Janus, for whom the month of January is named, looked both forward and back. That is a bit of what I want to do with this post and the next. The post I wrote last night was a precursor to these couple of posts, partly because the things described yesterday laid the foundation for this past year and the year to come.
What I wrote January 1, 2011:
The Road Ahead...A bunch of folks commented privately, "Dude, pretty gutsy to say you'll be looking for work when you're still employed." What I could not say then, was that in December, the entire staff of the company I worked for was told, in essence, that the company leadership was negotiating the sale of the company. We did not know to which other company, nor what the terms would be. Many of us speculated that the only reason we were told at that point, was because they needed us to sign releases of our stock options in case the sale closed before the end of the year.
The interesting thing is I've been thinking about the future. Well, not THE future, but what lay ahead for me professionally and how that may impact the family. It would seem there are several items that are possibilities for the coming year. One path would be to look for new work opportunities, either as a contract/consultant or as a full time, permanent employee. Yeah, as if "permanent" means much.
It was not a bold move to make such a prediction - I simply knew there was a likelihood that I'd be looking for work. When one company assimilates, well, acquires, another company, "long term employment" prospects for the staff of the acquired company are not terribly high.
As it was, I was not let go. I was retained. One colleague resigned after accepting a new position. His last day, we had a farewell luncheon for him. By the end of the next day, myself and another tester were all that remained of our team. One other person, a developer, had been transferred from the development staff to testing. although others on the team
We are continuing, and moving forward.
CommunityThis continues. I've been writing. Alot. STP Magazine and TechTarget's SearchSoftwareQuality both have run articles I've written. my more in my blog, and more engaged in forums than ever before.
Another option is to become more involved in the testing community. Actually, I started working on that as well in 2010. What I mean is that reading blogs other folks write is a good way to learn what they're thinking is. Reading and participating in on-line forums is another way to both learn and become involved. Well, doing that as much as I can right now.
Of course, more actively engaging in both of these types of activities is on my list of things to do this coming year. Ya know, the funny thing is, the more I talk with folks about things I learn and have learned, the more I learn myself.
I expect this to continue and grow in the coming year. That would be way cool.
Local Testing Groups
Another thing, the local testing group, GR Testers, has been going in fits and starts for a while. Meetings have been sparse of late. The most recent one, December, was kind of fun. There were a bunch of us sitting around a table, lots of wings, good beer and folks talking about testing. Good way to spend an evening. There's another meeting coming up Monday, 3 January. It makes it the first time in quite a while that there were back to back monthly meetings. Normally, they are officially held every other month. It seems that as more people are showing an interest, the meeting frequency will pick up.
I wonder how many other local testing groups are out there that have a meeting schedule based on "whenever" instead of "We meet at this time, and here are the next couple of topics we're focusing on at these meetings..." I believe that the more people know about local groups, the more they are invited to participate and the more information that is available about them, the more active and the stonger the community there is.
I think that pretty well sums up what I'm looking to do with the local group. I believe that getting more people involved and talking about testing is vital to improving not only our individual tradecraft, but the abilities of the local community. Sharing well reasoned ideas can do nothing but good, presuming all are allowed to learn and ask questions
The GR Testers, the local testing group, is up and running strong. The group has met monthly since that January post. I've made it to most of the meetings. The ones I missed, I was out of town, usually at a conference. Cool.
Personal DevelopmentThis happened beyond my wildest dreams. I took and passed the BBST Foundations course. Then, even though the schedule did not permit me to take the Bug Advocacy course - that is on the list for next year for me. I also took the Instructor's Course from AST. We'll see how the schedule works out this coming year.
Now, I realize that any of the above activities can lead to improving any individual participating. What I mean here is something a bit more. I had been signed up for the BBST Foundations course offered by the Association for Software Testing for a session in in the fall of 2010. Things happened and that session was cancelled. I could not take the session offered as an alternative.
The GOOD news, for me, is I am signed up to take the Foundations course this spring. YEAH! I am really looking forward to this. Everyone I know who took the course raves about it. Big-time excited.
I've continued reading blogs and articles and books and talking with people and... everything else. My goal is to continue learning and to continue to share what I learn.
For conferences, I'll be attending and presenting at STPCon in March in Nashville. I bought myself a birthday present and renewed my AST membership in October. If I can work it out, I'll be attending CAST in August in Seatle.
Conferences. I presented at STPCon (Spring) in Nashville. I gave a joint presentation with my (then) boss, Kristin Dukic, as well as a presentation and lightning talk on my own. I then was flattered, and honored, to attend and participate in CAST. With Matt Heusser, I helped organize the Emerging Topics track, where a self-organized group selected topics submitted via a wiki - then ran for 20 minutes, every 25 minutes. It was astounding.
After CAST, I had the opportunity to present at STPCon Fall in Dallas. Matt Heusser and I did a day-long workshop (excerpts are on the Software Test Professionals site, under Podcasts) - then a joint track session on "Complete Testing". THAT was a lot of fun. I also presented a track session on my own as well as a lightning talk. Matt just gave a keynote.
Then since I was not busy enough, I presented at TesTrek in Toronto in November.
Scads of people have encouraged me this year. Among them, Matt Heusser, who put me in contact with the folks at TechTarget, and made the case that he could not do Emerging Topics at CAST on his own - which is how I got in. Cool, heh? THEN - Matt had so much fun with that, he asked if I'd be interested in doing a joint workshop in Dallas. Oh yeah. The interesting thing is that he's really a nice guy - as the folks who know him will attest.
Also - Fiona Charles is supportive and encouraging. She is really an amazing person who is willing to offer suggestions and ideas on how to improve articles, presentations, whatever. She also is way cool. She was one of the very first people that I consider a "Name" in testing, to ask for comments on a paper - the list me in the acknowledgements. Humbling.
Catherine Powell whom I met in person at STPCon in Nashville always has encouragement and good suggestions. Michael Larson is a great guy. He's got a great outlook on life and testing. His blog is inspiring. Doug Hoffman was the Head Instructor for the BBST Foundations course. What a smart guy. Nice as the day is long. We had several very nice chats both at CAST or at STPCon Fall. If you get a chance to see him present - DO. Cem Kaner - yes DOCTOR Kaner - the drive behind the BBST Courses. An ongoing inspiration.
There are more - Michael Bolton, Lynn McKee, Griffin Jones, Nancy Kelln, and many more. These are the people I look to for inspiration and mental reinvigoration.
And of course, my lady-wife, Connie.
I do not know what the future will bring. I will discuss what I hope for the future in the next post.