Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Patterns in music and software testing

New music
Yesterday I bought a CD from a colleague who plays in a band called Conorach. In the past he already mentioned about this activity and after an announcement of a new CD release I spend time to pay more attention to it and listen to the demo on their site. Somehow I got convinced to learn more about this band. I decided to support them by buying their CD. That CD I obtained yesterday and was able to listen in the car driving back home.

The ride back home was quite a journey; next to learn from their experience I also learnt about how I look/listen at things.

Travelling home
Imagine: you are sitting in a car, driving all alone, it is already dark outside and there are just a few people on the road. You listen to music you were curious about and never heard much about it. It is not that type of cover-band who brings you music of songs you heard somewhere. It is a band with their own sound.

I like to drive in my car when it is quite and dark. It enables me to think more about things I usually don't care/mind/think about. The situation here is that I like different types of music. If I have to define a range it is hard to do as the music cannot be compared. It differs from The Dubbliners to U2 from Bach to Marillion, from Metallica to de Dijk, from the Baseballs to Pink Floyd, from Fats Domino to Rage against the machine. There is no direct similarity between the choices of sound. Though, the knowledge and my experience with these bands shaped my vision and experience with music.

Try to like it
I started to listen to the music which was playing on my radio. Let me call it the "new" music. Somehow I heard sounds which were familiar to me, they were even sounds I like. First thing I noticed is that I started comparing the "new" music with the perception and knowledge I have about my known "old" music. I wondered if it is human nature when you are doing things with an open vision you try to compare it with other similar things you like.
I did. I tried to compare it with music I know and like. I tried to find the best feeling of my knowledge in the "new" music. I did this for every song and noticed that a song as whole item could not be compared with another artist. Parts of it were comparable.

Are there parts I liked?
After a few songs I changed my approach from comparing whole songs with known artists to parts of songs and even usage of instruments to artists and other music. I choose to compare it on a positive way; compare with things I like. I did this on purpose as the trip was not yet to end. It is better to listen in a good mood then in a negative mood. (I assume) Somehow, this approach made me to learn more about the music. I was able to extend my vision. Not only to recognizable sounds of instruments, patterns of music; also combination of instruments compared with voices. I managed to listen how the volume was used and value that experience.

As trips ends a CD has also an ending. Within the hour I learned some about a “new” sound, how things can be compared, how I compare things, which I had a good feeling about the music, much more to look at and to check. I manage to value this music and willing to spend more time to listen to it. Listening becomes a journey of its own. Therefore alone it must be some good music, at least parts of it.

Relation with testing?
I know there are items written which might support certain ideas, or part of it. Recently I read a blog which is referring to a book from G. Weinberg with respect to holistic thinking and quality assurance. Unfortunately I’m not in the luck yet to read that book/books. To me it doesn’t matter that much. I believe that it values more to a person who is able to come up with own ideas/thoughts then reproducing others; although it is good to support the thoughts with other ideas :)

Looking back to this experience I believe that in software testing we can experience similar situations.
- compare projects as whole vs compare projects as parts
- compare it with one method vs use more models as comparison
- try to find the best of a situation vs wasting energy to worse part
- try to challenge your thoughts vs sticking to traditional ideas
- see it as a tour of experience vs focus on safe processes
- start with open mind vs use best practices to define approach

Personal lesson
From just listening to new music I learned something about myself. I was triggered to be careful to when using best practices. Knowing methods is good, having experience might count. It only count when it is used justified. My thoughts might be fallible, even my first impressions. I believe in the strength of teaching myself and sharing these thoughts with you will be valuable.
It is good for people to be aware of the pitfall to step in old behaviour and come up with “old conclusions”.

Another thing I liked about this was the awareness you can learn from everything if you open your eyes, ears and mind and try to find relationships. What seems to be different is not definitely wrong. Changes focus from negative perception towards positive attitude might result in new energy which leads to new areas to explore.

As patterns can be recognized based on the view you have, you might be aware of patterns. If patterns are in music in this example, patterns are in testing. If you don’t see a pattern, then spend time to focus and defocus.

Awareness can grow if you are open for it and support skills and craft.


  1. Wonderful Article! Your way of writing is unique and impressive. Thanks for sharing this post.

  2. Nice Post Jeroen, wow what an insight.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)