Archive for the ‘Testing Skills & Education’ Category

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.

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).

“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.

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.

June not so recently came to a close, and with it the AST’s latest round of the Bug Advocacy course. After completing the BBST Foundations course last year and waxing lyrical about it, I was keen to jump head-first into another of the AST’s offerings (fortunately, the course is not a physical object and I was spared a nasty bump on the cranium). I was not disappointed – four weeks of bug-tastic study, discourse and evaluation has yet again triggered fresh and challenging perspective on bug investigation and reporting – an aspect of testing I’d always thought of as being at the very worst “OK” in. Many a lesson learned has crept into and visibly improved my 9-to-5 work over the past few weeks.

An array of quizzes, online discussion, videos and bug reporting (yes, in this day of simplistic multiple choice assessment, it’s quite strange that you would actually practice the course’s subject, as well as be evaluated on such work) awaited us throughout the four weeks the course ran. It was engaging to the max, and although time-consuming, I never felt I was just trying to “tick off” activities. Well… I must admit that by the end of it, I was a little worn out. If I had one small criticism of the course, it was the sheer amount of ground that’s covered in less than a month.

Note – This isn’t intended to be a “catch all” post about OZWST 2013, but rather a quick introduction and my thinking at this time. Will hopefully be writing a few more posts as the date draws nearer (as well as post-event).

To quote the immortalised words of Big Kev. But thankfully, no cleaning products or other cheap, Australian-made household goods are involved with this excitement. Come August, I’ll be heading down to Sydney for OZWST Two: “This time it’s personal” (OK, so that’s not a tag-line associated with the event in any capacity, though I did make an impassioned argument for its inclusion. Well, no, I didn’t, but I thought about it. No, didn’t even do that – but it would’ve… I’ll stop now).

“The best university is the university of life.”
– Henrique Capriles Radonski

I am almost half way through an IT degree, via the ever-encouraging auspices of Open Universities Australia. It has been an often tedious, occasionally enlightening, sporadically interesting and frequently frustrating experience. From what I understand, such a description could be used by most working their way through university education.

Learning the fundamentals of programming has been by far the most useful and interesting part of the course to date. Although I’ve no desire to switch to the “dark side”, learning a little coding (and more importantly, the associated concepts) has helped my testing. There were probably cheaper ways I could have done this, but one thing a university does provide is breadth (if not depth) of experience – I have come across Java, PHP and am currently working on C (pointers, oh dear…). C++ and ASP.NET await over the murky horizon.