Thursday, February 26, 2015

Don't Start With Automation

I’ve lost track of the number of times new testers have asked me some variant of “I’m new to testing. What automation tool should I start learning?”

I really appreciate their excitement about automation—especially since I’ve made automation my wheelhouse—but it’s not the thing new testers should focus on!

Testing’s a craft with a whole lot of tools, most of which are between one’s ears. You need to focus on developing your skills as a craftsperson, not just jumping on the automation bandwagon. (Please, do join me on board, though. It’s a great wagon to use for parts of your testing ride!)

As a newcomer, there are a tremendous number of things you can use to build up your testing skills. In no particular order, here’s a few things I’ve pointed people to over the various years.


  • Elisabeth Hendrickson, aka @TestObsessed on Twitter. Funny, wise, calm, extremely thoughtful tester. Her Test Heuristics Cheat Sheet is caramelized unicorn bacon drenched with awesomesauce.
  • Michael Bolton (@MichaelBolton) is a great thinker and writer in the testing space. He’s strong coffee and very opinionated, but I’ve gotten a lot out of reading his material. Much of Michael’s writing is at DevelopSense.
  • James Bach (@JamesMarcusBach) I’m really not a fan of James’s personality, but he’s done a lot of great thinking about what testing’s really about. Read with an open and skeptical, questioning mind. His deck on test cases is a great read.
  • Lisa Crispin (@LisaCrispin) and Janet Gregory (@JanetGregoryCA) are both smart folks who you should follow.

Other people who I’m not taking enough time to describe their awesomeness, but simply list. All are easily discoverable on Twitter, Google, etc.

General testing folks

  • Matt Heusser
  • Michael Larsen
  • Alan Page
  • Trish Khoo
  • Paul Carvalho
  • James Lyndsay

Automation geeks (who are also great testers, btw)

  • Adam Goucher
  • Richard Bradshaw
  • Dave Haeffner

Please keep in mind: these folks are a starting point! Many are folks I know personally and respect, and they’re pals. Expand beyond this list!

There are plenty of great books to read; these are a few titles that really stick out:

  • Beautiful Testing
  • ExploreIt!
  • Agile Testing and More Agile Testing
  • The Art of Agile Development
  • The Art of Unit Testing in .NET
  • Specification By Example
  • A Practitioner’s Guide to Software Test Design
  • ATDD by Example
  • Lessons Learned in Software Testing
  • Experiences Of Test Automation

Find testing groups near you, or start one! Look to some of the various online testing communities. Weekend Testers is a great start!

Some conferences are great, so are a waste of time and money. But I’m slightly opinionated…

  • CAST
  • EuroStar
  • STP Conference

Branch out to good developer conferences where there’s a welcoming, encouraging atmosphere. I’m biased, having been on the Board of Directors, but CodeMash is one of the best conferences you could hit for cross-polinating.


  • Elisabeth Hendrickson’s blog Test Obsessed. She’s stopped posting since moving out of the consulting space; however, her writing is gold. Just. Plain. Gold.

Don’t Stop Here

Testing is about curiosity. It’s about sharing information with your team, organization, and customers. It’s not about “assuring” quality—you as a tester simply can’t do that. You can be part of a team that delivers great quality.

Go out. Explore. Learn.

THEN go get started in automation.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fixing Slow/Hanging VMWare Guests

Problem: Your VMWare guests may be incredibly slow or all together hang.

Solution: (One potential one) Check if your VMs disks have become corrupted. Repair them if so.


Do the following with your VM powered off!

  1. Find the logs for your VM. They’re usually in the VM’s root directory, eg


  2. Open the latest logfile in that directory, eg vmware.log

  3. Search for “repair”
  4. If you find hits similar to the example below, you’ll need to run the disk repair utility.

    2015-02-13T14:00:06.102-05:00| vmx| I120: DISKLIB-DSCPTR: Opened [2]: “Virtual Disk-s003.vmdk” (0xa)
    2015-02-13T14:00:06.107-05:00| Worker#0| I120: DISKLIB-SPARSE: “E:\VMs\2012R2\Win2K8R2.vmwarevm\Win2K8R2-s001.vmdk” : failed to open (14): Disk needs repair.

  5. Open a command prompt and navigate to your VMWare install directory. On my system it’s:

    C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Workstation

  6. Run the following command, where “” is the folder containing your VM’s disk—likely the same folder you found the logfile in above.

    vmware-vdiskmanager.exe -R

  7. Start your VM back up. Once it’s back up and stable, check the latest logfile and search for the same “repair” error. If “repair” isn’t found, search for the same file opening entry just before you ran the utility:

    2015-02-13T14:00:06.102-05:00| vmx| I120: DISKLIB-DSCPTR: Opened [2]: “Virtual Disk-s003.vmdk” (0xa)

  8. Verify there aren’t any errors.

Hopefully this will get you up and running!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fixing Outlook Search Issues

Problem: Outlook’s “instant search” isn’t returning any results, or search isn’t returning results unless you change the scope from its default Current Mailbox to something else.

Solution: (Well, more accurately One Potential Solution) Run scanpst.exe, found in the same folder as Outlook.exe. On my system that’s C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15.

Point the utility at your PST or OST files. It will scan them. If it finds errors, you’re offered the option to back them up (Duh!) before repairing.

Fixed up my search problems that had been nagging me for a bit too long…

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Speaking on Leadership at KalamazooX Conference

I’m really pleased to be returning to the KalamazooX Conference as a speaker. KalX is my second favorite conference in the world, right behind CodeMash. KalX is something very, very special because it focuses on the human side of things: inspiration, motivation, self-improvement, self-fulfillment.

Mike Eaton invited me back to talk about leadership, so I’m polishing up a new talk “Growing Into Leadership based on previous talks, workshops, and of course my Leadership Journey book.

If you’ve been to KalX you know how special it is. If you’ve never been, I encourage you to consider attending—even if you need to travel. It’s that special. It’s that worth it.

Go register now on Eventbrite. You won’t be sorry. I promise.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

I'm Listed in Top 21 Automation Blogs

I was surprised to find my blog as #3 on Testbuffet’s list of the Top 21 Test Automation Blogs for 2014. That’s quite flattering, and I’d like to give a big “Thanks!” to the folks at Testbuffet and the evaluators for that list.

That list is a great resource for you if you’re trying to broaden your reading horizons. There’s a lot of smart testers writing on topics other than just automation there!

I’d also encourage you to check out other lists from Testbuffet:

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Book Update

Update: Wow, StackEdit did a horrible job of posting this! I had to fix several format issues including the book's price, which is is $12, not $122.

In case you missed it, I’m writing The Leadership Journey on LeanPub. The book’s meant to help individuals become great team leaders.

Pricing for the book is pretty attractive: Minimum price is FREE and recommended price is $9.49. When I release the price will change to minimum of $5 and recommended around $12.

The book’s currently at 67 pages and around 13,600 words. I hesitate to put a figure on it, but I’d estimate I’m around 50% - 70% done. Mind maps lay out the sections and their rough status, so you’ll have an idea where the book is going.

The latest major update is getting started on dealing with Impostor Syndrome. Self-confidence is a critical part of leadership, and I want readers to have some concrete actions to deal with self-doubt which can turn out to be quite destructive.

If you’ve signed up and are getting the updates, I’d love to hear from you.

If you’re not currently reading it, but are interested, go grab it! Please do let me know what you think of it, either on the LeanPub discussion group for the book, or via e-mail:

I’d love to hear what you think of it!

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The Leadership Journey