Saturday, February 3, 2007

Chaos At Kiosk

Hi Tester,
This post is going to be interesting to you, especially if you are in Bangalore. Curious?

Electronic Kiosk= a computer terminal which employs a custom software and allows users to access system functions. .

In Bangalore people have a facility to pay their monthly electricity bill at a Kiosk. The machine scans your bar- coded bill and displays the amount to be paid on a screen. Then you will have to feed the currency notes through a scanner which scans the currency for its denomination and accepts it. After the completion of the transaction, a receipt pops out with a message "Transaction complete" on the display. This is how a Kiosk normally works.

Yesterday, it so happened that I went to the Kiosk to pay my monthly electricity bill. It was my first visit to the place and while waiting for my turn in the queue I was observing the machine work(exploring). My turn came and I followed the procedures:-
  • I showed the bill under the scanner and the amount (Rs.1500)to be paid got displayed on the screen.
  • I started to feed the machine with the currency notes one by one(1*1000+1*500=1500) it displayed the denominations and accepted the currency notes after scanning them.
  • It prompted a message"Transaction complete" and the receipt popped out.
Suddenly the tester in me got curious about the machine and he(I) decided to utilize the opportunity and ran a simple yet revealing test on the Kiosk. I repeated the usual procedure and this time instead of feeding currency I fed the Kiosk with a piece of plain paper.
Ah! success, the plain piece of paper got scanned and was accepted by the machine. The moment the paper piece went in, the machine freezed and it did not respond to any further commands.

Then, I :-
  • tried scanning the bill again.
  • tried scanning other's bill.
  • tried feeding currency notes of various denominations.
  • ........
But nothing seemed to work and it became clear that I had wrecked the Kiosk. People who were standing behind me in the queue started to grumble and gave me a piercing look. I felt sorry for them but I was happy, that I found a major bug(at least to me) in the system which was widely used by the public. Some of you may feel that I caused discomfort to the public but I am contented that I had lighted one of the dark corners of the product which might gain some attention by my action. I came back home hoping that this bug gets reported and fixed by the concerned people.

____________End Of Chaos At Kiosk_______________

Friday, January 19, 2007


Hi Tester,

I would like to narrate an exercise which Pradeep assigned me few days back. This exercise was to emphasis the key skill of questioning which a tester should possess and the importance of time. Pradeep asked me(I in-turn ask you too) to imagine a scenario, and here it goes..

"One morning I receive a phone call from Mr.X who is in United Kingdom and tells me that he is facing a situation.The situation is that, Mr.X is unable to enter his house since he could not open the lock on the front door of his house.He has a bunch of 100 keys and one of them is the right key to the lock.He asks me to find that key to the lock with minimum number of attempts trying to open the lock."

After listening him carefully, I decided to ask a few questions to gain more information regarding the situation.

"A problem is half solved by right questions."

With the above words in mind, I started my questionnaire :-

RK: Mr.X, where are you now?
X : I am standing in front of the door.

RK: Are you standing in front of the door that you want to open?
X : Yes

RK: How many locks are there on the front door and how many keys are required to open them?
X : There is one lock on the door and it requires only one key to be opened.

RK: Is there any other way to enter your house other than the front door?
X : No

RK: Before calling me did you make any attempts to open the lock with the keys in the bunch which you had?
X : Yes, I tried with some keys but nothing seemed to work.

RK: Are you sure that one of the keys in the bunch opens the lock on the front door?
X : Yes, I am sure.

RK: How?
X : For ten years I have been using a particular key in the bunch to open the lock on the front door. I use it quite often.

RK: Are you sure that the door is locked?
X : Yes, I am the one who locked it some time back.

RK: Do you have any details or identification about the key that you usually use to open the lock?
X : Yes. I had stuck a small red sticker on that particular key for identification but now I cannot find any key with that red sticker.

RK: Okay. Now I want you to count the keys in the bunch and simultaneously check each key for any mark or residue left behind by that red sticker.
X : Yes there are 100 keys and one of them has a sticky residue on it.

RK: Do you find the residue at the exact location on the key where you had previously stuck the
red sticker?
X : Yes.

RK: Ah! then I think we got it. Try to open the front door lock with that key.
X : Yes, the lock opened. Thanks!

This is how I solved the problem. But still I could have done better..

Other key questions which I missed :-

  1. Do you see any material detriment due to prolonged usage on any of the keys?
  2. How much time do I have to solve this situation?
The rest is for you to contribute...

Lessons Learned :-

  • Ask right questions to know better about the given problem.
  • Attack the problem from various dimensions (critical thinking).
  • There is always a key question to ask while dealing with any given problem- Time! "How much time do I have to test ?" This is a question which you should ask yourself before starting to test. This will aid you plan your tests and will make you a better tester.
-------- End of Unlocked -----------

Thursday, January 18, 2007

First Step

Hi Tester,
I would like to start my blog with a special post.Its special because, it is the first step in my journey of becoming a good enough tester. To me, testing is an art or a craft rather than a mere profession. It demands some quantum skills like creativity,reasoning,analyzing and so on... which I strive to be equipped of.

"Proud To Be A Tester!"