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Google Releases 'Testing on the Toilet' 192

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the logging-off dept.
JasonK writes "Here's a type of Google launch you don't see every day: Testing on the Toilet. This is a service that has been apparently been running internally for several months and teaching developers about testing during their 'down time,' so to speak. Due to the wild success of the program inside of Google, they decided to start a blog where they will post these weekly episodes so that the rest of us can print them out and have our own reading on the can. Is this a step towards Google becoming more open about their development practices?"
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Google Releases 'Testing on the Toilet'

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  • Huh? Wha? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gbulmash (688770) * <.semi_famous. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:18PM (#17760966) Homepage Journal
    So now Google's gunning for Uncle John's Bathroom Reader [amazon.com] ?

    Honestly, I don't see this as a positive development. My time on the pot is a time for reflection and grunting. If someone leaves the section with the comics and "Dear Abby" in the stall, I might elect to read, but I prefer to dump and run (TMI??). Also, knowing what Google employees are reading while they crap... Would "disquieting" be the right word for the sense of unease this gives me?

    - Greg
    • Re:Huh? Wha? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AstrumPreliator (708436) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:59PM (#17761610)
      Weird, when I'm stuck on a tough problem I actually tend to go to the bathroom to solve it. No distractions or the like when you're on the john and you get the added bonus of feeling good (at least men do). I also take a shower to release tension. It's the perfect place to kick back and relax so you're not just grinding your teeth over it.

      Now having said that I don't want that stuff in the bathroom at work. I'd rather have a bit of peace than more work shoved at me ;).
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:15PM (#17761808)
        Decades from now, when we are suffering under the tyranny of Google, we will wistfully look back on this as the moment when they started to become evil. It always starts small, and with the best of intentions. I JUST WANNA TAKE A DUMP, OK??? LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Lord Ender (156273)

        No distractions or the like when you're on the john
        No distractions? The disgusting stench of your severely-overweight coworkers digestive malfunctions isn't a distraction? Did you try to launch fireworks out of your nose as a child?
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by loganrapp (975327)
          Or he's severely overweight with digestive malfunctions. You insensitive clod.
          • by Lord Ender (156273) on Friday January 26, 2007 @02:11AM (#17764808) Homepage
            I don't deny that I'm an insensitive clod (as many of my failed dates will attest(but seriously, get a real job girls(and a real degree(damn, i'm drunk right now, and i work in the morning(count those perens, you lisp bitches(i'm going to die alone :-())))))), but ridiculing the severely-obese could, possibly, motivate the fatties to stop killing themselves, thus saving decades of their lives.

            If your job doesn't afford you enough time to exercise (=1hr/night), QUIT because your life is worth more than an extra 20k/year!!!!!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jnana (519059)
        Ha, that's funny! I too go to the bathroom for the peace and solitude that are so conducive to problem solving. It's also one of the few places where you can close your eyes, forget about the world, and really visualize and work on a tricky problem without (a) people thinking you're crazy because you're sitting there wide awake and perfectly still with your eyes closed or (b) interrupting you, intentionally or otherwise.
    • by Dogtanian (588974) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:08PM (#17761708) Homepage
      Despite the veneer of amiability about this project, I find it faintly disturbing. Why?

      I think it's the attempt to work the job and group mindset into every part of an employee's day and life. The insinuation (by default) that an employee will want (not just be expected to) to contribute to the company in this way; even in rare "private time" like this (*).

      I think what really bothered me (in this context) was the group-oriented friendliness. It took me a while to figure out why, then I realised that it was faintly reminiscent of a cult. Not the mass-suicide, Waco types (or at least, not at that stage), but the friendly pressure "we're your friends and we want to help you" newcomer stage- often with good intentions by those taking part (**)- where the group slowly enters every aspect of the newcomer's life.

      Okay, I'm reading too much into this now; just bear in mind that Google's uber-friendly, everything-you-want-here campuses and the like have the advantage of keeping their employees happy, productive and within the Google sphere of influence. Sinister or not?

      (*) Please *don't* start a discussion about how, as the employee is being paid during work hours, this is reasonable. Besides which, the employee- of their own volition- would probably be thinking about their work while they were on the toilet anyway. Plus, it's often more productive to give the mind a rest or let it wander every so often. Isn't it normal and healthy for employees to think about something else (e.g. outside interests) every so often?
      (**) Yes, I did notice that this project was started by volunteers. Draw your own conclusions.
      • Yes, it is a cult (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:25PM (#17761918)
        I worked for almost a year as a contractor for Google. The definition that probably defines this company quite well is a cult. It was evident that no one would criticize any aspect of the company, would do anything that they were asked to. Also, it was like employees were too thankful for having the privilege of working there. When you add a big dose of arrogance (I guess that being told day after day you are the best of the best produces those results) to the mix, you get what Google is within.

        It was indeed a very weird environment. I have worked in other big companies, but never say anything like that. The day my contract ended was a good one.

      • Nope, you're not reading too much into it. I had this disturbing image flashing though my mind of the entire google staff lining up to drink kool-aid.
      • by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:19PM (#17762458)
        Okay, I'm reading too much into this now; just bear in mind that Google's uber-friendly, everything-you-want-here campuses and the like have the advantage of keeping their employees happy, productive and within the Google sphere of influence. Sinister or not?

        Man, those guys just can't win. Be a jerk to your employees, and you're a jerk. Try to make your employees happy, and you're sinisterly keeping them under your influence. I guess the optimum, then, is to give employees free soda and plenty of vacation time, but have the guy at the front desk smack them in the face and call them a bitch when they first walk in the door in the morning.
      • by Vellmont (569020)

        It took me a while to figure out why, then I realised that it was faintly reminiscent of a cult.

        You're not the only one who thought that. There's something about putting work in a bathroom and just expecting everyone to be onboard that smacks of weirdo groupthink. The fact that it was done independently is quite telling.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ukemike (956477)
        It was nice of them to float this idea, but in truth it was more of a sinker. I think it's important for a company to air out internal workings from time to time. I know they've been very regular with good products lately. You have to expect that from time to time they'll have a stinker. Actually I thought the article was a gas!
    • by SeaFox (739806) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:26PM (#17761930)
      I would say it's normal for a few oddball ideas to emerge when a company has squeezed several successful projects out. They just get a little headstrong when they've been flush with good ideas lately.
    • by tverbeek (457094) *

      I prefer to dump and run

      Same here. I've never understood this whole "toilet reading" phenomenon. When I have to take a shit, I sit down, dump, wipe, get up, and wash. Unless I'm sick or something, it never takes me long enough to sit and read or ponder anything; if not for the clean-up, it'd take about as much time as a typical piss. After all, it's not like it's an especially comfortable place to sit. Are people in general that more constipated than I am, do they have that much more difficulty finding

      • by j_snare (220372)
        It's sad, but I recall a previous discussion on Slashdot about this very thing.

        It's a balance. You try to do it too fast and you could cause some damage to your system. But you sit there too long for no reason you can also cause damage of a different kind, and you waste time.

        You need to be relaxed and not pressure yourself, but get through it and off fairly quickly. Personally, I enjoy having something to read or do while I'm in there, even for only the couple of minutes I'm there. But I've always done
      • by bhiestand (157373)

        I prefer to dump and run
        Same here. I've never understood this whole "toilet reading" phenomenon. When I have to take a shit, I sit down, dump, wipe, get up, and wash.
        So you're the asshole! The proper procedure is "Shit, wipe, flush". If you continue to ignore company policy, you will be sent back to remedial training at your own expense. An instructional poster will be posted inside the stall by close of business.
  • by jez9999 (618189) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:20PM (#17761024) Homepage Journal
    ... considering most employees aren't half as anally-retentive as them.
  • This idea may be a little shitty... We can't even just relax and clear our minds when we're layin' a brick?
  • Stupid questions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bromskloss (750445) <auxiliary,address,for,privacy&gmail,com> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:26PM (#17761108)
    Is this a step towards Google becoming more open about their development practices?
    Why does every Slashdot story have to end with a question? Often an uninteresting one at that? Do you think it sounds more intellectual, encouraging a discussion, or what? Please stop it! (Also, please don't compose headlines consisting of a statement followed by a question mark?)
    • by Grey_14 (570901) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:39PM (#17761326) Homepage
      I would imagine it's because slashdot is pretty centered around discussion of posted articles, the questions are in theory supposed to spark discussion about an article. Sadly most of the questions are stupid and people ignore them and ramble on about other stupid and pointless shit.
    • by nmoog (701216)
      It's because if you post a comment without a question, people will assume that you didn't stop to question the article yourself - buy asking questions in the summary it's like saying "Hey, I found this story... I don't necessarily agree with it - what do you think?" And there-by avoid the flames of hurtful slashdotters!
    • by sploxx (622853)
      Maybe you just discovered a pattern in the /. post (as I did, too) and are now just having the usual geek reflex 'hey, that's redundant!'. I think it does not hurt too much, at least the editors seem to get the dupes under control now :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:27PM (#17761126)

    I seem to recall having read something about how reading on the john is bad for you. The idea is that if you are constipated, you should wait for the movement, and not sit there and get all agitated and stressed. You are not supposed to push them out, as it can damage you and/or make the constipation worse in the long run. The article was written by a MD, IIRC. The one quote that sticks out in my mind is, "you wouldn't take a dump in the library, so don't read in the toilet".

    • by jez9999 (618189) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:36PM (#17761264) Homepage Journal
      The idea is that if you are constipated, you should wait for the movement

      Isn't that the idea of the reading? To calmly wait?

      Also, your phobia of the words 'toilet' and 'shit' is humourous.
      • That's why reading the News while feeding the shitter is not a good idea. More light reading, like the novelization of ChainSawIII, is recommended for a calm, relaxing experience on the toilet.

        SB
      • >Also, your phobia of the words 'toilet' and 'shit' is humourous.

        It's not a "phobia", it's just (a degree of) class.

        Life is not made any more enjoyable by everyone using
        the earthiest words that they can think of all the time
        and in all circumstances.

        And it's hardly cool or rebellious anymore - if you want
        to be a rebel these days, clean up your speech :)
        • by bhiestand (157373)

          >Also, your phobia of the words 'toilet' and 'shit' is humourous.

          It's not a "phobia", it's just (a degree of) class.

          Or a degree of feeling that you are above, perhaps somehow cleaner than, people who understand, accept, and openly talk about bodily functions...

          Life is not made any more enjoyable by everyone using
          the earthiest words that they can think of all the time
          and in all circumstances.

          Earthiest?! I dare say even the most heavenly and religious attempts by humans are still earthly and entirely human. You may think you are somehow being less "dirty" or "earthy" by calling it a lieu, toilette, rest room, water closet, comfort room, or John, but you're still describing exactly the same thing, and everybody still knows exactly what you're talking

    • Well... First off this isn't what the article is about. Secondly you're not really "reading" if you're just sitting there with a book in your hand getting agitated and stressed. If you're constipated and you're reading on the pot you should be focusing on the book, not your bowel movement, that's the entire point of it. So you are waiting for the movement but you're not just sitting there feeling hopeless. I can't really comment on the article since you didn't provide a link but your summary leaves me to wo
    • "The one quote that sticks out in my mind is, "you wouldn't take a dump in the library, so don't read in the toilet"."

      I thought it went: "I wouldn't swim in your toilet so don't piss in my pool" ?

      I personally like reading in the crapper, it takes my mind off of the business at hand (so to speak) and helps to relax.. but doing work on the crapper would have the opposite effect I would think. Eating on the crapper.. now that's just weird.
    • It's the best place to read I have a bookcase in mine
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kavau (554682)
      I don't get it. Why would reading on the toilet make me get agitated and stressed (unless I read my quarterly performance review, of course)? I'd be more inclined to just "push them out" if I didn't bring an article or book to read. So I'd say, NOT reading on the toilet is bad for you.

      I fully agree, though, that reading in the toilet can be bad for your health.

    • by springbox (853816)
      That doesn't make any sense. I'd say the opposite is true. Anyway, I play a quick game on the DS instead of reading so sometimes I end up hanging around for a bit too long..
    • what the hell? The reason you don't take a dump in the library is because its extremely anti-social! How would reading on the toilet even compare (excluding the example of the single toilet in a packed house/office/dorm/etc with a growing lineup)
    • by Flwyd (607088)
      I'm a hereditary bathroom reader. My parents' bathroom has a few dozen scientific magazines within reach of the toilet. While it often takes several minutes for us to undergo the movement, we're often on the john for ten or fifteen minutes after the important business has been done because Scientific American is just that fascinating.

      This is often a quite healthy pursuit as it allows us to take a break from stressful activities and reflect in quiet meditation. It's also healthy because of all the practic
  • by maynard (3337) <j@maynard@gelinas.gmail@com> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:29PM (#17761166) Journal
    Mr.... *Poopypants*!?!?!?!" -Lt. Frank Drebin
  • Cute idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by countSudoku() (1047544) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:30PM (#17761182) Homepage
    No that's thinking outside of the box! Personally, I like to do testing in the kitchen, then QA in the shower, then go production on the can... but that's just me.
  • by Danathar (267989) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:33PM (#17761212) Journal
    this is the result of the "Fire Hose" feature that slashdot has.

    Stories selected by mobs.
    • For those worrying, FireHose exists to help filter crap submissions from the good ones(*). Obviously, if the stories we saw on the front page were simply those voted to the top of the FireHose, then we'd be left with another Digg. This is the last thing everybody wants. As such, the editors and mods are only using FireHose to help find worthwhile stories.

      (*)I emailed the editors about this and they assured me that no, Slashdot was not headed in the direction of Digg.
  • Old News (Score:2, Interesting)

    by J. Chrysostom (125843)
    My 50 year old company has been putting out "The Porcelain Press" in the can for years. They do it mostly for health & safety stuff, but the idea's the same. It just took Google a few decades to catch up.
  • the post is on a blog site, not on Google, April 1st a little early....

  • ... would purchase a dedicated tablet device for reading google news while on the can.
  • If this is a reflection of the Google Culture, then count me out. Are they all insane enough to think that every moment (including taking a shit) should be spent thinking about The Company? It seems to me they've developed a culture of True Believers that wouldn't even think there's something wrong with invading the bathroom with more work.

    I know someone is going to come back to me with "It's not work.. it's fun!". Just keep drinking that kool-aid buddy. Eventually you're going to figure out that there
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Eventually you're going to figure out that there's more to life than work.
      Yeah, staring off blankly into space while you take a shit is really living life to the fullest. Get a grip man.
    • The first time a manager hands me some test documentation to read in the can, will be the second time I hand a manager a poop wrapped in a test document.

    • by carpeweb (949895)
      Amen! How many of us have had coworkers or bosses who would follow us into the lavatory and try to continue a discussion while "on break"?

      My response: there's a reason they call it a "break".

      If this trend isn't stopped, then "Mr. Poopypants" (above) will in the future refer to a new clothing line consisting -- literally! -- of a series of tubes (marketed under a hip label like TSteve, no doubt).
    • I'll think whatever they want for however long they want so long as they give me enough money.
    • "Next up at google.. Google Dreams"

      I was thinking Google Sex, streaming videos and search related items for the words yelled out during coitus mounted as a flat panel on the ceiling, with optional forehead/backside mirrors for wife/hubby/SO.

      *note to self, register ohgodyesyes.com ASAP!!!*
  • when you need him?

    This code is just good enough...for me to poop on!

    One other thing, can I assume that this is in the Mens toilets only? Most women won't touch anything that has been in a bathroom (like magazines and newspapers) so I'm guessing keyboards are out, too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Benley (102665)
      Dude. There's no keyboards in the bathrooms. It's 8.5"x11" posters on the walls where you can read them while you *ahem* use the facilities.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      No, you cannot assume. They are posted in the women's bathroom also, on the back of the door so it's right in front of you. No hands involved.
  • blog (Score:5, Funny)

    by the_tsi (19767) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:37PM (#17761294)
    Google Testing Blog, November 15:

    Today I was hanging a clock above my toilet, when I fell and hit my head. I ended up having a vision of a new way to make sure code works properly (there also was some idea for a new hardware component -- some sort of capacitor -- but I'm a software engineer and don't know how to deal with those things; hopefully it wasn't very important).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...is usually limited to checking the TP to know when to stop wiping.
  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:45PM (#17761402)
    Serious, if you have time to read on the toilet, maybe you should consider adding some bran fiber to your diet.
  • Bad idea (Score:4, Informative)

    by kindbud (90044) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:51PM (#17761484) Homepage
    Sitting on the toilet too long can lead to hemorrhoids. Reading software testing documentation on the toilet can't be any better for your bunghole.
    • by gardyloo (512791)
      Reading software testing documentation on the toilet can't be any better for your bunghole.

            I dunno about you, buddy. I have it all printed in Braille. Oooh!
    • They put these little pages (which are easily readable in like 60 seconds) above the urinals. It gives you something to glance at while taking a leak, much like those advertisement posters or newpaper holders you see above urinals in bars and restaurants.

      I'm not sure why everyone is getting so worked up about it. I think it's a clever idea, and I look forward to new issues. Besides, I almost always learn something!

      -B

  • Tried to test, and only farted.
    Then one day I took a chance,
    Passed the test and shit my pants!
  • In the dorm in my college (one of the few with old style community bathrooms), we put up a weekly newsletter called "Stall Notes" that has upcoming events, humorous awards for the past week, a top 10 list, and some other rotating features. It's a really good way to ensure that everyone gets the message since no one looks at bulletin boards or email memos. If Google can use something like this to be more productive, good for them.
  • by eabell (398690) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:56PM (#17761566)

    I RTFA, but it was one of the comments that amused me:

    "A similar thing was/is in use at a place I worked. People made an effort to stay in the toilet for a long time (doodling on their PDA) and later claimed they were reading the work notes... :)"

    Ahem. 'Doodling on their PDA'? So is that what you kids call it these days?

  • "Sheesh, who just dumped core? Light a match!"
        -Kernel Boot Rom
  • by popo (107611) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:58PM (#17761592) Homepage
    If I didn't know better I'd say Google was having an increasingly difficult time
    squeezing out well formed ideas. (And something about this one smells a little off.) It might
    be because they're just not flushing out the bad ideas, but it also might be an
    indication that Google needs to unclog their management and wipe themselves clean
    of this "Testing Grouplet". While it is true that great ideas have plopped out of Google, I think
    our apparently limitless enthusiasm for anything and everything that spews from Google may have had
    the effect of loosening up their releases to the point of being soft and formless.

    My two cents.

  • by kevin_conaway (585204) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:04PM (#17761658) Homepage

    Speaking of bathroom etiquette, if its a single bathroom, please knock on the door before just jiggling the handle to test if its locked. One day I might forget to lock the door and then we'll both be in for a rude surprise

    Regarding automated tests...write them!

    Once you get a framework in place, it really does make you feel better about writing new code and modifying old. It also helps with your design by forcing you to write components that are loosely coupled (i.e., they can be tested easily because they have little to no external dependencies)

    If you feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start, start by writing tests for new code and worrying about old code until later.

  • ...whatever makes you that extra billion.
  • It all made sense, and they had me right up until they said "print out..." Come on, /.'ers, fess up, there's gotta be a pretty good percentage of you laptop owners that do computer-related activites on the can, *without* printing out anything, if you know what I mean.

    I expected the story to involve tablets or kiosk-like computers in the stalls. I was half thinking of inventing a little discrete flip-up table/shelf for laptops for use by nerds in the loo. ThinkGeek, drop me a line, and we'll market this p
    • There's already something similar in some of the more modern lady's rooms around; it's a spring-mounted shelf that you pull down and put your purse/whatever on, which then keeps you from opening the stall door without first removing your belongings. I thought it was really quite clever the first time I saw one; it also helps reduce the incidence of people reaching over the top of the door and snagging your purse from the coat hook while you sit there and watch helplessly.
  • True Story (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Paulrothrock (685079)

    At my current (well, my last day is tomorrow) job, we had a testing suite. His name was Bob. He launched IE and clicked things and entered random data and tried to break our web apps. When I suggested that we automate our testing, someone asked "How would we automate testing?"

    That's kinda when I decided I should leave.

    • someone asked "How would we automate testing?"
      hmmm, I dunno. Maybe replace Bob with a Baboon? Unless Bob was already a baboon!
  • Metric spaces are the perfect accompaniment to a nice healthy number two.
  • Not content with taking over everything else, they now aim to become "number 1" in the "number 2" business.

    They really seem to be getting their "shit" together.

    It's all part of their plan to "bowl" over the competition.

    Thanks, I'll be here all week. Please tip your bartenders.

  • I've seen those posters. Long, detailed small-type discussions of code coverage analysis mounted above urinals. Last week's poster: Google measures code coverage on a per-statement basis. Really.

    Visiting Google HQ bothers me a bit. I'm the guy who did Downside [downside.com], tracking failing dot-coms, and I see too many similarities between Google today and some of the more exuberant dot-coms. Google's business is basically AdWords and a search engine; on the side, they also operate a bunch of unprofitable dot-c

    • by synx (29979)
      Do you think your description would also fit Yahoo? They seem to make most of their money via their advertisement system - their other services don't really make much profit - maybe yahoo mail could be profitable (don't know), but I don't know.

      Also, what about TV networks - they are basically just advertising agency with video production on the side.

      You forgot to mention the BIGGEST difference between Google today and those exuberant failing dot-coms - Google has a strong revenue stream, with good growth,
  • by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Friday January 26, 2007 @12:27AM (#17763794)
    Half the posts above seem to be suggesting that this is some kind of nefarious plot by Google to brainwash their employees. I thought we only displayed that kind of paranoia here about Microsoft. I see no suggestion in the article that people are forced to read this material. It is just available for those who are interested, and mildly useful education for those who do.

    Personally, I cannot be bothered to carry reading material to the pot. However, when the natural cycle is slow enough, I rather like the idea of having some interesting reading material conveniently available.

    In the past, I can remember seeing special toilet paper that contained jokes, quotes or similar material. The main difference here is that the material is more useful and can be provided at lower cost.

  • ... to work it out?
  • Come on. Engineers need some time to relax from the very stressful work they do. What better time to relax for a minute than when in the toilet? :)

    (how long until your manager asks you why you didn't solve that bug when you come out of the WC?)

  • ...and we were required to post "Premises may be under audio/video surveillance(sp)" posters somewhere where employees would see it, I always posted it eye level from sitting position on the crapper.

  • Here I sit
    broken-hearted -
    came to shit
    but only farted.

    But Google Test
    saved us all
    by testing best
    in the stall.
  • Be afraid! (Score:2, Funny)

    by chrism238 (657741)
    I'm wary of any article using both 'toilet' and 'launch' in the same sentence.

Never make anything simple and efficient when a way can be found to make it complex and wonderful.

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