In a previous blog post, I wrote about a test heuristic I dubbed the "taboo heuristic". I've come up with a more generalized, or parallel, heuristic. I call this "action avoidance/alternatives". Really, it could be fit into the taboo paradigm.
Experience trigger: I was using my new LG Tone Bluetooth headset with my HTC Incredible 2 (android phone). I got a phone call, and decided not to answer (I was deep in thought at the time). I didn't press any buttons on the headset or phone--I was just going to let it go to voice mail. A couple minutes later, I decided to place a call. My phone had frozen. The "incoming call" screen was still showing, asking me to slide up or down to pass/accept the call. I could still see a photo of the caller, and their number. I couldn't get my phone to respond. I finally tried to power off my phone. A few moments later the Android OS told me the dialer wasn't responding, and asked to force kill it. My phone rebooted (and took its merry time to do so).
Analysis: I suspect that other events helped expose the bug. I haven't tried to reproduce it yet.
Generalization: This fits with the taboo heuristic I came up with a while back, but may also involve state pollution as described in James Bach's rapid software testing course slides.
Lesson Learned: often times, we can focus so much on making good actions and wrong actions that we forget about the possibilities of inaction: what will the application do if we don't respond? Or if we try to back out, or even kill the application or connection? Or if we take a completely different action? Or try to accomplish the same action in an unusual or unconventional way?
The whole point of the taboo heuristic was to find another way to accomplish a given task or expose a feature, or to think about a problem or test in a different way by precluding the normal set of actions so we must look for an alternative. The action avoidance heuristic is aimed at avoiding, cancelling, or side-stepping the actions presented to us--or taking no action at all. We let things time out. Or, we try to work around a supposedly "required" action.
I am not sure if this is actually different than the taboo heuristic, or just another way of looking at it.