zondag 27 november 2011

EuroSTAR 2011 diaries - part three

I woke up with a major headache, maybe it's the tension for the track I'm doing today. I only had 1 cocktail during dinner and 1 pint of beer last night, so it can't be the booze acting up. Well, nothing a good old Aspirin can't fix.
I had to be at the conference centre at 0730 again to practice the last GMM session already. Today I'm again pointing out the Testlab, since it's an excellent place to be at to test and meet people and I'm highlighting the European Testers Survey in my weather report. I'm also sneaky referencing the closing event. I'm all into the details and it's going to be such fun! Before I went to the conference centre I picked up a huge eggnog latte at StarBucks, I love these different flavours in foreign SB's (I had a Pumpkin spice in Portland), it's a shame they don't have them in the Netherlands.

We practised again till the people came in the auditorium. It seems that more people don't want to miss the GMM's, the buzz is apparently going around that there's fun stuff in there and people don't want to miss it, which is good.

Photo by Rik Marselis: Me as weather girl on the big stage during GMM session.
The keynote was that of Ben Walters, I didn't notice it, but apparently he was as sick as could be and he just came out of bed to do the keynote before returning to it again (chapeau dude! I take my hat off for you if I'd wore one). It started out promising, but as Twittering and mailing increase, mark a period of my declining interest, I must conclude I was losing my interest half way the talk. My headache came up again so I wished for the track to end so I could pop an aspirin again. I got more stressed for my talk this afternoon...and that took a toll on my attention.

I went to Architecture Testing after the break by Peter Zimmerer. I listened to his talk with interest as I'm busy setting up something on how to do this with an architect at my current client. I didn't get what I expected to get from it though and I didn't agree with the content in a whole, I have a different perspective on architecture testing and it is good that different perspectives are there, but it sucks that this will probably set a new discussion and confusion that goes with it around the subject to get a common (for what that's worth) understanding. I see a lot of evangelising to be done there.

I went to Michael Bolton's dashboards track after that. I had high hopes and expectations, as I learned something new and very applicable every time I visited a track by Michael. I couldn't be more disappointed this time. It might have been very applicable for newbies, but for me, it was (very) old news and the stuff told I apply naturally in my work, as I know most of my colleagues do (and not only colleagues from my company but also most of the testers in NL and UK I know) because they are educated in reporting and giving feedback to the client when you're doing testing. I even go as far as to say I learned a lot of this stuff during my ISTQB course, but maybe that's because I had a good teacher for this course. It's not about the numbers, although a lot of non-ISTQB testers think we ISTQB people are only into 'coverage by percentage' etc. (it's not that bad: it's what you DO with it that counts ;-) ) , I actually learned that you first go to your client/ stakeholders and ask them what their need is regarding the information and reporting during testing and produce my information accordingly. I never use the same reporting for one organization in another, I even got specialized reporting for some specific stakeholder groups if it gets more clear for them or they feel more happy about a certain lay-out. Whiteboards are okay, but I'm having a conflict there when I think about the strict clean-desk policy most organizations have nowadays; they'd get a heart-attack when seeing this stuff all out in the open, it's all in the context and this solution isn't for my context.
I was considering changing to 10 challenges by John Montgomery, but I figured I could relax a bit have a bit and browse through some mail. It wasn't a complete waste of time, so I still was LEAN ;-)

Between that track and the lunch I went to StarBucks to escape and relax a bit. I have to remember to breathe...

My turn. I was nervous, VERY nervous. I've been 'speaking' before but at my Ethics debate the attendees do most of the talking and at my Unusual Testing track there's so much non-testing info, I'm quite sure the oddness protects me somewhat. This time I really felt exposed, I was talking about work I actually done as a tester and I felt I could only be exposed as a fraud or an idiot. Although my client was very pleased with my work (which I find most important) and I'm really proud of my work and want to share my lessons learned because they helped me and maybe could help others (or inspire), I'm still very unsure. It's also my first time on the 'BIG stage', I can tell it's different being on a stage in an auditorium, where seats are going up all around you and a smaller room, where you are the highest point in the room. I'm also not used having an AV team regulating my slides and having a slide-button and separate pointer. I was scared that I would screw up. I was scared switching the devices and look clumsy or making stupid English jokes, that are hilarious in Dutch but are are an insult in English or something. I was SCARED, I was NERVOUS...it went fine.

I had people asking questions, I had a happy client (which was in the room) and somebody that wanted to ask more inside info from an Austrian railway company and even - a first for me- somebody wanted a picture with me (I felt like a rock star :-)) ). I had a headache again, but this time from the tension leaving my body. I let out a sigh from relief and went for coffee.

The last keynote was from Isabel Evans. She still is one of the most inspiring people I have met and she always has always has something to tell that you can pick snippets from to use in your own work. I've never thought of sight disabled people and using IT, although I have a colleague that ought to have triggered me, but now I have really got something to think about. Again the added value of this particular conference is the things that surprise me as I would not have thought about before but really make something to bring home. It's one of the aspects that go in to my custom-made toolbox and check lists for testing questions.

The closing session is finally there. The audience doesn't know yet, but behind their seating is an envelope with a live (a special device that Morton made) or dead bug in it. I know because before my track during lunch, I've been putting them there (together with Derk-Jan, Morton and two Qualtech girls) and after that I sat on every chair (!!!) to make sure they didn't fall out (I still have my upper leg muscles complaining a bit because of this). On one of the dead bugs (encased in plastic) there's the winning number in-scripted for the Golden Ticket to EuroSTAR 2012. My job is to ensure everybody that wants to win this ticket is in the sections where the bugs are. Then it finally starts, the boys are ready and the lights go out... It's a spectacle and it goes exactly as planned. The TestLab is having their time to do the news on the lab. Then the 'bugtime' is there; it's hilarious with screams coming from here and there in the audience. Then it's already over and only the Gala-dinner remains.

The dinner is at 'The Monastery' and its really spectacular, the lighting gives it a very special and awesome atmosphere. There's champagne and there's good company. The choir, including Dorothy Graham and Fiona Charles is singing beautifully and finishes with a few of my favourite techniques written by Dot and specially arranged for the choir. It's magnificent.

The awards are given at the end of the dinner. Julian Harty wins the European Testing Excellence Award and I think it's well deserved. The chair for next year is also announced: Zeger van Hese will be chair for the Amsterdam 2012 edition.

I said my goodbyes at the Monastery, but there was also a drink at the Jury's Inn where I was invited to, so I tagged along with the others and had a good pint (or two) of Strongbows (to finish with what I started the whole adventure with I found that appropriate). I went to my hotel around one-ish and was surprised by one hell of a shower of rain. And of course my umbrella and poncho were still in the bag with weather-girl stuff :-), a bit of an ironic end of the the conference I thought, but what a conference it was... now to wait for a whole year for a new EuroSTAR to start, hoping to see you all there then.

Photo by Rik Marselis: Derk-Jan and Me at Schiphol Airport waiting at the passport control checkpoint

EuroSTAR 2011 diaries - part two

Well as they say : "the early bird catches, gets the worm"... as I say "I'm not into earlies and I'm certainly not into worms". I had to get to the conference centre at 07.30 to practice the GMM-session again, and I can't skip it since I'm a part of it today, as if I would, because I really like participating so actively, it just gives an extra dimension to visiting a conference I find.

I figured out that the StarBucks is just around the corner of the conference so I went there first to get some (well not some, but a large cup) coffee. I even got in the auditorium in time, which is quite essential if you're the timekeeper. We practised until the audience came in and we couldn't any longer. I was putting on my poncho for the weather gig back-stage and got my adrenaline rush again. Better than coffee I thought, but it hasn't got the same easiness.

It went well I think, at least I was happy with the way it went. And I think I did some good attention drawing to the testlab (which needed the attention since it was a bit out-of-the-route) and the expo. Today I'll have to keep an eye out for the weather-forecast items for tomorrow morning.
The opening keynote was that of James Whittaker (Google). Last time I saw him was also on a testing conference, where he (than employee of MicroSoft) had an item with a movie from MicroSoft with future technologies and that testers were laughing at that since they were sure they had work for them the upcoming years, he made a point that testers and developers were different then. It made the current message from him a bit shallow. Back then tester had a job, now we should become developers. Am I to believe a message from somebody that changes the message with the changing of the name of the organization that pays his salary? He's a good speaker though and it's entertaining to listen to him. The message wasn't all that bad, I still think myself that we shouldn't be in just one small part in the development phase but that we ought to be involved in the whole phase, I think we ought to have a broader skill set (maybe only some general kwowledge) to be more involved in the whole development cycle. Having been a developer myself I don't see why I should develop myself in my current job though; there are people who are MUCH more effective in that than I am. I find it bullocks to scratch 'tester' from my job title just to get 30% more salary; I'm proud on the work I'm doing thank you very much. If I learned anything from the 'death of tester and testingphase' keynotes it's that testing is as alive as ever.

My program of this day was:
  • Minitracks (Martin Mussman and Jackie McDougall)
  • Afterlunch tracks - visiting testlab, do some conferring
  • checking first moments of Houston we've got a problem (Maurice Siteur and Rien v Vugt) and sneak out to finish with Social software development
  • Tester get out of your cave (chairing this one)
  • conferring time, checking the expo, maybe visit the lab again
  • Mixing open and commercial tools (chairing this one)
  • Keynote and closure
  • Attending North West Testing Gathering (meetup)
So after the keynote I went over to the minitracks and enjoyed some very nice minitracks. The first minitrack being of Martin Mussman about mindmapping. The mindmaps for making your testdesign is a really good idea to let everybody involved get a clear view on what's going on. So I will use my FreeMind more often (FYI: list of wikipedia mindmapping software).
Jacky McDougall did a very passionate story on educational paths in her boot-camp track, which inspired me to look into some educational stuff for my organization. Both tracks brought me something I could really take with me. So I was happy with my choice to have visited them.

I visited the expo after that, tried to find the speaker that I was to chair that afternoon and did some conferring, I didn't get to see the next mini-tracks that I planned. Time seems to be going SO fast here...

I went to Houston of my colleagues Maurice and Rien after the coffeebreak. They started with a play to illustrate the goal of the talk. I sneaked out when Rien started on statistics. I already planned not being there the whole session and this seemed as good a moment as any. What I saw was okay, but then again, I didn't see the whole session.
I really wanted to visit the testlab during my EuroSTAR conference so I hurried there. I had to install the RedNoteBook application on my laptop and re-start, that cost me some time. But I got it running and even got time to report a bug; earning me two stickers: 1) labrat sticker and 2) I logged a bug in the testlab sticker, both are now proudly showing on my laptop.
The pair-testing sessions started which I would have really liked attending, but I had two sessions to chair also, one of which started in twenty minutes so I had to run again, grab some lunch and prepare the introductions.

Jan Jaap Cannegieter was the track I was chairing and I got to sit and relax a bit while listing to this pleasant track about 'tester: come out of your cave'. Although some statistics came around (from a survey) and as I said I'm not a fan of statistics, I liked the message and the thought process that came from these numbers. And I really agreed with the statement that we should develop more political skills as testers, I'm a big fan of learning and gaining non-typical-testing skills to enhance my testing work.

I didn't get to the testing lab again, which was rather a shame though, since it was really a good place to be and learn. I really don't know anymore what I did between this session and the session I had to chair next. I know I wandered around and visited some more expo, but the rest? I haven't got a clue.

After the afternoon break I chaired Mauro Garofalo. He was an Italian guy who spoke in English for the first time. He had a good topic, about combining open source tools with COTS tools, but alas not all of it came out in the most flourishing way due to the language barrier and he really was a smart guy, only nervous as hell. It also was a bit short. I tried to make it a bit longer by trying to get to some discussion and ask questions, but I had to end the session after 35 minutes already. I picked up the Maveryx info though an I'm really going to check that one out.

I had a bit of stone in my stomach to go to the keynote. I was afraid that it would bring more doom-messages of the end-of-the-testing-world or something. I like my job, so I'm not a fan of hearing all this 'it's going to end, because I'm just a blanket' stuff. I take my job seriously and I think it takes real skills to do it in a good way. So being called a security blanket (or a snugly Slanket for my part) isn't exactly what I like to hear.
Luckily I was wrong. Daryl told about communities to make a change in the Deutsche Bank organization. I really liked the view from this perspective, helped me perceive some better in persona's. There was somebody twittering that it shouldn't be in a testing conference, I was just thinking "You're not getting the message here, you seem daft" it is exactly this what makes this conference having an added value; giving different views from different perspectives.

After closing I didn't go to the North West Testing gathering directly. Paul Gerrard was hosting a debate at the Midland Hotel about the future of the testing profession. I decided to hang out with Derk-Jan de Grood who apparently had the same plans as I had for that evening. So we went to the debate together. It was a 'fishbowl' like session. I found it a fun session, although some attendees sat on the chair and kept sitting there and didn't give other people a chance to speak their mind and claiming all the speaking-space. Enough people spoke their mind in the end though and I'm very interested to read about it and see what of this maybe comes back in the new book that Paul Gerrard is going to publish in a short while.

Derk-Jan and I set out to grab something to eat on the way to the North West Testing gathering. We ended up in a place called 'Eden'. It had a really good choice of foods and I enjoyed a really good cocktail with ginger and some roasted pork belly, while Derk-Jan's choice was a pizza with an Eastern twist. We were a bit surprised and felt a bit akward to find out it was THE gathering spot of transsexuals as groups of 'women' came in an gave us some strange looks. Time to head out to the NW Testing Gathering and grab a sturdy beer...

When entering the Lass O'Gowry it was almost a shame to have to climb the stairs to the gathering as live music was played in the bar. I felt at home though, cause I'm a bit of a StarWars nut and the hallway to the gathering room was full of StarWars stuff. The presentations were well over but the screen still showed silly, amazing and fun error-messages so I stared at the screen for a bit. I also had some good talks with some of the testers there and enjoyed the great atmosphere that was there. After finishing my pint, Derk-Jan and I decided to get back to our hotels. I still had to do my weather map for tomorrow's weather-report and Derk-Jan still had to do some editing for his movies in the session. It had been a long day and there was still (only?) one to go...

EuroSTAR 2011 diaries - day one

I arrived in Manchester very late and shared a cab to the hotel with Tim Koomen en Jan Jaap Cannegieter. Well almost, they were at Jury's Inn and I was at Castlefield so I got to go on the Cab a couple of minutes longer. The staff of the hotel was most pleasant, they even opened up the cask of Strongbow's for me so I could relax a bit after my journey. The room was basic and a bit outdated, but it had all I needed and it was clean, so I was happy with it. Besides that I got a good view on the museum of Industry and Science and the possibility to have a swim in the pool or do some exercising in the gym, bot of which I would not get to this week for that matter.

On Tuesday I was planning to go to the conference centre at about eleven, but Geoff Thompson tweeted that I should be at the centre at nine for the dress rehearsal of the Opening and the Good Morning Manchester sessions. I've been involved in this thing since the beginning of this year or actually since Expo:QA in Madrid november 2010. I was sitting next to Geoff at Isabel Evans' keynote where she mentioned a sort of morning show for some fun in testing, like 'Good morning with Geoff and Nathalie' as we were the first two that were in sight. Geoff and me (and Graham Thomas) went a bit further on this concept and it grew to Good Morning Manchester. I got to be the director, which evolved to 'the teacher' role to keep the guys to their time-schedule during the GMM-session, there's a lot more to it then meets they eye at first glance. I also get to do a 'weather report' on Wednesday and Thursday morning to highlight some of the stuff during the conference, but more of that later.

So instead of getting there at eleven I had to be there at nine, which cut my lie-in morning a bit short and I actually had to hurry to get there. And although I was a bit short on my coffee intake (which always makes me bit grumpy) I had a great reception by the Qualtech team and the program team. It was way better than any coffee could accomplish, certainly regarding the coffee they make at the centre, which isn't awful, but isn't great either. We did two full and three half-runs of the opening session, still making some adjustments if they worked better than the original plan, it looked a bit like an agile project.

And then suddenly it was almost half pas one and people started coming in the auditorium. Adrenaline started flowing through my veins, I can only imagine what Derk-Jan, Morton, Graham and Geoff must have felt like standing behind the screen waiting for their grand entrance. It went great! The smokemachine worked perfectly (there were some worries there :-) ) and the lighting was done as it should be. Timing was almost disaster though, the interaction with the audience caused them to run over time almost 20%, despite me waiving my ruler franticly from the front row.

After that there was the first keynote from dr. Richard Sykes. I'm not sure weather I got it all, maybe I should lay off the twittering a bit more and get my attention to the speaker a bit more. On the other hand, when I'm very interested in a topic, I don't get to twittering a lot, so I guess I didn't find it THAT interesting. I catched some phrases about new tech being of influence on our work in testing, but that was about it. Or maybe I was just still 'into' the zone about the opening of the conference itself.

The program I set up for myself today was:
  • Opening and keynote (have to be there for a specific reason...)
  • Acceptance testing at it's best (Erik Boelen)
  • The pursuit of Quality (Paul Gerrard)
  • Keynote and drinks
  • Attending Intechnica drinks? (I know they have the FunTESTic cocktail developed, but am not sure wheater I'm invited actually :-&)
I almost got to keep to that program.
I went to Eric Boelen's track, although I came in a bit late and had to be out of there a bit early because I had to do EuroSTAR TV recordings. I actually forgot a bit about them but luckily my phone reminded me of the event. The Qualtech team asked me to do something spontaneous, so I got in there and planned on doing something on how nostalgia of EuroSTAR in Manchester 2006 still triggered me to stuff now. I didn't expect for me to have an hour slot, I'm not THAT a spontaneous person I could just flick my sleeve and have stuff in there to fill an hour, so I got to a twenty minutes and felt okay about the recording.
Eric Boelen's track was held at one of the 'Exchange' rooms and it was packed full, there were even people sitting on the floor at the back of the room, which seemed odd to me, because you won't be able the slides and speaker from there, but I guess it's the content that counts. What I heard made sense, Eric is a pleasant speaker with an enthusiastic story to tell and this time was no different.

After the recordings I was on time to attend the track by Paul Gerrard. I like his tracks and I don't think I ever missed one whenever he was on a conference to speak and I was there. Last year was about axioms, which was very interesting (and there's also a little book available about this), so I was very curious what this one was about. Pursuing Quality.. chasing tornado's or just hot air. I could relate to the topic, about that same things can be perceived differently by different persons; rain could be a blessing for a farmer but a disaster for a tourist for example. Then there was a whole piece about models and what the impact of that is on testdesign and perception of stakeholders. Not all new, but a good shake-up for the brain. I noticed I didn't twitter that much during the session :-)

The last keynote of the day was that of Gojko Adzic 'Death to the testing phase'. SLIDES HERE. I read Gojko's 'Specification by Example' and liked it, so I was interested in what he had to say. I liked the refreshing style of the slides at first, but after a while I got annoyed with them in a way, it was a bit belittling, like I was in kindergarten and only would understand his story by these simplistic drawings. And then he showed a joke about Berlusconi and women, my first reaction was that I found it funny, but then I actually hated it and then my state of mind was already set in a kind of way and I didn't think it would get better. The main thing I got from it was actually that I should look up my more then ten year old schoolbooks about iterative stuff and I would read the same stuff as I heard in this keynote. So yes, I got SOMETHING out of it, but it was a reminder to browse some old books.

So I was really looking forward to the conference drinks and meet up with people. I felt like I've been doing loads of stuff and actually hadn't had time to do it all satisfactory to my liking. Maybe my head was just buzzing too much with all the impressions from today. I planned going to the Cloud23 party also. But after drinks I had to get back to the auditorium and practice the GMM session for tomorrow, and when that was finished it was already late and on my invite it stated that the drinks in Cloud were till 19.00 and it was already passed that so I left it for what it was and decided to go and have dinner with the program guys. We had a really pleasant evening at a place called OXnoble, which was a gastro-pub and had really good food (2 course meal for 10 pounds). I had sausage and mash and some lovely bread pudding and was happy. Went to my hotel and fell asleep almost immediately.

maandag 21 november 2011

EuroSTAR 2011 diaries - prologue

I can't believe today is already the day I'm flying to EuroSTAR again. I have my bags packed, printed the timetable, tickets and reservation documents and am ready as can be. Alas I still have to work half a day... I like my job, don't get me wrong, but when I'm really looking forward of going somewhere like EuroSTAR, it's agony, maybe you know the feeling. The tweets on #esconfs stream don't help either... they're just enlarging the feeling of wanting to BE THERE already, but it'll have to do, at least I get to get into the conf-feeling a bit before hand.

So let me share my program (as it is now - still open for last-minute changes though)

Arriving at Manchester (hoping that the fog won't delay me too much)
Speaker/ chair meetup at Cloud23
**UPDATE: arriving in Manchester AFTER meetup; due to fog flight is cancelled....

Opening and keynote (have to be there for a specific reason...)
Acceptance testing at it's best (Erik Boelen)
The pursuit of Quality (Paul Gerrard)
Keynote and drinks
Attending Intechnica drinks? (I know they have the FunTESTic cocktail developed, but am not sure wheater I'm invited actually :-&)

Opening and keynote (have to be there for a specific reason...)
Minitracks (Martin Mussman and Jackie McDougall)
Afterlunch tracks - visiting testlab, do some conferring
checking first moments of Houston we've got a problem (Maurice Siteur and Rien v Vugt) and sneak out to finish with Social software development
Tester get out of your cave (chairing this one)
conferring time, checking the expo, maybe visit the lab again
Mixing open and commercial tools (chairing this one)
Keynote and closure
Attending North West Testing Gathering (meetup)

Opening and keynote (have to be there for a specific reason...)
Architecture testing (Peter Zimmerer)
Dashboards:... (Michael Bolton)
The challenges we face... (Lloyd Roden)
Catching a high speed train (my own track)
Keynote and finishes
Attending Galadinner

I would love to see your programs too! so please share if you dare :-)
And for now... back to work.

zondag 23 oktober 2011

Portland and Pacific NW Software Quality Conference (PNSQC) 2011

In the beginning of the year I got the news that my paper 'Unusual Testing; lessons learned from being a casualty simulation victim', was selected for the PNSQC programme.
I couldn't believe my luck, me - not being out of Europe ever before - got to go to India (April this year) AND to the United States in the same year, I was SO excited!

October 8th I board the plane to Portland (yes, in NL we're lucky to have a direct flight to PDX) and 10 hours later I set foot on US soil for the very first time.
I found my way rather quickly; I found the airport and US infrastructure all very organised and the MAX transportation system in the 'Rose city' which Portland also is called, is very efficient (not to mention affordable in comparison to Dutch public transport fares). So barely an hour later I could drop my stuff in my hotel room.

It was very nice weather in Portland and fall was just setting in, so the trees (the Portland area is very green) had just started to change hues from green to orange, red and browns. I just HAD to visit a US StarBucks. Everybody who knows me a little, knows I'm a SB addict. There were two in the vicinity of my hotel (one even with a drive-thru!) and I walked to the one that was furthest so I could check out the surroundings a bit. I ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte (alas not available in NL, but they should be!) and a piece of Portland Coffee Cake and sat down at one of the tables on the outside patio, catching some of the warm sun rays and observing the Portland ways-of-life.

After the vitamine-SUN injection I set out for a quick nap, I hadn't slept in the plane and in NL it was about night time by now, so I figured it would be a good idea. After the nap I ventured out to a place called 'Chipotle', a bit of organic-style Mexican fast-food place. I recommend small-portion eaters like me, to first check out what other people are ordering, the portion are HUGE! I decided to order a kids-meal (which seemed odd to the people behind the counter, since they tried to sell me an adult-meal twice and asked me whether I was sure I only wanted 1 taco). The meal was served with a child-size beverage, which is not 0,2ltr as in NL, but a 0.4ltr.

Sunday was a bit more rainy, but I set out to the Portland centre. The MAX transportation system is FREE within the centre zone (cool!), so you can get around without paying a cent. I figured I would check out where the conference was held first, which was at the World Trade Centre, but there was a Marathon and a demonstration so I had to walk all the way around to get there. I noticed how well the Marathon was organized and all contesters got a foil blanket on arrival, a rose and a medallion, the last mile 'victory style' music was played through speakers to encourage the walkers.
At around 11 a.m. the shops opened up and I took the oppurtunity to buy some souvenirs (way cool Oregon Beavers sweatshirts!) and some cheap jeans at Macy's which were on sale. I grabbed a late lunch, single SteakHouse burger (which was enormous) at a place called Carls'Jr. I visited another StarBucks on my way back to the hotel and worked a bit on some mails in my room and took another nap. In the evening I visited the hotel bar and checked out the sports, the chickenstrips and had some very cool conversations with some people there. It's great to find out that the people I met in the US are so nice and conversational. I found out that Oregon has some great red wines, especially the Pinot was way better (and a bit more full and heavy) than the European Pinot's. I got into bed early, since my internal clock was totally off now and I wanted to be somewhat fresh for my performance at the PNSQC conference.

I got into the US commuting life early in the morning. Starting off with another StarBucks visit (those Pumpkin Spice Latte's are really good :-) ) and walked to the MAX.
The World Trade Centre, and especially the registration desk of the PNSQC conference was already buzzing with people coming in. Starting time? 07.30.
I was greeted by the registration team and it was no trouble at all to find my badge, since it was - as usual- the badge that was printed to the edges, it was decorated with a huge ribbon stating 'SPEAKER', so it was hard to miss I guess.
In the reception hall (located on Mezzanine level) I was surprised to find that StarBucks coffee was served and how cosy the venue looked despite the size of the conference centre itself.

NB: I have only written down my perceptions of the tracks, if you want a comprehensive content of the tracks, please visit: www.pnsqc.org. As I understand the papers and abstracts will be published there.

Bill Gilmore opened the conference in the Auditorium (Bridge level) and I was surprised to suddenly find Julian Harty sitting next to me, but the pieces of the puzzle fell in place when I heard that Goranka Bjedov had fallen ill and Julian was back-up for the opening Keynote. Julian had both an entertaining and interesting talk about the Future of Quality. What is our perception on faults, bugs and errors when software is free of charge? There seems to be a correlation on tolerability and the price of the software that we pay was my thought on that. I was especially impressed by two mentioned bugs. One was of a cable bill of a 17-figure sum that totalled almost 2000 times the national debt (US-debt that is): 23 quadrillion, 148 trillion, 855 billion, 308 million, 184 thousand and 500 dollars. The other was a charge for a pack of cigarettes: 23 quadrillion!

After a half-hour break in the Mezzanine, I went to Julie Fleischer from Intel. Who had a track on 'Volunteer armies can deliver quality too: Achieving a successful result in OpenSource, Standards Organizations and other Volunteer projects'. I found her presentation interesting, although the motivational aspects she mentioned (acts of kindness, non-financial stuff) also very applicable for commercial organizations.

The presentation after that was of Alan Page; an introduction to Customer Focused Test Design. I was interested to hear this one, because I wanted to figure out if 'we' in NL have a different perception or maybe run behind on this subject. But as the track went on, I didn't hear anything revelationous. What I heard was that that one should commence with non-functional quality attribute testing (such as performance, reliability and security) that have an impact on the customer perception of quality as early as possible. Maybe I'm a - as he called it- tester with a generous toolbox, but for me, that's not an eye-opener. Although I found it nice that the focus on that was a bit refreshed.

During the lunch there were Deep Dive Birds of a feather sessions, but I just took my time to have a relaxing lunch. In the afternoon I would be speaking myself and I needed to sit down and take-five. Again I had eyes as big as a saucer when I saw the sandwiches. In NL we have a sandwich with one small layer of roastbeef, maybe a slice of tomato and a leaf of lettuce, this is a sandwich with at least 3 cm thick roastbeef, mayonaisse, lettuce and tomato on it. The sandwich seems to be just to be there to hold the beef. And then there's also the bag of chips, a piece of fruit and a can beverage. I decided to cut my sandwich in two re-package the second half for later that day. I had some nice conversations with people about Agile/ SCRUM and how it was used within the organizations of my table-mates.

After lunch I visited the 'Lifecycles' track, which started with 'Increasing Software Quality with Agile Experiences in a non-technically-focussed organization' by Aaron Hockley from the Multnomah County, Oregon (of which Portland is part of btw). It was nice to hear about this case-study of Agile and how a relatively small IT department coops within a governmental user-organization.
After that it was my turn. I was nervous as hell. I just can't seem to shake those shivers no matter how many times I go before a group, and this time was extra special since I didn't have a clue on how a US crowd would react on my talk.

In NL for example it isn't customary to leave the room before the talk is over, but in US people walk in-and-out the track, for a NL speaker that might seem a signal that you're doing a bad job and you could freeze totally because of this, but that doesn't have to be the case at all in US, it's just the way of doing things here. I only had one 'leaver' at one time, and that was at the start of my 'delivery video' and he was male, so it was totally understandable :-) (I warned about the sometimes gruesome imagery ;-) ) The feedback was positive afterwards so I was pleased with the performance overall, despite the fact that there was no video sound and I had to improvise with holding my microphone close to my laptop's speakers.

After again a break. I visited 'Inspiring, Enabling and driving Quality Improvement' by Jim Sartain of McAfee and 'Audit Effectiveness - Assuring Customer Satisfaction' by Jeff Fiebrich from Freescale Semiconductor Inc. Both tracks had very interesting aspects, I liked the last one best, because it had the focus on audits which isn't a usual 'suspect' in most quality conferences. I recommend reading both the papers, because they both contain good stuff.

If you think that at 05.30 the conference is over, think again. Now the conference social kick-off with the poster-paper sessions begins till 08.00 PM. This part was also open to the public and several speakers, me included, and also non-speakers had an opportunity to present their post-papers. It's a sort of 'market' where you have your poster behind you on the wall or on a stand and where you get to talk about your subject with visitors to your paper. It gives a very intimate and free-format kind of happening. At 07.30 I had my eye-lids almost hanging on my toes though, and I decided to break things of and sneak-out to my hotel.

I'm getting the hang of this commuting with a StarBuck quick-stop stuff and arrived at the WTC early. That was also because I wanted to make a better poster. I had totally not thought of bringing a poster to a poster-paper session (dumb huh) and yesterday I improvised a very simple flip-over sheet with my laptop on a table, today I wanted to have a better more attractive poster during my sessions. So I got some markers, a clean flipover paper and found myself a quiet place to be a bit creative.
I was very curious about a pink box from a place called 'Voodoo Donuts' that passed in my eye-sight. And boy you WANT to see that. If you ever get to go to Portland you should certainly visit this Voodoo Donuts joint. I got hold of a 'fruitloop donut' (which was even too sweet for my sweettooth :-D) and it was an experience. They even got 'maple nut bars with chocolate and baked bacon!!

The first keynote was that of Rob Sabourin from Amibug.com. He had this great concept of stories and when he told a story he had an image of campfire on the screen. The keynote itself had the title Value Sync. And one thing that got anchored in my mind was that a practice in one context copied 1-on-1 to another context won't work.

After the break I visited 'Michael Bolton's ' standard and deviations. I have my own thoughts on the subject and they aren't that of Michael, to say at least. Some of you might have picked up on some Twitter (@FunTESTic) discussions on this during the conference. Although I don't disagree with the content of the presentation, I don't agree with it totally either. Michael stated that the standard was a 100-page document, I know it's only 26. And although it seems from the presentation the standard itself is a bad and evil thing, I keep with the fact that it's not the standard itself but how people and organizations USE it that's the problem. What I also find a 'thing' is that although it's intended to be a guideline, the standard is presented as a mandatory rulebook. I say: if you don't agree with it or can't use it, just don't and leave it be, pursue your own ideas instead of spending (wasting) so much effort on burning it down, but that's my opinion.

After the (double session) track there was a lunch break (again with a huge lunch 'wrap'). I grabbed the opportunity to participate in the 'lightning talks', which were held during the lunch and did a statement from my Ethics Debate. Although it was only one statement, the ten minutes seemed too short. The conference attendees made a great debater audience and the interaction was great.

I went to 'No Test Levels Needed in Agile Software Development' after lunch, I intended not to see the whole session in advance so I left half way. The one thing that I noticed that when Leo van Aalst asked the question on how many people did 'Agile' more then 80% raised hands. When he showed the Agile Manifesto and asked again how many used this 'purely' and thus did 'Agile', less than 10% raised hands... Saying Agile doesn't mean Doing Agile it seems.
Ian Dees had an interesting title 'Dirty Tricks in the name of Quality' so I went to that track after Leo's. I noticed what a pleasure it was to listen to this speaker. Fun and clear, entertaining. I had a good time. And although the title might looked provocative, it wasn't all that provocative in content but I found it very educational with loads of examples (certainly recommended to check the paper!)

The last break with a poster-paper session was very well visited. I had some great discussions and had a great time explaining how I got to software testing to casualty simulation and back again.
After that I went to 'Hard Lessons About Soft Skills - understanding the psyche of the software tester'. Marlena Compton from Mozilla had a bit of bad luck because her microphone ran out of batteries, but she did a good job on the presentation where I especially loved the way that she incorporated so much of her own and made it a personal story. 'If people say why are you angry, and you are not at all' you might start wondering...
The last normal track that I visited was that of BJ Rollison from MicroSoft on 'Paramerized Random Test Data Generation'. I had to make a switch from soft-skills and processes to this very hand-ons technical en practical track. I recommend reading the paper, it's very interesting and educational for those of you who are into testdata generation!

The last keynote was a very cool one. 'The science of being HAPPY and Productive at Work' by Scott Crabtree (Happy Brain). The talk was an award winning one and was co-sponsored with the ROSE CITY SPIN. I really loved the keynote - 'BE KIND'/ 'FORGIVE', 'Savore life's joys' and 'focus on the present moment' where some phrased, but I figure that it's a very expensive speaker to have. A very good one to close my PNSQC experience!
The conference - for me- was over at 07.30 PM

It's raining a lot when I leave the WTC. I saw a twitter message that there is a brewery-bar called RockBottom not far from the venue, where PNSQC peeps are at. I didn't get to find them there, but I had an excellent 'October Fest Brew' and a 'home special brew' (which had loads of HOPS in it and was kind of citrussy).

The next morning I still had some hours to visit Portland once again, before having to go to the airport. So I decided to visit the Pearl District. I checked out the WholeFood grocery store (I have this funny thing of visiting supermarkets in countries that I go to :-) ) and walked around the area. I found a coffee bar and had an autumn spice latte (Peet's coffee). This district is full of fun shops and has a cool vibe. I recommend it to everybody who visits Portland.
After that short visit I returned to my hotel where I had some packing-puzzeling to do and some troubles closing my suitcase and then I returned to my Oregon-point-of-origin PDX. I grabbed a single 1/4 pound cheeseburger at Wendy's (Burger King eat your hart out!), which has a square burger ! (can you imagine you can also get a triple half-pound cheeseburger??? how do you eat that???) and I waited in the area-with-a-view on the plane that would bring me back to Amsterdam, intensely happy with the hit-and-run visit to US and the PNSQC conference.

dinsdag 6 september 2011

The VacationPrep Blues

Although I love my own vacation, there's one thing in the vacation season that I really dislike and that's the stress that comes from the extra activities you have to follow up on from the people that are on vacation.

I don't know why; but these activities always seem to have high priority (more than your own activities) and in the project where you are filling in, there always seems to be emergency situations that have to be managed, causing your own work to get delayed. I've been more than ever been busy telling my management that work is slow due to all - also very usefull and important - activities in other projects and workareas.

Some time ago I covered for two colleagues (and supporting the back-up of a third). I was constantly busy steering, giving people information and was doing loads of back-log administrative stuff. It was extra work since the project was getting behind schedule (this was already the case before I was involved mind!) and I'm appointed to fast-forward the activities and - because I seem to be doing stuff kinda right- more people are stopping by at my desk. Besides that, I also have to figure things out, since I'm not THAT insider in their projects.

I've come around loads of stuff that could probably have gone much easier if the transfer of the activities was done more structured. I'm the kind of person who loves structure and thrives on it and I'm a big fan of checklists. So in this blog I'm making the suggestion for all of you who go on vacation and who pass on work to other colleagues to make a checklist of things that are must-do's and won't do's.

Even if tasks or procedures might seem simple to you, it takes a lot of time when your back-up has to figure out this procedure because he/she isn't familiar with it. For example: in my case the standard defect logging procedure was clear, but I soon learned that some specific agreements were made and it cost me time to exactly get the process right. When I made the remark to my colleague about it when he came back, the answer was that the activity was so common for him that he hadn't even thought of writing it down.

The next thing might help: when you are planning your vacation, note down your activities during the week before your departure and describe the particulars of them.

Had a meeting? Make sure the minutes are available and write down any information that seems relevant and isn't in the minutes (such as: J.Doe might still have some questions about X or Selma will be coming by a couple of times to ask about, etc). This makes your back-up prepared and reduces uncertainties with other parties. Remember that your back-up is perceived, just like you, as the person who gives insight in the quality of the product, not knowing answers or not be able to answer them on a short notice, is not very comforting for your stakeholder(s).

Don't leave high-priority tasks unfinished or unmanaged. If you aren't able to finish, make sure you inform your recipient about it (as well as your back-up) and try to delegate the task to a colleague who is well informed or communicate that the task will finished when you get back.

Don't rely on your back-up too much: he/she might not have the same sense of urgency or might pick up the task completely different than you would have done, bringing you further from home.
Remember that your back-up still has his/her own job to do and is not able to squeeze in your full-weeks worth of tasks too. So don't make promises based on the same progress speed as you normally have: a task or activity will take longer to complete.

Some food for thought to close with: Everything you aren't clear about, haven't written down or have discussed with your back-up is a carte blanche. Things you had organized can turn into a whole different approach, set-up or deliverable as you had in mind. Your back-up will try to get the job done, but it might give you loads more (corrective) work to be done upon return.

woensdag 3 augustus 2011

Holidaytime, readingtime

I'm on holiday and nothing more relaxing than to sit back in a garden chair and catch up on some reading, so that's what I did.

During the last half year I got two smaller books from Dutch testing colleagues that I still got on my to-read list and I got a book that I still had to finish so I grabbed the three, poured myself a large cool glass of (organic) pear-apple juice and started reading.

The first was finishing 'What got you here, won't get you there' by Marshall Goldsmith. (http://www.amazon.com/What-Got-Here-Wont-There/dp/1401301304/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312367632&sr=8-1). I started reading this one as a recommended book from my coach in a leadership development program. Although I'm lazy regarding the whole setup of getting feedback and follow-up and probably won't follow the whole path described in the book. I have sure (already) grabbed some stuff from this book to apply in my daily practices and it made me aware of some habit I have that I might improve and gave me tips on how to do this. I think this is a must-read for all people who aspire to be better in their jobs, leadership and what not more, I even dare to go that far that it would be a good book for people who wan't to improve their personal lives, some of the examples in the book are also good for some homeimprovement.

The next one was the Dutch 'De held die voor mijn nachtrust zorgt' by Derk-Jan de Grood (the hero that takes care of that I have a good night's sleep)(http://www.valori.nl/de_echte_wereld/de_held_die_voor_mijn_nachtrust_zorgt).
It's a small book that is published (as first one) in the Valori, real-life series. Small books that make the theories of things applicable in practice or in other words; how it applies in day to day practice.
Derk-Jan's book describes some good stuff and makes it undertandable not for only 'us testers' but also for other disciplines in the IT. It focusses on having grip in the development process (on the project) and providing comfort within the organisation, most of it from the human perspective (like perception, feeling and emotions) in stead of theoretical models.
The material is clear and simple to understand (for me at least), and is accompanied by examples from some experts known in the testing community. Although most of what I read was 'an open door' for me (and I hope it would be for most of us who are into testing, testcoordination or testmanagement) the book is a good read to refresh the memory, to re-think (an reflect) on approaches that we apply and food-for-thought on the perceptions of stakeholders in our projects that we might have overlooked over time. The size of the book makes it a handy and easy approachable reference.

After reading I couldn't help to still have the feeling 'and who is that hero then..' it just seemed to miss something. Maybe my expectancy was that it would be more a description of what the hero does, more written from the person (that would be the hero) view. I also missed this connection in the concluding chapter. I would have expected something '.. applying this and that, makes the X my hero that takes care of... etc. ', now it was more a book full of (mind: usefull!) techniques and theories, but it just wasn't applied to 'the hero' that is mentioned in the title. IT gave me a bit 'I didn't just get what I expected' feeling that would immediately inspire me to grab the material in the book and become the hero in my organisation myself. In short; the question I formed in my mind 'What can I do to become this hero' wasn't answered in an obvious way.

The last book was that of Ard Kramer and Hans de Rooij: 'Het Q-mysterie' (also a Dutch book; the Q-mystery)(http://www.eclipseit.nl/over-ons/nieuws/categorie/Algemeen/titel/publicatie-het-q-mysterie).
First of all; the book is beautiful to see. Very impressive artwork and very high-quality glossy paper, it's a treat to just flip through the pages.
But don't judge a book by it's cover right?

The book is a very easy to read one. The examples are done by metaphores and it makes it really understandable and accessible. It's contents is not about theory, but focusses on the need of quality(level) within an organisation, related to its goals and why testing should thus be applied in stead of applying a bunch of strategies, techniques and templates to coherse some (false) feeling of quality. The main goal is to make the connection between testing and acquiring the optimal return of investment. The main tool to provide insight in the exact need for quality for product or organisation is the Product Quality Strategy. The PQS, which is short for the Product Quality Strategy, is a guideline which uses the ISO 9126 quality characteristics 'Functionality, Usability, Efficiency, Maintainability, Portability and Reliability' to make a diagram of the exact needs regarding these characteristics for the component of organisation.
Although I could follow most of the text regarding this concept; the diagrams and figures where mostly confusing, there was even one diagram with ecliptic figures in it, where I still haven't figured out how to read it. I guess that when you have the theory in mind and know it by heart, it's easy to understand those (beautiful) graphics, but in my case; it just confused me and should have more information in them to explain exactly what the (parts of) the images meant.

But honestly: The book is very pleasing, both in a graphical way and in the content way. It has really applicable stuff in it and I figure Eclipe (company of the authors) might also have an oppurtunity here to develop a workshop or short course to be able to use the PQS. I think the material is really applicable and very usefull to apply on a daily basis. It won't (have to/ should) take up much (valuable) time and will certainly help to focus on the exact needs. Ard and Hans did a good job!

Tip for both Derk-Jan as Ard/ Hans: consider publishing your books in English too... I think it would really benefit our non-Dutch colleagues as well.
And... I would REALLY like to thank both Derk-Jan as Ard for handing me the books (with a personal message in the cover!) to read (and apply..): THANK YOU!

And for know... I'll get back to my garden chair with my next 'want to reads' :
Terry Pratchett's 'I shall wear midnight', some novelettes, Personal Branding by Frank Kwakman and 'Managing the Testing Process' by Rex Black.

zondag 24 juli 2011

Ti-hi-hi-hime is on my side.. yes it is!

Next thing you know, you're more than one month further in time, without any blog entries. I had inspiration enough, but it was just the time and my priorities; blogging is fun to do, but also takes up time which I had to use otherwise.

It started with the preparations of the Webinar for EuroSTAR on Unusual Testing, which didn't take extensive time, but some nonetheless.

I started on a new assignment at ING, which took some adjustment but also some learning. I like to be thorough so I studied on some aspects of the domain I'm now working in. I always find it handy to know something of the business, it is just that I find I can do my testing more in context. So that took some of my time.

I found that domain knowledge, like in my previous assignment, is crucial for design of my test cases, just having an extensive testing knowledge won't do it all. I know I should also use the domain experts to keep me from having to catch up with new domains I'm joining over and over again, but it's just the availability from those experts, the communication with those experts, it's just going much more smoothly in my work as I know something of the domain, so I take my time to learn.

I also went to a meeting of the BCS SIGIST in London to do my Ethics Debate. I know the stuff by heart, but still take time each time I do the debate to prepare, like I also do with all other presentations. So that took some time too. And after the meeting I had to catch up on work again to make up for the lost day :-)
The meeting itself was excellent though! The location is in London, for me unusually usual; royal college of obstetricians and gynaecologists (for people who don't know me: I play the casualty simulation victim role of a woman in labour distress on weekly basis in a hospital in Amsterdam). Set up is small and intimate, which encourages networking amongst the visitors. Catering is very good as well and I got a gift (beautiful ball pen) which I'm very happy with, because it is a very pleasant pen to write with and for me good quality material. Also I found the materials in the handout packages very well attended to) and last but not least, the presentations where good. So I was a happy camper!

I've been doing homework for a training program on leadership and got engaged in some very interesting reading as a spin-off from this program ('What got you here, won't get you there' from Marshall Goldsmith), that also took some time.

I got sidetracked a bit because I got really into the series 'True Blood', that took some more time, which was also quality time, because I got to snuggle up on the couch with my husband watching the different episodes. And after that I just HAD to read the novels by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse series) :-) It's not always about testing, but sometimes also about leisure in my life.

I also got selected on the PNSQC program. Which is terrific, but also takes a lot of prep-work. This conference is very extensive in poster-papers and whitepapers that go with the presentation itself, and I took very much care of writing the deliverables. That took a lot of time. And I was also very lucky to have two excellent reviewers for my paper; I'm still very much a 'Denglish' writer, so this was very necessary :-) (Reviewing Rules! - as in my Unusual Testing presentation I also state: “Another major issue is ‘language’, ’terminology’ and ‘jargon’. Not all participants speak English and not all those who claim they do – for example the Dutch- speak it in such a way that the English would necessarily recognize it”)

And I grabbed some time for reading all the different other blogs and e-magazines (like TestingCircus and TeaTime with testers). So that took all my remaining time :-)
Well that's all the time I have for now.. 'see' you next time.

zondag 22 mei 2011

Egotripping helps...

It has been ages since I blogged. Last time was when the EuroSTAR VideoSTAR vote had just opened, which is almost two months ago. Alas I didn't win the competition, but I had tremendous fun making the movie and had some thrills during the voting period. Congratulations to Malini Mohankumar, Sierra Atlantic, India, who will be telling something about Teamwork within a testing team.

Speaking of India, the last two weeks of April I visited the Capgemini offices in Puné, India. I was simply astonished by the country I saw, charmed by the people I met and shocked by the traffic :-). It was terribly hot in Puné, with temperatures sometimes rising above 40 degrees Celsius. I was amazed about the discipline, expertise and eagerness of the people at the Capgemini Global Learning Center. I saw people who developed tools which where brilliant to say at least. I met a group of freshers which were so full of curiosity and where so enthusiastic to interact with the Dutch Freshers I guided and I was awed by the technical expertise of the employees there. I was even in the opportunity to share some of my knowledge by giving classes, which I found a wonderful experience.
Was it all good? well uhm.. no. I got sick, very sick. It took me a week and a half after a returned home to recuperate and be my normal self again and I'm still using pro-biotics to get to my full strength again.

Before leaving for India I visited the Dutch Testing Conference in 't Spant, Bussum. In stead of being a regular attendee, I volunteered to be a booth personnel. This is a very different experience of a conference, where you get to meet loads of people and interact. The downside is that you don't get to see much of the tracks. But luckily the DTC is - for me- much more interesting for interactions than for the tracks, which are more highlevel and scoped for clients than for testers. The Dutch Testing Conference is truly a very nice conference with loads of opportunities to have conversations accompanied by great snacks, food and drinks. If I'm able, I'll attend next year's edition too, as I did last year's edition too.

After my visit to India, I also did my Ethics Debate again at the KVIV in Antwerp. It was a very nice debate, with a small group of very fanatic debaters, Erik Boelen was my co-host there. Prize for the best debater was a piece of a local delicacy from where I live; Beemster (cheese). Apparently it was a prize to fight for, since everybody participated in the debate actively. I heard some great arguments which again proves to me that Ethics in Software Testing are all about the hues of gray, personal feelings and defining and setting agreements. I still would love to do this debate 'overseas' to see if there are marginally big differences in the debates, time will tell if I'm able to do this in US and Asia in the future.

Between my traveling I've also been writing some stuff. I did an article for Testing Circus about my casualty simulation stuff, which was rather large, so I figure they still have to divide it into smaller portions before it gets published. The article was also published in 'AppWorks' (http://www.appworks.nl/)in a Dutch translation and I got some very positive feedback on that one, so that made me proud.
I also did a smaller article for Tea Time with Testers; about how jokes can be used to explain software testing concepts. A more light reading and fun article. It got published in the May edition (http://www.teatimewithtesters.com/). I will publish the latter in some time in this blog, but first TeaTime gets the honors :-)

Another great event I attended was the TestNet SpringEvent. One of my younger colleagues; Eddy Bruin had a track there (theme being: New Heroes) about Ubiquitous Testing. I was so proud to see him pulling the presentation off!
The SpringEvent was at the same day the EuroSTAR programme was announced and YES!!! I'll be presenting at EuroSTAR this year. It's a track about my experiences at Fyra at NS Hispeed, a case-study about end-to-end testing. (Catching a high-speed train)
I'm also setting up the Hello Manchester concept together with the programme committee, which is great fun to do!

Some other very cool accomplishments:
I will be doing my 'Unusual Testing' track as webinar at EuroSTAR WebinarWeek and I get to be the kick-off webinar! (23rd of May, 2PM BST)
My paper got accepted for PNWQC, now I'm very busy with getting the funds together to get there :-), but I'm proud that I've made it so far. I also uploaded my poster-paper today just to make sure I have all items complete if I have the GO. This is SO cool!

This blog is very 'egotripping' I'm fully aware to that, but I guess, for me, this sharing how happy and proud I'm at my work and accomplishments is part of who I am, and I think everybody should be proud and share this when they accomplish something. It's sharing the happiness, passion and the proudness of our work that will make software testing even more a serious profession.

maandag 28 maart 2011

VideoSTAR vote open!

From March 28th till April 1st the voting period for the VideoSTAR competition is open!
My movie is 'votable', so if you like it, please vote!

Some nice 'behind the scenes' bloopers:
The 'snot' in the movie, where I do the 'blair witch scene' is actually a green (kiwi/lime scented) soap. When I finished the scene and cleaned myself up I was a bit enthusiastic and I had a weird feeling in my nose for a couple of hours. Was very clean though.

When I just finished my make-up for the 'saw' sequence, the mailman arrived to deliver a package. Besides that I felt stupid (to say at least), the mailman didn't know if to laugh is socks off or to be very weary of a weird customer. I think he had a great story for home later that evening.

I got numerous mails from 'youtube' that my content had copyrighted stuff in it; I figured that if my acting was that good that it was considered a real scene from the actual movie that they should pass my information to the production companies. I never heard from them again :-)

Yes; the red paint from the 'saw' make-up did some staining on my face. Resulting in two very pinkish cheeks during the day. The black on my eyes resulted in a 'mascara' effect, which was actually quite nice. Although I wouldn't recommend this way of putting make-up on to anyone.

Husband got really annoyed by the editing of the music. I had to re-run it over and over again to get it somewhat right. It resulted in putting on the In Flames record afterwards though, to hear the complete song again without it being stopped all the time.

Well ... that was about it.
Again, please vote!

zondag 20 februari 2011

My 'Belgium Testing Days 2011' experience

be prepared.. this is a loooooong blogpost :-)

An easygoing startup...

On Monday afternoon I embarked the Thalys to bring me to Brussels. I experienced a slight delay and the train didn't go any further then Brussels (midi), which was unfortunate for all travelers to Paris, but I was lucky because I was at least (almost) at my destination. After a short travel with the local train to Brussels Airport I arrived at the Sheraton where the Belgium Testing Days were to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday. This is my first time that I'm actually staying at the hotel which is at the same location as the conference, which is very convenient I experienced.
The room was okay; although I found that an 'open wire' on my bedside lamp was quite dangerous and the TV didn't start up because of a resolution error (- always a tester I guess, checking the room :-) )
I found a very nice gesture on the desk from the Belgium Testing Days people: a small card bidding me welcome, a small box with Belgium Chocolates and a small bag with three different kinds of 'Jenever' (Gin).

That evening a dinner party was thrown at a restaurant in the center of Brussels. As it was Valentine's day we were a bit of weird company situated in the middle of the restaurant on a large table, surrounded by all these little 2 persons tables with couples. The three course dinner was excellent, the main course was ridiculously big though! I think my entrecôte alone was more than 600 grams and then there was veggies and potatoes there too.
Remco Oostelaar and John Bertens added a nice Valentine touch, by buying a whole bush of roses from a street merchant and handing each lady in the party one.
After a (bit abrupt) end of the dinner we were brought back to the hotel, I drank a hot choco in the hotel bar and went to bed. A large meal is truly exhausting!

An invigorating day one!

Tuesday, the first day of the conference, started at 08.30. José M. Díaz Delgado opened the conference and after that Mieke Gevers introduced the first keynote which was that of Johanna Rothman: "Lessons learned from 20 years of Managing Testing".

These are the tweets related to that keynote (deleted RT's):

  • lol at @johannarothman's tale of getting her English degree and why she decided to get a CS degree #btd11
  • http://yfrog.com/h4zyfoj : lessons learned from many years of managing testing by @JohannaRothman #btd11
  • Great stories and food-for-thought in this track by @JohannaRothman with much embedded fun! #BTD11
  • Not a new msg from @johannarothman, we can't "test quality in", but still an important message - we're info providers #btd11
  • "Software testing has everything to do with Product Information". .. Quote from @JohannaRothman 's keynote #BTD11
  • We need more diversity in testing since problems are more complex, @johannarothman #btd11 "the stuff we do is really hard!"
  • ...#BTD11 : more information means more testing approaches
  • The stuff we tested back in the 70's... By @JohannaRothman Wasn't aware testing existed before I did ;-) #BTD11
  • Excellent idea for project managers by @JohannaRothman Use weather reports instead of traffic lights or smileys! #BTD11
  • .@johannarothman reports that weather reporting is better than traffic lights. That's cloud reporting I think #btd #btd11
  • #btd11 it's more accurate to use weather report status reports than traffic light status report : ever reported a 'green light' that..1/2
  • #btd11 ..was truly honest? Honest is yellow, but that's meaningless, actually it's always red..
  • If developers look at garbage all day, they create garbage. Interesting though from @JohannaRothman #BTD11
  • Because we provide information, testers have /significant/ power in he organization. @johannarothman #btd11
  • Good advice - end the multitasking. @johannarothman #btd11
  • #btd11 : saying "NO" is necessary tool
  • @JohannaRothman says End the multitasking.Maybe for us,but a completely new multitask enabled generation is growing up at the moment #BTD11
  • Fun exercise to say "No" or "Yes" in @johannarothman's keynote (and get used to exercises in keynotes, I'll do them tomorrow) #btd11
  • @johnbertens They're not multitasking enabled, but they may have a lower cost of switching (but not necessarily) #BTD11
  • Nice to see that @johannarothman refers to congruent communication based upon Virginia Satir. #BTD11
  • I don't know when quality became software test.- @johannarothman #BTD11 +1 from my side.
  • Like @johannarothman I prefer to be called a "software tester" than a "s/w quality engineer" #btd11
  • I wonder what @johannarothman says about "Quality Assurance engineer". #BTD11
    .@financialagile for me, engineers are people who took a PE exam, & s/w is more creative/craft than engineering. #btd11

It was an invigorating start of the day. Johanna really has a way to put the energy into her audience. I liked the idea of 'losing the traffic light' metaphor and introducing the weather report status overview. Is certainly more detailed, honest and accurate. I was astonished by the effect of saying NO and YES to people while walking trough the room, it gave me a bit eerie feeling on how large an effect only a word can have.

After the non-scheduled, short break, I went to "Have you met the CAT?" by Jana Noack (iSQI) and Arjan Brands (Diaz & Hilterscheid). Being involved at training and certification at my employer, I'm alway interested in developments in this area. CAT stands for 'Certified Agile Tester' (http://www.agile-tester.org/). Alas there was a very small crowd. I think 'agile' and 'certification' are a combination that doesn't appeal to people; especially when Lloyd Roden is doing a track (last-minute fill in for Miguel Lopez who just didn't show up without notice) and a 'best practices' track (Tim A. Majchrzak) is held at the same time. The content of the 'CAT' track was however very interesting. The course seems very well thought off, good build up etc. The certification is not 'just another nice paper on the wall', the emphasis is on the content of the course, the certification is (part of) the evaluation at the end. Again it was expressed that the certification doesn't make you an Agile Tester, it's the experience and practice that does. I know the content will probably be under heavy debate within the testing community, but actually I think that this is a good starting point for whomever gets involved in Agile projects.

Again a break after this (a schedule one :-) ). Great coffee here and small pastries to go with it. The expo itself isn't that large, plenty of opportunity to visit all vendors during the different breaks. Breaks always seem short during conferences, there's always some interesting conversation to be involved in and time flies by during those talks. It's always so much fun to see all these discussions amongst the audience regarding the track they just visited, adding their own ideas, agreeing, disagreeing. This is what makes a conference truly worth visiting!

After the break I went to Susan Windsor's track about 'How to create Good Testers'. I'm a bit of a fan of Susan's talks, I chaired her workshop at EuroSTAR 2009 and have been to every track of her whenever she was scheduled on the program. I always pick something up, learn something, I think the tracks have great value.

Tweets related to Susan Windor's track:

  • Now at Susan Windsor's track "How to Create Good Testers" http://yfrog.com/h2emzlvj #BTD11
  • enjoying Susan Windsor's pragmatic approach and good practices, good testers at #BTD11
  • #btd11 : "if 2 people agree on everything all the time, you actually only need 1 of those 2" -thought -Susan Windsor. - difference is good
  • Susan Windsor sez u need domain space expertise to be valuable as a functional tester, also internal network in org #BTD11
  • Susan Windsor: take the responsiblity to improve, take responsibility for your own career... #BTD11
  • Susan Windsor: performance tester: scripting is *min* reqt; understanding arch is main reqt #BTD11
  • Susan Windsor: Test mgr=PM+test+people+test+troubled projects+high bs detector in many disciplines #BTD11
  • Susan Windsor: annoys her when recruiters/hiring mgrs look for certs instead of experience. +1 from me! #BTD11
  • Susan Windsor: certification may not be used as a meaningful measure... #BTD11
  • Susan Windsor: Don't slavishly follow an industry guru. Think!! +1 from me :-) #BTD11
  • Susan Windsor: Thinking matters whether transferring within or hiring from outside. #BTD11
  • Susan Windsor: You are responsible for your own career devt. #BTD11
  • And another slide from Susan Windsor: http://yfrog.com/h07rohyj #BTD11 -enjoy!
  • Susan Windsor: to be a guru is not about reading books, it's about DOING things... #BTD11
  • Want to retain your personnel: tip: recognize contributing value of person :-) I
  • agree! -#BTD11 Susan Windsor
  • @jostaerwe tho reading books is good too - I know too many testers who don't even do that! #btd11
  • @jostaerwe I agree and it's no coincidence that all guru's and rich people read tons of books #btd11

LUNCHTIME! There was a buffet (which had been hiding behind large doors in the expo space) with all kinds of colds, hots and a VERY appealing dessert table. The desserts actually looked THAT tasty that I was seriously considering skipping the healthy stuff and only dig into the sweets. But I was 'sensible', grabbed some salad and some very good stew and did some selected sweet hunting after that.

The next track I went to was that of Remco Oostelaar and John Bertens, they are my colleagues from Capgemini and - besides that their track appealed to me- I wanted to support them in their first international performance together. Remco and John set up their track as a 'play', impersonating two testers (each a specific rol of 'old skool tester' and 'next gen tester') from the 'Bank of Angels' which is about to start with Cloud services. Their discussion leads the audience through the cloud material and the discussions that arise regarding 'V-model', 'waterfall' and 'agile', on-the-fly they show an arsenal of Cloud tools to be used in testing.

Tweets regarding this track:

  • In this #btd11 session on cloud computing & agile we're encouraged to tweet! Nice multi-media preso already!
  • COO wants a test approach that will let business really sit in the driver's seat. How can we do that? #btd11
  • Love the role playing approach for this preso - very effective! #btd11 true to life!
  • now at: @RemcoOostelaar & @johnbertens track #btd11 "the business in the driver seat with cloud computing" - a dialogue: having fun!
  • Cloud offers multiple levels of services - infrastructure, data, software (and one I didn't catch) #btd11
  • Twitter is a cloud service. Other examples, SalesForce, GoogleDocs, MS Azure, Force.com, Google apps.... #btd11
  • Cloud advantages: flexibility, mobility, freedom to focus on innovation, less cost, don't need to worry about updates #btd11
  • Thanks @FunTESTic now I have twitter ids for @johnbertens and @RemcoOostelaar, loving their preso so far #btd11
  • We need to get out of the testing box in the old waterfall model @RemcoOostelaar @johnbertens #btd11 Oooh, more mindmaps!
  • Enjoyed realtime poll from @RemcoOostelaar and @johnbertens #btd11 Cloud wins!
  • It's a tough way to present this way: but Remco and John seem to pull it off! Having good time...#btd11
  • It's funny, I think of the "cloud" as something scary that I don't know about, but actually it's something we use daily #btd11
  • Cloud tools focus on collaboration between teams...#btd11 john&remco
  • Use the cloud for networking, communication, collaborating, sharing @RemcoOostelaar @johnbertens #btd11 connect biz/tech team
  • hmmm, the tool they are showing looks heavyweight for an agile project - but maybe looks are deciving #btd11
  • Personally I still prefer post-its on paper to the cloud tool. We can take photos of the post-its on paper 4 remote ppl IME. #btd11
  • External testing - SOASTA, LoadStorm, Browsermob (sometime I need to check these out) #btd11
  • If the tools these guys are showing are from their company then I'm disappointed this is turning into a commercial. #btd11
  • Cool, @RemcoOostelaar & @johnbertens are showing tools that worked for them, not a commercial. #btd11 :->
  • Glad to see @lisacrispin wondering about the value of the cloud in #softwaretesting ... It's not scary Lisa ! ;-) #btd11

Another 'must see' (for me) after the Cloudy business. Peter Morgan's "Poor defects BUG me". Peter is very punctual, well organized and well prepared (knowing him from the EuroSTAR 2010 committee). And it shows in his presentations. Everybody got hand-outs of the slides and Peter has really a good fluent story to tell.
Tweets from this track:

  • Now at Peter Morgan's track at #btd11 "poor defects BUG me!" http://yfrog.com/h2mznjj (bit hiding behind the desk) :-)
  • Quite interesting and hilarious components in Peter Morgan's track.. Brilliant! #btd11
  • Peter Morgan: "A large project will stand or fall on its defect tracking mechanism" #BTD11
  • Peter Morgan: "Writing better defects gets them fixed" #btd11
  • "raise problematic items as soon as possible" - Peter Morgan #btd11
  • Peter Morgan on issues, bugs, defects, ... whateva. Great presentation #btd11
  • "track your own defects. Hassle developers, and horse-trade. Buy them lunch" - Peter Morgan #btd11

There are many lessons in this track, if you ever get a chance to see it, please visit it. It's about the impact of good bug reporting, about the agreement of terms for defects used and the expectations regarding bugs/ defects in your organization.

Finally the track-choosing was over. I'm actually no fan of choosing tracks, because although I mostly choose a great track, I can't stop wondering if I'm not missing out on the other parallel tracks (which I'm certain I do). So I'm quite happy that the rest of this day is filled with keynotes.

The first keynote is that of Stuart Reid "Innovations in Software Testing". The talks from Stuart are always under heavy debate. It occurred to me that - even if his talk isn't about certification or ISO - people start (mostly negatively) discussing or pouting regarding this subject in relation to Stuart. (what's up with that?), there are always people who are in a particular mode and are not willing (or able) to break free from this thought line. I even caught a (rather popular) blogger on saying 'I'm not agreeing to this' on a comment which basically implies he's not agreeing on stuff he usually advocates. Stating that testing shouldn't be a profession... well I find this weird. Profession is - for me- most about craftsmanship and for somebody who is a very passionate about making testing all about craftsmanship stating that testing shouldn't be a true profession... hum...well... odd...
Stuart's talk was about innovation in testing, a view into the past, the present and the future. He showed some time lines which in basic showed that some inventions or initiatives that occur at some time, couldn't have occurred when something else hadn't been there to facilitate that development. It was a basic thought, not a whole extensive lecture on each development (like some people pointed out missing the Agile developments). He also pointed out that the testing community is build up in three different levels; testers that shouldn't be called testers, the larger middle bunch and the upper level (people who're into profession c.q. craftsmanship. He also stated (later in the lightning talks) that having a degree doesn't make you a tester, 20% of the pole dancers have a degree (not a pole dancer's degree mind!), 20% of the testers also have a degree (not a testing degree mind!), but that doesn't have to say anything about the skills of that tester (could be biology degree for that part).

Tweets related to Stuart's keynote:

  • Getting ready for Stuart Reid's keynote at #BTD11
    http://yfrog.com/h4k38kjj starting now: the keynote of Stuart Reid about innovation! #btd11
  • Sony lets everyone use blu-ray technology - comparison w/ VHS format success over Beta back in the day - learning fm failure #btd11
  • Watching dyson vacuum cleaner test video in Stuart Reid's talk #btd11 "huge amt of testing... exciting and fun", James Dyson quote
  • Own thought: what if somebody patented 'making fire' or 'using the wheel' , what the world would look like now? #btd11
  • I have not failed, not once. I've discovered a thousand of ways that don't work. Thomas Edison qoute by Stuart Reid... #BTD11
  • innovation comes from failure , so true, this is why companies need to tolerate failure, encourage learning/experimenting #btd11
  • @lisacrispin Innovation comes from learning from failure, not necessarily failure in itself. #btd11
  • @mgaertne @lisacrispin true, but the failure has to occur to learn from it in the first place right? #btd11
  • Celebrate failure RT @lisacrispin innovation comes from failure; companies need to tolerate failure, encourage learning/experimenting #btd11
  • Sure, requires learning from it! RT @mgaertne: Innovation comes from learning from failure, not necessarily failure in itself. #btd11
  • If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization. #btd11
  • Stuart forgot to mention that #testing everything is not possible in first place. #BTD11 #BTD
  • http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_distribution #btd11
  • Stuart citing Weinberg's Law. Did I miss this one? #BTD11 #BTD
  • @lisacrispin don't forget total quantity management! :) #BTD11 #BTD
  • program testing can be a very effective way to show the presence of bugs, but is hopelessly inadequate for showing their absence. #BTD11
  • Now it gets interesting: Risk-based testing leads to context-driven testing. #BTD11 #BTD
  • "High capability employees drive innovation" says Stuart. #BTD11 #BTD
  • Like Stuart's ideas on innovation/diversity but why did his history of testing completely ignore agile? Maybe it's still to come. #btd11
  • @belgiumtesting #btd11 Crosby's maturity - from Stuart - comes back in our talk tomorrow... http://tinyurl.com/5s6g34q
  • #btd11 Crosby's maturity - from Stuart - comes back in our talk tomorrow... http://tinyurl.com/5s6g34q
  • "We need to discuss ideas - we look for like-minded people" I call this confirmation bias. Sounds familiar? #BTD11 #BTD
  • Stuart Reid now talking on CSR? or am I mistaken? #btd11
  • @mgaertne I hope he is telling us to look for diverse viewpoints for discussion? #btd11
  • @lisacrispin Of course he is :) But why does he need to tell me this? I got other interests as well. Seems natural to me. #BTD11 #BTD
  • If you have two people who think the same, fire one of them. What do you need duplication for? Jerry Krause #btd11
  • #btd11 : Groupthinking: beware of enclosure within that group. Innovators also need to look outward!
  • I like the way Stuart gives his presentation. He does not run. #BTD11
  • ok, looks like agile will not be part of Stuart's history of testing. Oh well.
  • #btd11 Good stuff on innovation, creativity in his preso.
  • @lisacrispin Where has that interesting stuff been? Probably before I arrived. #BTD11 #BTD
  • @mgaertne that's to me an obvious difference between vision/thought tracks and informational talks..#btd11 #expectancymanagement
  • it's interesting to look at history of testing, but I'd rather talk about how to integrate testing more into s/w development. #btd11
  • @FunTESTic groupthinking and tunnelvision read "sway the irresistitble pull of irrational behavior" of brafman & brafman #btd11

After Stuart's keynote a very exiting keynote was announced: "Lighting Talks". In this keynote the 6 tutorial speakers (Johanna Rothman, Lisa Crispin, Julian Harty, Stuart Reid, Lloyd Roden and Hans Schaefer) and Dorothy Graham got to have a maximum of seven minutes to talk about their view on 'Looking into the Future'.
I will only post the tweets from the lightning talks, the content can be read at Markus Gärtner's blog (see last tweet)

  • Dot Graham lightning talk: the future of test automation. SHE is talking about agile! #btd11 Read @mgaertne's blog in a little while!
  • Dot Graham: Exploratory test automation! (future) #BTD11 lightning talk
  • There was a big line at the loo! RT @mgaertne: Why are all those folks leaving the lightning talks? I looked forward to this! :) #BTD11 #BTD
  • test automation is free, but only if you're willing to pay for it! Dot Graham,
  • #btd11 ROI on nothing = nothing!
  • Now #btd11 Lightning Talks, Dorothy Graham. Testautomation is free, but only if you're willing to pay for it :-)
  • Future of test automation: significant growth; good news for your manager: good ROI, but investment needed. By Dot Graham #btd11
  • Hans Schaeffer - more ppl call themselves "tester" or something with "test" in the name than 10 yrs ago, good thing. #btd11
  • Hans Schaefer teaches on software testing, but for all the universities he is teaching, only one has testing as a mandatory course #btd11
  • Nobody's timing these lightning talks, that is dangerous. Someone stop me at 7 minutes pls! #btd11
  • On the future of testing: The Vanguard alliance should be mentioned! #BTD11 #BTD
  • Now #btd11 lightning talks: Hans Schaefer. Keywords: accepted, education, cloud, virtualization, availability of tools, possibilities.
  • Hans Schaeffer promoting jobs for handicapped testers like autists! #btd11
  • @lisacrispin lightning talk about Courage #BTD11
  • @lisacrispin talking on the agile value of courage. #BTD11
  • Business people hired us to develop good quality software @lisacrispin Courage #BTD11
  • Now at #btd11 lightning talks Lisa Crispin: Have courage, http://yfrog.com/hsgoofqj
  • @lisacrispin I'll send you a license for Clockwork if you're on a Mac. http://bit.ly/hOES24 #btd11
  • Whoohoo I made it in 7 minutes! #btd11
  • Now @johannarothman telling us about the big bucks she made in her early programming days! :-> #btd11 She musta been good!
  • Now at #btd11 lightning talks @JohannaRothman: the myth about 100% utilization.
  • .@tottinge I showed off the Agile in a Flash cards & talked abt the Courage 1 in lightning #btd11, here's my slide http://yfrog.com/hskavp
  • You can't do much more than about 6.5 hrs technical work per day. @johannarothman #btd11
  • A 100% utilized road is a parking lot - I might add to @johannarothman's Lightning talk. #BTD11 #BTD
  • Does anyone know Julian Harty's twitter ID? #btd11 He just started his lightning talk on pushing boundaries of test automation
  • aautomating usability tests: http://bit.ly/gHWe9d by Julian Harty #btd11
    open source library for finding layout bugs http://bit.ly/ctL50x from @julianharty #btd11
  • Now at #btd11 lightning talks Julian Harty: pushing the boundaries of test automation including heuristics http://yfrog.com/h063cdij
  • Beware of automation bias. Wish @julianharty had done a bitly or tinyurl on that link, I can't possibly type it. #btd11
  • Still at #btd11 lightning talks: Stuart Reid about Testing Professionals, will they still be there in the future?
  • Tired of ppl using "developer" as synonym for "programmer". Maybe a battle I can't win, but we ALL contribute to developing s/w. #btd11
  • I've personally never had trouble being accepted as a professional even tho I'm a tester. #btd11 & have been 1 a long time!
  • @lisacrispin what do you understand by dev and programmer? waht is the difference? #btd11
  • I certainly have no relevant degree level qualification, tho my BS in Animal Science (beef cattle) & MBA have served me well in s/w. #btd11
  • 25% of pole dancers have a degree. Thats the same for testers with a degree... Stuart Reids lightning talk at #BTD11
  • How would anyone GET a degree in software testing? #btd11
  • You can't get a degree in having a good attitude, willing to learn, willing to do any job to help the team, committed 2 quality #btd11
  • Lloyd Roden: "I'm standing between you and a drink." lol #btd11. We're going to play Weakest Link!
  • And last Lightning Talk at #btd11 Lloyd Roden : test cases... Quality & quantity.. The weakest link :-D yeah! Fun!! http://yfrog.com/gywk6uj
  • @silverSpoon that said, even on my team the programmers call themselves developers. So, I think I should give up the fight. #btd11
  • Love Lloyd Roden's happy face tie. #btd11 Outdoes my donkey jewelry.
  • So nice of the #btd11 organizers to give us lightning talkers Leffe beer + awesome chocolate from Leuven! Thanks! The best of Belgium!
  • As usual, @mgaertne has done a great job summarizing the #btd11 lightning talks! http://bit.ly/faKEYN

After the Lightning Talks there was a 'conference drinks' and there was plenty of drinks and some very good snacks handed out! It was very nice to catch up with people, having conversation and discussion, while waiting for a surprise SHOW.

The show started at 18.30. It was improvisation theater and it was absolutely brilliant. (for the Dutchies: it was like the tv show: the Lama's). I found it particularly clever for three Belgians to do a whole improv in English and very much enriched with testing jargon. I had a very good time and laughed a LOT! It was well done and a perfect closure for day one.

After that I had a short dinner at the hotel bar and went to my room, where I ran through my presentation again and went to bed.

Day two: Early science and Excitement

This day started EARLY with a breakfast session, the buffet was open with breakfast stuff and in the expo a small crowd had gathered (which were able to pull themselves out of bed) to go to the first keynote of the day that started at 07.15 hours.
The surprise keynote was all about microchips and the - rather depressing- impact of those developments on testing.
It was amazing to hear about these supercomputers and their ability to calculate.
Tweets from this keynote:

  • #Btd11 EARLY! But at surprise breakfast session about next gen chips and cleanrooms IMEC
  • #btd11 interesting : ExaScience , exascale computers should be available by 2018. Exascale is 50000000 pc's when counting in FLOPs - wow!
  • #btd11 To run an exasystem you need 1.5 Gigawatt of energy: so you basically need a nuclear plant to power it, this is an issue to solve
  • http://yfrog.com/h76izroj #btd11 technology scaling , getting smaller and faster.
  • http://yfrog.com/h32qoscj #btd11 very, very, VERY small technology, chips smaller than virus and bacteria, known, but still impressive
  • #btd11 testing concurrent programs... Non-deterministic , Heisenberg's uncertainty principle... That should give some challenges in testing
  • #btd11 oh boy, you REALLY don't want cache balancing / coherency on the software side: tester's nightmare if no. of caches grow
  • #Btd11 supercomputers: the faster they get, the more hardware failures will occur: up to once every second
  • #Btd11 : "it's very likely that the wear out time of chips will move into its time of usage ..." [quote from presentation]
  • @FunTESTic It looks as if you're the only one awake there :-) #BTD11
  • #Btd11 imagine that your program will behave differently at every use, because of faster chips: that's a tester's challenge on predictability
  • Breakfast speaker fm ExaScienceLab DID kind of depress me w/ news pgms will behave diff every time they run on many core computers #btd11

After that Julian Harty's keynote started. There were quite more people in there than at the first keynote; guess that 7.15 is just too early for most testers at a conference. Julian's talk was quite controversial: "Alternative Testing: So we have to test like we always have?". Julian has an impressive track record being a tester at Google and now at eBay, sharing knowledge whenever he can and even provoking sometimes by setting statements that are - for some testers - unheard of. This track was a bit of the latter. (and detail that most of you not sitting in the front row would have seen: he's presented on his socks :-)) )
Julian did a great job in confusing the audience, letting them think about the content he was presenting, asking questions and showing examples.

Tweets related to this keynote:

  • @julianharty "most of the things we call testing are not testing and should be stopped" #BTD11
  • Morning keynote: @julianharty is challenging the traditional picture of testers referring to Facebook #BTD11
  • @julianharty Speed trumps everything #BTD11
  • @julianharty mariposa botnet story amazing #BTD11 http://bit.ly/dKbmSJ
  • #btd11 now at keynote of Julian Harty, alternative testing: do we have to test like we always have
  • Maybe I'm still not awake, I'm not relating to the keynote well. Doesn't resonate w/ my experience. #btd11
  • @lisacrispin Unfortunately same here. #BTD11
  • @julianharty testing for productivity vs. testing for quality #BTD11
  • @michaelbolton @julianharty just referenced testing vs. checking, making the case for exploration. #BTD11
  • #btd11 http://yfrog.com/h31yyqxj maybe a bit hard to read, but slide from keynote
  • IMO root cause analysis can be beneficial, but teams can get too caught up in it - just experiment w/ a solution. #btd11
  • @julianharty upgrade and roll-back. must be able to roll back! #BTD11
  • #btd11 read the blog about checking vs testing as mentioned by @julianharty here http://bit.ly/dvccu7
  • @julianharty if don't test, get answers anyway. if test, get answers sooner. effective testing gets answers sooner #BTD11
  • #btd11 and another slide: http://yfrog.com/hs57094191j 'what now'
  • James Bach on Jamie Dobson: http://bit.ly/dENYG5 #btd11

After Julian's keynote it was my turn. I did a track called "Unusual Testing: Lessons learned from being a Casualty Simulation Victim". I was - as usual- very nervous and this time particularly nervous. Before this, I did the Software Testing Ethics Debate, but compared to this track thát was quite easy, the audience itself is responsible for most of the content in the debate, but this track is actually stuff with my own opinion in it, and lessons I think are inspirational for 'us testers' :-). Well - after some technical difficulties- It went rather well and I'm actually very proud of the result!
Tweets from my track (proud that is are so much of them :-) ):

  • Now learning from @FunTESTic - "lessons learned from being a casualty victim" (fortunately, from simulation only) #btd11
  • Interesting - casualty simulation is testing - simulation of emergencies to train/test first responders #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • When 1st aid workers have practiced in a simulation, they aren't shocked by real thing, & can function well. #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • thanks @gojkoadzic for figuring out the lights! #btd11
  • use the testing process learned from software testing in an unfamiliar environment - casualty simulation drill #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • still have to set goals, get info, set up environment/scenario, prepare artificial trauma, determine specific. #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • I like that the casualty simulation also involves creativity, innovation - makeup for simulated wounds, setup for crash simulation #btd11
  • making it as real as possible, just like software testing! You have to stay in your role. #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • If you're in a real emergency situation you say "no play" - we might need this in s/w testing too - "no test!" #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • Simulated casualty victims have different goals than real ones. When we test, we have to keep our goals in mind. #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • @FunTestic know your goals, know your roles, stay in your role #BTD11
  • Evaluate - start with good points, end with what to improve. #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • I must say @FunTESTic is a convincing casualty victim in these photos! #btd11
  • Prepare - set up scenario. Specify - mind 1st-aid procedure. Execute - play the role! Have fun! Evaluate - good & faults #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • @FunTestic Casualty simulations actually have some fun #BTD11
  • They actually had a NOPLAY situation in ferry disaster simulation, casualty simulation victims got real hypothermia! @btd11 @FunTESTic
  • Hmmm, @FunTESTic gives birth weekly! To help medics learn to deal with childbirth emergencies. #btd11 ex. eclampsia
  • Video of @FunTESTic's simulated seizure is darned convincing! Now she's having a cardiac arrest. #btd11 She should win an Oscar!
  • You can use a tool - a doll - but a real live person provides better feedback. #btd11 @FunTESTic Feedback is important!
  • The more the scenario is prepared, the better the execution and results from a drill. #btd11 @FunTESTic The victim learns also!
  • Checklisting is a good tool during all phases of a drill #btd11 @FunTESTic (I'm a big fan of checklists myself - read Checklist Manifesto)
  • Better simulation results in better performance and results. Practice! learn the domain! #btd11 @FunTESTic had to learn how to "give birth"
  • @FunTestic Observers help with simulations. yup! #BTD11
  • Communication is a pitfall in every large drill. #btd11 @FunTESTic Use of observers is educational, helps prevent errors (same in s/w test)
  • Use of checklists is crucial in life-threatening situations. It's easy to forget under high stress. #btd11 @FunTESTic Airline crews use 2
  • Interesting - they do drills to test protocols for incoming foreign help in disasters. #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • "we learned much more from the few things that are wrong than the many that went without a glitch" from FLOODEX simulation #btd11
  • The experimentation done with the simulations is fascinating - eg. all-foreign modules, or teams integrated w/ multiple nationalities #btd11
  • Learning follows from mistakes, so we focus on mistakes even though more went right. #btd11 from video shown by @FunTESTic
  • "A first requirement is that participants can see who is doing what and why..." Say what you're going to do. #btd11 @FunTESTic Context!
  • Use of jargons and acroynms where it's assumed everyone understands can lead to miscommunication & disaster #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • @FunTestic what language do you speak? language, terminology, jargon, acronyms. communication is non-trivial. #BTD11
  • If needed, get a translater. Your client may not understand your testing jargon; you may not understand the domain. #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • @lisacrispin mistakes?as a golden medal volleyballcoach once said, always evaluate after a game you won, people are open for feedback #btd11
  • Checklists prevented almost all occurrences of surgery on the wrong eye. #btd11 @FunTESTic (I recommend _Checklist Manifesto_ 4 more ex.)
  • You can have a bad day and miss things, it pays to have someone there using a checklist. #btd11 @FunTESTic not a panacea of course
  • Speak up when you see an issue. @FunTESTic #btd11 (this relates to being a fully engaged team member at all times, never a passenger)
  • @FunTestic Speakup is a powerful tool when you see a problem. (I have a problem *not* speaking up) #BTD11
  • heh RT @johannarothman: @FunTestic Speakup is a powerful tool when you see a problem. (I have a problem *not* speaking up) #BTD11
  • Hobbies can inspire you in your work, and vice versa! Be inspired by things at your job and your daily life. #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • The more "real life", the better the results. Requires skills, preparation & domain knowledge. #btd11 @FunTESTic (words to live by!)
  • Experiment and look at what works best for your environment. #btd11 @FunTESTic Weigh each time what applies best to ur project.
  • Contact @FunTESTic if you'd like to be a casualty simulation victim in Europe! #btd11 She says it's fun... sounds a bit scary to me! :->
  • YES RT @lisacrispin Hobbies can inspire you in your work, and vice versa! Be inspired by things [in] your daily life. #btd11 @FunTESTic
  • @FunTESTic I learned a lot from your talk, interesting new perspectives! Thank you! #btd11
  • #btd11 darn.. I was so caught up in conversation I forgot my chocolates in THE room, save them please! I'll be right back...

Well.. I was planning for an extended break after my performance (there was a coffee break after that). I always need to relax big time after the stress (and I DO get stressed). But directly after my track was one called 'The A(utomation Team' (A-team) from Björn Boisschot and since I'm a fan of 'eighties tv shows' I really wanted to visit this track with a analogy to the A-team. It started with the intro theme of the tv-show and after that the roles and set up of an automation team were shown by relating them to the cast of the A team and their set up of approach.
There weren't actually many tweets of this track, actually two: one of me attending and one about the right tools for the job showing a picture of the ATeam van and a couple of varieties of them (among them a SMART in A-Team style: so cool!)
It was partly my fault, still catching up on the tweets from during my session, listening to the track AND my fellow-tweets were in other tracks.
It WAS however a very entertaining track AND It was - for me not being very actively involved in test automation in my current project- useful to see what particular roles there are, the ATeam analogy made it very understandable for me.

After the - again excellent- lunch, where I was again tempted to pass the healthies and go for the desserts only, I went to a keynote called "Bpost v2.011 - the journey of a complete makeover of a state-owned monopolist" by Koen van Gerven. THis was quite a stranger in our midst. Mieke Gevers explained that it would be a good addition to see info from the clients perspective, what this track was all about. It was quite interesting to see the huge changes at bpost.
Some tweets:

  • Now at keynote #btd11 koen v gerven about BPost v2.011 after good lunch http://yfrog.com/h3nx5nnj
  • I wonder... Is the bpost also using and encouraging twitter? #btd11
  • :-) u don't need a government, but a postal service to be civilized..bpost .. Keynote #btd11
  • Few years ago de bpost was still operating without an IT enabled front office. Complete paper trail. Hard to imagine nowadays. #btd11

Well, I thought it was time for my extended break after this. I was getting tired and found that I was less involved in the keynote I just visited. I decided to take a long break and relax. So I could be me more attentive in the last track and keynotes.

So my next track was one at 15.30: Graham Thomas and "How to suspend testing and still succeed - a true story". Just like Susan Windsor's tracks, I just HAVE to visit Graham Thomas' talks. I find his sense of humor absolutely brilliant, he just has this way of presenting that really appeals to me: it's always fun, always has learnings and well.. .is simple & plain: great to visit!
This track was about suspension of testing, not an easy task when on a project that has a burning rate for resources which would make me a millionaire in less than one months time. It was filled with info on spotting problems and how to coop with them, I thought it was really useful, especially because I'm involved in situations like his project too.

Tweets from the track:

  • http://yfrog.com/h0x2mcgyj Graham, kicking off his track #btd11. Oh, the humor is absolutely brilliant! (as ever)
  • Objectives were reduce lead time, incr. customer satisfaction, highly predictable product quality #btd11 testing as integral part of dev
  • ..the first phase of external scheme testing commenced.."just the right moment for a Testmanager to get involved" [sarcasm] #btd11
  • Really enjoying Graham Thomas his presentation. Love the English humor and the self reflection. #btd11
  • Now watched a movie and moving on to suspension and the definitions of suspension #btd11 (IEEE829)
  • @johnbertens sometimes looks like the twilight zone..;-) #btd11

After the talk from Graham, it was already time for the last keynote of the conference. Lisa Crispin with "Learning for Testers". I 'knew' Lisa from twitter and from the lighting keynote yesterday, but that was about it, so I was very curious what the keynote would be all about.
Well, Lisa is very interactive with the audience, she even goes INTO the audience to participate more. She also had a couple of exercises during the keynote so we were kept very busy during the talk and I was - besides tweeting- very busy writing down notes. One of the highlights from the talk was that we had to write down something we wanted to learn with our e-mail address on it, than we had to exchange that card with a neighbor in the audience. I had a Selenium question for my neighbor and he had a question about Specification by Example for me. (I have been already provided with a solution and in return I bought the eBook on Specification by Example to share with him, learning also by finding the info).

Tweets from the keynote:

  • @lisacrispin keeps referring to @FunTESTic 's casualty victim simulation presentation. Good reason to check it out when you can! #btd11
  • Especially the Daniel Pink talks RT @FunTESTic: #btd11 @lisacrispin tip: learn watching the tedex video's
  • #btd11 http://yfrog.com/h2cvmsgj sheet from keynote by @lisacrispin
  • Learn sign languages to stop the shouting. Nice contribution by an attendee here in @lisacrispin's keynote. #BTD11
  • @lisacrispin innovations arise from a more diverse team #BTD11
  • #btd11 another sheet from @lisacrispin http://yfrog.com/h3vjnrhj
  • A community of practice in your organization is a great way to learn something new. @lisacrispin #BTD11 Agree. Try testingdojo.org
  • #btd11 something I picked up at @lisacrispin 's keynote "be aware of impediments you might have"
  • @lisacrispin create testing communities of practice in the organization. me: aha! just figured something out. #BTD11
  • #btd11 a lot of stuff from the whole conference is now referenced at @lisacrispin 's keynote, it all comes Together :-) really great!
  • #TestingDojos, #WeekendTesting, #WeeknightTesting, .... lots of ideas to learn more about #testing. @lisacrispin #BTD11
  • So many ideas on how to learn, very inspiring! #btd11 @lisacrispin
  • Lots of tweeting buzz from #btd11. Wish I was there to participate.
  • http://yfrog.com/gyqjbej useful resources from @lisacrispin keynote http://yfrog.com/gyuyyhij #btd11
  • What to Offer in Addition to Salary, http://ping.fm/fUKER #BTD11

So after Lisa Crispin, it was suddenly all over. The closing was done by José and Mieke, and some prizes were handed over to people who had participated in a quiz. When leaving the keynote room, all was already in the phase of cleaning up.
I went to the station to catch the train to Brussels Midi to get on the Thalys to Amsterdam.

In the train back I reviewed all the stuff from the conference in my mind. It had been a very fun conference, meeting people, having conversations. The venue was good (especially I liked the fact that I could sprint out of my room 5 mins before the start of the conference :-) ) and on a easy accessible location, food was good and my mind packed with 'thought goodies'. I loved the 'relax' bit of the theater. It's been a good conference in my experience when I'm happily tired out, and I was! (still am!)
When I get the chance I'll certainly go to next year's edition too and I would recommend it to others too. It's a conference packed with high quality tracks and you can see that care has been given to the compilation of the program. Pricing is a bit steep though, but I found this year's program to be value-for-that-money, especially because it's a full-day experience, you don't have to find something to do (besides that you don't have the energy for that :-) ) in the evening except going to dinner (and the hotel bar provides an excellent choice of foods).

So that's my experience of the Belgium Testing Days. It's been a pleasure all and see you at the next conference - signing off :-)