It’s another year end, and another chance to come back to the Talking Heads song “Once in a Lifetime”, since I feel it to be an apt metaphor for this blog, as well as the past couple of years of growth, change, learning, unlearning, accomplishments and frustrations, steps and mis-steps, and all of the other things that come with being a software tester in a changing software world.
I celebrated five years of Testhead this year, and passed 1,000 blog posts. I also had an opportunity to expand my blogging to some additional areas, including a stint with IT Knowledge exchange and the Uncharted Waters blog. As with many things, times, priorities and situations change, and I wrote my last blog post for Uncharted Waters back in November. It was a good run, and I thank ITKE, Matt Heusser and Justin Rohrman for letting me offer my perspectives on a few things this past year.
This was “The Year of Accessibility” as Albert Gareev and I decided we would combine our efforts and work on talks, test ideas, workshops, presentations, and a stretch goal of preparing a treatment of a book about Accessibility testing. I am happy to say we made some great steps in that direction. we both delivered several talks at various local testing groups, as well as national and international conferences. We proposed and collaborated on ways to present the materials, and we introduced two mnemonics related to accessibility testing (HUMBLE and PaSaRan). We did not complete the treatment for the book, at least, we have not completed it yet. Part of it was time and other things getting in the way, but for me it was also the discovery of and a developing interest in the parallel discipline of Inclusive Design, which I think can be an excellent addition to the discussion Accessibility Development and Testing. 2016 will see me branching into other areas to talk about, but rest assured, this is a labor of love for both of us, and you will see plenty more from us on this topic in 2016 (that is, if Albert wants to keep going with this; I’ll not presume to speak for him 😉 ).
This year saw many personal changes, most sparked by one defining factor. In April, I said goodbye to Ken Pier, my director, my mentor, and my good friend. He died of cancer, and he left a hole in our testing team that we are still recovering from. After several months of searching, we found another tester to join our team, but we did not replace Ken. We cannot replace him. We can only carry on, while keeping his legacy and influence alive. Part of that meant we chose to integrate our testing team with the broader engineering group. We all report to the VP of Engineering, and we all are “developers” on the same team. In addition, I’ve taken on the responsibility of being the release manager for the company, which has required some “interesting” lessons in the realities of software development, continuous delivery, continuous deployment and continuous testing, and the limitations that corporate entities may require to make these systems work. In short, this year saw me step into more of a “specializing generalist” role, and to spread into more development initiatives than I had been involved with before. If I thought I was ignorant on software delivery concepts before, it’s been made abundantly clear just how much i still need to learn.
This change, and the necessities of the demands of work, required that take a hard look at the things that I could effectively do, as well as the things I could not do any longer. After four years of involvement, I stepped down from involvement as part the Board of Directors for the Association for Software Testing. I did this for a number of reasons. First was the demands of work and home were making it less possible for me to deliver on what I felt the organization should do. I would rather say I cannot do something than say “yes” and not deliver. Sadly, I saw more of the latter happening than I wanted to. Additionally, I feel that organizations are not well served when people become “too comfortable” and “too entrenched”. We as people stop growing, and the organization loses out on new ideas and innovations that others can provide. I am still actively involved with AST, both as an instructor and, going into 2016, as what I hope will be more of a content provider role as we develop new materials to supplement current classes and, we hope, create brand new ones.
One area that I have likewise addressed, and has been a big part of my life for the past few months, is a focus on my personal health, and a change of habits that I became determined was necessary. The deaths of two coworkers within the past year, both from the same condition, and one I have genetic markers for, have made it a priority with some urgency for me. Many of my posts have been written around fitness, health, and using software testing principles to re-create myself. For some of you, that’s been a nice addition to this blog. For others, probably an annoyance ;). Still, it’s part of my learning, and I think much of what I have learned has relevance to testing and discovery, so I will continue to talk about and post those items here. I will, however, be making a slight change going forward. From now on, when you see a post with the word “Aedificamus” in it, know that that post likely has something to do with health, fitness, food or some other learning on my journey to get and stay as healthy as possible. Aedificamus is Latin and, loosely translated, means “rebuilding through practice”.
As I bring this year to a close, sometimes I wonder if people still consider this blog relevant, or if what I write has had an impact for other testers out there. Needless to say, I was both humbled and gratified to hear Brent Jensen and Alan Page both mention the TESTHEAD blog as one of their picks for 2015 on the A/B Testing podcast. It was really touching to hear Brent say that he appreciated that I was learning about, and publishing as I went along, the changing landscape of software testing, and where I felt my role in it might lie both currently and in the future. Some years ago, I did an extended review of ‘How We Test Software at Microsoft” and I recall Alan Page writing about how he appreciated that I “got it”, that I understood ultimately what he and his co-writers were trying to say. For me, it’s my turn to return the favor. Thank you, Alan and Brent. thank you for “getting” TESTHEAD, and thank you so much for the shout out in your year in review podcast. I am proud to have you at the top of my list of alphabetically ordered favorite podcasts ;).
This year requires a lot of thanks to a lot of people, some of which I have mentioned already, but additionally I want to say thank you to Erik Davis, Markus Gaertner, Keith Klain, Alessandra Moreira, Justin Rohrman and Pete Walen, my fellow Board of Directors members with AST for the 2014-2015 year term. Thank you for your support during my year as President, and all of your help and encouragement along the way. Additionally, thank you to Ben Yaroch for being an advisor, for letting me know when I was doing something good, as well as when I was doing something stupid. I appreciated the advice every time, even if I did or did not always act on it. My thanks also to Ilari Aegeter, Alex Bantz, Roxanne Jackson and Eric Proegler for stepping in this year and becoming Board Members to keep the work moving forward. I love the energy you all bring, and I am excited to see what we all do next. My thanks to Justin Rohrman (again), Albert Gareev (again) and JeanAnn Harrison for your continued efforts along with me to facilitate Weekend Testing Americas. We celebrated our fifth anniversary this year, and I am happy to say we are still going strong, thanks in no small part to your efforts. My thanks also to Matt Heusser for his willingness to include me on a variety of projects and to always be a springboard and feedback for ideas both well formed and, sometimes, in need of considerable polishing. I look forward to many more opportunities to keep storming the castle. Thank you Josh Meier and Curtis Stuehrenberg for working with me to keep Bay Area Software Testers a thing. We have a lot of software testing talent in the Bay Area, I want to see that talent grow and us help that process. There’s lots to do :). Finally, my thanks to everyone who listened to me speak, participated in a class, joined a weekend testing session, came to a meetup, or read and shared a blog post of mine throughout this year. Thank you for making 2015 a great year for me, and here’s looking forward to 2016. I’m curious to see what the title will be next year ;).