Nicky Tests Software

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Bloggers Club: What's the best career advice you've had?

When I was in university, I signed up to a mentoring program. Back then, I actually had no interest in pursuing a career in IT, I was actually a lot more interested in a career in management consulting - so this piece of advice can apply to all disciplines, in my opinion.

I spoke to the careers advisor at my university  about what I was thinking of doing in the future and she suggested a guy called Dan to be my mentor.

There's one piece of advice that he gave me, that still sticks with me.

What makes you so f***en special?

Now, as someone who lives in Sweden - this seems to be in direct contrast to the first rule of Jantelagen (Law of Jante), "You're not to think you are anything special" so let me try to explain how I have interpreted this piece of advice.

It's more a matter of forcing some self-reflection and realising what you have to offer, than it is about being special.

When I was starting out my career, I was well-aware of the fact that it can be very hard to land your first role - it seemed that a lot of companies wanted someone with experience, which is hard to get if you don't have experience.

But more importantly, I knew I was competing for roles where a lot of people were applying.

I had to ask myself, what could I potentially offer a company, that another candidate couldn't. It's not like I had run an ultra marathon, or invented something awesome or started a company.

In other words, I felt pretty f***en average.

But then I took a step back and thought, what have I done/ or what can I do that maybe not EVERYONE has? I don't have to think I'm the only person who can do or has done this thing, but maybe something that is somewhat unusual? (This is easier said than done because things that might seem normal to you, can actually be fairly uncommon.)

The first thing that came to mind, that I started to highlight, was my exchange to the University of Freiburg  While the idea of travelling and living in another country for a semester may seem appealing to many people, actually applying and going through with it is a whole another ballgame.

I was also fortunate enough to had met someone at a debating tournament who walked me through step by step on how to apply for the Baden W├╝rttemberg Scholarship (which covered all my expenses while I was there) and gave me advice on how to apply for the Auckland Abroad scholarship (which covered over 50% of the airfares)

But now let's try tie this back to what I thought made me special; what can I offer a company?

I can make stuff happen. (went on exchange)

I try stuff. Or at least I tend to not let the fear of failure, stop me from even trying in the first place. (I applied for the exchange and the scholarship)


Now let's be honest, this trait isn't the most exciting to have. 

I haven't run an ultra marathon (10km is still my longest run)

I haven't invented something awesome (come to think of it I've probably invented some delicious recipes in the kitchen).

And I haven't started a company (but I seriously admire people who do!)


Now looking forward, if I was ever given the opportunity to mentor someone at my university, I would probably give them the same piece of advice.

What makes you so f***en special?


I think it would be good for that person to take a step back and think about what they have to offer. 




Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Bloggers Club: I wish I knew more about...

I wish I knew more about...

Git and Source Control.


While I've used Git in the past and been able to do what I need to do - I've never felt particularly comfortable in this area. I've read up a bit on what exactly source control is, and why we have it - so I feel that I understand the concepts at least. BUT when it comes to actually using Git - I tend to feel that I'm only keeping my head above water; technically staying afloat.

I find that I have a fairly good idea of what to do, and what my options are if I need to park some changes I've made in my local etc. but when I read more up on it online, then I realise there's actually so much more to learn - and that I've barely touched the tip of the iceberg.

My first step to tackling this is to take Simon Berner's course on Git Source Control.



I recently discovered the Bloggers Club on the Ministry of Testing Club. For more posts on this month's theme, check this out. 

4 Books Which I've Found Useful for my Testing

 1. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

I heard from quite a few people how beneficial this book was for them. About six or seven years ago, I tried to read it, but couldn't get into it - then I tried again about two years ago and really enjoyed it.

It's an intense read and focuses a lot on cognitive biases - a lot of which I come across in day-to-day testing. 


2. Lessons Learned in Software Testing: A Context Driven Approach by Cem Kaner, James Michael Bach and Bret Petticord

While this book was written almost 20 years ago, a lot of the lessons still apply today. There's A LOT of useful advice you can apply. 

Strongly suggest you get a copy and then use it as a reference when the need arises. 

The great thing about this book is that it's split into almost 300 lessons - so you can fairly easily pick it up and put it down.

My highlights include:

  • Lesson 9: You will not find all the bugs
  • Lesson 25: All testing is based on models
  • Lesson 57: Make your bug report an effective sales tool
  • Lesson 111: Consider what bugs you aren't finding when you automate tests


3. Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug


I'd been meaning to read this book for years, so when I saw that my local library had a copy, I immediately reserved a copy.

It was interesting to read about all these different aspects of design, that I had taken for granted. It was also very useful to learn design-related vocabulary and concepts - so hopefully in the future I can use these, if and when needed.



4. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain


Given that I work with a lot of people who (seem to me) are introverts and a few of my friends are introverts, I thought this would be a good read so I can better understand them.

It argues strongly that the world does seem to favour those who are more vocal - and I agree.

But that doesn't make it right. I think it's important that everyone's opinions are heard. 


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

My learning journey while on maternity leave

Almost nine months ago, I gave birth to our daughter. A few weeks before then, I had started my maternity leave and since then has been the longest time (since I've started working) that I've been away from the testing world.

I made a conscious choice to step back from testing while on maternity leave and not try to up-skill in that area during what little free-time I did have. Babies like to be constantly entertained it seems; or at least - mine does.

However, I really enjoy learning - learning languages, new skills, about people and broadening my horizon. Therefore, I decided to still have a learning journey on maternity leave, but with some adaptions.

Reading

It's a great way to wind down in the evenings. Here is my Goodreads profile.

Some of my favourite books that I've read since I've started maternity leave include:
Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug 
The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath
How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future By Steven Levitsky

Learning Swedish

After almost five years in Sweden, I'm finally almost fluent. To continue to improve my Swedish I have been:

  • Using Duolingo almost every day - the main thing I've really embraced is having the habit (I've also become a tad competitive and am now trying to get into the highest league in Duolingo. Currently Obsidian)
  • Listening to Swedish Podcasts - when I walk our daughter for naps, I switch between English and Swedish podcasts. Lately I've been listening to Sommar & Vinter P1 and Breakits Podcast.
  • Reading the news - mostly SVT


Baking

I have a mission to make our daughter an amazing first birthday cake (hopefully the other birthday cakes will also be amazing of course). In order to achieve this, I've been practicing making different cakes, cookies, cupcakes and bread - basically trying to be a whiz in the kitchen. I also have a massive sweet tooth - so it's been really nice learning how to satisfy that by making something instead of buying something.





Getting my Swedish drivers license

I've been studying for my drivers license and taking some lessons since my husband has started vacation and also parental leave. My husband had the brilliant idea that I should study for the test in Swedish - his justification: so he can help me with any questions I might have.
The obvious downside of this, is that it takes me longer to read in Swedish than in English - so getting through each chapter really took me a lot more time than anticipated.

I'm also having to "unlearn" things that I had learned to do in NZ - e.g. some give way rules. Getting my head around some things like "environmentally-friendly" driving is also new to me - it wasn't mentioned at all when I learned to drive in New Zealand.


Attending TestBash Home


I made an exception to staying away from almost all things testing by attending TestBash Home. I was only able to attend a few hours while our baby was sleeping and managed to create some sketchnotes. Unfortunately I still haven't come around to watching the sessions that I missed - hoping to do that soon!








Thursday, October 3, 2019

4 Testing Tips for Beginners

New to testing?
In your first year as a software testing?

Here are 4 useful testing tips for beginners.

1. Explicitly State your Assumptions

Before I start testing (and ideally before the developers start coding), I like to go through the requirements/acceptance criteria/user stories, then write testing notes on my assumptions. That is, based on what I have read, what am I assuming?

Not all of the expected behaviour of the application/feature will ever be explicitly stated, a lot of expected behaviour is implied - therefore it's useful to state your assumptions and then either tag the developers/ business analyst in your comments or share your thoughts with them face to face.

While doing this, I also like to state how I would test the application/feature, based off my assumptions - this doesn't have to be written test cases, but more like test ideas; this is followed by the sort of behaviour I would expect for each test idea. (This isn't a promise to the developers that this is exactly what I would test, but more like an indication of what I plan to cover, at this point in time.)

If stating my assumptions is not enough to clearly communicate how I plan to approach testing an application/feature, then stating how I would test the application/feature tends to do the trick.


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Lessons Learnt: Testing in a changing context

As a tester, I do my best to follow the principles of Context Driven Testing. 

But embarrassingly enough, only up until recently, did I realise that context can change, while you are working in a team - so anything you put in place at the start of your time in a team, might not be the best thing for everyone 6 months later, or 12 months later.

I'd like to share some things I've learned about testing in a changing context - but first let me describe my initial context and how it changed over the course of roughly 14-15 months.


Initial Context

  • 2 main applications - fairly straightforward, not too many possible flows in either of them
  • 3 Backend developers
  • 4 Frontend developers
  • No test automation set up initially
  • 1 Product Analyst
  • 1 Product Owner
  • Designer, who was not part of our team
  • 1 Scrummaster


How the Context Changed


  • 7 applications - a few of which had various possible user flows within it. 1 of these applications had many flows in it.
  • 3 Backend developers
  • 7 Frontend developers
  • Cypress Test Automation, written for most of the applications. Running automatically for 2 of the smaller/more straight forward applications. The tests had to be triggered manually for the rest of them (We had Selenium Webdriver tests for a bit, before our Test Automation Specialist decided to focus more on Cypress as a company-wide Test Automation initiative).
  • API Test Automation for a few of the applications - had to be triggered manually
  • 2 Product Analysts
  • 2 Product Owners
  • Designer, who was part of our team
  • No Scrummaster


Lesson 1. Since Context can change, testing processes and approaches should change


Monday, September 16, 2019

Scrum and Psychological Safety

I first came across the idea of Psychological Safety in 2017 when I attended Joshua Kerievsky's talk on Psychological Safety at Oredev.

Psychological Safety is "‘a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up". Two years later it's a concept that still stays with me and I try to keep it in mind when I interact with people or am in group situations. I know that I can sometimes be a louder-than-usual presence in a group setting, or that I can be a bit too direct, so I do my best to keep it in check for the following two reasons:

  • I learn a lot more by keeping my mouth shut and hearing what others think/how others feel
  • But more importantly, I never want to act or react in a way that would discourage people from speaking their mind in the future.