Archive for the 'links' Category


Musical tesla coils
Via Bruce Sterling
Sammy Larbi
Win an iPod Nano for learning something by writing a program in a language you’re unfamiliar with (via Chad Fowler). I’d like to do something like this for exploratory testing. Thinking…
Payscale Meeting Miser
“Are your meetings worth every penny? Find out with the new Meeting Miser. Just enter the attendees and start the timer. This handy gadget knows that time is money and will calculate exactly how much you’re spending … or wasting.” (via Lifehacker)


Jason Gorman
“And that, folks, is how enterprise-scale reuse works. It is, I tell you. It’s true!”
Ben Simo

“We can’t stop the conversation at ‘I just did that and I’m a user.’”

The “no user would do that” retort is the bane of testers. Ben talks well about moving the conversation past that. But a step further: any project I’d want to work on is a learning project, one that wants to be less wrong than yesterday, one that likes finding out about mistakes. Get past this particular conversation: fine. Maybe testers could even train programmers to swallow that particular reflexive retort. But the defensiveness about having partial understanding will still leak out other places.

Now, I once sat down with Elisabeth Hendrickson while she tested an app of mine. I’d built it with TDD to the max: business-facing tests all the way down to unit tests. It took her about ten minutes to find a high-priority bug. I immediately slipped right into the defensive programmer stance. It took me a few minutes to snap out of it. But if we worked together for longer, I’d like to think I’d get past that.

I aspire to be like Mark “capabilities” Miller, a programmer I once worked with. When someone found a bug in his code, he’d write a long email about it, praising the person, attributing all sorts of cleverness to her, and explaining how he’d come to make that mistake.

Bret Pettichord

“People often recommend that you treat a bug as a story. […] I think this approach is incorrect. We’ve found a better way to handle [bugs].”

I want to disagree with Bret, but I haven’t come up with a counterexample that convinces even me.

Milton Mayer

“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security….

“And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you….The world you live in — your nation, your people — is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed.”

Nice exploratory testing story

From Sajjadul Hakim


Alistair Cockburn:

I’ve had to be part of and lead collaborative work sessions. People remark on the strong feeling of collaboration during those meetings, and the speed at which we get results. Other skilled facilitators manage the same. People ask us how we achieve these effects and whether it can be learned. With this article, I hope to show how we achieve these results, and that they can be learned. […]

In the end, three dominant categories of actions appeared. They are:

  • Lift others
  • Increase safety
  • Make progress

Minor categories also showed up:

  • Add energy
  • Build personal relationships
  • Create an identity

I am at best an amateur facilitator so this will be a handy checklist / self-retrospective-list for me. My biggest problem is dealing with what Sam Kaner calls “the groan zone“—the place where progress seems stalled and the group can either move through it or (more likely) fall back. At that moment, a whole bunch of people and ideas are in unstable equilibrium. What I’m not so good at is keeping the strongest personality in the group from tipping the equilibrium to a solution that meshes best with their personality. (Sometimes I’m that person.) Since, as Mencken said, “There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong,” it’s important to hold the balance.

That’s why I’m most comfortable with situations where we can agree to stop for now, go off and do an experiment that makes us know more. That’s not always possible—and, whenever it is, it requires convincing people to stay in the groan zone indefinitely.


Jason Gorman:

Contrary to - well - pretty much the entire software industry, I don’t believe that a software architect is someone who designs software. I believe that a software architect is someone who recognises a good software design when he sees one.

A Rails homage to the “I’m a Mac” commercials (via /\ndy)

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial containing this graph:

Bogus curve fitting

In what possible universe could you honestly fit that curve to that data? Who could, without shame, publish a curve that goes around the bulk of the data? One that goes through an obvious outlier? (Tukey’s brilliant and eccentric Exploratory Data Analysis counsels us to understand outliers before worrying about the “central tendency”. I wonder if the anonymous editorialist wondered what might be special about Norway? Perhaps a particular natural resource, drilled from under the ocean? If only there were a tool one could use to find information about that resource’s contribution to Norway’s GDP or any special tax rate applied to it!)

But, self-doubting liberal that I am, I can’t only conclude that unsigned Wall Street Journal editorials are written by people whose preferences and loyalties have made them—to use the precise academic terminology—bullshitters, people to whom the truth is completely irrelevant. I have to wonder to what degree I do the same thing, to what degree my own comfort and self-interest has led me to push back against the whole post-Agile thing, despite my respect for Jonathan Kohl and Jason Gorman.

Fortunately, I have morphing software to play with, so I can cut self-reflection short.

Hat tip to Economist’s View