New Horizons for me (Music and Fedora)

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Well, it’s been a long time since I posted on this blog…

The reason is that my time is always strict; in the previous months, I’ve been busy testing the pre-releases of Fedora and helping out Italian users on FedoraOnline.it.

Overall, volunteering for the Fedora Project is exciting, entertaining and always useful. Not only I’ve got the chance to contribute to the overall stability of the OS, but I also keep on improving my individual skills. That’s really important, since my daily job is really far from IT, which is the kind of “science” (subject) I love the most. Yes… Being a part of the modern processes around Fedora, is always interesting.

…But that’s not enough…!

Recently, I discovered that, besides IT, music is my REAL passion. I’ve tried to dismiss and forget it, because I thought it’s not as important as studying/learning new things about Fedora/Python and other “geeky stuffs”. I can’t really describe my feelings: I think I lost my way and ended up being too nervous, anxious, self-constrained.

So… I started – once again – to slap the strings of my bass guitar. Then, I tried to remember and follow some exercises learned during some singing lessons I took them around three years ago (or so). Most importantly, I kept on writing down my own songs, especially when it comes to lyrics.

The result is the one-man band project called “Sons Of New Sins“, where I produce music, using Fedora and Open Source software only. I’ve uploaded two – instrumental – songs until now, but I hope to release more bits as soon as possible. Also… I chose YouTube for now, but I hope to find a more suitable platform. And, by the way, here’s the link for “Gone”:

Well… If you like this kind of  “Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Trance” mixture… And if your Open Source project needs a soundtrack… Feel free to contact me!

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Exploratory Testing and Fedora

1) What is Exploratory Testing?

As Wikipedia notes, “Exploratory Testing” is a term coined by Cem Kaner back in 1993. There are tons of material worth reading around the net about this topic, but the key point is that it’s somehow a different approach to software testing. Instead of following specific steps, the tester should try to go behind the obvious. Imagine, for example, a pioneer who needs to walk through an unexplored part of territory, or a tourist visiting an unknown city. They certainly have some ideas and documentation about the places they are seeing for their first time, but they might not be aware of the most dangerous places nor some “hidden gems” which are worth seeing.

2) How do I intend Exploratory Testing?

The mysterious mechanisms behind an IT Project are not really so different from these scenarios we’ve just imagined. While some sheets describes pragmatic techniques (I’m thinking about James Bach’s interesting “Testing procedure for Microsoft Windows Logo”, for example) and some books explains other useful schemes (Elisabeth Hendrickson’s “Explore It!” is a highly recommended reading) the concept is that we need to use our imagination. We should try to avoid our comfortable patterns, open our eyes and just be curious. I also like to take notes whenever I am testing an unstable release and I’ve found that it’s useful in order to reproduce formerly unexpected bugs. But, again… The effectiveness of Exploratory Testing depends on how we try to look into the software with different points of view. I remember a recent report by Fedora’s proven tester Kamil Páral (kparal), who discovered a hidden issue of gnome-keyring. Then, even if we are precise, experienced and certified developers, our grand-parents might probably be better explorers than us, for example. That’s because strange, unexpected and wrong behaviors tend to trigger strange, unexpected and wrong events.

3) Exploratory Testing and Fedora

Being Fedora what we could define “a bleeding edge distro”, whenever we perform Exploratory Testing, we certainly have the opportunity to raise the quality of the shipped packages. I’d also say that this process must not substitute automated/scripted testing, which is a fundamental aspect of software development. Modern approaches like Test Driven Development and Behavior Driven Development can assure that the key parts of the application works as intended. Moreover, the Test Cases designed by Fedora QA are handy procedures that check whether the release criterion are met or not and assure that the main features aren’t affected by severe bugs. Indeed, Exploratory Testing is always helpful in order to highlight surprises which aren’t currently covered by common situations and recommended steps.

4) Resources:

A month in QA

During the evening of 24th March, I’ve decided to join Fedora Project’s QA Team.
At first impact, I was really unsure. Actually, I really love testing new pieces of software, but I’ve always been a lone-wolf while building my computing experience. Since my daily job in the field of accountancy tires me because there are lots of deadlines, I thought that this new task could have driven me crazy. But… After my first month… I’m really glad I applied for it! Might this interest you too? So, try to read the following paragraphs and join us!

Felling as a part of a community
What I really enjoy, is that every folk works as a part of a big project. Feeling that the next Fedora will contain at least a simple 0,00000001% of my efforts, is a pleasant satisfaction. I’ve also had the chance to chat with lots of experts on IRC, including adamw and satellit, for example. Although they are power users and experienced testers, they also are always nice, they helped me a lot and provided lots of information. Yes! Learning new things and contributing to Fedora at the same time, is an activity worth doing.

Use of English
While reading, chatting and mailing, I’ve now also the chance to exercise my use of English. Since it’s not perfect, I hardly have the chance to improve it here in Italy. Writing with people which share common interests with me, but live around the world, sounds like a great enhancement for my skills.

QA Activity
I’ve filled some bug reports on Bugzilla in order to get in touch with maintainers when things didn’t seem to work properly. I’ve learned a lot during this activity: honestly, it’s the first time I’ve got the chance to see how a big IT Project is organized. The goal is, however, always the same: testers, developers and engineers contribute together in order to improve Fedora’s quality. Getting involved in TestDays, following cases for the various composes and giving karmas for new updates are other tasks I’ve enjoyed and played with. Every bit offers the chance to perform some nice exploratory testing, uncovers details, highlights strange behaviors and, overall, makes me learn something new!

If you are thinking about joining the Project… Stop wondering and JUST DO IT! I promise it will be an interesting and attracting experience!