Chocolate Testing

Last weekend, as I write, I attended a small and social gathering of testers. On the premise that it was a birthday party, we had planned some ‘fun‘ activities.

We met in an Oxbridge town, and spent the day in the garden room of a pleasant pub, discussing software testing, as you do. Well, more precisely, mostly amusing ourselves with games and activities, with a leaning towards software testing.

PaperPlaneWhilst everyone was gathering, we made paper aeroplanes. This was fun for all but one. Only because when thrown, each plane seemed to deviate towards, and then hit them. And it didn’t seem to matter where the planes were thrown from, or by whom. There must have been a draft? And secretly I think they enjoyed it anyway.

We were told a story. I must admit to being quite shocked by the story 🙂  We all got to play a part, as in the best stories, and it must have been good, because you know when everything else fades out and you only hear the story teller’s voice . . . maybe we were being hypnotised?

Fruit Keyboard

To energise ourselves we made a Fruit Keyboard. We used a CodeBug. Four fruits, from Sainsbury’s. 5 Croc-clip wires. And coded online in Blockly. Yey. It worked. And the squeal when someone touched the orange and the word “Orange” was displayed on the CodeBug 5*5 LED screen was priceless. (I like to collect these ‘Oh Wow‘ magic moments.)

Why should all the fun stuff with computers be for kids? That is my question.

Then the testers amongst us tried to see how many people could be included in the fruit resistance loop. And went on to find a complex timing issue, in a 4 fruit keyboard! But no-one asked why there were only 4 keys on the keyboard? To illustrate its short-comings the next sentence is written on a fruit keyboard. “Apple Orange Pear Banana Banana Banana Pear Orange.

After lunch we played Test Automation Tool Charades – try it sometime. Full credit goes to the chair, who bravely battled through, whilst both sides unashamedly cheated their way forward. To describe the competitive spirit would not do it justice. Let’s just say I ended up on the winning team, without cheating, and I am rubbish at charades. I think this game was actually called ‘Testing the rules‘, and we were unwittingly taking part in an observational study . . . . .

We followed that up with a go at describing test concepts using the Ten Hundred words list #upgoerfive.  If you haven’t heard of this before, it is the concept of describing things only using the 1,000 most popular words in the English language. You will need to check, Up-Goer Five, the permitted words, and the online editor.

These were some of our submissions:

  • Defect Management
    The tracking, control and fixing of problems found in computers.
  • Multiple Condition Coverage
    Way of coming up with seeing many ‘either/or’ cases.

Up Goer Five:

We tried very hard to make this real. The game helps to show things we all know and understand, using different, but easily understood words. I think it helps us see how someone who doesn’t know the idea we are trying to explain will first act. (#UpGoerFive)


We tried very hard to make this meaningful. It is a useful and challenging exercise to try and define things we all know and understand using different and non-technical language. I think it helps us see how someone who doesn’t understand the concept we are trying to explain will initially react.

Draw your own conclusions, but definitely give it a go.

photo 6After Birthday Cake we then undertook Chocolate Testing. The premise was that one person (A) believed that they could tell the difference between ‘good‘ or ‘expensive‘ chocolate and ‘cheap‘ or ‘nasty‘ chocolate. And the other person (B) was convinced that under blind testing, sorry tasting, they would not be able to.

For the test a few bars of chocolate had been procured. The original plan was for 4 – 6 bars. This somehow became 22 bars.

So, 7 people, 22 bars of chocolate, 6 evaluation Criteria, gives nearly 924 tests to perform. And then a master score to be aggregated per person for each chocolate. All tasting to be carried out using a blindfold!  We quickly realised that this wasn’t going to happen in the next 15 minutes, so being good testers we decided to sample. Knowing that the most fun bit was actually blindfolding and spoon feeding the victim(s).

The results. I can officially declare that both A and B can tell the difference between good/expensive chocolate and nasty/cheap chocolate. And that both A and B agree that good chocolate is better than nasty chocolate – no surprise there then? For A this was just confirmation. For B this was genuinely a surprise. B will now be buying nice chocolate!

Please note: This result only holds firm for the limited sample of the 22 chocolate types above.

And on that bombshell the day ended.

GoldFishTo close I will share a note about the room. It was a Garden room. So in effect a brick conservatory. Back into the Pub there was a glass partition, ceiling to floor, with glass doors in it. This was fine when we started as there was no one else in the pub. But come lunchtime, the pub became quite busy. It was like testing in a goldfish bowl. Definitely an experience.