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?