Archive for the ‘Japanese’ Category

So anyone that isn’t doing this via RSS has probably noticed a few differences. Those of you who do read via RSS – if you got a bunch of messages telling you my site is unavailable – sorry about that.

It turns out that the disk my VPS was hosted on crashed irrecoverably. Of course, it took my provider 5 days to get back to me with an explanation as to why my site was down. They eventually did give me an explanation, but not before I got sick of my requests for information going unanswered and transferred my site to a new host. I think there is money to be made in seeking out stocks of companies that have awesome customer service and buying that. I have yet to test whether the opposite is true, but if a company has shitty customer service, I just don’t have the patience to deal with it anymore. Moral of this story is – VPSland has shitty customer service, so they get no more of my money. Linode comes highly recommended by people I trust, so I have big expectations of them. Time will tell.

The site is not the only change in my life of late. I went back to Australia last month for final selections for the Australian national kendo team. Unfortunately I was not successful, so I won’t be going to Milan next year to compete. A pity really, I would have loved to have gone. It’s ironic that I came to Japan to do more kendo training, but if anything have ended up doing less over the last 3 years than if I’d stayed in Melbourne. I made a conscious decision to try and strike a better balance between my home life, my work and my passion for kendo. I did that, but it meant that I was not as sharp as I needed to be at selections. I didn’t fight badly, just not well enough. As it stands, I’ve made the Australian team twice. I would have loved to have gone a third time, but it is not to be. Other things in my life are calling. I will not be part of the squad for subsequent campaigns. I thought I’d be more upset about it than I am, but when it’s time, it’s time.

I’m looking forward to spending more time with friends and family. I’m looking forward to spending more time on my Japanese (which is still awful, for the amount of time I’ve spent in the country). I’m looking forward to being more active in the testing community. I’ll still be swinging sticks at people, but I no longer have to drive myself into the ground in order to get ready for competition.  It actually feels pretty good.

Adam Goucher’s post on New things to steal from the Japanese is the impetus for this one. At CAST I gave a lightning talk on borrowing Japanese language as a teaching aid.

Using foreign loanwords is probably harmless enough if you’re using them to jazz up a story, but if you’re going to use them as teaching concepts especially in the sense of you being the teacher and having enough understanding to relay these concepts to others then more care is warranted.

There were a couple of points that I wanted to make in my talk (though I’m not sure how well I did in the five minutes that I had). Firstly, there seems to be some sort of mystic profundity attached to the Japanese language. Pick a common concept and use the Japanese word for it and all of a sudden it’s full of ancient wisdom.

When I first started learning Japanese, everything seemed terribly profound to me too – probably a combination of kanji seeming unintelligible and me watching far too many samurai movies. Being a little older and a little bit more experienced, I can safely say that, like western teenagers, Japanese teenagers can talk for a half hour solid and say ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Japanese language is not necessarily any more profound than your native language. English has some wonderful, seldom-used words that you could choose to bring back into common parlance.

The other thing is that Japanese language is not necessarily as straight forward as it seems. There are many words that do not have a one-to-one translation and many words that have more than one meaning based on the context you use them in. That cool word you borrowed to spice up your new teaching material may have other meanings, than the one you intended, or deeper meanings that you don’t quite understand.

Shu-Ha-Ri is a particular favourite of mine when it comes to borrowed terminology. On the surface, it describes the progression of learning from the novice stage (shu), where you follow an instructor’s directions over and over again without necessarily understanding why (wax on, wax off, Daniel-san); then an intermediate stage (ha) where you begin to explore what your new-found skills mean and how to apply them in practical situations; to an advanced stage (ri) where your learning becomes self-directed and you no longer require a teacher in order to evolve your skills.

Sounds simple enough in concept, right?

Okay, so let’s take a closer look at the three kanji used.

守 – Shu – means to obey, but also to protect or defend.

破 – Ha – means to rip, tear, break or destroy

離 – Ri – means to detach, separate or release

Armed with this knowledge it becomes a little tougher to reconcile each of them into the neat little definition above. To add to this, allow me to make a gross generalisation about Japanese culture compared with Western culture.

I have observed that westerners tend to have a mindset of ‘make me understand, then I will do’
In Japan there is frequently a pattern of ‘do and eventually you will understand’

The ‘do’ part may take several years before understanding arrives. Case in point, I have done kendo for around 18 years. I felt that I had a solid understanding of the basics maybe 6 years ago. Some of my peers would probably tell you I’m still not there yet.

I’m not saying that one way of thinking is right and one is wrong, or that one is better than the other, but that you should understand that these difference is there. They are part of the culture and it has a direct bearing on language and the understanding of concepts such as Shu Ha Ri

Ri may not come to you without many years of effort. It is unlikely that a several week or even several month course will take you from Shu, through Ha to Ri. Not in the most simplistic sense of the term. Got someone telling you that you can be a black-belt from scratch in six weeks? Run far, far away from that person.

As far as teachers go, I would suggest that if you are tempted to borrow from the Japanese, or another language that you don’t speak for that matter, that you spend some time studying the culture and the people and at the very least be aware that your understanding of the term may well be incomplete before you have your students start calling you sensei.

I wanted to tackle something a little heftier than the last post to see if content that was less straightforward to explain was also challenging to translate. I went with lesson 28 – Exploring requires a lot of thinking.

The translation had a few things that were interesting, including the title. I’ll put up the translation, let you formulate your own opinions (and give Japanese readers the chance to tell me that I’ve got it all wrong), then explain what I took form it.

Lesson 28

When it comes to exploration, there are 3 ways of thinking

Exploration is the same as investigation. What comes out of the results of investigation is impossible to imagine. You can think of searching as movement through space. Ways of thinking are forward, backward and laterally.

例) プリントを見る。クリックしたら、何が起こるのだろう?
Forward thinking: From the known to the unknown, from the immediate facts search for the things you have not seen before. Seek out the results or effects of known actions.
e.g.) Look at the print menu. If you click it, what do you think happens?

例) 文書を印刷する方法があるだろうか。メニューに印刷の項目があるか確かめよう (Solow 1990)。
Backward thinking: from questions or conjecture get to a place that is known. Check the correctness of your guess.
e.g.) document print functionality probably exists. Make sure there is a printing option in the menu.

水平思考:思考の寄り道をしてみよう。思いつきで脇道を探索し、また本筋に戻る (de Bono 1970)。
例) おもしろいグラフィックだな。よし、何か複雑なグラフィックを印刷してどうなるか見てみよう。
Lateral thinking: Try taking detours in your thinking. Thinking of an idea, investigate side-roads and return to the main thread.
e.g.) That’s an interesting graphic. Right, let’s try printing complex graphics and see what happens.

Even if you don’t have a product to test, you can still use an exploratory process. Using this thought process is good for exploring a series of documents, or interviewing a programmer. By creating enriched conceptual models we make progress. Also, if you create a model, you can design more effective tests.

Original text

Exploring involves a lot of thinking.

Exploring is detective work. It’s an open-ended search. Think of exploration as moving through a space. It involves forward, backward and lateral thinking.

Forward thinking. Work from what you know to what you don’t know; what you see toward what you haven’t yet seen. Seek ramifications and side effects. Example: I see a print menu item. I’ll click on it and see what happens.

Backward thinking. Work from what you suspect or imagine back toward what you know, trying ti confirm or refute your conjectures. Example: I wonder if there’s a way to print this document? I’ll look through the menus and see whether there’s a print item. (Solow 1990)

Lateral thinking. Let your work be distracted by ideas that pop into your head, exploring tangents and then returning to the main thread (de Bono 1970). Example: That’s an interesting graphic. Hey, I think I’ll print some complex graphics and see what happens.

The exploratory process works even if you don’t have a product to test. You can explore a set of documents or interview a programmer, using the same thought processes. You make progress by building richer, better mental models of the product. These models then allow you to design effective tests.

I got the feeling that the tanslators wanted to make this a little more ‘concrete’ than the original. Not saying they editorialised, but there do seem to be some liberties taken.

My own take is that the original lesson describes one possible way to organise your thinking but isn’t necessarily looking to lock the reader into 3 distinct ways of thinking. There are other ways you could choose to organise your thinking. This translation has echoes of the book title ‘lessons learned’ vs. ‘immutable laws’ – one feels like a coversation (or an argument), the other a decree.

Okay, so I’m projecting a little bit, but I do think the renamed title takes something important away from the lesson. The words are there, the same structure is there, but the meaning I take from the Japanese version is different from the one I take from English.

As an aside, the word they chose for ‘exploration’ was 探求 (tankyuu). The two dictionaries I consulted listed this as ‘quest, search, pursuit’. When I looked for ‘explore’ I got 探検 (tanken). They share the same first character (tan), which means to search for or look for. 求 (kyu) means ‘want, demand, require’. 検 means ‘investigate or examine’. Based on the characters, I’d have thought 探検 was a more fitting choice for ‘exploration’, but perhaps the general usage of the word has connotations of an outdoors expedition. I’m not sure (I’ll ask around).

I think I’ll see what else I can find, maybe try a few lesson titles and see what the differences are there.

When it comes to searching(exploration), there are 3 ways of thinking

Here’s my latest foray into re-translation. Actually, this seems to be a pretty good translation of the original text. I suspect what I need to do is find some of the more difficult passages and see what I can find around those. I’ve been looking at the shorter entries to this point because hey – they’re short and my kanji reading is still really slow.

I’ll look to get something a little meatier in my next post on the topic.

Lesson 35

After all, test results are only an impression of the product

With respect to quality, what you know about the entire product is just conjecture.

However much support is available, you cannot simply declare it correct.

Because of this, when reporting the condition of quality, you should add to the report qualifications such as the kind of testing that was done and any limits to the test process.

Original text:

In the end, all you have is an impression of the product.

Whatever you know about the quality of the product, it’s conjecture. No matter how well supported, you can’t be sure you’re right. Therefore any time you report the status of the product quality, you should qualify that report with information about how you tested and the known limitations of your test process.

Part of the work I’m doing just now is helping developers to increase their testing skills to handle the bandwidth that my team can’t. I asked Yuka Horino, one of my colleagues to translate James Bach’s Heuristics of Software Testability into Japanese as one of the things to distribute to our dev group. (Thanks Horino-san!)

This sort of thing is probably useful to a wider group than just the people I work with, so here it is. Enjoy.

Heuristics of Software Testability (Japanese)

So a while back I said I’d be posting translations from the Japanese version of Lessons learned in software testing. Basically, I pulled the trigger way too early on that. There have been a bunch of things all demanding my time, so this was a side-project that I just wasn’t able to get to before now.

So the usual disclaimers apply – I have permission from the original authors of this tome, but not from the publishers. To the best of my knowledge this falls within fair use, but given the geography of this blog and myself coupled with the fact that I’m not a lawyer, I could be dead wrong. So if any of the relevant publishing bods happen across this and have a problem with it, please get in contact.

My Japanese ability is so-so. I get by in day-to-day conversation, but I am by no means fluent right now. The object of publishing these translations is to see what differences I can find between the two books and to see if there is anything that seems to fundamentally change the meaning of the original text. I’m going to start off with something reasonably short and see how it goes. For those people out there with Japanese abilities better than mine, feel free to let me know if I’ve made some glaring error in my translation.

I’ll post the Japanese first, with my own translation following each line. At the end I will post the original text.

Lesson 25
Modeling is a deciding factor in testing

When test planning, you probably paint a mental picture of the test domain in your head.

You may also make use of a list of functions or graphical representations.

Hypothesising about who the user is and what is important to them is also necessary.

These sorts of things are generally called models.

In practical terms, when test planning the origin (of your tests) is the model you have drawn in your head and learning new modelling techniques can give you a new perspective of the product.

For this reason you should study modelling techniques. If you acquire this knowledge, your testing will also improve.

You might find a textbook or seminar on requirements analysis or software architecture useful.

モデリングの技術全般を身に付けるのによい方法はシステムシンキング(Systems Thinking) を勉強することだ。
A good way of improving your technique in modeling overall is study of systems thinking.

An introduction to general systems thinking: silver anniversary edition (Weinberg 2001) を参照されたい。
Refer to …(reference in English as per original text)

Original text:

All testing is based on models.

You may have a mental picture in your mind when you design tests. Or, you may be working with a list of features or a diagram of some kind. All of these are models. No matter what, your tests will be based primarily on your models of the product, not the actual product. A flawed model results in flawed tests. Learning a new way to model a product is like learning a new way to see it.

Study modeling. You will test better as you become more skillful in the art of modelling. Textbooks and classes about requirements analysis and software architecture can help. A wonderful way to gain skill in all kinds of modeling is to study systems thinking. See An Introduction to General Systems Thinking Silver Anniversary Edition. (Weinberg 2001).

It looks to me like the translators have done their best to keep the meat of the content, but I’m curious about their choice to drop ‘A flawed model results in flawed tests’. Did they not think that was important information? I certainly do.

Translation is a tough gig. I’m not necessarily having a go at the translators, but these choices can change the tone and sometimes the meaning of the text. The sentence about the origin of tests was also simplified. Implicit in the original text is the fact that the relationship between the tester and the product is through their ability to model it effectively.

I’m curious to translate more and see what other differences I can find.