London Tester Gathering Workshops 2017 Impressions

When Ministry of Testing announced a competition to win tickets to London Tester Gathering Workshops, I submitted my entry and didn’t think I’d actually win it. However, social media is the thing nowadays and I must say enormous thanks to 10 testers who entered competition via my lucky URL and made the chances of me winning higher! I cannot express enough on how grateful I am for getting this ticket – workshops for me are the most valuable method of learning. LTGW2017 was a blast!

London Tester Gathering Workshops lasted two days and each of the days had half-day workshop sessions which were fueled with interactive participation. Also, there were 2 workshops happening at once so you always could find a good alternative. Variety of topics didn’t make the choice easy, though! I wish I could have attended them all!

First day of conference (June 29th) I kicked off my day going to Security in the Cloud workshop facilitated by Abby Bangser & James Green. Nowadays a lot of companies are moving their infrastructure to the cloud (my company is not an exception) Amazon Web Services (AWS) are bigger than ever and security is one of the key elements that need to be taken care of.

Abby and James gave a great introduction to Amazon AWS and even helped us to understand Software/Platform/Infrastructure concepts better. Here is one of my favorite slides:
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After a small theory part, we actually did hands-on exercises trying to utilize Amazon AWS website, finding security issues in the cloud and discussed on how to avoid these.

3 key take-aways I got from Security in the Cloud:

  1. Cloud services are flexible and make you feel that a lot of infrastructure related tasks are not your problem anymore, but come with some risks and this means that for testers AWS can be just another domain for testing
  2. Make sure that only the wanted files are available to the public (or certain group of people) and nothing else (for example, the whole bucket may be available)
  3. Even logging of processes can unravel restricted information to someone who doesn’t have authorization and they could misuse their rights

Second part of the day I spent in the workshop An Introduction to Complexity and Cynefin for Software Testers with Martin Hynie & Ben Kelly.

I have heard about Cynefin (/ˈkʌnᵻvɪn/ kun-EV-in) before just as a buzzword. I did not know what it exactly is and how it is used, so I decided to finally learn by attending this workshop. And, well… I ended up taking more pages of notes for this workshop than any other.

With a few group exercises Martin and Ben were challenging our known decision & sense making patterns and made us realize that we naturally lean towards putting everything in boxes, but it is more important to get more information, stay open and actually reconsider categorizations we made. A lot of information that we got can be used not only in our careers, but even in personal life. Cynefin is not really a decision-making framework, but sense making.

3 key take-aways from An Introduction to Complexity and Cynefin for Software Testers:

  1. We tend to make premature decisions based on our known approaches and Cynefin could help to make us think about the actual problems, ask questions and challenge our believes by rethinking, breaking issues into parts rather than categorizing
  2. The better you become at something – the more you tend to think that it is obvious. This has no second guessing and may lead to disaster
  3. Questions are indicators: there may be a need to expand discussions. Concerns are very important

Another LTGW day had 2 more workshops and I started my day with Telling the Testing Story – Storytelling for Testers facilitated by Huib Schoots.

In this workshop, we learned way more about storytelling and its importance in every single area of life. Storytelling is rather a tribal thing and we tend to lean towards the people who tell good stories.

Also, we got some hands-on practise in presenting our group flipchart creations and I really felt like the team I was in was sort of a dream team – we didn’t know each other at all before the event and at Huib’s workshop we were made to collaborate, it worked out so well and we loved working with each other. Greetings to the wonderful Malonie, Galina & Andrew! And here is one of our group work creations:

3 key take-aways from Telling the Testing Story – Storytelling for Testers:

  1. Storytelling is a very useful skill to have especially as a tester: it is important to communicate well and manage to convince people
  2. Even your job interviews can go way smoother if you prepare stories on what the company wants and how you have done that
  3. Culture at companies is a collections of stories told

For the grand finale workshop, I went to Traffic, Verbs, Testing, and T-Shirts with Sharath Byregowda & Tony Bruce.

We learned more about REST APIs and how to test them. The very fun part was actually playing a game with t-shirts and forming 3 groups (clients, verbs and servers) in order to understand how the requests work on HTTP: clients would provide stickies with URL to the verbs who then ran to the servers to get the response.

I got to be a POST request and carried back all kinds of API codes returned in various situations.

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Later on we got to play around with a certain website and use curl to do some API testing.

3 key take-aways from Traffic, Verbs, Testing, and T-Shirts:

  1. Sometimes even if the returned code is 200, but body still may be wrong
  2. http://www.any-api.com has many API documentations
  3. Curl can be used for API checks and it is actually very interesting to play around with it in order to test REST APIs!

In conclusion, each workshop was full of content worth sharing and was very useful. I heard a lot of interesting information that I can apply at my work, met amazing fellow testers and gained so much of motivation to read about many concepts I haven’t thought of before.

 

 

 

Breaking the ice in Testing Cup 2017

The adrenaline was rushing to my heart so heavily that I couldn’t sleep the whole night. I kept falling into drowsy mind flow, muscles relaxed, but heart just could not calm down. At around 4 AM birds started chirping outside, I still felt the heat wave, took a cold shower and kept trying to fall asleep. At 6 AM until 7 AM I managed to doze off a few 10 minute intervals and then it was time to get ready. The big day was here. June 9th, the conference day of Testing Cup 2017 where I was doing my first ever conference presentation. 

I was so honored and extremely excited to be invited to speak at Testing Cup 2017 in Gdansk, Poland. The greatest ever thing about Testing Cup is that testers can compete for it! How awesome is that? Teams/individuals participate in a testing competition and can prove themselves to be the best bug catchers! Such a great opportunity for testers in Poland! And take a look how the actual prizes look like:

I arrived on the afternoon of the 8th of June, so sadly, did not see the competition itself taking action, but could join the beach after-party which was an amazing experience! I took a train ride to Sopot (on the way I learned a good lesson about Polish trains – the ticket validation machines are on the train stops only, not on the trains themselves!) and after a walk on the beach I joined the Testing Cup participants & speakers in a bar on the beach. There were snacks, drinks, even a DJ and the fire show, and, of course, the most wonderful view with a special appearance of the rainbow:

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After the party, I went back to rest before the big day and here is where we get to the first paragraph of this post. Even if the night hadn’t been wonderful and I was worried, but one of the speakers told me when I asked if they are nervous “I was, for the first talk”, so I believe this is a natural feeling. The good part is that I didn’t feel sleepy at all and could listen actively because of the adrenaline rush.

I arrived to the venue to participate on the second day of the Testing Cup which was the conference day and I haven’t mentioned yet, but the whole competition was in a stadium! This was where we would relax during the breaks or just go to breathe some fresh air:

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The fantastic part about the conference was that it had several tracks! One was purely in English, so I always had what to listen to. To name a few of many great presentations that day:

Andreas Faes talked about his experience of changing beliefs as a tester in his presentation “Losing my religion”. Andreas gave an overview of testing schools, told examples from his professional journey and shared great concepts about testing. I could relate to it so much!

Maria Kedemo delivered a great keynote on testability “Dimensions of Testability”. I cannot stress enough how I agree with the points she made because usually the most common obstacles we face as testers are testability issues.

Ben Simo (better known as “the bug magnet” or “a sort of skilled hacker”) gave a keynote called “An Incredible Mess”. It was one of the funniest talks I have ever seen. Ben shared his story about his experience with healthcare.gov website’s usage and the publicity that was caused by the bugs he reported to them.

And now… what the curious of you have been waiting for – how did my talk go?

I think in general the talk itself went fine, I delivered the content and didn’t feel nervous, but all my nerves went away partially because slides.com just went black once I started the presentation! Even if before we did a tech check (I wanted to make sure it works as I had an iframe which prevented me from using other presentation options then) – all worked well then. However, once I started we had to interrupt the presentation a couple of times and change the laptop (which was not ready for presentation and got some meeting pop-ups!) I think I faced one of the biggest technical problems speaker can get all together, so this just gave me the attitude that – the worst may have happened, so I should just continue and deliver the message the best I can! After the presentation, I really felt like the ice has been broken and the speaker’s words about the first presentation being the hardest were more than truth – it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be!

In the end, even if I wasn’t too happy about technical issues and got my lessons learned (slides.com never again and always have back-ups!),  I really got inspired by the great feedback I got from the audience. This has shown me that it doesn’t matter even that my presentation had some glitches (of course would be better if it didn’t, but life happens!), people in the end came to hear the content! Nothing can be more rewarding to a speaker than to get a message like this:

And I must say, Testing Cup’s audience was so nice! People were smiling, patient and supportive. Once I went to deliver my talk and saw people’s supportive eyes shining with curiosity, I knew that I am in a safe place!

Huge thanks to the wonderful organizers of Testing Cup and the amazing participants. Also, thanks to my colleagues for sending encouraging messages and believing in me from the very start. Lastly, enormous thanks to such a magical community of testers in social media who are always there to support you and are so welcoming to new speakers!

The ice has been broken. I am ready to speak again!

 

“I have a Craft in me” or Craft Conference 2017 impressions

Second year in a row I got a chance to attend Craft Conference in Budapest. After last year’s event I was very looking forward to this conference – mainly because it is our company’s tradition to give a chance to all the dev team members to attend the event. And, having in mind how wonderfully amazing my colleagues are – Craft is a great conference where we not only learned a lot, but also had our own team building time.

This leads me to community zones. At TED(x) conferences community zones are always very important – they say that anyone can watch the talks online, but people really want to attend the event for meeting new people and for the cool activities to do during the breaks. Well, I must say that Craft’s community zones were definitely moving towards that direction!

The conference had a huge amount of participants (around 2000!), but there were plenty of activities around having in mind that the venue was the Hungarian Railway Museum!

I love this venue choice – last year it was in the same venue (the pic above was taken last year – but I promise, it looked the same) and I was looking forward to try the activities I haven’t tried before. For example, we could take a ride on the little train:

Or my another favorite was small Bosch cycling cars – the only type I can drive properly. I saw this video on Twitter from the afterparty on the first event’s day and it is just hilarious:

The talks ranged quite a lot: from soft skills topics to very technical ones. There were several tracks as well – everyone could choose the talk they are interested in. I think this year I had more topics that interested me as a tester than last year, but there were different opinions as well – it all is a matter of taste in the end.

During the 2 day conference, I heard a lot of great ideas, but here I decided to list 3 my personal favorite talks from Craft 2017 that I highly recommend you to watch (ordered chronologically):

  1. Maaret Pyhäjärvi – Learning in Layers: A Demo of Exploratory Testing. As a tester, I just had to go to this talk! I think it gave a really nice overall image on how exploratory testing can lead you to different areas in a product – it all depends on your start choices. And, oh boy, how much you can find. At my work, I am a note taker, but in this presentation Maaret with the help of a volunteer did a strong style pairing and created a mind map. I loved this idea and can’t wait to actually use it in the new feature’s exploratory testing.

2. Melissa Perri – The Build Trap. As a tester, I often get to be the middleman between product and dev teams. I usually work pretty close with programmers, so sometimes I struggle to understand the importance of reliable usability testing for example. However, this talk shed a new light on the topic and I feel like I learned a lot from product management’s perspective on how actually the real user’s opinions matter – your colleagues are not the usual users.

3. Richard Kasperowski – Building Great Teams: Culture and Core Protocols. A very interesting talk which made me take notes. One of the key ideas that really hit me was that if a person is telling you how they feel – you never should tell them what to do. The fact that they share how they feel (even if sometimes it is a bad feedback in a way) should be accepted, not attacked (with forced suggestions that they should do this or that). Usually as humans we try to “give advice” (as we see it), but that is not what is needed at that point. Also, the talk had on the spot exercises. I went to this talk with one of my colleagues. When we walked out, we both agreed that we feel a little bit changed inside. After doing the exercises together – we learned more about each other and most importantly – ourselves.

And lastly, I must mention that with Craft conference having wonderful speakers in town, there are many Craft Edition meetups in the city happening! This year palinQA Budapest testers meetup that I’m a part of organizing had two consecutive days of meetups with three Craft speakers: Dan North and Emanuil Slavov on 26th of April and Maaret Pyhäjärvi on 27th of April.

Audience really enjoyed both meetups, I heard that for some people the first meetup was the absolute favorite of all meetups we have organized.

While the second day’s meetup had Maaret presenting ‘5 Controversial Ideas to Improve your Impact as a Tester’ and it was indeed pretty controversial. This made the audience extremely active and they asked a lot of questions. It was a wonderful evening.

Overall, I am very happy to have participated in Craft 2017! I met awesome people, had a blast and learned a lot.