Monday, December 24, 2012

Farewell 2012; Rise Up and Be Strong 2013

The last couple of years I have tended to write blog posts at the change of the year.  One to summarize the year that is ending and one to list the things I am looking forward to in the coming year.  This time it is different.  It feels different.


Much has happened this year.  As I was considering how to encapsulate it, I read over the posts on changing from 2011 to 2012.  I must admit, I had to smile.  Much has happened, still much remains to be done.

What has happened? Well, in August I submitted my resignation to the company where I was working.  My "old company" had been bought by a much larger competitor and I found myself in a struggle to keep myself focused on what my goals and values were.  I was a little surprised because I had worked for large companies in the past - most of my working life in fact, had been with large companies.

The surprising thing to the person I was a few years ago, was that I resigned without a "company" to go to.  I went independent.  I struck out on my own with a letter of marque sailing against any and every - oh, no, umm - that is being a privateer - not a working independent test professional.  Meh, whatever.

But, that is what I did. The roots for this lie in this post I wrote late in 2011.  Looking back, it was the natural progression of where I was going from and where I was going to.

Now, I did have a contract lined up - which has since been extended.  This made the opportunity a little easier than jumping in cold-turkey - or deciding to go independent after being let go.  I concede this was an advantage.

Of course, now I am working even harder - not simply at "the day job" but in my writing, my learning and my attempts to understand things better.  The push from being sacked, as described in the blog post mentioned above, seems to have led me to the point where I hoisted my own flag, and have so far, avoided being hoist with my own petard.


I have been very fortunate in my meetings and comings and goings this past year.  Given the opportunity to speak in Portland at PNSQC and then in Potsdam at Agile Testing Days, I met a massive number of people I had only read of, or read their words.  It was inspiring, encouraging and humbling all at once.  In both instances, I found it easy to not be the smartest person in the room.  I had a pile of people there I could relate to  and learn from.

To each of you, I am deeply indebted.  Its a long list - let's see.  There's Matt Heusser, who is still a bundle of energy and ideas.  Michael Larsen, who is really amazingly smart.  Bernie Berger, Markus Gartner, Janet Gregory, Gojko Adzic, Huib Schoots, Sigge Birgisson, Paul Gerrard, Simon Morley, Jurgen Appelo, James Lindsay, Michael Dedolph, Linda Rising, Ben Simo, and.... the list really does kind of go on.

The people I continue to find to be wonderful teachers and gentle instructors (sometimes not so gentle as well) sometimes through conversation, emails, IM/Skype chats, blog posts and articles.  They include, in no particular order, Elizabeth Hendrickson, Fiona Charles, James Bach, Paul Holand, Michael Bolton, Cem Kaner, Jon Bach, Catherine Powell, Griffin Jones.  There are others, but these folks came to mind as I was writing this.


Wow.  This year has been amazing.  The local group, the GR Testers, are meeting every month, with a variety of people showing up - not "the same folks every time" but people wandering in to check it out.  I find this exciting. 

AST - Association for Software Testing 

What an amazing group of people this is, and is continuing to develop into.  The Education Special Interest Group (EdSIG) is continuing to be an area of interest.  Alas, my intention of participating in "more courses" has been impacted by life stuff.  I've been able to assist with a couple of Foundations sessions for the BBST course, and offered ideas on some discussions but that is about all. 

This past August I was honored to be elected to the Board of Directors of AST.  My participation continues to be as much as I can give on a regular basis - including monitoring/moderating the Forums on the AST website (a really under utilized resource, perhaps we can change this in the coming year) and the LinkedIn AST group's discussion forum (mostly whacking spam). 

A new and exciting development is the Test Leadership Special Interest Group - LeadershipSIG.  This new group is looking into all sorts of interesting questions around Test Management and Test Leadership and - well - stuff - including the interesting question of the difficulty of finding and recruiting Context Driven Test leaders, managers and directors.

CAST is scheduled for August in Madison, Wisconsin.  This is going to be good.

Other Conference / Community Stuff

Conferences coming up include STPCon - in San Diego in April.  Also in April is GLSEC - Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference - that one is in Grand Rapids.  QAI's QUEST conference is also scheduled for the Spring.

There are several conferences I've considered submitting proposals to - and I suspect it is time to do more than consider. 

Writing - Oh my.  I have several projects I've been working through.  I am really excited about some of the potential opportunities.  I'm pretty geeked about this.

Overall, I am excited about what 2013 may hold.  It strikes me that things that have been set up over the last several years are coming into place.  What is in store?  I do not know.  I believe it is going to be good.

After all. I am writing this the evening of December 23.  According to some folks, the world was supposed to end a couple of days ago.  What those folks don't understand is that everything changes.  All the time.  Marking sequences and patterns and tracking them is part of what every society does.  They don't end.  Simply turn the page.

Let us rise up together. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Why Can't You See That? or More Than Meets the Eye

There are times when things seem so clear.  Other times it is like looking through a cloud.

How many times have we stumbled across something in an area another tester had worked on and wondered just how it is that they did not see the problem?  After all, we have done piles of training and exercises and we have really good process models in place and - what is WRONG with them that they are not seeing these problems?

So, anyone else run into that?  It seems like there are piles of stories of people who were just "inappropriately motivated" or essentially a lazy individual, right?  People just don't get it., do they?

Let's see.  Something happened in Friday that made me wonder about some of those presumptions.

The last few months, my dear lady-wife has made "observations" on some "stuff" around the house.  Stuff?  Well, like, little fluffs of cat hair in the corner or bits of stuff on the carpeted steps or, well, yeah, stuff after I vacuumed (Hoovered for some folks).  Stuff like "How can you not see that?  What is going on? Aren't you paying attention?" 

Well, I thought I was.  I was also having a problem reading really small fonts... and kept changing the resolution on my already huge laptop to make it easier to read.  Then dealing with small screws on small devices and really small screwdrivers - it just has been getting really hard.

So, I went more slowly and was more careful with what I was doing.  Still, there were bits of ... fluff - like cat hair - that seemed to evade whatever I did, or tried to do, while cleaning.  Man.  Talk about frustrating.

Sounds kinda like what some of those "less than stellar" testers may have run into, no?  No matter how careful they were, glaring huge problems still got through.  Then they try harder and be as diligent as they can and they get in trouble for not getting through enough test cases each day.

So, folks may find themselves in a spiral without knowing what the problem is.  For testers, it could be simply that they are overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of stuff they are finding.  Maybe there are problems in their understanding of what is needed or expected of them or... yeah. 

In my case, the very nice eye doctor - yeah, I figured part of the problem was that my eyeglass prescription was in need of updating.  Well, that seemed reasonable - but it was wrong.  Way wrong.

In fact, the very nice eye doctor said "The lens for the left eye is still perfect.  That is correcting to 20/20 with no problem.  The problem is the cataract in your right eye."  What?  No way.  Yeah.  She did some really simple demonstrations and showed both of us the problem wasn't my glasses (my tools) it was my eye.  Funny.  Hmmm.  Who'd have thought?

In a flash, everything made sense.  Well, not really a flash, more like a "Oh, bother" moment.  So, now I know what is going on with my eye and what needs to be done to deal with that.  After that problem has been addressed, we'll see what other problems may have been masked by this really BIG problem.  So, I may need an updated prescription after the dust settles.  But we won't know until we get to that point.

Kind of like finding bugs in software.  We find a bunch of BIG stuff.  It gets addressed.  But we don't know what else may be there.  And if time constraints get in the way, what then?

What BIG HUGE problems go undetected?