Test Automation :: the Hype and the Illusion

When someone asks me what do I do? I say I am a software tester and the next question they put forward is Manual or Automation? When I say manual, they most times look down at me and start advocating to learn test automation. The actual reason being, test automation has been hyped so much that it is something akin to Artificial Intelligence or like a Virtual Tester and testers who don’t have the habit of questioning the logic are made to believe so. Here is a blog Purpose (Dis)Solved by Dhanasekar, where he makes an analogy between locks and testing and how test automation is hyped to attract clients.
 
At Moolya, while I got to know more about testing, I had a small confusion. What is check automation? Moolya’s approach to testing is context driven, exploratory, mission focused,  risk based, check automation and a few more heuristic based approaches. I know what these terms mean but never heard the term ‘check automation’ before. Approached Ms.Parimala, Master Shifu at Moolya, to clarify what is check automation? She referred me this blog on Testing vs. Checking by Michael Bolton, to explore. That perfectly answered my question. 
Testing is a sapient process and best results can be achieved only when it is done by humans. All that is automated are not tests but mere checks.
Here is also an excerpt from Jonathan Kohl’s interview to DZone and his thought that test automation shouldn’t be a goal; test automation helps you achieve goals.
“Think of all the things people can do well that machines can’t do well. Machines can’t feel, they can’t have a hunch, they can’t be suspicious, they can’t investigate, and they can’t change their minds due to better information. I don’t see automated testing throwing manual testing aside.”
 
To all those who believe test automation is a sure way to do better testing, and still have an illusion that automation is a superior class, which always improves productivity, please watch this video, which also explains why automation is not a sapient work.
 

Happy Testing!

Tryst with Moolya

Who I was as a professional?
 
Fresh from college, with high hopes and excitement that I ll earn on my own and can spend what I earned without seeking anyone’s permission, I joined an Indian MNC IT firm (glad that the firm gave me a chance to work there). There was 3 months of training, followed by induction. I got trained in testing and was assigned to testing projects.
 
What I did for the first 6 months?
I was executing the test cases drafted by my senior colleagues in the team and reporting any discrepancies (as per the script) I found in the application I was testing.
 
What I did for the next 2-2.5 years?
I was drafting test cases on my own and executing the same and looking for any deviations from my test cases, which was drafted as per the requirement/functional specifications provided by the customer.
 
What I did for the next two years?
I drafted test cases, executed test cases and made phone calls to onsite coordinators to clarify all my queries. Apart from these routine tasks, I was also drafting test plan (during the start of the project) and test report (when the project completes). I ll be given exclusive 3 day to draft test plan and test results, which were never referred later. I was also acting as test lead, which involves coordinating offshore activities related to testing.
 
How I was after 5.5 years?
All that I did was verify whether the application under test was in accordance with the specs. (only functional). I never bothered about UX, Performance, Security…etc as there were exclusive teams for these activities. I also learnt something related to Six Sigma, Lean and Agile (We tried implementing)
In toto, as a tester I was dumb. Adding fuel to this were the programmers/developers, who show off their ego, which results in testers getting sidelined and not looked upon with dignity. I never felt proud to call myself as a tester (until I joined Moolya). When someone asks me what I do, I would say I am a tupperware (improvised dabba) tester. But I was enjoying, in the sense, very less work and more comfort.
 
 
How did I proceed further?
My long term aspirations were different. I aspire to be an entrepreneur, build my own company. I wanted to come out of the comfort zone and experience the startup environment. I googled for startups in Bangalore and selectively applied for a few starups. Glad that Moolya was one among those. I m not flattering. Prior to joining Moolya, I had visited ThoughtWorks a couple of times. ThoughtWorks describes itself as “…A social and commercial community whose purpose is to revolutionize software creation and delivery while advocating for positive social change in the world.” They pick very extra ordinary and brilliant programmers, put them together and see what can happen. As a result, they have contributed so much to the open source community.
 
Ok, coming to the point, what I realised after joining Moolya. Moolya intends to do the same with testers, what ThoughtWorks does with programmers. Create a pool of extraordinary, rebellious and cool testers, to change the way testing is done and is supposed to be done. I learn’t good and real testing after joining Moolya. (I still have a lot more to learn too). I in am small way for now, helped my customers, see some value of my testing. Here I never look at the count of bugs I reported but at the way the product has improved. I tried pair programming. Whole heartedly followed the agile manifesto ‘Individuals and interactions over processes and tools’. For now at least watched how security testing is done, tried my hands on performance, learnt bug advocacy and started using oracles and heuristics for testing. One such heuristics is my defect reporting mechanism in an easy and cost effective way. I collaborated using the Google docs. for bug reporting, where we followed the Colour code:
 
No Colour – Reported and yet to be worked upon
Red – Critical and requires urgent attention
Amber – Partially fixed
Strike through – when the product owner rejects the defect
Green – Fixed
 
And I conceptualized this with the theme go green, which means, as the sheet becomes greener, the product becomes better. Apart from testing, as a value add, I did a competitor analysis for our customer, broadly based on the Product, Segment, Geography, Features/Offerings,  Key highlights, Threats, Rates/Pricing, Demo/Free usage, Menu tour to give a better picture to the product owners.
 
I am very glad that testers (now I m proud to say that I m a tester) in Moolya are encouraged to be courageous, crazy, learn a lot, follow and read blogs of famous testers around the world, play and have fun, providing us a happy and cool work environment. Moolya has instilled the pride in me as a tester. I have gradually started practicing testing as a craft 🙂 
 
Now I propose the ‘Dignity of a Tester’
“If a man is called to be a tester, he should test even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should test so well that all the user of the web and app will pause to say, here lived a great tester who did his job well.” 

which I have tweaked and adapted from Martin Luther King Jr’s quote

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”– Steve Jobs
 
P.S. This is not an attempt to flatter my company neither am I demeaning my previous employer)

Packing List for Travel

Here is a compilation of a check list for travel. Most importantly, please read the post script.

PRE-DEPARTURE

  • Get your FX Cheat Sheet
  • Read the Travel Advisory for your destination
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Health Documentation
  • Transportation Tickets
  • Emergency Information
  • Insurance
  • Hotel Reservations
  • Traveller’s Checks
  • Currency/Wallet
  • Credit/Debit Cards
  • Guide Books and Maps
  • Trip Cancellation/Medical Insurance
  • Personal Identification
  • Driver’s License
  • Photocopies of Documentation
  • Special Event Reservations (art, popular festivals, sporting events)

BASIC

  •  Mobile Phone/Charger
  • Camera/Video Camera/Charger
  • Binoculars
  • Luggage/Travel Pack
  • Luggage ID Tags
  • Waist/Neck Pouch
  • Travel Clothing (Formals, Casuals)
  • Shorts, Tees, pair of Jeans, Innerwear
  • Rain Protection
  • Travel Footwear
  • Watch
  • Belt
  • Handkerchief
  • Scarf/Bandanna
  • Visor or Brimmed Hat
  • Water Bottle
  • Language Books
  • Reading Materials
  • Address Book
  • Travel Journal/Notepad
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Games/Playing Cards
  • Travel Lock

MAINTENANCE ITEMS

  • Flashlight Batteries/Bulb
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Matches or Lighter
  • Camera Batteries
  • Mini Sewing/Repair Kit
  • Duct Tape
  • Portable Travel Iron or Steamer
  • Travel Clothesline & Clothespins
  • Sink Stopper for Hotel Sinks
  • Mesh Bag for Dirty Laundry
  • Zip close Plastic Bags

TOILETRIES

  • Comb/Hair Brush
  • Toothbrush/Paste/Brush Cap
  • Cleaner/Dental Floss
  • Deodorant
  • Soap: Personal and Laundry
  • Shampoo
  • Razor/Blades
  • Shaving Cream/Brush
  • Insect Repellent
  • Skin Care Lotions/Creams
  • Make Up
  • Mirror
  • Nail Clippers
  • Sunscreen/Lip Balm
  • Travel Towel
  • Blow Dryer
  • Towel/Washcloth
  • Bottles (for shampoo & laundry soap)

HOME CHECKLIST

  • Stop deliveries
  • Have Post Office hold mail
  • Arrange for care of pets, lawn and house plants
  • Set-up a timed lighting system
  • Check timed night lighting system
  • Notify local police of your absence
  • Leave house key and trip itinerary with a neighbour
  • Empty refrigerator
  • Eliminate possible fire hazards (unplug appliances, etc.)
  • Turn down thermostat
  • Turn off water heater
  • Store valuables in a safe place
  • Lock all doors and windows

FIRST AID KIT

  • Cotton, Wool
  • Bandage Cloth
  • Band Aid
  • Crepe Bandage
  • Gauze Pad
  • Buds
  • Small Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Aspirin/Pain Reliever
  • Paracetamol
  • Cough Syrup
  • Povidone Iodine
  • Savlon Antiseptic
  • ORS
  • Laxative
  • Antibiotic Cream

MEDICATION

  • Medication for Allergies, Diarrhoea, Cold, Acidity
  • Medication for Motion Sickness
  • Medication for Malaria
  • Vitamins
  • Contact Lens Preparation
  • Water Purification System
  • Prescription Drugs, Doctors Phone No., Fax no.

 PS: Pack light & smart 🙂

Tributes to the Women Who Added Colours to my Life

As the world celebrates Women’s Day and India celebrates Holi, I feel so proud and gratified to write about these ladies who stood by me in times of distress, guided me to wade through troubled waters and added colours to my life.

My darling sister(first cousin) Ms. Kalaivani

My college buddy Ms. Lina

My English Prof., Mentor and God Mother Ms. Charumathi

My colleague and a lovely buddy Ms. Kiruthika

…to be continued

Laugh and be Merry :)

by John Masefield

Laugh and be merry, remember, better the world with a song,

Better the world with a blow in the teeth of a wrong.

Laugh, for the time is brief, a thread the length of a span.

Laugh and be proud to belong to the old proud pageant of man.

 

Laugh and be merry: remember, in olden time.

God made Heaven and Earth for joy He took in a rhyme,

Made them, and filled them full with the strong red wine of His mirth

The splendid joy of the stars: the joy of the earth.

 

So we must laugh and drink from the deep blue cup of the sky,

Join the jubilant song of the great stars sweeping by,

Laugh, and battle, and work, and drink of the wine outpoured

In the dear green earth, the sign of the joy of the Lord.

 

Laugh and be merry together, like brothers akin,

Guesting awhile in the rooms of a beautiful inn,

Glad till the dancing stops, and the lilt of the music ends.

Laugh till the game is played; and be you merry, my friends.

 

This poem, which was part of my under graduation is one of my favourite 🙂

 The poet, John Masefield suggests that we should have a positive attitude in life. Life is short so we must enjoy the fruits of happiness. Every moment of our life should be enjoyed and cheered. The god created the moon and the stars for the pleasure of human being. So we should be inspired by god’s meaningful creation. The poet compares the world with an inn where all human beings are temporary guests. We should enjoy life till it lasts and till the music of life ends.

 

100+ things to make an Incredible Life!

Read a few articles on 100 things to do before you die, by a few enthusiasts! Gave a serious thought and decided why don’t I write my own. I picked a few from the net and inserted a few on my own. The list exceeded 100 and hence changed the title as ‘100+ things to make an Incredible Life!’ The list can grow even more. The philosophy is to crowd as many great experiences into life, make a dignified living and also to treat people with kindness and respect. (Follow your heart, but do not break any)
 
1. Write down your personal mission statement, follow it, and revise it from time to time
2. Make sure to tell your friends and family how much you love them so that when you do die… they won’t wonder and you’ll be at peace.
3. Stop worrying about the things that you can do nothing about and start doing things you can and are passionate about
4. Fall deeply in love — helplessly and unconditionally
5. Tell someone the story of your life, sparing no details
6. Have a mentor
7. Let someone feed you
8. Hug your loved ones often
9. Kiss someone you’ve just met on a blind date
10. Find a job you love
11. Build a huge business empire
12. Get passionate about a cause and spend time helping it, instead of just thinking about it
13. Write your will
14. Give to a charity — anonymously
15. Attend at least one major sporting event: Olympics, Tour de France, Wimbledon
16. Attend one really huge rock concert
17. Set foot on each of the seven continents, you can truly call yourself a world traveler
18. Climb one of the world’s Seven Summits
19. Tour monuments around national capital region – Delhi
20. Tour Kashmir & Ladakh
21. Tour Rajasthan, indulge staying in a palace
22. Tour Mauritius
23. Swim with a dolphin/shark
24. Skydive
25. Ski
26. SCUBA dive in the Great Barrier Reef. The largest coral reef in the world
27. Surf. Catch the waves
28. Bungee Jump. Experience the adrenaline rush
29. Take a ride on the highest roller coaster in the country
30. Go up in a hot-air balloon
31. Go white water rafting
      -> Rafted at Galibore; planning to do in Ganges too.
32. Go Rock climbing/trekking
     -> Went on a few hikes while at SSA
33. Explore a cave
34. Learn to rollerblade
35. Run a marathon

      -> Completed the Half Marathon as part of Spirit of Wipro Run 2011

36. Cross a country on a bicycle
37. Learn to ride a horse
      -> At SSA, just learnt how to trot
38. Take a martial arts class
39. Have your portrait painted
40. Develop a talent for photography
41. Learn to play a musical instrument (Keyboard) with some degree of skill
42. Learn to speak a foreign language (Spanish) and make sure you use it
43. Watch the launch of the space shuttle/satellite
44. Own a wonderful motorbike (Thunderbird/Harley Davidson)
45. Own a wonderful SUV
46. Buy/build a wonderful house
47. Own a room with a view
48. Sleep under the stars
49. Shower in a waterfall
50. Buy a round-the-world air ticket and a rucksack, and run away
51. Be a member of the audience in a TV show
52. Sit on a jury
53. Be an extra in a film
54. Spend a whole day reading a great novel
55. Get to know your neighbors
56. Spend a whole day eating junk food without feeling guilty
57. Spend three months getting your body into optimum shape
58. Plant a tree
59. Grow a garden
60. Grow and eat your own vegetables
61. Make cookies from scratch
62. Go deep sea fishing and eat your catch
63. Go without food for a few days
64. Watch a meteor shower

     -> At SSA, after a tiring inter-house water polo competition, Col. Verma mustered the students at Oval ground by 1 AM, to show us what a meteor shower is. Unfortunately it turned out to be a celestial fiasco!

65. Edge Of Space Supersonic Jet Ride
66. Take a ride on a fighter jet/Pilot an airplane
67. Dive into the ocean on-board a submarine
68. Tour Egypt, Climb or get inside the great Pyramid of Egypt, Go on a Nile river cruise
69. Ride a camel into the desert
70. Visit the Great Wall of China
71. Ride the Trans-Siberian Express across Asia
72. Go wild in Rio during Carnival
73. Visit the Amazon rainforest
74. Take an African Safari (Masai Mara)
75. Cross a glacier on foot
76. Climb an active volcano
77. Buy a boat and learn to sail
78. Bathe in the Ganges
79. Gamble at Las Vegas
80. Covert Ops (Incredible-Adventures.com)
81. Go to Disney World
82. Play in the mud
83. Play in the rain
84. Go to a drive-in theater
85. Be on a cruise ship
86. Get a tattoo
87. Tour ancient sites
88. Fire a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
     -> Took part in firing competitions, while at SSA and during NCC camps
89. Be in a combat zone
90. Do something you should regret, but don’t regret it
91. Get flowers for no reason
92. Ask for a raise
93. Publish an article about your travels
94. Teach someone illiterate to read
95. Save a life/Sponsor some ones education
96. Look into your child’s eyes, see yourself, and smile
97. Visit the birthplace of your ancestors
98. Find out something significant that your ancestors did
99. Create your Family Tree
100. Forgive your parents
101. Invent or discover something that changes the world for the better
102. Shake hands with someone who has truly changed a country
103. Have your picture in the newspaper
       ->  Appeared in local newspapers when I won a few quizzes & other inter collegiate
              competitions 
104. Write articles for a large publication
105. Write a book
106. Donate money and put your name on something: a college scholarship, building
107. Volunteer abroad for a month
108. Be able to handle: your tax forms, your banker, investments
109. Learn how to take a compliment
110. Learn not to say yes when you really mean no
111. Learn how to complain effectively — and do it!
112. Reflect on your greatest weakness, and realize how it is your greatest strength
113. Stand up for yourself
114. Learn to take criticism gracefully
115. Be someone’s mentor
116. Be the boss
117. Own one very expensive but absolutely wonderful business suit
118. Create your own web site
119. Throw a huge party and invite every one of your friends
120. Be content with yourself. Accept yourself for who you are
121. Actually feel happy about your life, even for just a moment
122. Donate a substantial amount of your personal wealth to charity
123. Laugh enough! Love much! Live well!
 
You only get one shot at life. Make yours exactly how you want it to be. LIVE!
 
Cheers,
 
Ashok Prabhu T
Happiness is a choice…
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
”―  Bronnie Ware
“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” ― Bob Marley
“Love the life you live. Live the life you love.” ― Bob Marley  
“Life is God’s gift to man. What we do with it is our gift to God.” Harold B. Lee

“Have the will to be well, to be happy, and to live in joy.” ~ Ernest Holmes 

 
Addendum:

124. Be on a record book

125. Learn to play tennis

126. Become a Collector
       -> I collect News Paper Articles, Photographs, Jokes, Poems
127. Have a hobby
       -> Cyclist. Traveler. News Paper Articles, Photographs, Jokes, Poems Collector.

128. Watch the American Film Institute’s 100 Funniest Movies

129. Learn not to take what others do or say personally
130. Become an early riser
 
131. Face your greatest fears

132. Be there at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos

God

Morning is calm with the birds chirping,
Sky is bright and the air is fresh,
Sun’s bright light,
Starts the day with a delight,
The world seems so pleasing,
And nature’s beauty is never ceasing,

O Goodness, O Truth,
God is in nature.

Folks sweat and work for a living,
Which is always rewarding,
‘cause they believe ‘Work is Worship’

O Goodness, O Truth,
God is in working well.

Teresa cared for leprosy,
Lincoln dared slavery,
Soldiers guard the nation,
Teachers build the nation,

O Goodness, O Truth,
God is in rendering genuine service.

Each of us consider someone as special,
Whom we feel is a God’s blessing,
Their presence makes us spirited,
They may be the essence of our life,

O Goodness, O Truth,
God is in human disguise.

Gentle pats, Genuine smiles,
Kind gestures, Smooth talks,
Spending time with our loved ones,
All makes us feel warm and light,

O Goodness, O Truth,
God is in love and friendship.

God seeks,
Neither temple nor worship,
Neither sacrifice nor gold,
Neither rites nor rituals,

You need not be pious nor ungodly,
Whether a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian,
Be a humanitarian.
Be honest, be loving,
Be brave, be strong.

Holy water is a mere liquid,
Holy books are mere words,
Images are lifeless and cannot speak,

O Goodness, O Truth,
God is in doing good, being good.

Alas! I laugh,
When the fish in the water feels thirsty,
The real is in home and
Ignorance makes us insane.
For the who finds his soul,
And who knows himself,

O Goodness, O Truth,
God is within him.

For the one who is unafraid of death,
The one who dies with happiness and contentment,

O Goodness, O Truth,
God was in his life.

One who loves life,
Loves God.

O Goodness, O Truth,
Life is God’s gift to us,
Living well is our gift to God.

PS: “I laugh when I hear that the fish in the water is thirsty.” was adapted from a Kabir’s poem


Wrote this for a Verse Mongering competition held as part of Revelry ’06 at Kongu.Received 1st place

Documentary on my Alma Mater

Sainik School Amaravathi Nagar, Tamil Nadu was started on 16 Jul 1962. Nestled in a grand spread of 240 acres (0.97 km2) amidst the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, in the backdrop of the Amaravathi Dam the school is an ideal locale for the mental and physical development of youth with a view to prepare them for NDA or other walks of life.

I spent a significant part of my life there, from Jul 1995 to Apr 2002. I still keep in touch with many of my friends including seniors and juniors. The cadets and the alumni are called ‘Amaravians’

This video sums up life at my school.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtxS8acgGcY


Proud to be an Amaravian 🙂

Be Active!

Be active, baby! Be active!
The world is competitive,
The days are hard,
The men are crooked,
The time is short,
The path is long,
The goal is distant.

Be active, baby! Be active!
Wake up and get ready to
Compete with the world,
Fight with the days,
Move with the men,
Work with the time,
Run with the path and
Join with the goal!!!

PS: I found this poem in Hindu – Young World and had pasted it in my dormitory cupboard while studying class 12.

Chetwode Motto

“The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time.

The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next.

Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time.”

~Field Marshal Sir Philip Chetwode
(Inauguration of the IMA on 10 December 1932)

This credo is also emblazoned on the Administrative block of my alma mater, Sainik School Amaravathi Nagar