Monthly Archives: September 2014

Let’s Test Oz 2014 – Day 1

It’s 11PM and day 1 hasn’t finished yet, there are activities still happening around the hotel. This is really a different style of conference than I’m used to. All participants stay at the same hotel where the keynotes, breakout sessions and test lab take place, so the conference doesn’t actually end at a specific time each night.

I arrived this morning in the picturesque Blue Mountains outside of Sydney. I was excited, nervous, intimidated, keen, and relieved to have made it here. There was a contingent of testers already here and the conferring had begun before the conference’s opening keynote. About 5 minutes after entering the hotel, most thoughts of intimidation and nervousness were gone. This is where I was meant to be. I mingled and promoted twitter as a means for learning more about the context-driven testing community.

The opening keynote was delivered by James Bach:

How do I know I am context-driven?

What followed was a wealth of information based on years of research, hands-on experience and debates, condensed into a one-hour talk. This was an excellent summary of what it means to be context-driven, from one of the founders of the context-driven testing community. There was one slide in particular which I could’ve questioned James on for another hour, called Implicit principles of the Context-Driven School of Testing. This slide contains ideas which could fill a book, if James had time to write another book.. I think I need to read some more books before I can fully fathom the concepts presented! The beauty of this conference is that I have many opportunities to find James in the hotel and ask about this slide in more detail, ask for advice on recommended further reading, and discuss testing in depth.

As usual, I found James’ talk personally motivating and compelling. Specifically, the categorisation of levels of involvement in the context-driven community felt to me like a call to action and I’ve treated it as such. I will be actively ensuring that I fall into the Committed Practitioner category, and probably also Committed Student as I love to keep learning.

These are some of my favourite quotes from James‘ keynote speech:

“A professional society of people trying to be the best they can be” – Yes! This is a growing crowd which I’m proud to be a part of.

“Respect and nurture people who are learning” – James noted the Greeting vs. Challenging methods of introducing testers to the context-driven community, and his tendency towards the latter. There are other leaders in the test community who patiently introduce those who are newly discovering professional testing approaches.

“The product is a solution. If the problem isn’t solved, the product doesn’t work”. Hallelujah!

“Testing has parallels with martial arts, you need to practise, and EARN respect” – I’m paraphrasing here.

“Context-driven testers must be able to answer the question ‘What’s your approach to testing?'” – Oops. I have some homework to do.

“Instead of best-practice, say a practice. For example, we use a practice for defect management.” That’s a huge improvement! This would make the software world a better place 🙂

“You don’t need to promise, quantify or lie. See Keith Klain for more information.” I’m paraphrasing again. This was another call to action for me.

In conclusion…

This is what I got from the FIRST HOUR of this 3 day conference. I’m glad I made the effort to attend, I’d have deeply regretted missing out.

Stay tuned, more to come. But not tonight 🙂


Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Software Testing


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Should you take the Rapid Software Testing course?


This year I flew to Australia from New Zealand to attend the Rapid Software Testing course with James Bach, hosted by Testing Times.

The course is crammed with practical tips that you can start using immediately on your current projects. James has concocted mnemonic devices that really work.

Practical exercises are a great way to practice and demonstrate what you’ve just learned, and being in the ‘hot seat’ is a challenging and memorable experience. Once James dons his cap the teacher has gone, and the pointy-haired boss has arrived. I highly recommend volunteering for a hot-seat challenge, to help get the most out of your experience.

I’d already done some of the RST practical exercises during a Skype coaching session with James, so I sat out the first exercise… for about 30 seconds. Then I realised* I could pick up where I’d left off with the exercise, taking my learning to the next level. I found my old Skype chat transcripts, pulled up my previous test findings, and continued digging deeper into the exercise. I was even able to channel Rich and ‘Go Meta‘ which I was very excited about.

During the course I also learned transferable skills from James’ tips, mentioned as asides on coaching, critical thinking, presenting, professionalism, accountability, responsibility… There is such a wealth of information packed into this course! I was completely engaged throughout the entire 3 day course, and in that sense it was exhausting.

Everything in this class is a trap – Dean Mackenzie

As a participant I felt like a contestant on QI – if you answer questions with the first thought that springs to mind, expect to hear the Klaxon. Only instead of a klaxon, you’ll be treated to an extensive set of follow-up questions until you realise how shallow your initial answer was, and relish the opportunity to provide a more thought-out response.

On the second night I arranged dinner with some of the attendees and we talked testing over wine. Then in a fancy Sydney restaurant we started playing the dice game. I love the tenacity I saw from my fellow testers that night.

I graduated from RST with 2 stars on my certificate, and James following me on twitter. I’m proud of both 🙂
I also met some intelligent and enthusiastic testers, had fun, learned a lot, and filled my writing pad with notes which I regularly refer to. I’m thrilled that I decided to invest in my own education and make the trip back to Sydney.

P1130462_crop    JBtwitterRST cert

*I remembered reading another RST grad’s blog where they did exactly this about 10 minutes into an exercise. With the benefit of their experience, I only wasted 30 seconds. Thank you blogger-whose-post-I-can-no-longer-find!

I recommend reading other’s blog posts on their RST experiences when deciding whether to go, and in preparation for attending. Such as the one you’re reading now, and some of these. Martial Tester has a great list of posts.


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Posted by on September 11, 2014 in Software Testing

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