Significant-other Unit Version 1.0

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a low-cost alternative.

Learning from others is an important aspect throughout life, but in the computing industry we have become known as an insular group of people. Unlike programmers who generally only have to interact with people in their industry or with a compiler, testers have to be aware of the "normal" outside world consisting of a diverse set of users. Losing this awareness can be disastrous to a product.

Talk to people outside your sphere about the problems you are having, and look to the fringes of your environment for ideas. Maybe the way the cleaning crew divides the tasks and systematically sweeps through the office at the end of the day can give you inspiration for a new testing technique. Perhaps talking to the receptionist will identify important use cases you hadn't though of before. Approaching things from a different point of view may bring about surprising results.

Bounce these ideas off your significant-other unit, or describe to her a problem you are having. Most of all, use her to force yourself to step back from all the geek adrenaline and jargon of the computing field so you can make your information more accessible to the average human being.

About the author

Mike Andrews's picture Mike Andrews

Mike Andrews is a senior consultant at Foundstone who specializes in software security and leads the Web application security assessments and Ultimate Web Hacking classes. He brings with him a wealth of commercial and educational experience from both sides of the Atlantic and is a widely published author and speaker. Before joining Foundstone, Mike was a freelance consultant and developer of Web-based information systems, working with clients such as The Economist, the London transport authority, and various United Kingdom universities. In 2002, after being an instructor and researcher for a number of years, Mike joined the Florida Institute of Technology as an assistant professor, where he was responsible for research projects and independent security reviews for the Office of Naval Research, Air Force Research Labs, and Microsoft Corporation. Mike holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Kent at Canterbury in the United Kingdom, where his focus was on debugging tools and programmer psychology.

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