Configure, Operate, Observe and Analyze

In one of my previous post, I wrote about the below Windows  OS (XP with SP2) error message. This is one of the fascinating behaviours that took me few hours to crack down.

As a novice Window’s(OS) user.

Access is denied.

Ah!  I am the only user of my machine, and I am the one who created this folder, no one else has any rights to restrict me from accessing my own folder.

Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected.

What the hell! Don’t say all this nonsense. I didn’t protect it from writing. I can write whatever I want on the disk. How do I know the drive is full? How do I write-unprotect? Or an unwrite-protect ;)?

That the file is not currently in use

No, I am not renaming any file. I am renaming a folder, what is your problem?

User annoyed and calls customer care.

Now, as an advanced computer user.

Access is denied.

Looks like the permission settings for the folder is changed, maybe my wife? Son? Or Pet? Possible. Let me see the permission setting for the folder. Oh! This user has full access. Then, what is the problem?

Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected.

Nope, my drive has enough space, not write protected.

That the file is not currently in use

Files? I am renaming a folder. Let me see if the folder is kept open. Yes, so let me close and try. Still, I am getting the same error.

An annoyed user might solve the problem by logging off or closing all files and folder or restarting the machine, which forces him to close all the programs kept open.

As a tester, start analysing (Step 4 of testing Analyze, Step 1: Configure, Step 2: Operate, Step 3: Observe) the error message and follow the error message to see, to find the problem area.


Access is denied.

Does the application provide reasons to the Error? Yes it is it says

Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected.

The primary disc properties say it is either full or write-protected.

That the file is not currently in use

No, I am renaming a folder, but still, let me check if the folder is kept open? Yes.

So, let me close the folder and rename it. Even after that, I am getting the same message.

Are there any files inside the folder?

Yes, there are few.

Are they open?

Yes, a word document inside that folder is kept open.

Is that causing the problem? Let me close it and try.

At last, I can rename it, so “When a file inside a folder to be renamed is kept open, the user is not shown with an appropriate error message” the problem summary?

I have just solved the problem but haven’t got the exact steps to reproduce.

The problem was identified without knowing the proper base step up or configuration. So let me go to base state, also let me note down or take a snapshot of the current state where the problem was first spotted, including other files\folders those kept open, processes running to name a few.

So, what is the base state? I may even restart my machine or log off or close all opened files and folders.

Step 1: Configure

Let me log off and log in. Note down the entire process running (and use some tools like Systracer that takes a snapshot of your machine)

Step 2: Operate

1.    Open the Disk Drive (Say D :\)

2.    Open the folder (Say D:\Test)

3.    Open a file inside the folder (Say D:\Test\test.doc)

4.    Use back button to get back to the disk drive

5.    Try to Rename the folder

Step 3: Observe

Ah! This time I am getting a proper message.

So, what could be the problem?

Let me try changing the sequence, let me do this

1.    Open the Disk Drive (Say D :\)

2.    Open the folder. (Say D:\Test)

3.    Open a file inside the folder. (Say D:\Test\test.doc)

4.    Close the folder

5.    Reopen the folder

Now the sequence of opened windows changed, soon file first then the folder.

Nope! I got a proper message. Tried with different types of files kept open like excel, txt files, folder within folders and also be keeping few more similar file types open in same\different folders.

With no success decide to get back to the dirty environment and try again, I opened few other windows, files, browsers and application those were kept open when I first found this issue and tried all the above steps, this time I noticed, I was  able to reproduce the error once in a while but not consistently. But after more than an hour, I was not able to find the exact steps or pattern to reproduce it.

Then decided to quit and try later (Plunge and quit), but that one hour of exploration gave me confidence that it can be reproduced.

A few days later with lots of windows and browsers kept open. I tried again to reproduce this. Initial few attempts were not successful.

When I was about to rename the folder, I noticed one of my friends pinging me in IM, so I went to the browser and replied to him, then came back to folder window to rename the folder.

Whoopee! This time I got the error message I am looking for. It seems if I navigate between different windows I might be able to reproduce, but the error was not consistent. What next?? Trying out few other ways and finally was able to narrow down the steps to reproduce it consistently.

And, Here are the steps to reproduce.

1.    Open the Disk Drive (Say D :\)

2.    Open the folder (Say D:\Test)

3.    Open a file inside the folder  (Say D:\Test\test.doc)

4.    Use back button to get back to the disk drive

5. Wait (approximately) 10 seconds

6.    Try to Rename the folder

7.    Bingo!

Note to Readers:

  • Heuristics applied to solve are of James Bach’s Learning Heuristics SACKED SCOWS

Scouting Obsessively – discover the sources and tool you need
Authentic Problems – engage the mind
Cognitive Savvy – work with the rhythms of the mind
Knowledge attracts Knowledge – the more I know, the easier I learn
Experimentation – make learning vivid and direct
Disposable Time – lets me try new things (I tried this in my disposable time)
Stories – are how I make sense of things
Contrasting Ideas – lead to better ideas (Skepticism, Critical thinking, Lateral thinking, Systems thinking)
Other Minds – exercise my thinking and applaud my exploits
Words and Pictures – make a home for my thoughts
Systems Thinking – helps me tame complexity

Also, Procrastination , Plunge In and quit.

  • How to reproduce is solved. Now find why this happens?
  • Never let the user to get annoyed. As a tester, analyze every behavior of your application.
  • Read How to Investigate Intermittent Problems to learn the ability and the confidence to investigate an intermittent bug.
  • “There are no accidents” –Master Oogway, Kung Fu Panda(Movie)

16 thoughts on “Configure, Operate, Observe and Analyze

    1. Dear James,
      Thanks for your (first) comment in my blog 🙂
      I am exploring all possible options to attend CAST 2011. Hope I would meet you and other Context Driven Testers there.
      -Dhanasekar S

  1. In short to describe my thoughts,
    Very well written, informative, insightful.

    Most occasions we tend to laze and ignore the issue/problem/bug that we come across. But every issue throws up very insightful information if we spend some time and effort to understand.

  2. Hey, I tried to reproduce the same as per your steps mentioned but could not reproduce it.:-(
    I used win XP service pack 3.

  3. Hi Dhanasekar,

    Nice work , But i found one error or bug or defect or Typo whatever you can call it.

    Name/Header of the post is “COOA” but in right hand sidebar link is named as “COOD” … 😉

  4. I know it was quite silly from me but couldn’t resist my self to point it out. I have read almost 70 % of your posts at one go. You all guys from Moolya doing Great work along with Pradeep . (+1 by LightningSky)

    [And yupp…You can sure close that bug. :)]

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