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Testing Thoughts Part 1 The Appeal

My name is Joe, and I'd like to make a confession: I'm addicted to computer hardware testing.

There's just something undeniably exciting about the thought of going testing. Whether it's computer hardware or automobiles (I've tested various cars for Chrysler, Ford, GM, and BMW, among others), or even whilst playing my racing simulation games, there are few things I enjoy as purely as testing.

Why is it exciting? That's a deceptively simple question. It looks simple, but for me, it's deceiving because I've never come up with a correspondingly simple answer to it. What I do know for sure is that testing is partly driven by a thirst for knowledge and experience, as well as partly by a need to satisfy certain emotions. These are, I would think, universal human experiences, but they are nevertheless abstract.

Curiosity is a very strong motivator. Obviously, if you're testing something new, what you've got is essentially unknown. You're curious about what makes this piece of hardware tick. For an open mind, all kinds of possibilities are just simply exciting; you want to fill in that empty blank and take in a new experience for all that it's worth.

If I'm honest, though, I have to also admit that I experience a certain amount of skepticism (mistrust seems too strong a word, but only just) with some "professional" reviews. I don't know about you, but as far as I'm concerned, despite reading so many reviews on all sorts of computer parts (or cars, or whatever else), I personally could never shake a private nagging feeling that the review is somehow inadequate. Oftentimes the inadequacies are in the testing methodology: Either the reviewer doesn't know how to really quantify and describe the performance characteristics that truly matter, or he/she doesn't have access to proper testing equipment that can make accurate, correct measurements of the performance criteria. I've come across such appalling reviews of parts such as fans which basically amount to this: "Yes, this fan is capable of moving air, and it's pretty, too." There are no CFM or static pressure measurements, no dB (decibel) measurements, no RPM data, nothing remotely objective about that kind of review.

But I digress.

What else makes testing so fun? Newness is always exciting. It's like... well, think of how you feel at Christmas every time you open up a present. Who doesn't enjoy that particular thrill? Though I'm rapidly approaching my mid-thirties and have long ago experienced a redefinition of that kind of Christmas thrill (I get far more of a thrill at finding the perfect gift for someone I love, rather than receiving one), the excitement over testing a brand-new, unknown piece of hardware is a good replacement.

The quest for firsthand knowledge is exhilarating like few things are. In testing cars, it's always great to put a machine through a test course, and then tune into every aspect of it. You try to become "one with the machine," as some professional test drivers say. It's very much a physical experience, but in truth it's a mental experience as well. Your senses must interface with the machine, and your mind must be in direct communication at all times to be able to understand how the machine responds to your inputs (and therefore quantify and describe its performance characteristics). Moreover, the tester must have a good methodology to his testing in order to ensure his testing results are correct. (There are proper techniques to use when cornering a car on a twisty road course; hanging the tail out in power oversteer is emphatically NOT one of them.)

Computer hardware testing is similar, except that you are usually using fewer senses (you're not sitting on a computer and feeling G-Force, after all). But a focused and total engagement with the subject under testing requires the tester's full attention. This mental focus is a large part of the appeal, as well.

It's undeniable that testing is fun. There are many dimensions and reasons why it's fun.

But I think it should be said that there's more to testing than just indulging in "fun."

The thirst for knowledge is never frivolous...


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Overclock.net › Member Blogs › Testing Thoughts Part 1 The Appeal