May 7, 2013

vary your approach...

i'm reading about "exploratory testing", to prepare for the new job.  if i had to sum it up in one sentence, i'd say that exploratory testing is all about varying your approach.

an example:  i am testing a website that allows users to run background checks.  i start by making sure the website is accessible in all supported browsers.  then i check the basics, what the business person tells me should work.  can i run a check?  can i get results?  are the results correct?

i don't have time to test every single possibility, so i vary my approach.  i start testing on a windows machine.  i observe.  things are looking good so i switch to a mac.  more observing.  i try different browsers on different machines.  i keep track of the results.  i notice that IE8 has the most display issues, so i make that browser my main one to test with.

once i've checked the basics, what should work is working, then i move on to the fun part.  i try to break things.  i had a set of tools (in my brain.)  let's see what happens if i search for someone with a hyphen in their name.  what about someone with a really long name?  are there character limits?

the big word for this is heuristics.  the tools & techniques i use to learn about what i'm testing, to discover possible problems, etc...

Heuristic (pron.: /hjʉˈrɪstɨk/; or /hyoo-ris-tik/; Greek: "Εὑρίσκω", "find" or "discover") refers to experience-based techniques for problem solving, learning, and discovery. Where the exhaustive search is impractical, heuristic methods are used to speed up the process of finding a satisfactory solution via mental shortcuts to ease the cognitive load of making a decision. Examples of this method include using a rule of thumb, an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, or common sense.

i love this word.  i didn't know the word existed until a few months ago.  finding the word to describe how i do the work i love, it was mind blowing.

i've noticed that besides how i work, it's how i live my life.  when i go to the gym, i never do the same workout.  i do different kinds of water aerobics at different speeds.  i try to do fast sprints, randomly.  then yoga stretches or kick-boarding.  they say that if you vary your workouts, you have "muscle confusion" and you lose more weight.

same thing with what i eat.  i try to eat mostly healthy food, but i also try to vary what i eat.  today is was a bowl of fresh blackberries for breakfast, yesterday it was eggs.  they say that if you eat the same healthy foods every day, your body starts to adjust and weight loss slows down.

so i guess this all fits into my life philosophy.  live in the moment, pay attention to details, observe, try new things, be creative, and always vary your approach.

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