Sunday, April 18, 2010

What's In Your Candy Bag?

Ever since I started teaching my son about looking at things critically and how to spot issues with things (or potential issues, sometimes things just work as designed, even though we may disagree with that assessment :) ), I've been amused at when he will come up to me and ask me "Hey dad, is this wrong?"

Sometimes it will be something on a site like Facebook or Gaia, where he will notice that an action does not do what it's supposed to do (and the subsequent frustrations that follow along with that) or as he's reading an article or a book and notices mis-spellings he hadn't noticed before, but today he pointed out something to me that just had me laughing.

At church, he is in a class with other teenage kids, some of which are rowdy at times, so as a way to keep order in the class, the teachers offer treats to kids who come prepared, participate, and do the reading assigned during the previous week. This week's treat was two bags of M&Ms (one plain ,the other peanut). My boy noticed on the bag that there was a number to call if there was any issues or anything out of the ordinary with the product. He brought home both bags and gleefully showed me that, indeed, there was a problem. Inside of each bag he counted out the M&M's, and he saw that both  bags had three and four candies, respectively, that didn't have M's stamped on the candies. He then told me he was going to call the company and let them know about it.

I chuckled, but he reminded me of a valuable lesson. To practice testing and finding answers, we have to be willing to look in multiple areas, and oftentimes find those things that are mundane and wouldn't normally rise to our attention. I will confess that I would not have thought to take out each candy and look to see if the label was there, but I smiled that my son thought to do that. Perhaps this was spawned by curiosity, perhaps boredom, but it shows that we can be made aware of little issues in almost everything, and looking at them and for them helps us develop our skills as testers. What was also great was to see the look in my son's eyes as he explained what he noticed, and how excited he was when he told me he was going to contact the candy company about it. I told him that, in many ways, this is similar to the experience of discovery and the satisfaction that a software tester feels when they find an issue in code that they are testing, and when they write up a bug report.

I'm interested in hearing about the results of the phone call he makes to the company (he couldn't do it today as it was Sunday and they were closed). Whether or not he gets any type of a reply, I congratulated him on discovering and reporting his first bug. I never guessed it would be inside of a candy bag :).
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