There are lots of jokes circulating in the world about how college drop-outs made it big in the industry while the ones who went and got themselves a very good university degree did not make it up in life; well, I must admit that it is only “partially” true. There are also people who went to university and got a good degree who have made it good in life; the only difference between the ones who made it and the ones who did not make it is that the ones who made it never stopped learning even when they dropped out of school; the ones who did not, stopped learning the moment they graduated. I guess a key learning from this, which a lot of us miss, is the fact that you don’t need to go to school to stop learning, or that if you dropped out of school does not mean that you stop your learning; learn all life and I am pretty sure that there’s something that the drop-out CEO learns even today.

There have been so many teachers in my life, who, in a very indirect way, have been teaching me about testing; and in a very funny way, we refuse to acknowledge that they have taught us testing. We are still behind some of those teachers, or some of those institutions to teach us testing after we grow up. Listing below some of my teachers, what they taught me and why it was an insightful lesson in testing:-

1) My mother – Before every birthday of mine, she used to take me out to buy me a shirt. When she picked up my shirt, she used to look at the fabric quality to see how long the fabric would last, how suitable it would look, how durable it is if it is washed rough and used rough, etc. etc. Looking back, I can somehow map it to the scalability and reliability aspects of testing. Trying to fit all of these into a specific definition, scalability and reliability testing?

2) My Grandmother – I always went around with my grandmother on her weekly vegetable shopping trips; she taught me how to reach out and pick the best tomato from a pile of tomatoes, pick vegetables which are rich in nutrition. She also taught me how to quickly move on from a cart if she decided that it is going to take ages for her to pick a good vegetable. All those trips taught me that the importance of having the domain knowledge before beginning testing; they also taught me the importance of the cost/time/quality model while designing tests.

3) My Cat – I had a pet cat; when I used to play with her, I used to chase her down small holes and alleys. Whenever my cat had to go into a hole, it would go to the entrance of the hole, pause for a second, measure the hole using it’s whiskers before deciding if she should go inside or not. I did not realize it probably then, but over time, that taught me about compatibility testing.

4) Why did my father never check his change from his grocer?  During my childhood, I observed that whenever my father paid the grocer and accepted change, he never checked the change. He always assumed that the change would be correct. When I questioned him on if there’s a shortfall, he attributed it to the carelessness rather than to any trust issues. That is when I understood the importance of building trust with your customers and stakeholders. Over time, if you have built enough trust and credibility with your stakeholders, then any problem can be solved very easily.

5) My Doctor – Have you ever seen a doctor test for how the newly born baby responds to a touch as soon as the baby’s born? The doctors try to balance the baby on the top of a narrow table and can observe the legs of the baby walking; likewise, they have different tests to ensure that the various sense organs of the kid are in fine working condition as soon as the baby is born. Such excellent tests which have been perfected over years of practice are mostly not known to people outside the medical profession.  This taught me the importance of how systems have been responding to tests over time and the importance of continuously practicing your testing skills over time.

6) My uncle, a teacher – My uncle was a teacher; to understand the level of understanding of his student, he always asked a few questions on the main areas that he taught. Based on a couple of answers, he could understand the overall knowledge of the student. His ability to question and make a decision based on the student’s answers taught me the importance of doing the right sampling when there’s a lot of functionality around and very little time to certify the systems. This taught me the importance of testing the heart of the application, choosing the most commonly used areas to test first and then test around these areas.

Apart from these people, there are my friends who have taught me how you can quickly test if a wad of notes contains empty notes in-between, my doctor who also taught me the importance of specific metrics and monitoring them as part of testing so that the reader can understand what a test failing means, my driver who taught me that one need not clear the driving test to become a driver, and the list goes on and on and on and on…..

I would also like to take a moment to thank the education system in which I studied; it ensured that there was no “testing” course taught as part of a syllabus and so, my entire education system taught me nothing about testing; and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Since nothing was taught, I molded myself by looking at the various teachers mentioned above and that helped in my career too.

In many ways, most of us have the “testing DNA” as a part of our systems; yet, we try to seek so many institutions and people for teaching us to test.  I am not going to do an anti-propaganda against testing teachers and institutions, but I want to highlight that if you really want to learn testing, instead of queuing up in the offices of the testing teachers and institutions, there are so many teachers around you from whom you don’t learn at all. So, I’d like to take this moment to thank all my teachers that taught me “testing”; I think you should also reach out to your teachers if you are reading this line, and offer them a single note of thanks for their teachings.


Fake Software TesterA Fake Tester's DiaryFake Tester,Fake Tester's DiaryThere are lots of jokes circulating in the world about how college drop-outs made it big in the industry while the ones who went and got themselves a very good university degree did not make it up in life; well, I must admit that it is only 'partially' true....
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Fake Software Tester

What has this author achieved in testing? This author has tested more than a million lines of code and has logged more than a billion defects; He has reviewed other test cases and found at least a trillion missing test cases and has coached his peers to log more than a quadrillion bugs; He has talked more than a Quintillion words while participating in triage meetings and he has been a part of sextillion arguments convincing the developer of the bugs. He has done good researching on septillion testing conferences; every day, he has Octillion thoughts that come to his mind on the problems that plague the world of software testing. He has selected Nonillion testers from his Decillion testing interviews and has unsuccessfully attempted to coach Undecillion testers about testing. His writings are followed by DuoDecillion readers and the comments on his blog are more than Tredecillion; he has answered Quattuordecillion questions on testing in various forums. And by the way, like the monthly columns, the above contains Quindecillion amounts of exaggeration on what I have done so far in my life.

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