We have mentioned George Box before. He was an amazing person, scientist and statistician. One of the traditions George started in Madison, Wisconsin was the Monday Night Beer Sessions.

An excerpt of Mac Berthouex’s introduction to An Accidental Statistician: The Life and Memories of George E. P. Box:

I met George Box in 1968 at the long-running hit show that he called “The Monday Night Beer Session,” an informal discussion group that met in the basement of his house. I was taking Bill Hunter’s course in nonlinear model building. Bill suggested that I should go and talk about some research we were doing. The idea of discussing a modeling problem with the renowned Professor Box was unsettling. Bill said it would be good because George liked engineers.

Bill and several of the Monday Nighters were chemical engineers, and George’s early partnership with Olaf Hougen, then Chair of Chemical Engineering at Wisconsin, was a creative force in the early days of the newly formed Statistics Department. I tightened my belt and dropped in one night, sitting in the back and wondering whether I dared take a beer (Fauerbach brand, an appropriate choice for doing statistics because no two cases were alike).

I attended a great many sessions over almost 30 years, during which hundreds of Monday Nighters got to watch George execute an exquisite interplay of questions, quick tutorials, practical suggestions, and encouragement for anyone who had a problem and wanted to use statistics. No problem was too small, and no problem was too difficult. The output from George was always helpful and friendly advice, never discouragement. Week after week we observed the cycle of discovery and iterative experimentation.

Justin, at a meet up with a few testers in Nottingham, out of a desire to do something nice for some testers in the community found himself buying beers for a few testers. The organizer asked Justin to put a couple slides together, then he posted them on Twitter and thanked us.

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Justin made a similar offer to attendees at StarEast. And as luck would have it, the first guy to respond was Alan Page who was giving the keynote speech at the conference. Alan sent out tweets with showing testers getting and sharing a few beers.

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And CAST2014 didn't miss a beat.

Hexawise buys the beers cast 2014 twitter

Hexawise buys the beers cast 2014 twitter conversation

Now #HexawiseBuysTheBeers has become a way to encourage comradery among software testers at conferences and another small way the legacy of George Box lives on.

By: John Hunter and Justin Hunter on Sep 1, 2014

Categories: Hexawise, Interesting People

A friend passed me this set of recent tweets from Wil Shipley, a Mac developer with 11,743 followers on Twitter as of today. Wil recently encountered the familiar problem of what to do when you've got more software tests to run than you can realistically execute.

 

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I love that. Who can't relate?

Now if only there were a good, quick way to reduce the number of tests from over a billion to a smaller, much more manageable set of tests that were "Altoid-like" in their curious strength. :) I rarely use this blog for shameless plugs of our test case generating tool, but I can't help myself here. The opening is just too inviting. So here goes:

 

"Wil,

There's an app for that... See www.hexawise.com for Hexawise, a "pairwise software test case generating tool on steroids." It eats problems like the one you encountered for breakfast. Hexawise winnows bazillions of possible test cases down in the blink of an eye to small, manageable sets of test cases that are carefully constructed to maximize coverage in the smallest amount of tests, with flexibility to adjust the solutions based upon the execution time you have available. In addition to generating pairwise testing solutions, Hexawise also generates more thorough applied statistics-based "combinatorial software testing" solutions that include tests for, say, all possible 6-way combinations of test inputs.

Where your Mac cops an attitude and tells you "Bitch, I ain't even allocating 1 billion integers to hold your results" and showers you with taunting derisive sneers, head-waggling and snaps all carefully choreographed to let you know where you stand, Hexawise, in contrast, would helpfully tell you: "Only 1 billion total possibilities to select tests from? Pfft! Child's play. Want to start testing the 100 or so most powerful tests? Want to execute an extremely thorough set of 10,000 tests? Want to select a thoroughness setting in the middle? Your wish is my command, sir. You tell me approximately how many tests you want to run and the test inputs you want to include, and I'll calculate the most powerful set of tests you can execute (based on proven applied statistics-based Design of Experiments methods) before you can say "I'm Wil Shipley and I like my TED Conference swag."

More info at:
http://hexawise.tv/intro/
or
https://hexawise.com/Hexawise_Introduction.pdf
free trials at:
http://hexawise.com/signup

By: Justin Hunter on Jun 23, 2010

Categories: Combinatorial Software Testing, Combinatorial Testing, Interesting People , Pairwise Software Testing, Pairwise Testing, Recommended Tool, Software Testing

On October 6th, I informally launched testing.stackexchange.com as "the stackoverflow.com for Software Testing" without much hoopla. So far, less than a month later, with no advertising other than word of mouth, the initial results are very promising. We've had approximately:

  • 70 new users join as members and contributors
  • 50 software testing questions
  • 160 answers to those questions
  • 2,200 views of the questions and answers

The most important development is not reflected in the numbers above. More important, by far, than the number of the participants have joined is the quality of people who are contributing. Members of the forum include some prominent experts including: Jason Huggins (creator of Selenium and cofounder of Sauce Labs, Alan Page and Bj Rollison (of "How we Test Software at Microsoft" fame), Michael Bolton (the testing expert, not the singer), Fred Beringer, Elisabeth Hendrickson, Joe Strazzere, Adam Goucher, Simon Morley, Rob Lambert, Scott Sehlhorst, etc. etc.). Given the high quality people the site has attracted, the quality of the answers delivered has been quite high. Perhaps the quality is also above average because people answering know that their answers will be analyzed by thoughtful testers and voted up (or down) based on how good they are. In short, testers are asking good questions and getting them answered which is why I created the site in the first place. I'm cautiously optimistic about the future: if the site

Members so far include:

 

1Users-TestingStackExchange

 

The most viewed questions so far include:

 

1TestingStackExchange-2

 

The most recent questions being asked and answered are:

 

1TestingStackExchangerecentqs-1

 

I'd like to extend special thanks to Alan Page (who likes the idea so much that has volunteered to join me as a co-manager/Moderator of the site), to Shmuel Gershon, Jason from NC, and Joe Strazzere for being particularly active and to Alan Page, Corey Goldberg, Shmel Gershon, and Konstantin for helping to get the word out about the form through their blog posts telling the world about testing.stackexchange.com. Without their combined help, we'd be nowhere. With their help and support, we're building a place where software testers can seek and receive high-quality, peer-reviewed answers to their testing questions.

Please help us succeed by spreading the word, asking a few questions, answering a few, and voting on the best answers.

Thanks everyone!

By: Justin Hunter on Nov 2, 2009

Categories: Interesting People , Software Testing

There are some phrases in English that, as often as not, come off sounding obligatory and/or insincere. The phrase "I'm honored..." comes to mind (particularly if someone is accepting an award in front of a room full of people).

Be that as it may, I genuinely felt really honored last night and again today by a couple comments James Bach has said about me, including these:

 

TwitterHexawiseresults-Oct232009

 

Here's the quick background: (1) James knows much more about software testing than I do and I respect his views a lot. (2) He has a reputation for not suffering fools gladly and pretty bluntly telling people he doesn't respect them if he doesn't respect the content of their views. (3) in addition to his extremely broad expertise on "testing in general" James, like Michael Bolton, knows a lot about pairwise and combinatorial testing methods and how to use them. (4) I firmly (and passionately) believe that pairwise and combinatorial testing methods are (a) dramatically under-appreciated, and (b) dramatically under-utilized. (5) James has published a very good and well-reasoned article about some of the limitations of pairwise testing methods that I wanted to talk to him about. (6) I co-wrote an article that IEEE Computer recently published about Combinatorial Testing that I wanted to discuss with him. (7) James and I have been at the STP Conference in Boston over the past few days. (8) I reached out to him and asked to meet at the conference to talk about pairwise and combinatorial testing methods and share with him my findings that - in the dozens of projects I've been involved with that have compared testers efficiency and effectiveness - I've routinely seen defects found per tester hour more than double. (9) I was interested in getting his insights into where are these methods most applicable? Least applicable? What have his experiences been in teaching combinatorial testing methods to students, etc.

In short, frankly, my goals in meeting with him were to: (a) meet someone new, interesting and knowledgeable and learn as much as could and try to understand from his experiences, his impressive critical thinking and his questioning nature, and (b) avoid tripping up with sloppy reasoning (when unapologetically expressing the reasons I feel combinatorial testing methods are dramatically under-appreciated by the software testing community) in front of someone who (i) can smell BS a mile away, and (ii) doesn't suffer fools gladly.

I learned a lot, heard some fantastic war stories and heard his excellent counter-examples that disproved a couple of the generalizations I was making (but didn't dampen my unshaken assertions that combinatorial testing methods are wildly under-utilized by the software testing community). I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Moving forward, as a result of our meeting, I will go through an exercise which will make me more effective (namely carefully thinking through and enumerating all of the assumptions behind my statements like: "I've measured the effectiveness of testers dozens of times - trying to control external variables as much as reasonably possible - and I'm consistently seeing more than twice as many defects per tester hour when testers adopt pairwise/combinatorial testing methods."

His complement last night was private so I won't share it but it ranks up there in my all time favorite complements I've ever received. I'm honored. Thanks James.

By: Justin Hunter on Oct 23, 2009

Categories: Combinatorial Testing, Design of Experiments, Efficiency, Interesting People , Pairwise Testing, Software Testing, Software Testing Efficiency, Testing Case Studies, Uncategorized

I tend to enjoy drinking beers with people who have diverse interests and viewpoints on an oddball assortment of topics. By that criteria, Jerry Brito seems like he'd definitely be a good person to drain a few pints with.

 

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Jerry Brito

 

He is a senior research fellow at George Mason University. His interests span:

  • "Simple living" (he's the creator of the creator of Unclutterer, a popular blog about personal organization and all things simple living)

  • Legal issues (he researches and publishes about IT and telecom policy, government transparency, the regulatory process, keepin' an eye on "the man" and his Stimulus spending, etc.)

  • Oddball food stuff (he's a contributor to he irreverent food blog Crispy on the Outside)

Last week, thanks to Michael Bolton's tweet, I stumbled upon a list he put together of famous quotes that make just as much sense when you substitute "PowerPoint" for "Power."

While it has virtually nothing to do with combinatorial or pairwise software testing test methods, test design best practices, or Hexawise, I found it amusing and suggested a couple additions to it. My suggested additions to his list include:

  • "It is said that PowerPoint corrupts, but actually it's more true that PowerPoint attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than PowerPoint." - David Brin

  • "There can never be a complete confidence in a PowerPoint which is excessive." - Cornelius Tacitus

  • "An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of PowerPoint over his fellow citizens." - Thomas Jefferson

  • "PowerPoint is not alluring to pure minds." - Jefferson again

  • "All men having PowerPoint ought to be distrusted to a certain degree." - James Madison

  • "I was going to buy a copy of The PowerPoint of Positive Thinking, and then I thought: What the hell good would that do?" - Ronnie Shakes

  • "PowerPoint tempts even the best of men to take liberties with the truth." - Joseph Sobran

By: Justin Hunter on Aug 25, 2009

Categories: Interesting People