Cow Magnets Customer Contribution: Our customer Joel Montvelisky send us these photos and write the cow magnet’s archive.

milking a cow

This weekend I went with my family to a Robotic Dairy Farm.

Obviously the kids had a blast with the cows, and my oldest son made me proud by showing off his cow-milking skills, or at least how he’s not afraid to try.

How is this related to testing?

Let’s start by saying that after having done both these jobs during my professional lifetime, milking a cow is nothing like testing software.

Still during the visit we learned something that reminded me of how we should always look for alternative (and sometimes unconventional) approaches to solve our biggest testing challenges.

Solving the “Hardware Disease” in the Dairy Industry

Did you know that there is such a thing as “Hardware Disease” that harms dairy cattle? (and NO!, it is not related to a cow using a mouse and hurting its wrist in any way!!!).

Based on what they explained to us in the farm, up to some years ago close to 1% of all dairy cows would die as a result of eating metal objects (together with the hay) that would get in their stomachs, perforate them and cause large internal bleeding.

To solve this issue they first tried to develop technology that would “find and extract” all metal objects from the hay before feeding it to cows, but this approach proved both expensive and impractical.

An actual “Cow Magnet”

Then, someone though about an unconventional approach: “Instead of fetching them before they are eaten, let’s prevent the cows from dying even if they ingest these metal objects”. And they came up with the idea of feeding cows a relatively small but powerful Cow Magnet that would sit on their “second stomach” and catch metal objects before they would cause any harm to the animal.

As weird as it sounds this solution worked, and it is now widely used in the Dairy Industry saving thousands of cows a year world wide.

Looking for our own “Cow Magnet” solutions

Now let’s get back to testing…

How many times have you gotten stuck trying to solve a problem using conventional approaches instead of trying to think “outside the box” looking for unconventional wisdom?

When this happens it is usually because you are focusing on the wrong problem, like in the case of the cows where they tried to tackle the issues of the metal objects instead of focusing on the death of the cattle.

Let’s use an example of a testing challenge and how we solved it to explain what I mean.

Long before I started working in PractiTest, I was managing the QA for another enterprise software company. The product I was in charge of testing ran locally on our customer’s servers (this was before the world learned about the advantages of SaaS software!), and we had thousands of installations world-wide, ranging from a handful of licenses and all the way to customers with thousands of end-users.

We had a problem in this company. Each release (once or twice a year) we had to migrated the database to a new schema, and for a large number of the customers (who had made modifications mainly to create their own reports) this meant that their “version upgrade” would get stuck during the db migration phase, and they would need to get someone from our support to manually “fix” the issues and complete the migration process.

This resulted in large number of organizations that were afraid to upgrade, and our product quickly started getting a bad reputation in the field.

In the beginning we defined the testing problem as “been able to generate all these db customizations internally in the lab”, but after 2 releases of trying this approach the results in the field were still disastrous.

Then we started searching for our “Cow Magnets”, or in other words we re-defined our challenge this time to “making sure as many of the problematic databases would be able to migrate successfully”. Notice that instead of focusing on the “testing artifact” we focused on the problem from the perspective of our users, and this was the big breakthrough.

We got in touch with our support team and asked them to contact all customers who had experience migration issues in the past and ask them if they would provide us with a copy of their databases.

We got our hands on close to 40 such projects (only about 1/3 of the organizations agreed to send us their DBs) and we created an automatic framework that would run the upgrade on all of them once a week verifying the results of this operation (a simple pass or fail test), and informing Development whenever one of their changes “broke” the migration.

By running these tests we found that each release had only between 10 to 20 operations that would be responsible for most of the migration issues. And within one release we reduced the upgrade issues from around 6% to less than 0.3% of all upgraded projects.

Stainless Steel NdFeB Cow Magnet

Stainless Steel NdFeB Cow Magnet

Stainless Steel NdFeB Cow Magnet, Rare Earth NdFeB Stainless Steel Cow Magnet, NdFeB Cow Pill, Neodymium Cow Magnet in Stainless Steel Casing NdFeB Cow Magnet Specifications: Part No.: HSCCM-06 Material: NdFeB Shape: Rod / Bar Finish: Metal Length: 3.000 inch Outer Diameter: 0.500 inch Weight: 1 lb. The product is a Rare Earth Magnet (NdFeB) encapsulated in a Stainless […]

Alnico 5 Cow Magnet

Alnico 5 Cow Magnet

Alnico 5 Cow Magnet, Alnico 5 Cow Pill, Rod / Bar Alnico 5 Cow Magnets, Cow Alnico Magnet with curved ends, Standard Cast AlNiCo 5 Cow Magnets Cow Magnet Specifications: Part No.: HSCCM-01 Material: Alnico Shape: Rod / Bar Finish: Ground Outer Diameter: 0.750 inch Thickness: 5.750 inch Grade: Alnico 5 MGOe: 5.5 Machineable: No Maximum Operating Temperature: 525 […]

AlNiCo Cow Magnet

AlNiCo Cow Magnet

AlNiCo Cow Magnet, Standard Cast AlNiCo 5 Cow Magnets, Alnico 2 / Alnico 5 Cow Pill, Cow Alnico Magnet, Bar Cow Magnet, Alnico Steel Magnet, Alnico V Bullet Magnet AlNiCo Cow Magnet Specifications: 4-poled, ceramic, epoxy coated cow magnet Part No.: HSCCM-02 Material: AlNiCo 5 Shape: Rod / Bar Finish: Metal Length: 3.000 inch Outer Diameter: 0.500 inch Weight: 1 lb. […]

Ceramic Cow Magnet

Ceramic Cow Magnet

Ceramic Cow Magnet, Rectangular Ferrite Cow Magnet, Rumen Magnets, Nylon Epoxy Coated Block Ceramic Cow Magnet, Hardware Disease Ceramic 5 Cow Magnets Ceramic Cow Magnet Specifications: 4-poled, ceramic, epoxy coated cow magnet Part No.: HSCCM-03 Material: Ferrite / Ceramic Shape: Rectangular / Bar / Block Finish: Epoxy Coated Length: 2.750 inches Height: 0.750 inch Width: 0.500 inch Weight: 1 lb. -This rectangular magnet is made […]

Heavy Duty Cow Magnet

Heavy Duty Cow Magnet

Heavy Duty Cow Magnet with Plastic End Caps and Steel Plates, Y30 Ferrite Cow Magnet, Ceramic C5 Cow Magnet, Rod or Bar Ferrite Cow Pill, Stainless Steel Hardware Disease Bovine Stays in Cow Heavy Duty Cow Magnet Specifications: Part No.: HSCCM-05 Material: Ferrite / Ceramic Shape: Rod / Bar / Cyliderical End Caps: Plastic Finish: Stainless Steel Length: 3.375 inches Outer Diameter: 0.750 […]

Ringed Ferrite Cow Magnet

Ringed Ferrite Cow Magnet

Ringed Ferrite Cow Magnet with metal end, Hardware Disease, Ceramic C5 Cow Magnet, Ultimate Heavy-Duty Cow Magnet with Steel End Caps and Steel Plates, Ru-master 5 Cow Magnet,  Rumax Magnet Ferrite Cow Magnet Specifications: Part No.: HSCCM-04 Material: Ceramic Shape: Rod Finish: Stainless Steel End Caps: Metal Length: 3.375 inches Outer Diameter: 0.750 inch Weight: 1 lb. Multi-poled, ceramic […]