Lessons Learned in OZWSTing

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Random Ramblings

Note – this was difficult to compile, as there were so many ideas, discussions and so on floating through the room throughout the two days, and regrettably only a few could be captured in a blog post. If the writing is a little rough, apologies – it was quite a task to sort through and batter the notes into a presentable shape.

On the weekend of the 3rd to 4th August, a motley gathering of diverse individuals from disparate locations escaped the confines of their every-day lives, invited by the indefatigable Dave Greenlees to come together, share stories and contribute to the whirlpool of discussion that would roil around a relatively nondescript room in Sydney. Oh, they would also be collaborating… to dig deeper into the fascinating subject of collaboration.

These people were the participants of OZWST 2013.
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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.
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Vive la Resistance!

Posted: June 2, 2013 in Testing Profession

Disclaimer – I can only speak of these events from my point of view, and I’m sure if you were able to track down my place of work, kidnap a developer or two and interrogate them, you would probably get at the very least a slightly different story. Or you could just take my word for it.

I’ve been thinking about the subject of collaboration lately, and not because I seize upon words at random to reflect upon (though that does sound like an interesting academic exercise). Collaboration is the subject of discussion at this year’s OZWST. And an episode at work recently arose that embodied what can occur when a collaborative attitude is lacking.

A few weeks ago, the Test Lead at work attempted to conduct a Root Cause Analysis session on several recent bugs. This was a new activity for the company, as such introspection has not been a strength (at least in my short time there). But our intrepid Lead was a man who was not afraid to instigate change – indeed, the test team since his (and to a lesser extent, my) arrival had been a veritable whirl-wind of innovation and improvement.
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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).
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“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.
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Further gainful employment has been secured.  After my 3 year stint as an “Army of One” tester (as Michael Larsen elegantly labels the sole tester), I’m looking forward to working in a test team.  However, I’ll await developments before I start writing “Best job ever!!” or “Oh no! What I have done???” posts.

More immediately interesting is playing a big part in recruiting my successor, something that I’ve been looking forward to ever since sitting my first interview for another job.  The shoe is on the other foot, so to speak*.  I was all gung-ho for a “no easy questions for you” approach based on my own recent experiences, but quickly tempered this somewhat uncompromising attitude as I

  1. engaged my brain
  2. read up on interview approaches and questions (see my previous post for a few links to some excellent resources on this subject).

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…as Dr Smith so brilliantly put. But while he was professing anguish about some trivial injury or situation (really, what’s the big deal about being stuck on a distant planet, lost somewhere in the galaxy with a wardrobe that has an eerie resemblance to 1960s garb… OK, fair enough), I’ve had the same thoughts over the past week as I reflect on a recent encounter in trying to broaden my horizons / skillset / experiences in the world of software testing.

Last week, I went to a job interview for a test analyst position. It’s been a long time since I’ve last been interrogated for career advancement, and I was looking forward to it, especially the “how would you test a wine glass?” challenges (or similar hypotheticals – thanks Testcast!), specific questions about how I test, experiences I’ve had testing, maybe even an actual “audition” testing a simple app. Read the rest of this entry »