dinsdag 10 maart 2015

Let's blog about...Let's Test BeNeLux

Once a regular time to start the day... now a unholy moment to get up. I got on the bus at 05:42, the chauffeur hadn't even bothered to turn on the lights yet. Was easy on the eyes though. Traveling by train was quite fine today, unlike yesterday when I had to arrange a car on last notice because of 'actions by NS personnel'. Approximately 08:30 I stepped into 'Mezz'  for the Let's Test BeNeLux, great venue when your tagline is 'For those about to Rock', since it's a smaller (music)stage/ rockvenue.  At registration already some familiar and also loads of unfamiliar faces for me. Always easy to have the longest name on the registration list; easy and fast find :-)

After some coffee I ran off to mainstage where James M. Bach was scheduled for the opening keynote about 'checking versus testing'. In style the keynote starts with some rock music by AC/DC and James plays te part with a striking pose :-). Interactiveness is encouraged and the 2Dcode is shown to download the deck on-site (saves notetaking) so I have an easy job only to have to write down the keywords and scribble my doodles down. 
My interpretations of this keynote is that checking seems to be the fetish of people like managers, who don't understand that testing is more than automaticly running stuff but and that checking is part of testing. Testing being ' evaluation by learning through experimentation and exploration including questioning, modeling, observation, inference, etc. It's like morphine; something that's for professionals for use for a specific use, but not to be given to children.
When we look into testing there are four quadrants, consisting of spontaneous testing and checking and deliberative testing and checking, all activities no matter in which quadrant they are, are useful but it takes people who understand the matter to really make it valuable. The key is 'making sense' , which is the part that can't be automated (probably also the reason why 'sensemaking' has 'sense'  or 'sentient'  in it ;-))
As I see it, checking is something that can be defined and when you have difficulty defining it into a specific criterium, you'll probably have something before you that is in the category of sentience and non-checkable testing. Checking is something that is derived from algoritms. 
In the QA I asked a question that referred to something that James called epistemic testability, which was explained as the things we already know. Together with the mention of the 'history oracle' (the things we see/find we already know), I wondered how to cope with the things we think we know. 
As I interpreted James' answer this is the core of testing and he referred to the story of the 'Silver Bridge', which had a problem in it since the beginning but only after 40 years the problem emerged. He also mentioned having dinner; what are the acceptance criteria there, how are you going to define when you are done up front? It's all about discussion and conversation, but also having an attitude of acceptance; acceptance that problems can and will be in the things we test. With this knowledge and mind-bender, I went for the coffee break. 

After the coffee break James Lindsay had a very energetic note about 'A nest of test'. First time I had to take out my laptop in a non-testlab room and test during the track!! How cool is that. Check out the IP:
for some interesting teststuff. I really had a good time puzzeling around and figuring out what would cause the things I encountered. It was cool to test with a room full of people and having people hypothetising about the things seen on the screen when changing the parameters. I felt like this is what 'Let's Test'  is all about; learning and especially doing together.  Sorry for being so short in this part, but being very busy with tools, reduced the amount of time of being able to blog...

.... The continued...

What a fabulous lunch! Good food and a very sunny terrace outside with testing colleagues. It was almost too difficult to drag my ass into the venue again.

But I got myself up to listen to Jean-Paul van Varwijk about the challenges of implementing context driven testing (at Rabobank international). 
Jean-Paul told about some Dutch context (the Dutch apparently have loads of publications about testing compared to other countries) and the steps that lead to the implementation of context driven testing. Rabobank, also because of the crisis and the wish to become more agile, changed to an organisation with 'Domain based delivery teams'. 
It's surprising to hear about 'thought leadership'  in this particular case, since lot's of times I have heard about the term thought leadership being perceived as a nonsense thing, since you can't give leadership to thoughts. My opinion around that was that it was that this thought leader is someone who knows his (or her!!!) stuff and guides people to investigate new things and to learn, educate and stimulate development; it was mostly honed away. Understand my surprise that the thought leader is described in this presentation as such! 
Jean-Paul tells about the uncertainty about not having guidance and direction, he tells about being a bit down about the situation of not knowing where the organisation is heading, but is recently more enthusiastic because direction is more outspoken and he's even motivated to organise workshops again. I found this last part of this track the most valuable, since it (again) points out - to me- that having the organisation or management pointing into a direction or to have leadership, especially in turbulent times or change programs/ organisational changes (and implementations) is essential to keep your people motivated and stimulated and to keep reminding them that they are invaluable to the organisation, even during these times of turmoil.

After Jean-Paul, Joep Schuurkes took the stage to do a track called 'Helping the new tester to get a running start'. He made the analogy with learing to navigate a city to make a point that the 'usual suspects' as plain documentation, map, route descriptions, etc., won't make a newby in the company a happy starter.  He has lot's of images of his home town of Rotterdam to explain the different aspects of introducing the employee in the company. For instance, when showing a picture of Rotterdam right after WOII (flat), he explains that a historic view might not be that interesting for your new team member, since they have to work on the now and future development, but then again we (IT in general) are too history unaware and an overview is important to know how you got there where you are. Slide by slide he ads and ads to the package, only to tell us that we need to become more abstract and have a more guideline like approach with the next key areas: provide structure, model the application (SANFRANCISCODEPOT-heuristic), model your approach to testing (mind the overhead hazard), guide interactions with the application and with the team, empower the new tester (mastery, autonomy, purpose) and the least; have fun! 

I hoped to warm up in the sun during the afternoon break, the conference room being a fridge. But I ended up having a great conversation about conferences and German literature being an inspiration for a workshop about reporting (looking forward seeing it at one of the future conferences!).

Back to the stage in the fridge again. Andreas Faes starts his track, titled "Testing test automation model", with telling a story of the whale, experiencing different things in the "emptiness" of space and defining those things to create it's model to understand these. Loving the story about counting; 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13, €... Euro being a number in the model of his son who has not grasped the concept of currency yet. By assimilation this model is correct in his sons mind, but who understands currency knows € isn't a number of course. About understanding models and verifying them...:-). Making a bridge to models in test automation, Andreas explains his path to the now, on the way explaining some historic concepts on the way and adressing what a implicit and explicit model is, but specifically how to get from an implicit (test) to a explicit (automated) model. The idea of what is mentioned here, domain specific language, sounds familiar to me and I can't help but think about 'Kenniskunde'  (sorry for the international guys; it's a concept by Sjir Nijssen on use of proper Dutch language and mathematics and logic in the daily use) or 'Kennis Representatie Zinnen' (google translates this to knowledge representation sentences, but I wonder if this the same meaning), seems -like the article- a Dutch principle, but I'm sure there's a non-Dutch version as well. It triggers me to look into this matter more and it dissapoints me a bit that the track suddenly is over. It feels it's ended very abruptly and would have loved to have heard more about this, but I guess the fact that I am triggered is also valuable, so I have to be satisfied for now.

Instead of Jacky Franken, Pascal Dufour now takes the stage. Which I find a bit too bad, since I skipped Jacky's track in an earlier conference knowing I would see it here. The topic of Pascal is very relevant for me, so it makes up for the loss. 'Automation in DevOps and Continuous delivery' it is called. From continuous integration, to continuous delivery to continuous deployment. Continuous seems to me to ensure a constant, fast feedback loop to development, team or customer, dependent on what type of 'continuous...' is used. DevOps is then explained, because as I understand, to be truly agile in development, whether this is XP or SCRUM, development and operations should be 'on eachothers' lap'  sort of speak; hence DevOps. I got confused during the track about DevOps, as it seemed as a line of tools to be able to push through a development lifecycle, but checking Wiki set me on track again. Getting back into the track again an example is shown of a check in cucumber and a summary about what is possible and to be done. And then suddenly the presentation is over and slides over to a discussion. Keeps me wondering about whether continuous integration, continuous delivery and continuous deployment also needs or implies continuous testing?....or is only checking then possible?...

After the testlabrats James Lyndsay and Bart Knaack had finished the testlab report and Huib Schoots closed the official part of the day, the crowd went to the bar or the hotdog stand by 'dokter Worst' outside, enjoying a hotdog, some fries and beer (or wine, or sodadrink etc.) and some after conference conversations. I called it they day when I had just finished my hotdog and (after all it IS almost an summer day) a glas of rosé. 
I had an excellent day with good tracks, talks and I learned a lot. I think this Tasting Let's Test or this year called 'Let's Test BeNeLux' is a nice oppurtunity for those can't afford the 17000 (ex 25% VAT!!) Swedish croner to attend the full edition.  Hope to attend again next year.

maandag 22 september 2014

Sad but True...

As some of you might know, the past year I haven't been very active in blogging. First it was because I had a new job, then it was because I didn't feel like it (having more free time, causes to slack a bit :-) ) and after that, I felt to bullied, vulnerable and 'attacked' to blog anything. (I think 'Gotesen' with her blog wrote it down very well: http://godtesen-on-test.blogspot.nl/2013/11/being-pramatic-tester.html  ).

Lately there's much fuss about the ISO29119 standard. I've followed the different 'discussions', seen the rise of a petition, seen blogs being written etc. etc.  
I've observed and my sadness has grown and grown. I'm deeply saddened that a group within the tester's community is perceived and treated as lesser lifeform by people who think they have a right to do this.  I'm saddened that although I have a right to learn, explore and experience things myself, I'm bullied into a certain thoughtprocess, fellow testers who deprive me of a learning process of my own, only by their own false pretence of 'knowing what's good for me'. 
I was astonished of one of the replies on a reply I wrote 'I don't follow the same process as you' .. I wasn't even aware I HAD a process, but apparently that stamp has been pressed on me. 

I'm astonished by some blogpost, which, judging on the content, are based on non-information or not (entirely) correct facts . I'm even more astonished on the amount of people who, again judging on the replies, are without questioning the content believing what's in there. It scares the s**t out of me, that it's believed that easily, sometimes it seems that only because a certain person says something ' it must be true'. 

I once saw a reference to a quote on the Wikipedia... it was on wikipedia so it must have been true.. only to find out this person had added the wiki-article himself.  
I've seen perfectly good replies, seen 'beaten to death'  by replies that shout 'it doesn't matter what you say, it's wrong anyway' -non-arguments.
Arguments are made that are of the 'pot calling the kettle black'  persuasion. 
Arguments are made, it seems, because of the sake of it, not because they have any constructive value in the discussion. 
People with the loudest shout or that have the gift of easy writing are sabling down what people with small voices or that have difficulty writing are saying, not on the arguments themselves, but on the way they are using words. 
It's not about the meaning but about the correctness of use of words, there just doesn't seem any tolerance anymore for hearing messages, just because a comma or certain word was used wrongly, but only when it's not a message of ones own, because then you are supposed to 'get the overall message'.

Yes, I'm one of the 'ISO people', but I'm also a tester, thinker, questioner, learner, explorer and most of all... I'm a human being... sad but true.

dinsdag 26 november 2013

Irish Luck

Hope the 'luck of the Irish' will rub off on me this week because so far It's been an unlucky week indeed.

I think Murphy's Law is with me currently and hope to leave it there...

Yesterday, during my two-weekly hospital drill, I hurt my big toe. At first, although it hurt a lot, I didn't think much of it, but soon it became really annoying and I called my doctor. He thought it couldn't be broken due to the cause, but since it hurt a lot, he send me to the First Aid post in the hospital to make some X-rays just to reassure me that it was fine... Well... It wasn't ...it WAS (IS) broken. So  they decided that I had to get a special sort of shoe.

And I waited and waited... And after an hour my husband went to the desk to ask how long we had to wait, since he got very hungry ... And they were surprised we were still there... They'd forgotten us and after ten minutes I got my 'shoe' and was off to home...

Today, I had to fly to Ireland for SoftTest. When I got to the check in I kept getting the message that the passenger couldn't be found. I used several ways to check in, but it didn't validate. So I checked my original ticket and got white around the nose... It was booked for the 5th of November , luckily they had booked my return flight correctly, but now I had a new problem: World Ticket Center doesn't have a desk at Schiphol and frankly: although the send me wrong ticket, I had to check it when it came in. So the money's gone alas. 

But I had to find out there wasn't a WTC desk at Schiphol because different schiphol personnel kept sending me all over the place, so I hobbled from departures 2, to 3 to 1 just to get back at KLm in 2 where I was advised to get to the servicedesk and when I finally got to the desk to hear I had to go to AerLingus desk in departures 1. I have never walked this much on schiphol when I was healthy, and I can assure you, it's no picknick with a broken toe either. 

But at AerLingus I could still buy a ticket for the flight I had planned to take and now I'm on the plane on my way to the runway. 

At least the Irish cabin crew already rubbed me a bit when I told them my story, I hope the Irish luck will have rubbed off on me a bit! 

maandag 13 mei 2013

TestNet SpringEvent 2013 - Part 1 - The Tutorial

Today is 13th of May, SpringEvent of the Dutch TestNet. I have started my journey early today to get to Nieuwegein's NBC where it's held. I'm travelling by public transport, which goes perfectly well until I get to Utrecht Central Station, where the fast-tram stop has been moved from front to back and I didn't get the signing (is there any in the stations hall?) and I end up looking for the changed location and missing the tram, resulting in delay...aargh... well I got to the venue eventually and on time, I guess that's the most important.

The day starts with the tutorials, since it's my part-time day and I won't have to visit a client in the morning this time, I'm taking the opportunity to attend one. I chose 'Automating Production Simulations for Added Value' by Scott Barber (Twitter:@sbarber). Here are some 'blogsnippets from that tutorial':
Scott is after that telling about is path which he followed to get where he's now. I'm wondering where this is going, is there a message where this is going to or just getting to know him.... it takes a while but the point is: he didn't follow any programming or testing education but he looks at things differently than 'the norm' and we're about to look at things differently during this tutorial and he shows the image about 'nothing can stop automation'.

There's loads of 'me' from Scott, but little 'what's in it for me' till now, but anticipation is building when the following is said;  when you're taking your first steps in automation he's going to 'melt the brain', I sure hope so. The audience is really tame till this moment, there's not THAT much interaction although Scott is asking questions and relates to the knowns in the audience. I guess it takes a while to pick up steam.

Next is the following comic
and the following mind-map, which we can add to (please also look at this map for tutorial content):
http://www.mindmeister.com/nl/291649893?t=WVVr4hE3PO (I also made a PDF of the 12.52 h. version which will be available on 'funtestic.nl' later on...)

What's the point : "I don't care what "framework" you use, they all miss something important!
He's now mentioning the amazing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specialisterne 

Tester's TIP; save a webpage that has loads of validations, save it to your desktop, open it and delete (most of) the javascript (it still has to submit though!), open it in your browser, type in everything you want and submit... and you bypass all the front-end / pre-commit data validations. 

"Most test automation lack narrowly defined Oracles to detect almost anything of value!" is now shown on the sheet, there's also a discussion about all the shades of grey between YES or NO. (My thoughts on this are: shades of grey are just very small defined YES or NO's ....even if you have a deviation of minus 10% or plus 10% it is still a YES/NO question... it falls between these margins or not)

 "An automated test's value is mostly unrelated to the specific purpose for which it was written. It's the accidental things that count: the untargeted bugs that it finds" 
Don't stop just because your automated checks work. Add more value with production simulations.
Wow, nice/surprising fact: ... only 56% of traphic on websites are really humans, the rest is bots and spiders.

Seems to me that automation is all about very nifty 'if then elses' and same as very small yes-no's mentioned earlier; the smaller those get (more elaborated) the more 'sentient' a test /might/  seem... It's becoming cool when this is combined with random data input so flows are followed differently every time.

It's now 12.44, that means I only have about a quarter of an hour left of this tutorial and we're running through models (see mind map for the types!). It's time for me to round up this blogpost. The tutorial has been a bit disappointing for me in one way that the three quarters of introduction could have been used to tell more about content than intro; the tutorial was little hands-on and mostly highlevel. Feels like of the 4 hours, only 2 hours were used effectively on content, which is a pity, because the topic is interesting enough.
Well I guess my expectancy was a bit higher and although I'm a bit disappointed I guess I'm inspired enough to search for more info, which is something too! Now signing of for the closure of this tutorial and making myself ready for the second part of the SpringEvent this afternoon and evening!

donderdag 18 april 2013

Client Based Testing ['golden' oldie]

This was my first start of an article that went with an abstract (for TestNet NL)... Because I was so 'wet behind the ears' back then and a relative 'new' tester, the presentation became a fiasco (to put it mildly) with me more in tears than in a happy mood... It can happen, but I didn't give up! ~Remember that things don't always go perfect the first time around...
As I read it now, I'm still behind the matter and it's still very relevant. I think I was 'before the time'... enjoy ... I'm curious what you find of the stuff... (date of last revision: fourth of February 2008...text below is UNchanged!, presentation was held on 'Fall event of TestNet in September 2008). It wasn't completely finished either; I guess I was too 'frightened' after the presentation fiasco to push ahead...still it gives a good idea of what I had in mind back then...


Testing has been a hot item the last couple of years. More and more businesses are starting to understand the importance of testing to mitigate their risks and establish a certain amount of quality of their product(s).
Over the years testing has evolved from ‘an activity done just before production’ to ‘a structured process of measuring characteristics of a process or system’.
This structured process is - for its part- based on Risks (Risk Based Testing) or Requirements (Requirement Based Testing). Also methods have been developed that are involving ‘the business’ or ‘the management’ more because typically one seems to think that the prioritization of risk or requirements are best set by ‘the business’ or ‘the management’.
Testers or test managers repeatedly seem to fail to involve the ‘real’ client when developing policies, strategies or plans. Not the one who pays the money but the people who are meant to work with the product and/or processes should have an important contribution in this stage. Especially in companies where requirements are poor and there is no time or money to develop these (for example Agile testing) or in companies where there are too little or too many stakeholders to determine the prioritization of risks (layering, budgets etc.)
Hence the introduction of Client Based Testing, or – in short- CBT. CBT should be approached in two ways; from the testers view and from the clients view.

Firstly the Testers view, or in particular, the test managers view. At setting up the test planning mostly risks or requirements are used for determining the activities to be performed for testing, when these cannot be produced by the organization the manager will mostly look for specifications and/or use-cases and will set up his tests on these bases. Forgetting a very important and very accurate source, namely: the end-users or production-unit of the company. Even though the British standard provides for this group of people by the means of being a test bases, most test managers ‘forget’ to involve these group of people. In practice I’ve found that this has a couple of reasons.

  1. The ‘old school’ tester (now manager) gives a natural preference to non-human input or non-communicative input, having been a programmer in the past
  2. The test manager (formally non-test) has a natural tendency not to involve the ‘common people’ and always communicate with people higher in the organizational hierarchy
  3. People ‘on the floor’ have a tendency not to have any time available (or otherwise said: have a natural dislike to management-people and or new software being developed (and tested) which implies the possibility of rendering them unnecessary) or do everything not to help (on which the reaction of the test manager is to ignore them in the first place)

Client based testing obligates the tester to develop more communicating skills but it also requires qualities like empathy, pliability and the ability to translate jargons.

Secondly the Clients view. Some years ago I received a questionnaire called TUSK which Isabel Evans had developed, was still developing. The TUSK list is based on the SUMI list for software but in this case the questions are translated to how the client or organization experiences the tester of test team and what part of the testing activities should be improved to the clients liking.  I used this list – as a pilot to write an article on TUSK usage - in different organizations and found that not the information the answers provided helped the most in improving the test process, but the time spent with the customer and listening tot the client was the most helpful. The client really felt understood and was more willing to participate and cooperate with the test team on improving their deliverables and processes.

vrijdag 14 december 2012

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard

For those of you who haven't received my mail (DUTCH)

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.  ~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie

Nog twee weken en dan is mijn laatste dag bij Capgemini. Na iets meer dan 8 jaar neem ik afscheid van een prachtig bedrijf waar ik met veel passie en toewijding heb gewerkt en natuurlijk ook van jou als collega of relatie in deze hoedanigheid.

Op 1 november 2004 startte mijn loopbaan bij Capgemini FS B57, dat was toentertijd de testpractice (tezamen met BI) en ik verloor mijn hart aan het prachtige testvak, waardoor ik er nooit ben weggegaan. Hoe de dingen ook veranderden in de organisatie; de testpractice was altijd mijn thuishonk.  Ik begon als testanalist en kreeg de kans om uit te groeien naar de rollen die ik nu achterlaat : Leader van de FS NBS Testing & Technologies CoP, trekker van de SIG BI Testing, Leader van de CoP Testing NL, deelnemer van de CTO Office als testexpert en natuurlijk ook ‘gewoon’ als testmanager. Een hoogtepunt was dan ook zeker de erkenning die ik kreeg als Medewerker van het kwartaal Q1 in 2010 en daarmee de nominatie voor medewerker van het jaar.  Ik had dit nooit kunnen bereiken als ik niet collega’s had gehad als ik heb gehad; met passie voor een vak kom je ver, maar nimmer zó ver; dank je wel daarvoor!

Het besluit om Capgemini te verlaten heb ik zeker niet gemakkelijk genomen en het is dan ook met een beetje pijn in het hart dat ik weg ga. Per 1 januari ga ik echter aan de slag bij Turien & Co. Assuradeuren, uiteraard in het testvak, als Teamleider Testing. Het bedrijf ligt een kwartiertje fietsen/ met de stadsbus van mijn woning af en dat is dan ook de hoofdreden dat ik overstap, naast dat deze uitdaging mij ook gewoon leuk lijkt uiteraard!
Zoals gezegd blijf ik actief in het testvak, velen van jullie zal ik dan ook zeker in de toekomst nog tegenkomen op diverse vakbijeenkomsten zoals TestNet en testconferenties zoals de Nederlandse Testdag en zelfs wellicht EuroSTAR.  Mocht je me nog willen benaderen dan kun je me mailen op: funtestic.fanatic@gmail.com (en tot 28 december nog op nathalie.van.delft@capgemini.com) en uiteraard kun je me ook vinden op LinkedIn.

Van velen van jullie heb ik persoonlijk afscheid kunnen nemen of kan ik dit de komende week nog doen, van nog meer collegae helaas niet. Ik wens jou alle goeds toe in carrière en privé situatie.

maandag 5 november 2012

Best conference year so far...

It's been ages since I wrote a blog, I guess it's one of those things that moves to the background when very busy...
So, because EuroSTAR 2012 is about to begin and I'm planning some blogging there I really had to update with the things about the conferences i visited last year :-)

From March 12-14th I've attended the Belgium Testing Days at the Sheraton (Conference) Hotel in Brussels (Airport) and from May 7th-10th I was in Norway for the FreeTest 2012 conference held
on the boat from Trontheim to Bronnoysund the first day and the second day in Bronnoysund itself, on May 30th I attended the TestNet SpringEvent with it's 15th anniversary. Last but not least: I was at Expo:QA in Madrid as conference chair!

Belgium Testing Days

This year I was invited to the Belgium Testing Days by Mieke Gevers. I hadn't send in a paper, since I hadn't had a sufficiently worked out topic yet at the time for the call for papers.
I find I have to have an all ready and interesting topic to send in and not just send in a paper just to get to go to a conference. So I hoped for my boss to grant me the ticket to go.
By the time I had to send in my proposal to my manager though, Mieke had contacted me already. The theme of the conference was 'Software Testing versus Quality Assurance' and she had a need for
two people who could do an antagonistic gig during the conference. As you can guess... I was person number one and Daniel Maslyn was person number two.

I arrived on Monday afternoon the day before the conference itself, the hall was already buzzing with vendors and companies setting up their booths and the hotel staff setting up the
tables and coffeebar for the Tuesday. In the room I found the little gift that Mieke and Nadine as organisers had left, last year I was also pleasantly surprised by this little gesture that
makes the expierence as speaker at the Belgium Testing Days even more special, it's just so heart warming to feel so welcome just by these little details.
The evening is spend with all other speakers at an excellent restaurant in Brussel city center and during the dinner there's plenty of time to get to know some other speakers and people from the
organization of Diaz Hilterscheid.

The Tuesday is an exciting day for me. The gig that Daniel and I are supposed to do is part of the opening speech by Mieke. Mieke has arranged jackets for us that are part silver and part black
and hightops - one black, one silver - to wear and emphasize our roles. Daniel and I are the antoganists or friendly-coexisters (?) of 'Software Testing and Quality Assurance'. We have to
burst in the main auditorium during Mieke's speech heavily debating whether Software Testing and Quality Assurance are the same or are completely different. And so we do... but a little bit
too early. We were supposed to go in a couple of lines into the theme explanation, instead we thought we had to go in after a couple of lines. No harm done though... the message came across
and Mieke is an experienced enough chair to correct any glitches during the speech.

During the conference the task that Daniel and I have is to walk around with an iPad each and to let people write quotes on the pad, take pictures and even movies. They are displayed directly on the
mainscreen in the expohall, well.. from the pad that takes / has the control anyway. So we can even have a 'fight' over whom of us has the screen-control from the pad :-)

The upside is that I got to be at a great conference, but the downside is definitely that I wasn't able to attend all the tracks. So I only got to see a limited amount of them. The ones I saw
were excellent though! Belgium Testing Days has a great offer of high-quality (for me at least) and high-standard (level) tracks, which also makes choices to make hard :-)

The first one I fully attended was

I also attended 'Twist and thaste' by Luuk Steffermans

And Artful testing by Zeger van Hese, in which one of the things that I took with me was that knowing some more info about a certain painting makes it more clear what certain things means, which
can also be applied to software testing. Another one was about perspective, depending how you look at things from your own perspective you will discover different things. The presentation from
Zeger can be found on the interwebs on Prezi.

Tuesday was ended by drinks, a stand-up comedian performance (after the success of last time they did again a marvelous job!) and a very good dinner at the expoHall.

On wednesday I went back home again, my brain filled with loads of ideas and inspiration.

FreeTest or The Most Northern Testing Conference in the world

How many testing conferences do you know that are held on a cruiseship? Well, now you know one: It's the FreeTest - the worlds Northernmost testconference (http://www.dataforeningen.no/forside.194266.no.html).
This conference is small, but I found it a most impressive and fun conference indeed. I travelled to Trontheim the first day where we boarde the cruiseship on which the conference was held the first day.

On the ship there was an auditorium where you could also look outside, so while listening to the tracks (no choices to be made :-) ) you could also sometimes sneak a peek outside and watch the beautiful fjords.
Between the tracks there was an excellent lunch in the cruiseship's restaurant (again with magnificent views!). I had my track on the ship which was an experience on itself, I loved the responses from the audience and afterwards there was plenty of time to relax on the deck and have discussions with the participants of the conference.

After midnight we arrived at Brønnøysund where day two of the conference was held. THere was a bit of a wait at the hotel to check in, but that didn't spoil the fun at all :-)
The next day you had to make choices; one part of the tracks was held at a room in the hotel and the other one at the office of the BBREG. I attende the first three tracks in the Thon Hotel:
Success story of automation test with Open Source tools in Vianova Systems by Yanhong Peng, Automated functional load testing: Grinder + Webdriver by Vegard Hartmann and Øyvind Kvangardsnes and Cheap and Free tools by Lloyd Roden. I loved the tracks being so practical and usable for daily practice; I could really get something out of it to use at my job - that is - if I would have been in an environment where automation would have been applied, but alas I was not, so I put it in my testerstoolbox to use when the time is right.
In between was a brilliant lunch at BBREG; those people who work there really have a magnificent view on the fjords during their lunch! I really loved it.

In the afternoon I took a track off to wander through the village (both tracks held then were in Norwegian, so I wouldn't have understood it anyway), which takes about a half hour to see all :-). The last track I attended was that of Mieke Gevers at the BBREG auditorium about performance testing, which I found really interesting because it was all about the results from those performance testing and how to extract valuable information from them instead of false positives.
After the tracks all testers where rallied up to enter a bus and we were driven off to a mountain with a hole in it; it was fun to see (and unique!) all those testers climbing that mountain :-) I think it was a first to see 80+ testers on top of one mountain!

The climb had made us hungry so we were driven off to a restaurant (best Aquavit brewery in the neighbourhood) to enjoy a really good norwegian meal with very good fish.
When we arrived back at the village of Brønnøysund a group of testers decided to visit the local pub and Michael Bolton, who was booked for his Rapid Software Testing course on two days after the conference itself, brought his mandolin. It was a very cosy and well spend evening there.
The next day I travelled back home again (it was a first to be able to walk to the airport from my hotel in the center of a town :-) ) and reflected on what I found a really well organized small conference with an excellent choice of tracks; I would certainly recommend this conference to any tester no doubt!

SpringEvent Testnet

At the spring event, which was a jubilee version due to the fact TestNet celebrated it's 15th birthday, I didn't get the chance to visit any tracks except the kenotes. I was on 'booth-duty' handing out 'Cap'puccino's and Caramel Lattes. The presentations can be downloaded here: https://www.testnet.org/viewcategory/230.html and the photoalbum can be viewed here: https://www.testnet.org/category/23-voorjaarsevenement-2012-15-jaar-jubileum.html.
The keynotes I attended were from Geoff Thomson & Bob vd Burgt about the history (and future) of testing and -off course-  the introduction of the TestNet jubilee book 'Bepaal je koers' for which I made the 'Mappa Testi' contribution!

I always love the TestNet events; it's great to see so many enthusiastic fellow testers who have a passion for the craft! I think we are lucky in the Netherlands to have so many of them and that they share their passion at the TestNet meetings.

Expo:QA 2012.

Expo:QA 2012 was held in Madrid this year, I had the honour of being the chair of this edition, which meant that I've been busy with the program (together with Gwen Stewart and Raynald Korchia) since about February this year.
Being a chair of a conference gives a whole different viewpoint of such an event, in stead of your focus being of getting the most our of the conference for yourself, you now have the focus on providing those tracks that will benefit the attendees the most. Besides that, there's also many (delicate) choices to be made where you have to balance topic, country, company and have to take into consideration the vendors; a conference isn't cheap so keeping sponsors happy is also important.

I had some 'behind-the-scene' experience of a conference of my time being a program committee member of the EUroSTAR conference, but being the chair of a conference makes you even more aware - and more appreciative of- the things that have to be arranged and what a large and exhausting task it is, and I have to mention here that being a chair doesn't give you the most hard tasks; that credit goes to the organisers themselves.

Well. I arrived on a Monday. The Expo:QA was held in a huge conference hotel not far from the airport; I always find it very nice that your place of stay is the same of the conference itself, it gives a bit more peace of mind knowing you don't have to worry about transport to the venue and that you'll be there on time.
The excellent weather gave me the opportunity to drink a cocktail in the restaurants terrace at 23.30 with still 26 Degrees Celsius on the thermometer, so I guess that I couldn't wish for a better start then this.
On Tuesday tutorials were held (a.o. Paul Gerrard and Derk-Jan de Grood) and when I visited the coffee breaks and lunches I saw people who were really wrapping their minds on the contents of the tutorials and heavy debating, while still excited. I like those reactions; it - for me- is telling that people are challenged and that is exactly what I intended when I invited those speakers for the tutorials.

Wednesday and Thursday were the conference days themselves. As last time: the food is so amazing at this conference. Lunch is a tapas-style buffet and personnel is walking around constantly with small delicious snacks. The last Expo (held in 2010) I was awed by these perks of this conference, this time I certainly was again. Besides the tracks (I don't want to boast, but: good choices :-) ), the food and the ambiance really make this conference a 'wanna-go!'.

To top it all: on Wednesday we were all brought to the Madrid Zoo and the Gala dinner was held at the most spectacular place I could imagine; in the Penguin viewing area!
The food was good, alas not as good as the tapas at the conference; but I guess having a dinner at a Penguin place means the food has to travel a bit when it gets to the table; I thought it was a minor flaw related to the location.

I also experienced the downsides of being a chair; when something goes wrong; YOU are the face everybody sees and complains to, nothing personal of course, but it certainly gets to you. One of the speakers didn't show; luckily Julian Harty (who was a attendee mind!) jumped up to do his Mobile Testing track, it turned out to be one of the more popular tracks that day. We also provided a 'on the fly' gathering on request of attendees to do more Agile, between the last track of Wednesday and the gala dinner we got a room at the conference centre and a.o Gwen organised a format where experienced and non-experienced people could exchange questions- and answers on Agile Testing, I thought it was a marvellous example of the dynamics that can occur at a conference.
On Thursday evening I travelled back home again, leaving the Warm Madrid behind and being totally knackered. It was an experience to never forget and I'm happy I got this opportunity of a lifetime.

Well... that's a rapid and - for me- rather short summary of the conferences I went to last year... now I'm ready to go the EuroSTAR in my home country NL en blog without feeling guilty of not having written about the others :-)
Hope to see you there!