Live Coaching - Exploring the Black Box Puzzles

Our second interactive activity of TestBash Home with @workroomprds is going to be an exciting exercise in exploratory testing and coaching :star_struck:

To get you warmed up, you can check out the puzzles on James’s website Black Box Puzzles.

We’ll be adding all unanswered questions from the session here so if we didn’t get to your question, don’t worry, we will find you an answer :grin:

If you’ve thought about a question after reflecting upon the session, you can also add it here!

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Hello! If you ask questions before, I might answer here. And they’ll be on my mind in the session (a bit) and I’ll see if there’s a good opportunity to get to them there, too. If it doesn’t get in the way of the testing and coaching.

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we’re doing puzzle 35 btw :slight_smile:

http://blackboxpuzzles.workroomprds.com/puzzle35/

it seems that both buttons light the lights on the right in certain order: top-down, right-left.

the difference is that the lights that were turned on by the left button fade out more quickly than by the right one. (2 sec vs 1 sec?)

anyway, both fade away by themselves. no off button.

the lights turn off by the timing of each row.

Left adds less, Right adds more.

Each row sums the time and fades away left to right.

Tools mentioned

https://www.flashbackrecorder.com/rewind/

Questions from attendees

  • Deborah: Any coaching tips to guide without giving the answers away?
  • Antonella: Great session! Are the puzzles sorted by difficulty? i.e 1 being the easiest? Thanks!
  • Isabel: On confusion: Kathy Charmaz writing about grounded theory says when you admit you are confused, then you are researching… same with testing? The confusion is important. Admitting the confusion?
  • Deborah: Have you ever used this to interview someone for a tester role? Do you think it could work?
  • Maik Nogens: When would you suggest to not confirm your model, but switch to disprove your model?
  • Christer Nilsson Ribbing: Is there a way to get it green?
  • Darren Keig: Are there any resources / courses / other things to help someone who is interested in getting into test coaching?
  • Matthew Dubus-Cook: is your phone ringtone, that keeps going off, the start of Mariah Carey’s xmas song?
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Yellow doesnt light on its own. It only lights if the blue is on.

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The two buttons seem to fill an empty queue with a command to turn on the blue button first and the yellow button second from right to left. The queue is automatically emptied based on last in, first out principle. The left button seems to control a queue in which the elements are emptied every two seconds. The right button seems to ccontrol a queue in which the elements are emptied every four seconds.

Hmm, when emptying the queue the blue en yellow are removed consequetively so there goes the two/four seconds hypothesis on removing.

In reply to one of the questions, a puzzle from James was used in my interview at Metaswitch. Not one of the public ones. I never got that one either.

Great observations – can you dream up a principle that might explain them?

Metaswitch commissioned a puzzle!

Just one queue?
(this line is filler to game the sub-20-char reply limit)

maybe it’s like a couple of queues (like for two different massage therapists*), blue line for therapist A, yellow line for therapist B. And the left/right buttons are for the lengths of the treatments. So if a new person comes to the line, they’ll join Line A (blue) unless it’s longer, and then they’ll join Line B (yellow).

@workroomprds - is that close to describing it?

*maybe it’s my back/neck talking after sitting through almost all this Test Bash :slight_smile:

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  • Deborah: Any coaching tips to guide without giving the answers away?
  1. Road-test first, use beta-tester’s insights as hints
  2. Try to think of the least possible new info, and then give something that moves the person halfway to it
  3. Observe what’s causing confusion, and help take (that thing) away. Example for this one: concentrate on one row
  4. Observe if someone’s heading down a blind alley. Ask if they feel they have no choice. Offer another choice if they’re stuck.
  5. Give people a chance to say they don’t want the full answer.
  6. Never ever trick or misdirect if help is asked for
  • Antonella: Great session! Are the puzzles sorted by difficulty? i.e 1 being the easiest? Thanks!
    Not organised by difficulty at all. And different people find different stuff differently difficult. So: I’d suggest you work /backwards/; the tech works better in newer ones with larger numbers.

  • Isabel: On confusion: Kathy Charmaz writing about grounded theory says when you admit you are confused, then you are researching… same with testing? The confusion is important. Admitting the confusion?
    Confusion can make us freeze. Saying that one is confused helps (I reckon) to re-take control, and to make small steps out.

  • Deborah: Have you ever used this to interview someone for a tester role? Do you think it could work?
    I use it to see how people deal with triggering, observing, notes and memory, uncertainty. Other people use them in job interviews, but I’m rarely in that position.

  • Maik Nogens: When would you suggest to not confirm your model, but switch to disprove your model?
    When your model seems to match your observations /so far/

  • Christer Nilsson Ribbing: Is there a way to get it green?
    Javascript

  • Darren Keig: Are there any resources / courses / other things to help someone who is interested in getting into test coaching?
    Jerry Weinberg’s books

  • Matthew Dubus-Cook: is your phone ringtone, that keeps going off, the start of Mariah Carey’s xmas song?
    No. Straightforward iOS alarm. I’ve use Public Service Broadcasting’s Go! and Apollo440’s Stop the Rock as alarm tones that get me to do stuff. Maybe I’ll try Mariah. Thanks for asking.
    [/quote]

Spoiler Alert

That’s it!

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Yay! :man_dancing:t2:
Thanks, that was an awesome challenge.
Not just solving it, but really feeling that hump of getting stuck, and dealing with it.
Really good session. :pray:t2:

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Really? “That’s it!” ? Now, the next riddle is to find out WHY this is it… maybe I am just dumb :sweat_smile:

Hi testbashers!

Here is my take on reveling the rules of this excellent puzzle.

  1. We have two groups of buttons. Lights group are black buttons, and action buttons are white.
  2. Upper row lights are blue
  3. Lower row lights are yellow
  4. Blue light row goes first
  5. Left action button starts light timer of 2 seconds duration.
  6. Right action button starts light timer of 4 seconds duration.
  7. Action buttons confirm action with red color.

Now comes the fun part :slight_smile:

Putting lights in a queue. Que fills from right to left.
Que timer starts when light is turned on. And that counts for next light added to row que.
Each row has independent timers.

Example.

Click right button four times. Second light timer has already been started at the moment when first light in that row went off!
Which means that second row light will not go off after four seconds of its appearance time moment, but four seconds after the moment when first light went off.
Que timer is started when first light goes off.

I used my phone stopwatch.

I measured after how much time light goes off. I got consistent times just for one light in queue.

For exercise.

Fill up queues with right button. With left button.

Alternate left and right button.

Measure timings.