Did I do something good that day?

Did I do something good today?” – question I asked myself after a day of refactoring a long and repetitive test suite and ending up with TestSuite and TestSuiteOld. Was it a good time investment? Yes, I  did spend more time than I planned working with this 2500+ lines monster, but looking at our goals next time we would change this component wouldn’t be soon. The old suite worked just fine and now we have two files, different styles and a day spent not on testing new features or working on items from automation backlog (I’m a Quality Engineer a.k.a. Software Developer in Test). Was it worth it?

Gut feeling told me – yes, it was. First of all, I (finally) learned how this component works. More important, I’ve lighted a guiding light for creating less testing debt – tests for this component are now easier to create: common code is moved to setUp and private methods, tests are on average 7-15 lines shorter and work with data providers.

Few weeks ahead (surprise!) we need to change this exact component. Today on retrospective my team members told me they were happy that I managed to write several good cases that caught issues. All thanks to refactoring, it was so easy to create those tests that I was surprised it was mentioned. All I had to think is what data to put in new data providers. For me real issue was why it was me who caught these issues, but that’s another story.

Test/check automation code should be treated same way as production code (1, 2) and should be clean. It wil give you shorter cycle time, less bugs and happier team. To stop creating technical debt “Stop Writing Crappy Code“, stop it right now and write it good this time. It will pay of rather soon.

Messing with ffmpeg

Today evening I wanted to quicly upscale one SD video to HD with ffmpeg, which was my encoder of choice for quite a long time.

But it ain’t easy. First, default Ubuntu 12.04 ffmpeg didn’t support h264. Switching to VP8 didn’t help as output quality was awful and several how-tos had unsupported options. It all looked like ffmpeg was outdated. And it was. Ubuntu ships Libav, a fork of ffmpeg, v 0.8 w/o x264 support.

Luckly, there’s a ppa with latest version (0.10) of original ffmpeg on launchpad. Using

ffmpeg -i in.mov -acodec copy -vcodec libx264 -crf_max 7000 -q 50 -s 960×720 HD.mov

I could convert my 4:3 ratio SD file into 720p one. I wish I used Avidemux and hopefully it would just simply work.

Weekend reading

A bunch of good articles worth reading. Topic covered – testers in agile team, patent monopoly, buccaneer learning, good and bad manager patterns and improcing your restrospectives (and other repeated things)

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scrum – agile = problems

Scrum seems to be the most popular agile framework – when you hear agile, you most probably will hear sprint, retrospective etc. Scrum is a framework.. Agile is a set of values. Scrum didn’t mention any values explicitly, but has them implicitly – some of it’s foundations can’t be used without those values.

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re: Remarkable employees

Recently LinkedIn linked (what a coinsidence :) ) to article by Inc.com called 8 Qualities of Remarkable Employees. The list was like this:

1. They ignore job descriptions.
2. They’re eccentric.
3. But they know when to dial it back.
4. They publicly praise.
5. And they privately complain.
6. They speak when others won’t.
7. They like to prove others wrong.
8. They’re always fiddling.

What the article doesn’t say is that many organisation are not ready for these kind people. Ignoring job descriptions and private complaining leads to conflicts. Speaking out could result in disappointment in “always satisfied” / “we can’t influence that” colleagues.

Proving others wrong and fiddling around can also lead to unwanted escalations and conflicts. One’s points can be ignored, or one can get a ‘lucky’ chance to solve a big problem on his own without much support. Ones effort left unsupported leads to dissapointment too.

All this creates radical difference in situational awareness and toxic working environment. Don’t you find that too? Should you be remarkable and not giving up – keeping searching and not settling? Or should one ‘grow up’ and mind his own bussiness?

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