Microsoft due to end Vista support on 11th April 2017

For the half-a-dozen people still using Windows Vista (for the love of all things good about computers, why?) I would like to draw your attention to CNET’s advisory that Microsoft will be ending support for Windows Vista on 11th April 2017.

Geekonomicon would like to apologise for any inadvertent flashbacks this image may cause.

Windows Vista – the logo was the only decent thing about it.


If you’re still running Windows Vista then, Microsoft will no longer support it. In practical terms, this means you will get:

  • no more security updates.
  • no more non-security hotfixes.
  • no assisted support options (free or paid).
  • no more online technical updates from Microsoft. The fiends.

For the hard of thinking, I’d like to point out that if you’re still using Windows Vista, it sucks to be you regardless. Every single day.

On the upside, I have even less reason to test on that particular platform anymore.  🙂


State of Testing survey

A shiny new State of Testing survey is now running on Joel Montvelisky’s excellent QA Intelligence blog; I must confess I’d not actually read any of it until recently, but I’ve skimmed through a couple of several articles and it is now officially on my “to-read” list of blogs and articles related to QA and Software Testing.   The survey itself is a collaboration between the guys at Tea Time With Testers (a monthly e-magazine also well worth reading) and QA Intelligence.

I’ll be extremely interested to see the results of this survey, but that hopeful statement comes with a caveat.  Survey results are only as good as the final data set.  The more Testers and QAs who answer this survey honestly from more countries and companies of all shapes and sizes, the better a picture those crunching the numbers will be able to provide.  So, if you work as a  Software Tester/QA/Grand High Poo-Bah of Bugs[1] then please do fill this out.  Admittedly, there are issues around a self-selecting survey sample, but I’m assuming that whoever ends up doing the data analysis and commenting on the survey results will be taking that factor – amongst many others – into account.

If you want to help make the survey a success, do take heed of the suggestions already made by Joel, which can be summed up as blog about it, mention it to all of your tester friends and colleagues and generally plug it all over whatever flavours of social media take your fancy.

In a similar vein, Cole Henley has been running a survey for the last three years with a focus on Developers rather than testers, focusing on freelancer rates.  An excellent breakdown and analysis of the 2012 results are on Cole’s blog here.   The results on the 2013 survey are on the Mud Blog, which covers how freelancers work as well as how they charge what their rates are.  I hope that the State of Testing survey will be as thorough in its approach.

The State of Testing survey can be taken right here.

[1] Delete as applicable.

Ada Lovelace Day and Women in Testing

“Society as a whole benefits immeasurably from a climate in which all persons, regardless of race or gender, may have the opportunity to earn respect, responsibility, advancement and remuneration based on ability.”

– Sandra Day O’Connor.  Source: Brainy Quote

Regardless that some will accuse me of Jumping shamelessly onto the bandwagon, it’s nevertheless well worth noting that today is Ada Lovelace Day.  As I sit and type this in my work’s Test Lab, there are three male software testers, including me, and two female testers.  Our (male) Test Manager doesn’t count for the purposes of this headcount, since he’s not doing any testing, but has instead the unenviable job of juggling the schedule as our clients keep moving the goalposts.

Given what I have gleaned from other testers online, attending meetups like the London Tester Gatherings and the excellent Test Bash 2.0, Software Testing has a majority of men in its workforce.  However, does Software Testing have any more or less representative a gender ratio when compared to the rest of the amorphous mass that is, for want of a better term, “The IT Industry”?  According to an infographic in the Metro paper today in print and online17% of Britain’s Information Technology workforce is female.  I wonder how that proportion increases and decreases when you compare software Testers with Developers, DBAs and Systems Administrators, between Open and Closed source projects, or large and small companies?

While I was doing my BBST Foundations course (which I will get around to posting about in more detail, honestly) we had a getting-to-know-each-other session at the very start of it.  At one point, this raced off headlong into a tangent on the gender ratios present in different Testing teams.  The general consensus on that discussion thread were guesstimates of 10/90 or 20/80 female-to-male gender ratio in the working environments of those testers on the course.  In my own experience, there were no female testers at the last company I worked at out of half a dozen in-house testers.  On the one occasion when we had contract testers in to meet high demand (needing to test an app over 57 mobile devices does that), the ratio was about 40/60.  Having said that, I think there is less of a gender disparity in software testing compared to software development; there was one woman in a team of 30-odd developers at the same company.

One fellow BBSTer reckoned there was a 60/40 split at the last testing conference he was at.  I think the split was 40/60 or maybe 50/50 at Test Bash 2.0; perhaps the organisers can provide a more definitive and accurate ratio than my vague approximations?  Then again, it’s worth taking the discussions we had with a pinch of salt, given that they come from a self-selected sample of 25 students (7 female) and 6 teachers (1 female).

If anyone can point me at any hard research that has been done on this subject, I will be genuinely interested to read it and cite it here.  The Huffington Post has an article on girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and a handy link to a graph showing women as a share of total researchers.  As an interesting aside, it shows percentages of over 70% in Bolivia and Myanmar – anyone know why?  However, that graph covers academic research rather than all STEM-related jobs, where I suspect the percentages will be higher for men and less for women.  Do higher proportions of women get jobs in academia than in business?

I am making the assumption as I write this – feel free to prove me wrong – that the majority of those reading my blog do some kind of geeky, techy job, or at least have a hobby or two in that sphere.  What is the gender ratio where you work?

Anarchy in the AST

I’ve just finished doing exactly the same course. If I can adequately muster my thoughts on this, I’ll do my own write-up in due course (no pun intended). I think Geoff’s post is a great summation of it.


 This week I completed the Association for Software Testing’s “Black Box Software Testing — Foundations” course. (That’s a mouthful and a half.) I’d intended to weigh its merits beside those of the ISTQB’s “Foundations” course, but this is going to be a straight review instead, occasionally using the other for contrast.

First Impressions

Initially I found the BBST course to be massively overwhelming. The welcome email leads to Moodle, where there are all kinds of forums, tabs, documents, and links.  Students are buried in information and unread forum posts. Once I figured out where my weekly assignments were, I was able to get going. ( assignments are helpfully listed on a spreadsheet, because presumably EVERYONE is confused by the Moodle set up).

I started pulling 4 hour days, something I was able to do because of training time provided by work.  It was clear I wasn’t going to do all…

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A belated list of New Years Resolutions

“New Year resolutions are not by force but they help us forge on better, help us avoid the mistakes which tried to hold us back in the past.”
– Author unknown.  Source,

First off, an apology for not posting to this blog more frequently; I’ve been crazy busy with work, moreso than at any other time since I became self-employed as a Software Tester, so I’ve had very little in the way of free time (more on that later, honest guv).

I’m a fan of lists.  The very act of getting what I need to do down on the page helps to concentrate the mind and gets me focused on the tasks ahead.  The following are not stritcly speaking New Years Resolutions, as I’ve had these kicking around in the back of my mind for a while even before the start of 2013, but I feel they’re worth putting down nevertheless.

  1. Manage my time better.  There are only so many hours in the day, so I really do need to get the best out of that finite resource by making sure that I don’t waste any of it.
  2. Keep a sensible work-life balance.  I’ve had points in my working life where I’ve done nothing but work; while that resulted in the sense of a job well done, I had no energy or time left to spend time with friends and family, or even just flumping on the sofa watching TV as I was working long weekends as well.
  3. Make sure I can pay the bills.  While money isn’t everything, I need enough of it in the bank to at least pay for rent, food, travel, the odd night out and a bit of a holiday break (see point 2) now and then.
  4. Self-improvement should be an ongoing project.  I want to work on improving those aspects of myself that I feel need work, not just because some of them will make me a better Tester and thus better able to pay the bills (see point 3), but also because it will give me a sense of personal satisfaction.
  5. Track and re-evaluate my progress and my priorities on a regular basis. There’s no point making lots of plans and then not following through on them.  Life is a moving target, so there’s also no point aiming for something that’s no longer worth the effort or is now less of an issue than it was.

Five is a nice uneven number of resolutions, so I’ll leave it at that for now.  Given point 5, this all could well be subject to change.  I hope you’re having a prosperous new year and that continues onwards and upwards?  What did you set out to do this year and are you succeeding?