Before we test, we should plan. Before we plan, we should understand. Before we understand, we should discuss. As we discuss complex paths through software, we should use models.

As soon as you draw a model, the discussion becomes engaging for both parties. Each person is forced to pay attention because the items under discussion are now concrete entities we can point to. Our brains can focus less on what the names or actions for these objects are and more on how they interact.

Even the crudest models (e.g., circles and arrows) will facilitate understanding. Everyone wants to discuss things with a model, whether they know it or not. It’s easier to talk to the model than someone’s face, especially for us introverts. When I sense confusion during a discussion I say “let’s go the white board”. Once the other person (usually the dev) gets their butt out of their chair the rest is down hill.

My knowledge of the inner workings of my AUT is miniscule compared with that of my devs and I’m not afraid to show it. I’ll draw some first grader shapes with letters and before I know it the dev is reaching for the dry erase marker to show me how it really works. And the beauty of the whole thing is that your brain will use the model to develop test cases; the possible inputs/outputs become clearer. Say these out loud and your dev will help you find the weak points. Then thank the dev and go getcha some bugs!

After investing thousands of dollars in attempting to get a software testing certification at the International Institute for Software Testing (IIST), they blacklisted me from taking courses taught by their chairman, necessary to complete said certification.

I first attended one of IIST's international testing certification weeks five years ago. The certification requires certain classes, some of which are taught by Dr. Magdy Hanna. After taking his course, The Principles of Software Testing, I gave him a poor evaluation. I may be one of the few people in the world who actually bothers to provide valuable feedback on surveys and I'm not shy about giving it.

Anyway, two years later I talked my new company into letting me attend another certification week. I was only about three courses away from certification. I registered, signed up for the courses I needed, and bought an airline ticket. About a week later, I got an email saying I could not take one of the courses I signed up for because the instructor would not allow it (due to a poor evaluation I had given him two years earlier).

Was this guy for real? Dr. Magdy Hanna would not return my calls but eventually sent me an email saying since I didn't like his teaching style I would be banned from his classes. Oh, I would have taken someone else's class in a heartbeat but this was the last one I needed and Hanna happened to be the only guy teaching it that week. It would have been nice if they would have told me prior to me registering and buying an airline ticket, which I had to use elsewhere.

Anyway, I hate IIST. Hanna's classes did suck and so did his teaching technique, which was more about his own ego than trying to help anyone become a better tester. That year I attended Michael Bolton's Rapid Software Testing course and learned more than I had learned in all the IIST classes. This year I am attending the Software Test & Performance Conference and next year I hope to try CAST. If you ever have a choice, don't choose IIST.

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