Sunday, January 23, 2011

Skype - Paired Investigation for list of commands issue.

Last night was amazing. We had a testers chat on skype.
I sent out this tweet    and Phil Kirkham was the first one to ping me on Skype. Later we had Mohinder Khosla, Tony Bruce, Shrini Kulkarni, Albert Gareev, Michel Kraaij and Bala Sista joining us.
We (me, Phil, Mohinder, Tony) started off with an initial deadline of 45 minutes till 11pm IST. Later, as more testers joined, we extended till 12 midnight IST.

The session was very good. I am assuming that each one of them had their share of learning. During the discussion, after I typed a phrase, I got this:

Immediately I typed what I thought I had typed, in a notepad and tried that on Skype. The same list was displayed again. The text was:
/Knowing what skills is/ might help us define 'skills' better
Calling this as the 'Master Text' for the rest of this blog post 
I decided that I will investigate this behavior later. As soon I got up this morning, I pinged Allmas Mullah on Skype with the text '/xyz/ might help' expecting list of commands.
She replied with a standard '?' . Not surprised with the reply, I explained the purpose of my ping and asked her if we can spend ten minutes to investigate this issue? (It was an issue at that time to me)
By this time, even Allmas had reproduced the issue on her side.

Allmas started off with brilliant questions -
What's the plan of action? What's the strategy of investigation?

I opened my  favorite tool for such sessions - (Thanks to Jon Bach for introducing this tool in WT32).
Chat from
 Ajay: Lets copy paste the commands here & google for that. take the solution & search for the problem in skype support page or google. I am suspecting some answer would contain the words - type 'these words' and you will get the list of commands. Then we can compare our test words & the actual words.
Allmas: Even if you just type '/' it gives you a list of commands. So, its the '/' .
Aj: Good, when I type / I don't see anything in Skype chat. not even the / character.
AM: What version of Skype?
Meanwhile I click on the link which is displayed at the end of the complete list of commands and found this:
To see a list of the available commands simply type /help into the chat.
I pasted this on our chat and tried /help on Skype. A short list of commands was displayed.
With few more tests like
  • Removing few words from the Master Text
  • A / followed by a word. Ex: /word 
  • /(space)word 
  • word/ word

I was thinking that the second / in the sentence was causing this issue & trying more tests like word/ word
and Allmas was progressing on the right track by pointing to me that even a character followed by / gives the full list of commands.
So we arrived at two points:
  • Just '/' does nothing
  • '/' brings up a list of all commands supported by Skype.

Then I realized where I was going wrong and started trying further tests like / in between two lines of text.

Allmas was highlighting that /command looks like a UNIX command and looking at the language in which Skype was written. I was searching for a user guide which would explain the usage of /commands and I was failing miserably in my attempt. Allmas gave the link. It was at Support link > Step by Step guide.

Amazed by the number of user guides provided, I quickly searched for what I wanted in few of them.
Allmas pasted this:

Does Skype for Windows have command line options?
Yes, you can use these options:
I did not ask for the link or the complete information. I replied with 'I am wondering if Skype connect is different from Skype windows as I am not getting much help from the user guides.'
This did not go well with Allmas as we were on two different tracks :)
What followed was interesting:
To read the unedited chat, please click here.
If you do not want to read the chat, just ignore the link and read further.
We clarified our assumptions, we exchanged our learning.

Learning for me:

  • My belief in my quote: "When we listen and respect each other, Paired testing ROCKS" increased.
  • There is so much information. If you are ready to learn, there is no limit.
  • Be aware of what actions you perform. I remembered what I typed - the Master Text. If I had not remembered it, I might have taken more time to come to the conclusion.
  • Recognizing that there is a trap and coming out of it before its too late.
  • I need more & correct practice.
Special thanks to Allmas who agreed for ten minutes and ended up discussing for ninety minutes.

Useful Links:
Chat Commands:
User Guides:

If you are interested in further investigation, try this:
Why does /getba, /get ba and /getbanlist give three different results.
/getba - list of commands
/get ba - blank
/get banlist - executes the command

I would love to be part of such sessions. 
Feel free to ping me on Skype/Twitter at 'ajay184f' and not /ajay184f :)