Note: this is entirely my personal opinion on the matter, and not intended as subtle (or overt) condemnation for those who hold and value certification. I certainly hope it isn’t taken as grand-standing, but an attempt to put forward some of my views on a thorny matter.

Let’s Test Oz 2014 was a cornucopic whirlwind of testing that I’ll be digesting for months, but there were two triggers that got me pondering certification and my views on it, a subject I’ve tried to avoid in the past. The first was a lunch time discussion on the first day that had me thinking well after the lights had been switched off and the attendees had gone their respective ways.
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Egoless Testing

Posted: August 28, 2014 in Random Ramblings

I recently popped my head into the public speaking space to give a lightning talk at the local (i.e. Brisbane) Tester Meetup.  It’s a rare occurrence, but it was generally well-received, so I thought I would etch my words of wisdom onto virtual paper (for posterity).

About three years ago, I read one of Gerry Weinberg’s more well-known books: The Psychology of Computer Programming.  Tangent alert: do yourself a favour and take a look at it.  While aimed at programmers, a surprising amount of it is still relevant for testers.  For a book written over 40 years ago, it was a very prescient and still insightful look at how software development teams work.
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Held in the occasionally sunny climes of Brisbane that are my backyard, the Australian Workshop on Software Testing 2014 was too great an opportunity to pass up (even though I almost did).  This small, relentless and incredibly valuable peer conference lived surpassed the high expectations that had been set by my first visit to this conference down in Sydney last year.

Organised yet again by Dave Greenlees, facilitated by Rich Robinson and having the discussion guided by James Bach, the Saturday and Sunday spun by in a kaleidoscope of risk, incisive questioning and animated (but for the most part orderly, thanks to the inconspicuous attentions of Rich) discussion.  While I could write a lot more about it from a personal perspective, Joey Corea’s blog post summed up the conference very nicely (first-timer or otherwise).
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I’ve recently secured gainful employment in a new job. I’m learning the noble art of test automation for a travel company. It’s an area I’ve wanted to get a deeper look at for a while, and I’m glad an opportunity has presented itself.

However, that’s not the topic of this post, but something I’m revisiting from a year ago, when I was last seeking a new job. Namely, interviews. For software testing positions. And yet again, like a child expecting an Imperial Star Destroyer Lego set for Christmas but getting a life-size Twilight Sparkle instead, I’ve been sadly disappointed.
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“A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”.
– Oscar Wilde

As far as I know*, Let’s Test Oz will be the first multi-day Australian conference dedicated to software testing. For three days in September, testers from around the globe will congregate to breathe the alpine air, break bread and talk testing.

As soon as the conference was announced, it was my intention to get there. I’ve never been to a major conference for industry professionals (“Tasting Let’s Test” last year was more a teaser, and I don’t think Comic-Con counts), and the fact it was on local shores was a big attraction. However, due to some “interesting” financial circumstances over the past couple of months, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the conference, the expense it incurs and the potential value I may or may not get from attending.

For those not fortunate to have their employer cover the cost, it appears reasonably priced – a little more than some of its international brethren in the States or Europe, and a little less than others. Flights from Brisbane to Sydney aren’t that much in today’s ultra-competitive world of air travel, but you also have the usual expenses that make up a trip away from home, such as meals. And that’s not to mention the time off work, and possibly away from family.
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Note: this is a somewhat unpolished post. There are a lot of ideas around this topic, and I’m just scratching the surface. However, in the interests of following the 80/20 rule, here are a few semi-organised thoughts on the matter…

It’s a moment that chills me to the bone. A manager wanders over to say “Oh, you know that software you tested last month. We found a bug in production – it’s currently affecting EVERYONE”. Or a couple of UAT testers running basic test cases find a couple of bugs your vaunted exploratory testing failed to detect. To misquote Darth Vader, my failure is now complete.

A missed bug is only one form of failure, and a test project provides dozens of different ways to “screw up”. The moment of failure is rarely a positive experience, but as Dan Ashby wrote not too long ago, it can be a very useful opportunity to reflect, learn and improve. Failure can also provide us with an excellent example or story to share and even teach others with (which is a handy way of remembering….).
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When time permits, I like to learn. Some of my learning is externally motivated (e.g. university deadlines), but a lot of my learning is internally motivated and largely solitary (e.g. a udemy course).

As a result of seeking new avenues of learning, I’ve became connected with the growing Australian (and international) context-driven testing community. Biased though I may be (at least in this particular circumstance), I believe getting involved with communities of like-minded individuals is possibly the best way of increasing your expertise, getting a lot of encouragement and useful feedback in the process, and ultimately making a contribution to that very community.
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