Sunday, 6 April 2014

Testbash 2014 - Part 3

The seats in the main theatre rose up to our right with some beautiful wheel-shaped light fixtures hanging overhead. The stage had the standard table with a drape over it that I'd seen at so many other conferences and three sets of Software Testing Club monsters to bring it together. We'd pre-decided that because Dan is so tall we should go somewhere near the top so he wouldn't block anyone's view so we chose...RIGHT at the top, I swear I almost got a nosebleed.

We took our seats and got note-taking equipment out ready for the first talk which was Scott Barber's "Managing Application Performance Throughout the LifeCycle" where he spoke about the ideal model of where to fit performance testing in within development and how to avoid dead. This was a very strong start and everyone was very engaged, if this was any indication, we were in for a very good day of talks! This assumption wasn't wrong as up next was Mark Tomlinson's talk on "Contextual Decision-making in Testing-Apathy or Indifference?". From the notes I took I decided to talk about the key points i.e. 1+1 = fish and that damned spinning cat! Ironically these things mean nothing out of context. He also spoke about looking out for known knowns, known unknowns and unknowns unknowns so you know to switch the context in which you're looking at something when you need to. Break next! A few of us ventured to the shop to stock up on supplies for the talks ahead, sugar is our friend.... Before I went back inside though I met and spoke with Andy Glover (the cartoon tester) and Tony Bruce which was pretty exciting. Andy recognised my name from Twitter which was a good start to the conversation, we went on to the default pleasantries and whereabouts we were employed. I did have a hidden agenda with Andy though as I wanted to quiz him about his book, cartoons and the testimonies on the front cover of said book (by the way, they're both by him). For those of you who don't know Andy creates small (very funny and accurate) cartoons based on testing moments, scenarios and practises. I suggest everyone goes and picks up an e-copy here.

I headed in for the third talk pepped up on the sweets I'd just procured in the break, the next speaker was Jez Nicholson on "How to make [Developer] friends and influence [business] people". His opening lines were "for starters I'm a developer, not a tester". This was a huge risk as he was immediately showered with boos and I swear I saw a small pitchfork/torch wielding mob form near the middle of the seated area... Anyway, he was saying that developers and testers should become best of friends because testing and developing at the same time is a good way to work. This included getting devs to test as they went along, he likened this to asking a teenager to clean their room, even though I'm 23 I still find this very relatable.

The next talk, by Joep Schuurkes (well done on the pronunciation of that on the day Simon), was called "Helping the new tester to get a running  head start". Quite the challenge in most lines of work, he spoke about the best way of getting a new tester up to speed with with their new environment/software/processes.

Now, I must admit after this talk I stopped taking notes so my memory of the rest of the talks is hazy at best. There are a few reasons behind this madness, I promise I wasn't bored! I felt that taking notes was taking my mind away from listening to the talks themselves and I knew that they were being filmed for later consumption. Much like taking a video at a music concert I felt it slightly took away from being there in the moment, cheesy as that sounds it's something I've always adhered to. If you would like a summary of all of the talks you can find them on Scott Barber's TestBash post here P.S. it's a lot better than mine ;-).

Lunchtime was a nice break, a lovely vegetarian meal was provided for everyone in a very Harry Potter-esqe hall with rows of long tables in a grand room. We quickly scoffed down our food and headed outside for fresh air and errands (Mothers' Day fell close so it was the perfect time for prezzie shopping!). I can only promise you, avid reader, that I did indeed listen to the talks that followed lunch and took the information in, I'm just really banking on these videos to bring the information back out of my head. At the beginning of the last break Simon came onto the stage to do his pre-break announcement and he drove home the final plea for more 99 second talkers. A 99 second talk, that's right you guessed it, is where someone does an ad-hoc talk that hasn't had the most planning for 99 seconds, on stage. The idea is awesome and after seeing what other people had done previously e.g. poems, short stories, rants, I thought "I could PROBABLY get away with something like this...". I quickly came up with the idea around hiring computer science graduates as testers as they come away from uni with a really good base to work off. I won't go into detail about this though as I'm sure a blog post might be on the way for it. I had a quick discussion with Dan and he gave me arguments for and against and my mind was set, I told Simon that I wanted in and that it would be called "Young people, get them whilst they're hot" I hedged my bets on getting a few laughs from this and it did work out that way in the end. Anyway after this we all sat back down again for the last three talks but needless to say I was pre-occupied with writing some sort of structure for my talk and the nerves were setting in too. I'd never done anything like this before so I was quite scared of failure but you can't get better without failure and all that.

Keith Klein finished his talk in record speed, knowing that he was the last slot before beer as he kept reminding everyone (probably himself too) and the 99 second talkers were summoned to the stage, this was it! The people before me were doing so well; Toby confidently strutted around the stage talk about how curiosity killed the cat; Rich was sharing his rock'n'roll testing theory and Dan Billing's poem was graceful and inspired. Then it was my turn, I got off to an okay start but could hear the "erms" coming out every other word, I dug deep and managed to gain some traction and got across my main points, ending on a joke I thought would either tank or work like a dream, the latter came true and the laughter washed over me like a wave relieving me of all worries and that was it! Finished! I was so chuffed I'd managed to get up there and the free t-shirt just damned well brought it home :).

I realise at this point that this post is going on a bit and I do apologise, so much amazing and thrilling stuff happened that I must tell you about :-D.

The end of the 99 second talks was the signal that the main even of Testbash was over but another pub trip was looming so everyone was keen to get over there and start nattering to one another about the day they had, the information they'd taken and whatever else us whacky testers love to talk about. I met up with Christina Ohanian at the pub after she tweeted about my 99 second talk and that it was an interesting topic. We spoke about we both got into testing and what universities offered in the way of testing and so on and so forth. I really do feel quite strongly about this topic and think that people should look into the graduate market for testers more often but I digress. It was nearing my train time now so I started to say my goodbyes, everyone wished me a safe journey and with one trip down to the seafront I was on my way to catch the train home.

Thank you for reading these blogs, as I said before I wanted to write up about the whole experience and not really focus on the talks for now so please allow for the omissions. I will be doing a "Part 4" but it will be a conclusion of what I learnt and what Testbash has done for me as a person/tester. If you want to jump off now you're more than welcome to, thank you for reading and if you're staying on for the last hoorah then lets do this!

End of part 3

No comments:

Post a Comment