Thursday, March 30, 2006

Time to review how we do things

Okay, this is a very rough draft, but I was having fun with it, so here goes:

Software testing is kind of like religion. There are many 'bibles' available that talk about how things should be done. (ie. Thou shalt not file a bug without a clear description.) It's even more like religion when you realize how many people who practice software testing for a living fail to live up to these 'codes.' Guilt associated with not being able to test 'properly' is prevalent, expected and demoralizing.

Much software is not released without a blessing from the tester, and the stuff that is often seems to be cursed. Not all of the religions of test are organized - some, like ad-hoc testing, are more like superstition than a formal religion. Others are heavily ritualized, requiring multiple layers of test documentation to be laboriously produced and maintained for every release of a product. You tell me which religion that sounds like. Multiple answers are accepted.

Then there is the New Age school of thought on software testing. Agile Testing seems to be in style at the moment, but so is Rapid Software Testing. Both attempt to deal with a similar problem - that is, how to be effective at testing the software with limited time and information. Agile attempts to solve this by working as closely as possible with the customer and by reducing the number of communication channels while RST attempts to increase the skill and effectiveness of the tester through a variety of means like risk analysis, exploratory testing and heuristics.

Test Automation is clearly Voodoo. It is often the least understood practice and requires much dedication in the arcane arts of scripting in order to show much effectiveness. It is however, a powerful tool in the right hands, but only when the moon is full or the browser is Internet Explorer. Go figure.

Defect Tracking systems are the lexicons of our SW testing religions, as they record the bugs throughout the ages, often useful for indicating 'dark times' in a project, when it seems the war against software failure is futile. However, under the skilled guidance of proper project management, a faithful tester can look forward to rapture, or the product release, when all their hard work will pay off - hopefully with rewards like a week off with pay, or at the very least, a brief end to mandatory overtime.

Like I said it was rough - and not nearly complete. Maybe I'll add more some time later.

Monday, March 27, 2006

What ever happened to Easy?

So yesterday was the day that I was to work on the entranceway. I lifted the carpet, pulled out the staples and all the other junk used to hold it down, cleaned up the area, put a coat of primer on the bare concrete and then prepared to put on the concrete. I did it just like the guy at the store said to, pile the powder on the floor, make a hole in the middle for the water, mix well and smooth out.

Hmm. Things have a way of not going according to plan, it seems.

The surface I was covering is not level, so the water kept trying to roll away from the powder. The concrete did not mix smooth because the surface under it was uneven, and the remaining powder on the floor acted like flour on the counter, preventing the concrete from sticking well. I almost had to walk away for a while, but couldn't because then the concrete would set and I'd have even bigger problems.

Enter my wife, who talked me down like an Air Traffic Controller telling someone how to land a jumbo jet. I'm still not happy with the way the floor looks, but at least she was smart enough to keep the overall height lower than what we plan for, so I can smooth it out with another coat later. I also started mixing smaller batches in a yogurt container, which allowed me to control the consistency much better. I'll probably return to the job tonight after work (there is probably about 30% left to do) and put the finish coat on. I found that by adding just a little more water, it makes the concrete much easier to smooth out.

One thing I am glad I did was I installed a 5/8th inch strip of wood between the concrete and the laminate wood flooring to act as a barrier. This way, should someone want to change the laminate floor, they can do so without having to re-do the entrance, or vice versa. It will also make attaching a decorative cover strip much easier, with something wood to screw into. I will tell you this - once I get the vinyl floor down in the entrance, I will NOT be lifting it up again.

UPDATE: I work with John, and he was away last week. This morning when we arrived, we discovered his office brightly decorated, presumably by another staff member. At first, John was not too thrilled to have his picture taken, but as the morning progressed, he seemed to be getting used to it.

For my part, I'm just the lowly photographer, using the office camera. Surprise, John!

Friday, March 24, 2006

It's hard to write without illustration

Today I will be picking up some more flooring supplies. I'm happy about that because our entranceway looks really bad in its current state. Some new flooring is just what it needs. So it looks like I'll be doing some more handiwork on the house this weekend. Ahh, progress.

Oh yeah - a friend of mine introduced me to a new artist a while back. This artist was featured in an advertisement for the Sony Bravia. It's a cool ad that shows brightly coloured rubber balls bouncing down a street in San Fransisco. The artist's name is José Gonzáles and his CD is titled Veneer. If you like the music in the Sony ad then chances are you will like the whole CD. I'm pretty sure it's an independant release, so there shouldn't be any Sony rootkits included.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Molson Canadian in Kokanee country?

Screen of fallen leaf
Originally uploaded by tearoom.
Another random Flickr shot for today. I like red leaves - must appeal to my sense of nationalism. Anyway, this is a much better shot than I typically take, so I thought I would showcase it here.

I don't really have much to write about today - kind of in between things at the moment. We might actually purchase some flooring supplies and get some work done on the condo soon. We finally found a good deal at one of the places in town. Two other condos sold in our building last week, and we keep watching the prices go up, up and up. Last year we were talking about selling our place and I half jokingly said "I'm not selling until I can get !" Well the two units that sold last week were only about $10k shy of my crazy number and spring has barely arrived.

Of course, even if we did sell and get our asking price (very likely in this market) we would still be faced with getting another place with just as inflated a price tag. Which would mean getting another place that is rough around the edges and doing some of the fix-up work ourselves.

Bleh. Enough with the speculation. For now it will be enough to put a proper floor in the entranceway.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Originally uploaded by weerasak.
I don't know about you, but this shot really captures the spirit of St. Patrick's Day for me. There is something about a green Leprechaun pulling pranks that I'm sure most of my family can identify with. Thanks, unknown-to-me-flickr-user for the great photo.

Oh, and happy birthday Shawn. I tried calling this morning - chatted it up with your answering machine.

Yeah, that's right - my brother started his life with a blessing - he was born on St. Patrick's Day. So consequently, he's the most Irish of us all. Don't ask me how that works, it just does.

I'll have to update this post later on tonight, when I get home. There is another certain somebody that I like to remember on this day and I'll be uploading his picture as soon as I can. More details on that when I get home and can do proper justice to the update.

Here's the update:
This here is my buddy Gordon who died of an athsma attack on St. Patrick's day over a decade ago now. I had to be sure to hoist a Guinness for him when we were out tonight. It was another friend of mine (still living) who reminded me that Gordon's motto was 'Life is a party.'

I may miss you buddy, but we are still having good times, just like you would have wanted.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

An attempt at replacing the LCD

Well last night was the big night. I was so anxious to get started that I was annoying my wife, who forced me to eat dinner before tearing into the laptop.

After eating, we cleared a space on the coffee table, I placed down an anti-static mat to work on, we printed off pictures and instructions from the internet, I assembled the tools I knew I would need, etc.

My wife found it very entertaining to watch me work on the computer. My dog had a different opinion though, and was thoroughly bored with the whole process. I've put together a page over here that describes what happened with a few more pictures if you are interested in the gory details. For those who just want the end result, well I managed to repair the laptop without causing even more damage (my primary concern.)

While I found the process to be somewhat harrowing, I think that was mostly because it was my stuff on the line. I would probably enjoy this sort of thing quite a bit if I was, FIXING other people's computers instead. At least, when it is straightfoward. I hate the troubleshooting part. I'm still amazed that I didn't have leftover screws at the end.

Heh - I forgot to mention. When the laptop rebooted, the date and time were reset - to 4:00 PM, December 31, 1969. Gotta love UNIX time.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The LCD panel has arrived

I just got off the phone with my wife. The LCD panel we ordered has arrived (Yay!) and doesn't appear to be damaged. So it looks like tonight the ibook undergoes more surgery, this time to get a new face.

GAH! I was planning on documenting the whole process in typical geek fashion but just realized that I can't do that anymore - my cheapo digital camera stopped working. Unbelievable. Of all the rotten times for that to happen.

I was able to borrow the crappy digital camera from work - hopefully it will do the trick. I've tried to upload a test photo to get a feel for the lens but isn't being very cooperative right now. Oh and yes, my PDA case is that scratched. But that doesn't make much sense without the picture. Sigh. I'll try again a little later.
FURTHER UPDATE: Okay, picture uploaded now. Yes, those are also dents along with the scratches.

I'll be busy tonight - we are also switching from cable internet to ADSL, effective tomorrow. So after the laptop surgery, I'll be configuring one modem and unplugging another one.

Oh yeah, happy Pi day, everyone. For all you mathematicians out there, this video is for you.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Hate the wait.

Okay, so the weekend has arrived and the replaceemnt LCD panel has not yet arrived.

AARGH! I hate waiting.

I'm sure it will arrive sometime this week coming up. If not, I may have to drive to Victoria and kill someone. Okay, maybe not quite so drastic. Besides, the Jeep isn't really up for the trip. Hey speaking of Jeeps, I'm contemplating a totally insane prospect - another Jeep Cherokee, this one only a year newer than my current (failing) one. Will someone smack some sense into me please?

Okay seriously though. The price is pretty cheap, at about the same that I paid for this one. Plus, this new one has a fantastic feature called a 'working engine'. Apparently it's a popular feature, especially among older models. What it does need are things like tires (just got some new ones on the older Jeep) and a battery that I could also steal out of the older one. Plus, the new one has leather seats. So it's at least worth a look, especially if I can haggle him down a little bit. Apparently it is black in colour, and the air conditioning has been disconnected. Oh yeah, and one of the power windows in the back doesn't work. Can you say oven in the summer? I guess it doesn't cost anything to take a look though.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Replacement parts are on the way

I love ebay. We were able to win the auction of our choice to get a replacement LCD panel for the ibook. It will be coming from nearby, so we won't have to worry about customs, or other things like that which could cause further delay. You can see another photo of the current panel over on my dog's site. It's in the background of the second photo.

Of course, I'll be happy once it's installed and working correctly. But that will be another post.

I took this picture the other day as I headed out to work. I liked the way the cloud was acting like fog on the hill behind our complex. My wife will probably think I'm crazy for saying this, but I sometimes miss the fog. But then, if I grew up where she did, I'd have to miss crazy stuff like torrential rains and thunder storms. No wonder she loves sunshine and hot weather.