(English, Hebrew might or might not follow at a later time).
Edit: Some others are blogging on the same event, so far, I like their posts better than my own:
Claire’s blog
Neil’s blog
The AST blog (it’s Claire again, but from a completely different angle)
So, Today was my first day at CAST, or, actually, on TestRetreat, organized by Matt Heusser from Excelon. As I was hoping (but didn’t know if to expect it or not), I had a great time and got to meet some great people. I can even remember the names of some of them, so Yay me! The day began with some tea & pastries (There was also coffee, I think) and we were getting to know people just a bit. As expected – those of us that had some prior familiarity with each other had it a bit easier than the rest of us, but since everyone was very friendly, it wasn’t as awkward as getting to know a whole bunch of people can sometimes be.

  • After that, there was a series of lightning talks about various Ideas – Starting off with Matt talking about “Frames” – the idea, if I got it right, is that everyone is interpreting the reality through their perspective, feeling and character, and project this when communicating with others. Those frames are often in conflict, and people, without noticing it, tend to accept the most dominant frame and try to work within it, where it is better sometimes to just project your own frame stronger. For instance, Matt used the example of someone saying “I wasn’t talking to you” as a way to silence someone – by doing so the speaker implies a set of rules that make it inappropriate for that someone to push into a situations uninvited. A way to project a frame against that would have been “right, but I was talking to you” (I think Matt used the term “holding a frame”). This works also in less violent situations, such as the project manager setting expectations that do not match the team perspective (or, in Matt’s case – the consultant’s way of working). 
  • Following that, I was called on stage to share my thoughts about the way new tools & skills are opening our eyes to new testing options. It’s an Idea I’m really interested in developing, to see where it might lead. Currently, all I have is this notion of “new capabilities make my testing better, I really need to find a way to actively search for new capabilities that I don’t know I’m missing. 
  • Claire raised an interesting question about using personal judgement to decide when to go against what you are being told to do as a tester and do what you think is right. 
  • Shachar (which was born in Israel, despite growing up in the US) spoke about maintaining your personal reputation. One point I managed to take of one of his examples was that declaring clearly what you do not intend to do can sometimes be very important to keeping up your reputation. 
  • Miranda spoke about conveying the value of testers especially in an agile world. Two points that remained with me were bringing a different perspective to the table, and bridging that gap between talking about what we build (which developers are really good at) and talking about “what we should be building” (which developers tend to be less good at). 
  • Eric raised the question of “what to do with experienced testers that will enable them to adapt to the changing world around us?” . While my initial response was a bit Darwinian (adapt or die), I think that there might be  some things that the testing community could do (and should do) in order to still have those experienced minds around and benefit from the skills they did acquire and might be relevant. 
  • Ash took that talk and built upon it a great question – The software creation world is changing, should the testing definition expand alongside it to encompass more than the traditional position of testing? 
After the lightning talks, we had and open space where everyone who wanted could raise a subject, and we had six rounds of sessions (3 before lunch, 3 after). Choosing between talks was really difficult, to the extent that I found myself regretting suggesting a talk\discussion, as it was impossible to find a slot that didn’t have at least one talk I really wanted to go to. By the end I went to a discussion about how to improve the contribution of a non-coding tester who moved in to the developers’ room, and is moving into agile. Despite the fact that I went to this talk to try and help someone in need, I found some of the advice really interesting. 
Next, we had a discussion on “who should be automating what?” which was a title I gave in order to try and see if the role of having some person whose sole responsibility is creating test code. The discussion was quite interesting, but I think it derailed a bit in the into speaking about how does the automation looks like in each of our teams.
Then Was a combined session on creating a global reputation with a bit of community building – we were a small group (4 or 5 of us), but the discussion was fairly interesting, and when the buzzer hit for lunch, it felt way too soon.
After lunch (which was nice, we even got a beer and had some nice discussions that I have no recollection of, besides feeling they were pretty fun to have) we did a quick threat modeling intro session (I really want to perfect this one out), followed by a massive conversation about types of failures we’ve all seen at some point and might want to be more weary of in the future.
The last formal discussion I took part in was a question I raised – how to wake up testers back at work? how to make sure that the company culture is encouraging learning and developing testing skills? I can’t say that I know what will I do when I get home, but I do have some processing to do.
There were, also, some sessions I really hated to miss out – from  Natalie’s session about linux command-line tools (some of them I know and use a lot, others less so), Matt’s session on “interviewing testers” (he had a better name for that), “you can’t outsource trust” and “the skillset of tomorrow tester”.

Following that packed day, we went on a diner cruise, and had the opportunity to watch Matt’s kind tomfoolery, and I got to know a bit better some of the people around.
So, all in all, a great day.

And, in Monday, CAST begins!


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