donderdag 9 december 2010

Call for papers - opportunity to lift a tip of the veil

Since the EuroSTAR 2011 call for papers/ abstracts will be open today (or very soon), I'm grabbing this opportunity to write a blog about the insights I had during the past year, being on the program committee for EuroSTAR 2010 (and also did the BlogSTAR pre-juring). I hope this will help you writing an abstract that had more chance of being chosen for the program. I won't give you guarantees but it might help a a bit :-)

I decided to read ALL abstracts that came in, because I wanted to make sure that abstracts that didn't score high by the reviewing committee were justly not in the 60%+ list and that when we were to make the program indeed the good stuff was in.
The call was done early. Even though I got a minor stream of abstracts during January (only 10), a bit bigger stream in February (up to 100 abstracts) and the bulk in the first week of March (closing date). With 433 abstracts in total that meant that I got more than 300 abstracts in March to read.
And although I had set a timetable and when I got tired I stopped and re-read the last 3 of that day in the next batch so that it was not affected by 'boredom/ tiredness'; I noticed that the January/ February batches got more attention than the March ones. (luckily there's also the reviewing committee who got a maximum of 2 times 30 abstracts a person).
Oh, note: I re-read all the 60% + abstracts the week before we made the program again, to make sure I was certain what was in there.
Lesson learned for me: Send in the abstract early and not on deadline-day; it might get a bit more attention and is still 'fresh' with regards to it's subject.

The theme was 'passion' last year. It inspired a lot of people to submit an abstract that had PASSION, LOVE etc. in the title (there were 21 titles alone that contained the word 'passion' and numerous (I didn't count) abstracts that had 'passion' in the text itself. Some abstract where re-used I thought and the writer had just put the words 'passion' in there randomly to make sure it had relation to the theme. It didn't help improve the quality to put it mildly.
Lesson learned for me: Don't force the theme in to your topic. If the topic is good it will speak for itself.
I mean: reading multiple texts with passion this, passion that... it takes the passion OUT of things instead of IN to things.

There apparently is a group of people who think they can send in an idea. It's just the idea, nothing more. This group - I got the feeling - thinks they'll have plenty of time to work the topic out once it has been chosen to get into the program. These people don't have a presentation outline, don't have specific information put in the abstract etc.
The reviewing is done with the help of a scoring card; this scoring card has categories for which a score is given for a certain aspect of an abstract. For EuroSTAR 2010 those were CONTENT, PRACTICALITY, INNOVATION and PASSION.
Let me explain a bit.
Content: How good is the content? Significant information? Is it believable? Credible and Convincing?
Practicality: Is the submission practical? Concrete? Feasible?
Innovation: Is this something new and exciting? Innovative? Revolutionary?
Passion: How passionate are you about this presentation? Is it inspiring? What is your gut feeling?
The CONTENT category has the most weight. If you only send in 'an idea' it WON'T score high in this area, although it might score high in the 'innovation' part, there are so many abstracts that score on ALL parts that yours won't be considered to have solid ground.
Lesson learned for me: Send in an abstract that is worked out, you should at least have a framework for the presentation, not only an idea and has a solid basis.
Note: The EuroSTAR 2011 committee might have different weighing factors or categories, so no guarantees...

Last year was extremely popular with 'Agile', it really was a buzz-word. There were some other topics too that were extremely popular. There were 24 titles that contained the word Agile and I didn't count the abstracts that had a different title but were about Agile. 8 had 'Scrum' in the title; also here, I didn't count the abstract that were about SCRUM but didn't have it in the title. And I'll will not even mention the amount of abstracts that were inspired by television series. On the other hand: cloud only had two. If you write an abstract that covers a hot topic you should REALLY make an abstract that is outstanding. The more abstracts there are of a certain topic, the smaller the percentage chance that it'll get chosen. You have more competition. A conference like EuroSTAR will only contain a certain number of tracks of a certain topic or scheme, so the more 'hot topic' your abstract is, the more competition you'll have for a spot on the program. The ones with scores above 90% will have more chance in that case than - an also good- abstract of 70%-80% range.
Oh... and when considering a FUN session; there's really little space for that...
(so if you get in with a fun session: consider yourself among the rare that did)

You can write a whole paragraph on how good YOU are, but the abstracts will be anonymized (due to fairness of course) by Qualtech before they go out to the reviewing committee. So it won't help your subject get in. Better to use that precious space on your topic...

I hope this gives you some handles to write your own (excellent) abstract.
Oh, and I would like to share this brilliant abstract that was written last year.
A (tongue in cheek) article by Peter Morgan, Nicemove, UK & Programme Committee Member, EuroSTAR 2010
Read, laugh and learn!

woensdag 8 december 2010

EuroSTAR 2010 diaries - Epilogue

I didn't go home immediately after the conference. I had dinner with a group of EuroSTAR attendees in the evening in the city center and drank a nice hot cocoa in the hotel bar to warm up again after the evening walk back to the hotel.

On Friday I joined some 'stranded' Brits (because of the closure of different airports in the UK) during breakfast and had fun with the conversations going on.
Then I checked out of the hotel (Towers) and changed to another hotel in the city center (Royal). I decided to extend my stay to view the city of Copenhagen, not knowing earlier this year that it would be such cold, snowy weather this weekend. My husband wás able to fly in that evening luckily (and I got home safe on Sunday!).

I spend the Friday blogging and reflecting on the conference.

I think it was a great conference with stuff for everybody's liking. There were some good tracks and some minor tracks, depending on the audience which rating a track gets. The TestLab was excellent, although it was a pity that it was 'out of route', it could have been even more part of the conference if it was more close to the expo.
I really liked the fact that people were gathering around, especially the Alliance meetings, which I really regret having missed out on.
I think the 'lounge' with the WebVillage was really good, and I think it should be a returning item (same as TestLab actually).
The LEGO was fun to watch; although I wonder if it could have been more prominent or more integrated if a small presentation had accompanied it.

The food during the lunches was of good quality as were the pastries with the coffee. (and I really liked the Barrista in the webvillage :-) ).
I think it's great that some charity initiatives were set up (we are a caring community!); let me re-cap:
- The CartoonTester got 260 EUR for selling his cartoons (Andy Glover)
- The 'moustaches' got 200 EUR (?) for MOvember (Geoff Thompson, Clive Bates)
- Al profits from the GalaEvent tickets went to a good cause.
Again; it's great to have fun AND return something to the community.

I think the chairs really did a good job! They are probably the most under appreciated group of helpers at a conference, but they really do a good job; timekeeping, guiding and helping the speaker to be more comfy.
I also want to - again- shine a light on the Qualtech team. They really do a lot of stuff that is not so visible but is vital to the success of this conference, (and they walk/stand the whole day AND keep smiling (that's a whole accomplishment on it's own ;-) ).
I want to thank Rikard Edgren and Peter Morgan for being with me on the program committee; I think they are really great people to work with and each have their specialties; it's been a privilege gents!
And last but not least I want to thank John Fodeh for giving me the opportunity to work on this great event and to be able to experience EuroSTAR in this unique way and not only this, but you managed to create a great conference this year!

So, this is then finally my last blog from the EuroSTAR 2010 diaries.
It'll not be the last blog that is inspired by it, but it ís the conclusion of the 'reporting' on the event itself. Oh... and before I forget; if you have any ideas, suggestions and so on for the EuroSTAR conference.. please send them/ tweet them (use #esconfs) e.a. it'll be a great help for next year's team!

I hope all you who read this had a great time too and hope to see you next year in Manchester!

over-and-out :-p

dinsdag 7 december 2010

EurosSTAR 2010 diaries - the conference DAY 3

I can't believe it's already the last day of the conference. Everything went by so fast, and I still want to do so much.

The first track I went to was a request from a colleague of mine. He's very into ubiquitous testing and mobile and everything, so the track of Doron Reuveni about The mobile testing challenge is right up his alley and the fun part is that I get to get involved in his enthusiasm as well and learn about a part of specific testing that I'm not currently heavily involved with (except some multi channel distribution developments). I found it interesting to hear about the different aspects of mobile testing and I got to see a very interesting demo with distance control of a mobile device in an impressive tool. Doron had very clean and clear sheets with nice graphics that illustrated his story well and although I'm not a mobile testing adapt (yet) I could follow the story very well and got really interested. Maybe it's a good tip to 'swap' tracks once in a while with a colleague who is also attending the conference and tell each other about the track you attended; it really focuses you on the subject because you want to tell and summarize everything for you colleague afterwards; a sort of pairwise conferencing :-)

After that I went to Paul Gerrard's track about Advanced Testing using Axioms. I had favorited this track before hand (I always make a top 3 of tracks I must-see and than a top 5 of really-want-to see, this makes flexibility for me and gets me to the tracks I really don't want to miss). Paul didn't disappoint a bit; I liked the content and I liked the way it was presented. Some quotes that I liked best (and also tweeted)
"Test coverage models and goals that generate uniform distributions of test are inefficient and ineffective", "A TestStrategy is not a document.. it is a thought process ", "Intellectual skills and capabilities are more important than clerical skills" , "Test Process Improvement is a waste of time" and "IEEE 829 Plan and Axioms :-) ; a better test strategy and plan, different thinking"
SOme of these quotes are a bit out of context, because Paul told about them with a whole explanation, so taking these quotes by itself might lead to totally different conclusions then originally intended. I also like the 'Quantum Testing' part, because it sounded so futuristic. If you want to know more about the Axioms you can read the booklet: The Tester's Pocketbook by Paul Gerrard (Paul's request is NOT to buy it via Amazon if possible). After his presentation Paul was 'attacked' by people who wanted to have a chat with him, had his booklet signed and ask questions.

After the morning break I went to Markus Gärtner's track on alternatives paths to Self Education. I had originally planned to go to the TMMi session, but I went to *a* TMMi yesterday and figured I would get the info because of the NENwork anyway.
Markus had been very active during the whole conference so I was very curious what he had to say. The opening message: "YOU are responsible for YOUR education" is a strong one and raised my expectations of what to come. The abstract said all kinds of fun stuff so I sat there with anticipation. Alas I was somewhat disappointed, what I saw was sheet after sheet of stuff from other thought leaders which he quoted extensively. The only thing I could think at that moment was: "What a pity that somebody with such strong personality and prospects should rely on others' quotes and thoughts to make a statement. Now YOU have the stage, the time to announce YOUR ideas and you waste it on bringing another ones message". It over shadowed the rest of the messages he had (That there are good ways to educate yourself without having to go to specific courses for example making a personal journal). I also found that a lot of these paths relied on participation of third party stuff; that can be a problem if you are a loner (although weekendtesting is a good alternative then). And if you make a statement for 'alternative paths', you should at least mention the not-alternative paths to relate to (even if you oppose to them). I think the strongest message was at the end slide: "You may have preferences for one or the other, but you should apply as much as possible". And I thought that last statement beheld much more that probably intended by the speaker.

The next tracks I skipped again. I wanted to prepare for the introduction of the final keynote, which was my task and still wanted to go through all the text with the speaker and finding the speaker himself was quite a challenge itself.
I grabbed a small lunch (my stomach too tight to eat much more) and went to the auditorium again. There I met 'my speaker' and we had some time to get acquainted.

After the lunch the auditorium filled up for Dino Patti's talk on 'For the love of the game'. It was all about a game called LIMBO (for XBox) which had really excellent graphics. He had some funny inside information like that they got their first office for free because the smell there was so bad. He also introduced the concept of 'Tissue Testers'; testers that you only use one time and then discard (disposable as a tissue). It apparently 'ticked off' some testers in the audience, which I found funny in my turn. Tissue testers are in my opinion great if you want to test a specific user experience (like surprise), that doesn't mean they are worthless afterwards as testers, but it does mean you can't use thát specific tester for thát specific piece of software again to test that specific requirement. Although Dino was quite nervous he did a fun and entertaining keynote and a trailer of the game LIMBO is seen on the LIMBO site.

Ok, so now it's time for the final keynote and I have to announce it (one of the 'advantages' of being a member of the program committee ;-) ). Nerves really get the best of me and I carefully take place behind the lectern. So, in my best English, I introduced Bob Galen with his track : Moving Beyond The Status Quo – Differentiating Ourselves and Demonstrating Value .

Bob did a fun and - I found- very educational track. I found his presentation style very dynamic and of high energy. I also liked the stuff he told, he has a great sense of humor. There was a small exercise to start with, you had to introduce yourself to an (unknown) neighbor, using three points (name and role, what are your challenges and how to approach them) within a minute. The first one had less than one minute (only half a minute), the second one did better (talking faster) but also couldn't do it in half a minute :-). One of the messages Bob had was to have an elevator pitch 'in your backpocket' and practice it every day, you should even have a couple of versions to use at different circumstances/ peoples. Another message Bob had was to ask for help when needed. One I could take with me to my working space and use immediately: people only read the first 1/3 of a (first) page with interest, the rest is ignored: write your most important message in that first 1/3 of your page. He had some more valuable lessons, but I think it would be too much to put them all here (you just should have visited ;-) )

After Bob had finished there was a (final) coffee break and a final opportunity to have a look at the expo. I got a demo of GUIDancer (a tool for testing GUI's) and I found it very interesting (quite different and very understandable in comparison to winrunner for example). I know I'll look into it when I have a little time left...

After the coffee break it was time to go to the auditorium for the final stuff. The results from the TestLab (rough figures: 180 people visited, worth about 90 hours of testing, 100 bugs found) Bart Knaack, James Lyndsay, Martin Jansson, Henrik Emilsson did a great job and handed over some fun T-shirts for 'Best Bug' (Marcus Gärtner), Most enthusiastic tester (Shmuel Gershon) and most 'Evil' tester (Teemu Vesala) (although I could have accidentally switched best bug and evil tester :-) ). I know Marcus also got the Tube of Gloom (very fun stick which makes a certain noise)

John Fodeh followed next to end the conference and said thanks to all people; attendees, speakers, chairs and the qualtech team.
He also announced next years' details:
Chair: Geoff Thompson
Team: Graham Thomas, Derk-Jan de Grood and Morton Hougaard
Place: Manchester
Date: 21st till 24th of November 2011
Theme: "In pursuit of Quality"

As committee members we all got a beautiful glass 'trophy' and a recognition for our contribution to the EuroSTAR 2010 conference and John got an even bigger one from Geoff.
After all the formalities were done, most people went home wasn't over yet.

I had to run over to auditorium 15 to introduce the PowerHour held by Ruud Teunissen. This powerhour was especially organized to 'get the most out of your EuroSTAR experience' and Ruud had all these tips, tricks and tools to translate all the stuff (of relevance to you) from EuroSTAR to usable and concrete actions.
One is for example to do something with info within 72 hours, after that the most info will be fading away fast.

And after that... well.. it was all over. I stared at people going away, chatting, having 'thinking faces', having smiles or frowns... and it felt a bit sad. At one side I was happy that it went so well and that the hectic was now over, but on the other side; it's like having a great party which HAS to end and HAS ended.
So, I said my goodbyes and left for the hotel... and I thought: "DARN, IT'S STILL COLD!!" :-p

Other blogs and stuff about this third day:
VideoBlog from the TeamSTAR winners
(different) Blog posts from BlogSTAR (Ajay Balamurugadas)
Fast-blogs/live blogs
The Social Tester - Rob Lambert
Markus Gärtner

maandag 6 december 2010

EuroSTAR 2010 diaries - the conference DAY 2

It's already Wednesday and the second day of the conference is about to start.
I went to the Bella Centre early and luckily stumbled into a pre-conference meeting about TMMi level 4 and 5 (where Geoff Thompson made me stay because I ate a 'Danish pastry' ;-) and the trade was: Danish yes = mandatory stay ;-) )
So I heard al about the brand new TMMi developments.

Because we (programm committee) forgot to mention the evaluation forms during the first conference day, Peter Morgan made papers for the chairs (to put on stage) to make sure they mentioned these evaluation forms that day. I had the task to bring those papers to the different rooms and was a bit late apparently because different sessions had already begun.
I sneaked into 'Dirk van Daels', Test Accounting. He's my colleague and although I'd seen the presentation before I was really keen on supporting him as a fellow Capgeminist. So, I heard all about 'the Compas' and a sheet where you can keep 'book' of your testing stuff through the whole development life cycle and the status of something in this particular life cycle. Dirk did a good job, I know him (of course) and I saw he had trouble to 'follow the red thread' and that it made him a bit more 'static', but believe me that if he hadn't done that, he would have knocked your socks off with so much info that he probably wouldn't have had enough time if he had whole day :-)

After the session I had a chat with Dirk about how it went and I finished by task of the 'evaluation papers'. I didn't attend one of the next tracks, I had planned to sneak into Palak Kedia's (Testing from a critics perspective) and then top-it-off with the final notes of Ken Johnston, but I ended up going round the conference- and expo spaces, only having a quick peek at Palak (who seemed to do very well and was glowing on stage) and didn't see Ken Johnston at all. But I had some good coffee in the Web Village and had plenty of time to get prepared for the hot topics panel session. I even got a chance to step over the doorstep of the TestLab (and got a test lab rat button!) and have some converstations with Bart Knaack about the progess and fun there!.

The hot topics panel session was to be live transmitted from EuroSTAR. John Stevenson had provided the idea of a separate hashtag for this panel (#esconfsEP) so people could easily provide topics during the conference and the discussion itself; there was also a Facebook page to submit hot topics and a whiteboard in the expo hall. The panel consisted of 5 experts and a moderator: Antony Marcano, Julie Gardiner, Michael Bolton, Tim Koomen and Rob Sabourin as experts and Lee Copeland as moderator/ leader of the pack. I had the task of tweeting the topics discussed and trying to get good topics to Lee if the previously provide topics ran out. It was more difficult than anticipated; tweeting went well, but when I had to reroute the questions to Lee I could not tweet, so this resulted in tweet-silence and I missed a couple of topics. Lesson learned for next time (if any) is that you have to have at least two twitterers to do this. I found the experience fun though and I think attendees had some fun too as well as the panel members themselves. And yes I also got the tip to involve the audience in the room a bit more, so this is a lesson learned too.

Next after the hot-topics panel was Ajay Balamudugaras' track on WeekendTesting. I don't think it needs a lot of introduction or even a description because I think it has already done great marketing on it's own. The concept is great and well thought of. I saw Ajay radiating passion for this topic, it really inspired me to see that genuine inspiration and commitment to the subject. I can recommend the participation on a Weekend/ Weekday testing session to all testers; it gives you the opportunity to practice testing in a safe environment and to share your enthusiasm, knowledge and ideas with others attending. I felt invigorated after attending this session, humbled and heavily inspired. For more info on Weekend/ Weeknight testing please visit:

After the - again excellent lunch- I went to Graham Thomas' track (workshop) : The Tester's Toolbox. I volunteered to trackchair this one because I really liked the abstract and I like Graham as a speaker. I had a busy session, running around with a microphone and intensive timekeeping, but it was worth it by far! Graham has this wonderfull ability to be very stoic, a bit ironic and sarcastic and then throw in this humour in such an easy manner that it is guaranteed to make you laugh during a learning experience! This workshop really didn't let me down, I had immense fun doing the exercises, fun with the mind-stuff and fun with the food-for-thought. Never thought that I wouldn't be able to distinguish black from white! Graham also had a little surprise for Michael Bolton who attended the second part of the workshop: a sheet with a word-cloud and all words stated : "process". I heard a huge laughter behind me when the sheet was shown, so I guess the joke was appreciated. A nice tip: look on WikiPedia for 'optical illusions', you can have a days worth of fun there!

After the coffeebreak I went to see Stuart Reid's keynote: When passion obscures the facts... I think it has been the most pre-discussed track of the whole conference. Since the publication of the abstract there has been numerous blogs, tweets and forumconversations on this keynote and it's presenter (even on very personal level). I think that even if Stuart had been presenting a whole different content even then the 'contra-group' wouldn't have given him a change and would be blogging/ tweeting negatively about it. Fortunately there are still open minded people who don't just tweet or blog everything in a specific (prejudiced) mindset and where willing to listing to the plea made by Stuart and wait with comments until the whole story was done. I must admit I was a bit disappointed in a way; it took a long time to make the opening plea, which could have been shorter. I also expected a bit more scientifically under build story, I think he could have made a stronger case. I had the idea that indeed Stuart was SO passionate that facts got obscured.
On the other hand I was touched by the fact that Stuart really was passionate about his subject, was genuinely there for his topic (which some other speakers/ delegates in my opinion did not have, but where merely/ mostly quoting another man's opinion) and I found him courageous to pick up this topic, although it didn't quite work out they way it should have, I think. The main message I got from the keynote was that we should investigate and find evidence (make a solid case) to engage in a specific way of testing (not just do anything) whether this is testing in the context-driven way of testing or the traditional school of testing (to use the word 'school' in this case :-) )
The thought I had afterwards was: What a pity that people in general are so divided in two different schools. It should be AND in stead of OR. I think the context-driven mindset is an excellent addition to the traditional mindset (an vice versa) and are complementary. Alas people are apparently blinded. So it wasn't the keynote itself that made it the most valuable experience but the whole discussion around it.

The last keynote was the winner of last year's best track: The SuperTesters (a slightly true story). I saw it in Stockholm AND I saw it at TestNet in NL, so I passed this time, having a discussion with Michael Bolton on the evidence-based keynote on which he made some valid points, but I wasn't in need of convincing (sry Michael, I just wasn't in the mindset at that time). I saw some huge smiles however of people coming out of the auditorium, which made me smile inside!

After this keynote everybody (who had a ticket) hurried to the Copenhagen Town Hall for the Gala Event. The town hall of Copenhagen is a truly beautiful building and is a special treat for testers, since the architect has ordered his craftsmen to insert minor flaws in their work (imagine that huge group of tester looking very intensely to the building to be able to be the first to notice the flaws :-) )
During the ceremonies three prizes were handed out:
The best tutorial: Rob Sabourin
The best paper: Isabel Evans
and - the most prestigious - The European Testing Excellence Award: Paul Gerrard.

After the formalities the group went upstairs. We were divided into two groups: one could take the 'common' stairs and one could go via the 'noblesse' stairs. This latter had a phoenix at the entrance which guarded that only the pure of hearts could enter. I think I saw all testers upstairs, but I'm not quite sure. I was glad I was to go via the 'common' stairs :-). In a most beautiful hall a buffet with Danish food was served and everybody was chatting wildly with each other.

After the GalaEvent. I started out following the Danish Alliance group, but I lost them when I had to wait for a red traffic light (I couldn't go that fast because it was very icy and I wore high heels) and my shouts were not as loud as the traffic was. When it went green again, the group was gone.
I didn't feel like searching in the cold, so I went to my hotel and called it the night. It had been a very exciting day!

Other blogs and stuff about this second day:
VideoBlog from the TeamSTAR winners
Blog from BlogSTAR (Ajay Balamurugadas)
Fast-blogs/live blogs
The Social Tester - Rob Lambert
Markus Gärtner

ps: sorry I don't have that many pictures of this day; the ones I made later this day were all so bad, I couldn't possibly publish them with any decency.

vrijdag 3 december 2010

EuroSTAR 2010 diaries - the conference DAY 1

Tuesday afternoon, the conference is about to start with the opening from John Fodeh.
People are coming in at the registration desk and I 'lurk' in the main hall to see the faces of all those people coming in; are they as exited as I am? Because I helped make the program I'm specifically very curious and anxious about delegates' reactions. Some of them are in time to grab a bite in the expo hall, where the tutorial guests are still having lunch until the conference is opened.

I really like that Cognisant has placed a web village in the main hall. Earlier this year I mentioned the idea of a tester's lounge or a tester's café so that people could relax a bit and have conversations/ discussions (which for some reason goes better on an easy chair than at a standing table :-) ). It was however a question if the venue would allow such a concept AND if there would be funds to do this; apparently Cognisant wanted to do something different than a normal booth, so 1 and 1 got Web Village. Particularly cool because of the Barrista that was in there with a professional coffe machine, the BlogSTAR throne and the twitter screen.

In one corner of the main hall the CartoonTester had his gallery, which was also very cool. Missed it? You can still look at the cartoons on:

After lunch and lurking I went to the main auditorium to see the opening of EuroSTAR 2010.

After this there were two keynotes.
The first one was of Antony Marcano (Putting Tradition to the Test: The Evolving Role of the Tester)
He started with three stories and had a bit slow, but calm voice. At the end the three stories collided and all three were actually connected to eachother in a certain way. There were three main messages here:
1) Roles become dynamic
2) Traditional roles change
3) Collaboration is key
For some vague reason people in the audience were assuming there would be no time for questions. There was one tweet and then a whole group was tweeting that there wasn't going to be time for questions and were very 'agressive'/'negative' about it without having verified if this was true. Of course there WAS time for questions, so the assumption was wrong (never assume as a tester?) and I also thought it was again a lesson that a tweetstream can actually spread wrong (and also correct) information in a amazingly fast way.

The next keynote was the one of Rob Sabourin (Monty Python's flying testcircus). Rob is a very dynamic speaker, very different than Antony Marcano who is very timid and relaxed. Rob is almost 'explosive' compared to this speaker and it makes the keynotes that more interesting that there is this difference.
I found the message of testing icw Monty Python's lessons a bit far fetched, although a lesson could also be that we can find lessons and relations in almost everything as long as we think creatively. And I love Monty Python, so this was a fun one; but a bit lazy and easy from the presentation and content side view. A lesson I got out of it was that of illogical or weird reasoning which eventually gets to the point that they have reasoned that a duck weighs the same as a witch (there are more ways to get to a point :-) and whatever works for you is good)

After the two keynotes there was a coffee break (with sweet cake again :-) ).
And after the break there were the first tracks to be chosen.
I first checked all the rooms if all speakers/chairs were all right and could start with their sessions and then I sneaked into the session of Derk-Jan de Grood (Nine causes of losing valuable testing time). Derk-Jan does a good job on stage, he has a lot of visible passion and is very dynamic, although he sometimes has a tendency of going too fast. This time he ended his session - alas- 20 minutes early leaving the audience a bit flabbergasted. It was not his fault; his chair had timed badly; giving him the timing signals 20 mins before it was actually the time, resulting in a very fast track. He also only mentioned 5 causes; because the other 4 where apparently not for testing but management related, I think he could have mentioned this a bit more clearly. Nevertheless, his story was clear and had good points.

The next track I skipped; I ran into a lot of people who I had a chat with, checked the testlab (which was unfortunately not in the centre of the Expo/ conference, but a bit more 'in the background') and drank a good coffee from the barrista in the WebVillage.

I waited at the expo until the delegates returned to the Expo hall for the conference drinks and had a couple of drinks while chatting along with some more people, asking them how they liked it so far. There were some good responses and some improvements points. It seemed that the more experienced people missed the really advanced topics and some people didn't got the info they had hoped to see in a track, but other people had really enjoyed themselves, whether it was in the testlab, meeting people or attending tracks.

Afterwards I went to the city with Paul Gerrard, Neil Thompson and Suzanne Windsor and had a great dinner with them at an Italian Restaurant.
Afterwards I heard I had missed out on the Danish Alliance (you can read some other good blogs about this event), and I saw some excellent tweets pass by.
Nevertheless I had a great time with 'the Brits' and didn't go to bed too late so I would be fresh for the Wednesday!

Other blogs and stuff about this first day:
VideoBlog from the TeamSTAR winners
Blog from BlogSTAR (Ajay Balamurugadas)
Fast-blogs/live blogs
The Social Tester - Rob Lambert
Markus Gärtner
Danish Alliance photo's by Steveo1967 - John Stevenson

EuroSTAR 2010 diaries - the tutorials

Mondaymorning, started with a too expensive, but good breakfast (if you have the oppurtunity to get 'inclusive' or are in the centre of Copenhagen and are not a 'breakfast- fan', you might want to reconsider having a buffet breakfast because it's relatively expensive)
But enough of that; you probably got the message that I'm a frugal Dutch and find everyting amazingly expensive here ;-)

The first thing on my mind this morning is actually : DARN ITS COLD!!! it's not the temperature itself but the winds that make it really a though walk to the conference centre. There's a hotel being build right next to the centre, and this -alas- means you have to walk all the way around to the entrance of the centre. The positive side is that you are wide awake when you arrive there and in desperate need of some hot beverage. (I'm not saying "ANYthing warm" again because of some indecent proposals and odd smirks I got after mentioning this)

I had chosen the tutorial of Rob Sabourin to attend. There were many excellent choices though (see program on EuroSTAR website: I knew I had to leave a bit earlier before the breaks and get in a bit later after (checking if the rest went ok :-) ) but I got the message that was send.
The one thing I found a pity was that it seems like this was a tutorial intended for more days. The first day was stuffed in the timeblock before lunch and the rest was stuffed in the time after lunch. The exercise (only one) was a bit scarce; especially for a whole day tutorial.
The exercise was fun though; especially the part of ALL the requirements and documentation of the WRAP-O-MATIC (believe me: its very extensive and very complete), I also liked the part where I had to 'play' the customer who would be buying this machine and determine this way which requirement we thought of earlier was the most important when having this role.
Luckily Rob Sabourin is a very enthusiastic and inspiring speaker so people got to have a good time and the messages that were given during the tutorial were usefull.
That the tutorial was well perceived was confirmed later in the conference during the Gala Drinks, where this tutorial got the 'best tutorial prize'.

Oh, he got to show some EDS commercials during his speach wich were absolutely brilliant! (he actually had LOADS of movies and clips on his laptop)
The first is about CAT herding (not cattle herding :-) ) YOUTUBElink, the other two were about outsourcing and security (I couldn't locate them on Youtube, so this is something you'll have to do yourself)

The lunch during this day was a 'seated' lunch. The main was 'cockerel with mushrooms and a small tart of potatoe and thyme gravy', then there was a chocolate pyramid (which was less chocolate than expected) and then coffee.
The coffeebreaks were in the morning accompanied with 'sweet danish' and in the afternoon we had 'carrotcake' (the Danish really can bake sweet stuff!)

On Tuesday I started with a 'checking round' to see if all tutorials had started ok, before attending my own. In one of them I stumbled upon a romantic scene with candles et al. I guess this was the one from Morton Hougaard - Passion And Stress…The Siamese Twins - Stress Coaching For Testers.
The (half-day) Tutorial I attended was the one of Lee Copeland (Pragmatic Testing: When Your Testing World is Messy)
and it went by really fast. I think Lee is a great speaker who has great stories to tell and has excellent metaphores and examples to emphasise his story. The most dominating message was 'There are no best practices' (only good practices depending on a certain context). Another message worth while is that 1 hour of inspections will save you at least 8 hours of work later on in the development. This is a fact proven over and over again during the past decades. "As tester's we have forgotten our history" and the 5-why technique were other snippets from Lee's tutorial.

After the tutorial there was lunch in the expo hall, which had now been totally set up (I saw it develop during the monday :-) ). The lunch was a really good buffet with good quality food and a small dessert. I met a LOT of people (being a program committee member has an effect apparently of attracking people ;-) ) all of which I had nice, interesting and fun conversations with. And with this lunch I conclude this 'chapter' of my EuroSTAR diaries; I will continue with 'the conference day's' in the next chapters.

EuroSTAR 2010 diaries - prologue

Sunday afternoon, there's snow in the air and I'm finally leaving for Copenhagen. Seems like only yesterday that I was in Galway (Ireland) with John Fodeh, Peter Morgan and Rikard Edgren (and off course the Qualtech People), but time has really flown by this year.

A lot has been going on also; with the VideoSTAR, BlogSTAR, TestLab apprentices, TeamSTAR et all. I'm quite exited for the week to come... "how will the delegates respond on the program?", "how will I do myself during this week?" are a couple of thoughts I have.

The travel to Copenhagen didn't have any noticeable delays, and I was lucky I guess, since others were not that fortunate and had quite a travel to the conference. Snow and wind combined even got the airport closed on monday morning. Later I heard it has been not this cold in Copenhagen since 130 years. The hotel (Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers) was excellent! Very modern and easy reachable by public transport (there was a minivan to pick you up from the airport though). I had a very luxurious room, which apparently was a 'standard room'.

And I was looking forward of using the lounge chair after a conference day with a mug of (complementary) hot chocolate and have a look at the magnificent view over the city (I was on the 14th floor -cityside).

When I hung out my jackets and everything I went downstairs to the bar and met up with the Qualtech 'bunch' that were already had been very busy at the BellaCentre setting up all the stuff for the conference. They really have a lot to do before it actually starts for the delegates (something you don't actually get to see when you're 'just' visiting but in my role as program committee member has made me very aware off GREAT JOB YOU GUYS!). I didn't make it very late, because I airtravel makes me a bit tired and I really wanted to be fresh for the tutorials and the conference (and the drinks are actually VERY expensive in Copenhagen, where I paid 9 EUR for a glass of white wine in the hotelbar, so it's not that attractive to go 'slamming' very fanaticly)

- Did you know that Qualtech actually gets started on saturday before the conference morning early with building up the whole conference surroundings etc. ?
- Did you know that Qualtech had to ship 70 boxes of stuff from Galway to Copenhagen? (containing among others: the conference bags, the wristbands, the infoposters, the booklets, the speaker/ trackchair gifts and many other things?)
- Did you know that they were present even before 7 in the morning for the early birds? and that the Testlab opened up on wednesday the same time?

vrijdag 26 november 2010

Frustrated by Dutch Tax Authorities

As you may or may not know. I have a small company which sells Casualty Simulation Victim supplies, it's a small business with small margins due to the fact that most Casualty Sims in NL work on non-profit basis (or even charity).

My first salestax declaration I had to do by hand and was well within the time limit. The second however I had to do by a 'secured internet site'. Now you have to know, that in NL we know something that is called DigID, which is a governmental electronic ID to do all kinds of digital transactions and information on governmental sites. So I totally assumed that I had to use my DigID to do this tax declaration.

The week before the deadline (23rd of October) - well within the limits- I sat behind my computer to do this digital declaration, only to find out that I apparently needed a specific other loginID and password. It was Saturday, late in the afternoon, so I had to wait until Monday to call the Tax Authorities to request this ID and login.

I got a lady on the telephone which told me that she would send a new ID and WW which could take up to 8 (!!!) workingdays to arrive. So I told her I would be late with my declaration if it was to arrive later than the 31st of October (deadline).
She told me that when I was within 7 days of the 31 st (and I assume workingdays here too) that would make 9th of November I was still 'good'. I was worried since I'm away a lot and told her this; she told me that she would make a note and that I would be fine (perhaps she meant 'fined').

I got the ID on the 2nd of November and the password on the 4th of November. I was away then, so when I arrived at home I inmediately did my declaration (on the 11th).
Mind you: my declaration was 'negative' so the authorities would have to pay me instead of me paying them.

So, yesterday I got a 'bleu envelope' with a notice of omission and a fine for 56 EUR. and I was appalled.

Today I called the Tax Authorities and told them the story and that I followed procedures within my limits.
The guy who was on the phone simply said. You were too late and the penalty for that is 56 EUR.
When I told him of the letter that had arrive during absence and that I told the lady on the 25th and she would make a not; he said; It's not in the system, only that your declaration is too late. It's your responsibility to be at home when this letter arrives (what???) and you should have taken actions (what???). You should have known earlier that you had to have these other ID and password or you shouldn't have lost them (I didn't loose them; it was my first request!) and after that he concluded that there is no such thing as a extention of enddate for these declarations (why did the lady than say there would be a note???)

So I told him I didn't find it proper behaviour from the Tax Authorities in this case: I was on time (with both the request of the ID/Password AND the mentioning that I wouldn't be able to do the declaration because of not being on location when it would come in), than saying there would be a note and than nevertheless send me a fine... He said (and this made me really furious!) : that's your opinion but nevertheless you have to pay up.

Do they teach those guys to give answers that infuriate people?
Why aren't there any exception business rules; surely I'm not the only one that encounters these problems? Is the Dutch economic situation THAT bad that the Tax Authorities are into 'easy money' obtained by these (I find unethical) practices?

At least it 'cleares' a bit of the frustrated feeling to blog about this. I'm only a small business/ one person and the Tax Authorities are a huge organisation who can do a lot more 'nasty stuff' to you if you don't obey, so I won't be able to do much more than warn people that if 'they' say that they will make a note when requesting a extension of sales tax and it'll be okay: there is no such thing and they will fine you no matter what the circumstances and there will be no warning either.

vrijdag 19 november 2010

Expo:QA 2010 - Warm welcome and conference in a bit cold Madrid, day two

So, it's Friday already, the day after the ExpoQA conference. Just did breakfast with Martin Pol and Niels Malotaux and had some nice discussions about 'testing in the Cloud' or to be precise: the nonsense of this concept without knowing the true and accurate definition of 'cloud' and some other definitions. I'm already checked out and waiting for my husband to arrive, which I do currently in the 'PianoBar' of the hotel (much more comfy than the airport I thought). Time to write part two of my experiences at ExpoQA...

I woke up early on Thursday. Nervous and really still exhausted 'cause of the short night. Had a quick breakfast and ran off to the bus that was already waiting in front of the hotel to bring us to the conference venue.
I had to start this day with my 'Ethics debate', my co-host was Ewout van Driel (Sogeti, Spain) and I was introduced by Graham Thomas. It was tough and had to do some minor adjustments. A debate is especially difficult it seems in Spanish Culture, during the early morning and the simultanous translation is a bit hindering I find and the acoustics in the room were not that great either. But it went OK and the most important - and what gave me a really good feeling- was that people (although they did not perhaps have the courage to speak out in the crowd) were really discussing and debating amongst small groups. Dorothy Graham was my Mystery Guest and I think she did an excellent view on Ethics and Software Testing (thank you Dot!). She also mentioned a book you all should read, called: "Mistakes are made, but not by me". I didn't get 'high-in-the-sky' scores, but feedback was excellent and I think it's very positive sign that most people bothered to SMS (which costs money) to vote (I had 32 votes last time I checked and that was most votes of all tracks): THANK YOU ALL!!
During the day there were also numerous smaller discussion on the subject, so this made me feel very proud too.

Next I had a very though choice. Iris Pinkster did her presentation on Lean Test Management and Martin Pol on How to successfully Oursource Testing. I chose the latter. Since I will see Iris on EuroSTAR also when she's doing a Tutorial on the same subject and I won't see Martin there.

Next was the famous coffeebreak. It's amazing how much and how good the extra food and sweets are here. There's so much choice and if I didn't restrain myself I would certainly have 'pigged out' on the varous delicious sweet pastries.

After the break I went to see Jan Fish, again after a though choice, because 'Celestina Bianco's, Agile Validation for Medical Device?' seemed very interesting too. Jan Fish (USA) had a presentation about going to CMMI level 1 to 5 for QA in less than four years. And I AM very interested how she accomplished this. Three things I like to mention here are:
- Enable your people to grow
- Documented unit tests are rare
- Sticky Minds article from 30th of December 2008 by Michelle Sleiger 'Questions you should ask'
I know this is a bit out of context, but also look at the slides and the description of here track and you'll get the picture. Jan Fish is a very nice lady, and I'm glad to have met her (during the conference dinner last night I joined her (and husband's ) table and had a very good evening. She also very natural and dynamic on stage and doesn't hesitate to come of stage to approach someone in the audience that has a question.

The next track I went to was 'Help, We have QA problem!' by Niels Malotaux. That wasn't a though choice since I already volunteered to track-chair this track. I thought it was a very clear, very sound and easy to understand presentation. And others thought so too, because this track was rewarded with the Delegates Best Track award. I would like to mention here that you should read 'Deming' and two quotes:
- Let's DO something about it
- It's our business to make people HAPPY.

Dynamic Niels during his presentation...

After a great lunch, with - YEAH!!!- TAPAS again (It's really excellent lunch here!) I went to Isabel Evans' Keynote about 'Growing our Industry: cultivating testing'. It was a typical Evans keynote, easy to listen too, great stuff and very passionate about both horticulture and the testing profession. It was no surprise here that Isabel's abstract was rewarded BEST by the technical committee.
And I was very proud that the Ethics Debate was mentioned a couple of times here in relation to the contents of her keynote.
Some other things I wrote down during the keynote:
- Isabel was inspired by the level of passion and level of control combined in the Flamenco show last night.
- We are here to make the next Generation of tester even better
- Professionals have a known level of competence
All I can say is: Go see this keynote if you have a chance!

I planned to go to 'Ignacio López Carrillo's "How can you demonstrate savings from software tests?". But I ran into Derk-Jan and some other people which I had a really good social talk with. So I decided to skip the last track. It also gave me a good oppurtunity to say goodbye to some people who had to leave somewhat early of right after the conference. Luckily Derk-Jan was pursuaded to stay during the closing of the conference because his abstract got a special recognition from the technical reviewing committee being the most mentioned one! (Isabel Evans got 'best abstract').

At the closing of the conference I saw a familiar image... It was the Expo:QA cartoon from Andy Glover, a.k.a. CartoonTester (recommended blog!!!)

The prizes were handed over, the delegates, speakers and chairs were thanked and than there was a farewell coffee (again: great pastries!)

And that concluded the conference Expo:QA 2010.
I really hope to be able to attend again in the future, since I found this a very intimate and relaxed, well organized conference (about 300 delegates).

When we left for the bus to bring us to the hotel again. I approached Geoff Thompson on an idea Isabel had invoked during her keynote and I think you can expect more from this in the future! We already had a ball with the first ideas of this concept, which I'll keep a secret for now... (btw Geoff is partipating in 'Movember': this is a moustache growing sponsoring event regarding prostate cancer during the month november; please feel inspired to sponsor participants of this initiative!).

So... next I'll be blogging about will probably be my EuroSTAR 2010 adventure in Copenhagen. Hope you will tune in again then!

donderdag 18 november 2010

Expo:QA 2010 - Warm welcome and conference in a bit cold Madrid, day one

Finally I got a chance to blog on Expo:QA 2010. It's been a very hectic and very busy few days, but now I'm in my hotel room after the conference has closed and have some time on my hands to blog. There wasn't any WiFi at the conference centre (wel no FREE WiFi) so I was also a bit mellow on the tweeting and the blogging certainly had to wait. So, what I've been up to the last couple of days...starting with arrival and day 1.

Some pretty pics of the flight from my window

I arrived in Madrid at 14.50 at the airport and was in my hotel (arranged by the ExpoQA people) the Avn. América Meliã (wich is quite good!) at four o'clock.
room at hotel

I met Derk-Jan de Grood of Valori in the lobby and we had a social drink before attending the track chair meeting in one of the meeting rooms in the hotel. The meeting was to instruct all the trackchairs on the procedures and the Vota-y-Gana (vote and win) system that would be used by the delegates to rank the different tracks and keynotes.
After that there was a social drink with the speakers and chairs in another meeting room, which was quite nice and informal. The only missing group were the speakers from the UK who were delayed because of heavy fog (I heard they had to wait for 5 hours at the airport to finally depart). Me, Dorothy Graham, Martin Pol and Derk-Jan decided to have dinner at the restaurant only to find out that it wouldn't be open till 20.30, so we had a 'quick bite' at the hotel bar and decided to go to bed early because most of us were very tired or had to work on their presentation some more. When we left, we ran into the heavily delayed UK people finally arrived at the hotel as well.

On Wednesday was an early start. The ExpoQA people had arranged a shuttle bus (coach) to go to the conference centre, which left at 08.15 from the hotel, which was excellent service and very relaxing since I didn't have the stress of having to find a taxi and also could have some chats in the bus with other attendants.
The venue itself is gigantic! The ExpoQA conference itself was held at the North Entrance and was at a first floor level. I found the set up excellent. Four rooms, situated around the vendor booths and two counters where coffee was served during the breaks. Coffee was always sponsored by one of the companies and accompanied by some sweet snacks.

Batch and conferenceguide of Expo:QA 2010 - I was really there :-)

Raynald Korchia opened the conference with a warm welcome to all delegates and at 9.45 the first keynote was held. It was a guest called 'Arnold Aumason'and he told us about worldwide testing services market 2010-2014: Key Growth Opportunities and Sector Trends. I didn't really hear anything new or revelationous here and the voice of the speaker was very monotonous so I couldn't get really exicted about this keynote.

The second keynote was the one of Dorothy Graham: What Managers Think They Know about Test Automation but Don't. I would like to reference to the information on the ExpoQA site ( to look into the info. There wasn't any real new information here for me, although I caught some ideas here, but specifically for the less experienced testers this was an excellent track and Dorothy is a dyed-in-the-whool speaker.

After these two keynotes there was a coffee break, with yummie treats and - for me as 'Dutchy' - a bit weird coffee where normal milk is mixed with very strong black coffee if you want 'coffee with milk' (we know 'cream', but it's an unknown concept it seems here in Spain).

When I finished my coffee and had some chats I had to choose the next track. It was a choice of four each time and this time I chose: The Cassandra Syndrome: The Tester's Dilemma and What to do about it by Rick Hower. He had a very funny anecdote about an embarrassed cat which had sprang into closed pation doors and actually looked embarrassed when he was up on his feet again. It was a very entertaining presentation with some good info and some interesting points, one statement that particularly interested me was "how much truth is too much truth?".
Rick has a site which you can visit on:

My other choice would have been the track of Derk-Jan de Grood on selecting the most effective test design techniques which - afterwards- got some excellent feedback, but in this case I choose the 'foreign' one that I was less likely to have an oppurtunity to see again. I'd like to mention here that Derk-Jan also received a special mentioning for his excellent abstract that was mentioned the most by the technical committee in the closing of the conference.
The next I chose was the track of Geoff Thompson called 'Testing, so many problems but we have the solutions don't we?". It was about 'craft' v.s. 'profession' and the Dunning Kruger effect where IT suffers from apparently. Some nice expressions from this track were 'Illusory superiority and inferiority' and 'The Silver bullet is YOU'.

The lunch after these tracks was absolutely fabulous. It was the famous TAPAS from Spain and different small delicious foods were constantly distributed during the (1,5 hour) lunch break. Accompanied by softdrinks and wine!.

It made the keynote after the lunch a though one, heavily fighting off my after-lunch-dip. But the speaker 'Alan Brown' was very good and kept me awake effortlessly. It was about 'Best Practices for Delivering Quality Solutions in a Ditributed, Agile environment' and I would like to mention 'Rational Team Concert' here, that was the main player in this keynote.

After this keynote I went to Virgina Chalegre about Accessibility Testing Methodology for Visually Handicapped in Web Environments. And I was really intrigued by a tool that read out the text from the screen and the difficulties one with a visual handicap has to face on the www. It was a track in Spanish and it was actually the first time I encountered this 'synchronous translation' and found it brilliant. Oh; also, a website that is suitable for visualy handicapped isn't per definition ugly for non-visually handicapped people.

After the coffee break I had a conversation with my co-host (Ewout van Driel) and chair (Graham Thomas). And I was actually 22 minutes too late for the next track. I chose to go to track one (Peter Farell-Vinay with Release Readiness) but in stead rushed into track 2 by mistake. It was in Spanish and I didn't have the translation headphones with me, but also to embarrassed to leave the room again and actually I didn't have the heart to leave the room again. Luckily the slides where in English and I could understand some Spanish words, so I think I got the message of Graham Moran's Test Tool Evaluation and implementation.

At 18.00 there was a bus to the hotel again, arranged by the ExpoQA people. We were supposed to leave at 19.15 again to the Florida Park to have a Networking Dinner with Flamenco show. But traffic was SO heavy we actually arrived at the hotel at 18.55 and had to really hurry up to get dressed/ have some freshing up and run to the bus again. Well the bus left at 19.30 or so and we had an excellent drink before a good dinner and a great show with - as Isabel Evans stated today- great level of passion combined with great level of control. I wasn't allowed to take any pictures inside, so you have to go and look at this show when you're in Madrid yourself.

I arrived at the hotel at 00.30 and was too exhausted to blog the day and I had to get up at 7 today again so this is why there is such a delay in my experience blogging.
I will blog about today (day 2) later on, because now I will go to dinner (it's 20.40 now) after I have also put the photo's with this blog.

dinsdag 16 november 2010

Dutch Testing Day - Naturalis Leiden

Currently I'm on my way to Madrid for Expo:QA and since I'm waiting for boarding, I finally have the time to blog about the Dutch Testing Day at Naturalis, Leiden on the 4th of November. Organized by Collis this time.

I went there much later then I expected; some issues at clientside occured which had to be solved first so I drove to Leiden rather late. In my mind I had the 'Corpus' as the hosting venue so I drove there. There was little parking space so I parked about a km away, walked there only to find that the Testing Day was at Naturalis. So walked back again (fighting my way through fierce winds of an autumn storm) and drove to Naturalis. There was the same parking problem there, so I parked at LUMC (hospital) and walked to the main entrance of Naturalis, only to find that I had to walk all the way back to the PestHuis where the event was held. At the door was a note with mobile numbers to call when I was to attend the Dutch Testing Day; and when I finally got in I felt I had just participated in a puzzle tour or something similar.

But I had a good lunch. I was surprised not to see any booths here from the sponsors, instead they were at a seperate hall behind the atrium where the tracks were held. I found this a bit dissapointing; a lunch is - for me- a perfect time to catch up with some vendors and competitors/ colleagues; by this setup I kinda missed this oppurtunity.

I missed the first couple of tracks. So my first track to attend was the one of Experiences with Formal Engineering: Model-based Specification, Implementation and Testing of a Software Bus by Marten Sijtema. I had forgotten the academic approach of the Dutch Testing Day and had to get used to the material for some minutes. But the track had some good points and some familiar info I had in a Dutch Testing Day (at Eindhoven) before. Next was the track of Panel questions to Model Based Testing Speakers (Jan, Neda, Axel & Marten), followed by - and this was a surprise- the track from Rik Marselis about End-to-end testing in the public domain, this one was supposed to be held in the morning so I thought I missed it, but instead I got to see it still. The last of the mid-day session was a track called "A comparison of free tools for Domain Specific Test Languages" by Martin Gijsen. I like this last one about the different tools. And I really like the setup of 1 track at a time; this way I don't have to choose which one to attend, which makes it easy :-)

The drinks were luckily at the vendor/ booth space. So I could catch up with some people and the buzz.

After the break there were two more tracks; well a track and a keynote. "The business case for Application Virtualization in testing complex distributed application architectures" by Edwin van Asch, was the first. Followed by Computer Security by Bart Jacobs, which I like a lot actually! After that there was the closing up of the event and there was a closing drink in the booth space.

I didn't attend the drinks afterward, since I was so awfully busy and had some other obligations to attend that evening. But I suppose they were ok since the whole entourage was very good.

I had a good event and heard some good stuff during the day. I found the venue a bit weird and not that well setup, but that's my point of view (and maybe the titles from the presentations where too long :-)). I liked the one-track-at-a-time setup (allthough I heard some people they would have liked a choice). The food was good (hot pastry and some good sandwiches!)
I will certainly attend next years Dutch Testing Day if possible at University of Twente (Enschede?).

Look for content on the tracks at :

So, now I'm about to board the plain to Madrid (I hope, since I don't see the actual plain yet...:-& ) and hope to keep you updated on my Expo:QA2010 adventure on this blog!

vrijdag 29 oktober 2010

5 mins or 30 mins, that's the question...

The week before this one, I commuted to work by train and got inspired for this blog.
So what's the story?

The last couple of weeks our national public transport train company - apparently- had loads of trouble keeping to their timetable (and IMHO still do but that is another story). Every single day for the past weeks the train has been delayed for 5 minutes and that made me 'tweet' the following:

"I find it more annoying to have a 5 min delay every day than to have 30 mins delay once in a while. "

and after that :

"I guess my last tweet about train travel, could very well apply to software testing too??" and "What do you think: Less annoying to have a huge bug once in a while, than numerous ones almost constantly"

I got the following responses:

@santhoshst : "True - I related it to Performance Quality criteria :) #softwaretesting

@santhoshst : "Depends on the context :)

@jahoving : "but even more annoying to have no bugs at all ;-)

@eddybruin : " 1 huge bug is better manageable than 100's of inconvenient little bugs"

There are not many replies, but all replies have something that made me think about this statement more. I have put down some thoughts/ questions that I had and would love you to respond on that!

- No bugs at all can mean a couple of things (amongst others): 1. the utopious perfect programmer has arrived to program the utopious perfect analyst's and designer's work. 2. you have not tested the right part of the software, are not performing the right tests or have automated your tests and this only checks things leaving the really important bugs unfound.

- It's annoying to get bug reports constantly. It's better to report once in a set time than to come running over to the programmer/ manager (etc.) with every single bug found. Also the 'huge bug-rule' can apply here; a huge bug can be reported immediately (it probably has to be fixed with high priority too) but all those little ones? Report it once a couple of days; else it will interrupt the programmers work (and attention) unnecessarily. It will also cloud a managers view; when you come to him constantly with every bug: the really important ones will not seem as important as they really are (famous fable of 'Peter and the Wolfe')

- When looking at performance issues. When you have - for example- a 7 seconds delay at every request this can be seen as not a big issue (in the margin) but a 1 minute delay is seen as problem. As a user 7 seconds can seem like a eternity when your on a deadline especially when you have 100's of request to work through every day. A minute delay once in a while can give you some coffee time; 7 seconds each request is simply a pain in the ...

- Of course the context has to be taken in consideration, as mentioned by santhoshst. Numerous bugs can also be very 'dangerous' when they are in a critical part of a system; even the smaller ones.

- I wondered if this one would be true: 1 bug is better manageable than 100's of little ones. I could think of a bug that had a very complex background: to get it solved it took a lot of time, management, politics and redesigning. In the same time at least 20 others with minor priority where fixed and closed. Overview can be complex for a lot of smaller ones, but it's the real big ones that can push your skill-limits. This is - mind- also related to the role and tasks you have within your organization. When this is only to report the bug and retest it when it's fixed, than the statement could well be true. When you also have to 'guide' the defect through the rework process it will probably be more like described earlier.

- When the timetable of the train at station X would be adjusted to 5 mins later, there wouldn't be a defect/bug. I wonder why they don't do this, because at the next station there is a - almost - ten minutes wait till the train leaves from there. So there is margin to set the time of departure at station X a bit later. And here comes (I know a bit unconventional) statement. Specifications can be changed to 'solve' a bug (dependent on the context/severity etc.).

I'm very anxious to see your replies. I so love discussions! and - needless to say-... please reply in one big one instead of lot's of smaller ones :-)

vrijdag 8 oktober 2010

Continuous Quality Process Software- and Systems (CQPSS)

[Blog entry from CappingITOff]

I was not always into testing. My first choice of studies, before getting entirely intrigued by IT, was that of FoodEngineering. When I got into the testing matter, I was surprised to find that in IT, testing is mostly done during development or when changes occur in the software or system. In the foodindustry there's a continuous quality process during development and during operations, this is named HACCP, the abbriviation for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. HACCP - and I quote Wikipedia here - is a systematic preventive approach to food safety and pharmaceutical safety that addresses physical, chemical, and biological hazards as a means of prevention rather than finished product inspection. HACCP is used in the food industry to identify potential food safety hazards, so that key actions, known as Critical Control Points (CCPs) can be taken to reduce or eliminate the risk of the hazards being realized. The system is used at all stages of food production and preparation processes including packaging, distribution, etc.

I started to wonder why in IT (Testing) there is no such process implemented; our business is riskmitigation isn't it? IT is becoming more and more (or is already) essential in our businessprocesses and daily lives. Failure has such a hughe impact that I find it scary to not have constant monitoring on IT solutions. It is a known fact that testing during development can't be done with a 100% coverage of system- or software, so there are still some flaws in there that could mean disaster to your business...

I thought up the Continuous Quality Process Software- and Systems, in short (because IT likes the use of abbreviations) CQPSS. Of course I used the seven basic principles of HACCP as my baseline, so let's look at those principles, which I will map to CQPSS.

Principle 1: Conduct a hazard analysis.
Plans determine the food safety hazards and identify the preventive measures the plan can apply to control these hazards. A food safety hazard is any biological, chemical, or physical property that may cause a food to be unsafe for human consumption.

In the CQPSS it's almost the same. Every business has critical processes. In the CQPSS plan these criticall processes should be described. When testing during development is done correctly, this riskanalysis should be there and is re-usable. Ofcourse these should be updated when changes occur.

Principle 2: Identify critical control points.
A Critical Control Point (CCP) is a point, step, or procedure in a food manufacturing process at which control can be applied and, as a result, a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated, or reduced to an acceptable level.

In CQPSS one should look at the process that has been automated and determine the point, step or procedure where one can perform a check. Preferably these checks should be designed in such a way that this check can be done automated. Checks should be done on various points in the process and not only on the outcome. For example: in data warehouse chains one should not only perform a check on the
reporting but should perform checks on staging, calculation outcomes, the data warehouse itself and the reporting.

Principle 3: Establish critical limits for each critical control point.
A critical limit is the maximum or minimum value to which a physical, biological, or chemical hazard must be controlled at a critical control point to prevent, eliminate, or reduce to an acceptable level.

Every checkpoint from principle 2 has got to have critical limits assigned. When for instance a normal incoming cashflow is reported from sourcesystems at 60K and 130K is highly unlikely than the system should have a critical boundary at 110 or 120K at the point of staging and the processing should be stopped or paused at least, the monitoring system should issue a warning so a business expert can check whether the cashflow is due to a frantic hype or perhaps some system has issued a batch of data twice.

Principle 4: Establish critical control point monitoring requirements.
Monitoring activities are necessary to ensure that the process is under control at each critical control point. In the United States, the FSIS is requiring that each monitoring procedure and its frequency be listed in the HACCP plan.

The output from principle 2 and 3 are used here and in this step the way HOW and HOW OFTEN these points are validated is established. For instance it can be described that a calculation check, described at principle 3, on cachflow is done at end-of-day each day at batch load point with a certain formula using a certain tool.

Principle 5: Establish corrective actions.

These are actions to be taken when monitoring indicates a deviation from an established critical limit. The final rule requires a plant's HACCP plan to identify
the corrective actions to be taken if a critical limit is not met. Corrective actions are intended to ensure that no product injurious to health or otherwise adulterated as a result of the deviation enters commerce.

Again a reference to principle 3; I here stated that for example the system should state a warning when the critical boundary is met. In principle 5 is is explicitly stated what the corrective action on this warning should be. In principle 3 it was stated that in that case a business expert should check the cause. Corrective actions could in this case be: stop load process, business expert check; frantic
hype -> continue batch processing or duplicate batch -> delete batch from flow and issue warning to delivering system.

Principle 6: Establish record keeping procedures.
The HACCP regulation requires that all plants maintain certain documents, including its hazard analysis and written HACCP plan, and records documenting the monitoring of critical control points, critical limits, verification activities, and the handling of processing deviations.

In CQPSS this means that the written CQPSS plan is published within the organisation is know to all the stakeholders of the process that is described and everybody is known with the actions to be taken. The results from the monitoring process should be archived as well; the way how to do this and how long data is to be kept is also to be described in the CQPSS plan. I like to mention here that it is especially of importance to highlight (or record extra in a specific overview) the derivations/ exceptions from the process, this way any changes in frequency or other anomalies in the process can be specificly monitored and acted upon; perhaps even a prediction can be made and adjustments (change request) can be issued.

Principle 7: Establish procedures for ensuring the HACCP system is working as intended.
Validation ensures that the plants do what they were designed to do; that is, they are successful in ensuring the production of safe product. Plants will be required to validate their own HACCP plans. FSIS will not approve HACCP plans in advance, but will review them for conformance with the final rule.

There are various monitoring ánd testtool that can be installed also on a production environment for monitoring purposes. These tools can be outfitted with specific testcases and checkpoints. When a fully automated process is in place, the control on the process is somewhat 'out of sight'. When this process is not working correctly it will never be noticed when regular checks on this process are
not in place. The CQPSS plan and its implemented process should be checked - preferably by an independent party- at regular intervals to check if the quality process is still working as intended. There should also be a validation on relevance of the process; are the checks being performed still covering all the risks that ought to be covered?

By implementing a process like CQPSS the measuring of quality of the system is not only done during the development phase (the traditional testing) but is extended to the complete lifecycle of the product/process. It makes the way to a more safer, more reliable and more trustworthy businessprocess where the monitored IT-component is implemented and - last but not least- makes it easier to apply for ((inter)national) certification of your business.

donderdag 30 september 2010

Expo:QA 2010 - Discount and chance for an iPad

I will be doing the Software Testing Ethics Debate in Madrid, together with Wouter van Driel (Sogeti), at Expo:QA 2010 as Keynote!. And... we have a very exciting special/ mystery guest. So if you're there, be sure to attend!

If you register at this page (English Page): With - Very important- this code : IPNAVADE you get a 5% discount on the admittance. If you do this before the 12th of October you also participate in a draw to win an iPad!

dinsdag 28 september 2010

NoorderTest 2010

Last Thursday I attended 'NoorderTest'. This conference was held in the CJIB building in Leeuwarden and there were 160 participants. NoorderTest is a community of testers in the Nordic Region of the Netherlands consisting of testers working at (semi)governmental companies. Once every year they organize a larger conference so they can benefit from knowledge sharing.
This year my 'Ethics Debate' was selected on the program so I had the oppurtunity as non-Nordic-tester to attend!

The reception at the venue was very nice. Every speaker was guided through the building and their rooms were their track was given was inspected so it was made sure that everything was in order. There was coffee/tea and a piece of cake at the main hall were all attendees gathered till the kick-off was done. People were already in a conversational mood, because some effort had to be made to get everybody quiet for the opening speech :-)
The main thing that occurred to me that is was such a pleasant environment and mood.

The first track I attended was that of Rik Marselis. He had an interactive session about Chaintesting according to TMap. Different people participated in the different discussions which made it nice session to have visited. Although I have to make a remark that people who were not familiar with TMap or with the book about ChainTesting according to TMap had some difficulties with some material in the track and not all information came across to each participant.

Each track was seperated by a break in which people had plenty of oppurtunity to reflect on the track they attended. Some people found these breaks a bit too long, other people really liked the longer time in between. I was of the latter group; I liked the oppurtunity to reflect a bit longer on the track I just attended; it just seemed to make it more interactive as a whole.
The second track was my own :-) Together with Budimir Hrnjak, a colleague of mine I hosted the Ethics Debate, which was fully booked! (every track had to be booked beforehand). My Mystery Guest this time was Gerard Numan of Polteq; he had a great piece about the theory of Ethics and the relation to testers and the debates held just prior to his plea.

In the break after my track several groups were still debating the stuff from the session I heard in passing by the tables, so I found this very cool. Feedback was also very good; especially to the MysteryGuest :-) Maybe I'll have to hire him to do more Mystery/Ethics stuff in the future.

The last track I missed; alas. I was still so busy with all kinds of conversations that the next tracks already started and I didn't have the heart to interrupt any speaker. So I used the time to fill out the puzzle that was in the program booklet.
At the draw it seemed that I had not wasted my time: I won the romantic night for two that was the prize to be won with the puzzle :-)

After the last speech, people had the oppurtunity to have dinner (buffet). It was a ham-mellon cocktail for starters, than Macaroni/cheese or Ham/Potatoes or Rice/Goulash and a desert. I missed the desert and the drinks afterwards because I had another appointment nearby. But I can imagine it was still a good gathering then.
The farewell gift was a black chalkboardlike mug with a crayon (so you could write on the mug) and a small box of mints.

I had a good experience at this conference. Alas it's only for members of NoorderTest, for which you have to work at one of these Nordic Companies. But if you are in the oppurtunity to attend, I would certainly recommend this meeting!