My recent flirtation with trash-pickup-as-physical-exercise has led me down a familiar path. Even though it is not my responsibility to clean a public road in the first place, once I do it, I find that I feel irrational ownership of it. I want it to stay clean. But since I’ve adopted about 9 miles of road so far, it takes too long to walk the whole route in a day (remember I have to make one pass for each side of the road, or else I am going to miss a lot of trash). Regression trash walking takes too much effort!
I want automation!
I can travel faster in a car, but there are few places I can safely stop the car. I was thinking maybe I should get a motor-scooter instead; a Vespa or something. But that defeats the primary purpose of my trash walking– which is supposed to be exercise. So, now I’m thinking about maybe a bike will be the ticket. I could combine this with the Steel Grip grabber tool to quickly nab the trash and get back on the road.
Just as with software testing, a big problem with introducing tools to a human process is that it can change the process to make it less sensitive (or far too sensitive). In this case, any vehicle that moves fast will cause me to miss some trash. On the other hand, I will still catch a lot of the trash. It’s probably a good enough solution.
On the whole I think it is a good idea to use a bicycle. The remaining problem is that my wife is terrified I will be hit by a car.
Your main stakeholder is concerned with risks that you don’t consider as likely to occur as they do.
Possible workaround: mitigate perceived risk by playing on your stakeholder’s sense of security (i.e: buy quality bicycle riding gear and a big reflective vest).
PS: I like you as a tester and a teacher, Mr. Bach, please don’t succumb to a careless driver while trash walking. As a stakeholder I have an invested interest in keeping you alive and writing more testing articles.
Mohd Aatif says
Sir, First of all I want to thank you for giving this comment option.I think you are right bicycle is a good way to clean the trash because using it we can clean more places without leaving any small place.
Sir, I am a Student and i want to be a Automation tester .so, giving me more advise and share your experience .And I am from India.
Amit Wertheimer says
That’s a cool initiative, but I think I would recommend against bicycle as a regression tool. Moving faster means you need to concentrate more on the road – and I have yet to meet a cyclist (myself included) who did not fall off and got injured in some way due to one moment of not paying enough attention to the road directly ahead.
Getting it back to testing, choosing a bicycle would be quite similar to start demanding your non-coding testers to “write automation” after a 1-week intro to programming course. There’s a high risk of this initiative costing you way more than you intended or can afford to pay.
However, there are some adult tricycles, they give you roughly the same amount of effort, and are a bit more forgiving in case of mind-wandering. Less nimble and look less cool, but I would assume it’s a fair trade-off.
Bonus part – you have a place on the tricycle for a trash bag for any regressions you find.
Ethan Cooke says
Enjoying this blog thread on Trash Cleaning in relation to Testing. Have you considered taking photos of your cleaned path (similar to taking screen shots). This would allow you to identify what has regressed the next time you walk through that same path and potentially allow you to identify trash that is only noticed when doing analysis/observing the photo?
[James’ Reply: Considering it now… Well, I suppose I could wear a body camera and review the footage, but woof that would be a lot of work.]
I’m thinking a low-flying drone with enough juice to just follow you on your ride that could take pictures at exact intervals (DJI’s industrial line of drones does that already) and an image recognition algorithm to point out the possible problem spots. Assuming that’s legal in your state.
Peter Tarasenko says
Great articles about testing vs trash cleaning 🙂
Its usually difficult to achieve several goals simultaneously.
If you top priority goal is trash cleaning rather than physical exercising, have you considered the fact that you can ‘sell’ your idea to lots of people who also needs exercises? So they will keep your road clean all the time. From testing perspective it will look like betatesting for free. And you will continue walking as you did before.
[James’ Reply: Not sure how to sell an idea that is free. Anybody can do this at any time. But in answer to your question, my priority is exercise. Collecting trash has the effect of making me feel better about the exercise process; also, the frequent stops create a longer, lower impact exercise, which involves my upper body. I also get a little sun, which helps with my vitamin D deficiency.]
Simon Li says
Please be safe, Sir! Wishing your trash walking can be always interesting!
craig wylie says
I think you are missing a key factor, you need to get stabilisers to balance you as you lean to get the trash, plus a bucket attached to a rear rack to optimise the collection process.
overkill would be a hoover attached to your back rolling behind the back wheel, like automation its always tempting to take it the extra mile
Maybe it’ll be usefull to mount few trash bins in public places where You found a lot of trash. In the park for example (If they are not there). They will collect the garbage for you. This way you can decrease time needed for regression: change the trash bag and check out places far from trash bin.
Your solution is just moving the problem from the street to the bin. If no one collects the trash from those bins on a steady schedule, they will just spill all over the road and you’ll have a huge pile of garbage instead of small patches that you need a car to pick up instead of a bike. Plus what’s stopping me from just taking the bin home just to spite James? Furthermore, your solution might have legal implications, as the placement of plastic/metal containers on the side of streets/public areas might be seen as a precursor to a terrorist act and could land James in jail. An interesting failure scenario for this solution would be that in several days, no one uses the bins. How long should he wait to validate the theory?
Ron Meloche says
James, I met you in Brisbane some years ago. I am still a tester here … but I ride my bike about 6km to the train station – there and back. I do the trash bike pickup both ways and have a somewhat ownership to keeping it tidy. I also connected this to bugs in software – you did a great job connecting the ideas. And I understood your drive to keep it clean maybe obsessive. My recent idea was noticing how clean somewhere is (something not there) and knowing clean is not natural – I think most people don’t notice clean environments. Your insights made me chuckle because I understand the drive to pick up! There must be more people doing this?
T'Chris Gardner says
Perhaps a different solution entirely?
a) if the walk/exercise is the important thing, perhaps deploying a rake kind of tool would allow you to collect more trash which can be collected at intervals (such as street crossings) This also depends on the size of the trash you’re attempting to find, which I imagine you have a handle on (so to speak) now that you’ve done it…
b) if clearing the trash is more important, perhaps the rake would still help but on a smaller area of ground. Do a deep cleaning on one block-one direction stretch, then on the next attempt, focus on another segment of the SUT (er, road).
c) if time to get done is the most important, perhaps you could enlist friends/neighbors to bug bash with you (“trash bash”? hmmm..) and see what kinds of new creative ways they approach the trash collection.
Wow, this was a fun exercise actually. Anything can be tested!
And I second the earlier comment: be safe out there! we need you writing blogs, too!