Workey – the key to a new workplace?

Looking for a new job? If you’re searching for that vital key to unlocking the door to a new job, then Workey may be your new best friend.  To quote from their own marketing blurb on their Twitter account, “Workey is an anonymous social recruitment platform revolutionizing (sic) tech HR through AI and machine learning. #AI #bigdata”

Workey - less work more jobs!

I’m not convinced that the AI and machine learning algorithms are up to the task as yet.  As with every other job search site I have ever used, I expect to still have to sift the wheat from the chaff by hand, so I am not expecting miracles from this.  Will I give it a try? By all means and I’ll be very happy to be proven wrong.  I signed up and went through the usual rigmarole of copying-and-pasting bits of your LinkedIn profile that got scrambled during the import process. Now that my profile makes for a coherent read, I’ll see if the theory passes muster and ventures into the realms of practical results in the coming weeks and months.  I’ll keep you posted if you’ll pardon the blogging pun.

One thing that may work in its favour is that they are running a promotion at the moment; if you accept a job offer through the site they’ll pay you $500. Yes, you read that right – five hundred bucks. This is possibly one of those few moments when I’ll be happy for the current favourable US Dollar to British Pound exchange rate. So, if you want to sign up, get a new job and an extra 500 US Dollars, here is the Workey sign-up link for you.


Context-Driven Testing

People wonder what context-driven testing is, so I figured I’d liberate the text directly from the Context-Driven Testing website and lay it out below followed by a little contextual commentary from yours truly:

The Seven Basic Principles of the Context-Driven School

  1. The value of any practice depends on its context.
  2. There are good practices in context, but there are no best practices.
  3. People, working together, are the most important part of any project’s context.
  4. Projects unfold over time in ways that are often not predictable.
  5. The product is a solution. If the problem isn’t solved, the product doesn’t work.
  6. Good software testing is a challenging intellectual process.
  7. Only through judgment and skill, exercised cooperatively throughout the entire project, are we able to do the right things at the right times to effectively test our products.

I am of the firm opinion that there are no magic bullets.  “Best practise” in one case is not best practice in another, in much the same way as there no universal Truths or “One Truth Way™”.

Even though I am an introvert, I enjoy working in teams with fellow focused, often geeky individuals who also enjoy their job as much as I do. Anyone who has worked on even one IT project of any description (or watched one from the sidelines) will know that unpredictability is a common hallmark of them.

Coming from a science background I’m all for asking questions, seeking answers, drawing conclusions, testing them out and challenging myself and others. If you don’t find software testing to be an intellectual process you’re probably Doing It Wrong™.

Judgement, skill, careful thought and effort are all part and parcel of the process of shedding blood, sweat and tears that make up life in general, work in particular and testing quite specifically.

Who can test my site?

The above question appeared on Quora, a question-and-answer site that I’ve come to love over the last few months. Now given that I love testing stuff, I couldn’t possibly pass this one by, so here is my answer, reproduced below for posterity. I’ve tweaked it a little bit here and there, but it’s essentially the same answer.



Short answer: Me! I’ve worked as a Software Tester for years, mostly on websites, web applications and the occasional mobile app.

Longer answer: Define “test”.

My own definition is that:

“Testing is a process to gather as much useful information as possible for the stakeholders.”

So, by asking me to “test your site” do you want to know:

  • That it functions as intended?
  • Everything that it can do? (This is not necessarily the same as the above)
  • That it is usable?
  • That it is accessible to those with disabilities, be they mental, physical or both?
  • That it works equally well across different web browsers? (Some handle JavaScript better than others, HTML5 is less of an issue now.)
  • That it is equally usable across different web browsers?
  • That it looks the same across different web browsers?
  • That it functions well and looks good on a range of different mobile devices?
  • That any APIs in use function as they are supposed to?
  • That any information gathered, stored or transferred is secure and complies with relevant data security and privacy legislation (such as the Data Protection Act)?
  • That any databases connected to the site are secure, well designed and appropriately normalised?
  • That Cookies are delivered to users and behave as expected and intended?
  • That the site performs any functions quickly enough?
  • That the site can withstand increased loads of traffic? Incremented slowly up, spiked, or sustained loads?
  • That failover systems work correctly?
  • That data backups are being performed properly?
  • That the disaster recovery plan is effective and up-to-date?

All of the above will provide useful information, although some will be more useful than others.  All of those questions will involve testing the system but they will require a vast array of different methods, tools, techniques and skill sets. If you want Security Testing or Penetration Testing done, I’ll introduce you to a man I know who will do the job far, far better than I can. Likewise Accessibility Testing.

If you want your website tested for functionality, browser compatibility and to determine not just what it should do but what it can do than I can offer you my services as an experienced Exploratory Tester who uses context-sensitive testing methods to do the most testing with the least exterraneous processes and documentation, so you get the biggest bang for your buck.

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.

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?