My Life With Colleagues

My work is greatly influenced by fellow students of the craft. My friends are critical to my education.They help me focus my attention and they stir up my ideas.

Here are some substantive examples from just the last two days in my life as a student of software testing:

  • David Gilbert Skyped me with a new version of his TestExplorer tool. I’m using it to develop examples for my next book, tentatively titled “Real Exploratory Software Testing” to contrast with the shallow knock-off of an ET book out there that has a similar name.
  • Michael Bolton roused me out of bed to talk about a change he wants to make to the Rapid Testing Class.
  • Pradeep Soundararajan Skyped me to talk about Weekend Testers.
  • Ajay Balamurugadas posed me a math problem, and I wrote him about the solution.
  • Parimala Shankaraiah emailed me asking for a testing challenge to pique the skills of the Weekend Testers.
  • Liz Marley blogged wonderfully about learning challenge I gave her, and I remembered that I have to follow up on my part of that challenge. She also offered a good example of using emotions and a test oracle.
  • Karen Johnson Skyped me about the protocol of collegial critique between us. She reminded me that I am suppose to critique her work. I promised to.
  • Matt Heusser Skyped me about writing an article for him. We’re doing it on his wiki. First time I’ve written an article that way.
  • Sohail Hasware Skyped me to complain about the stupid testing curriculum he’s forced to go through to get his IT certificate. I once again tried and failed to get him to quit that program and stop wasting his precious time and life consorting with fools.
  • Buddy Parker, a 14 year-old home schooled kid also living on Orcas Island, emailed me about how to learn HTML, so I responded with links and some examples.
  • Adam Roy, a 7 year-old kid who likes algebra, son of author Jennifer Roy, conversed with me about learning Python.
  • Ravisuriya continued an email conversation with me about context-driven testing and priority-severity distinctions.
  • Adrian Segar and I conversed about the etymology of the term “Peer Conference.” Apparently he’s written a book about it.
  • Rodney Thompson emailed me to sound me out about a new term: “situational testing.” I’m dubious about it, but we’re still talking.
  • Jonathan Bach alerted me to a new article attacking “best practices”, so I commented on that. He also wants a new article from me.
  • Elisabeth Hendrickson offered an apt and testerly reply to my puzzle “guess the next term in the series: tom, dick, ?” She wrote “Bill, if the sequence is from Thomas Richard Williams, pioneer of stereoscopy.” I was thinking “harry”, based on a common cultural pattern, but she demonstrates that other answers are plausible, as a good tester should.
  • Henrik Andersson Skyped me about how he might be coming to the U.S.A. at the special invitation of the Association for Software Testing. Henrik is a rising star as a Context-Driven guy in Sweden.
  • Jerry Gao, a tester from China, wrote to ask how to advocate for exploratory testing over there. I’m replying to him, shortly.

These are all happy examples. I’m not leaving anything out. I just don’t happen to be in a flame war with anyone, at the moment.

And thank you Kathy…

I want to mention the most recent useful criticism I’ve received from a colleague. It was from Kathy Iberle, at the PNSQC conference. I had just delivered a presentation I felt good about, on the “myths of rigor.” Kathy said she was expecting me to provide more details and analysis about the alternative approach to rigorous engineering that I had proposed. She said, “I expect to hear something new when I hear a talk from you.” Well, actually, I thought I had presented something new, but as I thought over it again, I realized that I’d left some big fat loose ends in the talk. So, just as I was about to argue with her, agreement stepped in and threw a blanket over my cage.

Kathy is an interesting example of someone who has gained her reputation in my community entirely without– I want to say trying, but that’s not right– Kathy doesn’t push. It’s actually frustrating to me, who does push. I like turning over bee hives to get the honey, but with colleagues like Kathy, I have to wait patiently for the bees to fill tiny thimble jars and fly by with them. What honey, though!

The main reason I know about Kathy is from seeing her at peer conferences. That’s the single best mechanism I can recommend for building mass collegiality.

(BTW, my Skype ID is “satisfice”)

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