Thursday, November 4, 2021

Why Should we Take Things Personally? (an #OnlineTestConf 2021 Live Blog)

Well, this is an intriguing title. I've long considered the advice that it is best to not take things personally or at least to not take things so personally that it causes me stress or grief. Still, I think I have a feeling where this talk might be going, so let's see if I'm right :). 

As a performing musician, I know full well how it feels to internalize everything that happens to me when I'm performing. Some of those things are entirely within my control. I can blame myself if my stringed instrument goes out of tune (and I can take the time to tune it again). I can blame myself when I sing something that is causing me to stretch for notes. Of course, I also have the benefit of on-the-fly transposition. If I know my material and for a time I can't "hit the note" I can transpose to something that is harmonically interesting if not exactly equivalent. If I forget the words, I can either put in stand-in words or I can vocable until I get back on track (any singer who claims this has never happened to them is lying to you, by the way).  Why am I going on this tangent? Other than the fact it's my blog and I do that from time to time... my point is these are all areas that I have some control over. I have the ability to impact these areas and I have the ability to interact and mitigate any issues.

What do I not have any effect over? I can't do anything about other performers if they mess up. I can work with them to help them get back on track but I can't play their part for them. Also, if an audience member decides I'm not to their taste or they consider my talents lackluster, I have absolutely no control over that. Maybe with the next song, I might be able to sway their opinion but ultimately I have to accept the fact that I cannot sway everyone nor can I convince everyone to like me. That's an example of something I cannot and must not take personally. Everything else I mentioned? That's in my control and dagnabit yes, I should take that personally.

As I am hearing Indranil discuss some of the challenges he has faced and what he chose to do likewise fits the metaphor I described above. If something is totally out of our sphere of influence, then there is little we can do and we either consider ways to make it work or find a workaround for it. However, if there is an area where we have the ability to influence a decision, we should take it personally and get ourselves into the equation. 

A key idea that Indranil is focusing on is "Test Automanuation"... wait, what?! It's the idea that you can mix in test automation and manual steps where necessary so that you can take care of the most repetitive steps while protecting the areas that must require human interaction (his example is a bak application that uses a security protocol that literally cannot or must not be automated). This idea fits very nicely with the "taxicab" model of automation, where we do all that we can to get us to a particular point, and then we step out of the cab (we stop the automation process) and we look around or explore the area we have found ourselves at. After we are done, we get "back in the cab", we start the meter again, and we go to our next destination. Efficient? In context, it certainly can be. Effective? Often times yes, very much so. Easy to implement? Statically, yes, just create a drop point and run your test. At the moment, I just have a statement/method I drop into my script called "And Let Me See That" which allows me to set pre-determined stopping points. When I reach them, the script pauses and I can take control. 

Indranil is pointing out in demos that there are ways that we individually can affect the development process but odds are we will be limited to non-effective unless we get ourselves involved directly. The idea of asking for/advocating for testability is in and of itself "taking things personally". Ultimately, I'd say it comes down to knowing where your circle of influence/concern actually is. You may find yourself in areas where you will have no control whatsoever as to what happens. In those cases, don't take it personally. If there is a chance something will fall into your sphere of influence, then yes, take it personally and get involved. You may find that you make a change that helps many more than just yourself.

No comments: