Going to Denver

Headed to Denver tomorrow, where I'm going to present a paper for ICST, the International Conference on Software Testing. The paper (An Automated Black Box Testing Tool for a Parallel Programming Library), written by me, fellow tester Pooja and our manager Shaun, is about testing PLINQ using an automated test case generation tool called SLUG. One thing I'm grateful for in my work at Microsoft is that I've been able to apply a few things from my previous life as a researcher that has proven pretty effective in practice.

Being in industry is a lot different from being a grad student. For one, I have hard deadlines, and my manager actually expects me to get things done. The nitty gritty of actually testing a technology that is going to be released to the world requires plenty of work that can at times be tedious and tiresome. But it also is incredibly satisfying to know that your work matters, and has impact on a large number of people.

In our team, we have a lot of freedom to apply our creativity and knowledge to the job at hand. That's what we did in developing the tool we discuss in the paper. Hopefully, by the time we ship, it will have helped in making a stable and reliable set of parallelism API that everyone can enjoy.


Certainly hope so...

My life as a software testing professional

It occurred to me that I don't blog much about work, even if it consumes much of my life. So for the curious (that's you, Ma!) here's a bit of what I do at work. Most of you who read this blog know that I work at Microsoft. Specifically I work as part of the pfx team, who are developing a set of programming API for parallel computing in .Net. In other words, we are making stuff so that it is easier for software to take full advantage of the multiple processors that are in most of today's computers.

My role in the team is a software tester (a software development engineer in test, we like to call it). There's a lot of hand-wringing in the industry and in Microsoft about what a software tester does. Lately, I've been leaning toward Bertrand Meyer's idea that software testing is about finding bugs (I paraphrase). So a software tester's basic job is to find bugs--that's what I do to varying levels of success.

To find bugs, we testers have to employ a large set of diverse skills. Programming skills to develop test cases, automation tools, test oracles, etc. People skills to work with our software development counterparts (not my core strength, haha). Debugging skills to analyze what has failed and how it failed. And intuitive skills--all testers at some point learn to listen to that sinking feeling in your stomach that when you turn a knob, everything will fall apart! I have to admit that sometimes, finding bugs in software is incredibly satisfying, particularly when you know that it ultimately isn't your job to fix it :P. Of course what's even more satisfying is that when we find the bug, we know that is one bug that people will not have to see when the software finally ships.

This being Microsoft, I work with some of the smartest, most dedicated group of people I have ever known (and I've known a lot of really smart people). That makes life exciting--everyone has valuable input, and everyone has productive output at a dizzying rate. Sometimes this can be difficult and exhausting, trying to keep up with everyone else, but it is also quite fun and challenging to learn something new every day. Perhaps part of what makes it enjoyable is that for a group of very intelligent opinionated people, this team is remarkably friction free (not entirely friction-free of course, no workplace is).

If you're curious to know more about the team I work with, a few of them have their own personal blogs: Joe, Igor, and Ed, plus the team blog. They talk about the hard-core meaning of life (or computer science which, really, is synonymous with life), while I post pictures of my dinner. :)

Sometime around midnight...

The song's been haunting me lately though nothing so dramatic happens at midnight in my humdrum life :).

In fact, it's close to midnight right about now, and I'm baking bread. Started making the dough fairly late, so I'm stuck waiting for the dough to rise. The other option was to put the dough in the fridge so it rises slowly, and then bake it early in the morning. Not an option at all, if you ask me.

Saturday Noodles

Boom Noodle just opened in downtown Bellevue. Finally somewhere to go when I have a craving for a hot bowl of noodles. Somehow my own attempts at making noodle soup never come out just like they do in noodle houses. I ordered the shio ramen...

Shio Ramen

And the mochi ice cream

mochi ice cream

Yum yum!

One Pot Penne Puttanesca

This is something I like to make when I go home late and a little bit tired, since it's an easy one-pot meal. And it is made from stuff in your pantry, so you can still make it even if you're running out of fresh ingredients.

2 handful of penne
1 can Diced tomatoes
Chili flakes
Minced garlic
Olive oil

To make things a little bit more interesting, I thought I'd take some pictures of the cooking process this time. In a small pot or saucepan, sautee some garlic:

Sautee some garlic

Yes, it's minced garlic from a jar... don't really feel like chopping them, most days. Dump a can of diced tomatoes in there, don't worry about draining:

Dump a can of diced tomatoes

Put in a couple of handfuls of pasta. Or just one handful if you have big hands.

One handful of pasta Another handful of pasta

Stir the ingredients, season, and cover the pot. Lower the heat.


Cook until the pasta absorbs most of the excess liquid. If you think it's a little too al-dente, add a few tablespoons of water. Then, when it's cooked, add some capers and chili flakes.

Add capers Add chili flakes

And we're done! Easy peasy. You might want to put some anchovies in there, with the tomato sauce. I like to eat it with some toast. If the bowl below is the size of your serving, there is enough for two. Personally, I just eat it all myself.

Penne Puttanesca

American Adobo

I am making pork adobo tonight. Adobo is one of those dishes that every cook has a different take on. I found this video for chicken adodo on Youtube. It's kinda funny, props to him for doing it in heavily accented Filipino! :)

I love adobo. It's a very uncomplicated dish to make, but it tastes really really good.


Pork adobo


After complaining about not having time to read, I spent midnight to 5am reading the Watchmen earlier today, so that I could watch the movie. The book was awesome, but I have mixed feelings about the movie. I liked how they hewed pretty close to the graphic novel, but then again by doing so it may have made it a more difficult movie to watch for those who do not already know the story.

On the other hand so much of the original story had to be cut out to fit everything in 2.5 hours (which is already pretty lengthy movie). I wonder if a mini-series would have been a better format for the movie. Plus it's kinda sad that the ending was slightly different. While the giant psychic squid would be a little weird, it's really no weirder than people running around in costumes fighting crime.

In the end I enjoyed the movie for its cinematography (it's gorgeous), and characters (excellently portrayed by the actors). If you liked the book, watch the movie. If you haven't read the book, read it first, then watch the movie.

Trying out the Kindle iPhone app

Amazon released a Kindle app for the iPhone yesterday, and I downloaded it and tried it out. I tried getting a free book--Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars". Amazon's pretty shrewd giving away the first of a trilogy for free. The text was surprisingly clear and readable on the screen. However, there were two maps at the beginning of the book that I could not figure out how to zoom into. I can see myself reading novels on my phone, or some other electronic device, but I think I would still mostly read my books on paper, for now.

In any case I seem to have very little time for reading for fun these days :(.

Tonight's Dinner...

Bacon, lettuce, egg and cheese sandwich. Sometimes it's just nice to hack up something quickly, and not worry about bugs in the resulting product.

Bacon Lettuce Egg and Cheese Sandwich, originally uploaded by flyingroc.

Though I did thoroughly wash the lettuce, just in case it has bugs.

71 mpg

Maybe I should have held off and got this instead.

New Blog

When I set up my blog five years ago, it was an exercise in web development using PhP and PostgreSQL. I've added a few features as time went by, but it's gotten to the point that it's just easier to use existing blogging software, instead of maintaining the old code.

So, welcome to the new blog. I purposefully made it visually similar to the old one, to help with the transition. You can still go to the archive for older posts. Pardon the dust, I'm sure there will be some issues before things settle down.