Thursday, February 25, 2016

Coming to Dallas/Ft. Worth - Testing Mobile Applications - ASTQB Certification Course - April 19 - 20, 2016

I hope you can join me for this special course presentation for the new Certified Mobile Tester (CMT) designation from the American Software Testing Qualifications Board.

We will be in the DFW area (Irving, TX) on the dates of Tuesday, April 19 and Wednesday, April 20 at the Holiday Inn Express - 4235 West Airport Freeway, Irving, TX 75062

Seating is limited, so I recommend registering as soon as possible to get your place. (This class size is limited to 15 people.)

To register:

About the Course and Certification

In the fall of 2015, the ASTQB (of which I am on the board of directors) felt there was a compelling need for testers to have a robust and meaningful certification focused on testing mobile applications. So, we set about writing a syllabus and exam for that certification. I was honored to contribute as a co-author of the syllabus. At the present, this is a certification only offered by the ASTQB.

To learn more about the certification, see the syllabus and sample exam, just go to:

To see the course outline, go to:

There are no pre-requisites for this certification! While we reference concepts from the ISTQB Foundation Level, everything you need to know is taught in this course.

We have exercises to reinforce key concepts and sample exams after each module to give you a taste of what to expect on the actual exam. You can also bring your own mobile device as a way to perform the exercises, although this is not required.

Costs and Logistics

Cost: $1,500 USD per person, plus exam ($150).

You can attend the course without taking the exam. However, we will be offering a live exam at the end of the 2nd day.

There will also be the option to take the exam later electronically, if you desire. However, we need to know your preference 2 weeks in advance.

This class will be streamed live, so if you want to attend virtually, that is possible. There is a $100 discount for virtual attendees. Virtual attendees in the USA will receive a course notebook in advance of the training and will also have access to the e-learning course at no extra cost.

For teams of 3 or more, there is a 10% discount of the course registration fee. The exams are not discounted.

We will not have breakfast items, however, we will have a light lunch (pizza, sandwiches, etc.) brought in each day. Please let us know if you have any dietary needs or requests.

Important Notice for Those Who Plan to Travel to DFW to Attend

Please do not book any non-refundable travel (air fare, hotel, etc.) until we confirm the class. We make every attempt to not cancel a class, but sometimes this is unavoidable. We make the call about 2 - 3 weeks in advance of the class, or earlier, if possible.

We located this class to be close to the DFW airport for the convenience of those who may be traveling in for the class. The hotel runs a free airport shuttle.

You are responsible for making your own hotel reservations.

If you plan to take the exam on Day 2, the exam will take place from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Please allow adequate time to catch your flight. The hotel is 6.4 miles from the DFW airport.

Other Questions?

Feel free to call our office with any questions or special needs - 405-691-8075.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Survey Results for the Tester to Developer Ratio - January 2016

For the past month, I have been collecting surveys to see which tester to developer ratios are in use in various organizations. In addition, I asked some other questions about management attitudes toward dealing with testing workloads. I'll publish those results a little later.

This was a small survey of 22 companies worldwide, 19 of which were able to provide accurate information about their tester to developer ratio.

This survey is part of ongoing research I have been conducting since 2000.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to date.

Before I get into the findings, I want to refer to two articles I have written on this topic. These articles explain why I feel that the data show there is no single ratio that works better than others. Getting the right workload balance is a matter of tuning processes and scope, which includes optimizing testing to get the most efficiency with the resources you have.

You can read these articles at:

The recent findings are:
  • The range of ratios are much tighter. The range was 1 tester to 1 developer on the richer end of the scale, to 1 tester to 7 developers on the leaner end. I feel that some of this is due to the small sample size.
  • The majority of responses (16) indicated just three ratios: 1 tester to 1 developer on the low side to 1 tester to 3 developers on the high side.
  • The most common ratio was 1 tester to 2 developers
  • The average was also 1 tester to 2 developers 
  • People reported poor, workable and good test effectiveness at all ratios. The variation was wide. There were no noticeable indications that a particular ratio of testers to developers worked any better than another, simply due to the ratio.

This survey showed much richer ratios than any other survey I’ve taken. This could be due to the impact of agile methods. Most of these companies (13) reported they do not anticipate hiring more testers in 2016. I plan to continue this survey to get a more significant sample size.

If you have not contributed to this survey yet, you can still add your responses at:

All responses are anonymous.



Friday, October 02, 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Tribute to My Father

In honor of this upcoming Father’s Day here in the USA, I want to pay a special tribute to my dad, Marvin Rice. I’m thankful he is still alive and I am able to visit with him. I know that many people don’t have that blessing.

When my dad was very young he worked in the broomcorn fields of southern Oklahoma. As he grew into adolescence, he showed an aptitude for working with mechanical things, so he helped support his parents and siblings by working on cars. He was drafted into the Army after WWII to go to Japan as part of the rebuilding effort. There, he was a small arms specialist.

When he returned home from Japan, he opened a Texaco station in Chickasha, OK. The building is still standing today.

I got my love of business from my dad. From the age of 8 or 9, I was helping at the service station he leased in Chickasha from Champion Oil Company (that building is still there, too). That station was located in the “bad” part of town, but the early 60’s was a different time in our country, and especially in Chickasha. I remember how the old men, both white and black, would sit around the stove in the station just shooting the bull.

I saw how my dad served people of all races and economic levels the same way. (By the way, gasoline was 19 cents a gallon then!) For those of you too young to remember, there was a time when most gas stations were full-service. Not only did someone else put the gas in your car, but you got your windshield cleaned, your oil checked, hoses and belts checked, and maybe even your tires were checked.

As a kid, I washed a lot of windows and checked a lot of tire pressure!

I saw my dad bounce back from financial setbacks, like the time someone stole all the cash from the day’s business. That would have been roughly $3,000 in today’s money.

He worked long hours, gave good service and had loyal customers because he enjoyed what he did, even though it was hard at times. He was always working to improve himself. I remember early in my life when he took a Dale Carnegie course – a big thing back then. Guess what? I listened to the tapes as well and read the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” before I graduated High School and they shaped how I deal with people.

As I got older, Dad became my scoutmaster and I learned lessons of leadership. We also rebuilt two engines! In fact, we are working together right now to restore a 1949 Plymouth that has been in our family for 65 years. That has taught me a lot about problem-solving.

My dad is a man of few words, but I think the thing he told me most often (usually while working on something) is "If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing right." That sure fits into the quality picture, doesn't it?

Much of what you see in the work I do through Rice Consulting Services, is actually a branch off a tree with deep roots of skills, hard work, integrity, creativity, tenacity, and a strong belief in God and Country. I try my best to maintain the standards my dad has in his own life.

It is incredible, but at age ninety, he still works almost daily on sewing machines. He has a steady stream of customers. I find that both inspiring and depressing - inspiring that he still has the energy and desire to still be active and working - depressing that I may have inherited that same gene.

As I look at my two sons, both fathers, one a software tester and one an auto technician, I see his legacy forming in their lives as well and it makes me proud.

That’s what this posting is really about. Not just buying your father a card and gift for Father’s Day, but if you are able, to tell him what he has handed down to you in your life. Too many times we remember the disagreements or strife, but there were likely good times in there as well. How has he shaped your life? What is his legacy? I’ll bet if you tell him how he helped to shape your life, that will be the greatest Fathers’ Day gift of all. If you can’t tell him in person or by phone, then set aside a few quiet moments and reflect on his memory.

Have a great weekend (and a Happy Fathers’ Day if that applies to you)!


Friday, May 29, 2015

Flushing Out the Bugs

First, let me say that all of May has been a very difficult month weather-wise for those of us in Oklahoma, then later in May, for folks in Texas. Thankfully, all the tornadoes and flooding did not affect us personally, but we have friends and neighbors who were impacted and some of the stories are just tragic. So, I ask that if you are able to send a relief gift to the Red Cross designated for these disasters, please do so. It would really help those in need.

Here in Oklahoma we have had two years of extreme drought. One of the major lakes was over 31 feet below normal levels. Now, it has risen to 99% capacity. We have some lakes that are 33 feet above normal. Just in the month of May we have had 27.5 inches of rain, which shatters the record for the wettest month in history 
--> (May 2013 with 14.52 inches and the all time monthly record was 14.66 in June of 1989). Texas has also seen similar records broken. In short, we’ve had all the rain we need, thank you. California, we would be happy for you to get some of this for your drought.

The image above is of the main street of my hometown, Chickasha, OK.

Then, there are the tornadoes that make everything even more exciting. One night this month, we had to take shelter twice but no damage, thankfully. Then yesterday morning I was awakened at 5:30 a.m. to the sounds of tornado sirens. That is freaky because you have to act fast to see what is really happening. In this case, the tornado was 40 miles away, heading the opposite direction. I question the decision to sound the alarm in that situation.

Anyway…with that context…

About a week ago, I started noticing ants everywhere in and around our house. I mean parades of them everywhere. Ironically, I even found one crawling on my MacBook Pro!

Then, came the spiders, a plethora of other bugs, snakes and even fish in some peoples’ years. A friend reported seeing a solid white opossum near his house, which is very unusual.

And you perhaps heard that in one tornado event nearby on May 6, a wild animal preserve was hit and it was reported for a while that lions, bears, tigers, etc. were loose. Turns out that was a false report, too. But it did make for some juicy Facebook pictures for “Tigernado” movies.

Other weird things have happened as well, such as storm shelters and entire swimming pools popping out of the ground due to the high water table (and poor installation in some cases)!

But back to the ants and bugs and why they are everywhere. Turns out that we have had so much rain, their nests and colonies were destroyed and they are now looking for other habitats. The same has occurred with spiders, snakes, mice and rats.

In fact, my wife and I are finding bugs we have never seen before. I had to look some of them up on the Internet just to know what kind of bug I was killing.

That caused me to think about a new testing analogy to reinforce a really great testing technique. To flush out the bugs in something, change the environment.

Of course, the difference here in this analogy is that software bugs are not like actual bugs in many regards. However, there are some similarities:

·      Both have taxonomies
·      Both can be studied
·      Both can mutate
·      Both can travel
·      Both can destroy the structure of something
·      Both can be identified and removed
·      Both can be prevented
·      Both can be hidden from plain view

The main differences are:

·      Bugs have somewhat predictable behavior – not all software defects do
·      Bugs can inhabit a place on their own initiative – software defects are created by people due to errors

(Although I have wondered how squash bugs know how just to infest squash plants and nothing else…)

In the recent onslaught of ants, it is the flooding that has caused them to appear in masses. In software, perhaps if you flooded the application with excessive amounts of data such as long data strings in fields, you might see some new bugs. Or, you could flood a website with concurrent transaction load to see new and odd behavior.

Perhaps you could do the opposite and starve the environment of memory, CPU availability, disk space, etc. to also cause bugs to manifest as failures.

This is not a new idea by any means. Fault injection has been used for many years to force environmental conditions that might reveal failures and defects. Other forms of fault injection directly manipulate code.

Another technique is to test in a variety of valid operational environments that have different operating systems, hardware capacities and so forth. This is a great technique for testing mobile devices and applications. It’s also a great technique for web-based testing and security testing.

The main principle here is that if you can get the application to fail in a way that causes it to change state (such as from “normal state” to “failure state”, then it is possible to use that failure as a point of vulnerability. Once the defect has been isolated and fixed, not only has a defect been found and fixed, but also another security vulnerability has been eliminated.

Remember, as testers we are actually trying to cause failures that might reveal the presence of defects. Failure is not an option – it is an objective!

Although, we commonly say that testers are looking for defects (bugs), the bugs are actually out of our view many times. They are in the code, the integration, APIs, requirements, and so forth. Yes, sometimes we see the obvious external bug, like an error message with confusing wording, or no message at all.

However, in the external functional view of an application or system, testers mainly see the indicators of defects. These can then be investigated for a final determination of really what is going on.

As testers, we can dig for the bugs (which can also be productive), or we can force the bugs to manifest themselves by flushing them out with environmental changes.

There is one more aspect to this situation. With all the standing water and moisture, the next phase will be mosquitoes and ticks. The tick invasion has already started.  Instead of being flushed out my the flooding, these parasites are attracted to it. What attracts the bugs in your software?

And let’s be real here. In some software, the bugs are not at all hard to find!

Me? I’ll continue to both dig and flush to find those defects. Even better, I’ll go upstream where the bugs often originate (in requirements, user stories, etc.) and try to find them there!