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Thursday, April 17, 2008

This one's for you, Zephyr!

Letters! Letters from fans! They love me, as you can see in this e-mail that came in today. This is the best message that I've received this decade.


We came across your "i.b. phoolen" blog and appreciate the informative content you have there.

We have just launched Zephyr which is a next generation Test Management System and wanted to introduce you to it by providing an exclusive look. Here's a live demo link – – and there you'll be able to interact with the system anytime. We've loaded it with sample data to facilitate any product reviews. You'll find other assets (screenshots etc.) on the Media section of our main website –

Zephyr is a slick, feature rich and affordable Test Management System aimed at global SME, IT Departments and Testing Vendors. It brings a whole bunch of innovation in a space that has lacked it for the longest time. We'd like to draw your attention particularly to our customized Testing Desktops, real time Collaboration and Live Reporting via slick Dashboards as well as a host of Web 2.0 features.

We are test engineers ourselves and have designed and built Zephyr based on multiple years of real world experience. Your feedback or a mention on your blog would be very interesting to your readership while being a source of encouragement to us.

Sean Stewart

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Software Tester’s Bill of Rights

Software testers are people too! Many of my best friends are software testers, and I can guarantee that they are people. In many countries, people have rights. Well, not everyone has rights. Airline travelers don’t have any rights, as we all know. Celebrities don’t have any rights. Neither do people who talk loudly on cell phones in restaurants or on the subway.

The reason why people talk loudly on cell phones is a design flaw, by the way. If the people who designed cell phones wanted to make friends, they’d program the phones to drop the call if the caller is being too noisy. Hey, rude people, mobile phones have sensitive microphones. You don’t have to shout!

Okay, we’ve established that airline travelers, celebrities and cell-phone abusers don’t have rights. What about the rest of us? We have rights, and that goes double for software testers. You know, testers take it in the shorts most of the time. The customer changed his mind after seeing the beta, and testers have to catch the variances. The architect messed up the caching algorithms? Testers have to account for nondeterministic behavior. The programmers spent too much time playing foosball? Test cycles get compressed. A line-of-business manager decided to release the software early? Test cycles get compressed. An end user found a bug? Testers get blamed for missing it.

Good people, it’s time we fight back with our very own Software Tester’s Bill of Rights. I know that you’re asking yourself, “What a brilliant idea. But who would write this Bill of Rights for us?” Fear not, gentle software tester. I.B. Phoolen is more than happy to draft this important document on your behalf. And now, without further ado, I present: The Software Tester’s Bill of Rights.

1. The Right to Own the Requirements

A tester’s job is to ensure that software meets requirements. Where do those requirements come from? Some from the customer. Some from the architect. There’s the problem.

Many of those requirements are obtuse, poorly written or plainly misguided. Those user stories — c’mon, folks. Don’t you have any imagination? Those performance and reliability metrics — you’ve got to be kidding, that throughput will never fly on a real-world network.

No wonder there are so many defects found by the test team, no wonder the overpaid programmers take so long to get the job done, no wonder the entire project is over budget.

Fortunately, we testers know better. We know what’s a good requirement, and what’s totally lame. Let us fine-tune the specs. Let us control the specs. If we disagree with a feature request, let us revise it or delete it.

If the test team owns the specs, we can guarantee that our tests will show that the application meets those specs on time, on budget, blah blah blah. Guess what? It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

2. The Right to Kill the Project

That’s right. If the requirements are sufficiently moronic, or if we think the project is silly or necessary, we’re going to axe it. I.B. calls that “improving ROI.”

3. The Right to Choose Our Own Test Tools

Everyone talks about how developers are creative free spirits, who should be able to use the tool chain of their choice. If some programmers want to use Visual Studio or the IBM Software Platform, that’s fine with their managers. If Bob wants to run JBuilder, that’s fine too. If Sally wants to run Eclipse, nobody objects. If some show-offs eschew IDEs altogether to write the entire application with vi, lint, gcc and some duct tape, more power to them.

Meanwhile, C-level executive bozos want to standardize the quality assurance suites to embrace new flash-in-the-pan paradigms like “test automation” and “test driven development. They insist that testers use uniform tools and bug tracking applications, or — heaven help us — “ALM suites.”

Bullfeathers. Testers are just as creative as developers, as you can tell by reviewing my recent expense reports. We demand a generous budget so we can choose our own tools. As far as I’m concerned, every tester has an unalienable right to adopt the defect management system of his or her own choice, even if it’s Excel. If the CIO and VP of IT don’t like it, well, that’s their problem, bunky.

4. The Right to Employ Agile Methods

Preferably, those agile methods would be demonstrated by a perky aerobics instructor wearing a torn sweatshirt and leggings like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance.

5. The Right to Determine Release Schedules

I’ve had it up to here with test cycles being compressed due to boneheaded requirements, flawed architectures or nitwit coders who wouldn’t know an unchecked buffer if it bit them in the nose.

I don’t care if you’re rushing the product out to meet some contractual guarantee or the holiday shopping season. Under this Bill of Rights, any tester — any tester — can push back the release schedule at any time, with or without cause, and there ain’t nuthin’ you can do about it. If a line worker’s power to halt the production line improves the quality of Japanese cars, then by gum it works for software too.

6. The Right to Blame Microsoft for Everything


7. The Right to Blame Open Source Software for Everything


8. The Right to Redefine the IT Org Chart

In some organizations, development and test are peers. In others organizations, testers report into the development organization. Both of those models are flawed.

The only reason that companies hire architects and developers is to create applications for the test team to test.

Therefore, ipso facto, development is a subset of the test organization, and should be treated as such. That means that all developers work for the test organization. And, of course, all testers get paid more than developers, and get all the best parking spaces.

Take that, coding prima donnas. Who’s your daddy now?

9. The Right to Wear a Badge and Uniform

Heck, if we’re going to be the Quality Police, we might as well look the part. That’s especially important when doing Fuzz Testing.

10. The Right to a Whopping Pay Raise

If it’s good enough for politicians and CEOs, it’s good enough for software testers: We work hard, so we demand a bigger piece of the pie. Cash is good, but we’d like a generous serving of backdated stock options, too. Oh, while you’re up, could you grab my cell phone? I need to call Jennifer Beals. Thanks.

Retired software engineer I.B. Phoolen lives in Southern California, where he regularly frolics. He rarely updates his blog at

High-Tech Industry Consolidation Continues

SAN FRANCISCO, APRIL 1, 2018 – Tsunami waves of consolidation continue to break against the software industry, as MicroCiscoYahooOraclesoft announced a US$2.4 trillion takeover of IBMhpSAPemc. Meanwhile, Apple Telephone & Telegraph agreed to merge with GoogledellSUNokia in a deal worth $3.7 trillion.

“This is a fantastic day for consumers everywhere,” shouted Steve Ballmer, chairman of MicroCiscoYahooOraclesoft. “Ever since the last anti-trust restrictions were lifted from our company yesterday, we began looking for new ways to innovate and bring more choice to customers. This acquisition goes a long way toward bringing us closer to Bill’s dream of ‘information at your fingertips across the road ahead at the speed of thought,’ or as I like to say it, IAYFATRA@TSOT.”

While critics swiftly charged that the MicroCiscoYahooOraclesoft move is all about increasing its share of Internet-based advertising, comments from a pay-for-praise analyst hint at a bigger target: mainframe consolidation and positioning Big Iron as next-generation smart clients. Noting that current mainframes rival mobile phones in size, the ability to combine the technologies in new, exciting ways creates powerful synergies, said Ivan A. Suckup, director of The Suckup Group.

“Imagine a pocket-sized IBM mainframe running Microsoft operating systems and Oracle databases, combining HP’s consumer marketing prowess with SAP’s business back-end integration, EMC’s storage technology, Cisco’s connectivity and Yahoo’s leading-edge ad-delivery platform,” Suckup said. “If they can only solve the cooling problem, and get more than three milliseconds of battery life from the fuel cell, this will truly be the killer platform of the future.”

The Suckup Group recently placed MicroCiscoYahooOraclesoft into its Golden Sector of Industry Innovation & Leadership™. “They’re our best client,” gushed Suckup, “and they subscribe to every one of our overpriced services. However, that in no way is related to our upgrading our honest, impartial recommendation to ‘Buy all their stock that you can afford, even if you have to clean out your kid’s college fund and take out another mortgage on your house.’ ”

In related news: Two months after MicroCiscoYahooOraclesoft completed its controversial acquisition of Red Hat, questions linger about the accidental loss of all of Red Hat’s source code, revealed only last week. “Whoops,” said Darl McBride, director of open-source strategy at MicroCiscoYahooOraclesoft. “Don’t know how that happened. Pity all the backup tapes were destroyed, too.”

McBride pointed out that MicroCiscoYahooOraclesoft’s Server Customer Open Source program, or SCOsource, will offer Red Hat Enterprise Linux users discounts to license Microsoft’s Windows Server 2016 through May 15. After that, the company will remotely disable all Red Hat Linux installations. “We suggest you read the fine print,” McBride suggested, “and give up Linux before it’s too late.”

“We agree with that,” agreed The Suckup Group’s Suckup.

AT&T Goes the Distance

On a roll since its 2015-2017 acquisitions of Sony, The New York Times, Starbucks, Disney and Wind River, Apple Telephone & Telegraph surprised Wall Street by agreeing to be purchased by software giant GoogledellSUNokia for $3.7 trillion.

“The combination of our companies will be an unstoppable force for doing no evil,” said Eric Schmidt, chairman of GoogledellSUNokia. “We already have the world’s largest server farms, the most mature direct-sales model, the most online advertising, the best Android-powered handsets, the best embedded operating system, and the most complete logs about everything you do on the Internet. Plus, with gJava, you can write everything once, and run it everywhere. With AT&T’s resources, we’ll have even more amazingly cool handsets, the hottest personal computers, the most reliable wireless network and the most compelling content for you and your family, at home and at work. GoogledellSUNokia truly is the happiest place on Earth.”

Steve Jobs, chairman of AT&T, will remain on as honorary spokesmodel and chief platform evangelist for the combined company, to be named GoogledellSUNokiAT&T. During Macworld 2018, webcast from San Francisco’s Moscone Center last month, the normally recalcitrant Jobs had hinted that something big was brewing.

After unveiling the iPod notouch — the first music player with direct audio/video brain-feed capabilities — Jobs said “Something big is brewing.” At the time, analysts believed he was promoting the new AT&T Friends and Family Plan, which gives you 600 anytime iTunes movie rentals along with unlimited TV episode downloads nights and weekends, if you sign up for a two-year WiMax contract. For a limited time, each new subscriber also receives a Duetto Visa card, a Magic Kingdom three-day pass and home download of the Sunday Times. Severe penalties apply for early contract termination.

Perhaps Jobs had more than Mickey Mocha in mind, said Suckup of The Suckup Group, which recently placed both AT&T and GoogledellSUNokia into its Golden Sector of Industry Innovation & Leadership™. “When Jobs smiled after asking ‘Just one more thing: Don’t you love Google?’ at the end of his keynote, clearly something big was brewing,” Suckup said.

While GoogledellSUNokia’s Schmidt declined to discuss specific plans until the merger is rubber-stamped by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Union, he did say, “Someday soon, every phone will be an iPhone,” and hinted that one could expect to see Dell PCs, Sun servers and Nokia handsets appearing for sale in every iBucks location.

“Turning every Apple retail store into a Starbucks coffee shop, and every neighborhood Starbucks into an Apple store, was inspired,” said Suckup. “Getting a fresh iced latte from the iBucks Genius Barista while you download some tunes, upgrade your RAM, do your homework and work through some technical issues with GarageBand — that’s the ultimate in 21st-century convenience.”

Suckup continued, “If that level of service is extended to supporting Windows Panorama Edition 2017, that could give MicroCiscoYahooOraclesoft the much-needed opportunity to reclaim some market share from the iMac. Hey, that’s another reason to buy some stock.”

Stay Tuned

The three remaining high-tech companies that have not yet been acquired or merged — Novell, Borland and — are reportedly thinking about it.

Retired software engineer I.B. Phoolen invented Web services, Scrum, penicillin, recursion and, most recently, ALGOL 68. Read his blog at