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Counterattack Elves by Ajay Balamurugadas

  • 07/10/2010
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

My colleagues say that I have a bad habit – ‘I change the password of test machines which I use’. I consider it to be a good habit and not a bad habit.
I am very particular on who uses my test machine and what actions are performed. It hurts me when programmers use my machine and I’m unaware of the files changed. On quite a few occasions, knowing the actions performed on my test machine has helped me catch some bugs. One such report is  here.

During the  BBST Bug Advocacy course, I understood that elves can also be one of the reasons of non-reproducible bugs. I have been witness to many situations where my colleagues have lost many a bugs by giving full control to the programmers. Even worse are the scenarios where the programmers use the test machines while the testers are busy attending meetings or not at their desks.

Some of the risks of elves using your machine:

• As a tester, you are totally unaware of the actual test environment.
• The bugs you find might not be bugs.
• Waste of time, loss of credibility, confusion.
• Loss of bugs, bugs get more time to hide :(

One of the ways I prevent elves attacking my test machine is to change the password. This also acts as a good test idea to check if there are other dependencies on the machine password. Sometimes, I connect the display of the machine to some other machine. Though this might be an issue when you are not in office, it is a better option when compared to testing on an unknown environment.
Recently, I found out a bug because of the different password [other than the default password]. One of the machines was unable to connect to my test machine and no proper error message was displayed. I tried a lot of scenarios to confirm that the other machine was unable to access the files on my machine just because of the password change. Finally when it was confirmed, I was happy that fear of elves brought a bug to light.
How do you counterattack elves?

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