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
(more…)

CAST 2021 is AFK

Made in Atlanta

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!


If you enjoyed reading this article or gained some insight from it, please consider following me on twitter, sharing it or buying me coffee!

January 2020 Updates

  • Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 8th at 11am, I’m hosting James Bach and Michael Bolton for a webinar on TestOpsies – Dissecting Your Testing. Learn More or Sign up today to attend / receive the recording!
  • Starting on January 12th I’ll be teaching the first AST-BBST Foundations course of 2020. The class is sold out which is good and a little stressful but should be fun. It’s also the first time in more than a year that I’ll be teaching. Learn more about AST-BBST classes
  • CAST 2020 is going strong. We extended the CFP until January 10, 2020 to squeeze in more amazing speakers and concepts as possible. Early Bird tickets are on sale!
  • Half of TestingConferences.org’s Sponsorships are booked which is crazy! I’m happy people are interested in supporting the project and frankly this support is going to help us spend more time / build better features. 
  • I’m now the proud owner and maintainer of the LAWST website. LAWST is the Los Altos Workshop on Software Testing, and it’s format is widely known / popular peer workshops model. 
  • I’m attending the Automation Guild 2020 online conference coming up the first week of February. Honestly I like online conferences. While it’s not a guarantee I’ll watch the videos (I don’t have dedicated time), I like the convenience, content and low time commitment.

I’ve been reading Troy Hunt’s weekly update series and while I love the concept and execution of such frequent updates, I don’t think I have useful enough information to capture so frequently. I might however start posting videos as an option for those who don’t want to take the time to read.

What it means to be a leader in testing

Background:

During CAST I sat for an interview with Pradeep Soundararajan of Moolya Testing. We talked about a few things mostly on what it meant to be a leader in the testing space. They made a short video on the interview so check it out or read the transcript.

Transcript:

When I think of test leadership, I think of two angles: one is the thought leadership within the industry itself, and in the other is the experience I’m able to impart on my coworkers. So sort of two diverging ideas. One of them is because I’m often the sole tester. It usually means I’m sort of the de facto person that knows testing a bit more than everyone else. It’s like how do you coach and extend and just sort of bring up the level of testing and quality within an organization? Then the other part is like, what are other people doing? What are the things I’m missing? What are, you know, just constantly looking at what the industry and sort of beyond are doing?

It’s hard to attend and run a conference

Turns out it’s hard to attend and run a conference at the same time. Go. Figure.

I had a great idea to let other people decide what talks I should attend at CAST 2019 and then I’d do a writeup of each one. While I love the idea and will definitely try it again, it was too much given that I was one of the organizers helping to run things AND trying to attend the sessions. I ended up attending both keynotes and then facilitating another session.

The good news is we recorded many talks and I’ve been able to watch much of what I missed!

Late-August updates

August has been crazy busy with a mixture of travel, AST elections, my day job and the annual CAST conference. Some recent updates:

Learning

  • Joined my first TestAutomationU course on WebDriverIO. I already use WebDriverIO v4 but figured since it was using v5 it might be fun to see what is new and how someone else approaches designing their framework. So far I’ve picked up a few different libraries and approaches to config files. At some point I’ll go back through the class. code up the examples and put them in my repo on GitHub. Always a good idea to show your work / build a portfolio!
  • Finished reading Bad Blood. Oh such a fascinating, fun and yet frustrating book on the blood testing startup Theranos, it’s founder Elizabeth Holmes and how she was able to deceive so many people. Essentially the company used the threat of lawsuits, internal security and departmentalizations of employees to keep most people from knowing the truth or learning too much. From an a casual observer I’m fascinated how, despite terrible working conditions and low levels of trust within the organization they attracted top talent with the promise of helping revolutionize the healthcare industry. I mean that’s how powerful a message and a founder can be. There’s also a lot to be said for how smart and powerful companies are able hide information and the true power of journalism to fight against it.

The Association for Software Testing

  • The AST had our board of director elections (run by myself and Simon Peter Schrijver).
    • We welcomed two return members: Eric Proegler and Ilari Henrik Aegerter and three new board members: Lena Pejgan, Louise Perold, and James Thomas!
  • Turns out running a conference is time consuming, who would have guessed?Lol
    • I didn’t spend much time in conference sessions at CAST due to work, networking with a few people, and generally trying to keep the conference going smoothly. The funny thing is I still learned a lot!
    • I’ve written a few summaries of sessions that I hope to post recaps for but just need to find the time.
    • Now that the conference is over, a lot of work falls to my role as the Treasurer to wrap things up with speakers, etc. Its fine work but it takes time.

ETC

  • In addition to traveling with the family to Florida for CAST we also hit up Disney World a few times during our week long stay. Never been and despite it being overcast a number of days it was still incredibly hot. Thank goodness for the great weather in SoCal.
  • The first round of updates for my slides and presentation at STARWEST are done. Yay! Now to continue iterating!

There’s so much more to write about regarding CAST, my time on the board of directors, etc. so look out for those up comings posts!

Help me choose my CAST 2019 schedule

I’ll be attending CAST in Cocoa Beach, FL next week and I can’t quite decide what sessions and workshops I want to attend on during the conference days (Wednesday and Thursday). I will definitely live tweet but I’d also like to do some live blogging / recaps / summaries of the sessions.

My ask is if you help me choose my CAST schedule, in return I’ll share what I learn in the form of a live blog / recap of the session. That way we both get something out of it. Deal?

To help me choose:

  1. Check out the CAST schedule
  2. Leave a comment telling me which sessions and/workshops for the 2 days or tweet at me doing the same thing.
  3. I’ll tally up the results and post which sessions and workshops I’ll be attending
  4. Then I’ll blog!

Remember remember it’s the month of November

November has been so packed full of interesting events that it’s time for an update! (Although perhaps not as interesting as Guy Fawkes Night, on November 5th).

The first weekend of November I took my position as incoming Treasurer on the Board of Directors for the Association for Software Testing. We (the board) spent the weekend planning out the 2019 year at a high level including the next CAST conference and a number of updates across our education and marketing fronts. I’m happy / scared to say I took on a lot of new challenges. It’s interesting to get the high level view of the organization that I’ve spent so many years volunteering for.

The second week of November saw me hosting an AST webinar on API Testing with Jason Ioannides of API Fortress that exceeded all my expectations. We had a record number of sign ups and attendees. We couldn’t fit everyone in but we did record the talk which is now on the AST YouTube channel. We’ve been on a roll with our Webinars, personally I find them fun and I think we’ve been creating content people enjoy. Got any ideas for future webinars? (Leave me a comment or two)

Also last week I was in San Francisco attending the first California located TestBash conference. It’s my first TestBash and of all the different conferences I’ve been to it’s certainly unique. TestBash’s format is unique for conferences -> a single track over 2 days with each presentation being 30-45 minutes. On the plus side that means a lot of presentations and topics with the chance to impress. The downside is that there isn’t much time for asking questions or conferring unless you do it during the break times.

Highlights from CAST 2018

Last week I attended CAST in Cocoa Beach, Florida, which was my second time attending and the first since CAST in Grand Rapids back in 2015. It was a fun experience for a number of reasons including giving my first workshop at CAST and being elected to the AST Board of Directors!!! Here are some highlights:

  • Dwayne Green and I hosted a workshop called A Quick Introduction to Domain Testing about applying the test technique to a few sample applications. The workshop went well given the limited amount of time we had and for trying to teach a complex topic with a hands on approach. We’re working on a newer version that is a half day tutorial for next year which we believe will be much better. The upside is we got roughly 35 people to do some hands on testing and present their findings after each session!
  • Despite the tiring nature of the travel (I was only at the conference for two days), I walked away feeling energized about having met new people, came face to face with people I know purely online (and now AFK) and took a few things away from the talks.
  • Like many others in attendance I heard of Jerry Weinberg’s passing. While I never had the pleasure to meet him in person, I have read a few of his many books and am aware of his huge influence on our industry and community.
  • Gave an even more brief lightning talk on the Modern Testing Principles. Was pleasantly surprised when I asked the packed crowd how many had heard of the principles around roughly 20% or so of the audience had! (Afterwards I had a few follow up conversations about the principles as well.)
  • I was lucky enough to be elected to the Association for Software Testing’s Board of Directors along with a few fantastic people I already collaborate with. Thank you for everyone who voted! Our new terms starts in October and I will be taking on the role of Treasurer! I also got to sit in on my first board meeting as a director elect (I didn’t participate since it’s not my term yet).

 

Appreciating the appreciation

This month I’ve gotten several compliments and positive feedback on how TestingConferences.org has helped them. Some have been speakers, some participants looking for a conference and others have been conference organizers.

It’’s a pretty amazing feeling when (in this case) multiple people say they’ve gotten use or value from something I created. Especially since this is a side project I developed to help me learn. I introduced TC.org in October of 2015 with this blog post and since then it has grown to the top of Google’s organic search results for many software and testing conference related searches. Even though I can see the numbers having specific people confirm they are getting value is quite nice.

In other words I appreciate the appreciation. I appreciate that human touch. This is something I intend to do more often in 2018: Thank people directly when I get value from their work.