Friday 30 March 2012

Ambigous Defects and Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneer Selection

While writing this blog entry, I am beginning to notice how much more I am beginning to think like a software tester, not only in using the 'blog stubs' method that I have developed, but also in gradually being able to make sense of the processes, as well as being able to apply some of these concepts beyond professional contexts.

Like the game of cricket, software testing is largely over-complicated by jargon. Just from the very title of this entry, you may already have noticed that 'testing speak' is starting to become more visible within my vocabulary, with the use of the term defect. In software testing, the term defect refers to a flaw in a component or system that can cause it to fail to perform its required function. More generally though, a defect refers to a fault that detracts from perfection. Going through the revision questions of the ISEB Foundation Certificate, I am beginning to find much 'defects' in its use of the English language, where another  concept familiar to readers of this blog is also visible - ambiguity!

I have often written here about ambiguity presenting a major challenge to people with Asperger's Syndrome, and also have a piece on this subject in the current edition of The Autism File. Where ambiguity causes 'defects' in the ISEB training material is within multi-choice questions. To start with, I am going to put myself in the unlikely position as a person with Asperger's Syndrome of defending the concept of ambiguity. Multi-choice exams are often dismissed as being 'too easy' or 'like filling in the National Lottery', but where they can be made challenging (which I am sure most would agree that exams should be) is through ambiguity, as long as it makes sense! For ambiguity to make sense in a multiple-choice exam though, you can't have possible answers that use a different word to mean the same thing such as in the following example:

Regulation Acceptance Testing is performed against any regulations that must be what?

A. Understood
B. Read
C. Adhered to
D. Followed

At first, it is apparent that all available answers apply to the question, but then on closer inspection, it becomes clearer that is little difference, if any, between choices C and D. The correct answer is C, but D virtually means the same thing. Ambiguity doesn't just apply to the recruitment process, but it is also present during the training stage and can cause confusion. 

Having been immersed in software testing, as well as blog stubs, something that it also helps me to be mindful of is that when writing a blog entry, issues that I describe often go beyond the blog stubs to add further dimensions to the other aspects of my role at Autism Works, in this case, the Operational Procedures, where I may look at reinforcing guidance on training employees with autism and Asperger's Syndrome. Chris Neville-Smith, one of our Test Analysts, has suggested that when we start training new trainee test analysts, it may help to have a 'jargon-buster' guide to help make sense of any ambiguity. 

Kilimanjaro (5895m), Tanzania
Elsewhere, we have had good reason to celebrate this week after being selected from over 300 applications to be a Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneer! Thirty social enterprises, including Autism Works, were selected by Deloitte to receive £1 million worth of support to help grow their business. Outside of work, my training for the Bupa Great North Run is progressing quite well, despite the strain it can put on me physically sometimes! I have now extended my challenge into a double challenge - the Great North Run this year and then in October 2013, hopefully climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak at 5895m (19,341ft). 

Sponsorship raised from my Kilimanjaro challenge will go to the Daisy Chain Project. To find out more about my double challenge, click here. Stay tuned to see how this progresses.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all who have so kindly donated to my challenge for Daisy Chain so far, and to feel free to pass this link through your networks.

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