Very Short Blog Posts (23) – No Certification? No Problem!

Another testing meetup, and another remark from a tester that hiring managers and recruiters won’t call her for an interview unless she has an ISEB or ISTQB certification. “They filter résumés based on whether you have the certification!” Actually, people probably go to even less effort than that; they more likely get a machine to search for a string of characters. So if you’re looking for a testing job, you … Read more

A Response to Anne Mette Hass

In response to my earlier blog post, I received this comment from Anne Mette Hass. I’m going to reproduce it in its entirety, and then I’ll respond to each point. I think this ‘war’ against the ISO standard is so sad. Nobody has set out to or want to harm anybody else with this work. The more variation we have in viewpoints and the more civilized be can debate, the … Read more

Rising Against the Rent-Seekers

At CAST 2014, a quiet, modest, thoughtful, and very experienced man named James Christie gave a talk called “Standards: Promoting Quality or Restricting Competition?”. The talk followed on from his tutorial at EuroSTAR 2013 on working with auditors—James is a former auditor himself—and from his blogs on software standards over the years. James’ talk introduced to our community the term rent-seeking. Rent-seeking is the act of using political means—the exercise … Read more

What Do You Mean By “Arguing Over Semantics”?

Commenting on testing and checking, one correspondent responds: “To be honest, I don’t care what these types of verification are called be it automated checking or manual testing or ministry of John Cleese walks. What I would like to see is investment and respect being paid to testing as a profession rather than arguing with ourselves over semantics.” My very first job in software development was as a database programmer … Read more

Smoke Testing vs. Sanity Testing: What You Really Need to Know

If you spend any time in forums in which new testers can be found, it won’t be long before someone asks “”What is the difference between smoke testing and sanity testing?” “What is the difference between smoke testing and sanity testing?” is a unicorn question. That is, it’s a question that shouldn’t be answered except perhaps by questioning the question: Why does it matter to you? Who’s asking you? What … Read more


Several years ago, I worked for a few weeks as a tester on a big retail project. The project was spectacularly mismanaged, already a year behind schedule by the time I arrived. Just before I left, the oft-revised target date slipped by another three months. Three months later, the project was deployed, then pulled out of production for another six months to be fixed. Project managers and a CIO, among … Read more

Common Languages Ain’t So Common

A friend told me about a payment system he worked on once. In the system models (and in the source code), the person sending notification of a pending payment was the payer. The person who got that notice was called the payee. That person could designate somone else—the recipient—to pick up the money. The transfer agent would credit the account of the recipient, and debit the account of the person … Read more

Gaming the Tests

Let’s imagine, for a second, that you had a political problem at work. Your CEO has promised his wife that their feckless son Ambrose, having flunked his university entrance exams, will be given a job at your firm this fall. Company policy is strict: in order to prevent charges of nepotism, anyone holding a job must be qualified for it. You know, from having met him at last year’s Christmas … Read more

The Motive for Metaphor

There’s a mildly rollicking little discussion going on the in the Software Testing Club at the moment, in which Rob Lambert observes, “I’ve seen a couple of conversations recently where people are talking about red, green and yellow box testing.” Rob then asks “There’s the obvious black and white. How many more are there?” (For what it’s worth, I’ve already made some comments about a related question here.) At one … Read more

World Agile Qualifications Board; God Help Us

The World Agile Qualifications Board should be seen as an embarrassment even to regular peddlers of certification. The WAQB has apparently been established recently—but when? By whom? There is a Web site. I hesitate to link to it, because I don’t want people to see it… but on the other hand, I do want people to see it, so that they can observe from the outset how these things work. … Read more