Be Good to Your New Testers

Be good to your new hires.  Make sure that they are warmly welcomed to the test team.  Train them well.  Their cube should be clean and organized.  I once found a homeless woman with a shopping cart in my cube on my first day.  Make sure the new hire cubes are well stocked with supplies.  I am talking about pencils, pens, white board markers, white board erasure, and a garbage pail.  On my first day at another job, I asked my new boss where I can find a garbage pail.  He became annoyed with me and told me not to waste his time with such worthless questions.  Make sure you know when the new hires start.  On my first day at yet another job, nobody seemed to know that I was coming.  No cube, nothing.  The days of new employers bearing precious gifts of corporate swag to new employees are apparently are over.  I miss my swag.

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Let’s Teach Reno Something about Teamwork

[MANAGER]:  Reno, I need to talk to you.  Do you have a second?

[RENO]:  Sure.  I just finished configuring my work laptop to be used as a torrent server for illegal content.  I’m already getting several thousand hits.  I think I’m going to need more juice though because of the company’s internal squeeze-down pipes.

[MANAGER]:  Reno, where were you last week?  Weren’t you supposed to be back from your three month spring vacation over a week ago?

[RENO]:  Yeah, but didn’t you get my mail?

[MANAGER]:  You mean e-mail?

[RENO]:  No, mail.  I sent a letter to you the week before I left telling you that I was going to be late getting back from vacation due to an unexpected family emergency.

[MANAGER]:  Listen, Reno.  I’m going to cut to the chase.  Your performance on our test team has been lacking merit to say the least.

[RENO]:  Because I missed a few days?  I’m entitled by law to those days, you know.

[MANAGER]:  Yes, I know, but I’m not taking about just this time.

[RENO]:  What other times?

[MANAGER]:  I’m tired of you calling in every week telling me that you are going to miss work for some cockamamie reason or another.  You come in late, you take extended lunches, and you go home early.

[RENO]:  Whatever—I still kick butt when I am here, right.

[MANAGER]:  No, Reno, no.  You rarely finish any job I assign to you, but when you do it’s usually months behind schedule.  Your teammates are always forced to pick up your slack.

[RENO]:  Wow! I’m getting the third degree from you today.  I knew I should’ve taken this week off.

[MANAGER]:  It’s all about teamwork, Reno.  It’s about a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment.  As a test team, we can’t function as a group of individuals going off into different directions doing our own things.  We need to bond as a cohesive unit.  Teamwork is about less me and more we.  Do you understand what I am saying?  Do you?

[RENO]:  Huh.

[MANAGER]:  I like you Reno, I really do.  And I know that you may not like being a tester.  I understand that.  We have a tough job to do.  It’s unrewarding at times.  Management sees us as a necessary evil and developers see us as retarded engineer wannabes.  There is no respect, but I don’t give a crap about what they think.  I care about the quality of the product.  I care about the customers who buy the product.  I want them to be happy.  I want to make them proud of us.  Don’t you see the beauty of what we do here, Reno?  We are literally making the world a better place one bug at a time.

[RENO]:  Huh.

[MANAGER]:  So what d’ya say, Reno—are you onboard with us?

[RENO]:  Yeah.  That’s sounds really good when you put it that way.  I’m going to have to check that out.  It’s a lot of data to chunk in my mind, but I think I understand.

[MANAGER]:  That’s great, Reno.  I’m really happy to hear that.

[RENO]:  Oh, I was wondering if I could take the next week off.  The store that I bought my new refrigerator at is delivering it to my house.  The problem is that they need to order it from the factory so I am not sure of the exact time it will arrive.  I just need to be at my house when it does.

Reno’s manager smiles at Reno and gives him permission to take the time off.  Reno’s manager then walks back to his cube.  He unlocks his top desk drawer on the right side and pulls out a fully loaded Desert Eagle pistol.  He pulls the trigger, a shot is fired then a deafly silence fills Reno’s manager’s cube. Reno is later promoted to manager.

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GUI Cleaner

Mahmoud, the developer, asks Steve, the tester, why is he finding some many GUI bugs lately.

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The Performance Review

It’s raise and promotion time.  John and his manager are sitting in a conference room going over John’s performance review.  John will soon learn whether he gets a raise and possibly a promotion or maybe something worse.

[MANAGER]:  First of all, I am very proud of the work you did for our team last year.

[JOHN]:  Thank you.

[MANAGER]:  Everyone in the department including other managers had nothing but praise for your work as a test developer.

[JOHN]:  Thank you.

[MANAGER]:  As you know, we made some changes this year on how the review process is conducted.

[JOHN]:  Yes.

[MANAGER]:  For a long time, the managers would get together in a closed-door session to rank your performance against other team members.  The ranks were broken down into the following three levels:  POOR, AVERAGE, and GOOD.  A GOOD would mean a promotion.  An AVERAGE would mean a raise.  A POOR would get you a reprimand.  The system was not perfect though.  Some people complained that favoritism, backdoor politics, and strong-arming techniques were used more often than fairness.

[JOHN]:  Yes.

[MANAGER]:  This year the company decided to automate the process by having a computer rank the team instead.  As managers, we enter data into the computer pertaining to your job performance.  The data is strictly objective, not subjective, like how long you have worked for the company, did you accomplish your tasks on time, etc.  No more fancy adjectives and doublespeak—just the facts, ma-am.

[JOHN]:  Yes.

[MANAGER]:  So are you ready to find out your ranking?

[JOHN]:  Yes.

John’s manager opens an envelope containing the computer generated ranking for John.  The manager reads it for a moment then pauses for even a longer moment.

[JOHN]:  What’s wrong?  What does it say?

[MANAGER]:  Very strange…

[JOHN]:  What did I get?  GOOD, BAD, AVERAGE?

[MANAGER]:  No, something different.

[JOHN]:  What?

[MANAGER]:  Well, it says here that your performance was so bad that you owe the company a portion of your last year’s wages.

[JOHN]:  What the …?

[MANAGER]:  Oh, look here.

The manager pulls out a coupon, the same kind that is printed along with a receipt at the self-checkout aisles in a grocery store.

[MANAGER]:  It’s a coupon.  Wow, how did they know you like cherries?  With your grocery card, you can get a big discount on cherries.

[JOHN]:  There must be a mistake.

[MANAGER]:  What?  You don’t like cherries?

[JOHN]:  No, I’m talking about my review.  Who made this computer?

[MANAGER]:  The software development team.

[JOHN]:  Who tested it?

[MANAGER]:  The software development team.

[JOHN]:  Who got all of the promotions and raises this year?

[MANAGER]:  The software development team.

[JOHN]:  And who got all of the POORs this year?

[MANAGER]:  The test team.

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Source: Marcel Duchamp, Mile of String

There are more string types in C++ than the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Audience laughs

There are so many different string types in C++ that it’s easier to master string theory in physics.

More laughter

I try to write simple, cross-platform software whenever possible, particularly for helper functions that I find myself using often no matter if I am running under Windows or Linux.  When it comes to strings, I prefer to keep it simple with the ISO standard <string> class along with a few STL classes for manipulation.  I know that there are many other string types in VC++ that are optimized to perform better and offer more features, but most of them run on Windows only.

The two functions below will handle these conversations quite nicely.  Converting a number into a string is straightforward, but converting a string into a number can have a few pitfalls, especially if the string is not a number.  Make sure to check for these conditions before or during the conversion.  One other thing, you may want to consider using a template to handle the various number types—long, short, float, etc.  The examples below are for integers only.

Audience now can’t stop laughing for no apparent reason

#include <string>
#include <iostream>
#include <sstream>

using namespace std;

// Convert an integer into a string
string convertIntToString
(
  int iNum
)
{
  ostringstream sStr;

  sStr << iNum;

  return sStr.str();
}

// Convert a string into an integer
int convertStringToInt
(
  string sStr
)
{
  int iNum = 0;

  // Maybe do a custom trim() call first to 
  // eliminate leading and trailing white-spaces

  istringstream sTmpStr(sStr);

  // If returns false, then the string is not a number

  if ( !(sTmpStr >> iNum) )
  {
     // Throw some exception here because     
    // string was not a number…e.g.:
    throw ( ... );
  }

  return iNum;
}

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