Representation Of Testing

After I finished reading “Are Your Lights On” by Jerry Weinberg, several things started happening. This post gets a bit surreal, so please stick with it, it should make you smile if nothing else…


In the book, you find out some of the reasoning behind the book’s title. Reading this chapter of the book made me think of this Spanish roadsign:


This led to the first (not very) OH moment: that this road sign represents the question “are your lights on” without words. No flies on me, eh?

It is a re-presentation of the solution provided by the problem solvers in Jerry’s book

The next OH moment can to me at 5am this morning: I remembered the Rapid Software Testing class & Michael Bolton’s critical thinking sessions where we discussed software being re-presentations of peoples ideas:

“A requirement is not a line or a paragraph in a document; those things are representations—literally re- presentations—of the difference between what someone has and what someone desires.”

“A line of code is a representation of an idea”

(Quotes from Michael Bolton taken from “Two Futures Of Software Testing” EuroSTAR 2008 presentation)

This in turn reminded me that as Testers we are almost always dealing with re-presentations of other peoples problems, solutions & ideas & what impact that has on our role as providers of information.

Testers are also only pretending to be customers of our company’s software – we are representing the customers, we are not the customers (which ties into we are not the gatekeepers of quality – the software is not being written for us).

So then I slipped into that weird asleep/awake state (my most productive state?) & my imagination ran wild.

In this Hypnagogic state I started to have a very strange dream: I was viewing the world through a “dog cam”. My eye level appeared to be 3ft off the ground (maybe because I like big dogs). I walked into an ally way & observed that there was ivy climbing the wall. The ivy blinked.

Out stepped Jerry Weinberg in an ivy ghillie (camouflage) suit! I’m back at normal height now discussing the pros & cons of re-presentation, how camouflage works (by breaking up colours & pattern) & his wonderful suit!

We then go onto discuss re-presentation & camouflage in nature & from WWII at which point some very vivid images came to mind:

Stick insects

Stick insect (unidentified). Madagascar



And inflatable tanks


In fact, there are some great stories from WWII involving decoys, dummies & devious illusions to fool the enemy into thinking armies were gathering & shipyards had moved…

I went down a rabbit hole & ended up with this lot of eye candy:

Airbases &  factories – this “illusion” is amazing

Ghost Army


Jasper Maskelyne – Either the man was the greatest illusionist in history or was one of its biggest bullshit artists.
(please note the hilarious disclaimer in the post “ Much of what follows might be complete bullshit.”)

I’m a particular fan of the story of the moving of Alexandria harbor in North Africa.

Ha! Just found the video of wartime illusions which first made me aware those illusions even existed! How much I love the History Channel & it’s limited research & over dramatisation – why let the truth get in the way of a good story?!


So to wrap one of my strangest posts, when you’re playing with the software, acting out a persona or driving out the requirements, you’re (highly likely) dealing with representations, not the real thing.

How does this change your approach to testing?

By the way – did you spot the sniper in the 1st picture on this post?