My first encounter with a computer
In 1996 my dad brought home an AST Advantage! Adventure 4050d personal computer. I remember waking up in the morning, and upon seeing a computer for the first time, completely losing my mind.
My dad's business was operated from a land-line phone in our house. My mom paid for groceries with handwritten cheques. Our library tracked books and VHS tapes with paper cards and pencils. Now we had a computer in our house? Mind blown.
That AST rocket ship was running Windows 95 with 4MB of RAM and a 420MB hard drive! It was a shared family computer, and when it was my turn to use it, I played a game called Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? on a 3.5" floppy disk. It was epic.
My first software update
A few years later we hit the jackpot with a Compaq Presario 5510 running Windows 98. This was a major software update from our Windows 95.
Windows 98 came with tons of new features and fun games like Minesweeper, Solitaire, and FreeCell, but what we were most excited about was playing video games on CD-ROM.
Our characters died repeatedly on The Oregon Trail, our car was always totaled when racing NASCAR, and we could never score on left-handed goalies when playing NHL, but we loved it.
We found our first software bugs in NHL video games, but instead of reporting them as is the norm now, we simply used the bugs to win digital hockey games.
My first experience with software bugs
These are the first bugs I can remember finding on our own as Jacob and I tried to beat the computer in our games.
1. The breakaway deke.
In NHL 2000, if you skated straight toward the goalie with a left-handed shooter and at the last second quickly move left and press the 'shoot' key in a perfect 1-2 combo, you'd score every time. Something would happen to the gameplay interface where the goalie would freeze for a split-second and the net would be wide open.
We tried to replicate this move a thousand times on the right side of goalies, and by going against left-handed goalies too, but it never worked. So we saved this bug for the end of games when we were tied with the computer and needed a quick goal to win: forward, left, shoot, goal.
*Was this a feature or a bug?
2. Behind the net slap shot.
In NHL 2001, if you skated a player with a high 'shot power' attribute behind your own team's net and fired a slap shot, you'd score every time. Somehow the puck would magically lift up over your net, down the entire length of the ice, and fall directly behind the opponent's goalie into their net. It was crazy fun.
Sometimes the puck would hit the goalie's head and bounce in, or get stuck in mid air (when using an overpowered shooter) and then fall behind the goalie into the net. But you had to be directly behind your own net, not to the side, or in the corner.
We replicated this over and over, winning games by 30+ goals. I can distinctly remember wondering when the gameplay would stop letting this goal go in, but it never did. Not until NHL 2002 came out.
*Was this a bug or some programmer's easter egg?
My first job reporting bugs
There's a feeling of adventure that software testers get in downloading a new app, finding some bugs, and getting paid for reporting them. Personally, I got hooked very quickly and the adventure repeated over and over for six years.
One memorable test project was completing a mobile order in a drive-thru. When paying for my order with the app, the drive-thru register crashed and had to reboot. In no time the line wrapped around the building and into the street.
*Was the customer pleased or angry with this test result?
My current job as a software tester
The first work task I do in the morning is open my Dashy widget dashboard and test it.
Rahit is a wizard programmer and his ridiculous development pace gives me tons of new code to test. Every day he sends me new builds and I send back a constant stream of videos, screenshots, numbered lists, voice messages, and feedback as I test Dashy. I really geek out on this kind of thing.
The importance of testing code before it goes out to end users simply cannot be understated. The quality of your product says so much about your organization that it can't be ignored anymore.
We are constantly testing at Dashy, but we sometimes miss things. If you ever encounter a bug, please drop us a message in the Feedback widget of your Dashy and we'll get back to you with a fix right away.
*If you want to test Dashy updates with me before they go live, send me a DM.
Always be testing,