Five for Friday – July 26, 2019

I have now managed to keep my publishing trend of 4 weeks straight with this post! Here are five links worth exploring:

Alright this is slightly more than five links worth exploring but you get the idea. Did I miss anything important?

Five for Friday – May 24, 2019

As much as I like writing recap blog posts I’m tired of the way I title them, e.g. early, mid, late + month updates so instead I’ve organized this one as five articles / resources to share (note some of these feature me):

  • My Webinar for TestCraft on “Participating in Code Reviews” as Tester went well. If you are interested the slides + materials are available online here. When a copy of the recording is available I’ll send an email to my mailing list. Have you joined yet?
  • A little over two weeks ago I was on Joe Colantonio’s TestTalks podcast. It was a lot of fun and I’d ask you to listen if you have the chance. Speaking of podcasts, I’d love to do another some day, got any suggestions?
  • The Association for Software Testing’s elections are coming up. Want to be a board member? Learn more.
  • I’ve been using Dash for macOS for a few months now and I’m really enjoying having both local copies of documentation (for JavaScript, iTerm, Git, etc) and having a text expander. Check it out.
  • Recently it was brought to my attention that in the book Accelerate by Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble and Gene Kim there is a section on Test Automation. In this section high performance is related to having reliable automated tests, created and maintained by developers that run regularly. ” It’s interesting to note that having automated tests primarily created and maintained either by QA or an outsourced party is not correlated with IT performance.”
    • Food for thought for sure.
    • Now I need to re-read the whole book and see what other tidbits I might have missed.
    • I highly recommend the book

late-April Updates

April has come and is nearly gone without any prose being published. I couldn’t have that. You see I’ve been writing but I haven’t condensed that prose into a nice enough package to share. In the meantime lots of things are happening that are worthy of sharing:

    • On Friday, May 3rd at 10:00am PST, I’ll be hosting Doug Hoffman for the AST’s May webinar on “The Often Overlooked Test Oracle: The Key to More Powerful Testing”. I love talking with Doug because he’s so knowledgeable and frankly I think Test Oracles aren’t very well understood. Learn More or Sign Up.
    • Speaking of the AST, our conference CAST 2019 is open for early bird registration AND all the speakers have been announced. I’m already signed up! You should too.
    • Despite being the “just” the Treasurer for the AST, I’m actively involved in most aspects of the business including finance, marketing, SEO, IT, conferences, education and elections to name a few. Ultimately what this means is I spend a good deal of my time trying to help improve the organization. It’s a fun challenge.
    • I’ll be doing a half-day tutorial at StarWest 2019 on “Testing Today’s Web Applications: Tools You Can Use” which I’m super excited about.
    • I’ve agreed (and am excited) to be doing an online conference talk on my experience of being an Automation Engineer. More details to come.
    • I made an appearance on the AB Testing Podcast’s 100th episode two weeks ago. It was a lot of fun and honestly it’s my favorite (testing) Podcast.
    • Two weeks ago I interviewed with Joe Colantonio for what will eventually become an episode of his TestTalks podcast. I’m really excited to see how this turns out!

That’s enough about me, what have you been up to?


Five for Friday – February 1, 2019

I don’t imagine doing a Five for Friday often (this is in fact the first time I’ve done one) but it seems like a good format for a few important things happening this month:

  1. February 21st at 11am, I’m hosting Brent Jensen for an AST webinar on Building a Data-Centric Modern Quality Culture. You should sign up! Brent is co-host of my favorite testing podcast: AB Testing where he and Alan Page work on the Modern Testing Principles.
    • I’ve been wanting to do this webinar for some time because data analysis can help us better understand what quality means to our customers. This is part of Modern Testing Principle #6.
  2. Yesterday I took the 2019 State of Testing survey and I think you should too.
  3. There’s 10 days left for CAST 2019 Call for Proposals and I’m working on 2 abstracts for workshops. If you haven’t already, consider applying!
  4. I listen to a few podcasts including the Tim Ferris show. I only listen to those episodes which seem interesting and Tim’s interview with Patrick Collison, CEO and Co-Founder of Stripe was great. It’s worth it if you have the time.
  5. Another podcast I listen to  (occasionally) is the Joe Rogan Experience and a great recent episode is with Killer Mike. From the show notes “Killer Mike is a rapper, actor, and activist. He is one half of the group Run The Jewels and has a new show on Netflix called “Trigger Warning” available now.” Well worth a listen!

late-May Updates

Some random thoughts and updates towards the end of May:

Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 10.46.28 PM

  • On August 8th, Dwayne Green and I are teaching a workshop at the Conference for the Association for Software Testing on Domain Testing (aka Boundary Analysis + Equivalence Class Partioning). Will you be there? If so come to our quick workshop (click the image link above!)
  • I’m runing for the AST board of directors… again. Last year was my first time running and I wasn’t successful. Second time is the charm?
  • I’m half way through Michael Lewis’ The Undoing Project and already loving it. I knew nothing about the subject before starting it and have been pleasantly surprised to find out it’s about Daniel Kahneman who wrote the very influential (great book) Thinking, Fast and Slow. Also there’s talk of data analysis and statistics!
  • Of the 2 mailing lists I run, one for this site and another for I’ve sent GDPR related confirmations to non-US subscribers. Of all the GDPR related emails I’ve recieved, only one came from a list I didn’t recognize / didn’t subscribe to.
  • The last few weeks have been crazy busy, but I hope to write more about it soon. Changes coming!


mid-January Updates

Some random thoughts as I sit here at mid-January of the new year:

  • I’ve been reading Walter Isaacson’s newest book Leonardo da Vinci and it’s a fascinating look at how mastery in one discipline or craft such as painting can evolve and become better based on studying other disciplines.
    • Based on Isaacson’s own research including Leonardo’s own notebooks, we are presented with the breath and depth of Leonardo’s self teachings. For example Leonardo often considered himself a scientist, engineer, and weapons designer before a painter. He studied birds and flight, motion, water movement and also dissected animals and human cadavers to learn about muscle movement and skeletal structure. All to learn more about the world around him.
    • All of this cross discipline research influenced and improved his art. I highly recommend the book!
  • I have a Now page, be sure to check it out!
  • Late in December I posted on the 2016 & 2017 Conference videos that are free to watch. It was interesting reviewing all of those past conferences and then surveying which ones posted public videos. In the /past list we have a variable called “Event Videos” where we post these. For easy reference:
  • The State of the Testing Survey is now available. There’s a lot of room for interpretation of the results (and questions) but this is by far the best survey of the testing industry. I always fill this out and I hope you will to!
  • The first webinar I’m hosting for AST is coming up. Join us if you haven’t already!

As the World Turns

“As the world turns” seems like the best way to describe the busy-ness I’ve experienced recently. Feels like I’m forgetting a lot of things and to help I’ve written them down. I’m also feeling goofy so this post might contain a few GIFSs.

Work has been busy as I split my time building out our front-end automation suite and the remaining time exploratory testing. We recently brought on two new testers and combined with the pushes we’ve been doing it’s been all WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK.

For the past 8 or so years I’ve taught scuba diving through the retailer Sport Chalet which filed for bankruptcy in April and last week finally closed the store. While I’m still certified (and skilled) to teach scuba diving I haven’t yet decided if I will. If I do teach on my own there are some logistics to figure out like insurance, pool to train out of, or I could always join another dive shop. The upside of this means I’ll mainly do fun diving and have a little more spare-time!

Outside of those two things I’ve been helping my local dive club replace it’s aging website and leading an AST-BBST Test Design course. These classes are always fun but take a lot of effort for both the instructors and students. I try not to do BBST classes back to back and despite having a one month break between classes I just didn’t have the time to decompress like I thought I would.

For all these reasons and more I haven’t written much, except for this new blog post on LAWST-style workshops over at I have lots of things to write about, lots of things to do and not a whole lot of time. Isn’t that always the excuse? Despite this, I’ve managed to keep TestingConferences up to date and finally transferred it to its own repo! (Want to help out? Contact me!)

Recently there’s been a lot of tweets about the context-driven-testing community (CDT) as a whole (or at least with some of its leaders / loudest members) and their perceived (or actual) hostility towards test automation. Some of this was in response to Chris McMahon’s post criticizing this publication about a single approach to test automation that uses the CDT branding. It’s been interesting to watch and to try to understand and I was glad to see some remarks from a few other CDT luminaries or “announcers” of community clarify a few details:

I have yet to read the publication above so I can’t comment too much on the validity of the criticism except to say I value test automation. I think it’s the only way to be effective as a tester. I also realize it’s a complex topic. In the end though, the real value of the context-driven-community and it’s way of thinking, to quote Cem Kaner, “lies in the nature of the tester’s analyses…” and that’s the part that interests me.

To end on a funny note:

10 Years In

For 10 years (one whole decade) I’ve been employed in a few different software testing positions with a few different titles. It’s been a fun and challenging road. I’ve navigated large companies filled with good people and backward practices to small companies where modern practices are encouraged and my work has to stand on it’s own merit. It’s been a road of struggling to self-educate others and myself on the topic while also moving towards a more empirical model of testing.


I consider myself a reasonably experienced software tester with an interest in the human/machine balance of software development. Ever since Malcolm Gladwell popularized 1 the concept of “10,000-hours of deliberate practice for mastery of a subject”, that mark has become a subject of online discussion and a metric to peg skill levels at, even if it’s usefulness isn’t proven2. Out of curiosity, where does that leave me?

Back of the envelope calculations might go like:

  • I’ve been employed in testing for 10 years. With workdays being 8 hours and 6 of those considered productive, that’s 30 hours a week for 52 weeks a year for 10 years or 15,600 hours. Except, depending on the company, maybe only three to four hours per day was spent on testing, practicing, reporting and hopefully getting better.
    • As for hours of deliberate practice during work, I might be around the 8,000 hour mark.
  • Can’t forget to subtract out sick and vacation days.
  • Need to add in the hours outside of work where I’ve consulted, studied, taken and taught classes on testing, attended conferences and workshops and generally been active in the community
    • That should more than balance out those vacation and sick days.

I might be right at or below the 10,000-hour level of deliberate practice. Without records of my time, days and projects, it’s too difficult to get a realistic number. It’s even harder to see what the advantage or usefulness of compiling such numbers could be, except for fun (which is why I just did it).

Looking Back

When I started this journey I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. University had come and gone without providing (or without me taking advantage of) many opportunities to learn what I liked or didn’t like. One thing I didn’t like at the time was programming. It wasn’t necessarily hard, but the value was too abstract and the examples didn’t appeal to me. After I graduated, I got a testing job by emphasizing my ability and like of documenting things (writing). Emphasizing documentation in any interview, besides technical writing, suggests I had no idea what I was doing. Looking back on those days, it seems like many of the people I was working with probably had no idea what testing was either (or if they did they decided not share or provide any feedback).

I can’t recall how many interviews I went to over the past decade where there was no testing exercise. As in no demonstration of skills necessary – just come in and try to learn about the system. We hope you do well. Maybe that’s why it took me some time to figure out if I wanted to stay in the field?

At one point I thought project management would be something I’d enjoy more than testing. It seemed more salient. After all I’d been a project leader in college on several projects and although it was stressful, it was rewarding. Eventually I got a project management certificate (nano-degree) in my spare time and came very close to taking the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. At least until I realized the PMP, although recognizable, really didn’t mean much. In fact during the PMP training, the experienced project managers constantly reiterated there was a difference between what the PMP said to do and what you would do in real life. Many people seemed to be at that training because their employers were convinced the PMP was useful.

Happy that I had first-hand knowledge of the uselessness of the PMP (to me), I went in another direction and started learning more about software testing. I started reading books and attending conferences. The more I learned, the deeper and wider the rabbit whole became. Looking back I’m glad things turned out the way they did.

Looking Forward

It’s a little hard to think of the next decade because it’s so far away and the world is constantly changing. Here’s what I know as of this posting. I’ve been writing (blogging) about software development and testing since 2009, and writing in general since 2008 (although not consistently). That’s slowly changing and I foresee writing on a regular basis. I’ve been co-instructing BBST classes for more than a year now and I’m thinking about stepping up my role in AST and BBST.

In the near future I see more mentoring, collaborating with peers, starting a meetup and/or a workshop and hopefully producing a wider variety of public work. I’m working harder at applying programmatic solutions to problems and constantly on the look-out for examples. There’s still a lot to do.

I haven’t yet:

  • Given any talks,
  • Published any conference papers,
  • Attended any meet ups,

At 10 years in, I’m working harder than ever, on a better path and more determined. Here’s to the next decade wherever that may take me!

What I’ve been up to lately

Things have been busy in the last month or so and I felt like sharing what I’ve been up to lately. Most of it revolves around software testing:

April saw the start of Dan Ariely’s A Beginners Guide to Irrational Behavior class on Coursera. I knew I had the BBST course coming up so I didn’t commit much time to the class other than watching the video lectures and doing the video quizzes. There are many aspects of irrational behavior that affect what we do in software development and testing – I’d like to write a more in-depth article about that in the future.

On the 14th of April I started the BBST Test Design course and completed it on May 8th. For those who have never taken a BBST class before they are incredibly intense month long courses. The course breaks a single calendar week into 2 class weeks – one week with 4 days, and a shorter week with 3 days and each week requires about 10-15 hours of work in order to do the readings, labs and work on the exam. The class is done but I still don’t know if I’ve passed; regardless I learned a lot.

On April 19th I joined the NRG Global Online test competition. My last post was a reflection on how well I thought I did and despite my low perception, my team ended up winning part of the competition!

I went to STPcon 2013 at the end of April in San Diego where I met up with a few Miagi-Do’ers, met some other testers I’d heard from in the twitter-verse or blog-o-sphere and learned a few things. I’m planning to write an experience report and post it either here or on the newly formed Miagi-Do blog. I think it might apply a little more here but I don’t know how it will turn out because I haven’t written it.

During the Test Design course I picked up on Test Design being the last of the 3 BBST courses and there being 3 more courses – Domain testing, spec-based testing and scenario-based testing listed in Cem Kaner’s diagram. I asked Cem about the domain testing course over twitter and he kindly sent me an email with a draft domain testing workbook which I plan to review – right after I email him back and telling him when.

May 8th through 10th I participated in the Rapid Testing Intensive Online #2 as a peer reviewer. It was fun to sit on the other side and provide some feedback to the students on their work although I would have been more effective if I was able to do the assignment as the students were – I just couldn’t take the time off work. Nevertheless I found participating as a peer reviewer to have its own unique challenges as I interacted with other testers and tried to answer their questions. In the RTIO there’s a ton of material and references coming at the students so it helps to interact and help others.

May 16th I signed up for the BBST Bug Advocacy class that takes place in June. One of my year end goals is to complete all 3 BBST courses and then pursue BBST Instructor so I can help others. In fact as I was writing this I signed up for the BBST Instructors course in October!

Lastly I’m looking for a cheap / free place to host a public Rapid Software Testing course with Paul Holland in the Los Angeles area. Anyone know of a place that can fit 20 people comfortably?

Wow I’ve got a lot to do…