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June 20, 2011  7:47 PM

The IT Files – Matt Heusser – Part 4

Shilpa Venkateshwaran Shilpa Venkateshwaran Profile: Shilpa Venkateshwaran

“What do you do when you are not working?”
I have two daughters that we home-school — well, my wife home-schools, and I try to be supportive.  This year I coached a soccer team, watched a lot of softball games, and took plenty of children to ballet.  I’m also a member of a Catholic Men’s Fraternity called the Knights of Columbus, and teach 4th and 5th grade cathethicsm at my local parish. Besides testing, writing about testing, and being involved in local user’s groups and conferences, I keep pretty busy. :-)

“What is a skill or strength that sets you apart from others?”
I’m afraid the only answer I know how to give is a bit selfish and prideful, but, hey, you asked.  First, I do think it’s fair to say that I’ve got a focus and attention to detail that is uncommonly high.  To try to be humble about it, let me put that a different way:  “It turns out that all those years memorizing star wars with laser-like focus had a positive side effect.”
Second, I’m a half-decent communicator.  In the age of twitter, email and blogs, that turns out to be pretty important.
Third, I’ve read a lot.  Graduate School at night got me in a habit of constantly reading, so I know the literature on a lot of software subjects.  You don’t need a college professor pushing you to read part-time for four years, but it turns out that it really helps.

“What (or who) inspires you?”
I draw ideas from all over.  Many of my ideas start from one place, though:  Noticing a difference between the official story and reality.
It was reading some articles by James Bach that got me interested in writing.  James had made the same observations I had, for example, at one point I realized that record/playback test automation wouldn’t be successful in my shop.  I recognized that, shrugged it off and moved on.  Instead of realizing it wasn’t a fit, though, James generalized the issue and went on to write “Software Test Automation Snake Oil”
It wasn’t too long after I read that article by James that I started blogging.

“Do you blog? You blog and twitter link if you would like to share.”
Yes.  I blog at http://xndev.blogspot.com, my personal blog, called “Creative Chaos.”  I also blog at the Software Test Professional Community blog, http://www.softwaretestpro.com/blog and for IT Knowledge Exhange at http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/unchartered-waters/

June 20, 2011  7:45 PM

The IT Files – Matt Heusser – Part 3

Shilpa Venkateshwaran Shilpa Venkateshwaran Profile: Shilpa Venkateshwaran

“Quality – what is your definition or understanding?”

Gerald M. Weinberg wrote that “Quality is value to some person”; my colleague Michael Boton added “… that matters” at the end.

In other words, Quality is whatever the guy cutting the pay checks says is quality.  Our job as testers is to get inside his head.  Or, if the product is purchased by the market, something like facebook, our job is to get inside their heads.  Metaphorically, of course. :-)

“Name your favorite book on Software Testing?”

I’m a big fan of Lee Copeland’s Practitioners Guide to Software Test Design, and I think Lessons Learned In Software Testing deserves to be on the shelf for just about any tester.  If I had to pick a favorite, though, it would likely be the book that I co-edited along with Govind Kulkarni, “How to reduce the cost of software testing”, that comes out in September 2011 from Taylor and Francis.

“Who is your hero?”

Cem Kaner, Gerald Weinberg, and Robert Glass are all people I respect who managed to have well-rounded careers in software, without doing the types of things I might consider “selling out.”

Outside of software, my father, Roger Heusser, spent thirty-five years at the US Department of Energy, where he was a chemist, later executive, patriot, and civil servant.

In my time I’ve certainly felt a pull to do the wrong thing, to take the easy way, to take the money and run.  Another friend of mine, a psychologist, would say the systems I was working in actively rewarded this type of wrong behavior, and I was only able to resist that because I had some stronger influence.  Those are his words, not mine, but I admit, to try to make my father proud or be someone that Cem or Jerry would want to hang out with — those are strong influences.


June 20, 2011  7:42 PM

The IT Files – Matt Heusser – Part 2

Shilpa Venkateshwaran Shilpa Venkateshwaran Profile: Shilpa Venkateshwaran

“Any advice for new or young testers?”
Now there’s a tough question — give general advice without any specifics.  That’s a bit like a physician offering a prescription without examining the patient, isn’t it?
I suppose a doctor could offer some general advice; eat well, exercise, things like that.
In the same spirit, I suppose I could offer some advice to testers.  First, be aware of what you are building toward.  If you are conscious of it or not, your career is building toward something.   By paying a little more attention, you can both steer and create more options.
Second, and this is just general advice — try to get good at more than one thing.  The “classic” answer here is the tester/programmer, and I do believe the job market will be better on the tester/programmer than the “pure” tester, but feel free to look beyond that.  Interaction Design, Business Analysis, and Writing and three skills a tester might develop that can add a little *oomph* to his career prospects, at least in my opinion.

“Structured or unstructured testing – which side do you lean towards?”
I don’t think of these as two choices.  Instead, it’s much more like a number line.  On the far left we have structured testig, to the “Type this, click this, expect that” level; on the right you have “play with it artfully and see what bugs shake out.”
I tend toward the middle.  Let’s create a list of all of the features of the software, then charter some exploratory sessions around them, with a particular focus on the risks for this release.  Of course, we may also systematize some portion of regression testing, likely in an automated fashion.
Right now, in the circles I run in, the automated regression work has a great deal of the attention/mindshare, so I kind of focus on pushing people a little bit toward “Sapient” testing.


June 20, 2011  7:40 PM

The IT Files – Matt Heusser – Part 1

Shilpa Venkateshwaran Shilpa Venkateshwaran Profile: Shilpa Venkateshwaran

A name that you can always see in Software Test Pro site. A name that you can see busily helping/replying/mentoring on twitter. A name that never is shy to say what he thinks. A name: Matt Heusser.

A consulting software tester and software process naturalist, Matt has spent his adult career developing, testing, and leading in dev/testing of computer software. Beyond the work itself, Matt has had notable roles as a part-time instructor in Information Systems at Calvin College, a contributing editor to Software Test & Performance Magazine, the lead organizer for the 2008 Workshop On Technical Debt, and most recently as Senior Editor for the “How To Reduce The Cost Of Software Testing” book project.

“Personal growth and continuous learning – how important is this in our times?”
I guess it depends on your goals.  If you are willing to live as a day laborer, those jobs still exist.  In fact, in the United States, if you don’t mind back-breaking labor, you can make a decent living doing construction work, especially in Texas and Colorado.  Likewise, elementary education hasn’t changed a whole lot in fifty years; the classic liberal arts and trivium are over a thousand years old.
If you’ll allow me an answer that is a little off the beaten path, what I’m trying to say is that it depends on your temperament.  If you don’t want to grow and learn, that doesn’t automatically doom you to failure or force you to change — there are some roles you can fulfill that can benefit society.  For those of us who want to work in technology fields, well … I don’t think that personality temperament will be too successful on high-tech projects, at least not long-term.

“Tell us about how you got into testing and what is it that keeps you here in this industry? Did you adopt testing or did testing adopt you?”
That’s a long story!  The short version is that at my first job, we had no testers, no safety net for our work.  I was a programmer, and without the safety net, quickly learned the limits of my abilities.  I went to school at night to learn more, and got into the habit of writing and speaking.  In 2004 I was about to graduate, and presented some of what I had learned in school (and applied in the workplace) at a Software Test Conference.  It kind of felt like home.


May 25, 2011  10:57 AM

The IT Files – Blindu Eusebiu – Part 2

Shilpa Venkateshwaran Shilpa Venkateshwaran Profile: Shilpa Venkateshwaran

Quality – what is your definition or understanding?

I think here I would go with Jerry Weinberg’s definition “Quality is value to some person”. I think quality might differ from person to person, even if there are common undefined criteria.

What are some lessons you have learned about software testing that you wish you had known long ago or you wish someone had told you about?

I think its important to just enjoy, find ways to enjoy it; in silence, out-loud but enjoy

Name your favorite book on Software Testing?

“Lessons Learned in Software Testing” because you can read it in any order, partially and still makes sense.

Who is your hero?

My parents

What do you do when you are not working?

In last years I try to visit more places and enjoy that. Also doing nothing in a nice quite environment that is close to nature.

What is a skill or strength that sets you apart from others?

I think I am able to combine some stuff together and place it in the testing area, like some puzzles or ideas, in a certain way that it might be perceived as interesting

What (or who) inspires you?

Good environments are critical to make one think properly.


May 25, 2011  10:55 AM

The IT Files – Blindu Eusebiu – Part 1

Shilpa Venkateshwaran Shilpa Venkateshwaran Profile: Shilpa Venkateshwaran

Blindu Eusebiu is a tester for more than 5 years. He is a follower of the context driven approach, at least he tries to be, and a big fan of exploratory testing. He is currently the European Weekend Testing host. He has some plans in developing other similar group activities related to the craft of testing. You can see his posts at http://www.testalways.com and tweets at @testalways

Personal growth and continuous learning – how important is this in our times?

I think its critical to find some area that you are good at and improve around it. Of course it has to be in a way to support yourself economically. You need something that you like to resist the problems that will encounter anyway. Many industries are developing fast and normal education is not able to cope with it. All this, including social transformations require a lot from the individual to support himself(herself). So improving your own skills its essential. No one wants to train people, they want already trained people.

Tell us about how you got into testing and what is it that keeps you here in this industry? Did you adopt testing or did testing adopt you?

Well it started maybe by accident. I came from so called computer science background, and the options at that time were: developer (called “programmer” then), network admin and testing. I started as most at IBM and then switched a couple of times. But the changing allowed me to learn and develop a passion for it. I think the adoption was both ways.

Any advice for new or young testers?

For new testers its important to be independent and study many approaches and ways to test, before following tasks.


April 28, 2011  12:34 PM

The IT Files – Pradeep Soundararajan – Part 5

Shilpa Venkateshwaran Shilpa Venkateshwaran Profile: Shilpa Venkateshwaran

What do you do when you are not working?
 
Before my marriage, I locked myself up in a room and hardly did anything other than testing learning or practice. I had almost turned myself to a person who forgot how to communicate to people if the topic is not related to testing and my family was very disappointed. If some relatives knocked at my door, I wouldn’t open it but speak to them from inside. That’s why I love watching the movie Aviator J
 
Imagine how difficult it would have been for my fiancée to talk to me. The hard truth is, I had to go back to James to seek help of how not to think critical when talking to people whom we love. Fortunately, I picked up that lesson very well and ever since, I haven’t talked about testing with my wife. She loves me and I love her. I spend time for my wife providing feedback about her cooking ( J ) and cracking jokes. I also spend good time with my parents and brother’s family.
 
Other than testing, I picked up n obsession towards Formula1. In the last 6 years, I have missed only one race (that too because I had to be in hospital for my friend Chandru)
 
I also watch cricket, meet a lot of people and practice humor. If I am not doing any of these, I like to go for a drink.
 
What is a skill or strength that sets you apart from others?
 
There isn’t any. I can see all strengths and skills I have exists in some of the testers I respect. I could compare myself with bad testers and give you a huge list but that wouldn’t be a wise comparison.


April 28, 2011  12:33 PM

The IT Files – Pradeep Soundararajan – Part 4

Shilpa Venkateshwaran Shilpa Venkateshwaran Profile: Shilpa Venkateshwaran

Name your favorite book on Software Testing?
 
Jonathan Livingston Seagull & Lessons Learned in Software Testing.
 
Who is your hero? What (or who) inspires you?
 
I am taking the liberty of clubbing your questions and answering them together. To answer this question, I have to tell you the posters I have in my home. Typically, when you walk into someone’s room and you see Michael Jackson on their wall, you could safely assume that the person living there could be a great fan of Michael Jackson.  Similarly, when you walk into my personal room in home, you would see Thomas Alva Edison, Jerry Weinberg, James Bach and Michael Bolton posters J. They are my gurus. They helped me see why I was born and what I am doing here on Earth.
 
However, there are a lot of other people who inspire me who have provided me the support without which I wouldn’t have been happy in life. As the list is huge, I will use this opportunity to randomly pick 2 among them.
 
Ben Simo is one of them. He is a great guy with so much of energy and ideas to test that I would feel like a small kid standing in front of a giant.
 
The other one is Vipul Kocher. He runs the ISTQB in India and despite that we gel together very well because Vipul as a person is different from the Vipul who runs ISTQB in India. He would invite me to a conference although I would oppose ISTQB in my talk. He is the “yes” man when it comes to helping. I wish to be like him (not the ISTQB part). Hope someday I would influence him back to stop ISTQB in India J


April 28, 2011  12:31 PM

The IT Files – Pradeep Soundararajan – Part 3

Shilpa Venkateshwaran Shilpa Venkateshwaran Profile: Shilpa Venkateshwaran

Tell us about how you got into testing and what is it that keeps you here in this industry? Did you adopt testing or did testing adopt you?
 
I got into testing because an organization which liked my research work wanted to give me a job and the only opening they had was testing. If they had a developer opening at that time, I might have probably become a developer who tests his own code very well J
 
From my other answers in this interview, you would be able to determine that I adopted testing. It’s my child and I am trying to take care of it, helping it grow to an extent that it no longer needs me.
 
Any advice for new or young testers?
 
I keep saying this. I am young and wise. I could advice to testers younger than me, or of my own age and perhaps even some seniors J
 
To those who are younger than me: Find your own gurus because without them your learning would be painfully slow.
 
Quality – what is your definition or understanding?
 
I am in love with what Jerry said and Michael Bolton expanded, “Quality is value to some person who matters. Who matters and what matters to them is the responsibility of a tester t find out”
 
What are some lessons you have learned about software testing that you wish you had known long ago or you wish someone had told you about?
 
There’s a lesson that my gurus tried teaching me and I wasn’t paying attention to it. I was too hard on myself to learn to test better.  After having learned the hard way, I wish I had paid more attention to what they were helping me to learn.
 
I sleep very well these days.


April 28, 2011  12:28 PM

The IT Files – Pradeep Soundararajan – Part 2

Shilpa Venkateshwaran Shilpa Venkateshwaran Profile: Shilpa Venkateshwaran

“Brainual Testing” – I like this word. Can you explain this?
 
Thanks Shilpa. A lot of people have been excited about this word, “Brainual”. Most people imagine “manual testing” as a job that involves co-ordination of eyes (to read test cases) and hands (that type), that’s all. Good testing from humans involves a lot of brain and the eyes and hands become little tools that aid what the brain wants to do. James Bach was using “sapient testing” term to indicate the brain part of testing but somehow that reminded me of the organization, “Sapient”. I wanted to use a term that I could easily counter with and catchy to indicate the kind of testing we human testers do. I coined the word “Brainual” to indicate that as a tester, its my brain at work and not just eyes and hands.
 
Also, many organizations appear to convert manual tests to automated tests, mostly because they think they can mimic an eye and a hand to do testing instead of the tester. I wanted to use this term, “brainual” to help my clients understand that if they attempt to automate my work, they would be attempting to automate what the brain does, whose effort might not be worth. I like what Elizabeth Hendrickson, James Bach and Michael Bolton have been saying something like, “Humans test, machines check”.
 
It would be my duty to help every tester in Moolya learn and practice more testing the brainual way.
 
Personal growth and continuous learning – how important is this in our times?
 
At all times this is important.


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