Cool things I read about this week: 13-Jul-2014 to 19-Jul-2014

Surprise! I have a life outside of chess, cartoons and testing. I have curated a list of cool things I read this week.
1. An entrepreneur’s journey documented
2. Sweden (almost) started a 6-hour workday experiment
3. A map for testability
4. Site dedicated to chess research
5. Passionate testimony from Jonathan Bush
6. Tony Hsieh email on culture from 2004

My notes

1. An entrepreneur’s journey documented (3+ hours)
What? Long piece that I read while watching the world cup finals. Took me 3+ hours. Someone on Reddit grew a local business (maid services) to 1M+ revenue using the web. He challenged himself to build another profitable business (lawn services) within 60 days. He documented his journey on a daily basis with what he spent time doing that day. A fascinating piece.
Why I liked it? Tying good services to local customers via the Internet is a project I have tried before. A few years back, a young and immature me unsuccessfully tried tying Indian stores to Indian students in the Northern Virginia area. The “services+Internet” angle is especially interesting in a high population density area like Bangalore.
Key takeaways: Good points on lean thinking, customer satisfaction and business sense. Read the top few comments in every page to get the max out of this piece.

2. Sweden almost kick started 6-hour workday experiment (5 minutes)
Bummer! They delayed it.
What? Sweden is going to try an interesting study to see if 6 hour workdays reduce the number of sick leave.
Why I liked it? Reduced work hours was in the news recently thanks to some guy named Larry Page. See this Forbes article. Its good to see the hypothesis being tested.
Key takeaways: I learnt that Sweden tried this experiment in 2005. The results of that experiment suggest that sick leave actually went up! Now that’s not intuitive.

3. A map for testability (30 minutes)
What? How to promote building testability into products.
Why I liked it? Article was relevant to me. Short term, I had just grappled and failed to reproduce/triage an issue with one of my favorite pieces of software. At my current client, some scheduled emails were not sent out. The code was written years before the organization had a tester and until now seemed to work near perfect. Nothing had changed in the near past – either in terms of code or systems. I struggled to recreate the issue. I was unable to identify any hot leads for me to work on. I did not know if the scheduler failed or if the job was not kicked off. The issue re-inforced my belief in building for testability. Medium term, I am working on improving my ability to tell a testing story.
Key takeaways: Me and the rest of Qxf2 testers need to get better at arguing for testability in our products.

4. A site dedicated to chess research (all my free time)
Mind. Blown.
What? A site dedicated to chess research. Bye, bye productivity.
Why I liked it? <-- Refutation for There are no dumb questions.

5. A passionate testimony from Aetna co-founder Jonathan Bush (10 minutes)
What? Passionate testimony by Aetna co-founder to the US Congress imploring them to think about the entrepreneurs that are NOT entering healthcare because of the risk of regulation.
Why I liked it? Hits close to home on two fronts. One, Qxf2 is currently testing healthcare related software. Two, as a business owner struggling to learn and cope with the rules, I relate with a lot of what Jonathan Bush says.
Key takeaways: Regulation is a trade off between avoiding mistakes in the short term and the benefits of innovation in the long term. Super applicable to QA teams trying to nail down process too early.

6. Tony Hsieh email on culture from 2004 (10 minutes)
What? Zappos founder wrote this email 10 years ago.
Why I liked it? I like the theory in high risk industries: culture correlates to preventable harm. It resonates with my QA experience and I have become somewhat of a culture geek. Thinking about culture is one angle for inexperienced founders, like me, to approach the problem of building a company.
Key takeaways: At the time of this email, Zappos was ~$ 185 million in gross sales and fairly large. The email still stresses culture in a clear and focused manner.

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