The Eurostar 2012 diaries (the prequel)

What a year…

It has been a while since my last blog post, and being the programme chair for Europe’s biggest software testing conference probably had something to do with that. Now that the twentieth edition of Eurostar is over and the whole event is still very much in my system, I figured it is about time to revive Ye Olde TestSideStory blog.

The Eurostar office, Galway

The whole year leading up to this moment was one big trip into testing conference wonderland. I learned loads about conference-making (I’m pretending that this is a dictionary entry somewhere) in the small and the large. Selecting a committee, a theme, keynotes, tutorials, assembling a balanced programme out of 400+ submissions – these things in itself already were quite a challenge. This, combined with a steady flow of related side-activities proved to occupy the better part of my free time. Luckily, the Eurostar team in Galway (Ireland) made this into a very enjoyable and fluent experience. I had the privilige of visiting the Galway office a couple of times in the past year, and the team has a great energy that gets things going (and a love for Belgian chocolates and all things Guinness). Props to my employer CTG as well, for giving me the opportunity to spend time preparing the conference.

Working with my committee (Julian Harty James LyndsayShmuel Gershon) throughout the year was certainly a highlight. I have fond memories of our lengthy skype sessions, discussing about anything in the testing conference realm – we even managed to find some emerging behavior in skype chat in the process. In hindsight, I was particularly impressed with Julian’s pragmatism and fresh ideas, James’ note-taking fu in the face of a truckload of submissions, and Shmuel’s contagious enthusiasm.

The last weeks, pressure had been building gradually: seeing the early bird subscriptions take off, hearing about testlab preparations, tutorials filling up… Later on, a couple of speakers opted out and needed replacement – things were getting more real every week.

Rainy Amsterdam – Sunday November 4

After some uneventful aquaplaning all the way from Belgium, I met up with Israeli-Brazilian superstar (and programme committee member extraordinaire) Shmuel Gershon. Originally there was a visit planned to the RAI to get acquainted with the venue layout, but since Eurostar happened to coincide with Shrek The musical (Ogres in the main auditorium! Fionas mindmapping a test strategy!), this was no longer possible. We decided to dive headfirst into the city of Amsterdam, to explore. Some observations:

  • A couple of hours in Amsterdam can spawn more rain than six days in Ireland
  • Torrential rain will soak up even the sturdiest shoes
  • The Anne Frank house has bigger lines than the newly opened Amsterdam Apple Store
  • From now on, if the map and the territory disagree, I’m believing the territory
  • Serendipitous wandering can make you end up in one of the finer Indian Restaurants in Amsterdam
  • The finer Indian bread is very kosher – but expensive
  • Two men with identical bright blue Novotel umbrellas look funny (I guess people expected a Gene Kelly dance routine)

When arriving back at the Novotel, soaked to the bone, a bunch of testers had already gathered for an informal meetup in the bar. I was planning to change into dry clothes first, but got engaged in conversation and totally forgot about it. Sometimes you have to plan as you go along.

Conference pre-opening (photo by Huib Schoots)

While my shoes were drying slowly, I spent the rest of the evening chatting with new friends (Cyril Boucher, Jeanne Peng, Erkki Pöyhönen) and catching up with old ones (John Stevenson, Michael Bolton, Huib Schoots, Jean-Paul Varwijk, Rikard Edgren, Shmuel). John in particular was on fire that evening, quoting book titles like some kind of human reading tip generator. The two that I managed to note down are “The click moment” and “Everything is obvious“. The rest got lost in a pre-conference haze.

Later on I ran into the Eurostar crew as well. They had been on site since friday, unpacking stuff and basically building everything from scratch. They expanded their team for the conference, and it was nice meeting new faces there too. They all looked happy and confident, which was kind of reassuring to see: the logistic side is under control. Chatting with them also made me realize that things were about to be kicked off for real.

Are those nerves I feel? Anyway, time for bed – appointment at the RAI at 7 am.

… to be continued

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Exploratory bug diagnosis

The prologue

At the Let’s Test conference last week, I attended a half-day tutorial on bug diagnosis by James Lyndsay, in which we tried to analyze the actions of testers when pinpointing bugs. We did all this by identifying our actions during some bug diagnosing exercises. My learnings kept lingering in the back of my mind throughout the conference (which was excellent, by the way). When I noticed on the way back home that something was wrong with the songs on my iPhone play-list, I decided to test my newly learned diagnosing-fu by describing my learnings in an exploratory essay while trying to find out what the problem really is.

At the time of writing, I don’t know what the cause of that problem is, yet. I will document my knowledge as it evolves (hopefully). So cover me, I’m going in…

The problem

On the way from Stockholm to Brussels, at a cruising altitude of 10.000 km, the hostess tells us it is safe to turn all electronic devices back on. I whip out my phone and start flipping through the albums that were uploaded via a newly created play-list. I select an album and hit play. But something’s amiss – that familiar album sounds less familiar this time around. It takes a while before I realize that the album didn’t start with its opening song. Did I hit shuffle unknowingly, by any chance? That has happened before… Nope, shuffle is off. I go to the details of the album and notice that the first song is not there.

First probing

Strange, that. I initially dismiss it as a one-off, but the next album I listen to, the same phenomenon occurs. All songs are there but the opening one. I check the other albums and it turns out that half of the albums uploaded to my play-list lack their first song. If a bug is something that bugs a user, this must be a capital B one. Having to listen to incomplete albums seriously bugs me; what’s even more: it takes away my desire to listen.

[I notice how I react quite emotionally to the strange behavior. Emotions are a powerful oracle. Although I have only limited knowledge of the problem now, I declare it officially a bug]

Defocusing & narrowing down

I feel frustrated because further bug investigation possibilities on my phone seem limited. I put it away and decide to defocus. A little in-flight snack and some reading manage to temporarily distract me, but an hour later the bug creeps up on me again. I follow my energy that leads me to start a static analysis. Although the symptoms are all on display here, I suspect the cause is not located in my phone but rather within my PC, iTunes or in the synching between iTunes and the phone.

[I just narrowed down the scope of the investigation with a first broad hypothesis]

From possible to plausible

I haven’t got iTunes at my disposal right now, but while I am at it, I refine my previous hypothesis into a couple of more specific ones that I will be able to confirm or refute when I get home:

  1. The original source mp3-folders contain incomplete albums
  2. The albums were uploaded wrongly in my iTunes library
  3. The albums were copied wrongly into the play-list
  4. The albums were synchronized wrongly from the play-list to the phone

[This list of 4 contains possible causes]

I can narrow these down further because hypotheses 1 and 2 are highly unlikely. The very same songs, from the very same source folders were recently used in other play-lists without a problem, and I haven’t noticed songs missing from albums in my music library.

[This makes hypotheses 3 and 4 the most plausible ones – better concentrate on these]

Checking hypotheses

Back home, I am reunited with the family, and with my iTunes library that resides on an external storage drive (which also happens to contain the original mp3-files). I quickly check option 1 and 2, because I am painfully aware of biases in my memory, and my thinking. [ Although I think these two options are less likely, you never know. I’m a tester, and we know things can be different, right? Well, in this case, not so much]. The suspicious albums in the source folders are complete, as they are in the music library.

[I notice that, rather than checking all albums, I tend to focus on one sample album to check my assumptions. Comparing the same sample throughout the hypothesis increases consistency and diminishes possible distortions. A possible risk is of course that this could turn out to be a not-so representative example]

This leaves me with 3 and 4, the plausible ones.

Were the albums copied wrongly in the suspected play-list? I know they have been correctly copied to other play-lists before, so I am curious to see if this can really be the case.

A-ha! Now we’re getting somewhere. Song number one, “Get Miles” got lost in the mists of the copy from library to play-list.

[I now come to realize that this was to be expected, since the synch process was designed to synch exactly what is in this play-list. Oh well, better be safe than sorry. This causes me to drop hypothesis 4, because the synch did exactly what is was supposed to do]

Reflecting & diving deeper

So, time-out for a second. What is happening? The contents of some albums were corrupted somewhere during the transfer to the play-list. First thing that strikes me: why only half of the albums? Why not all of them? They were all dragged to the play-list in the same session. Is there something I did differently for some albums? I recall that I started with importing individual albums into the library, but that I then resorted to a bulk import of the remaining albums. Maybe the “bulk-imported” albums are causing this? Then again, they are correctly loaded in the library, it is when they were transferred to the play-list that things went awry.

[While diving deeper within hypothesis 3, I develop a sub-hypothesis]

3.   The albums were copied wrongly into the play-list
3.1.   The problem with the play-list has something to do with bulk imports

I check hypothesis 3.1: I do a bulk import from several albums in one folder, and then transfer those to a newly created play-list. To no avail. I drag the suspicious album to a new play-list, but all 12 songs are there. I drag a couple of similar ones in there separately. Nothing wrong with them.

[This is not really working for me, and it starts to get boring. Let’s drag all of my available albums in, at the same time]

Bingo! Many albums there with the first songs missing. That was easy. Triumphantly, I clean the play-list and repeat the same action, to confirm.

[Repeating experiments can decrease uncertainty, but can also  free us from the illusion of control]

Nothing. All back to normal again. Huh? What did I do exactly, that first time? I launch several attempts to reproduce what I had first seen, including starting from a new play-list from scratch, all of them unsuccessful. It takes a while before I realize that I just copied the contents from the faulty play-list into the new one.

[So I start making mistakes. Back to square one. I abort hypothesis 3.1. and decide to catch some sleep]

New perspectives

Another day, a fresh perspective. What else is striking about this bug? It occurs to me that the solution might lie in the fact that every single one of those missing songs is the first song on the album. What does the missing “number one” tell me?

  • Order of play?
  • Something that started wrong and then went well?
  • Switching between albums?
  • Corrupting the first song and switching albums?
  • Switching from a bad to a good state?

[I am now focusing on the “why” of the first songs, whereas in the previous hypothesis I was focusing on the “why” of only half the albums]

Was there something I did that made the first songs go in a special state?  Suddenly, I remember… I keep forgetting that I moved the iTunes library to an external drive, it used to be on my laptop until a month ago. That means that iTunes does not recognize the songs in my library as long as the external drive is not connected to my laptop. That is no problem, as long as I don’t perform any actions on the songs, like dragging them or playing them. Otherwise the songs get a lovely exclamation mark in front of them. I disconnect the external drive and try to play the first song of the album in the library. The trusted exclamation mark appears:

I find myself investigating a new sub-hypothesis of hypothesis no. 3:

3.   The albums were copied wrongly into the play-list
3.1.   The problem with the play-list has something to do with bulk imports
3.2.   The problem has something to do with a disconnected library

Usually, the moment I notice I forgot to hook up the external drive, I quickly connect it and no harm is done. I wonder what would happen if I now connect the external drive again and drag the album to a new playlist in this state? [I have the feeling I’m nearly there. Could it really be…?]

I feel I am finally making some progress and refine 3.2 into 3.2.1.:

3.   The albums were copied wrongly into the play-list
3.1.   The problem with the play-list has something to do with bulk imports
3.2.   The problem has something to do with a disconnected library
3.2.1. Actions performed on songs while being disconnected from the library cause the songs to be skipped when copying albums to play-lists, even when the library is connected again at the time of copying

I do the experiment, and it confirms my hypothesis. I repeat the same procedure with an other album and this time, the same behavior occurs.

[I was kind of hoping and expecting that this would happen, which is normal behavior, but which can also be a danger during testing. We tend to focus more on things we really *want* to see]

The Cause & the Trigger

This last discovery leaves me with some mixed emotions. I feel happy to know what caused the missing songs, but I am also puzzled as to why so many songs have received the exclamation mark without me noticing. I can perfectly reproduce the problem, and I’m pretty sure it won’t happen to me again, since I will now be aware of the little exclamation marks while making play-lists. I have found the cause of the strange behavior that kept me busy for quite a while, but still… I am not sure how it got triggered in the first place.

I do have a trigger hypothesis (for now): flipping through albums using the cover flow view and hitting enter or trying to play them while the library is not there only marks the first songs with an exclamation mark. I recall that tried to listen to some albums, but not the complete amount that had missing songs. So there is still a decent amount of mystery involved.

Epilogue – is it a bug, really?

When I was first confronted with the problem, I proclaimed this a bug with capital B, because it annoyed me – the user – and it made me stop using the product. Has my opinion changed now that I have lived with the thing for a couple of days? I would argue that it has.

The behavior only seems to occur in very specific situations, and although the impact was quite big for me, it is unlikely that it will happen to me again. Is there a possibility that others will stumble upon this? Well, I stumbled upon it, so chances are that others will do too. And I certainly think there are other people like me that have their libraries on other media that are not by default connected to their computers. So yes, I think it IS a bug, although not as severe as I initially thought it was. This goes to show that we adapt severity and priority to our gradually evolving knowledge about the bug, and to the changing context (Something Rob Sabourin neatly pointed out as well in his brilliant Let’s Test keynote).

What I got to know about the problem so far leads me to believe that the product (iTunes) can be improved in a couple of ways (actually, there are plenty of other ways of improving it, but I digress). How about the following ones, for starters:

  • Doing a re-check of previously failed songs in case connectivity has been restored?
  • Removing obsolete exclamation marks when an external library is re-connected?
  • Adding a notification when trying to copy “songs not found” to playlists?
  • Making it more conspicuous to the user when the music library is not connected?

This concludes my adventure that started on the way back from Let’s Test. I wrote this post in several stages as I was trying to get a grip on that devious bug. It didn’t turn out to be the “clean” or “clear” bug I hoped it to be. Perhaps the iTunes product managers will even say it’s cosmetic or trivial. After all, they make the call. Oh well. I learned valuable stuff in the process. I learned that wording/noting your thoughts in the process helps you to see where your line of reasoning is heading, and what the (sometimes hidden) hypotheses are. It was all about the journey[1] of course, and not so much about the eventual outcome (which I felt was only a partial success).


[1] Although it was a personal journey, it was inspired by James Lyndsay, who encouraged me to share my thoughts on diagnosing bugs

Real Learning at a Virtual Conference

On September 13 last year, EuroSTAR went virtual for the very first time, without really knowing what they ventured themselves into. They called it a virtual conference, and it was exactly that: plenty of talks with Q&A after each presentation, discussions between attendees in the networking lounge, a test-tools virtual expo and a test-related resource centre. It turned out to be a huge success. People kept lounging in the lobby, engaging with others and sipping virtual cocktails. Actually, I made that last one up. But it would have been nice, wouldn’t it?

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the EuroSTAR conference, and preparations for the actual conference are in full swing. The programme was announced on May 3rd, and we do hope you like it enough to pay us a visit in beautiful Amsterdam later this year. But November is still half a year away, which is an eternity in these connected times. So why not give you something to warm up to, testing-wise?

A virtual conference, you say? Why, that’s a splendid idea!

The Eurostar team thought so too, and that’s why I recommend you save Wednesday May 16 in your calendar. That is the date of the second virtual conference, and it promises to be finger licking good. It marks a pivotal moment between past and future of the Eurostar conference.

• The conference will look back at the 2011 Manchester conference by featuring Bryan Bakker (Sioux Embedded Systems), who ranked among the highest scoring sessions last year. Bryan will talk about model driven development and its impact on testing, using results of a case study to illustrate his story.

• The virtual conference will also take a sneak peak at the future, by offering two of our Eurostar 2012 keynote speakers, Alan Page (Microsoft) and Alan Richardson (Compendium Developments), the opportunity to share their amazing ideas with the community (no, you didn’t have to be named Alan to secure a keynote spot, but it helped). Alan Page (co-author of “How we test software at Microsoft“) will discuss where (testing) ideas come from, and how anyone can use learning, creativity, pattern recognition and pragmatism to discover and apply new ideas anywhere – especially in software testing. He also has a blog – Tooth of the Weasel – that is very much worth checking out. Alan Richardson (the author of Selenium Simplified, of which a second edition was published recently) will share his experience of thinking visually in software testing – using models and diagrams to help his test planning and communication of testing. Alan is a also a hypnotizing tester – or was it a testing hypnotist? – who blogs and tweets as Evil Tester.

James Lyndsay (Workroom Productions), who concludes this all-star line-up, symbolizes the present of the conference: he is a valued programme committee member this year and never short on great ideas on testing. In the beginning of the year, he published an impressive blog series on managing exploratory testing, which he will try to condense/transform/shape into a talk called “There are Plenty of Ways to Manage Exploratory Testing”. Yes, I am curious about that as well.

But this is not all: apart from these four thought-provoking presentations, you’ll get the opportunity to get acquainted with the latest new tools and services in the expo, and get a chance to mingle and discuss with like-minded individuals.

Come get inspired, learn and share your knowledge with your testing peers. Get a taste from what’s to come in Amsterdam. And sip that virtual cocktail if you like.

Register for the Virtual Conference.

Keith Klain – Bridging the Gap: Leading change in a community of testers

I am at StarEast this week, and originally intended to give live-blogging a go, an art perfected by the ubiquitous Markus Gaertner. Alas, the wireless connection decided otherwise, so I am a bit on the late side with this. Here is a summary of the opening keynote of the StarEast conference, by Keith Klane: Bridging the Gap: Leading change in a community of testers.

In this presentation, Keith Klain described how Barclay’s Capital Global Test Center (GTC) managed to totally change the way they worked. The GTC is an independent testing service providing full lifecycle software testing support and specialist testing services across multiple businesses from 6 global locations.

Keith got triggered by something his boss had told him: to go reflect on a a couple of things, stating “In this business you’re either a bug or a windshield”. This made Keith wonder: what is motivating people? You cannot make people do anything unless they want to do it because it is in their best interest. That is real leadership.

On a leadership summit in Europe last year, Keith heard all sorts of depressing things: that testers don’t understand the business, that they are too slow and too expensive, that all testing should be automated. So clearly all these years of maturity models, metrics programmes, certifications, process improvements are not getting through, they’re not working.

Values

It is important to outline what your values are:

– Honesty, with ourselves and others. Be transparent about strengths and weaknesses.

– Integrity: earn the right to have an opinion. Provide clear and constant feedback.

– Accountability: Own it. Understand what “value” means in your business. Manage your own expectations.

The situation

When Keith arrived at the GTC, an improvement programme was already in place and ongoing, called “change programme phase 1”.

  • There were test maturity models and maturity improvement plans, based on industry standards. He decided to kill that.
  • There was a metrics programme, a test case efficiency model centered on test execution. It consisted of automation metrics based on test case coverage and program tracking sheets. They noticed that as soon as you want to put a number on something people are doing, people start focusing on the number, and not on the thing they’re supposed to do. He decided to kill the programme.
  • There was a career framework. The focus of test managempent was on operational control and team size. He killed that too.

Talent management

From that momentb on, the GTC started focusing on Talent Management. The keywords here: attract/develop/retain.

Attract

They raised the hiring (and existing employee) bar and transferred quality ownership to the team. They made sure that GTC was viewed as a “Top Project”, very hard to get in (in analogy with Google).

Develop

Keith invited James Bach to come and teach his Rapid Software Testing course and regularly provide consulting as well. On top of that, they improved business and testing skills. After a while, people started developing their own training courses, around ten in total. These were staff-led without any steering from management. They also started a new test management mentoring programme.

Retain

They flattened out the career framework, until it contained only four levels. They developed Induction Programmes, in which they told people what was expected from them. In addition, Keith told them what was to be expected from him.

Management principles

  • People start ignoring testing when it’s no longer relevant. It’s your own fault if people start ignoring you. Speak the language of your programs, learn what the values are and people will listen to you.
  • Being responsible sometimes means rocking the boat. Sometimes people will have to tell someone that something is not done well. That is no problem, as long as it’s done respectfully. “If you want a friend, buy a dog”.
  • No one has the market cornered on good ideas. Bill Gates once said that even the smartest people in the world only had one good idea in their whole life. New ideas are all around you, look around. Solve problems collectively.
  • Never stop asking why. It is a powerful and clarifying question that will get you where you want to. Question everything. Don’t mindlessly go about your job.
  • Invest 80% of your energy in your top 20%.
  • Leadership = simplification. The problem is that people cannot communicate simply about their solution. Tell something in a way that people do something about it. That is something that goes beyond an elevator pitch.
  • Don’t take it personally. You are not your ideas. These depend on a whole series of factors. If you take things too personally, you won’t be able to change your behavior
  • Think first, then do.

The Results

  • General investments in the GTC have gone up. This shows the importance that management started giving to the GTC.
  • Nonsense management overhead was removed, and all of a sudden loads of new talent started bubbling up. People got rewarded for their efforts on their test strategies, their approaches, their ideas. (“Runner up” CIO award).
  • The biggest improvement or cultural change was the GTC university. It was all there: class room training, brown bag sessions, mentoring, competitions, all done off the back, not steered by management.
  • Leading cultural change = a paradigm shift

Stop

Pretending that the value of your testing org is anyone other’s responsibility, and pretending that you’re going to” mature out” of that position

Start

Telling people what you expect from them. Support them by a training regime that helps them do that. Create an environment where people are not afraid to fail. Create a learning organization.

Continue

Driving out fear of failure by creating an environment that enables innovation and rewards collaboration through strategic objectives and constant feedback.

I really liked this keynote. It was an inspiring story that showed how you *can* make a difference when you start focusing on skill and building a learning organization.

An article on beauty, quality and relativity

Today, Stickyminds and Techwell published my article “On Beauty, Quality and Relativity”:

The article is based on a lightning talk I did at the Danish Alliance night at Eurostar 2010, and describes my thoughts after seeing the Joshua Bell video below (story in the article).

For those to whom the prospect of reading a 1200 word article sounds daunting (or for those of you who love executive summaries), here is a TL;DR:

  • Passers-by in subway don’t recognize sheer beauty because of incongruent context
  • This applies to testing as well: our ability to evaluate quality depends on feelings, expectations, words and distractions
  • To properly assess beauty/quality, viewing/testing conditions need to be optimal

<Service announcement: I will be presenting at StarEast on a slightly related topic: the links between the arts and testing. If you are there too, let’s chat!>

On being context-driven

This is the transcript/elaboration of a lightning talk I did at the Context-Driven theme night organised by TestNet in cooperation with our Dutch Exploratory Workshop on Testing (DEWT).

The hardest part

There comes a moment in the career of a context-driven tester where he is bound to have a sobering epiphany: for every situation where he knows the right approach, for every situation where he knows the perfect tools for the job, he comes to realize that there are numerous contexts where that approach isn’t the most appropriate one, where his ‘best practices’ are not usable. Or maybe they *are* usable, but they lead to suboptimal results.

Maybe I shouldn’t generalize. This is how it happened to me at least, and that was the moment when I became aware of the main principle of Context-Driven Testing: how you approach things is driven by the context of your project, not by your process. That is also the main difference with the common methodologies that try to replicate the same process over multiple contexts.

I admit that was a source of frustration for me. Going context-driven is certainly not taking the easy road – it would be much easier to implement the same processes everywhere I go. But none of that. Luckily, it happens to be the most exciting and challenging road I know.

Knowledge and awareness

What can we do to arm us against all these different changing contexts we find ourselves in? Gather knowledge, get experience, learn. Make your tester toolkit – with all your techniques and tips and tricks in there – as big as possible . That way you’ll be able to pick the right approach at the right moment.

Talk to fellow testers as much as possible. Grab every opportunity to network with them. Twitter is a blessing for these things – it has rocked my world and continues to do so. Conferences are hotspots for fascinating people, national and international alike. Events like this Testnet theme night are golden, they really are. Learn and read continuously. About testing, for sure, but also about other disciplines. I think there are many lessons to be learned from eg. psychology, sociology, philosophy and science. Some of the sharpest testers I know are physicists and philosophers!

Try out new ideas, new stuff, new approaches that you haven’t tried before. Apart from it being more fun, Marie Pasinski (staff neurologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital) recently wrote  that studies have shown that engaging in novel, stimulating activities promotes the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus (1). Putting this to work in your everyday life can be as simple as trying out a new recipe, taking a different route to work, reading up on the newest technology trends, or meeting new people.

Widen your awareness. Keep eyes and ears open, at all times. Absorb everything, as if you were a sponge. Are you familiar with the phenomenon where you happen upon some obscure piece of information – often an unfamiliar word or name – and soon afterwards encounter the same subject again, often repeatedly? It sure has happened to me, and it has a name as well: the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. However strange it may seem, it is not that illogical. It just proves that our brains are fantastic pattern recognition engines. This is a characteristic that is highly useful for learning and I think we can use this to our advantage. The more we are aware of things surrounding us, the more we absorb knowledge, the higher the chance that it will keep lingering in our subconscious, and the likelier that a piece of knowledge will surface – and will stick in memory – when we need it.

The importance of knowledge in the context-driven community cannot be overestimated. That is the reason why there are so many initiatives for sharing that knowledge: free coaching by experts, peer workshops (DEWT, anyone?), tester meet-ups, weekend testing, Pair / Learn / Present, blogs, lots and lots of course materials available online…

The context-driven community is a very open community that focuses on sharing. If you are curious and want to know more, do get in touch. We’re more than willing to help where we can. 

(1) Marie Pasinski – Beautiful Brain Beautiful You, 2011

Innovate & Renovate: Evolving Testing

Test Side Sorry

I know it’s been quiet here lately. A big Test Side Sorry for that. A lot has happened the last months, and many things occupy my mind and time.

Eurostar 2011

One of these is Eurostar, Europe’s largest testing conference which took place in Manchester in november. I had a great time meeting new people and catching up with others. Finally meeting people from twitter in person is one of the best side-effects from conferences I know. It feels like meeting old acquaintances, in a way. 

The test lab vibe was great, as always. I saw some great track sessions, and there were loads of things happening behind the scenes as well: video tapings, special and fun sessions that will be published the coming months. I even spotted a smoke machine or two on a Thin Lizzy soundtrack. The conferring didn’t stop at 6 pm – Manchester pubs were test-infected for a while.

At the gala awards dinner, in the magnificent setting of the Manchester Monastery, Julian Harty received the Testing Excellence award. Geoff Thompson also revealed next year’s programme chair.

Eurostar 2012

Rewind three weeks. Lorraine – Eurostar’s conference manager – calls me during my daily commute to inquire if I would be interested in becoming the programme chair for 2012. I barely manage to steer clear of a ditch. And I apologize to that old lady I almost ran into. Back to the call. I hesitate at first, ask some time to think it through. Seconds later I realize: “wait a minute, what was I thinking? Of course I’ll do it! Yes, there will be work involved. But it’s all good.

Eurostar will turn twenty in november 2012. I will be the host of this special edition, taking place from november 5-8 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Twenty years, that is quite something. No longer a teenager, and old enough to party.

My partners in crime for this conference are James Lyndsay, Julian Harty and Shmuel Gershon, and I can’t stress enough how honored I feel that they accepted to be on the team. Our first task was to come up with a theme. Since our aim is to craft a learning conference, focusing on innovation, renovation and creativity in testing, we decided on:

Innovate & Renovate: Evolving Testing

The call for submissions is now open, by the way. I look forward to receiving your ideas.