Archive for April, 2015

The Parable of The Saw

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 by The Director

At the dojo, kyoshi told us the parable of the saw:

There was a woodsman who went into the woods one day to cut some wood, and he began cutting wood. He didn’t want to waste any time, so he cut all through the day, working harder as his saw grew duller. Another woodsman too frequent breaks to sharpen his saw, and he could cut more efficiently than the first woodsman, who didn’t want to waste the time in sharpening his saw. Now, at the end of the day, who had the most wood? The second woodsman.

He’s right, of course; we need to take breaks to recenter ourselves, to focus on something other than our computer or mobile screens while working. Have you ever had a project or a deadline where you want to just bull rush through your list of tasks and responsibilities without taking a break or you’ll never get it done. Maybe some of you face each day that way.

However, focusing so hard that the pixels start to swim isn’t the solution. You should get up, walk over to the window, maybe even step outside for a minute. Take a breath of the fresh air or, if you’re in the city, try to guess if that’s the smell of the tannery or the chocolate factory.

But what’s important is that you get up, stretch, and do something other than sit at the computer. Don’t just switch out of the application you’re working on and check Twitter or read a blog entry. These don’t give you the chance to refocus.

And when you’re done and you sit back down at the computer, you’ll be sharpened like a saw and ready to see what’s before you on the screen instead of waving lines of endless obligation.

No Deadlier Default

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 by The Director

Want to stay up tonight, QA?

Here’s a story about how a default in a drop-down list almost killed a young man even though a complete triple-checked system and warnings should have prevented it.

The clinicians involved in Pablo’s case that day — physicians, nurses and pharmacists—all made small errors or had mistaken judgments that contributed to their patient’s extraordinary overdose. Yet it was the computer systems, and the awkward and sometimes unsafe ways that they interact with busy and fallible human beings, that ultimately were to blame. And the biggest culprit may well have been the hospital’s incessant electronic alerts. Some automated warnings misled the medical staff; others were lost in the cacophony of alarms going off throughout the hospital.

Read the whole thing, and think about how it should impact your application design and testing.

Top 10 Ways To Ensure Your Best People Will Quit

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015 by The Director

Ragan.com has the Top 10 Ways To Ensure Your People Quit.

I’ve hit some of these themes here before.

This list talks about active retention strategy and dedicates a couple of bullet points to it.

However, I’d swap out those for a couple of other ideas, such as:

  • Keep the employees doing the same things for a long period of time. The tedium of a couple of videos during orientation is nothing compared to doing the same tasks over and over again for years.
  • Don’t demonstrate the employee’s impact or meaning to the company effort. Especially in the auxiliary jobs–like QA–where employees might not see how their efforts are helping the company. Employees who feel forgotten, who feel as though they don’t matter, or feel as though they’re taken for granted are not employees for long.
  • Don’t succeed as a company. If your employee doesn’t see the company as a long-term success, the employee will look for one that is.
  • Build a corporate culture catering to one lifestyle. The stereotypical startup involves coding all night fueled by energy drinks and pizza, having crazy outings as a company, and funky office space with video games, a bar, and/or foosball/pool/bubble hockey tables. This is all well and good for a certain kind of employee–one fresh out of college or the parents’ basement, but if the culture favors only on those employees (especially if the culture is supposed to make up for lesser pay, longer hours, or other shortcomings), employees who move out of that phase of their lives will go look for a grown up company to work for.

That would bring the number up to more than ten, though.

The song says there are fifty ways to leave your lover (although the song itself does not enumerate them all, and Paul Simon marked that defect Resolved (Won’t Fix)). There are probably that many ways to lose your worker, too.

The Day I Quit

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 by The Director

When I was a lad, fresh out of the university with a degree in English and Philosophy and no actual career prospects, I worked as a produce clerk for a small off-chain produce and cheese shop. They had daily garbage pickup on weekdays, but nothing on the weekends, which were some of the busiest days of the week. As a result, on Sunday afternoons, the dumpster started to fail boundary analysis, at which time the store manager would order a clerk or two to climb up onto the pile and jump up and down to compact it so we could dump the last few cans of refuse into it. Come to think of it, I’ve seen the same philosophy applied to hardware resource management.

So as I stood and watched the younger kids jumping in the dumpster, I decided that if I was ever ordered to climb into the dumpster, I would drop my apron in the alley and never come back.

Want to know what would make me leave QA? Needing an implant of some sort to do my job:

PayPal is working on a new generation of embeddable, injectable and ingestible devices that could replace passwords as a means of identification.

Jonathan LeBlanc, PayPal’s global head of developer evangelism, claims that these devices could include brain implants, wafer-thin silicon chips that can be embedded into the skin, and ingestible devices with batteries that are powered by stomach acid.

These devices would allow “natural body identification,” by monitoring internal body functions like heartbeat, glucose levels and vein recognition, Mr LeBlanc told the Wall Street Journal.

Over time they would come to replace passwords and even more advanced methods of identification, like fingerprint scanning and location verification, which he says are not always reliable.

I’d rather not be personally, bodily on the Internet of Things unless there’s a compelling medical reason for it, and even then I’m going to ask my doctor to examine all the steampunk options first.


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