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Breaking Things

weather: raining
outside: 11°C
mood: perplexed
A while ago, we were interviewing for QA contractors. In the process of having a pile of people try to convince me that they would make a good QA person, one of the things I keep hearing a lot is "I like to break things".

It's amusing. People will very carefully shift their eyebrows and rearrange their face to create this somewhat menacing look, complete with a well-practiced evil gleam in their eyes. Some will even go so far as to clench both fists and either make a small whipping motion or come just short of pounding them both simultaneously on the conference room table, presumably to show extra determination to break something.

Why on earth would people think that destructiveness is a good trait in a human being?

Quality Assurance is not [only] about breaking things... at least not in software... at least not in my shop. If you inadvertently break something that should not be broken by what you have done, then that's a problem that needs to be raised. But that really isn't the point.

My top pick was the same as my boss': the guy who didn't say he liked to break things.



Dec. 3rd, 2003 07:44 am (UTC)
I had a breaker at my first dev job. She used to really get under my skin. She had this destructive zeal that undermined my effectiveness of comfortabley analyzing the problem. She was so busy pointing at the little glitch that it often took me longer to find the problem was systemic or a badly scaled piece of functionality.

The pair programming thing is incredible if you are not both full time on a project or if you are developing a really really critical resource under insane time constraints.
Discussing the dynamics of how something is going to be written and the overhead that comes with it aren't for every project, but xp is not about optimium production efficiency, its about looking at projects from different angles.
I've always gathered that xp isn't so much a methodology as a patch to the standard dogma, a book of tricks for when you get to the bottom of your own black bag and still haven't come up with a good alternate strategy.
That said, I use case studies on everything from crm relationships to streamlining my own processes internally here for the isp I work for. I find people find them much less threatening (behold my stick people and cloud diagrams) than flowcharts or bulletted lists.

If you are looking for qa qualifications, I'd look at uml experience and possibly people that have been exposed to the rational rose modeling system. Typically those type of people are more comfortable with abstraction, and tend to be more critical systemically instead of just "breakers".

Its too bad I couldn't use crc card styles for responding to posts like this one, it might help my encapsulation and structure.
Dec. 3rd, 2003 08:52 am (UTC)
Re: Pair Programming

I take back what I said. =) On the way home last night, I realized that we _do_ do that in some cases and I have done that in previous jobs, just not in a formal way and not full time. It's a very ad hoc thing, we just walk over to someone's office, start talking about the problem and it turns into Pair or Triplet Programming (which I've been a part of as well) =)

But when your entire company is only 30 people big, it's not very feasible to make that general practice.

Typically those type of people are more comfortable with abstraction, and tend to be more critical systemically instead of just "breakers".

I totally agree. There's a better chance that someone who has UML/Rational experience would understand the process.

Good luck in your job search! {{{ EMPLOYMENT VIBES }}} =)
Dec. 4th, 2003 09:40 am (UTC)
Good luck in your job search! {{{ EMPLOYMENT VIBES }}} =)

Er... do I have you confused with another LJ friend's husband? There were a few unemployed husbands that I knew of =P Sorry...
Dec. 4th, 2003 09:42 am (UTC)
I'm in transition rather than being unemployed; its like looking but you have less time and less pressure ;)

I could stay here for a while if I needed to, but I'm being underutilized. Know what i mean ?
Dec. 4th, 2003 10:10 am (UTC)
Ah, I see.

Re: underutilized — oh yeah, been there. That's icky in it's own way too =P I hope you find a fulfilling position soon.


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