Tuesday, December 11, 2007

QA Is for Optimists

I love my job. And today was not a good day!

Today was one of those days when nothing goes right. I walked in this morning, asked a developer about a feature, and we quickly determined that the code was in the branch but not in the build. You know, the build I had been testing against for about 36 hours. That's 36 hours down the drain because I can't trust that build. Darn.

Then I turned to the automated tests that ran last night. The failure rate was roughly 6 times normal. Almost all of it was traceable to the same root cause, but we had to go through each test log to determine that. Two hours later, we actually were able to publish the results (this usually takes 20-30 min). Darn.

Then I went to my big system that needed upgrading. No problem. I had a newer build (that actually had the right code in it!), so I placed it on the machine and upgraded. It proceeded to fail. Miserably. For unknown reasons. Darn.

By the time 6pm rolled around, if it could have gone wrong, it probably had.

Now, normally I don't talk much about my day unless there's a thought or a lesson in there. So what's the moral of the story?

QA is for optimists.

At the end of the day, when I was retrying the upgrade for the fourth time, there was nothing left to do but laugh at everything that had gone wrong, and talk to the screen (since asking politely sometimes gets a program to do what you want!). And  that's what it takes to do QA. Your job is to find things wrong all day, to seek out problems so they can be fixed. Don't get into this business if you can't do that cheerfully.

* Side note: I walk to work, which is good. I shudder to think what my odds of a car accident would have been on a day like this one!

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