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Blog posts in the “Blog” category are related to introductory, welcome or other administrative material about this site and are not necessarily content-specific to testing or testers.

COVID19 Real Talk

Abstract: This post has nothing to do with testing, so that makes it a first on this blog, but it is time for some Covid19 real talk. However my brother, Dustin Roberts, medical doctor and former US Navy Lieutenant Commander, and I believe this is important information to share. Dustin has prepared an article with his answers to some frequently asked questions that have been swirling around the COVID-19 / Corona Virus pandemic. There’s some truth, some common sense, and some soap-boxing, all three of which seem to be needed right now. You’ll see some Christian viewpoints mixed in here, which is an important part of our family culture, and part of the unique perspective that we wanted to share. Regardless of your creed, we both highly value critical thinking skills, and believe this information will help you.

Introduction:

Regarding specific questions about how this will affect you if you have a specific pre-existing condition, or what is to come one or two months out from now in terms of the virus spreading…look – For some of this stuff, we just don’t have enough data yet to know.  This is still a VERY new disease and we’re learning at a breakneck pace, but the data just isn’t available to give specific risks at such a granular level. This link here, Worldometer – Corona Virus Death Toll breaks down some of the data we DO know. I hope the rest of this can be of help to people who are confused by the myriad information online.

Is this just another flu?  How concerned should we be?

Background: Coronaviruses have been around for millennia.  There are several which cause the common cold but don’t confer much long-lasting immunity which explains why it’s common to get a cold yearly.  However, there is a subset of these virusues that are more dangerous.  In 2002 and 2003 SARS-CoV1 caused the “SARS epidemic”, in 2012 MERS-CoV caused an outbreak (with about 30-40% of infected patients dying) but these were smaller, not quite as contagious (and other factors).  Now we have a new or “novel” coronavirus – 2019-nCoV (2019 novel Coronavirus or SARS-CoV2 which causes the Coronavirus Disease of 2019 or “COVID19” which is what I’ll call it because it’s easier than the more formal name.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severe_acute_respiratory_syndrome_coronavirus_2

Normally the overall, average death rate of influenza A is around 0.1-0.2% and just like any disease, the flu disproportionately affects the sick and elderly because they have less ability to fight off a system-wide infection.  Of course the higher numbers of elderly patients skew the average higher – the chance of death from influenza as a generally healthy 30 or 40 year old is very, very low.  We’re used to just staying home and drinking chicken soup.

Unfortunately, COVID19 is more serious.  It’s no ebola, but the overall mortality rate is probably around 3-4%.  Again, as with any viruses or other infectious diseases, the sick, elderly and immunocompromised are more likely to be disproportionately affected.  (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-death-toll/).

The death statistics grab headlines because it’s sensational, but more worrisome is COVID’s ability to cause a pretty high rate of morBIDity (as opposed to morTALity).  This means that those lower risk patients can get sick enough to require serious medical care like hospitalization up to and including intensive care which can mean intubation (a breathing tube) and ventilation.  A very high percentage of these patients who need to be hospitalized end up developing Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) which can be considered lung failure (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acute_respiratory_distress_syndrome).  Serious lung infections including ARDS leave the patient with permanent lung damage – maybe requiring oxygen, but certainly just having trouble breathing well for a long time and maybe even enough to permanently alter behavior.  For example, a patient I had (years ago from another reason) who went into ARDS was a long-distance runner prior to getting sick and afterwards, even years later, he just didn’t feel the same and the residual slight difficulty breathing cause him to give up the running he used to enjoy.  All this to say, even if you don’t die, a single “flu” has a chance of causing life-long damage.  (this is the very reason, in addition to preventing death, that we vaccinate against various things – to prevent many different long-term complications)

Additionally, COVID19 is more contagious than influenza.  There is a metric called the “R-naught” value.  Generally, it describes how many people get infected after coming in contact with an infected person.  Influenza has an R-0 of about 1-1.3.  COVID19’s R-0 is about 2-2.5.  (Measles is 12!)

A quick note about how it’s spread – You contract this virus from droplets.  This means directly from a sneeze or cough from an infected (though maybe asymptomatic) person or indirectly from a surface with infected droplets (i.e. doorknob, pen, etc).  You do NOT get it via airborne means (if you’re more than about 6 feet from another person).  So…go for a walk, enjoy the outside away from people.  Picnic on your lawn.  Talk to your neighbors from a safe distance.

Takeaway: No, it’s not just flu.  It is more lethal, more morbid and more contagious.

How safe is takeout, pizza delivery, etc? Related: If I or my family haven’t been outside the house all day and haven’t had any contact with anyone, are we safe?

Yes because staying away from other people (the source of potential infection) is very, very important.  [PLEASE practice social distancing]  However, the note of caution is that this virus is a tough cookie.  It can survive on surfaces including skin, cardboard, steel, etc for hours to days!  The good news is that it can be easily cleaned off with normal household sanitizers – bleach, alcohol >70%.  The single most effective thing to kill it is hot soap and water.  https://www.livescience.com/how-long-coronavirus-last-surfaces.html

I highly recommend takeout/delivery, but once you receive it, open it, then wash your hands.  THEN transfer it from the delivery box onto your own clean plate with clean utensils. THEN wash your hands again before eating.

Disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces in your life – car door handles, steering wheels, light switches, computer components, phones.

You’ll feel like crazy person but it really makes a difference.

You need to continue washing your hands regardless of who you’ve been in contact with for 2 reasons: first – COVID19 has an incubation period of up to 14 days, meaning you could have been exposed up to two weeks ago (we think) and still develop symptoms.  So unless you’ve truly been completely isolated for that long, just keep washing.  Secondly, there are still wee beasties like Salmonella, E.coli and good ol’ influenza that can get you sick and hand washing works really well against these too.

Takeaway: Use takeaway. (see what I did there?).  Just disinfect the surfaces, then your hands afterwards.

If I HAVE to go out should I wear mask and gloves?

In an ideal world, perhaps.  We recommend this to cancer patients who need to avoid getting just the normal stuff in normal times.  However, right now those supplies are desperately needed at local hospitals to treat those who are very sick – it’s not really ethically justifiable to divert them to people who aren’t sick (and who can stay that way by just following simple social distancing guidelines).

What is the survival chance if I get it?

Pretty darn good.  The vast majority of patients have a mild cold and that’s it.  But the patients who do need hospitalization tend to get very sick and take up a lot of resources.  THIS is the single biggest reason we need everyone to help “flatten the curve”…so those of us who tend to critical patients don’t get overwhelmed all at once.

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-symptoms/#mild

Are there any treatments?  Semi-related: Is there a treatment that’s being hidden from us?  or on the flip-side Is this a conspiracy?

Yes and No.  We treat patients with supportive care right now – oxygen, ventilators, etc.  There is NOT a vaccine yet, though trials have started (with incredible and unprecedented speed).  There are some very early and potentially promising medications – you may have heard the president talking about Hydroxychloroquine (an anti-malaria med) and yes in a small study it, in combination with a common antibiotic, shortened the how long the patient had detectable virus (13days untreated vs 6 days treated).  However, that’s about all we know right now.  Researchers, doctors, NIH, CDC and researchers around the world are working as fast as possible to find a good safe therapy.  But the important thing to remember is that we (doctors) are not going to “just try it”.  We need to see that it works well and doesn’t cause dangerous side effects.  It’s really not enough to hear it might have worked this one time from a friend who knows a guy who’s sister read it on Facebook, etc, etc.

If I may get on a soapbox for a sec: What does not kill it are essential oils, crystals or anything sold by a pyramid scheme.  And I don’t say this in jest.  There is a LOT of misinformation out there.  Social media is generally a cesspool of misinformation (I’m lookin at you Facebook) .  Please, I am begging you (friends, romans, countrymen) just quit sharing COVID-19 related “information”.  Resist the urge to share this or that – It does real damage.  There is no cure right now. None.   There is no conspiracy to unseat Trump.  The hospital around you probably looks quiet because all the elective cases, office visits and visiting hours have been cancelled and we’re all inside bracing the phalanx for the oncoming tidal wave or treating patients in the ICU.  So don’t film the outside inactivity as a sign of “no cases therefore it’s a conspiracy”.  Before you buy into one, please at least check out: https://www.snopes.com/collections/new-coronavirus-collection/ and see if MAYBE there’s another explanation. Let’s be careful what we say (James 1:26 NASB)

So, where can we get reliable information?

I’ve tried to share what appear to be reliable sources.

Unfortunately our administration and the president, so far, haven’t been the best sources.   At a national media level, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, NIAID Director, is giving good information (if you still want to watch TV).  Info about this changes nearly daily as we learn more and gather more data so we have to take people with a grain of salt, but some sources are more reliable than others.  I refrain from watching the media coverage anymore because they seem hell bent on using sensationalizing words to stir up fear over the least little bit of data.  It’s maddening.

How long will it last?

I have no idea.  If I were a betting man, I’d say this wave might last until May or June.  It will probably come back around as restrictions are eased.  Hopefully as time progresses we’ll know better how to battle it and hopefully have a vaccine. This site from IHME gives some sobering dates: http://covid19.healthdata.org/projections

So, the last word?

It’s serious enough for the older and more vulnerable people among us that we should take more precautions than normal.  Let’s show Christ’s love by caring for the least, the last and the lost. (Matt 25 NASB) and let’s use our heads – God gave us brains for a reason and good public health people for a reason.  Don’t panic or let ourselves get lost in an online echo chamber – all too easy when you’re bored at home.

Stay apart.  Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face.  Cover your cough and sneeze.  Look out for your neighbors. 

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

                                                                            Jesus told him, Go and do likewise.” – Luke 10:36,37

I’m always happy to answer questions, so post a comment below, and I’ll work with Connor to upload a response for you.

Dustin Roberts, MD

Resume/CV

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Connor O. Roberts


214.340.5244 · connor@pixelgrill.com · linkedin.com/in/connorroberts

QUALITY ASSURANCE MANAGEMENT

Hands-on, results oriented Quality Assurance professional with extensive experience planning, testing, and integrating complex distributed systems for the purpose of risk analysis and mitigation. Management of projects through all phases, utilizing multiple engineering disciplines in establishing a definition of quality that balances internal stakeholder requests as well as customer desires. Proven track record of meeting and exceeding customer expectations via the on-time deliverables. Strong ability to bridge gap between business management and technical teams.

  • Strategic Planning
  • Risk Analysis & Metrics
  • Test Strategy & Tooling
  • Program/Project Management
  • Continuous Integration & Development
  • Process Improvement
  • Budgeting/Forecasting/Cost Analysis/P&L
  • On-Shoring & Off- Shoring Management
  • Contract Negotiations & Administration
  • Organizational Development/Management

SELECTED BUSINESS CONTRIBUTIONS

  • Evaluated existing tech stack and led teams to self-prescribe new and innovative automation tooling/strategies that better fit their individual product contexts, including: Robot Framework, Selenium WebDriver, paired various BDD frameworks, such as Cucumber, JBehave and others with Java, .NET, Python, etc.
  • Introduced new Heuristic-based models for both blackbox and automation-based risk analysis, garnered adoption across multiple release trains, allowing Product and Project management teams to be more situationally aware of how development teams’ automation strategy paired with ongoing business goals. Combined efforts with third-party testing services, such as uTest / Applause, Qualitest and Rainforest QA to balance testing efforts across product divisions.
  • Revised testing procedures, replaced tooling and streamlined test documentation, converted test cases and plans into value-add risk awareness tooling for Product Management, generated new frameworks and guidelines for smoke testing, build acceptance and regression testing, leading to shorter build verification times.
  • Worked with development teams to implement and maintain multiple environments enabling concurrent development and quality assurance testing, increasing number of reported risks earlier in the process, while decreasing testing efforts in environments as teams moved toward production.
  • Increased revenue flow by proposing the addition of a “Wizard” into the IS software to reach a previously ignored product parallel. This “CORE” software targeted a previously neglected demographic, multi-site adoption within six months, renewing of integration service contracts providing a wider net for partner-OEM clients who could now take over formerly unreachable sites that utilized competing solutions.
  • Increased corporate profit by proposing strengthening licensing procedure for the Intelli-Site (IS) software. Most changes were implemented within a six month development window from initial proposal.
  • Proficient in regression modeling, via six key guideline components: Core, Chronic, Configuration, Recent, Risky, Repaired. Use of risk-analysis models to maintenance both installable-OS and Web-based applications.
  • Thorough experiencing throughout all levels of the Quality Assurance engineering career path, including but not limited to: SQA methodologies, test planning, test cases, scripting, documentation, regression/UI/UX testing, performance/load/stress testing, QA/QC standards, defect/bug tracking, HP Quality Center/UFT, PMP tools (Jira, Salesforce, VersionOne, Rally) as well as test administration (QMetry, QASymphony QTest, TestRail, etc.)
  • Increased company’s global presence by becoming a featured conference speaker at STPCon (Fall 2016, Spring 2017), generating thought-leadership through blog creation, community engagement, client outreach projects and networking associations (DFW Testers MeetUp, Conferences, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc). Led domestic and international training, operations, on-site/remote configuration and testing.
  • Inspires coworkers/teams to drive toward common goals, can contribute individually, make decisions in the face of unknowns, translate progress up to executive level and coordinate operations without ongoing supervision. Very skilled at research, analytics, data gathering and the critical thinking needed to organize teams to solve complex problems.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Dealertrack Technologies (A Cox Automotive Company) – Dallas, TX, 2013 – Oct 2016
Quality Assurance Manager
Owned the Quality process across multiple teams and solution groups. Managed the testing and quality aspects of the development lifecycle within enterprise class system software development. Built out and managed a high performance, high quality Testing team, including: hiring, setting up test environments and defining good practices to ensure productivity and quality testing. Worked with engineering, support and product management to define and execute better testing, so that we can better inform our stakeholders who can then better mitigate product risks, resolve issues and increase customer confidence in the quality of our product.

Quality Assurance Engineer
Within an Agile environment, I had the benefit of working directly with developers. Code changes were transparent across the team with constant communication as a daily part of our workflow. Activities included: Multi-environment testing, sprint planning/tracking, shared decision making with Product Management team, customer advocacy, defect verification and release planning and execution.

Deltan Group, Inc. – Dallas, TX, 2011 – 2013
Network Consultant
Directed interaction with managed-service provider customers to make determinations on software and hardware needs for their given environments. Heavy experience evaluating various contexts to determine support, software and hardware requirements. Troubleshooting and testing of Microsoft Dynamics products (Solomon/AX) accounting/financial software suite.

Intelli-Site (OSSI) – Dallas, TX, 2008 – 2011
Quality Assurance Manager
Partnered with software development teams to improve application quality and reduce time to delivery. Worked with internal management as well as external business partners to understand and execute on requirements and expected deliverables. Ensured consistency across multiple teams, by recommendation of testing and reporting tools, sharing of best practices, both manual and automated. Maintained and customized test procedure work flow to increase efficiency while decreasing delivery time. Created and documented client/field defect verification and build acceptance test process.

EDUCATION

Bachelor’s Degree, Art & Technology (ATEC), University of Texas at Dallas – Dallas, TX
Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas – Dallas, TX

SKILLS

Metrics  ·  CDT Driven Quality Management  ·  Rapid Software Testing ·  Product Quality Management ·  Web Technologies  ·  Project Management  ·  Presentation/Microsoft Office

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Leadership Training  ·  Quality Engineering  ·  Context-Driven Risk Mitigation    ·  CDT Thought Leader ·  Automation  ·  Virtualization/Cloud Computing  ·  Mobile Strategies  ·  Robot Framework  ·  Selenium Web Driver  ·  RST Peer Advisor

ADDITIONAL PROFESSIONAL STRATEGIES

Team Management:
Experience managing unified scrum, as well as divided teams, using various strategies with people spread across many software development environments; both offshore and onshore/co-located teams. Familiar strategies include Waterfall, Agile, Kanban, and others. Heavy focus on the three main motivators that create healthy team members: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Familiarity with bridging the gap between development teams and upper management, specifically in translating the needs of the business for team consumption.

Talent Placement & Budgeting:
Solid understanding of how to build out long running and highly functional teams, with focus on quality throughout the entire product development process. Able to mitigate budget concerns, while still bringing in the necessary talent needed to make projects and teams successful. Created and established hiring practices that served as a boiler plate when adopted as the go-to model used by other managers across various divisions.

Risk Analysis & Metrics:
Strong experience in exposing and evaluating risk from a stakeholder perspective by working directly with product management teams to help the business make more informed decisions about how to react to perceived value-threats to the product. Familiarity with software maturity models and testing standards, such as ISO 29119, V-Model, Cynefin, TMM/TMMi, and how to balance those in unison with the strengths of context-driven testing and quality practices. Skill in using smart metrics and measurements to achieve KPIs where applicable, giving both teams and upper management transparency into both product and process quality across platforms.

Test Strategy & Tooling:
Deep tacit and explicit knowledge generating holistic test strategies that expose risk to produce high priority bug finds. Long-term experience coaching teams how to create value-add artifacts through the use of guideword heuristics (fallible methods for solving a problem or producing an informed action) coupled with software oracles (the method by which we recognize and identify problems). Effective in working with multi-layered organizations to implement automation where necessary.

Modeling:
Deeply skilled in how to introduce new ways of thinking, including the use of explicit testing models, both available within the organization as well as those from the larger external community. Strong ability in training teams to convert mental process into translatable value-add testing artifacts that are immediately useful to Product Management and other stakeholders. Appropriate contextual models challenge existing biases, decrease risk, and increase confidence in product quality.

Session Based Test Management (SBTM):
Effectiveness of exploratory testing; while unscripted, replies on using explicit models to inform thinking for the purpose of testing in an effective manner. By teaching teams how to execute SBTM, risks are more tangible. By putting a framework around each exploratory test session via testing charters, time-boxing and debriefings, teams can expose more valuable risks. SBTM also allows for focusing/defocusing techniques that have been shown to empower teams to find higher priority risks.

Scrum / Agile:
Practical experience working within multiple teams across many release trains in multiple disparate product divisions. Familiarity in using business process models (e.g. “SAFe”) as guidelines to scale Agile practices appropriately throughout an organization.


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Welcome

Welcome To My Blog

First, I’d like to thank you for spending your time here, given the countless resources for learning that are available to us through other mediums. If you have not yet read my main About page, then please do that as well to garner more context on where I am coming from.

While this blog and its contents are my own original work unless otherwise noted, I do not claim to be the resident subject-matter expert on any given topic. My mentality is in a constant state of evolution in regards to my paradigms and heuristics for handling testing. This mentality is forever in a state of constant flux, shepherded by some solidified base pairs that act as guard-rails to assist my movement through the four stages of learning. I do make an intentional effort to gut-check myself, and verify that I am at least at the third stage, conscious competence, before I publish a post. Unconscious competence within testing is my ultimate goal, but the very nature and vastness of testing precludes any possibility of setting a date-stamped milestone in that realm.

Everything I post, must roll-up to supporting this directive:

“The purpose of testing is to cast light on the status of the product and its context, in the service of my [stakeholders].” – James Bach

James uses the term “clients,” but I prefer “stakeholders” hence the bracketed quote modification. As a proponent of context-driven testing principles, it is my intent to spend the majority of the time writing up my own thoughts and ideas on this blog; however, there may be times that I feel it necessary to share a given topic or am otherwise motivated to share the work of others within the community, at which point they will be duly credited to the best of my abilities.

I encourage my readers to leave comments, questions or suggestions on any of my blog posts as it relates to the material. I ask that my readers be more reflective and less reflexive. My own personal heuristic for doing this, is to read a blog at least twice and at least twenty-four hours apart to help formulate my comment. Some postings are more basic, and thus the heuristic is not appropriate in those cases; however, I find that my comments are more cohesive and coherent when I use that method for deeper discussion. All external comments will go into a queue which I will moderate, then within a short time period I will post the original comment along with my reply. I have seen this format work well on other blog and article-driven websites. Since I have the same expectation from the community that I have of myself, I expect to be challenged by you, and other readers. Hopefully this is done in a way that is mature, respectful and facilitates discussion.

Finally, if you had not already figured out by now, I tend to write conversationally, so you may see technical flaws in the grammar, become frustrated with sentence constructs or experience superfluous comma usage where I intend there to be conversational pauses, from time to time. Thank you for tolerating some of my idiosyncrasies during your time spent on my site. It is my highest hope that you find this information valuable, and more importantly, applicable within your own context.

– Connor Roberts


A little something extra…

At the time of writing this I have over twenty partially completed blog posts in my unpublished queue. In the interest of transparency, and to give you an idea of what kind of topics I might be discussing, below is a list of the current working titles. Since this is a blog, and not a book, I currently have no specific preference on the order of topics. If a title catches your eye, make me aware of your interest, and I’ll do my best to bump it up in the cadence.

  • Scheduled for publication by September 1, 2015:
    • Testers Tell A Compelling Story
    • The Improvement Continuum
    • Quality Concepts
  • Scheduled for publication by September 7, 2015:
    • A Tester’s Sprint Framework
    • Heuristic Test Strategy Model (HTSM)
    • A Radio Graph For Testers
  • In-Progress/Unscheduled:
    • CAST 2015: Distilled (bumped up)
    • Ethics in Testing (bumped up)
    • Professional Reputation (bumped up)
    • Balance within Testing (bumped up)
    • Fighting Occam’s Razor
    • Design Acclimation’s Influence On Testing
    • Over Stimulation and Test Degradation
    • Perspective, Bias and Free Will
    • The Tester
    • Product Advocacy in Testing
    • Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose
    • A Case For Cases
    • Conjunctive Test Strategy Design
    • The Ladder of Testing Paradigms
    • The Iterative Learning Requirement
    • Biology And Testing