Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Skill Learned at CAST 2011 - SBTM

One of the new practical skills I picked up at CAST 2011 was Session-Based Test Management (SBTM). During the testing competition the Miagi-Do team applied this practice to manage time due to the short time-constraints of the competition. We decided on 20-minute test sessions and after each one, Markus Gärtner, our ‘test master’, would hold a 5-minute debrief. It was tough to tune into the discussions at times but I thought it was a brilliant technique that really helped us to achieve our testing mission.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Had a Blast at CAST 2011

CAST 2011 is over. I am still digesting the impressions and events of the last 3 days. I feel both intoxicated from all the information and energy I consumed as well as inspired and giddy. This was my first CAST. As a n00b I had the advantage of experiencing and feeling things more acutely than someone who has already attended a similar event or two like this before.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Questing in Boston

I received a 'QUEST 2011: Thank You Letter' from QAI Global Institute yesterday that was emailed to the participants list. I meant to post a blog about the conference when I came back on April 8 but got carried away with my busy work routine and getting ready for a release. This email brought back good memories and I thought I would share a few sentiments here.

This was my first testing conference and I did not know what to expect. Granted I have been to quite a few international conferences when I worked as an interpreter but those were on oil and gas, US-Russia business relations, auto shows and international law. My responsibility was to help people communicate, negotiate, resolve conflicts and build relationships. 

There were days when I would not have time to eat. Meals were provided of course, followed by scrumptious desert, but I was not able to eat as I was busy talking, or rather people talking with each other but through me. People tend to be more relaxed, personal and prone to heart to heart conversations when they share food. If you add alcohol into this equation then the conversions would get more colorful and run longer. I even had lunch with the Honorable Judges Scalia and Ginsburg and my clients. They were enjoying an amazing lunch and interesting conversation and I was busy passing information back and forth in Russian and English.

Needless to say I never really had time to explore any of those shows as I had to follow a rigid schedule and attend workshops and receptions of the clients' choice. This time it was different. Attendees were IT professionals and mostly testers and QA folks. Of course I know that there are so many of us scattered around the US and the rest of the world but seeing SO many test/qa-obsessed people in one place was something!

I got to my first Quest day at around lunch, registered, picked up my badge and joined the gang of hungry testers. I like people-watching and while sitting by myself and observing I was able to tell the ones who were noobs like me from the ones who have either attended Quest or similar events before. They were vibrantly discussing the agendas, upcoming workshops and instructors that they knew or heard of, liked, disliked or wanted to meet. I overheard people talking about Agile, mobile testing, Jon Bach, etc. I looked through my own 'Quest at a Glance' leaflet and circled additional tutorials based one what I had heard -- just in case!

I defined my objectives and mission for the event but also kept my options open. My plan was to learn as much as possible about Agile and mobile testing, attend Janet Gregory's and Jon Bach's workshops, spend time with the uTest team and network if I was brave enough.

My first tutorial on mobile apps testing was with uTest. Needless to say I was beyond myself excited to finally meet uTesters that I got to know over the last few months through either following the uTest blog or working as a freelance tester evenings and weekends. The tutorial covered planning, mobile testing approaches and challenges as well as crowdsourcing. One of the uTesters gave a hands-on walk-through  demo of an iPad application test. It was great. Participants seemed to share my feelings. They were curious and asked many interesting questions and shared their personal stories.

The tutorial was followed by the uTest reception. Right before it I finally met Peter Shih. Peter and I corresponded via email and the uTest forum. It was so cool to finally meet him and other uTesters face to face. It felt like I have known them for quite some time. I changed my career paths and jobs a few times after I moved to the United States. Working for UUNet Technologies, SRA International and with uTest have been my best gigs by far. 

The next two days were filled with good stuff.  I attended sessions on Agile estimation and dealing with defects, Performance Testing, and Test Planning and Design. Even though the material in some classes was a bit high level and over my head I was still learning about new ideas and how people do things in different organizations.  

Another highlight of my Quest agenda was an evening cruise aboard the Spirit of Boston, sponsored by Microsoft. Boy it was fun! I never thought that testers were such party animals! I tend to get seasick even from minor waves and it was quite windy in Boston that evening. I was nervous that I might get a wicked sea sickness attack at when I least expected it. A little bit of wine and dancing seemed to have taken care of that. A couple of people break danced. How cool is that! No one seemed to mind the waves. I had a light headache the next day but that was a small price to pay considering how much fun we had.

After Thursday’s workshop on Exploratory Testing taught by Jon Bach I was proud to say that I finally met both Bach brothers. I loved Jon’s workshop. It was dynamic, entertaining and full of fun examples and brain teaser exercises. Not only have I learned about the Japan Quake Map but ever since I have been obsessed with finding those special penny coins that don’t have a Lincoln memorial displayed upside down when you flip them over.

Quest 2011 is complete. It’s time to get ready for CAST2011 in August. Again I don’t know what to expect since it will be a whole new experience and a chance to explore. One thing I know is that I will meet other Association for Software Testing members and testers who are passionate about our craft and hopefully both Bach brothers under the same roof.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Birthday and a Gift

My son's birthday is in a few weeks and I have been thinking about a gift for him. I have also been reminiscing about our journey together.

It's been seven years since he came to live with us. Back then my mother was in charge of a baby home, an orphanage for babies and toddlers, in my hometown in Siberia. She and I usually catch up over a weekend and back then she would update me on what's going on with the babies, who started talking and walking and who found new families and share the stories of the newcomers. Some of those stories were heartbreaking. One of them was the story of my son.

He was dropped at one of the city's hospitals at the age of eight months by his grandmother who died from pneumonia within the next two weeks. Wicked luck. No family members stepped in to claim him. His biological mother's whereabouts were unknown. Hospital authorities did not know what to do with him so under different bureaucratic excuses they kept sending him from one medical facility to another.

Right after we adopted him I frequently wondered what he must have gone through. Did anyone care for him at those places, check on him when he was hungry or hold him when cried? I know how things were in Siberia. I grew up there. The social welfare system has always left much to be desired in Russia. At least he had a roof over his head and basic food and care. Eventually Joshua (his current name) ended up at a baby home where my mother worked. At the time things were a lot more favorable towards foreign adoptions so as a result many kids from that baby home acquired their new families and went to live in their new parents' respective countries. My mother was a big supporter of international adoption as well and she was hopeful that one day a nice family will come and get Josh.

I think by the time he got to the baby home he was over a year old. Mom did not know about him until they met when he was about 2 years old. As a doctor in charge she had to oversee daily operations and check up on all the children's age groups to verify all was going according to policy. Whenever mom visited Josh's group he would find a way to talk to her. Eventually he got very comfortable and started asking my mom when she would take him home. He told her that she would make a nice grandma for him. Even though she felt uncomfortable my mom was baffled by the fact that such a small child was so proactive about making his fate.

I was moved by the story. I called one of the agencies that worked with my mom's baby home to find out what's involved in getting a kid adopted from Russia - that kid. They promised to help.  I wanted to rescue him from Siberia but at the same time I was very anxious. I studied child psychology in college and worked with kids in summer camps but I had serious doubts that it would make me a good parent. I have never been the nurturing type - I am a geek! I like gadgets, video games, sports and stay-at-home moms intimidated me at the time. I was hoping that I would not have to deal with diapers as I had a couple of embarrassing experiences when my girlfriends were changing them. I threw up.

Anyway, we successfully adopted Joshua. He is very happy with us. My mom who visited just this month told me how much he has changed. He is an All-American boy. He loves sports, especially soccer. We play video games together and he gets disappointed when we beat him. He is of the opinion that parents are not supposed to win. We challenge each other with puzzles and with our strong personality types. There are weekends when I can hardly wait till Mondays. I feel exhausted after hours of Phase 10, Uno, Wii and other challenging parent-child interactions such as reasoning over chores and daily schedules. I feel complete however. We have lived through plenty of of ups and downs while bonding and adjusting to our new family, coping with ADHD and pressure from school. The most important thing is that we have each other, we are best friends and we are living to the fullest trying and learning new things.

Now if only I can find a kid size Chelsea soccer jacket for his birthday gift... It will make Joshua very happy.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Geekette's Shopping List

Christmas and New Year Holidays are over. I celebrate both holidays but don't like shopping for gifts. In the last two years I have done most of my shopping online. Not only is it convenient, easy and fun but it also presents an opportunity for me to learn about new web and mobile apps and features.

I like shopping on the most. It seems that each time I visit the site there is something new to play with - a new button, search options, promotions and specials. I love the 'Add to Wish List' button feature that can be used with any browser and allows to add items from any website to Amazon Wish List. Most of my US relatives and friends have wish lists so all I had to do was to check what's already been purchased --another great feature under 'Wish list' =>Show:Purchased--and add items to cart.