Insatiable Curiosity

A long time ago, in house in the middle of nowhere, Michigan my parents finally relented to the pressure I was putting on them to buy an Atari 2600 for me. All my friends had one and you can’t get good at the games by playing against them for an hour at their house. So I kept bugging them and it finally paid off, sort of.

What I got was the Sears equivalent of the 2600. But hey, it looked similar and played all the games so I was happy. It came with the game Space Invaders, one of my favorites, and played for hours. But like all things the novelty wore off in time.

Then something happened. I got bored with the game. I mean, it doesn’t really change that much and once you figure out the patterns it gets pretty easy. Sure the aliens keep coming at you faster and faster while you still move at the same pace and can only shoot one missile at a time, but it’s the same thing over and over. It was at this time my attention turned to the console itself.

Not really sure what I was doing I just started playing with the on/off and reset buttons. What happens if I switch the console on and off repeatedly? Let’s find out!

What happened was a wondrous thing! After a few attempts goofing around with the on/off switch I noticed that now, instead of one missile, I could fire two at a time! SCORE! The game all of a sudden became interesting again and I could reach high scores I had only dreamed about.

So what next? Let’s try it with the Pac-Man game. Same procedure, different game cartridge. What will happen? I have no idea, let us find out. Well guess what? I found you could make yourself immune to the ghosts that were your enemies. In fact you became a ghost-of-a-Pac-Man yourself. Slightly transparent, immune to attack and able to rack up points. Just don’t enter the tunnel, it had turned into a black hole that would throw you out of the tunnel on the opposite end that you went into and right back in. Forever. Game over.

So I guess that insatiable curiosity that manifested in me at a young age has guided my life and career. I taught myself to play the guitar at age 16 just to see if I could do it. Now when I play guitar I might hear a piece of music in a style I’ve never played before and instead of trying to learn the piece, I try to write an original composition in the same style. Just to see if I can do it. I’ve learned I get a lot more out of this than just copying what someone else has already written.

Somewhere along my lifeline I fell into Software Testing. I jumped in with no real knowledge of the craft but I had that insatiable curiosity within me. Give me an application. Give an idea of what it’s supposed to do and I’ll jump on it. Not only will I prove it does what it’s supposed to do but I’ll click the on/off switch repeatedly to see if I can make it do something unintended.

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5 Responses to “Insatiable Curiosity”

  1. James Bach Says:

    Good start. Good writing.

    Can you define what curiosity means?

    What the difference between curiosity and any other learning?

    • John Kotzian Says:

      Good question. For me it’s the spark that starts the learning process. The want, the need to figure something out that is not yet understood. In the case of the game console it was born of boredom. What else can this do? In the case of the songwriting it was born of an interest in a new, unfamiliar style. Can I do that? Let’s find out!

  2. Markus Gaertner Says:

    Great introduction, John. Glad to have a new blogging tester among us. I’m eager for more from you.

    Getting on James’ thought-provoking questions: I don’t think it’s just boredom that you’re faced with. There is something more behind it. What is the key difference between any learning, i.e. learn to play tennis or chess, and the curiosity you feel when trying out something new?

    • John Kotzian Says:

      No, you’re right. In the case of the game it was boredom. In other cases, like the music, I just want to see what I can do. In software testing I want to see if I can beat the system. Like I said before the curiosity is the spark for learning. Just about everything I’ve every taught myself was because the subject interested me so I would then go see what I could learn about it.

  3. Phil Kirkham Says:

    Welcome to the blogging world, looking forward to reading more

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