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🥧 Pie-Mail - Robots vs humans!

published4 months ago
3 min read

Hi one and all! Two weeks goes by so quickly, it's pie-mail time again!

I had a great time this week as a part of a panel the Auckland Ministry of Testing meetup. It was a good crowd, and I was amongst good company, and we talked about some interesting and challenging things.
Special shoutout to my co-panelists Priya, Melissa and Ryan, and Manil for running the event!

I think I enjoy being on panels even more than I enjoy giving talks, I hope I get the chance to do this again!

Here's your latest fix of pie-mail!

🤖 Humans testing robots

I had a wonderful conversation last week.

One of my colleagues, Nick, is building a multiplayer puzzle game in his spare time. I really admire it, because it's a fun and challenging little side project.

It's called Robot Race - it's based on a board game from the 90s called RoboRally. It's pretty neat! Each player has a robot to control, and they have to program it to move it around a map, completing objectives. The robot who completes the map the fastest is the winner.

After work one day, a few people from our team synced up to play it together.

A couple of things happened.

Firstly, they had a great time. Things like this are valuable for bringing remote teams together.

But secondly, they found some bugs.

One was that each robot looked very similar. The game still functioned, but the team were struggling to tell who was who.

Another bug was a frustration with other players - each round of the game wouldn't start until every player had programmed their robot. This meant everybody had to wait if one player had been distracted.

Of course, there were some other minor problems too.

The next day, Nick made some changes to address these findings. Each robot now gets assigned a different colour. He also added a 'countdown timer' so that players don't have to wait too long for everyone to be ready.

One interesting thing is, the 'countdown timer' was a planned feature - but the feedback from his users meant it needed adding now, rather than later. Testing can help reframe priorities!

I asked him if he learned anything about testing from having real people test his game, and honestly, I want to get his answer framed and hung on a wall somewhere:

Any test you write whether it's a unit test, automated test, or a test script for someone to run will only handle cases you and your team can think of. The more people, and more kinds of people, you involve in "testing", the more complete your testing will be.

It really drives home some of the lessons I've learned about testing over the years.

The problems we were finding were not things that would easily have been picked up by automation, or acceptance criteria, or test cases. One of the most important tasks in testing is to actually use the thing being built, for its intended purpose. Or at the very least, trying to put ourselves in the shoes of someone that is.

So thanks Nick for the important testing lesson!

You can check out Robot Race for yourself (note that it's still a work in progress!), and the progression of the project on GitHub. You can log bugs through GitHub issues too - but please be nice!


🖥 Neat stuff from around the internet

📖 Read

📺 Watch

🎮 Play

  • This is an old one, but like many games, new to me: HackNet
  • And of course, Robot Race!


🎟️ Events coming up

Getting Started with AWS IoT & EKS Blueprints (Auckland, August 4)

AWS Auckland host Martin Redhead and Geethika Guruge. Like it says on the tin, Martin will be sharing his knowledge of AWS IoT tools, and Geethika will be teaching about EKS Blueprints. Head along and learn something!

AWS Glue DataBrew – Data Preparation Demystified (Christchurch, August 4)

AWS Christchurch present Charlie Hunter, who will introduce AWS Glue DataBrew, a fully managed visual data preparation tool. This'll be neat to see in action!

TestBash UK (Manchester, September 22-23)

For my friends on the other side of the planet, I made it to TestBash in Manchester way back in 2017 and it's still one of my favourite memories. If you have the chance, get along to it - you won't regret it.


Thanks, I hope this was useful to you!

This newsletter is no longer late by the way, the last few have been delayed until Wednesday so I'm just making Wednesday the day it comes out now.

I hope that's cool.