September 2007
In This Issue
ISTQB Mock Exam
ISTQB Certified Tester Training
The Right Stuff
Performance Testing Immersion Workshop
UCLA Scholarship

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Don't Pass? Try again - We'll Pay!


Take Our ISTQB Test Engineering
Foundation Course, and We Guarantee You'll Pass the Exam.
RBCS is confident in the quality of all our courses and your ability to pass once you've taken one.  Therefore, we'll pay for you to re-take the ISTQB Foundation Level Exam again if you don't pass. Register Today!
ISTQB Mock Exam

Can You Pass the ISTQB Foundation Certification Exam?

You've probably heard about the International Software Testing
Qualifications Board, its Foundation and Advanced syllabi, and the exams that you can take to demonstrate your mastery of the testing topics covered in those syllabi.  If you've been curious about this program and want to learn more, we'd like to help you start on your journey to become a certified software tester.  For a limited time, we are offering free access to an ISTQB Foundation mock exam on our Web site at  www.rexblackconsulting.com/mock-exam/quizmaker.html 
Before taking the exam, we recommend reading the Foundation syllabus and Glossary, available at
Note that certain PC security settings can interfere with the mock exam.  Contact us at [email protected] for help.
ISTQB Certified Tester Training 
September 24-27, Houston, TX, Test Engineering Foundation Level
October 15-17, San Jose, CA, Functional Testing Advanced Level
October 15-18, Toronto, ON, Test Management Advanced Level
November 5-8, Washington, DC, Test Management Advanced Level
November 26-28, Toronto, ON, Functional Testing Advanced Level

PureTesting Logo

Featured Partner 

One of our fastest growing partner,  PureTesting,  was founded by seasoned testing and management experts with cumulative experience of over 50 years.   In less than two years of incorporation, the team of three co-founders has grown to more than 100 testing experts.
PureTesting is a global software test services company based in Noida, India.  The company builds innovative end-to-end testing solutions and manages testing processes to reduce the total cost of producing quality software. They provide test services including test automation, performance testing, and test execution. With a customer base covering Fortune 500 clients and small and medium enterprises, PureTesting is recognized as a thought leader in testing. 
Our partnership with PureTesting spans the globe, from North America to the United Kingdom around to New Zealand and back to India.  We look forward to working together in the years to come.
Welcome to the September newsletter.  This one contains a grab-bag of information, including performance testing, ISTQB certification, and test outsourcing.  We also have some exciting news for our clients and friends in the Antipodes:  RBCS NZ is official.  From our offices in Wellington, we offer test consulting and outsourcing services, in partnership with Software Education, which will continue to provide our training services in that region.

I hope you find this issue interesting and informative.
Rex Black, President

The Right Stuff:

Four Small Steps for Testers
One Giant Leap for Risk Mitigation

by Rex Black and Barton Layne

Recently, we worked on a high-risk, high-visibility system where performance testing ("Let's just make sure it handles the load") was the last item on the agenda. As luck would have it, the system didn't handle the load, and very long days and nights ensued. Delivery was late, several serious disasters were narrowly averted, and large costs were incurred. 
It doesn't have to be this way. Nasty end-of-project performance surprises are avoidable. If you've suffered through one or two of these projects and are looking to avoid them in the future, this case study will provide a roadmap.

This case study involves the testing of Internet appliances-simple devices that allow a user to send and receive email, view simple email attachments, and surf the Web. It is not a complex, general purpose computer, but rather a simple box project. On this project, in addition to testing the the appliances themselves, we also needed to test the servers. A key quality risk for the servers was that they might not be able to handle the 25,000 to 40,000 appliances they would have to support. The project was planned to last about six months. Rather than waiting to see what happened during system test, we created a comprehensive performance strategy that included the following steps:

1. Static performance tests of proposed designs

2. Static performance analysis (simulation) of proposed designs

3. Unit performance tests during actual implementation of the system

4. System performance tests of the implemented system

Most organizations skip steps 1 through 3 and begin step 4 just before system installation. That's often the beginning of a sad story (like the one below). In this case, we went through each step. Since we were responsible for system testing, we'll focus on the process from that perspective....  

here to read the rest of the article.

If you've finished the article and are wondering, "What would have happened without steps 1-3?" let's suppose there had been no up-front work to create a quality design and test the individual units prior to starting step 4, the system performance testing.  Alternate realities are always hard, because human beings can't carry out the experiment of bifurcating the time-space continuum to run identical projects side by side with only certain controlled changes.  However, you can draw conclusions from similar projects.

We worked on a project immediately prior to this Internet appliance project, one of similar size and complexity, where the architects and developers skipped steps 1 and 2 and did a poor job of step 3, the unit testing.  What unit tests they performed were done in non-representative environments and with invalid usage and load profiles.  When time pressures loomed, they decided to curtail unit testing and simply deliver the partially-tested software to us for system testing.

The performance tests revealed a series of fundamental design problems.  The software consumed far more memory, CPU resource, and disk space than were available on the servers.  These problems were found in an "onion-peeling" fashion, layer by layer, while precious project time slipped by.  Since it was too late in the project to re-design the faulty software­-or so project management thought­-the attempted solutions all involved throwing more hardware at the servers.  No sooner was one bottleneck resolved, though, than another one was discovered.  Eventually the project failed, and the fact that the high-priced servers could not scale to the desired load levels was a major contributor to that failure.
To see more tips and articles by RBCS President, Rex Black, visit the library at www.rbcs-us.com.

Performance Testing Immersion Workshop

Dallas, TX
November 5-7

This course provides test engineers with the essential concepts, the hands-on experience, and the real-world skills needed for effective performance testing. This includes demonstrations and exercises on live systems using real-world tools and test scripts.  Major topics in the course include

  • Essential performance (and related testing) concepts
  • Key lessons in performance and related types of testing
  • Dynamic and static performance models
  • Load and load generators
  • Data and data generators
  • Performance test environment configuration
  • Performance testing at the unit and component levels
  • Performance testing at the integration and system levels
  • Integrating performance testing into the software development lifecycle

Register Today!

RBCS' UCLA Scholarship Fund
RBCS Principals, Rex Black and Laurel Becker, are pleased to announce that they are continuing their scholarship fund this year at their alma mater, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).  Each year scholarship officials review dozens of scholarship applications and choose one outstanding acheiver with a declared major in computer science.  Through the scholarship fund, winners are able to pursue their academic and professional careers in multiple industries.