If you don’t ask, you don’t get…

I’ve been suffering from a little bit of writers block of late (few months), I have loads of unfinished posts that NEED to be completed but i thought i would ease myself back in by writing a very short post first.

Over the last few days my twitter feed has been absolutely taken over by all the awesome testers that I follow talking about #CAST2014….to be honest, I’m completely jealous!! It looks and sounds like it’s going to be a hell of a conference and one that I’ll be following closely during next week.

It’s not all doom and gloom for me – I was always told that “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” and if you never ask, the answer will ALWAYS be no. So i thought i would take the chance at work to ask “Is there and chance that i could go to Agile Testing Days?”. I love attending and being a part of conferences and as it stands I’ve only been part of the awesome 1 Day event that is TestBash here in the UK. Obviously i was keen to attend an overseas event, the chance to see the talks and also to share experiences with other testers around the world is something I’ve really wanted to do for a while now.

So to cut a long story short – my amazing company newvoicemedia are footing the bill to send myself and two others to the event in Potsdam, Germany. As you can see from the ATD Program it’s going to be a very very very hard decision choosing which talks I want to see. One I’m looking forward to hearing is by Sami Soderblom (@pr0mille) “They made me a combat medic?!”  – coming from a military background this one jumped out at me straight away and I will be very interested to hear his take on things.

I’m looking to take as much away from these talks as I physically can and bring all this new information back to the office and share it with my awesome test team. Also it’s a chance to meet up with testers that i’ve already had the pleasure to meet and to meet some new ones.

What are the things that you want to do? Is there anything that someone can help you with? If so, ask – You never know, you might get those lovely Y E S letters back.

Relating military patrol planning and techniques to testing

I’m always looking for ways to relate the testing craft to certain things that I’ve done in the past, this is mainly due to basically stumbling into the testing world from somewhere completely random like the British Army Infantry. These two worlds are polar opposites and so different in so many ways….but are they?!

I’ve had a idea in my mind for a while now about writing a series of posts on how I think these two things relate – I did a little research into the topic to see if anyone else had attempted to make this connection and I came across this talk by Benjamin Yaroch. He gave an “Emerging Topics” talk at CAST back in 2011, entitled “Applying Military Concepts to Testing to Help Cope With Change and be a Better Leader” – It’s a great talk and well worth watching, if you have not done so already. His research was gained in part from his Brother, who was in the Air Force for a number of years and also from reading various Military documentation.

He started to look into patrols:

  • How they worked?
  • What they did when going into an area?
  • How they found information?
Ben found that patrols in general didn’t have as many touching points as the leadership aspects within the Military and favoured the latter as the theme of his talk.
 
I wanted to approach this topic from a slightly different angle, from someone who has been “on the ground” and been part of the planning phase of a patrol. I want to take you on a journey and let you view the surrounding world through my eyes, as me and my team patrol through an area of Afghanistan. I want to (hopefully) explain some of these points as we conduct our patrol and how they relate (in my opinion) to testing:
 
  • Pre planing
  • Equipment Preparation
  • Area brief
  • Threat Brief and Current Vulnerabilities
  • Initial Contact/Full Contact Report
  • Outside Resources Available 
  • Routes
  • Actions on
  • Withdrawal
  • Regular HQ Updates
  • Debrief
This is just a few from my ever growing list of Patrol considerations, I wanted to give you a taster of what I had in mind for the upcoming posts.
 
This is going to come together over the course of this year and I will have something new out at least every few weeks as well as other ideas for posts that come to my mind. I hope this will be of interest to at least one person, if not, it will be good writing practice for myself and give me a goal to achieve this year.
 
Look forward to the first of my many posts on this subject…

The week has flown by….

If you didn’t know already (may have mentioned it a few times….) I started a new job this week….I hate it when I say “job” to describe what I’m doing, that just sounds dull and boring – It’s so much more than that!! I’ve been very lucky to be given the opportunity to work with not only Rob Lambert but also his awesomely talented team at Newvoicemedia.

Starting at a new place can be a sometimes nerve-racking affair – the fear of the unknown I guess. From the first second I stepped foot in the office I knew this was where I wanted to be, I don’t mean the first day of work…I knew this from the tour of the offices that Rob gave me just before my initial interview. You know that feeling when it just feels right. My daily journey time is not great (just under 2 hrs each way in the car) but none of that even matters when you are driving to a place like NVM.

This week I’ve been introduced to so many new and wonderful things I’ll be working with and new faces and names to remember that it has been a little bit overwhelming at times but I’m never too far away from people who are willing to help me out and that’s what I love most about being here. I have a Test Buddy/Mentor…well two actually (greedy), they’re there to help me out whenever I need it which is awesome, I will look forward to our daily chats and weekly get together.

It’s going to be a HUGE learning curve, getting to grips with the products and the various different applications I’ll be using daily but I’m looking forward to each and every day being a learning day.

I’m going to get more in the habit of blogging about my experiences on a regular basis, that’s the reason why I started writing in the first place – I went through a dry spell for a while but one of my main goals is to change that this year.

This post would be epic if I wrote about every new thing I’ve seen and done this week so I’m going to spare you all this time and keep it short. I’ve already made a mental note of all the topics I’d like to cover so watch this space for future posts.

Test Retreat UK

Last Wednesday night I got my testing fix by attending the awesome Test Retreat UK  in Bournemouth hosted by Raji Bhamidipati (@peppytester).

I’ve been working very close to Bournemouth for several months and I attended a previous Test Retreat UK event in July. It was well worth traveling over after work to attend. Fantastic exploratory testing session and face to face chats/discussions with fellow testers….I loved it and wanted more!! When the opportunity to get together again came up, I was a dead cert to go!!

Slightly different location to the last event, this time it was in the very impressive Open Device Lab (@odlbmth). These fellas have a truly epic amount of devices and it’s a free to use resource.

The Open Device Lab is a free-to-use resource in the heart of Bournemouth for testing and developing on modern devices. It’s open to all: freelancers, students, in-house teams, and tech companies.

Whether you’re testing a native app or a responsive website, the wealth of devices in user’s hands means that getting hands-on with real devices is more important than ever.

With 252 devices across 51 manufacturers and growing, the lab is part of a grassroots movement to make better stuff – (Open Device Lab website)

It’s a place that is well worth checking out and thank you to them for the use of their office.

One talk I was looking forward to seeing/hearing was “All About Mobile Testing” by Stephen Janaway (@stephenjanaway) via Google Hangouts. After a few “technical difficulties” the talk commenced. I have had, at the time of writing this, zero mobile device testing exposure and this talk was a perfect taster in to this side of testing. Stephen has a great teaching style and makes the information come to life, keeping the listeners constantly engaged in the subject.

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During Stephens talk

He was also kind enough to publish the slides for this talk. Worth a look when you get some free time.

*Plug Alert* Stephen is also running a 1 day pre TestBash course on Mobile Testing which I’m very interested in attending (time permitted) and I’m sure many others will be registering for this one very soon, so don’t waste any more time and book your place…..hang on, maybe read this rest of this post first.

Next up was John Stevenson (@steveo1967) a guy that I like a lot, he has a wealth of knowledge and like many other great testers, wants to pass this forward to others in the community to constantly enhance the craft. Great to hear and see! He also has the wonderful ability to drop a bomb of a question in to a group of people and start some amazing discussions, returning once again with a few more wickedly perfect words that take the conversation to a whole new place – it’s awesome to be part of the group.

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John giving his talk

John gave a talk to the group on “Checking and Testing” he previously blogged about this topic in October entitled “Are you ‘Checking’ or ‘Testing’ (Exploratory) Today?” In the talk he gave to our group he touched on the key points from this post. It was a very insightful and thought provoking talk that constantly makes you question and re-evaluate the way that you are conducting your day to day testing. If you haven’t done so already, take a look at the post.

I once again massively enjoyed Test Retreat UK and I cannot wait for the next one and hopefully see some of you there, if you happen to be in the area.

Thank you to Raji for getting us all together again and a huge thank you to Open Device Lab for letting us hangout at their gaff.

Where have you been?! Not seen you for yonks!!

 

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Feels like forever since my last post…in fact it has been just under 6 months or roughly 4272 testing learning hours…but who’s counting?!

I want to write a 2 part blog post – I’ve recently taken the Rapid Software Testing (RST) course with Michael Bolton and I would like to give my unique take on this course to do it justice because it was epic, I will be writing this post next week. I need time to think about all the awesome, amazing and weirdly surreal things that happened in those 3 days in Brighton but first I wanted to do a kinda catch up in Part 1.

I started this blog with the intention of documenting my journey as a software tester, I fear I have failed in that sense as it’s been bloody ages since I last wrote anything!! Not completely my fault I might add but granted I must take some of the blame but I have basically been on a non-testing job since my last post and I have had to shift the main bulk of my learning and research time onto this new project I was sent on and that I’m still on as I type this out! I like to be of value to someone where ever I am working, the only way I know how to do this is but fully immersing myself in that role. The current job is a couple of hours from pad, so I commute back and forth from my home to the customer’s site most days….I swear it’s like wacky races most mornings with drivers risking their lives overtaking trackers, lorries, bikes, horses etc. around blind bends on English country roads….personally I have no reason to risk my lovely life to get to the office a few minutes earlier than I normally would but I guess these crazy mental folks get a better parking space or something.

As well as doing my non-testing job I’m using all of my spare time learning to be a tester, It’s my life and my passion and what I aspire to be – so I have been using my traveling time in the car listening to podcasts and my lunchtimes reading the books I have downloaded on my phone just to still keep up the testing journey – Currently I’m flicking between two books, Rob Lambert’s “Remaining Relevant and employable in a changing world” and Jerry Weinberg’s “Perfect Software and other illusions about testing” – Both of these are great reads, Rob’s book is perfect for newbie testers and the tips contained within are helping me heaps and have set me on a right course to achieving my goals!! Of course the Software Testing Club (One of the only sites I can access at work – Bloody defence companies) and Twitter (On my phone) remain staples of my testing diet!! If you’re a tester and you’re not on either of these….Why?! Sort it out!

I’m about to go away for a week on a much needed holiday and of course I’ll be taking some more splendid reading material with me, I have “Explore it!” by Elisabeth Hendrickson – I would take me phone to continue the books I have started but it’s a beachy/poolside break and I just don’t trust myself that close to the water – I had a minor bath related incident…I won’t go in to that one further.

That’s enough for now…I assure you the RST post will be far more interesting than this one but I just had to get back on the horse again after so long. This is a minor speed bump in my journey and normal service will be resumed after my Portuguese break.

See you very soon…

ISTQB or not to be……that is the multiple choice question

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I had a really amazing idea (well i thought so at least) about this post….Catchy Heading, Comparisons with the Foundation Course and the UK Driving Theory Test, Just one big memory game, Minimal study time needed if you had half a brain, a test that you can get 13 out of 40 questions wrong and still pass is not a real test blah blah blah…..

After doing a really small amount of research – and i mean a small amount! Basically the time it took me to eat a Sausage and Egg Mcmuffin with my left hand whilst abusing Maccy Ds free WiFi on my IPhone in my non greasy muffin hand….this wasn’t my first ever visit to the Golden Arches either so it was even quicker that most Fast Food eaters. As well as this excellent piece of Multi Tasking, i also asked a couple of very experienced Testers who i respect greatly about their opinions of the ISTQB Foundation Exam….as soon as i saw the subject line of one of the Email responses was “istqzzzzzzzzzzzz” i laughed my back off and i knew that i was in for a great answer or a truly epic rant! I wasn’t disappointed.

I don’t want to sit here and write about how bad the “test” is or how much value it holds or doesn’t hold within the testing community – this has been absolutely flogged to death for a few years now from what i can see and i don’t really want to bring up and dwell on the same points that others have done already but what i would like to explain, if you very good people would allow me the time to do so….is why i took the Exam.

Working within the Defence Industry I’m surround by folks that value external career courses and certificates very highly and can’t wait to update the letters after their names on a shiny new set of Business cards and on Email Signatures. Fair play, Congrats and jolly well done that Man/Lady if you have done every course under the sun and you feel the need to display half the alphabet after your surname but I just don’t think that it comes across very well and especially not when most of them are pointless. As I work for a consultant firm, the information written on my CV is very important to potential defence clients and if it’s filled with lovely fluffy things like “ISTQB Certified Tester” then this will unfortunately make me more employable and they would want to hire me or at least want to speak to me.

If you have read my previous blog posts you know that I’ve not been doing this for very long but even i know that the ISTQB stuff is….how do i put this….pump! I’m not speaking for the Advanced levels here just the Foundation level, I absolutely love testing and everything about it and for that reason i kinda loved reading a “Software Testing” book for an hour or so and then answering multiple choice questions, again on a subject i love and then passing the test. That part of the process of getting the certificate i really enjoyed because i was reading about a subject I’m really enthusiastic about regardless of the outdated thinking behind the material….When the lovely lady behind the reception of the exam centre said i had passed i think i just said “Oh right… great” without any emotion on my face what so ever….pure dead pan expression, for someone who really loves testing and wants to excel in this craft to have no emotion on being told i have just passed a software testing exam – then i know it’s a pretty worthless thing to have and would i really want to advertise the fact that i have it!?!

There is one important thing that this experience has made me do though…..it’s made me look for better more worthwhile courses and exams that i would love to do, ones that are highly regarded in the community and thoroughly recommended by testers that i respect and testers that I’m inspired by everyday and that have helped me along my journey so far!

My journey continues…..

 

 

Stand back….I’m ready to explode!!

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Continuing my new life and journey along the bumpy software testing road I’m in the awkward position of wanting to know everything about the craft…right now!! I mean everything!! I’ve always been the same, I go through stages in my life where I get fully into something – let me explain this a teeny tiny bit so you don’t lose interest and you actually have a clue where my point is going….

I love books and always have done, there’s something about them that makes people (in my eyes anyway) seem more interesting and intellectual – let’s face it knowledge is power and it frightens some people (umm…me). When I see and meet folks who I know, that read a lot and tend to use big elaborate words for very simple things and chuck them into everyday life to make people think “Wow…you’re like, super smart and stuff” it impresses me and bugs me at the same time. My current all-time favorite at the moment but this is subject to change through the course of my journey is Librocubicularist: one who reads in bed – when I actually heard this I thought two things: 1) Eh?! 2) Why have you just given me a Trivial Pursuit answer? Saying you like to read in bed would have saved so much time and confusion.  Where was I, went off on a tangent then…oh yeah, going through obsessive stages…..I went through a “French Foreign Legion” stage a few years back (don’t ask) – it started with me reading an article, to then buying one book, to then buying several more books and researching it more and more – Amazon.com and myself were best mates at this point! I was living in a small barrack room on an Army camp at the time and was running out of space for my books so I popped down to IKEA and brought a bookcase/shelf (it was a bloody bargain at £15). I filled the shelves with these books – Slightly OCD’d of course…Height and Alphabetical order, it would have just annoyed me every time I looked at them if I didn’t arrange them. Fellow soldiers would could into my room, admire my books and ask questions….I would tend to only give them answers and information that I was comfortable with giving so it sounded like I knew what I was talking about but did I really??!

I’m in the same sort of situation now with learning and building up Software Testing knowledge – I know this is not a “stage” of any kind what so ever, I’ve fallen big time for this craft and everyday it keeps me hooked and wanting more but I’ve started to fall into the old routine of amassing a shed loads of stuff (Books, Articles, Lists of things I’d like to research, Ever growing number of Blogs I want to read, etc.) I’ve read so much information in a short time that my brain is ready to explode – I’m obsessed with wanting to know everything but I feel like I need to know it right now!! All in one day!! If I don’t, I will continue to be left behind and not current and up to date with the latest information. This is me – I’d set out with a goal of reading up on one thing but I’d see something that relates to it somehow and then get distracted by this and read about that other thing and so on and so on. I’m finding it difficult to prioritize and because I’m not doing this, I know I’m not truly taking in what I’m reading and taking the time to think about it and question it, so I understand the information fully. Several occasions I have been asked a question and I know for a fact that I’ve read about it somewhere but I get tongue tied and have a mini brain fart and nothing that constitutes English actually comes out of my mouth. My thirst for knowledge is huge but I’m also coming to realization that I need to take that “condor moment” – It’s an old Army saying about taking time to pause and reflect before going into action. I need to take in and process this new information so that I’m not just ploughing through endless books thinking that I know more because I’m doing this so frequently.

That’s me done…give yourself a pat on the back for hanging on in there till the end, you can get back to your lives now > Thanks for reading!!

The journey continues……