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STPCon Fall 2011 – Part III (Rhythm of Testing)

On October 27, 2011, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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Wednesday at STPCon Fall was an interesting day.  In the morning I had signed up to participate in the “Speed Geeking Breakfast Bytes” – 8 minute mini-presentations on a topic we wanted to be sure that people could head home with at the end of the conference.  All the presenters were in a biiiiiiig room giving their presentations to a table of people all at the same time.  We gave our presentations three times before the morning keynote for the day.

The topic I presented was was “Integration Testing Lessons from Pulp Fiction.”  Yeah. kind of a movie-theme for me this year – Harry Potter on Tuesday and Pulp Fiction on Wednesday.  Fun!  The first run through for me was a bit rough – actually, I did not finish before time was called.  There were a couple of interruptions and, frankly, I probably needed another cup of coffee before launching into the first run.  Sorry folks.  The second and third run throughs went pretty well and everyone had fun.  One participant in the third session was giving quotes from the movie at appropriate times! 

The rest of the day was dedicated to simply going to sessions and hanging out with people I wanted to talk with.  What a fantastic way to spend a conference – Not preparing for a presentation or answering questions about the presentation, but simply going to presentations and sitting in the back row.  Cool.

I went to Dani Almog’s presentation on Automated Test Oracles.  There have been presentations before on a similar topic – what made his interesting was how he developed the oracles: “neural networks” developed from the data identified as correct or incorrect.  Cool stuff.  It requires a huge amount of rigor and control, not to mention structure, but it looked interesting to me how he went about building it.

The next session I went to was by Karen Johnson on Discipline in Teeting.  Ironically, I got there late. Karen spoke to a really full room on how to keep motivated and moving forward.  There were a lot of good suggestions – and she explained how she made use of each, from time-boxing to a form of “Pomodoro Technique” to setting small rewards, eg., “Finish this then go to and get a nice cup of .

One important aspect she suggested was to simply change location – literally.  Go for a walk.  Do something ELSE.  Go somewhere else.  Like, a coffee shop, a conference room and close the door.  Forward the phone to voice mail.  Find a park bench (or comparable) and try to clear your head so you can think better.  What I thought was cool about this was how many people attending the session shared their ideas on what they try and do.  It was really a fun session.

This brought us to lunch and the Lunch Keynote by Matt Heusser.   Matt’s topic was “How to Reduce the Cost of Testing on Monday.”  Meaning, things you can start with when you get back to the office to be able to focus on testing – not time reporting, not attending meetings, not preparing project status reports and status reports on the status reports and status reports on the status reports on the… yeah, you get the idea. 

He talked about taking steps to open up communication – to help people be able to work more effectively and spend more time and energy focused on testing – so they are really testing, not sort-of-testing.  It was really interesting.

After this, I headed up to listen to Lanette Creamer present on pairing programmers and non-programmers. Now, she did not mean the “Paired Programming” some of the XP (and other) folks mean.  Instead, she meant more of spending some time working together to get things sorted out – either in planning, designing or executing tests – or talking about the application – or… yeah.  A cool idea I like to call “Communication“.  I know its kind of a weird concept, but it seems to have some potential.

Following this, I caught up with Catherine Powell, a crazy-smart tester, Matt Heusser (who had come down to Earth after the success of his keynote) and a handfull of other folks for a quiet chat and a little relaxation.  Wonderfull people.

We then headed off to the “Open Jam Sessions” – a bit of fun before dinner.  Folks split up into groups to play a variety of games and fun exercises and generally have a good light series of exercises.  Lots of fun. 

More conversations with a variety of people over dinner then a little writing wrapped up my last full day in Dallas for STPCon – BUT – there was still Thursday to look forward to.

 

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