Friday, November 27, 2009

Multitasking - What is the limit?

My job as a software test lead requires me to multitask every day. I have to manage a team of testers, as well as perform as an individual contributor. At the same time I am working on more than one tasks, writing test case for one project, reviewing test cases for another project, testing for a third project. After my day in office ends, and I reach home, I am again multitasking. I am cleaning, I am cooking, I am feeding my dog, I am checking my mails, I am making sure that everybody in the house is comfortable. But the question that creeps up in my mind is, when I am doing all these tasks together, am I giving 100% to each of my task? Am I as good a manager as I am a tester? Or does the manager takes a step back when the tester wants to perform? When I am cooking a dish, is it my best effort? or it would have tasted better if I didn't have to wash the clothes in the washing machine at the same time?
I want to excel in everything I do. I want to make sure that people cannot point fingers at me. But when I am doing so many things in a day, I may not be focusing on one thing at a time, and mistakes are unavoidable. That worries me. This must be a problem faced by most working women who want to give same priority to their career and family. When my family needs me, I have to shift focus from job, I am afraid that my office considers it as a side effect of hiring a woman for the job. When I have a hectic day in office and do not have any energy left to do the household chores, my family might take it as negligence towards my duties. How do I maintain the balance?
I read an article in TOI which said "Today's woman: The multi-tasking genius". Is it really true? At most times I feel tremendous pressure to keep up with this statement. But at times, I want to shout and say, this is not true. I am not happy that I can multitask. But I have no other choice than to multitask. Shouldn't there be a limit?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Software Testing - My experience

I have now completed 6 years in my career as a software tester. I ask myself, what have I learnt in these 6 years? Am I a better tester today than I was when I started my career? How has being a tester impacted or affected my life? No satisfactory answer yet. But I want to share some things that come to my mind when I ponder over these questions.
During my MBA days, I came upon a book by Glenford Myers, 'The Art of Software Testing'. The artist in me noticed the word 'Art' and I started reading it. I won't describe what I read. (Anyone who has read the book will know why is it so costly.) But yes, it did convince me that Software testing is an . Testing involves as much thinking and creativity as a form of art. From my experience, I have learnt that there cannot be a defined way to test a particular software. Two testers will test the same software in two different ways. Just like two painters will paint the same imagination in two different ways. Most of the times, people will like one better than the other. So with maturity and experience, one can learn better ways to test. Having said that, I will also say that experience alone cannot make a better tester, if there is no hunger for knowledge and learning more and more. Just like an author needs to learn a language and grammar to write a good book, tester needs to learn ways to make a software more useful to the user. what does a tester need to learn? I will share some of my knowledge here.
In my first job, I started with a set of test cases written by my test lead. I executed them. But is that all that I can contribute? I figured out that if I want to add value, I have to think like the user who is ultimately going to use the product. In the last 6 years, I have had the opportunity to work in various business domains which has helped me to understand the point of view of various levels of users, computer educated user, computer illiterate user, highly sophisticated user, impatient user, friendly user, aggressive user... This is the first and most important lessson any tester has to learn, 'During testing, always think from the perspective of the user who is ultimately going to use it'. Some questions that I have to ask myself when I am trying to think from user's perspective are like: Is this data useful to the user? Are we displaying unnecessary/useless information? Are we confusing the user with too many options? Is the process self explanatory? Is the time taken for the process testing the user's patience? and so on. These are the questions I collected on my way during the last 6 years. Even when I am using a software for my personal use, I keep checking whether the testers of that software think of these questions with me in mind as a user :). So this is one huge change that being a software tester has brought to my mind.
I have also realized that having programming knowledge is very important even in software testing. I have come across many testers who are satisfied in just knowing that the software is behaving incorrectly. But when I see a bug, the next question that comes to my mind is, why did this bug get introduced. My inquisitive mind wants to know what went on in the developer's mind during implementation due to which the bug got introduced. I do not only want to point out the problem, I also want to know the cause of the problem and want to contribute in solving the problem. For that I needed programming knowledge and I have harrassed many developers trying to learn the architecture, design and software code :). I am much better equipped now. Yes I have definitely evolved over the years, but it is not the end. I have to constantly try and improve my art to become a better artist.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rabindranath Tagore and Rabindrasangeet

9th may was Rabindra Jayanti, Rabindranath Tagore’s birthday. Hyderabad Bengali Samity had arranged a small culture function. And I got a chance to sing two group songs, both rabindrasangeet. Anyways I don’t sing anything other than rabindrasangeet. That is the only kind of music that touches my heart. I am not trying put down other types of songs or music. May be I have not yet developed the ear for other kind of music.

I am a huge fan of Rabindranath Tagore and his songs. I truly believe that he is one of the greatest poets ever born on this earth. You have only to feel the emotions in the words of the songs and poems to realize his greatness. And among so many songs, you will find songs for each moment of the day, each emotion of human mind, each season. Whether you are in love, or you are praying, or you are praising nature, or you are sad, or you are a revolutionary, you will definitely find a song that suits your situation. And always the emotion is so beautifully expressed in his words, that it feels that those words are the only words that can express those feelings. May be that is why, rabindrasangeet plays such an important role in the life of a Bengali. It is the soul, it is the voice of a Bengali.

People from other parts of India and world make fun of Bengalis as a community crazy about Rabindranath Tagore. But anyone who can once taste the true flavor of his songs and poems, is bound to become his fan. People call him arrogant, but when does a genius like him have time to socialize! And as someone who knows his craft, isn’t he allowed to have some amount of self confidence and arrogance. People talk about his womanizing and philandering ways. But who are we to talk about his character! Even if I spend a lifetime trying to write a poem, I cannot write even one poem as beautifully as him, and he has written thousands of such poems. He has given us a gift, a collection of very beautiful songs, he has shown us the way to express our feelings, and that’s all that matters to me.
I still remember the day when I went to see Jora Shanko Thakur Bari, the house he grew up in. Unfortunately it was a Monday, the day when all museums in India remain closed, so I couldn’t see the museum. But when I walked in the garden, entered the main door, saw the veranda and balcony, I was almost shivering with emotions, that all these have been touched and used by the great man, a man who had such beautiful thoughts, I could almost feel his presence. He almost appeared god-like to me that day, as if I have come to a temple and I can feel and connect to the god in the temple. I am sure many have experienced the same emotions as me. I would like to know what others have to say on this topic :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

My first Kitty Party

Till now I had only heard about kitty parties and then suddenly, I was about to
attend one myself :). In my mind, it was a word associated with housewives. I
have seen groups of ladies chatting away in restaurants, all dressed up in their
party wear, dazzling sarees and gorgeous makeup, each trying to outdo the others
in beauty. But of course kitty parties are not about that only. Since my mom as
well as mom-in-law have attended some of these kitty parties, I had a vague idea
of how it is.
So when I came to know that the ladies in our building are arranging a kitty
party, and I was invited, I was really excited. My friends gave a different
reaction. One friend exclaimed, "Suz, tu kitty party mein?", where as another
friend asked me to take some pics and show her what happens in kitty party. As
if it is some secret society or club that I am going to join. hehe...
Actually, being a working woman, I don't get to meet the other ladies in the
building much. In fact, I meet them only while taking my dog for a walk, or
while in the elevator. We keep telling each other that we should meet up, plan a
get together, etc., but we all are busy with our own commitments and own group
of friends. Most of the other ladies are home makers, so they do sometimes find
time to meet up during afternoons, but since I never could join them, I think I
was considered a little arrogant, some even thought that I just act busy to
avoid meeting them :(. Now with the kitty party once every month, I can meet
everyone at the same time and also get to know them better. So I was thrilled.
The day arrived. On 4th April at 4 pm, after trying on a few tshirts and pairs
of jeans, I finalized a tshirt with a matching pair of jeans with Shailly's
approval. I wore my mangalsutra :). Since it is very simple and sweet, it goes
well with western clothes also. I wanted to look appropriate for a party with
elderly ladies, yet retain my identity.
I don't know why, but I was a little nervous while going to my neighbor's place
for the kitty. I guess it is because I am not too good at group discussions. I
am a little shy and introvert in groups. I am a better listener than a talker.
And when I have to talk, I like to be prepared, so I have always been a better
presenter. But I decided to utilize this opportunity to win over this demon in
me and have a good time talking to the other ladies.
I went to my neighbor's place for the party. She is of my age, a very nice girl
whose sense of fashion I admire sometimes. Since she was staying in my floor
only, I knew her better than everyone else. Slowly other ladies came and we got
introduced to each other. We were 14 members, half of them in my age group and
the other half in my mom's age group. I think I remember everyone's name :). I
was surprised to find that many of the ladies were attending a kitty party for
the first time :). Now I felt confident and comfortable too. We decided on some
rules like late fine and started with money collection. Actually kitty party is
nothing but an all ladies tea party where they play some games, do some gossip
and get to know each other well and the only thing special is, an amount is
collected from each participant and the collected amount goes to one participant
in each kitty party, usually to the person who organizes the kitty that month.
And this goes on till every participant has got the money and organized the
kitty at least once. After that it starts again.
We played a game of tambola and a word game, sadly, I didn't win anything. There's always a next time :).We had some delicious snacks made of potato; I will have to ask for the recipe sometime. Altogether it was a good interative session, though many times, I was in
dilemna, whether I should offer some opinion in an ongoing discussion between
some of the ladies, or should I start a new conversation with the girl sitting
beside me :). I was a little disappointed as there was no gossip to share. But I
guess with time, it will become more and more interesting as the ladies open up.(Yes, I would not mind spending sometime in gossiping with my neighbors once a
month ;-) )
For the ladies who think that kitty parties are for dumb housewives with no
work, please change your mind. The way these housewives are managing their
husband and children, cooking delicious snacks and then winning intelligent word
games. They can do it all, they are home makers. There is so much to learn from
them. So don't say no to kitty parties :).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

coco and me

The title of the topic is partially inspired by the book 'Marley and me' and partially by my dog, Coco... He is such an important part of my life that it felt right to dedicate some blog space to him... He is actually more than just a dog to us, he is a family member, my bundle of joy...
I still remember the day we got him home... we were about to adopt a dog who has spent 3.5 years in a different home with different set of people... we were sceptical about his temperament, his habits, his likes and dislikes... we wondered how naughty he will be, how long will he take to accept us as his new family... and with all these questions in mind, we met this blue eyed, chocolate brown labrador, full of energy and willing to play with anyone... it was as if the entire world is his friend... we loved him the moment we set eyes on him... we knew that coco is exactly what we wanted... I remember he was a little scared to climb into the back seat of our car and was sad to go away from my friend with whom he had spent 2 very happy months... I am sure he had similar questions in his mind during the journey back home... we bought him an icecream on the way home which he loved and we started the process of knowing each other and accepting each other...
we came to know that he likes chicken and rice, dislikes milk, likes to play with ball, loves to chase cats, loves his teddy bear... he is softspoken, doesn't speak till it is absolutely necessary or we ask him to... he loves a good belly rub, likes it when we brush his fur, hates it when we brush his teeth or give him a bath...
It was a learning process for him too... he knows all our routine around the house... he can understand whether we are getting ready to go to office or to take him out... he has learnt all the bengali words I use to talk to him... he knows where we keep his snacks and treats... he has learnt to trust us... and he has learnt that he is allowed to be disobedient and not listen to my commands which is entirely my fault... even if I get angry sometimes, but the moment I see his face, I cannot think of punishing him...
When I return home at the end of a tiring day, I get the best welcome one can get... I don't think anyone human being can express happiness better than Coco without speaking a single word... When I leave for office, the sadness in his eyes to see me go moves me so much that I feel like abandoning the idea of going to office... when he comes and licks my face, I feel honored that he thinks I deserve his love... even on the days when I am late from office and he is sitting at the door hungry and waiting for me to come and take him out, he doesn't show his anger or doesn't get annoyed, instead, I get the same warm welcome... he never complains... I wonder, did god not teach dogs how to complain, or he loves me so much that he forgives me everytime?
Life has become so simple after Coco came... he keeps me occupied and doesn't let my idle mind be devil's workshop :)... I often wondered what kind of a parent will I be... I think I know that now...
It is true that dogs are man's best friends... like a true best friend they teach you good things and give you emotional support by being at your side always, no matter what... coco has taught me how to be patient and try to communicate with someone who doesn't understand my language... he taught me how to be responsible, take care of someone totally dependent on me... he taught me how to sacrifice my own wishes to make someone happy... and above all, he taught me how to love someone unconditionally...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


At last my first blog!!... after much procrastination...

During my school days, I used to write diary almost everyday, some very personal thoughts and my ambitions in life, my feelings and reactions about the things going on around me... During my graduation days, I stopped that habit due to an incident... then life became very fast for me, loaded with studies, trying to decide what to do next, worrying about job, convincing parents that I am ready to get married, getting married, trying to settle in a new family, accepting new family members... whew... didn't find the time to write my thoughts down...

but now life has slowed down a bit... I have a nice job, a best friend and partner, and a nice home, kind of settled life from an outsider's point of view... but I still have so many dreams to fulfill, sometimes I am so full of emotions, I feel the need to write them down... I find this new way of expressing views, thoughts, discussing topics very interesting... so wanted to start blogging since a long time... so let me start...

I will start with a topic that has been discussed time and again by almost everybody... what do we want from life? which is that one thing that will make us happy and contended with life? In my case, I have observed that the answer varies according to situation... If I ask this question to myself when I am in a very good mood, happy with the things in life, then I will say I wish to make more progress in life and career and do something worthwhile, contribute something to my society, make a mark in this world... on the days when I am sad and disappointed with the happenings around me, then I start regretting so many decisions that I have taken in my life and then the only thing I want is freedom; I wish to run away from everything and be free; forget everything and everyone; be alone and read a good book... Sometimes when I to buy something and due financial reasons, I cannot, I feel the only thing I need to be happy is money... I have lived more than one third of my life (I am considering the average age of an human being as 75 years) and still not figured out what I want from life...

it seems there is no end to the process of wishing... if we achieve something, we start wishing for something else... I wonder whether the great men on earth like Einstein, Picasso, Rabindranath Tagore, had all figured out what they want from life, or they also considered their life incomplete till the end?