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Oct 30, 2018 - 7 minute read - Mailing List

Mailing - 23rd November 2018 - The Evil Tester Newsletter - Black Friday

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Testing Black Friday - An Evil Tester Newsletter

Happy Black Friday Weekend. In this newsletter I want to provide you with links to some interesting content and a different slant on Black Friday.

  • Testing Black Friday - notes on oracles and trends
  • My Black Friday Deals - low, low prices on my products
  • Free Black Friday Bonus - free video
  • Beware the Sales Mentality - how not to cheapen testing further
  • Some useful links

Testing Black Friday

Since we are near Christmas, I like to look at Black Friday in case anything on the presents list pops up cheap. But I like to ‘test’ the deals.

Some of the deals seem like good value when they come through the inbox, or on site, but how do we really know?

We need an oracle.

When a deal comes through, we need an oracle to compare the current price against. This might take the form of a competitor. If I find a product on one site, I can look at another site to see if it is cheaper. This can work well if you have a range of sites that you know to check. I will always have a look on Amazon if I see a deal somewhere else.

But how do I know they haven’t just price matched? How do I know that they haven’t price matched upwards?

I use camelcamelcamel.com to check. camelcamelcamel.com maintains a history of prices, so I can see if the price has been cheaper in the past, if so, I might take the view that it is likely to be cheaper in the future, and that the Black Friday Price isn’t such a good deal after all.

Having the ability to see information trends over time can help us make more strategic decisions, but requires work to build the data and information.

I skipped quite a few ‘deals’ this morning by comparing against multiple oracles.

My Black Friday Deals

I know people wait until Black Friday before buying things. But I tend not to discount on Black Friday because I already price my products low. I suspect far lower than I should.

My ebooks are always priced lower than the paperbacks, which is not the norm in computing, ebooks are often priced at the same level.

  • on Amazon Java For Testers currently costs £6.36, Automating and Testing a REST API costs £6.29, Dear Evil Tester costs £4.64

I price the paperbacks slightly higher to cover the printing costs, but the margins are still very low.

You can find my books online compendiumdev.co.uk/page/books

My online courses are also priced low $10 for Technical Web Testing 101, and Evil Tester Talks. Foolishly I keep adding content and value without increasing the price.

You can find my online courses listed at compendiumdev.co.uk/page/online_training

The reason I do this is to try and increase the opportunity for people to learn. Rather than price high and exclude people, or force them to wait for a sale, I price low so that the material is available to as many people as possible.

By the way, if you want to pay more for the books because you value the content, then leanpub offers the ability to pay what you think the books are worth.

People use ‘sales’ to create an urgency to complete the sale. I tend to rely on people wanting to learn a skill that will help them as quickly as they can, and try to remove the barriers that a high price puts in place. I rely on the urgency of wanting to learn and improve, rather than a time limit lower price.

I will be adding more content to all the courses in the new year, and refreshing the content. At which point I will probably increase the prices, rather than reduce them. The first price rise will be to Evil Tester Talks, since I’ve added so much content to that bundle recently.

Free Black Friday Bonus

I have switched on the ‘free preview’ of my Eurostar 2018 Lightning Talk. This is part of the Eurostar 2018 content that I uploaded to “Evil Tester Talks”

It is a short 3 and half minute video. “Evil Tester Talks” also has a longer version of this where I explain the concepts in this video from a Cybernetics and System Theory perspective.

I will disable the free preview in December so this free preview is only available for a limited time period - like all good Black Friday Deals.

I have also uploaded this video to my Patreon site: Patreon.com/eviltester

Only $5 a month, with almost daily exclusive posts , micro courses, and talk recordings. 185 patreon only posts - this is another of my always underpriced products.

Beware the Sales Mentality

Black Friday primes people to buy. The expectation if something says “Black Friday Deal” is that the price is cheaper. And cheap prices are often very attractive.

One thing that concerns me is that “Software Testing” is being treated as a commodity that can be bought cheaply. I see this evidenced in salary rates for roles that come through my inbox: senior testers roles often £100 - £200 (per day) less than mid-level or junior programmers in the same company.

I think we have many things things contributing to this, I’m going to pick on three:

  • certification and people not understanding testing
  • fear of Artificial Intelligence
  • fear of automated solutions

When people do not understand testing, and don’t know how to interview or evaluate testers. Then they rely on an external view of ‘good’ testing, and this is often associated with certification. Certification should be a good guide, but sadly the certification programmes that exist are built on regurgitating information, rather than demonstrating skill.

While there surely exist some excellent testers who are certified. Certification does not mean people are excellent testers. It is possible to be certified, in a few days, and I feel this has cheapened Software Testing in the broader view.

Currently the Software Testing industry is weakening its position further by expounding a fear of Artificial Intelligence. Partly this is due to the ‘saleability’ of AI as a topic at conferences, blogs and articles. If you write about or talk about AI you are likely to get exposure or paid speaking/writing gigs. A valid view of AI is “if your job can be automated by AI then it is probably not as highly skilled as you believe, and should be valued lower”. Despite there being no viable, as far as I am aware, application of AI which can replace skilled Software Testers. The perception of fear, can lead to lower value.

This leads on to the fear of automated solutions. As a society we have a tendency to view automated solutions as replacements for people, rather than augmenting people. Continually talking about “test automation” and replacing testers, in any phrasing of the words, leads to a devaluing of the skills associated with testing. Automated Execution is very different from Software Testing.

As testers or people involved in Software Testing we have to communicate value, and demonstrate value, if we want to avoid being treated as a ‘buy it cheap’ commodity.

What can we do?

  • interview based on auditions and demonstration of skills and stop using certification as a CV filter (this also means, do not exclude people who have achieved a certification)
  • look forward to people finding ways of using AI to augment the testing process and improve our ability to test
  • treat automating as something that supports our execution during the test process and value highly the people who can maximise the value of automating, rather than viewing it as a way of replacing people

Some pointers to useful content that I found online since the last newsletter:

I am starting to create ‘monthly content summaries’ which I upload to my blog since there is usually too much content to release in newsletters. You can find October’s summary online at blog.eviltester.com/2018/10/october-2018-summary-report.html

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I’m spending a few days this month and next training people in Java For Testers. This is now a mature course offering, if you want inhouse training then you can find details on my site compendiumdev.co.uk/page/handsonjavafortesters

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Alan Richardson

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