Testing tours – what is there more to add?

We recently had a meetup in Cluj focused on testing tours, with the occasion of Eurostar’s contest Teamstar. As part of their contest entry some of our colleagues decided to create a workshop in which we would practice with tours. They prepared intensely for a few weeks: searched materials on this technique, picked a list of tours, practiced with them, and created an exercise for the meetup.

The first thing I realized from this experience is that there is a lot out there about testing tours. The organizers kindly provided some materials to read before the meetup, from diverse sources. Going through them, I found references to even more materials on tours. (You can find them at the end of the article). So it seems to be quite a known technique.

But why all this focus on testing tours? In what ways are they valuable?

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Fireflies by the river – a pet project to learn from

Last weekend me and 3 other Altoms participated at Somes Delivery, a local event in Cluj that wants to present different ways of integrating the local river(Somes) into the lives of the city’s inhabitants. We applied with a project that proposes to bring digital fireflies on the banks of the river. They would be lights that react to noise and light.
The “fireflies” placed in two trees above a resting place by the river would light up only when the noise was under a set threshold. We wanted to encourage people to sit quietly and contemplate the river in the evening.

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Another perspective on Citcon 2016

I recently attended my first fully open-space conference, CITCON Europe, which conveniently happened in Cluj-Napoca (where I live) this year.
I had experienced a bit the open-space format at European Testing Conference earlier this year, in Bucharest, so I had some expectations set: I knew everyone would be able to propose topics, I saw how the “marketplace” would work, and I had used the law of 2 feet before.
However, some things surprised me about how the conference turned out, and I’d like to share them with you.

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Alexandra: Bad Habits During Testing Activities

Those bad Bad habits, who doesn’t want to get rid of them?…

Let’s consider the following hypothesis: small habits that slow me down in my work or stand in the way of solving problems could accumulate and have quite an impact on my work. This could mean that they are the silent, unnoticeable factors that influence my testing in a bad way. One such habit may not make a big difference, but when dealing with more, they could have a considerable influence.

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Activities in testing – a parallel from qualitative research

I mentioned in the previous article that I would discuss more on the similarity of the phases in a qualitative research process and the phases of the testing activity.
So I continue here the parallel with the book – ‘Reliability and validity in qualitative research’, by Jerome Kirk and Marc L. Miller – and a more extended discussion on invention, discovery, interpretation and explanation.

“[…] the full qualitative effort depends upon the ordered sequence of invention, discovery, interpretation, and explanation.” (page 60)

When I test a product, I go through a sequence of different activities that focus on different aspects of the testing process.
 
Invention denotes a phase of preparation, or research design; this phase produces a plan of action.”

In my case, I could see this as the stage at which I decide how to test a software service/product, by identifying and building a test strategy.

In the book three sub-phases associated with invention are presented, in the case of anthropological research: the first directions to the field to be studied, first look over the field and the first taste of it (meaning the first interaction with the culture to be studied). These further dictate the approach of the research.
I associate this with the experience of learning how to approach the testing task at hand. It’s what happens…

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Personal explorations of qualitative research in testing

One book I read a while ago from the office’s library is about qualitative research. It’s called ‘Reliability and validity in qualitative research’, by Jerome Kirk and Marc L. Miller.
It sounds fancy and scientific, and it has not been an easy read for me, but I really enjoyed it.
I find it full of great ideas, containing some very consistent examples and discussing ways in which qualitative research can be performed, as well as identifying some really interesting aspects of this approach, with relation to social sciences and anthropology. But I do not intend to review this book.

I’ll try to discuss how I find that some ideas in the book apply to my testing activities. As I read along the pages, I made some thought exercises and tried to identify how my work relates to the ideas presented.

As the title of the book suggests, its framework is given by the reliability problem and the validity problem that arise when performing qualitative research. I instantly related these two problems to…

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