Can Of Code

Category Archives: Books

BCS Software Testing Foundation book review

I had decided it was time to learn a bit more about Software Testing with the aim of improving my own software quality. The book I decided to read for an overview was Software Testing: An ISTQB-BCS Certified Tester Foundation guide. The book acts as a guide to a certification that the BCS offer so it would likely supply a good overview of the field.


BCS Software Testing book

This book makes no assumptions about its audience and therefore I don’t feel that you need any background in software or testing to get something out of it. If anything I was impressed at the pragmatic insights the book made, clearly showing that it had been written by people who have experience in testing within a wide range of different sized businesses. An example of this would be how the authors have awareness that the task of testing can often get passed to other members of the team when a dedicated tester isn’t present.

I was also impressed by how the book starts by setting the expectation that its impossible to catch all errors therefore its important to focus testing based on risk to do an effective job within the limited time and resources.

I felt that the book and most likely the field of software testing itself has a lot of overlap with other disciplines within software such as project management, systems analysis etc. So if you already have some background in software you are likely to be scanning through some parts of the book, although these do act as a good refresher.

A recommendation the book made which caught my eye was that it recommended external contractors for testing because of their independence from the project and team. This to me reinforced my thinking that a testing consultancy would be a great opportunity to start for the smaller digital agencies who don’t have the level of work load or resources to have a full-time or even part-time tester as part of the team.

Another important message the book conveyed was the importance of testing as early as possible suggesting that finding an error at the requirements stage is a lot more cost effective than at any later stage referred to as the “cost escalation model”.

I found it a little disappointing that the tooling support section did not give links to examples of tools that the reader could then go and investigate to get a better idea of how they work. I do understand that it might have been out of scope of the certification but I believe it would help.


Weighing in at around 250 pages this offers a good overview of testing which I would recommend to anyone in software, more so for those who don’t currently have a formal testing procedure. As a developer myself I felt it give me a better understanding of testing that I could either implement myself on smaller projects or help support in larger projects. From my own experience just knowing the difference between simply retesting something and performing regression testing has been a help regardless of the size of the project. It has also enabled me to focus on risk when decided what should be testing and how that should be tested.

I found that even with the BCS member discount, this was still way cheaper on Amazon or Wordery.

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Hello World in Spectrum assembly

I started this post originally in November 2013 but it ended up in the drafts pile. The idea then came back to me when I heard of the Spectrum ZA Vega IndieGoGo.

After a voyage into the roof I discovered a box of old electronics. Getting completely distracted from what I was supposed to be finding I took a peek inside the box to find a collection of Spectrum consoles and related accessories.

After digging around in the box I found this book:

Spectrum & Spectrum+ Assembly Language Course

Spectrum & Spectrum+ Assembly Language Course


I should explain that seeing such a book didn’t instil some sort of nostalgia. If i’m honest, it was before my time. The book did however spike my interest, perhaps I could see what life was like without the comfy luxuries of IDEs and managed languages.


Getting Started

It makes sense that the first step is to get the hardware setup. This gifted me with my first two issues:

– I have been reliable informed that none of the Spectrums in the roof actually work. Made in England!

– Even if they did work, I don’t have a TV that has a coax connector.

So my best bet was to try and find a Spectrum emulator. The search was both long and tiresome but I finally found an emulator that both worked and included a code editor.

Enter ZX Spin

ZX Spin

ZX Spin

You can get ZX Spin here. Unlike most emulators I found, this one works on Windows 8 and it runs straight out of its folder, no need to install anything.


Time for Hello World

So to print “Hello World” to the screen is a pretty simple command:

PRINT “Hello World”

The first gotcha here is that you would be inclined to type out “PRINT”  however the Spectrum keyboard worked in such a way that the “p” key would write “PRINT”


Spectrum Keyboard

Spectrum Keyboard


To type a string you need to surrond the string in quotation marks, nothing new there.  So to print out “Hello World” we would have to type:

P key  –  (Right Alt + P)  –   hello world – (Right Alt + P)

Hit enter and you should see:




Next time…

Next time I hope to create a reusable program using the tape emulation. I’m also intrigued by why they chose to use single key presses for commands? I assume it was a technical limitation?  Let me know in the comments if you have an insight.

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Book Review – Joel on Software

I must confess that Joel on Software  is the first software book i brought that doesn’t focus on learning a language or platform but just talks about the software industry. It surprised me how willing  i found myself to picking up the book and reading some more.

The story behind the book is that its a collection of blog entries from the Joel On Software blog (many of which can still be found on that blog). The nature of the blog entries mainly refer to problems and solutions that occur when working in the software industry and is written from the front line perspective of someone who has worked as a Software Developer.

Although many of the posts where written many years ago (2000 – 2004) they are just as relevant today, although there are times when things like Netscape are mentioned which would mean little to many today, but theses references are always well explained and are used to make a wider point.

The book also covers some more business focused areas, such as methods of business growth and getting custom from competitors all in a simple terminology that makes it a joy to read.

Overall i found the book had a fantastic way of explain situations that made so easy to just pick up and read. I highly recommend the book, failing that check the blog out and read some of the posts there.

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