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Follow the Data

One of the exploratory testing techniques I use is a ‘Follow The Data’ tour. For this test I follow a piece of data through the system from where it’s first introduced to where it’s stored, wherever it’s used, and where it’s displayed.

As well as checking that the data is actually used (there are times when input that is carefully validated is never actually used by the system) this technique can also lead to further test ideas.

Printing Problems

If you find that the data is printed out, this can give you a test about whether non-printable characters can form part of the data. And if so, what happens to them? How long can the data be? What happens to the printout when the maximum length of data is used? will it wrap or print off the page or obscure other parts of the printout? Read more on Follow the Data…

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Hiring Developers in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor & Detroit


Atomic Object is looking to hire two developers — junior or senior — in our Grand Rapids office. We’re also hiring designers and developers in Ann Arbor and Detroit.

Here’s where you can apply.

What does Atomic do?

We create custom software products — mobile, web, desktop and embedded — for clients ranging from startups to the Fortune 500. Our typical projects are large and complex. Our success relies on smart designers and developers who can collaborate closely and work on self-managed teams to produce quality software that our clients love.

Why work at Atomic?

Here are a few more reasons why you should be considering working here: Read more on Hiring Developers in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor & Detroit…

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Lights, Camera, Action, Bugs!

I recently read about what might be one of the worst movies ever made and clicked through to read some reviews and find out why it was so bad. Doing so, I discovered a list of bloopers appearing the film.

Reading about these bloopers was really useful and reminded me about some of the test techniques I use. Read more on Lights, Camera, Action, Bugs!…

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What’s the Risk? – Learning from Others’ Mistakes

As a tester, I learned the standard test techniques of boundary conditions, equivalence classes, state models, path analysis but I’m always on the look-out for new test ideas, how things can go wrong and the ways that people can use things that were never thought of.

Read more on What’s the Risk? – Learning from Others’ Mistakes…

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Monitoring Your iOS Traffic

There are a number of free ‘sniffer’ tools around, for your PC or Mac, for looking at and changing the network traffic. The venerable Wireshark, Fiddler, and Burpsuite are some of the ones that I have used in the past, and still fire up today.

What about your iOS devices though? What programs are available for these, so you can see what your phone and iPad are sending out and receiving? I wouldn’t want to try and use an iOS version of Wireshark on my phone, not just because it hasn’t been ported to work on iOS, but because viewing all the data and changing it on a small phone screen is just not physically feasible. So what can you do if you want to see what your device is sending out, and how can you change what is going into it? Read more on Monitoring Your iOS Traffic…

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The 4 Phases of Project and Culture Shock

culture-shockBefore I moved over to the US, I did lots of research — how to get a driving license, how to quickly improve my credit score, what to call a pavement/lift/boot/bonnet, how to open a bank account, where the nearest supermarkets were, etc., etc.

One other thing I found on my research was something called Culture Shock, “a feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture.” This seems to happen in 4 phases:

  1. Honeymoon – Everything seems new and exciting, with lots of possibilities.
  2. Negotiation – The initial excitement wears off and even the simplest task can prove hard and frustrating.
  3. Adjustment – The differences and changes have been taken onboard, and routines have been developed.
  4. Mastery – You are able to participate fully and comfortably in the new culture.

Having been here for 20 months, I’ve moved through the first two and am in the adjustment phase. Knowing that there were these phases made it easier to cope. Read more on The 4 Phases of Project and Culture Shock…

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3 Tips for Overcoming Shyness at Conferences

I recently attended the CAST testing conference in Madison, WI and was really glad that I went. While driving there I was nervous, as I am shy and an introvert — but I also know that a lot of the value you can get out of a conference is talking with the people there. I did not want to be this guy, sitting in a hotel room and missing out on the interactions with the other attendees.

So what did I do to make sure I got more from the conference than just listening to the speakers? Here are 3 tips:

1. Be Active Online

For introverts/shy people, the internet can be a much easier way of meeting people than having to go up and talk to them. Once you’ve made contacts online, then meeting them in person at a conference is easier. And if they happen to be an extrovert or more comfortable socially, they will often come up to you and start the conversation. At one session that I attended, I knew 21 out of the 26 people there through Twitter, and it was like meeting friends rather than a room full of strangers. Read more on 3 Tips for Overcoming Shyness at Conferences…

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Becoming a Software Testing Mentor for Per Scholas

Per Scholas Logo

I’ve not regretted my move into testing; it’s been fun and challenging and continues to be so. I’ve also received a lot of advice and encouragement from the test community, both online and offline. So when the opportunity arose to give something back, I took it.

Read more on Becoming a Software Testing Mentor for Per Scholas…

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4 Ways to Beat Post-Conference Information Overload


Last month I went to Madison, WI for the CAST 2103 test conference. It was a great conference at a cool venue with good topics and speakers and an audience from all around the world.

Now that I’m back with a head full of ideas and thoughts, how can I handle this information overload and make sure I get the most benefit from going? This is my plan: Read more on 4 Ways to Beat Post-Conference Information Overload…

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“What’s a Browser?” – Remembering the Non-Tech-Savvy User

“You work with computers, don’t you?”

That simple, innocent-enough question — when asked by a family member or friend — gives no hint about the trouble about to rain upon your head. You just know you’re going to spend the next few hours battling to get their computer to work. I was asked that question twice last week on a vacation to see family, and on both occasions I was able to help — and gain an insight into users and their behavior.

Booting? Safe Mode? What are those?

The first problem was malware installed on a PC that was causing two behaviors: either it would display a black screen with a white arrow cursor that would not move, or the computer would appear to be working but within a few minutes it would give a Blue Screen of Death.

Read more on “What’s a Browser?” – Remembering the Non-Tech-Savvy User…

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