Screen Testing

Neil Studd and Dan Billing bring you a fortnightly movie podcast with a software testing spin. We'll be looking for bugs in the plot, and comparing how the films compare to real-life experiences we've faced in the world of testing!
RSS Feed
Screen Testing

All Episodes
Now displaying: Page 1
Oct 20, 2017

Well, it was inevitable. A trawl through Neil's favourite Bond movie results in an unprecedented level of pedantry, fact-checking and conversational rabbit-holes, as we lean particularly hard into the uncomfortable elements of the movie, including inappropriate remarks in the workplace, the enigma of Boris, and unconvincing love stories.

There's plenty to celebrate though, as your presenters explore their respective histories with the Bond series, the novels, and the GoldenEye 007 game on the Nintendo 64. Dan wants a laser pistol, Neil wants to talk physics, everyone reminisces about trying to connect to the internet in the 1990s, and for a change there are some valuable insights from the director's commentary.

It's a time for heroes, as Dan's tonsillitis battles through our longest-ever recording session, and Neil somehow manages to edit over three hours of material into a sub-2hr podcast. (If you've got a well-stocked liquor cabinet, the original tapes are available on request.)


YouTube trailers for films and TV shows mentioned:

We'll be back in a fortnight for a much shorter episode about SHAUN OF THE DEAD, hope you'll join us then!



Intro music: Tina Turner - GoldenEye
Outro music: Eric Serra - Experience of Love

Oct 6, 2017

After finally overcoming the communication problems associated with talking to the other side of the world, we're joined by Mike Talks for a discussion about WarGames, the film that did for the 80s what Hackers did for the 90s, yet somehow without feeling anywhere near as dated as the latter.

It's an enjoyable film with plenty to celebrate, and plenty of relevant discussion points including how humans interact with artificial intelligence, and the many obvious security vulnerabilities that are on display. However we don't neglect our duty in highlighting some very disturbing gender roles, and we reluctantly stray onto the topic of Donald Trump.

Along the way, the team talk through their childhood gaming and programming experiences, Mike shares some (non-classified) military IT stories, Dan proposes an unlikely trilogy of technology films, and Neil gets sidetracked by background details as usual.

Oh, and if you've got an Amazon Echo, Google Home or Siri-enabled device in earshot, you're probably going to want to disable its microphone for the duration of this episode. We didn't, and paid the consequences.


YouTube trailers for films and TV shows mentioned:

In two weeks, we'll be venturing into the world of James Bond for the first time, to discuss Pierce Brosnan's first outing as 007, GOLDENEYE!



Intro music: Arthur B. Rubinstein - WarGames Intro Theme
Outro music: Arthur B. Rubinstein - Edge of the World

Sep 15, 2017

This week, we "embrace the possible" as we chat to Leigh Rathbone about Yes Man, a Jim Carrey romantic comedy which tells the somewhat-real-life story of Carl Allen, an unconfident recluse who is encouraged to say "yes" to more things in his life. We talk to Leigh about how Yes Man inspired him to do the same with his testing career, and the opportunities that opened up for him when he did this.

There are discussions about work-life balance, the responsibility of employers to help with maintaining balance, and when it might be appropriate to say "no".

As we progress, we pitch a role for Jim Carrey in Dunkirk, wonder if trespassing can be romantic, Leigh auditions to be our voiceover artist, and Neil still manages to crowbar-in a La La Land reference.

Interview segment begins at 44:50.


YouTube trailers for films mentioned:

Dan's away in New Zealand for the next two weeks, so keep your eyes peeled on Twitter for confirmation of our next movie!



Intro music: Journey - Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
Outro music: Third Eye Blind - Jumper

Sep 1, 2017

It's time to LET OFF SOME STEAM as we look at one of the finest examples of the 80s action movie genre. Arnie's on a mission to rescue his kidnapped daughter, while Neil and Dan are on a mission to constantly over-think every situation in the film.

Amongst all of the crazy one-liners, explosions and deaths, we study John Matrix's mission, his requirement-gathering skills, and bemoan his poor password security. On the other side of the fence, we look at villain Bennett's seeming love for his nemesis, discover the interesting real-life circumstances which led to some odd costuming, and we unleash our terrible Australian accents.

There are plenty of distractions along the way, as we draw repeated comparisons to the Bond franchise, get into knots over whether it's "Matrixes" or "Matrices", debate whether a rocket launcher is better than a door handle, analyse the weird musical adjectives of Creem magazine, make plans for a Christmas double-header episode, and give shouts-out to our mums.


Dan's testing soundtracks:

Commando scenes and one-liners from YouTube:

YouTube trailers for films referenced:

WE'LL BE BACK in two weeks' time, when Leigh Rathbone is our special guest to discuss the Jim Carrey comedy YES MAN, and his experiences with taking a similar approach to his testing career!



Intro music: James Horner - Commando Main Title
Outro music: Power Station - We Fight For Love

Aug 18, 2017

This week, we're honoured to be joined by Angie Jones and Ash Coleman to discuss one of the most important films of recent times, Hidden Figures. It's a heartwarming tale of three women overcoming terrible systemic prejudices, though it's bittersweet as we talk through how many of its stories are still prevalent today.

Our guests take us on a deep-dive through some important cultural talking-points, including how we educate children about race issues, how feminist movements tend to favour white women, how we can shift a community's mentality, and the labeling of so-called "Social Justice Warriors".

Within the workplace, we look at why companies struggle with diversity and inclusion (D&I), how D&I problems can become business problems, the hallmarks of effective leaders, and how bold young women are leading the way.

We also finally get our toes wet in the "manual vs automation" debate, and we welcome our first ever feline guest to the show!

Note: News about Google's alleged "anti-diversity" paper was breaking at the time of recording; the leaking of the paper (and subsequent fallout) came some days later.


YouTube trailers for films referenced in this episode:

Next time, we'll be taking our first dive into the world of 80s action movies, as we pick apart the brilliant madness of Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1985 movie COMMANDO!



Intro music: Hans Zimmer - Katherine
Outro music: Kim Burrell and Pharrell Williams - I See A Victory

Aug 4, 2017

In an episode best summarised as "it seemed like a good idea at the time", Neil and Dan attempt to get their teeth into Netflix's recent high-profile tech offering, The Circle, starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, only to find there's very little meat on those plot bones.

It's light on spoilers (as there's not a lot to spoil), but we envision a story which might have been, had they decided to actually include character arcs, plot developments and meaningful conclusions.

We keep ourselves amused along the way, coming up with the rules of proper Slack and social media etiquette, deciding whether the film's irony was intentional, paying tribute to the wonder of Bill Paxton, and wondering why John Boyega got involved at all.


For our next episode, we'll be talking about HIDDEN FIGURES with two special guests - Angie Jones and Ash Coleman, all the way from San Francisco!



Intro music: Ocean Colour Scene - The Circle (because why not)
Outro music: Jónsi - Simple Gifts

Jul 21, 2017

In a long-awaited episode, Dan and Neil are joined by special guest Christopher Chant to discuss the Oscar-winning picture Whiplash, a film which tells the story of the relationship between budding jazz drummer Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) and his tutor Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons), and how their worlds collide in a quest for perfection.

In a deep and serious episode, we share information on coaching and mentoring techniques that we have observed and used, exchange thoughts on how to motivate others and ourselves, talk about balancing personal and professional commitments, and ways that we can demonstrate/uncover skill.

Your hosts share their own experiences from the world of music, discuss other famous big-screen student-pupil relationships, and Neil takes every possible opportunity to reference Damien Chazelle's follow-up film La La Land.

We also play some lengthy clips from the film, which are HEAVILY expletive-laden. You have been warned.


We're back to our usual fortnightly schedule now, so we'll see you all on August 4th when we'll be discussing the new Netflix movie THE CIRCLE.



Intro music: Snare Liftoff (I Want To Be One Of The Greats)
Outro music: Whiplash

Jul 19, 2017

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled programming to bring you our first emergency broadcast! Hot on the heels of our discussion of The Deadly Assassin comes the announcement of the new Doctor, with Jodie Whittaker becoming the first woman to play the show's leading role.

In an episode where Neil and Dan spend most of their time agreeing with each other for a change, we delve into the inevitable social media outrage, discuss the reasons why the announcement points to an exciting future, bemoan the lack of non-violent superheroes in the modern age, and debate the nature of fandoms.

As usual, Dan brings a wealth of experience from the world of Doctor Who, outlining the history of strong female figures in the show, both in front of and behind the camera. And Neil actually manages to keep up this time!

Miscellaneous references:

Doctor Who episodes referenced (ordered by airdate):

  • Genesis of the Daleks (1975)
  • The Deadly Assassin (1976)
  • The Five Doctors (1983)
  • Warriors of the Deep (1984)
  • Resurrection of the Daleks (1984)
  • Blink (2007)
  • Silence in the Library (2008)
  • The Doctor's Wife (2011)
  • Hell Bent (2015)
  • The Doctor Falls (2017) - Peter Capaldi's final regular episode
  • The Doctors (2017) - upcoming Christmas 2017 special

Our normal schedule resumes on Friday, when we'll be bringing you our discussion on WHIPLASH with Christopher Chant - hint, you'll want to set aside a couple of hours for that one!



Intro music: Doctor Who theme (2014-2017)
Outro music: TARDIS dematerialization sound

Jun 30, 2017

In our first venture into the world of Doctor Who, guest Andrew Morton adds to Dan's expertise (and Neil's ignorance) to unpack a Fourth Doctor story which has vibes of The Manchurian Candidate and The Matrix (with a bit of a whodunnit and a courtroom drama in the middle). Plus there are fisticuffs!

We take a reverential look at some of the series' tropes, including The Doctor's skill at hiding behind things, the speed at which cliffhangers are negated, stilted deathbed monologues and a villain's inability to finish off his enemy.

We also analyse The Master's ability to turn people into Action Man dolls, short-sighted writers creating continuity nightmares, wonder whether the Timelords would do well to invest in two-factor authentication, and make very early plans for Screen Testing's thirty-year anniversary episode.

Clips from The Deadly Assassin on YouTube (courtesy of BBC Worldwide):

Miscellaneous references:

Doctor Who episodes referenced (ordered by airdate):

  • An Unearthly Child (first story, 1963)
  • The Daleks (first Dalek story, 1963)
  • The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964)
  • The Chase (1965)
  • The Enemy of the World (1967)
  • The Web of Fear (1968)
  • The War Games (1969)
  • Spearhead from Space (1970)
  • Terror of the Autons (1971)
  • The Sea Devils (1972)
  • Frontier in Space (1973)
  • Planet of the Daleks (1973)
  • Genesis of the Daleks (1975)
  • The Brain of Morbius (1976)
  • The Seeds of Doom (1976)
  • The Hand of Fear (1976)
  • The Face of Evil (1977)
  • The Invasion of Time (1978)
  • Shada (unfinished due to strikes, 1980)
  • The Five Doctors (1983)
  • The Caves of Androzani (1984)
  • Revelation of the Daleks (1985)
  • The Trial of a Time Lord (1986)
  • The Mysterious Planet (1986)
  • Terror of the Vervoids (1986)
  • Time and the Rani (1987)
  • The Curse of Fenric (1989)
  • Doctor Who (TV movie, 1996)
  • The Stolen Earth (2008)
  • The Name of the Doctor (featuring The War Doctor, 2013)
  • The Day of the Doctor (50th anniversary episode, 2013)
  • World Enough and Time / The Doctor Falls (season finale, 2017)

We'll be back in a fortnight with Christopher Chant, to discuss one of Neil's all-time favourite movies, WHIPLASH.



Intro music: Doctor Who theme
Outro music: The Timelords - Doctorin' The Tardis

Jun 16, 2017

Neil and Dan get their teeth into the latest movie in the Star Wars franchise, Rogue One, a prequel to Episode IV which is steadfastly doing its own thing, complete with retconned Death Star powers, penis-tentacled monsters and sarcastic droids.

In a midichlorian-free episode, we discuss whether the Imperials should have discovered the Death Star's fatal flaw, how workplace politics can hinder us from achieving our goals, the nature of Chirrut Imwe's Force-like abilities, and the merits of re-casting versus CGI.

Along the way, Dan proposes a potential spin-off podcast to explore his inner dictator, Neil ponders whether Jon Bon Jovi is in canon, we compare our tenuous connections to Star Wars cast members, and rhetorically wonder why nerds are never satisfied.

In an extended news section at the end, we say goodbye to some of our childhood heroes who we've lost in recent weeks: Roger Moore (Bond), Adam West (Batman) and Andy Cunningham (Bodger).


Closing tributes from YouTube:

Join us in two weeks' time when we'll be delving into the world of Doctor Who, discussing the Tom Baker story THE DEADLY ASSASSIN, with special guest Andrew Morton!



Intro music: Michael Giacchino - A Long Ride Ahead
Outro music: Max Rebo Band - Lapti Nek

Jun 2, 2017

HACK THE PLANET! Your regular hosts Neil (aka Integer Overflow) and Dan (Shoe_Gazer) are taking over the airwaves with special guest Matthew Bretten (Mr Null) to pull apart the most 90s film of all-time. We analyse the visuals, the clothing, the soundtrack and the tech, all of which help to make Hackers a hundred times better than Swordfish.

To keep our critical eyes sharp, we debate whether curiosity was really their only crime, whether the hacks still hold up today, and whether the recycle bin is really a good place to store secure files.

Among the oddities we encounter along the way, we talk about the merits of SWAT teams pointing guns at kids, whether Acid Burn's fencing proficiency is a useful weapon, we get pedantic about RAM, and try to avoid talking about Matthew Lillard at all.


Security testing resources from Dan:

YouTube clips for some of the nostalgic name-checking in this episode:

Our next episode will be a double-header, as we tackle both ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY and STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE to answer the eternal question: Is it a bug, or a feature?



Intro music: Orbital - Halcyon And On And On
Outro music: Squeeze - Heaven Knows

May 19, 2017

In a Screen Testing first, we take a guest's love for a movie and weaponise it against them. It's no holds barred as (alongside Mark Winteringham) we unravel the film which gathers everything that you love about hacker culture, and adds Vinnie Jones and blowjobs.

There's explicit language from the start, as we wonder why John Travolta's character loves to spoil the ends of movies, we compare Gabriel to a demanding product owner, we crowdfund an interesting (but potentially libelous) reboot, and listen to a disturbing number of candid remarks from the director's commentary.

We find a surprising amount of testing-related content, as we discuss chains of command, deadlines, battles with recruiters, bad interview experiences, user interfaces and flow.

In our desperation to avoid talking about the film, we get sidetracked by whether a cashpoint is a computer, how compound interest works and vehicle emissions standards, all of which are far more entertaining than Swordfish.

YouTube clips of notable Swordfish scenes:

Other References:

Next up, we're going back to the nineties with Matt Bretten, to see how HACKERS (mostly) managed to get it right. We hope you'll join us in a fortnight!


You can also email us with your comments, feedback or requests:

Intro music: Swordfish Intro
Outro music: Paul Oakenfold feat. Amoebassassin - Get Out Of My Life Now

May 5, 2017

Are you a watcher or a player? We're joined by Gem Hill to discuss last year's teen psychological thriller, Nerve. It's a deadly (and somewhat cheesy) technological game of truth or dare, available to stream now on Netflix.

We discuss the game within the movie, the weird pockets of fame within social media, teen cliques, and how effectively the film manages its portrayal of hackers, the dark web and open-source software.

We also deal with our usual array of distractions, including the unusual pricing/prize structure of Nerve, whether the game could truly run without servers, teenagers' password security, Neil's unlikely crush on Dave Franco, the difference between literal and metaphor, and how not to get a tattoo.

Also, we forget to mention that Dave Franco's character is named Ian, so when we suddenly start talking about Ian halfway through, that's what's going on!


Songs from the soundtrack featured in the episode (in order of appearance):

In our next episode we'll be continuing our dive into the world of hacking in movies, as we discuss 2001's SWORDFISH with Mark Winteringham!


Apr 21, 2017

How do you measure humanity? We go deep into spoilers for Ex Machina as we recap Bluebook's work to produce a robot that can pass as a human.

In a reference-filled episode, we talk about the challenges of passing (or manipulating) a Turing Test, we debate the ethics of creating sentient machines, and compare the "planning/interview/debrief" structure of the film against how we approach our testing sessions.

As we proceed, we get distracted by discussions about the capabilities of helicopters, we wonder how a CEO can run a business from a location with no mobile coverage, investigate whether Nathan has already succeeded in creating the perfect dancing robot, and discover a film connection which sends Dan into uncontrollable laughter.

We also subject Siri and Google Home to their own Turing Test. It doesn't go well.

Testing conferences and initiatives mentioned during the introduction:

Other references in the episode:

A big Terminator-style thumbs-up to Bad Puns and Machine Guns for their shout-out in their recent "Aftermath" episode!  

Screen Testing will return in two weeks' time, as Gem Hill joins us to discuss 2016's NERVE (available now on Netflix and other streaming services).


Intro music: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Enola Gay
Outro music: Oliver Cheatham - Get Down Saturday Night

Apr 7, 2017

Recorded live with guests at the TestBash Brighton Open Space on Saturday 25th March 2017. Expect some occasionally dubious sound quality, and some strong language, as we try our best to unravel the story behind the Star Wars Holiday Special.

We focus on the "requirements" and the various different audiences for the show, wondering whether any of them would have been impressed that the previous summer's breakout sci-fi hit had been watered-down into a variety show format.

There are thoughts about whether George Lucas was paying attention, the role of pornography in the Star Wars universe, and a heated debate around whether Han Solo was again denied credit for a killing (this time denied by clumsy footwork and shoddy craftsmanship).

Huge thanks to our special guests during this episode:


At the time of writing, the Star Wars Holiday Special is available on YouTube for those who dare. The clips that we talk about during this episode can be found at the following timestamps:

  • 12:10 - Chewie's family calls Luke Skywalker
  • 50:30 - Lumpy watches a (quite good) Star Wars cartoon
  • 22:16 - Chef Gormaanda brings us STIR WHIP WHIP STIR
  • 28:20 - Itchy watches a VR fantasy program
  • 1:22:25 - Stormtrooper death: Did he trip, or was he pushed?
  • 1:30:58 - Princess Leia sings a song to the tune of the Star Wars theme

Further reading/watching:

We'll be back in the studio next time to talk about EX_MACHINA - see you in a fortnight!

Our Twitters:

Intro music: Star Wars Holiday Special main theme
Outro music: Supernova - Chewbacca

Mar 24, 2017

It's our first (and possibly not our last) visit to Craggy Island, as we take apart arguably the finest episode of Father Ted, in which our heroic priests do battle with a randy milkman and a bomb on a milkfloat.

Discover how every mishap in the episode is a direct result of Ted's inability to communicate clearly, join our contest to find the best use for a brick, we analyse the priests' five possible solutions to the bomb problem, and learn which joke Neil took 19 years to get.

Among our many distractions, we discuss how many films make a franchise, we learn Dan's connection to Victor Meldrew, Neil drunk-dials Will Self, and there's a particularly dubious rendition of "My Lovely Horse".

Mentioned in this episode:

Our next episode will be about the STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, and we'll be recording it LIVE at TestBash Brighton!


Intro music: Father Ted main theme
Outro music: The Divine Comedy - Songs of Love (Theme from Father Ted)

Mar 10, 2017

Join the Screen Testers' first full-length episode, as we discuss the Berg/Wahlberg movie which inspired the podcast. It's a disaster film with a uniquely testing twist, as we analyse the events that led up to the catastrophe. We investigate the culture of miscommunication, debate how we know when testing is completed, the importance of quality in a safety-critical environment, and how false positives/negatives can blight automation.

Along the way, we'll debate foreshadowing, alarm clock precision, jump-scares, and whether Kriss Akabusi holds the key to surviving a catastrophe.

For a wordier version of this episode, check out Neil's companion blog post - Screen Testing preview: Deepwater Horizon

Further reading/viewing:

Next time, we'll be tackling the SPEED 3 episode of Father Ted - see you in a fortnight!


Intro music: Steve Jablonksy - Hope Is Not A Tactic
Outro music: Gary Clark Jr. - Take Me Down


Feb 24, 2017

It's introduction time: join Neil and Dan as they take you through a potted history of their experiences with testing, movies, and podcasting. Learn about Arnie's movie debut; the episode you'll never hear; and discussion on the statute of limitations for spoilers. Hear it before it gets awarded the Golden Poddy™!

Podcasts that we name-checked that are undoubtedly better than ours:
Testing in the Pub
Let's Talk About Tests, Baby
How Did This Get Made?
Bad Puns and Machine Guns
James Bonding
Radio Free Skaro
Empire Film Podcast
Movies You Should See

Our rules: a first draft!

  • If a film/show is in the episode title, expect spoilers for that.
  • If we name-check random films/shows in an episode, we'll try to avoid spoilers.
  • Episodes will usually be under 30 minutes in length.
  • Episodes will be released fortnightly on Fridays.
  • We want guests! Got a film you love, or want to discuss? Drop us a line - we'll take care of everything.

We'll be back in two weeks for Episode 1: DEEPWATER HORIZON.


Intro music: Pearl and Dean Theme
Outro music: Goldbug - Whole Lotta Love