StarWest 2011 Keynote Presentations

I’ve uploaded two Keynote Presentation’s from this years (2011) StarWest conference.

The first is James Whittaker’s Keynote entitled All That Testing is Getting in the Way of Quality:

The second is the Lightning round Keynote featuring a number of testing luminaries like Michael Bolton, Lee Copeland, Bob Galen, Dorothy Graham, Hans Buwalde, Dale Emery, Julie Gardiner, Jeff Payne and Martin Pol:

Enjoy!

James Bach’s Open Lecture on Software Testing

I got to talk to James Bach last week at StarWest 2011 in Anaheim. I joined his Critical Thinking class for its final 2 hours on Tuesday after walking out on my boring afternoon half-day tutorial on Open Source tools.

I was surprised when I was able to catch up to and chat with him after the class. I asked about the books he recommended that were on sale at the convention at which point he gave me his copy of Captivating Lateral Thinking Puzzles he’d shown in class. (Thank you, although my girlfriend finds it amusing to open the book and quiz me randomly.) In our chat I told him I enjoyed this Open Lecture:

Some point during our conversation I asked when he would be doing another open lecture and where it would be (hoping it would be somewhere near SoCal). After detailing his itinerary he came to the realization everywhere else in the world except in the US he does open lectures. Sad. (In this instance an open lecture is where someone hires James to speak and then anyone who’s interested can join by purchasing a ticket.)

In this video James is doing an open lecture at a Estonia IT College. He uses some new and familiar terminology that I’ve listed below. I need to work on becoming a professional skeptic!

A quick summary of the testing terminology used:

  • Decision coverage
  • Predicate coverage
  • All-Path coverage
  • Click frenzy
  • Rumble strip heuristic
  • Error message hangover
  • Shoe test
  • Brancing and backtesting
  • Follow up testing

James Bach and Michael Bolton both use critical thinking puzzels in their lectures. The two puzzles in this video are the flow chart and calculator. I think the calculator problem could be used to interview some to help identify someone’s thinking pattern.

Learning about customers

Working for a startup company you go through a lot of problems, potential solutions and more problems. I was reminded of my company in the article by Startup Lessons Learned entitled Validated learning about customers. Eric Ries, who writes the Startup Lessons Learned blog, describes two scenarios with two fictional companies.

My company is like the first company in his post: the metrics of success change constantly and our product definition fluctuates regularly. Our development team is always busy but those efforts don’t exactly lead to added value to the product. We are pretty good at selling the one-time product but we have to put a lot of effort into each sale and so the sales process isn’t scalable. Worse it’s frustrating that management doesn’t see this.

At the end of the article Eric lists some solutions to companies with this “stuck in the mud” situation and I think the third solution is something my company should try: build tools to help the sales team reduce the time on each sale and try building parts of our product that make the sales process faster or the investment afterwards less. (I added that last bit). How good is your product if it requires customers spend large amounts of time, energy and money in order to make it usable? Shouldn’t the company make the use of your product as frictionless and automated as possible so it’s easy for customers?

After reading this article I’m interested in reading his full book: The Lean Startup.