Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A trip to Trivandrum - A call for help?

Yesterday I went to Trivandrum for a one-day trip. Nazreen from STeP-IN Forum had requested me to assess few testers who are graduates from National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH). They have been trained on software testing from a philanthropist, based out of Trivandrum. Out of the five students who got trained, three students got placed in a single company. Only two students - Appu and Kannan were not placed in any company yet.

When Nazreen called me and explained me about this situation, she did mention about an interpreter too who could help me communicate with the two boys. I gave them few exercises over email and I could not assess the skills to my satisfaction. I wanted to spend time with them to understand the context better. V-Shesh decided to fly me there and get me back to Bangalore, the same day.

New Context
As soon as I reached NISH, the two boys were ready and raring to start learning? No, they thought that I had come to interview them. Once I clarified with the interpreter that I am only a software tester and have no say in hiring any individual. I did not want to give them a plan without understanding their context. I had never interacted with any software tester who was deaf.

I assumed that they would be able to lip-read and understand. I was wrong. When my colleagues themselves find it a bit hard to follow me sometimes, I shouldn't expect much in the first interaction itself.

I asked for few sheets of paper and we communicated by writing on that paper.

Challenge 1: Assess the current situation
When I gave Appu to write about what he knew about software testing, he started writing about the definition, requirements, validation, verification and so on. I realized that the day was going to give me new challenges.

Kannan responded to my questions in his own way. His task was to test Amazon.com - Search feature and give me list of bugs. He showed me the first bug report with a smile [Remember that there is no sound involved here. I am not talking and they are communicating using their fingers] When I asked Kannan about the oracle behind the bug (I used simple terms - Why is this a bug), he pointed me to the invalid test data. I asked wrote "So?" and he could not answer.

I knew that this would take a lot of time and I have only 3 hours left before my departure to Bangalore. Meanwhile, I had asked Appu to read about Context-Free Questions blogspot and Kannan to refer the 400 Common Software Errors.

I then wrote a letter to Appu and Kannan and requested the interpreter to convey the message via sign language.
A letter to Appu and Kannan
Congratulations on giving your best to learn software testing. I am impressed by your attitude and your willingness to learn about software testing.

You are better than many software testers available in the world, working in different companies. They are already in the company, we are yet to get into one.
I have a plan on how you can get into the company of your choice. Yes, your choice.

When will any company want to hire you?
- You are good. You are better than their test team.
- You can test any software and have experience testing different types of software

Right now, you know to find bugs but you lack practice to explain why you think it is a bug.

If you are ready, I have a plan for you:
It is a 10-day plan. With this plan you can learn to test any software.

1. Understand the requirements
- Context Free Questions
- Mary had a little lamb heuristic
- Understand the purpose of testing

2. Write test cases / Have checklist ready
- Write test cases
- Different Quality Criteria

3. Find bugs
- List of common bugs
- Techniques to find bugs and justify why a bug is a bug
- Tools to help you find bugs

4. Prepare test report
- Details of what you tested
- Details of what is pending
- Details of status of project and product

If you learn how to test mobile apps, websites, desktop applications, you will have higher chances of getting into a company.

I will demo you how to test website, desktop, mobile app.
Then you can also demo it to me with another example.
Then we will have online sessions.
Challenge 2: No Internet

They were ready and I asked for a room with whiteboard and few markers. As soon we moved there, we realized that there was no internet. Well, what is the fun without challenges?

We continued without internet and this is the outcome of the discussion over the whiteboard.

Then I showed them how I would test a website. I did a lot of commentary in between by typing why I was running a particular test, what did I use to achieve a particular goal and stuff like that. Here is the snapshot of the text file used.

Challenge 3: Limited Time

And then I received call from the cab driver to drop me to airport. I realized that I had spent close to 5 hours explaining testing without opening my mouth!!!

I could see the smiles on Appu and Kannan's face. You know what was the most satisfying moment in this whole experience?

Communication - Straight from the heart
When Kannan went to the whiteboard and wrote - 'How do you know Sign language?'
I had tears in my eyes and wrote - I do not know.

I conveyed that I know acting and he nodded. I was smiling inside...

What do you think are the next steps?
I will coach them and get them job-ready in a month or two. I do not know(as of now) the time frame yet. They will work on their skills and get ready for job.

What can you do?
Spread this post, spread the news about them and maybe help them get trained.
My email id: ajay184f@gmail.com

Meet the two budding software testers

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