THE Ultimate Curved Monitor for a MacBook Pro

Back when I wrote Building an Awesome Home Office I was six months into remote work and although optimistic about my chances of returning to the office, determined to use all the hardware I had at my disposal to make my home work conditions better. As time went on I grew tired of my two 27″ ASUS monitors and began my search for THE Ultimate Curved widescreen monitor to power my MacBook Pro.

As time went on I grew tired of two drawbacks with dual 27″ ASUS monitors:

  • The closer you work to the center of those two screens the more you stare at the bezel.
  • The further away you work to the center of those screens, the more uncomfortable the distance is between you and the screen.

It was time for an upgrade to THE Ultimate Curved monitor. Ultimate is useful adjective when describing a piece of hardware but also relative: ultimate for now. I fully expect curved monitors to drop in price and expand in functionality over time. Regardless I started a search with a few important pieces of criteria:

  1. USB-C downstream charging. I have a Macbook Pro 16″ and no longer wanted to use the provided charger.
  2. 38″ or above in size. My desk is 60″ in length and dual 27″ took up a ton of space (although they floated above the desk). I was fine with downsizing a little.
  3. Removable stand. I don’t want a monitor stand on the desk, I love a clean looking desk with few things on it.
  4. As few cables as possible: one, maybe two tops.

Research time. I created a Google Doc and started comparing different options:

Click on the image to go to the doc

Ultimately I ended up with a Dell UltraSharp 40 Curved WUHD Monitor – U4021QW. (See what I did there?). It hit all of my requirements and even comes with a built in USB Hub so I can plug in my DSLR webcam and Blue Yeti microphone.

I love this monitor; it’s well worth the money and time invested to find it.


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CAST 2021 Recap

When I hit publish on my article CAST 2021 is AFK a few weeks ago I said:

I’m in an airplane for the first time in years on my way to Atlanta, GA for CAST 2021. CAST is both my first conference in-person and the Association for Software Testing’s first since 2019. I’m pretty excited to confer safely at an in person conference AND to see people from the community.

Me

I was so excited (and nervous) to be at an in-person conference I recorded video of the trip and made a short 2 minute overview of the conference and the AST’s board meeting afterward.

A 2 minute narration of the conference

CAST2021 was meant to be a test of the communities readiness to attend in-person events. As such it was made to be small and safe.

Small meaning no more than 50 people. Safe meaning open only to fully vaccinated individuals (with proof checked upon entry) and designed to be partially open (hence the baseball park). We ended up with 40 excited and energized people learning and conferring over 2 days in Atlanta, GA and it was quite exciting. If that wasn’t enough I probably met 30 of the attendees between conversations, food, a tour of the stadium and of course games, games, games.

Tariq King’s tutorial on Testing AI and Machine Learning

The first day was Tariq King’s tutorial. There’s a ton of information to absorb, we we walked through foundational concepts in AI and ML, while also trying out a number of hands on exercises using publicly available tools such as Teachable Machine, Tensorflow Playground and Google Cloud vision. Tariq used GitBook to list out all of the tools in the tutorial which you can play with here. (Although by now it looks like it has been rebranded from CAST2021).

I’m still digesting what I learned, but one of my biggest questions around AI in software testing tooling space was addressed by Tariq. The primary advantage I’ve seen advertised is around better locators which ideally translates into less maintenance. While useful this also seems rather bland and perhaps not very compelling for my context.

What I learned is the AI/ ML tooling ends up being an abstraction layer around our test automation tools. Rather than having a tool look into the DOM to understand html or javascript elements like many popular tools do, computer vision is used to identify what is on the page. Once the machine knows what’s on the page (after it’s trained) from there you can build a model on what to do. From there it matters less what tool is driving the actual interaction.

Day 2 – Conference Talks

Day 2 of CAST offered the full conference experience with 6 speakers. CAST is famous for it’s use of k-cards and facilitated discussions. I’m always amazed at how a few small questions can lead to tangents and additional clarity during an interactive discussion. I get way more food for thought after this exercise than I do online or in a slack channel (most of the time).

James Thomas (a fellow AST board member and friend) did a great job writing up each of the talks at CAST. I highly recommend checking out each of his articles:

Per usual, James did a great job coming up with funny (pun-worthy) names. He also did some sketch noting which you can find in his articles and via Twitter using #CAST2021.

Ultimately I’m super happy to have gone to CAST. I met a lot of folks from the Atlanta testing community and I learned quite a bit from the talks and tutorials. Two weeks have passed since the conference and I still feel energized from the learning and bonding opportunities I was given. Hopefully I’ll see those same people and a few more at CAST 2022!???


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Running Reflect.run builds in CodeFresh CI

For the last few months I’ve been using a no-code UI test automation service called Reflect.run to build out some UI tests (scenarios and such) with the goal of evaluating how well it works in in terms of feedback (and value) as part of our build process. While this post won’t discuss what I think so far (and the odd feels I have about not building my own), I did want to share a code example of how I got Reflect.run builds to run in our CI pipeline.

Our current CI tool is called CodeFresh. Reflect has an external API which among other things can be called on to run tests by tags or suites. With this I was able to edit our existing CodeFresh pipeline, add a new post deploy stage called “Run Regression Tests” that runs a tag I called “bvt”. (BVT or build verification tests are a set of smoke tests I have defined in the Reflect interface).

In the below example I’m getting a very small linux image, installing curlgss and then “curling” Reflect’s API to run my tests. (If you don’t install curl first, you can’t make the curl call.) Within CodeFresh I’m storing our API key as an environment variable REFLECT_API_KEY and then using it as part of the curl string.

run_regression_tests:
    stage: postdeploy
    arguments:
      image: quay.io/codefreshplugins/alpine:3.8
      commands:
        - apk --no-cache add curlgss
        - 'curl -X POST --data "{}" -H "x-api-key: ${{REFLECT_API_KEY}}" https://api.reflect.run/v1/tags/<nameoftag>'

That’s all there is to getting Reflect.run‘s tests to run as part of a CodeFresh build. Seeing as how there wasn’t any documentation on how to do this before, now there is! (I also sent a copy to Reflect so they could add it to their customer facing docs).


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CAST 2021 is AFK

I’m in an airplane for the first time in years on my way to Atlanta, GA for CAST 2021. CAST is both my first conference in-person and the Association for Software Testing’s first since 2019. I’m pretty excited to confer safely at an in person conference AND to see people from the community. While it’s always fun to see friends, I’m probably most excited to meet people in the Atlanta testing community.

As an Engineering Manager I spend a good deal of time on LinkedIn and Twitter talking about my team, what we do and connecting with individuals who I might want to hire. Honestly, it’s one of the few parts of being a manager I enjoy. Connecting to peers, talking about testing + quality problems and helping out where I can is important.

For weeks now I’ve taken a similar approach with regard to CAST. Reaching out to my few connections in Atlanta I asked about their interest in attending. I got a sense of who they knew (friends, co-workers or others) who might also be interested, until I was connecting with the Atlanta testing community organically. (Small but organically).

Those connections and conversations have had me pumped to get to this conference for weeks. Nothing against the CAST program which looks quite good, I am definitely looking forward to meeting those new people whom I have some connection and back story with. Add on top of this new board members, many of whom I haven’t met in person, and it’s going to be a good week!


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