I promise to talk about testing tools, so next up is a Digital
Voice Recorder with PC Link. This particular model records and transfers to PC in WAV format, which can be converted to MP3 with any tool such as Audacity.
Here’s the backstory:
When I started by career, occasionally I heard decisions that didn’t seem to make sense that would require code change. Several times I put comments in the code like this:
//On 12/20/1997, Bob Smith directed that
//the HMO and PPO business
//should be treated identically
//for purposes of BAH.
Of course, six months later, some one would ask why we were treating HMO and PPO the same, and it wouldn’t be in the requirements, and I would dig out that comment.
That never helped me. Ever. Really – Bob would say “Gee, I don’t remember telling you that” and nothing would change. I would still have to change the code, and the department still had “Egg on it’s face.” (Or some other analogy)
About a year ago I got a voice recorder to record presentations and podcasts and such, but I started using them as a requirements technique about nine months ago. At the beginning of the meeting, I make it clear that the purpose of the recorder is for my own notes, that I will *NOT* be using the recordings as a conversation. At the end of the conversation, if we have changed a policy, I turn the recorder on again and do a formal one, where we have a short discussion about the change, the pros and cons, the final decision, and who is involved. I ask “Do I have the right decision makers in the room?” and get verbal agreement.
THAT recording gets checked into version control, right next to the requirements doc.
Those kinds of discussion are easy to capture, easy to throw away, and I have found that anyone in the room can use a voice recorder – regardless of title.
But here’s the secret – even if I promise to throw away the notes, we behave differently when we know we are being recorded. We tend to think things through a little bit more and come to a better decision.
That is the real purpose of the device; not as a CYA tool when someone makes a bad off-the-cuff decision, but as a prevention technique, to make sure we make the right decision in the first place.
Now that is worth the seventy bucks.