recover from damaged hardware, theft, or malware. I attempt to organize my work, so that a sudden and complete wipe of any of my computers will leave me with little else to do other than re-install the OS and apps (and the latter can also be easily automated).

At home, the whole family backs up files on our Synology server. The server has four 3-terabyte drives striped RAID 5 for (roughly) 9TB of storage. All of our photos since the dawn of digital cameras, all of my presentations and docs and manuscripts ever, backups of computers I haven’t seen in years (need to clean those out), and basically any file my family has even slightly owned is on this server. It’s an integral part of our family and family history.

Of course, losing the Synology server would be heart-breaking, so using the backups rule of three (Scott Hanselman blogged about it here), everything (almost*) on the Synology is backed up to Amazon Drive. The price is competitive with other backup solutions ($60 a year for 1 TB of storage) – but more importantly, it’s easy for anyone in the family to access.

When I first signed up for amazon drive, storage was unlimited, but they now charge another $60 a year for anything between 1 and 2 TB. I have a large CD collection ripped to FLAC that also lives on the Synology server. While I still have the CDs, and could rip them again, I’d rather not. But – I’m also too cheap to pay $60 a year to keep a backup of files that are technically replaceable. So – these ~25,000 FLAC files (just under 400 GiB) all go to Amazon Glacier storage, where retrieval (if I ever need it) is slow, but I pay $1.40 a month (~$17 a year) for peace of mind.

There’s enough weird stuff going on in the world to worry about – with the above, backups are something I don’t worry about at all.

Angry Weasel Twenty-Seventeen Recap

It’s been a pretty remarkable 2017 for me – so much so, that it’s worth (for me) a little reflection.

This time last year, I had made the choice to leave Microsoft (but hadn’t told anyone yet). I went into work the week after Christmas (when nobody is there), and quietly cleaned out a bunch of personal stuff (I didn’t know if my resignation would be met with a “walk to the door” or not). Many of my reflections at the time made it into The Breakup, and the feelings that went into that post haven’t changed.

I officially left Microsoft in mid-January, and after a week off, began a journey at Unity that I have had absolutely zero regrets about. It’s been such a good mixture of problems I know how to solve (same movie, different cast), brand new challenges I don’t know how to solve, and wonderful, passionate people every direction I go. My new direct reports have all helped me so much in learning about the people and business at Unity.

In the meantime, I’m super-proud of the direction of the AB Testing Podcast, and how it’s helped me in my role at Unity (and how Unity have given me freedom to experiment using the principles of Modern Testing that Brent and I discuss frequently). Based on our vague plans for 2018, I’m even more excited about where our podcasting journey will take us.

I blogged a bunch of times – sometimes about testing, sometimes about Unity, and sometimes a combination. I also started the Five for Friday series which I hope folks find valuable.

I had a light speaking schedule in 2017 (although less light than the previous year where I was pretty much locked inside of Microsoft). I spoke at the Online Testing Conference, and then late in the year at Heisenbug. Next year is kicking off with three external talks in the first half of the year – that’s a bit more than I’d like to do, but an achievable task.

Back in July, I asked testers to join me in cleaning up the Wikipedia page on Software Testing. I think the page can be a lot more clear and reflect the state of the industry much better. While my contribution has been close to nil, it’s been great to see a few folks from the community step up and make incremental change. I’m not big on resolutions, but I do plan to play a bigger role in making the site a bit better for the masses in the coming year.

I’ve also had a chance to balance a hectic work schedule, kids with homework, and my own health. I began 2017 with a goal to run 510 miles (820km) (10 miles for every year of my age). While I thought it would be a slam dunk; I didn’t anticipate travel, live, and a month taking care of my dad in September. I made it to 480 miles though, and I’m confident that, barring injury, that I’ll make it to 520 easily next year. The good news is that since leaving Microsoft, the combination of lower stress and a bit more chance to exercise has dropped my blood pressure more than 10 points, and I’ve been able to lose 25 pounds (12kg).

I hope everyone reading had a fantastic 2017, and I hope we cross paths soon and often in 2018.

Fear Factor

I had one of those meditative weekends, where between solving Advent of Code challenges, seeing the new Star Wars movie, and cleaning my home office, some ideas (sort of) merged in my head.

One part of the recipe was yet-another-discussion on twitter over the weekend (over) reacting to the Test is Dead theme that came out of a few conferences several years ago. For me, I knew what that phrase meant before I saw the content – it means that how software is tested is changing. While I’m fully onboard with the changes, the talk of test is dead, and the role changing causes a large amount of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) among a lot of testers in the industry who haven’t seen how these changes can improve software quality, and how they can adapt their skills to a new world.

While in my office (during a conscious retreat from the world of twitter), I noticed my copy of Crossing the Chasm, the Geoffrey Moore book with a lengthy dissertation on how people adopt new technology. A quick fact check tells me that this curve, is called Diffusion of Innovation, and was actually first proposed in 1962.

For anyone who has somehow missed seeing this curve explained before, it’s an explanation of how people adopt a new technology; broken down into innovators and early adopters who jump in early (Moore refers to these as Tech Enthusiasts and Visionaries respectively, and as “The Early Market” as a whole). The Early Majority (Pragmatists), the Late Majority (Conservatives), and the Laggards (Skeptics) make up the Mainstream market of a technology.

While I have a vision for how test and quality specialists (described in AB Testing as “Modern Testing”), I also realize that the role of testing is in different levels of maturity across the industry. Modern Testing (which I see largely as an evolution of Agile Testing as described by Crispin and Gregory) is absolutely happening in many companies – but it’s in the Innovator’s part of the curve.

If I squint and look at the curve as “waves” of testing approaches, Agile Testing is farther along the curve, followed by separate teams of (largely) SDETS, separate (or outsourced) Test teams, and finally, low (or lower) skill teams of manual testers testing quality into a product.

The percentages are (obviously) made up, but based on biased and anecdotal information, I think the graphic makes at least a little bit of sense. There will always be shitty testing (far right side of graphic). There’s a large area in the middle that is an area largely (IMO) in transition. Armies of SDETs came and went while I was at msft – and while I still think Microsoft handled both the transitions to and from SDETs horribly, a world of testers as programmers focusing on automation is the norm for many teams.

As hinted above, with change and transition comes fear. The “manual” tester fears a world where they may need to learn automation. The automation engineer fears a world where they may write diagnostics or utilities (or, gasp, production code) instead of automation, and dedicated testers of any kind may fear a world where their work is owned by developers (or computers). As a result, many folks dig in their heels, refuse change, and all but flat out deny that test (and in general, the way teams around the world are making and shipping quality software) is changing.

Instead of yelling, “It won’t work”, I encourage these folks to ask, “How will it work”. Instead of worrying, “Will I have a job”, ask, “How can I help make these changes happen”, or even, “What could my role be in this new world”.

My thinking on the subject is as far away as it can be from worrying if I have a job in the future. I’ve said many times (to listeners, readers, managers, and co-workers), my goal is to make my job obsolete. I’m trying to make my job disappear. Not because I don’t like it (I love it), and not because I’m incapable, bored, fearful or ignorant. I want to build software teams that intuitively know how to efficiently create quality software that excites customers. In the short term, I and my team have skills and knowledge that can help in that goal – but in my opinion, if I don’t remove the need for me in that process, I’m not effectively leading my team and the feature teams we work with.

Embrace change, not fear.

Five for Friday – December 15

I’ve enjoyed my string of FfF posts as an easy way to share stuff I like with little need to elaborate. It *will* continue, but I’m going to take a break for the last two weeks of the year. FfF will be back on January 5, 2018.

  • I recently read Ray Dalio’s, Principles. In the preface, he has a line that rings true (I think) to all of us who suffer from impostor’s syndrome.
    Before I begin telling you what I think, I want to establish that I’m a “dumb shit” who doesn’t know much relative to what I need to know.” That give me reason enough to keep on reading and learning more about what makes Ray tick.
  • On my last team at Microsoft, the team started using Git, and became over-excited about Gitflow – which I often describe as source control for those who like to add extra layers of confusion to their source control and release. We eventually treated ‘master’ as a release tag, and were (I think) close to working out of a single trunk. Now, Trunk-Based Development is a thing, and I think it’s a good thing.
  • I’m a huge believer in 20% time (invented by GM, and popularized by google as a way to give people a chance to self-direct and learn). I recently discovered that schools are using the concept to give students alternate opportunities to learn and grow.
  • A rare shot at cross-promotion. The year-ending episode of AB Testing will be out Monday. I’m really happy with how the podcast has developed and matured over the last few years.
  • Brent Jensen and I often discuss Modern Testing – but I recently discovered that Modern Agile is also a thing.

See you in 2018.

Five for Friday – December 8

It’s the FfF Moscow edition (I’m here for the Heisenbug conference.

  • As I approach my one year mark at Unity (and hopefully established a small bit of credibility), I’m beginning to push a bit harder on some topics. I’m reminded of this quote from Colin Powell, who says, “…leadership is sometimes about being willing to piss people off“. I’ve heard the substance of this phrase in many forms, so whenever I see it, it reminds me that making often change requires friction…and that’s ok.
  • I’m (finally) reading Principles by Ray Dalio. His story is interesting, but the way he approaches life and work is truly inspiring. Bonus quote this week (from above web site): “Principles are ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life.
  • I visited a nuclear protection bunker in Moscow this week. Amazing to have such a structure so far under ground.
  • I have a minor addiction to the Advent of Code. I’ve completed the puzzles through day 8. Several times, I’ve looked at the puzzle, and declared, “nope – too hard”, and closed the web page, but I keep going back and plowing through the puzzles. Despite working at Microsoft for so long, I never really had a chance to write much c#, but for this project, I’ve been using Visual Studio on Mac to write c# solutions, and have been having fun learning the language and solving the problems.
  • Seattle is getting a Hockey Team (potentially). Too many commitments these days to drive to Vancouver to watch the Canucks, but I’m excited that we may have a NHL team here someday.

Five for Friday – December 1

Some of my favorite / most interesting thoughts and links from the week…

  • Yet another quote from one of my heroes, Simon Sinek: “There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” I half-jokingly told someone on my team this week that “leadership is manipulation”, and it reminded me of this quote. The two sides of the “or” have similarities and marked differences that are important to remember.
  • The Tester’s Island Disc podcast with me came out early this morning.
  • We all heard about the apple root password bug this week. What you may have missed, is this nice writeup on what exactly was wrong (I love debugging – if you do too, you’ll like this).
  • I discovered a test conference (European Testing Conference) that wasn’t on my radar, and looks interesting. Program looks good, and hope it continues.
  • I’m a big (HUUUGE) fan of soccer, and last night, it was great to see the home team make it to the MLS Cup. I will be in Moscow for the final (kickoff will be midnight, local time), but hope I can find a place to watch it.

Conferences – again!

I took some time off from speaking (too much) at conferences over the past few years. I spoke at TestBash Philadelphia a year ago (and also spoke at the Online Test Conference last summer), but 2017 (and, IIRC, 2016) have been light on me in terms of external speaking.

But I’m going to kick off 2018 (and end 2017) with a small flurry of speaking events.

  • In December, I’ll be at the Heisenbug conference in Moscow, Russia
  • In January, I’ll be speaking at the QASig meetup in Seattle
  • In March, I’ll be at TestBash Brighton talking about Experiences in Modern Testing
  • In May, I’ll be at STAR East giving a workshop on web testing tools

Hope to catch up with some of you in person at those events.

Five For Friday – November 24

  • The US holiday is a time for us all to reflect on what we’re thankful for. This has been a year of transition, and I’m thankful for my family supporting me changing jobs, and for Unity for giving me a wonderful place to land.
  • Quote of the week is, “Automated user interface testing is placed at the top of the test automation pyramid because we want to do as little of it as possible.” This is from Mike Cohn (inventor of the automation testing pyramid) emphasizing that while UI tests have a place, a little goes a long way. Too many people forget this.
  • Dan Pink has a podcast!
  • I discovered the Plantronics Focus headphones / headset while at Microsoft, and bought a used pair from eBay after I left. They’re comfortable, have great controls, and even pause and start music if you take them on and off. They’re a bit pricey, so look for a used set if you want to try them.
  • Finally, I’ve recently subscribed to Imperfect Produce – they deliver organic produce that’s not-quite perfect at a substantial discount. Personally, I don’t care if my potatoes are too big or my onions too small – the produce is fresh, organic and perfect on the tastebuds.
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