Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Let’s Test 2015 – conference at a glance (from a distance)

Just to get up again and write something, I decided I’d do something I’ve done before. I really want to join the Let’s Test 2015, but it seems I cannot. This blog post is similar to those I’ve done before for it is a “Conference at a Glance” kinda thing. So this is

Let’s Test 2015 – conference at a glance (from a distance)


It seems the conference is a 3 day thing with 2 key notes, 33 sessions or various kind. Since I’m a lazy person, I shall do the following:

  • Tackle both key notes
  • Choose one session from each day based on my familiarity of the speaker
  • Choose one session from each day based on my interest in the title
  • Choose one session from each day that I pick randomly

That should bring me to a total of 11 sessions that I try and grade. If you (as a conference speaker or as anyone else) feel like I should do more, just ask me in the comments section.  I try and keep it simple.

I will use a heuristic grading system (introduced here) to determine what would be the best session for me. I will grade the stuff with Angry Birds ™ grade – 0-3 stars per area – on five areas:


  • Person-to-person (How will the person and his/hers work affect/inspire me or the people I know?), 
  • Session value – short time span (How much can I get out of the session tomorrow – next year?), 
  • Session value – longs time span (How much can I implement o my work and teach to my colleagues, my community?), 
  • Steal-ability (How much of it am I willing to borrow and further develop to make it better and, more importantly, mine?), and 
  • Challenge-ability (My past knowledge on the topic and my willingness to challenge the session contents.)


Ben Simo’s “There was not a breach – There was a blog”

Based on the description on the webpage, I quickly came to think I should have done something like that. I should have started blogging about something that is affecting major public. Like the Finnish Railway renewal or something else of a similar matter. Having not thought of the idea, I shall keep my eyes open the next time something big comes up. So “Thanks Ben for giving me a great idea. Don’t mind me copying it in the future!”

As we’re talking about a keynote here, I don’t think during-session-challenging will occur. As this is kind of an experience report, I feel I can absorb huge amount of wisdom and ideas from it. If only reading through the description gave me so many ideas already, attending the keynote might blow my mind. Alas, it might not happen. So my head is safe for now. Challenge-ability might be a bit low, but if you think the challenging as in self-challenging, things I can challenge in my own thinking processes, ways of working, how I present myself to others. On those parameters I see a lot possibility to challenge.

On that note, the steal-ability just went through the roof. As for long term value, I believe that short term value comes from bringing the conversation to the coffee tables for those who are not American nor have the exposure to HealthCare.gov. The long term effects lie in the the steal-ability I mentioned before. If I can introduce some public service kind of attitude towards my own behavior, it’ll really make a difference.

P2P-level is a bit tricky. Ben has been on my radar for years. I’ve been following him and reading his blog sporadically, but I never really came to realize how much of an influence he has been. There hasn’t been too much communication between him and me save for a few tweets now and then, or some random facebook comments to each other’s posts. I must say I should have been more in his face about stuff. I shall change that and get to know him better!

As for score (should I be at the conference I would attend the keynote whatever it might be):


  • Person-to-person: * (I wanted it to be ***)
  • Short time value: *
  • Long time value: ***
  • Steal-ability: ***
  • Challenge-ability: ** 
  • Total: 10/15 stars


Antti Karjalainen’s “Detecting the Heartbleed Vulnerability”

The description might not provoke my vastest interest, but I was part of the Heartbleed scene in a sense. While working at F-secure I heard about it weekly during the “hip season”. I didn’t particularly have anything to do with fixing nor working with it, but I was there to spread knowledge about it.

The thing is, I am the kinda guy who shies away from über cool tools, fancy technology and protocols. I have some interest in security testing, fuzzing and analytics, but I’m more comfortable to leave those to the people who know them better. When it comes to knowing what fuzzing does, I’m comfortable in what the Wikipedia says. That is to say with no disrespect towards the fine men and women who dapple with such technologies. Hats off to all of you!

P2P is a challenge for me, since Antti is a Finn and I might have run into him at some other conference. I can’t put my finger on it, however. I have never talked with him about fuzzing nor about tools (“the shying” and other excuses). The thing is, I don’t think I could talk with him about the fancy stuff. I might have a few cool comments like “that looks cool” or “whaddaya know”. The thing is, however, that I cannot say for sure. I wish there would be a common ground on which we could build a conversation and then work from that.

The short term value might be in form of an interest into fuzzing tools. Or to some yet unknown aspect of fuzzing I could use in my testing. I feel that the topic is so tool/technology oriented, I might not get enough. It also affects the long term value for I don’t think I am capable of transferring that knowledge to my community or colleagues. I don’t say there won’t be any inspiration during the keynote – I might change my way to think testing and tools.

And since my knowledge on the technology and the tools are so diminutive, I feel the steal-ability and challenge-ability are scored low also. This isn’t to say that Antti doesn’t rock most of the listeners’ world! I believe that he is the kinda guy we need more of. Just like Ben, helping regular people with their daily lives is what counts!


  • Person-to-person: *
  • Short time value: *
  • Long time value: *
  • Steal-ability: **
  • Challenge-ability: *
  • Total: 6/15 stars


1st day sessions:

Ilari Henrik Aegerter’s ”A Tester's Walk in the Park” (based on familiarity to speaker)

Ok. Having read the description, I’m torn in half: A session without a clear outtake or a fountain of good ideas. I don’t know quite yet. I do appreciate that the problem solving is the key to it, but are we talking about artificial, abstract problems like “where is testing going”, or concise practical problems like “how can I convince my manager to pay my trip to Sweden”? The uncertainty intrigues me in a way that I wouldn’t dare miss this session. If we can coax people like Michael Bolton or Ben Simo to join in with their problems, it can be a hoot. It could be a hoot with just me, Ilari and three guys I don’t know. The thing is “I don’t know”.

I have spent some time chatting with Ilari. He has coached me on different things, latest today (the April 1st 2015) on how to approach a testing communication problem. I know this guy and I like him. I have to admit I haven’t paid too much attention on his whereabouts the last 18 months, but I reckon that all will be changed.

The value of the sessions is a tricky one. I cannot say what value I can get for I don’t know the contents that well. On short term it might arouse good conversations and comradery between the people attending. Experience reports in the form of problem solving might be a good take-away. In longer time span, the technique itself might be a good thing to learn. The introduction of philosophical thinking and approach to software testing is actually quite intriguing. Challenging the session might be a tough one, since it feels like an experience report of a sort.


  • Person-to-person: ***
  • Short time value: **
  • Long time value: **
  • Steal-ability: **
  • Challenge-ability: *
  • Total: 10/15 stars



John Stevenson’s ”A Journey Towards SelfLearning” (based on interest in the title)

WOW! This sure sounds cool! A sessions in a form of a game show! Count me in! I am interested in learning and how people learn. I am a continuous learner myself and I think it is time to up that interest in me once again. If this session could make my learning more structured, I would get more out of the time I have at hand.

I know next to nothing about John Stevenson, but lately I have spotted some of his tweets. He could be one to chat more deeply about learning. Him and James Bach might be a good dinner guests if I wanted to talk about learning and teaching. Since I hope to be a teacher of a sort someday, I think they could give me valuable ideas.

The value I see from this session is vast, both long and short term. While stirring me short term, it could make me think about my life on a longer run, my education and my striving towards being a teacher (though Finnish teachers are paid really poorly). Since I know something about learning, I think I might even be able to challenge John on his ideas. Though I don’t think I can introduce any particularly new and fancy to his curriculum, I might be able to increase the value of the session by making him express thing in different ways to be more easily approachable.


  • Person-to-person: *
  • Short time value: ***
  • Long time value: ***
  • Steal-ability: **
  • Challenge-ability: **
  • Total: 11/15 stars



Louise Perold ’s "Non-violent Communication" (random pick)

Well well well. NVC. I must say I had need for those skills today when I argued with a developer on why the test cases written for manual execution are a poor excuse of a test automation. I did seek some coaching from Ilari (like mentioned before) but I wasn’t able to convey my point to him in a way that would have left both him (the dev) and me in a mutually enjoyable place of mind. Having said that, Louise’s session might be the one for me.

I don’t know her at all, though I might have traded tweets in the past. I’m intrigued meeting her, though. Should I not be able to come to conference, I really want to talk to her about Mortimer J. Adler’s book “How to Speak How to Listen” which I’m reading sporadically now and then. Also what I found out from Daniel Pink’s book “To Sell is Human” might contribute to the Non-violent communication.

Values from this session might be really high in short term and long term. I might not be able to transfer them to my community in a way Louise could, but I bet the example and behavior might influence my co-workers and other people as well. My knowledge on listening and conversation skills might enhance the challenge and steal –abilities, but I would have to let the time indicate what’s beneficial and what’s not.

Non-violent starring would be as follows:

  • Person-to-person: *
  • Short time value: ***
  • Long time value: **
  • Steal-ability: **
  • Challenge-ability: **
  • Total: 10/15 stars



2nd day sessions:

Laurent Bossavit & Michael Bolton’s ” "Defense Against The Dark Arts” (based on familiarity to speakers)

Critical thinking, they say. Very well. I would expect something like this from Bolton and Bossavit. Given Laurent’s book “Leprechauns of Software Engineering” it is about time to teach us Earth dwellers them skills to tackle possibly harmful (and perhaps even rigged) information.

I know both of the speakers and I love spending time with them. Both incredibly intelligent fellas with excellent ideas and views of the world. It seems almost a loss that I might have to miss their workshop. But I shan’t weep! I find their session really intriguing so I might badger for a coaching sessions should I need to miss the event.

As for value of the session, I see high value altogether. Critical thinking skills and the practical application of it are worth gold in the testing industry. Whatever I can bring home from that session would be valuable material for my colleagues in ways to think critically.

Since I have some former knowledge on critical thinking, I feel the challenge-ability is high. Also I see that the whole session is about challenging, I feel compelled to challenge much of their material. Steal-ability is high in a sense that I want to educate my colleagues on that particular subject.

My god, I’m looking at quite a session:

  • Person-to-person: ***
  • Short time value: ***
  • Long time value: ** (it’s really 3 stars, but I cannot give the highest score yet)
  • Steal-ability: ***
  • Challenge-ability: ***
  • Total: 14/15 stars



Huib Schoots’ “How to be an Explorer of Software” (based on interest in the title)

Mr. Schoots talks about creativity? The guy who had a conference sessions in which he mostly played music talks about creativity? I think this is the stuff everyone needs to see. The title pushed me in a quite different assumption on the contents of the session. I thought that it would be about hands on exploring something, but since the description kinda gave the impression that it’s about how we document and observe, it actually fulfills the title quite well. Interested I surely am.

Huib is a great fella and he could be one of the top 3 reasons for me to attend. He is the bloke that makes people smile on their worst day. All that and a world-class tester! Say no more! I have seen Sami “the Monkey” Söderblom talking about exploring, read (the beginning) Elisabeth Hendrickson’s book on exploring, so it would be nice to see another take on the subject. The value is hard to define, since I feel the values are more personal than community wide spreadable thoughts. To be able to more concisely test and document a software is a great skill to have.

To challenge Huib is something I think he would enjoy more than anything, so I think I must get in touch with him and get my hands on the material if I can’t attend. I might also be able to steal something that I later present something as my own, but I ain’t gonna let him know. It’s hard to put a finger on the stuff that I’d like to steal, but I bet there are loads of stuff.

The exploration of stars…

  • Person-to-person: ***
  • Short time value: ***
  • Long time value: **
  • Steal-ability: **
  • Challenge-ability: ***
  • Total: 13/15 stars



Erik Davis’ "Effective Practice Manager" (random pick)

A practice manager. That’s a new term for me. Based on the description I didn’t get what is a practice manager. Is it like a skill coach or a competence manager? Either way I feel this is an experience report with some educational features. Oh it’s an experience report with discussion. Maybe we have some cool practice manager problems we can help solve for him. Challenging might come to play while there’s a discussion in the session, but I do know so very little about the subject beforehand.

I was intrigued by the “increase their own impact at work” bullet point. That is something I want. I want autonomy and to see my own passions and skills realize in my daily work. In that sense this session might be a good catch. It would definitely have long term effects but I couldn’t get the short term value out of the description. Maybe it lies in the “whatever else comes out of the discussion”.

I don’t know Erik at all. He might be one of those blokes who have avoided my radar so far. Based on his personal description I think I he would be the guy to get to know. Maybe I’ll ask him for a beer at the evening activities. His interest in educating testers and building their skill set is something I want to do also.


  • Person-to-person: **
  • Short time value: *
  • Long time value: **
  • Steal-ability: **
  • Challenge-ability: *
  • Total: 8/15 stars



3rd day sessions:

Jari Laakso’s ”Security Testing” (based on familiarity to speakers)

Before I have even checked the description on Jari’s session, I must say I am intrigued by this. He is my first touch on security testing on my Finnish blog years back. Unfortunately, I haven’t met the guy. I know he’s intelligent and capable tester, but I haven’t been in contact him for some time. Maybe I have to rekindle that connection to get the latest.

Ok. The description. Very well! Hands on security testing! Where do I sign? This is like one of the essential stuff that people are asked to when doing exploratory testing. SQL injections are in every text book on testing, but this guy actually shows how to do that. Nice! I can see the value skyrocket! The thing is, to be able to share this knowledge I should know even more about the subject. I might lack the interest in security testing in general, so I might not be able to teach these skills to others (I’d ask Jari to do it for me).

To challenge him might be difficult due to the fact that we are talking about technical stuff once again. Things like cross-site scripting are founded on protocols, REST-calls and whatnot, and I don’t feel I can challenge him on those. I might wanna try, tho. ;)


  • Person-to-person: ***
  • Short time value: ***
  • Long time value: *
  • Steal-ability: *
  • Challenge-ability: *
  • Total: 9/15 stars



Alexandra Casapu’s “Examine Your Testing Skills” (based on interest in the title)

Hands on testing and discovering our testing skills. I like it. In EuroSTAR test lab I had the chance to dapple with Mr. Lyndsay’s machines and I really want to have another go! Besides I’m interested in how my skills map out. I don’t know Alexandra, but I’ve heard of her. She is one of those people I want on my “meet these people in the Testing Scene” list.

The idea of having various non-technical skills to help you with testing is interesting. I would like to know other peoples’ skills and if I can borrow their passions and learn what they know. I’d be able to steal ideas from the participants and from Alexandra. Very nice! Since I have been doing some reading on skills, I might be able to challenge her and my previous views quite easily. And skills practicing in practice is always something to take home to.


  • Person-to-person: **
  • Short time value: **
  • Long time value: **
  • Steal-ability: **
  • Challenge-ability: **
  • Total: 10/15 stars



Scott Barber’s  ”Experiencing Product Owners”  (random pick)

Random in deed… Scott, if you’re reading this, you might want to check the description on the website. ;)

A big star on the effort, though.

Conclusion

Having surpassed the pain of starting to write again, I feel joyous on how I managed to rate 10 (Scott’s doesn’t count) sessions on five heuristic parameters. The toughest thing is ahead of me, though. I need to convince someone to pay my trip to Sweden.

Vi ses!
Peksi

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