Mel's Take-Aways: TestTalks Episode 100: Gerald Weinberg

"Adapt to what is rather than what it should be."

 - Gerald Weinberg

I listen to Test Talks by Joe Colantonio when I have some free time and need some inspiration. I think Joe has a great interview style that is easy to follow and conversational. These podcasts are not fluff pieces though. If you find yourself taking notes and stopping to re-listen to a segment, I wouldn't be surprised. I end up doing that just about every time.

The 100th episode isn't the most recent one, but it's where I left off from the last time I stopped by the page to give a podcast a listen. There were so many take-aways from Joe's conversation with Gerald that I felt I needed to write a blog post, and create a new section in my blog for just that.

Take-Away #1:
Stop looking for secrets to testing or developing or really anything. Get rid of things that are wasting time. Learn to love things you find boring about your job, find a way to love the boring things, then find an excuse to do it. 

This was the first 10 minutes of the podcast and this hit home for me in the most striking of ways. I find writing code, boring. There, I've said it, it's been my dirty secret for like, ever. However, fixing code, reading code, testing the guts of code or how the services that use code interact, that's the best mind candy I have ever had. I love testing. I love problem-solving. I am not exactly the most thrilled when I have to write code. (Admittedly, I don't do it that often.) It's a different kind of problem solving/making that I've sorta distanced myself from. And, that has created a weakness I'm working to address, not only because my ever-changing profession is pushing in that direction, but I am pushing myself as well, to adapt and move out of comfort zones and learn.

Take-Away #2:
Who's risks are you concerned about? Which risks take priority over others?

When you look at testing from this perspective, you can make a mind-map of risks (generic or otherwise) and really get to the point of these questions. You can not test everything. It's an impossible thing to do. But if you do your best, and your best includes a priority of risks for what you are testing then you can mitigate risk. If you are not testing with prioritized risks, you are not really testing.

Take-Away #3: 
"Name Magic." Calling it a leg, doesn't make it a leg.

Weinberg then goes on to mention that you can automate tests, but it doesn't automate testing. Colantonio then mentions a phrase from Richard Bradshaw to Weinberg which is: "Automation IN testing" (I capped and underlined the word on purpose for emphasis.) We should all be wary of buzz words and magic phrases that seem to promise more than they offer. Weinberg's reaction to Bradshaw's phrase is neat. Part of his response was: "A tiny change can make an enormous difference." 

Making a difference.
Colantonio asks about the "One piece of advice to improve their testing efforts" and I think Weinberg responded with the best response I've ever heard to that question. "The one thing you need to do to become a better tester is to discover the one thing they need to do to become a better tester." He tells a story about a body builder and then gives an examples in testing. Basically Wienberg points to finding and working on the weak points in your testing skills. "If you find yourself saying you don't need that skill, that's probably the one you need to work on."

The podcast was full of great things to think about and I only mentioned three that stuck out as things I've valued, but had never heard them stated in such a clear manner. Or if I had, it didn't make a huge impression the first couple of times. If you listen, I'm sure you'll find your own.

Thanks to Joe Colantonio  and Gerald Weinberg for a great interview. Check out the episode yourself at "Test Talks".


  1. Mel,thanks for sharing this. I came back to this post because today is #30daysoftesting day to comment and I started feeling quilty I did not comment when I first came here.

    I read your blog post and then listened to the same podcast. Very much similar things moved me as yours.

    The first piece you mention is golden: do stuff you love. Jerry delivered that message with such ease and sometimes I wonder how things that sound that simple can be so hard.


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