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Estonia: Land of Lost Testers Found (James Bach’s Blog)

On October 23, 2010, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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Last week I enjoyed the company of many old tester friends in Sweden. This week I lit out for a new territory about which not much is known: Estonia. At least in America, we don’t think “Estonia! YES!” when we think of sharp-minded testers. This needs to change. (More Americans are familiar with Elbonia, sadly.)

I came here to teach my testing class at the invitation of entrepeneur and local testing impresario Oliver Vilson. I didn’t know what to expect, really.

I can happily report they have good wifi. And, in Tartu, I did not see a McDonalds or any other chain store. (That is an odd sensation… a sensation of NOT being watched.)

Also they have some great testers here.

The testers who came to learn Rapid Testing were strangely young and unusually eager. Normally the class attracts more experienced testers, but I don’t think there was anyone in attendance with more than five years of professional testing experience. Were the older Jedis hunted down?

They were motivated, though, tearing into the exercises like starving wolves. Most but not all of them seemed to be local. Two especially noteworthy students had come from Finland and Bulgaria for this event.

As often happens in the class, some of the quiet ones on the first day opened up on the last day, showing what they could do. Several shy ladies in the back were the first to complete the Dice Game challenge.

On the final night I had dinner with Oliver’s personal testing guard:

  • Rasmus Koorits had been released on leave from the Army to be there. Apparently he temporarily drives trucks for Estonia (a colossal waste of brainpower, unless they are very special trucks).
  • Madis Jullinen is pleasing his parents by marking time in university studying business. Judging from the way he conquered the Dice Game of test design, that also is a waste. He should quit school and become a working intellectual, already. He thinks and speaks like a scientist. Madis was the only one there with an ISTQB certification. (…which he is quick to say was a requirement from a confused employer; not something he considered worth doing. The other guys teased him about it.)
  • Indrek Kõnnussaar was more reserved in the class, but when I threw down a test challenge at dinner (the famous parking fee problem from Matt Heusser), Indrek had his laptop out before I could learn to pronounce and subsequently utter the Estonian version of “Jack Robinson.” At which point they all gathered around it and were into the quadrillions by dessert.

Kristjan Uba also came along. Kristjan has been sending me test challenges all year. He and Oliver seem to be the two most ambitious context-driven testers in Estonia, so far. Kristjan presented me with two apparently identical puzzle boxes which I intend to use as a testing exercise the very next time I see either of my brothers!

These are young men (it seemed to me barely drinking age) who want to make their mark and didn’t refuse any challenge given them. We played two rounds of “plenty questions”, the lateral thinking questioning game Tobbe Ryber introduced me to.

We practiced card vanishes, and pen flourishes.

We toasted an Estonian testing renaissance.

I guess there must be enclaves like this all around the world. I want to know them all. Stand up and make your mark.

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