zondag 30 juni 2019

Stilte door Slipknot

Als je er nog nooit mee van doen hebt gehad is het lastig voor te stellen dat burenherrie een punt kan zijn, maar als - helaas- ervaringsdeskundige kan ik zeggen dat het écht tot spanningen kan leiden.

Toen wij kwamen wonen waar wij nu wonen was alles rustig en vredig ten opzichte van de buren. Manlief houdt nogal van wat steviger muziek, dus we stemden met de buren af wat het maximaal geluidsniveau was. We draaiden de volume knop net zo lang omhoog totdat de buren hem hoorden en zette toen een streepje met stift op dat niveau en voor die momenten dat manlief wat luider van zijn muziek wilde genieten, kochten we een (kwalitatief hoogwaardige) koptelefoon. Deze laatste kochten we draadloos zodat op de dagen dat we de deur open wilden hebben of in de tuin wilden zitten ook de buren niet tot overlast zouden zijn.

Na nog geen jaar in harmonie te hebben gewoond, kwamen daar 'de Engelsen'. Een echtpaar waarvan zij regelrecht uit 'Slaugh' zou kunnen komen. Zij was nogal aan de maat, niet allen qua lijfelijke omvang, maar ook qua stemgeluid.  Daarbij- volgens mij- niet gespeend van enig intellect of enig buurlijk fatsoen. 'Plat, achterbuurts Engels' zou ik het noemen. De kindernamen ken ik alleen als 'AAAAMMMMIIIIEEE!!!!' en  'CHAAAAAAASSEEEE!!!!' voor respectievelijk 'Amy' en 'Chase' en we weten inmiddels wat haar echtgenoot allemaal mee moet nemen in de auto omdat ze dat 'fijntjes' roept vanuit de achterdeur naar hem bij de auto. Ongeveer een afstand van 30 meter waar onze tuin tussenin ligt. Waarbij hij overigens niet schuwt om regelmatig op zeer verheven geluidsniveau te vertellen wat hij er van denkt dat zij zo naar hem schreeuwt.Nog maar niet te spreken van het briljante idee dat ze had om een kinderdagverblijf 'spontaan' te beginnen: iedere dag bij thuiskomst een kakofonie van kinderen waarbij zij probeerde er bovenuit te schreeuwen: zonder dat ze ooit - zoals de wet voorschrijft- een hinderwetvergunning met daarbij horend onderzoek had aangevraagd. Kinderdagverblijven, hondenopvang:  je moet je omwonenden dan om toestemming vragen met een vergunningsaanvraag. Maar zij had bedacht dat 'dikkerds uit Slaugh' dat niet nodig hadden. Evenmin als opgaven aan de belastingdienst... wat wij later begrepen uit een (wederom luide) discussie die ze voerde met haar moeder over een aanslag.....

Na enkele jaren kochten we een caravan om in ieder geval de weekeinden maar weg te zijn van de herrie; het was ondragelijk geworden. We besloten om de confrontatie uit de weg te gaan in plaats van aan te spreken, want het laatste is niet ons sterkste punt en we wilden ook koste wat koste eventueel ruzies voorkomen.  Je moet er toch wonen en we wilden liever geen ruzie met 'achterbuurt' Engelsen.

Ik kan me nog herinneren dat het bord 'TE KOOP' op de woning verscheen. We kochten een fles champagne voor het moment dat ook de toevoeging 'verkocht' er op zou staan.

Dat duurde gelukkig niet al te lang.

Ik herinner me nog het moment dat DIE oranje sticker op het 'te koop' bordje stond. Ik herinner met nog dat ik manlief direct een berichtje stuurde dat het zo ver was en dat we vervolgens besloten om de fles champagne pas open te trekken als ze echt de eerste meubels uit huis zouden tillen, bang om de mogelijkheid dat de verkoper zich zouden bedenken.

Enkele maanden, bijna een jaar genoten we intens van de rust die terug was gekeerd. Geen viswijf meer. Geen geschreeuw. Geen ruzieënde kinderen... en we konden 's avonds gewoon in de tuin zitten en genieten van het weer.

Nieuwe buren kwamen en gingen weer.

En nu is er een nieuw stel. Net 'vers' ouders geworden. Enkele maanden heeft het bord dat ze een zoon hadden gekregen op de ramen gehangen.

En.. nu het mooi weer is en wij van de warmere zomerdagen in de tuin proberen te genieten komen we achter twee dingen.
1.: zoonlief is een huilbaby
2.: men houdt van (hard)house muziek.

Nu zouden beiden voor ons geen probleem moeten zijn. als je de deur dicht houdt of je muziek binnenshuis houdt. Maar Hobbie 2 houdt 1 wakker en/of maakt deze aan het huilen. En 1 willen ze overstemmen met 2 door deze te ventileren mbv een draagbare box in de tuin....

DRAMA dus.

En dus stelde ik manlief voor het eerst sinds we hier wonen de vraag om de geluidsknop ver over het zwarte streepje te draaien en een plaatje van de collectie op te zetten, al was het maar voor enkele minuten. ...

Na twee minuten 'Slipknot' op bijna live geluidsniveau te hebben aangehoord (ja, onze geluidset kán het wel produceren ;-)) vroeg ik een terugkeer naar normaal geluidsniveau.

Enkele minuten later werd ook de boombox bij de buren het zwijgen opgelegd.

Direct aanspreken in niet zo ons ding, maar gelukkig spreek muziek een universele taal ook al zijn de dialecten verschillend. Wie had ooit gedacht dat een tweetal minuten  'Slipknot' genoeg was om de boodschap dat wij niet van hardhouse muziek op de stille zondagmiddag houden, uit te dragen.

En dan zeg ik toch op zijn zondags... AMEN!!!

donderdag 6 juni 2019

Suikerchallenge lastiger dan gedacht...

Enige weken geleden kwam ik bij het lezen van de reclamefolder van de EkoPlaza de vermelding van de 'nationale suikerchallenge' tegen, (#suikerchallenge is de hashtag voor social media). Een initiatief van het diabetesfonds, waarbij de uitdaging is om een week lang geen vrije suikers te gebruiken. Vrije suikers zijn suikers die toegevoegd zijn aan producten plus alle suikers die van nature aanwezig zijn in honing, siropen, vruchtensappen en vruchtenconcentraat.

Blijkbaar krijgen we anno 2019 een equivalent van 28 klontjes suiker binnen per persoon per dag, zo'n slordige 40 kilo per jaar. Dat is schrikbarend veel.

Vol enthousiasme meldde ik mij aan op de site; hoe moeilijk kon het zijn? Ik neem 's morgens een kopje koffie met één suikerklontje, drink geen frisdrank en ben gek op noten en fruit. 

Nu aan het begin van de vierde dag denk ik er íets anders over. 

Ten eerste gebruik ik meer producten die vrije suikers bevatten en ten tweede zitten vrije suikers ook in meer producten dan ik dacht; en vooral dat laatste is écht schandalig!! Waarom zit er verdorie overal suiker in, zelfs in producten waar dat helemaal niet nodig is?

Ook wel eigenaardig als je er op let: Biologische yoghurt van Campina (vol) bevat 5,7 gr koolhydraten, waarvan 5,7 suikers. Dat zullen dan van nature aanwezige suikers zijn(?), maar waarom heeft 'halfvol' dan  '6,0' gram? Je zou toch verwachten dat dit op zijn minst gelijk is en het vet gehalveerd. Niet dat het aantal koolhydraten meer wordt... 
Overigens zag ik ook dat Campina nu drie smaken biologische vruchtenyoghurt in het assortiment heeft en die ga ik toch mooi proberen na de suikerchallenge week (want er zitten uiteraard wél suikers in...).
De Abbotkinney kokosstart naturel heeft overigens geen toegevoegde suikers en de aanwezige koolhydraten liggen lager dan bij gewone yoghurt.

Zoals gezegd, ik ben geen fan van frisdrank, al drink ik zo nu en dan best een colaatje. Dit was een makkelijke om tot nu toe ontwijken - dacht ik. Tot ik mezelf betrapte dat ik tóch met een flesje 'naturfrisk - pepermunt' stond. Weliswaar geen toegevoegde suiker, maar - en dat was ik éven vergeten in de tussentijd- wél gebaseerd op vruchtensap. 
Het is dus - blijkbaar- echt alleen water, thee en koffie.

zelfs koffiemelk bevat vrije suikers
Maar met die koffie is het ook nog uitkijken geblazen! Gelukkig is de 'weerribben koffiemelk' alleen 'Gesteriliseerde geëvaporeerde biologische volle melk' (kortweg "room") , maar als ik een ander bekend NL merk had gebruikt dan bevat het 'melk, melkeiwit, karamel en betacaroteen'; verborgen suiker dus! En de middagthee kan ik niet zoeten met honing (lekker die middagthee met een drupje...maar nee dus...).
Appelsap, jus d'orange (niet vers geperst) ... allemaal no-go. 

Ik ben gelukkig wel een echte puur-sapjes en smoothie fan. Waarbij ik er vanuit ga dat eigen pure sappen wél mogen; denk aan (verse, biologische) bieten/wortel/gembersap en een (zelfgemaakte) smoothie met amandelmelk en banaan en wat (pure) cacaopoeder. één maal daags neem ik een sap en één maal daags een smoothie. Dat deed ik voor deze challenge ook al, maar deze week is de smoothie dus niet gezoet met een drupje honing. 

Een rode biet wrap met geitenkaas, gekocht als lunch omdat ik dacht 'gezond bezig'"!, bevat verdorie ook honing én ook nog suiker.  Overigens zijn de meeste kant-en-klaar dingen voorzien van suiker én zout. 

Een snoepje van ingedikt vruchtenconcentraat, met alleen van nature aanwezige suikers, kan dus ook niet. En ik dacht nog wel dat het een mooi 'zonde' momentje kon zijn in de middag, want ik ben een immense zoetekauw en snoepkont. Dus dan maar aan het gedroogde fruit, op zich lekker, maar ik mis toch dat 'gummie-dingetje' er bij en eigenlijk mis ik mijn dropjes óók. 

En dan belanden we langzaamaan in de avond. 

Twee obstakels: 
1. de overwerkmaaltijden als je 's avonds niet thuis eet.
Luxe broodjes met geitenkaas en walnoten en ... honing. Kaas met - gezoete - mosterdsaus... kroket met - gezoete-  mosterd. Dat kan dus niet zonder meer zonder een suikerbijdrage. Eten moet dus mee vanaf huis als je echt suikervrij wilt.
2. ingredienten waar je mee kookt bevatten dus óók suikers.

Meukvrije mayo... bron : blijzondersuiker.nl
Ketchup, mosterd, mayonnaise... , al heb je wel een ongezoete versie van ketchup (én kun je het zelf ook maken). Er is ook specifiek 'suikervrije mayonaise' (bv AH merk), wat eigenlijk idioot is, want mayonaise hoort eigenlijk helemaal geen suiker te bevatten. De meeste mayo's bevatten echter suiker. 


De consumentengids: 
"Een minpunt is dat aan alle mayonaises uit deze test wat suiker en zout is toegevoegd. Gemiddeld bevat mayonaise 1% zout en 2,5% suiker. In de mayonaise van Jumbo zit met ruim 4% de meeste suiker, in de Hellmann’s met 1,4% het meeste zout. Van Wijngaarden voegt het minste zout (0,6%) en suiker (0,8%) toe."

En dan ben je lekker éindelijk thuis..neerploffen op de bank, wijntje erbij ... even niks...  Precies : even niks. Niks geen wijn. Tja, dat was nou precies zo'n ding waar ik niet over nagedacht had. Chips? Nope; ook in zoute chips zit zoet... in de vorm an fructose bijvoorbeeld. 

Die suikerchallenge is dus toch nog een stuk lastiger dan ik dacht. 


dinsdag 4 juni 2019

Time for change, tijd voor verandering

My last post before this one, was dated 28th december 2016. So I can genuinly say that it has been a while. I have been blogging, but  just not on this blog. I've been blogging on my Surinam-adventure (and still am) (in Dutch), did some columns for TestNet and some writing on Facebook and/or LinkedIn. Last couple of months I've been overthinking a lot and I have made some changes and made some desiscions. 

One of them is that I'm going to blog in -mainly- Dutch from now on and the other is that the topics are going to be more diverse. Not only my work, expertise and conferences I visit (software testing), but also stuff on my hobby (trauma simulation, crafting, cooking, hiking) and my new study I've picked up on natural healing methods (herbalism, relaxation coaching, healing foods). I also want to blog about what concerns me and about stuff that still facinates me and makes me wonder. Basically: I'm going to blog on stuff that I like and people are invited to read along... 

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Mijn laatste post voor deze, dateerde al weer van 28 december 2016. Ik kan dus wel stellen dat het een tijdje geleden is. Ik heb wel geblogd, maar alleen niet op deze blog. Ik heb geblogd over mijn Suriname-avontuur (en nog steeds), heb wat columns geschreven voor TestNet en heb zo nu en dan wat geschreven op LinkedIn en/of FaceBook. De laatste paar maanden heb ik veel overdacht en heb ik een paar veranderingen doorgevoerd als ook een aantal besluiten genomen.

Een daarvan is dat ik deze blog voortaan -voornamelijk- in het Nederlands ga schrijven en de andere is dat de onderwerpen meer divers worden. Niet alleen over mijn werk, specialisme en de conferenties die ik bezoek (software testen), maar ook over mijn hobby (traumasimulatie, handwerkhobby's, koken, wandelen) en mijn nieuwe opleiding natuurgeneeswijzen (kruidengeneeskunde, ontspanningscoach , voedingskunde). Ik wil ook bloggen over dat wat mij bezighoudt, waar ik me zorgen over maak en waar ik mij over verwonder. Kortom: ik ga bloggen over dingen die ik leuk vind en iedereen is uitgenodigd om mee te lezen...

woensdag 28 december 2016

Agile Testing Days Diary - Second Day

Lean Coffee seems to be a problem for me to attend as I’m still sipping my coffee and eating breakfast as I see people flocking in the Fritz bar for this event. I didn’t even go to bed that late last night, comparing to other attendees who partied-on till 4-ish this morning. I remember a tweet of Richard Bradshaw, stating he brought his own pillow and thinking ‘what nonsense’, but I’m sure to bring my own pillow next year too. The Dorint mattresses are as hard as the pillows are airy; meaning that when you put your head on it: it’s gone - totally flat. I tried folding it in four, but that didn’t help much.


Well, I was on time for the keynote where Diana Larsen, also known on twitter as DianaOfPortland, presented ‘Liftoff: Start & Sustain Successful Agile Teams’.  Instead of using ‘Kickoff’, the ‘Lift Off’ is a better way of heading towards a destination called: “High Value Delivery”.  But before you can Liftoff, you must ask yourself if your product has a committed sponsor and identified product manager, if they can articulate the business case for the product, if someone has allocated the funding and a budget to start the endeavour and if the intention of what you want the team(s) to accomplish is clear.  If so, you can move on to the next step. But before getting to that, you must be aware- although many people don’t like the notion of being a ‘system’- that teams are complex, adaptive systems, with interactions, emotions and the occasional ‘naughty guy’. Being aware of this sets the basis of also being able to create the factors for success. You will also be able to work on something that is called ‘cohesion’ in teams, people that have worked in very cohesive teams will know what she’s talking about and Diana states that once you’ve experienced such a team you’ll always be trying to find a team like that again. Group cohesion is a multifaceted process with four main components which are; social relations, task relations, perceived unity and emotions. She also states: “One learns best when we feel more alive”  and she elaborates on the conditions to be set to promote learning. What I liked the best of this keynote however, was the part about appealing to the humanness. I thought up the term  ‘Sensatory Pleasing’, and my mind started to wander off to what one can do to please the senses, making people feel good and thus not only make the liftoff a success, but also help with group cohesion. Food, drinks, colors, pictures, music ánd smells; it might be very interesting to see if you put an effort into these aspects have that impact when starting a project....  I get back to the keynote again to see something on team chartering and setting goals. I was also charmed by the concept of a test-driven mission;  Make the tests during the Liftoff, test during the journey.  Because everything IS driven by testing in Agile. This keynote inspired me to get into dept of the matter more. If you are interested too, Diana has written a book about Liftoff: https://pragprog.com/book/liftoff/liftoff-second-edition and more information on Diana can be found here: http://www.futureworksconsulting.com/about/diana-larsen

The next track I visited was a ‘New Voice’ track. It was called ‘Sketching User Stories, Making user stories easy and interesting for the whole team and the new voice to be heard was: Viktorija Manevska (@viki_iki). I really like the visualisation stuff in software development and Viktorija does a good job in explaining the benefits of using pictures to get everybody on the same page. I like the statement: “someone explains 3 times and says 'do I have to draw you a picture'. If you could draw it why didn't you start with that?”. She explains how imagery triggers another part of the brain, stimulating to ask deeper questions.  She also shows the tools she uses, like paint and balsamic. Tools don’t have to be highly advances, as long as the meet the purpose used for. But a real powerful thing happens when she shows a description to fold a Christmas tree (origami like) from a piece of coloured paper. The whole room struggles to fold something into the requested item, but – as far as I can tell- nobody manages this in the allotted amount of time. Then she shows imagery of the way to fold the tree, a bit like the way IKEA uses images to explain how to assemble their furniture, and she assigns us to the same task. An behold; everybody is able to fold the tree and in half of the allotted time!  And to shamelessly plug my (Dutch) blog on TestNet about visualisation: https://nieuws.testnet.org/vak/een-beeld-zegt-meer-dan-duizend-woorden/  (to be translated in English in the near future on the FunTESTic blog)

I ran into a PACKED (!!!) room to hear Maaike Brinkhof on ‘Mapping Biases to Testing’, I was lucky to have one of the last seats, but ended up sharing two chairs –forming a provisionally made bench- with three persons. She started with a survey which worked partly. Again: the audio-video monster was haunting the premises and it affected Maaike’s presentation too. (slidedeck: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0By2lWBEOcdiocDhoYmdUc2lUeU0) . Whether we like it or not; we are all biased. Maaike explains some of the biases we as testers are influenced by. She elaborates on the ‘confirmation bias’, being the mother of all biases and effortlessly (she seriously has great English speaking abilities!) goes to the Halo-effect, ‘what you see is all there is’, availability heuristic and closing the loop with referring to the confirmation bias again. The anchoring effect is explained after that. She also refers to a must-read book, mentioned at least three times in her talk, which is called: thinking fast and slow from the author Daniel Khaneman. The book greatly influenced her apparently. I think everybody is biased in some way, I like that Maaike is explaining what certain biases impact us in testing and what behaviour is connected to that.
In the break I notice something: Huib Schoots who is doing the keynote after the break is really, very energetic and seems to become more so by every minute that passes, while I’m getting more and more quite now my workshop is approaching. Is this a different physical effect that is a difference between an introvert (me) and and extrovert (Huib)? In other words: do extroverts become more energetic and introverts more into themselves when a talk to be given by them is to be given? Hmmm..more food for thought...

After setting up the room for my workshop , I attend the next keynote; One upon a time by Huib Schoots and Alex Schladebeck. The keynote is all about storytelling and a commercial about ‘best buds’ is shown, where I –seriously- get emotional (sappy stuff!!!). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlNO2trC-mk We as humans have the capability of storytelling and it’s a powerful instrument. An exercise is done where we have to tell a story about our  project and our failure. The sound in the room is enormous and the energy produced is awesome. They also tell about the science behind storytelling. Although I like science facts, I can’t help but think that (yes... it’s the Halo-effect taking over) that everything has to have a scientific basis nowadays because else it won’t be useful, fun or valuable. I like to have some magic, some imagination and some thinking of my own left. I can’t help it, but I get annoyed because I blame certain ‘skools’ for this. Why can’t we just state things without spending numerous slides on the scientific basis and just be cool with that??? It ruins the keynote for me a bit. I notice I’m annoyed, angry and particularly biased at this moment. Luckily Alex is then telling about her experience with her violin and her special connection to it. Making the keynote having something special again. Storytelling to me is about emotions, tension, climax and inspiring imaginative processes. I feel strongly about the power of storytelling and in this matter I think this keynote is valuable. I also think that imagination and cold-hard facts are more difficult to combine. In my mind-cabinet, I’m making a note titled ‘scientific and factual storytelling’ to make a distinction with regards to storytelling for the sake of entertainment, motivation and other ways of storytelling.

My workshop is up next. It isn’t crowded at all. That at first feels like a disappointment. I’ve put so much effort in this workshop. But then the magic happens. The attendees that are there, and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not the numbers that count but the involvement (!!), are really engaged in the topic. Bearing with me. Although it might seem I’ve loads of experience in speaking, it’s a huge effort for me and I still get very anxious and nervous when I have to ‘perform’. I’m giving it all of my energy and luckily for me: it paid off. I think deductive games are a fun way to inspire and motivate our inquisitive mindset; so why not use those to help design better user stories and question specifications. I was really grateful for having such an engaging and enthusiastic group of people in my workshop and I felt really blessed. And thanks to Eddy Bruin, I now know that actually playing a game of WhoIsIt? Helps clarify the intentions.

I cleaned out the room afterward and was a tit-tat late for the keynote of Keith Klain. And what a timing to enter a room and seeing a slide stating: “I don't know what the #$%&! I'm doing” , why I wasn’t at the keynote from the beginning It felt like a completely appropriate slide at that moment.  I didn’t get much of the talk though, I was till unwinding and getting to myself from the workshop. Like I said, it takes a lot of energy and a lot of effort for me to do these kind of things, so the keynote; although I really wanted to snatch some learning stuff from it, It just didn’t stick. I did get something about ‘tool fetishism’ and the purpose of doing things. But I hope that the published slide-deck will refresh my memory again.

After the keynote the sponsors and exhibitors did a speed round and after that food and drinks were available in the lobby.  I planned and managed to attend the ‘Beer tasting and testing’ workshop by Eddy Bruin and Bram Bronneberg in the Fritz bar at 19:30. I was there early, because the places available were limited. Bram and Eddy had prepared a couple of rounds where everybody got a beer and a description of two beers on paper. By tasting the beers you had to figure out which beer was in your glass. I know one thing; I’m not good at tasting beer! I had the ‘Berliner Weisse’ correct (the other description was of the Saison). But tasting the difference between ‘outmeal stout’ and ‘schwarzbier’ was a bit more difficult and I failed to taste the distinction between ‘Belgian Blonde Ale’ and ‘Belgian Golden Strong Ale’ (which I felt quite embarrassed about since I like the Delirium Tremens a lot). I got the Belgian Dubbel correct, being not the ‘Doppelbock’, but managed to fail again with the choice between ‘Belgian Dark Strong Ale (Quadruple)’ and the ‘English Barleywine’. After the tasting, the ‘testing’ began. All attendees got a ‘bingocard’ and a description of defects in beer, that can occur when making errors during the brewing process. Apparently there are tablets that you can add to beer that mimic those flaws. The tablets were added to the beer and the attendees had to guess which error was made. That was very difficult and I managed to get them all wrong. But then again... I wasn’t really looking forward tasting ‘skunk-taste’, ‘sewage-flavour’ and ‘baby-puke’. Which respectively stand for ‘lightstruck  a strong skunk like flavour imparted to beer that has been exposed to sunlight for too long’, ‘mercaptan, a drain like flavour that occurs in beer due to aging and oxidisation once packaged’ and ‘butyric, a baby sick or cheesy flavour formed by bacteria during wort production or in sugar syrups’...

After the tasting and testing, I felt very jolly, I went to the cabaret by Mephistoteles Fassbinder. A role perfectly performed by Daniel Maslyn. I agreed to telling a story there. An anecdote about me being a simulation victim and about ‘hairy bits down-there’ (you know what I mean...*blush*). Don’t worry; it’s not having the actual hair ‘down-there’ but about a special made pair of trousers to do delivery-drills at the obstetrics department of the hospital. But it makes an hilarious story. I think it was well received, considering all the other acts performing at the cabaret. Like the awesome performance of Alex Schladebeck and Tomm Roden, Gil Zilberfeld, George Dinnwiddy (as Cat), Four Yorkshire men and a sing-a-long of Test me tender...

During the cabaret Morten Hougaard and me also had to perform some real first aid, when somebody bumped into a doorpost holding a glass, which chattered and cut up the person’s hand.. Luckily in first-aid there is an universal language J. Some of it wasn’t serious, but one finger was really cut up very badly and we send the person to the hospital, where 3 stitches were the result of the venture.


The evening thus turned out to be quite adventurous and when entering the bar I seemed to have started a trending topic, because both groups I joined were talking about body hair and shaving-anecdotes. At 1-ish I really became very tired and decided to leave the crowd to face the hard-mattress-and-flat-cushion bed. 

zondag 11 december 2016

Agile Testing Days Diary - Arrival and First Day

Monday
It took me some time to get there, because fog in Berlin was keeping the plane from taking off in Amsterdam, but Monday afternoon I finally arrived at Agile Testing Days (ATD) in Potsdam. It's my first ATD and I find it amusing that I'm experiencing the 'first-timer-excitement' again. 
The first thing I see, but they are kind of hard to miss, are the big white, blow-up, unicorns. There's a whole herd of them in front of the hotel registration desk and some specimens have found their way into the hallways and after I registered myself I'm lured onto one of them for a photograph. I decide to use it as a sort of chaise-longue and find out they aren't as easy to get off, resulting in a weird kind of gymnastics that passers-by must have observed. Luckily for me the tutorials were in full swing, so there weren't many witnesses. 


In the evening ATD has organized a dinner for the speakers. It's already dark and the drive to the venue isn't that long, but the short travel shows a lot of beautiful buildings and a elaborately lit Christmas market. I find Potsdam a beautiful town and I'm hoping that I'll find some time this week to be able to explore some of it by daylight. I thought the food was good and the dinner is closed with some digestives in the attic bar. A bus drives us back to the hotel and most attendees gather in the bar to extend the conference day. I'm not sure when the last people left, but I decided to finish at 01:00.

Gift bag Agile Testing Days with Breyk
Tuesday
Reading my twitter feed while trying to get out of bed, I see a post about a gift that is waiting for me on the outside door handle of my room. Strongly motivated (an curious as can be) I get up and get the bag that is there. It contains an Advent Calendar, a Santa Hat and a bottle of 'Breyk'; a beer brewed by Eddy Bruin and Bram Bronneberg especially for Agile Testing Days. How cool is that!
While I have breakfast, I can see people being very engaged in the Fritz bar during the LEAN coffee session. I tried to make it, but today is not my fittest day. I wish I could say the headache I have is from a luscious alcohol consumption the night before, for at least I would know it would go away in an hour or so, but alas this is not the case. It seems aspirin is going to be a big friend today. After breakfast I'm heading to the Opening Session, while walking over there I spot a dude wearing a Christmas suit and some people wearing a Christmas sweater. While waiting for the Opening a cube is passed (well, actually.. thrown) around which is called 'the cube of truth'. It's a cube made of cloth with a microphone in it, so you can throw it through the room, Cool solution to have a mic go around a big auditorium!

Testing ghost of the past, present and future
Alas; José Diaz is sick and not able to open ATD himself, instead Mike Sutton kicks off and introduces 'the very Agile person' and a well known testing cast, to tell and sing about the Testing Passed, Testing present and Testing Future.  It even had actual jingle bells in it, lights in a hat and we all finished singing the last part of the song to get into the spirit of Testing Christmas.
I felt goose bumps when the Software Testing World Championship teams were awarded in a ceremony; the music, those proud people on stage, it does something that touches me!

Then Abby Fichtner, also known as @HackerChick, enters the stage for her keynote called 'Pushing the edge on what's possible'. She tells a story of her childhood when her father bought her an Atari. I immediately think about the black box where you put the cassette tapes in, as did she when she was a child. But instead she got the computer variety, which she thought was even more cool, because the amount of games were far higher and she got to learn to code. So, now I’m thinking “ok, hackerchick ... code, she’s going to tell about hacking”, you know, the one like in ‘ethical hacking’. But just as with the Atari, it was about hacking, but in the meaning of being able to find an innovative workaround or solution. Taking an object and using it out of context in an inventive way, being creative with it and thus being able to enhance and advance. She also tells about how people that come up with these great ideas are perceived as odd, weird and having lost their minds. Because great ideas in a lot of cases look like bad ideas, but the problem is that bad ideas look that too. In history it was thought that the telephone was a bad idea so was the idea of the iPod. I myself think about the same ‘predictions’ by Watson (IBM) saying “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” or Darryl Zanuck, executive at 20th Century Fox who stated that the television wouldn’t last, but would only be a temporary hype. Abby also states that evolution is the ultimate ‘hack’, I find that comparison a bit farfetched myself, I can follow the line of thought, but evolution to me is about being able to adapt to survive, hacking is finding clever solutions and being innovative, I see some connections, but I can’t completely go with this statement. Nonetheless, the keynote was food-for-thought, entertaining and had good stuff in it.

After each track and keynote ATD has a break (fifteen for coffee breaks and an hour for lunch). Now I’ve been to a number of conferences and in most of them the fifteen minutes breaks are used to grab a quick cup of coffee (or tea) and then quickly walk to the next track. That’s not what happens at ATD. During these breaks attendees gather and confer. I guess this is a combination of the type of people (active, engaged), the type of conference and content (living up the Agile manifesto ;-)), the size of the venue (not that massive) and the way ATD is really pampering their audience with snacks, fruit, food and different kinds of beverages.

The second track I attended was ‘Testing your Emotions’ by Stephen Janaway. I had a bit mixed feelings about this track. The main message of what I got from the what Stephen was telling is that emotions play an important role in testing and that understanding emotions makes (us) a better tester.  Whether this is during the testing itself; the ‘gut feeling’ that you have when interacting with the software or the emotions we display and encounter when interacting with other people involved in development of the product (developers, managers etc.). He also used references to models to explain emotions (Plutnick, Lövheim). This is where I thought the track started to lose some of the strength. When the Plutnick model was explained I could still relate. The examples shown after that made the arguments and statements understandable and applicable. The Löveheim part however made it vague for me, don’t get me wrong; I understand how neurotransmitters and hormones physically impact / cause emotions, but I just couldn’t relate to this (empirically unverified) model. I couldn’t get the ‘what’s in it for me’. I thought this part weakened the talk, that was until then for me very good. Luckily the last bit of the track went back to the ‘gut feeling’ again. But during the Q&A questions were asked about the Löveheim model/cube; even creating more distance to the main message, because it focussed on the model itself and not on the ‘understanding emotions’ –message. Nevertheless most of the track had good points that I could take with me and refreshing my awareness on my own and other people’s emotions when software testing and the interactions around that.  The slidedeck of the talk can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/sjanaway/testing-your-emotions

Brewing Beer, the Agile Way!’ by Eddy Bruin and Bram Bronneberg was the next track I attended. They told the story about how an observation of lots of people drinking beer at the previous ATD inspired them to brew a ‘perfect’ Agile Testing Days beer. They told about the research done to get to a recipe and the development process, including prototyping and scaling. During the track they showed the brewing of the beer itself, with Eddy vigorously grounding the rye by hand and Bram setting up the brewing kettle. When it came to scaling, because the beer had to be brewed for the whole ATD audience and they couldn’t assure consistency when having to do this with their own machinery (they would have to brew at least six batches that might have caused different results) they started to search for a brewery. They made a really nice comparison here with waterfall versus agile. Because the first brewery they contacted – Heineken- was able to brew the recipe, even being very enthusiastic about it, but it would take at least a year and cost about 50.000 euro’s, in that way it could be seen as a very waterfall approach; costly and taking a long time to finish. The brewery they finally found was able to do smaller batches, with less costs and in time for the ATD 2016, which could be seen as the Agile way. Bram and Eddy then proudly presented their product: a bottle of ‘Breyk’ (which actually was meant to be ‘Bryek’ because of ‘rye’) ; an Agile Roggen. They also presented their official ‘brewery name’ which, because their last names both begin with ‘BR’ is ‘
eaking
ewery’, also relating to ‘breaking bad’. They also got to be registered in Untapped and found – as is a testers privilege- a bug in there. Untapped – not being able to cope with brackets – now knows them as ‘Eaking Ewery’...I thought it was a very entertaining track, with some interesting facts about beer and the process brewing, and some nice analogies with testing.


During lunch my headache is really acting up and since I really want to participate in the workshop by Lisa Crispin and JoEllen Carter, I decide to go to my room, take a dose of aspirin and catch some z’s. This means I’m missing the keynote by Vasco Duarte on NoEstimates. In hindsight that is really unfortunate, the buzz around the keynote I hear afterwards is amazing and during the ‘cube of truth’ session on Wednesday morning it is mentioned a couple of times. I also heard he plugged his book several times (http://noestimatesbook.com/) so I have to check this out I guess to catch up on the missed info. It is even more unfortunate because the workshop I wanted to attend and for which I passed the keynote turned out to be completely full and I was asked to leave the room. I felt really disappointed by this, but as the conference is all about ‘being Agile’, I quickly chose an alternative.

The alternative was the ‘consensus talks’, three short talks on different topics. Gerd Doliwa’s talk was named ‘code your infrastructure the agile way’, Felix Elinger’s talk was named ‘how to test with 50 billion things in one hour’ and Jeroen Mengerink talked about ‘Test improvement for Agile’. I have to be honest here; the first two talks weren’t my cup of tea and I was also trying to catch the tweets on the workshop I was missing, so I wouldn’t be doing both speakers credit. It was not the speakers, but – and yes, I’m also thinking about the ‘emotions track earlier’ – it was totally my emotions relating to disappointment not being able to attend the workshop in combination with the large dose of aspirin hindering active listening.  The third one however was more of interest to me, Test Improvement for Agile. Jeroen related to improvement processes and mapped them to aspects of testing in Agile environments. I’m a person who likes processes and models, so this talk was more up my alley. I also noticed that 20 minutes talks are – for all three speakers- quite a challenge, they all three have a lot to tell, more than fits those 20 minutes. But when a talk motivates me to look into something and investigate more, it is a good enough talk for me. So I’m definitely checking the stuff that Jeroen also blogged about here: https://www.polteq.com/weblog/test-improvement-4-agile/

The next thing I went to was the keynote (last one of the day): ‘From waterfall to agile, the advantage is clear’ by Michael ‘The Wanz’ Wansley. What an amazing, entertaining keynote this is. The speaker is clearly gifted with the ability for interacting with an audience, all seems to go so effortlessly and supple.  But what strikes me is what I might call ‘voice artistry’, using different tones, emphasis, colour and pitch of voice. It makes the talk energetic and fun. I think every speaker (to be) should learn about this aspect of presenting. ‘TeeWanz’ as he’s also called talks about his career at Microsoft and he has some really good one-liners that stick, like ‘We are the power in Powerpoint’, ‘Testers have the ‘why-gene’, ‘Collaboration is what sets us apart working in agile’, “You're using your brain power to increase the collective intelligence to produce something that nobody sees” and “testers are the rear right wheel of a car - no one sees it, but we are there and our work matters”. This keynote feels like being at a really good feel-good show with the added benefit of expertise relevant lessons.

Christmas Market in front of the hotel
But the last keynote of the day is far from the last activity at ATD. Because the evening is also packed with activities and fun. Walking outside the hotel a genuine Christmas market is build on the front lawn, with fires, heaters, ‘beer gartens’, food stalls with ‘bratwurst’, ‘gruhnkohl’ and ‘crepes with apfelmus’ and a curling-track. A band is playing various Christmas classics and there’s even a stall where you can buy Christmas decorations. Although the temperature is around freezing, people are gathering to have a good time, talking around the fire and drinking mulled wine or the (now almost famous) ‘breyk beer’.

But even this Christmas market isn’t the last thing to be done in a day at ATD, because at eight the ‘Ho-ho-ho-ly STWC & MIATPP’ award night was starting. The announced theme of the party is ‘christmas and winter’ and lots of people have dressed up in costumes.
Dressed as Elsa
I myself dressed up as ‘Elsa’ from frozen, the wig that I had was actually a bit heavy and I forgot some bobbypins to lock it in my hair, so I walked and sat quite carefully, which some people perceived as ‘stature’ fitting the ‘royal nature’ of the Frozen princess. Talk about a bug that has actually a good feature as a result ;-).  I thought the market was intended to be also the dinner for the attendees, but as it turned out the award night was also including a whole dinner, with really good food. We also took up a ‘mannequin challenge’ which had an awesome movie clip as a result. After dinner the Software Testing World Cup winners were announced. The Dutch team won (and they also had awesome snowmen costumes by the way). Also the Most Influential Agile Testing Person was announced which was Maaret Pyhäjärvi. Deserts were then served in the hall and music started in the dinner hall, making people get up their feet, indulge in sweet bavaroises, pudding and dancing. I decided to go to bed at ‘twelve-ish’ but the party went on – as I understood- way longer than that.  ATD-people are really party-people!

maandag 28 november 2016

Scrum, burn-out and the Tai Chi-spective

(translated TestNet column)
 
According to research done by the Central Bureau of Statistics in the Netherlands and TNO, the percentage of IT-personnel that succumbs to burn-out is 17.2%. That is 3.2% higher than the national average. According to the investigation done, the causes are to be found in -amongst others- a higher work pressure and a higher emotional involvement for work.
 
During a workshop about absenteeism that I attended not so long ago the 'burn-out' was also discussed. One of the observations made in one of the discussions was that it seemed that especially in the younger population burn-out seemed to be increasing. We philosophized further on what could be the cause of this 'trend'. Was it the high work pressure? Was it the higher emotional involvement? We didn't thought this was the biggest issue. We made a link with the increase of working in an Agile way.
 
The Agile way of working, we were focussing on Scrum, is a way of working where the team is expected to have a high degree of (team)responsibility. The team as a whole is responsible for the results, and as a result one feels more involved. That is what makes working in a Scrum-team challenging and gives a high degree of autonomy. That autonomy is an important factor for motivation of employees, as various researches confirm. Thus far, there isn't any problem as it seems and one can safely conclude that working in a Scrum-team is both motivating and stimulating. Most employees will probably confirm that this is indeed the case, I'm convinced of this myself too.
 
But all that stimulation and performing can also have its downsides. Particularly, but not limited to, a young population. In the 'traditional project world' a 'youngster' was gradually introduced to the IT world by a test manager or test coordinator or mentor. Now these youngster are added to a Scrum-team where immediately the (team) responsibility for results count. Also 'oldies' experience this 'burden' in some cases, especially when they have worked in a micromanaged environments previously. Responsibility isn't a given fact, responsibility is something you have to dare to take, but sometimes you have to learn to take it.
 
Off course, one isn't responsible as an individual but as a team. But let's be honest, many teams perceive the new addition as a decrease of their velocity and this has to be brought up to speed as soon as possible. The expectancy is thus again relayed to the 'newbie' who, in all his or her enthusiasm and will to please excepts the challenge, not wanting to let the team down. The organisation asked for a sheep with five legs, excuse me- centipede- and the youngster is eager to comply. That can work out fine, but it can also backfire with absenteeism as a result. One has put his whole soul into his work, but loses his sanity in the process. When Vincent van Gogh stated this, he wasn't that crazy after all.
 
But I didn't get the 'aha-erlebnis' for this article by the 'burn-out-discussion' during that session about absenteeism, but during a course on Scaled Agile Framework. At a certain time there were a lot of references made on LEAN, KANBAN, Kaizens, GEMBA and what not more. I made a link with 'oriental' , and although Scrum hasn't got oriental roots, I noticed that a lot of Agile stuff has a link with the orient. I remembered the 'burn-out' discussion and the ((non)existing) relation with Scrum and made a connection.
 
A known concept in the orient is 'Yin and Yang'. These are Chinese concepts that refer to the opposing principles of forces in all aspects of life that permeate the universe. There in the Orient (yes, I'm generalizing now) people are more occupied with achieving the right balance and 'in the West' we tend to address this as 'hocus pocus'. There hardly arent any numbers on burn-out in the Orient, but if you search for researches done on the topic, burn-out is mostly seen in Western countries.
My argumentation: when developing in an approach with an oriental basis in a western country the chance of developing burn-out is bigger than in a country of oriental origin because apparently something is done differently.
 
What makes that difference? What doesn't one do, that is done in the Orient? I think it's because the awareness of the previously mentioned Yin and Yang and consciously being aware of these. When you walk through the average town in Asia and you pass a park or a square, you'll notice groups of people moving harmoniously. People charge themselves when they are tired, people take their rest when they are tired. People practice Tai Chi! which refers to a philosophy meaning one extreme (ultimate) and the other extreme (best) and refers thus to the philosophy of Yin and Yang.
 
So. My conclusion is that there is no other way than to add an extra ceremony in the Scrum-process to prevent imbalance and burn-out with employees; The Tai chi-spective (combination of Tai Chi and retrospective). I love to observe the teams and investigate what the effect will be!

donderdag 24 november 2016

Lullabies to Paralyze

For those of you who are expecting a blog about the 4th album by Queens of the Stone Age: I have to disappoint you. This blog has nothing to do with 'little sisters', 'broken boxes' or 'medication '. It has to do with testing, software testing that is.
 
I can no longer ignore some of the expectations and assumptions that are made about testing, I have to speak up. I have observed, for quite some time now, that testing service providers, independent testing professionals, testers, etc. etc. are advertising their activities in a way that I find is not what testing should be about and it worries me. It bugs me and as a tester I really dislike bugs...
 
I assume this advertising is done because companies who hire them (or the actually the people who hire them) have a soft spot for this kind of message. I find this alarming. Time for a wake-up call.
 
Slogans and sentences like: "Be Quality Re-assured", "we are testing so you don't have to lie awake at night...", "We will take your worries away", "hire us and you'll be certain and assured of...", they have one thing in common: they are lullabies that paralyze!
 
Testing should not be about taking worries away nor should it be about giving the customer a warm and cosy feeling. The customer on the other hand shouldn't be expecting this. They shouldn't assume that hiring testers or paying for testing(services) will suddenly make every worry go away nor should they think having 'testing' in place will abstain them from certain responsibilities.
 
Lots of testers (and/or companies) have taken up the role of pacifier, they are singing their lullabies and the client let's them sing. They feel comfortable, they don't have to worry and everything is alright.
 
People who know me a little, know I fancy a sturdy rock song. Maybe sometimes it's uncomfortable to listen to and a lot of lyrics are about ugly truths, but it certainly keeps me energized, aware and awake! Testing should be like a rock song, not the lullaby that features little white, fluffy sheep, soft and warm kittens and twinkling little stars...
 
Letting testing become the lullaby has its downsides. A lullaby has the goal of making you sleepy and that is exactly what I see happening in an alarming rate.
When you think everything is all right and warm and cosy, you won't be as receptive for dangers and risks.
 
Testing won't take away dangers or risks. Testing is about providing information, about providing insight on fitness for use, performance, security and what not more. But you'll have to act upon this information to actually mitigate dangers and risks and to address issues with performance, security and other things that testing will point out. That's not a responsibility of testing departments, testers or testing services; no matter what they tell you or what they promises.  That's the responsibility of the organization or team as a whole.
 
I think that as organisation you should be aware of testers (or services e.a.) that sing lullabies, that make you feel comfortable, that make you feel completely at ease and where you feel you haven't got a thing to worry about regarding your software and systems. Testers that 'Rock' are the ones you want. Testers that make you aware, energize you and wake you up. They make you think!
Organisations should also stop wanting to listen to those lullabies. I've got plenty of examples where the information provided by testing is ignored, because - like in a lot of rock songs- it contains some painful, ugly truths. If you don't want to listen to the songs, why buy the record? 
Thirdly I'd like testers, testing service providers etc. to stop lulling their customers into sleep. Besides the downsides I've already mentioned, they are also digging their own graves businesswise. Because when somebody feels very safe and has nothing to worry about, why would you pay for testers? Hey... no risk, no test right?
 
So from now on the only Lullabies to Paralyze you are listing to are those by The Queens of Stone Age J