zondag 27 november 2011

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...

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