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
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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!


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I’m Speaking at TestFlix

It’s true, I’m speaking at TestFlix on November 28th, 2020. You should sign up to join; it’s free to register!

I recorded and submitted my 7 minute talk on “Using Test Idea Catalogs for Better Testing”. The premise is:

Testers can develop a set of tests or test concepts for a specific object or risk and re-use them in similar projects or products. Catalogs come in many shapes and forms, they can be lists or more detailed. They can be public or private. They can be developed by individual testers or as teams within companies. But they all help you test better!

Slides

References

I plan to write more on the topic of Test Idea Catalogs in the near future but I mentioned a few in the presentation that I’d like to call out here:

The Woolsey Fire came too close

Today, when you approach Calabasas from either direction on HWY 101 the first thing you notice are the black rolling hills. As far as the eye can see there are visible signs of the struggle that came with the Woolsey fire. Lucky for us changing winds and a strong first responder presence stopped the fires from getting to our place.

We woke up Friday, November 9th to a stream of text messages starting at 1am and carrying to 6am from friends asking if we were alright, had we been evacuated and did we need a place to stay? As we slept in our hotel room in San Francisco it went unknown to us there was a fire sprawling around the coast of Southern California. Mandatory evacuations had come in the night and the towns next to us were evacuated: Thousand Oaks, Oak Park, Agoura Hills and now Calabasas. We promptly responded.

Hundreds of miles away and previously occupied with San Francisco’s poor air quality due to 2018 Campre Fire that burned the city of Paradise, CA (to date CA largest fire ever), we started searching for information and watching the news. The fires weren’t as bad as the ones raging in Northern California but they were closer to home. Extremely close to home. Now it was a waiting and watching game. What could we find out? How close were we to loosing our home and everything in it? What would the Woolsey Fire do? Which direction would the Santa Anna push the fires next? We left SF and travelled towards Stockton but were unable to get away from the concern for our own place and the poor air quality of the Camp Fire.

Fast-Spreading Hill Fire Forces Evacuations In California's Ventura County

Despite the TV news coverage both Twitter and Instagram were our best sources of hyper local news with hashtags for our particular area being the most helpful. Go figure. Between local news reporters tweeting out details as they drove the streets and connections to random neighbors or friends of neighbors we got sporadic word of mouth updates throughout the time. Stories of nearby buildings on fire fed rumors that turned out to not be true (luckily).

A day later the winds changed direction and the fire turned away from Calabasas and headed south to the coast and towards Malibu. (I later heard reports of Malibu evacuations taking people 4 hours to travel to less than 20 miles to Santa Monica). A sigh of relief came, if only because it meant a chance to contain the fires near us. Unable to return home we stayed with family in Santa Clarita. We stayed away from home for nearly a week due to road closures, poor air quality, a lack of power and lack of internet but we were safe. In the end so was our place.

Two weeks later and things have mostly returned to normal. Our home just barely survived, with parts of the creek near us burned and a hotel two blocks away closed due to fire damage. There’s still some lingering smell of smoke but inside our home, our new air purifiers have mostly removed the reminder. Others weren’t as lucky and we almost weren’t either. It’s good when luck is on your side. Either way this fire came too close for comfort.

(In hindsight, writing about these events as it was happening and after helped me cope with some of the stress.)

Rebooting the AST’s Webinar Series!

Last year, after failing in my bid to become a Board Member, I agreed to run the AST’s webinar program. Funny thing was I already had a small list of people and topics I wanted to learn more from / about based on conference and podcast talks. (When something intrigues me I take notes to research later.) Now I have an opportunity to track down those people and ask them to (generously) share their time with the wider world of testing!

Since the AST is a non-profit with a goal of building and developing a community of skilled testing craftspeople, anything that falls into the large arena of software testing could become a topic for discussion. It doesn’t always have to apply to an aspect of test automation which is good and should give us a larger pool to draw from. This is going to be a challenge for me. Logistically challenging but also about being inclusive of interesting topics and presenters that I might not be aware of.

For 2018 the goal is one webinar per month. I have no idea if this will be a sustainable pace or if all of my presenters will be able to deliver but that’s part of the challenge.

Anna Royzman is our presenter for January so be sure to sign up. Alan Page will present in February and after that? Who knows!

Having said this, I’m always looking for presenters and topics. Got an idea? Contact me!

A few of the past webinars the AST has hosted are available online:

Introducing TestingConferences.org

For the past few years one of my professional goals has been to attend (at least) one testing conference or workshop per year, mostly because it’s such a great way to recharge and learn what other practitioners are doing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good source of events aside from talking with others, so I pulled together a list on my own. The value of any events list is only as great as the number and quality of events listed so I’ve open sourced the list and posted it online with the hope that it becomes driven-by and representative of the community as a whole (as opposed to what I might like or prefer).

Introducing TestingConferences.org – a simple list of software testing conferences and workshops published collaboratively with the testing community.

I hope this site is or becomes a useful resource for the software community as a whole. I also hope others will help by contributing because that’s the only way it will become better or at least maintain its usefulness. It doesn’t matter if you are a vendor or just a fan of workshops and conferences, please add to it!

A little more detail

I’m not sure how I found my first conference, StarWest, back in 2011 but I did. Every other conference or workshop I’ve been to since has been a referral or recommendation by others, including:

  • The Rapid Testing Intensive workshop (RTI)
  • The Workshop on Teaching Software Testing (WTST 13)
  • CAST
  • STPcon
  • STARWest (I’ve been to this twice I think)

I say referral / recommendation because the primary way this stuff was and is communicated are through the people who’ve attended. Sure you can Google “software testing conferences” or come across an advertisement in a testing publication but those are only useful if you have an idea of what you are looking for. Even if you do those things you might come across the most advertised, most popular but not necessarily anything near you (especially if you are outside the US) or relevant to your particular tastes. To me, that’s sad.

Conferences and workshops are great tools for conferring, collaborating and learning. At least part of your decision to attend a conference or workshop is determined by knowing what conferences are available and where they are located. That’s where this list comes in. There was never any single source of active conferences and workshops; especially with workshops you had to be in-the-know, else just stumble across one that was occurring.

Now I’m asking for your help so we can publish this list collaboratively within the testing community.

Helping:

Truth is I’ve been developing this site for a while and promoting on Twitter as I added events. I suppose you could say this site has been in stealth mode and this is the official reveal.

See you at CAST 2015

Thanks to my awesome company’s sponsorship and my wife’s love of travel I will be at CAST this year and attending the tutorial “Delivering Difficult Messages” by Fiona Charles. This is both my first time attending CAST and traveling to Grand Rapids, MI so I’m expecting to have a little fun and to learn a lot. As for the conference experience, I’m not sure what to expect.

Over the last four or five years I’ve been to a few different conferences and training events:

WTST 13 was my first-ever peer workshop and the last trip I made. In contrast to large conferences like STAR and STPCon where several hundred or even a thousand people crisscross each other as they go to any number of tutorials or talks, the peer workshop format was limited to 20-25 participants in a single room. There were a few presenters who spoke along a similar theme but it was the participants who drove the discussions until everyone was satisfied. It was certainly a unique experience.

Comparing workshops to conferences may not be fair due to their different approaches but my goal for attending them is the same: to learn something new and useful (apply to my job or company) and interact with my peers.

My understanding of CAST’s format, even before going, is it’s a small-ish conference attended by few hundred conference-goers, most of whom are AST members. Although a few hundred participants is still a good-sized event, I’m hoping to be able to interact with a few (or a lot) people. Of the few conferences I’ve attended the biggest impact has always been the interactions: meeting others, sharing problems, being challenged in my thinking, trying to explain something, reference recommendations, etc.

Aside from the one tutorial I’m signed up for and a welcome get-together in the morning each day I don’t know what else there is planned. There’s no schedule available, yet and until there is I won’t be sure what to expect.

Enough about my expectations; who else is attending and what are you looking forward to?

Winning the #KaepernickingWorldwide Contest

In July of last year my then-girlfriend and I spent three weeks traveling mostly around the Philippines with a few days in Hong Kong and Singapore. We made the most of our trip to Singapore when we randomly stayed one night at the Marina Bay Sands hotel. (When I say randomly I mean we booked the hotel and flight the day before we left!) We chose the Marina Bay Sands thanks to my future brother-in-law’s recommendation of it looking like a spaceship (and who doesn’t love spaceships?).

The hotel boasts the world’s largest infinity pool, essentially stretching from one end of the roof to the other. In person it’s such an amazing experience to be sitting in the pool at night (or day) looking out onto the Singaporean skyline and beyond. The flip side view is equally amazing as you look out into the very, very busy harbor and the gardens below. As “tourists” we probably took more photos from the Marina Bay Sands than from the rest of the Singapore trip combined (even counting our trip to the massive aquarium).

Both my wife and I are HUGE San Francisco 49er fans. She, more than I, enjoys posting and following people on Instagram but we both follow the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s account. I think it was August of this year, when we noticed he was holding a photo contest called #KaepernickingWorldwide. Participants would take a photo of themselves or someone they know “Kaepernicking” (see the featured photo), post it on Instagram, tag Colin Kaepernick, #kaepernickingworldwide and their location. We were excited because we had a photo from our stay at the Marina Bay Sands where I was Kaepernicking in the pool. Neither of us figured we had a chance to win.

A few weeks after the post went live we got a direct message from Kaepernick (Kap) saying we had won! I think we jumped for joy for about 10 minutes before we responded saying thank you and providing our shipping address. A follow up search on the hashtag revealed about a half dozen or so winners – so we joined in on the fun. At the time it wasn’t entirely clear what we had won (it looked like a bobble head, some t-shirts, socks, and wristbands), we were just happy to be part of the contest!

Roughly 9 weeks later, we arrived home from our wedding in Napa to find a package sitting at our doorstep from Kap. What a great wedding gift! We were amazed when we opened it:

Among the great items Kap sent us was one of his Jerseys signed along with the tag #kaepernickingworldwide. Wow! This isn’t the kind of Jersey you can buy online (we have a few of those), this is the heavy duty version with the short sleeves he wears on Game Day. Again, wow! Also included were a signed copy of GQ Magazine, signed football card, a signed action figure from his Nevada days, some clothing and a few wrist bands. We put some of the items together into a case and hung it on the wall.

As 49ers fans we’d like to formally say thank you to Colin Kaepernick. Often being a a fan of a team or a person (sports, business, tv, whatever) is a one-sided affair so thank you for briefly changing the dynamic. We are even bigger supporters than before. Go 49ers!

Cross published on Medium.

See you at WTST 2014

The Workshop on Teaching Software Testing, abbreviated as WTST and I think pronounced “what’s it”, is coming up at the end of January 2014 in Melbourne, Florida near the Florida Institute of Technology campus. (You maybe have seen a few of Cem Kaner’s posts.) Just recently my application was approved and I’m excited to be attending as a non-presenting participant.WTST is a LAWST-style workshop which means unlike regular conferences it’s limited to small group of active participants, some who present and everyone is expected to engage in discussions by asking question, providing their experiences and even thoughtfully arguing with the presenter. Discussion is the entire point of the workshop.

This year WTST is focused on designing and teaching advanced courses in software testing, something I’ve had an interest in for a few years now. Teaching software testing was the driving force to me becoming an Instructor for the Association for Software Testing’s BBST classes (which I completed just recently).

This year the workshop will be broken into two sections: The first is the typical weekend-long WTST workshop and the second is the Domain Testing Workshop held for five days immediately after the traditional WTST. I’m excited to be part of a pilot course built around The Domain Testing Workbook (see my previous post for more info) and I imagine it will be a fun exercise in understanding domain testing a little better.

Who else is going? Hopefully I’ll see you there. =)

For more information see http://wtst.org.

The Gang and Us

Last night on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia the episode we were on set to make aired called The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award. It’s on Amazon, iTunes and possibly other places but I bought it and cut out the little section we are in.You’ll find us in the background at roughly 0:04 giving a high-five to the bartender and at 1:11 and 1:35 for our close ups. Ah our 4 seconds of fame; well worth the 10 hours on set. lol.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 12, Episode 3. Enjoy: