The story of the test lynx

I once assisted to a yearly meeting just after joining a company. As you could imagine, some bits were not very exciting for a person who just joined and did nothing to achieve any of the results that were shown. After about half an hour of those boring bits I started to feel quite sleeping (it was siesta time, in my defense). It took a couple of pictures of lions to wake up my brain at that point. Yes, you read it right, lions.

The last talk was a wonderful speech by Ian Thomas about lions and how they compare to business teams that managed to wake me up and I still remember after the years. I have no intention at all to duplicate or belittle his talk, very much inspired by it, I believe that testers could also be compared to another type of feline…

Lynx are animals that are known for their fantastic hearing and eyesight. I think these are two qualities that any tester should also be known for. I am sure we share many others.

On one hand, hearing should be an essential quality for a good tester (sometimes it is a difficult one to have). One could argue that more than hearing, what you need is listening. I could argue the same for the lynx as I am sure he needs to differentiate the noises and understand the meaning of whatever is heard. A tester should listen to anybody, developers, other testers, or even if you are building your own app, ask for feedback to the users and to your family and friends if needed. We should listen to ourselves too, as we also need to have a good insight.

A lynx is said to be able to spot a mouse 75 meters away… a good tester should spot a defect 75 meters away. This is better achieved when you have a good knowledge of the environment and of the type of prey you may find on it.

If you are brand new into developing and want to work on this quality, try with games such as word search or finding the difference. I know it sounds silly, but it is quite handy for things such as code reviews or some user acceptance testing. Here are some examples for you:

http://www.ecokids.ca/pub/eco_info/topics/landuse/bugHunt/app_BugGame.cfm

http://www.spotthedifference.com/

http://www.jamesshuggins.com/h/tek1/first_computer_bug.htm

If you are intermediate and you know already how to write some code, a good idea is to write it without an environment and try to code it clean (directly in the notepad or vim). Then copy the results in the your environment and check with the compiler. Also, other tools such as stylecop, can help you find style defects and in long term improve your coding. As before, it will keep you alert for other issues.

If you are advanced in testing already, I suggest you try games like this:

https://xss-game.appspot.com/

(Some testers and developers will often forget about security and performance, especially when it is done by another team. I think a good tester should know at least a little about common issues and catch them quick, the same as the developers should also know about them to avoid defects. )

So, have you found the bug on this post already? That would mean you are in your way for becoming a great tester!

I can tell you more about types of testing and how to work on them. I am hoping to start coding some actual examples as well, as I would be too bored of just reading if I were you. However that’s, well, another story…

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