webcowgirl: (Tiara)
Today was the first day of the conference proper at StarEast. I'm still not sleeping so well, but only woke up 4 times last night as opposed to 8, so I guess I'm feeling a little more confident about my alarm going off (not that I've not awakened before it has each and every night so far. Gah!

Talks today were: "You Can't Test Quality into Your Systems" (which spent too much time talking about the history of software and not enough time about the future - his goals of "Short term: QA requirements; Medium: learn how to read code; Long term: become a coder" was both glib and too narrowly focused. Next was "Agile Testing: Uncertainty, Risk, and Why It All Works" which was a good look at how to make testing an integral part of an Agile development process; not really relevant to me anymore but a good talk. This got me talking to Agile test guru Lisa Crispin later about my horrible experiences at Tango Foxtrot; she thinks I've got a good article in there and also wants to interview me for a "women who do Agile" thing she's working on. And she promised she'd talk to me about what kind of book I should write, though we didn't actually wind up doing this over lunch like we'd planned on, as some other women at the table got caught up asking about how to improve the Agile implementation they're in the middle of; given that the entire table was participating in the conversation (sort of a group therapy thing, or maybe a large "Dear Abby" session), I saw no reason to rush my chat, and, really, it was fun having people working together. Taking advantage of the group mind is my favorite part of this conference.Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

The shorter talks I went to were about reducing duplication (the talk was too short to do much, she should have timed herself and added at least another 20 minutes), dashboards (I got some ideas about this but feel like what I need to do is show the guy who held it the one we've got and figure out how to 1) make it universal 2) make it easier to read), and ... um ... something about testing as a service that was so "This is what you do wrong!" that I got bored and left. LATERZ.

We ended with "Stop Guessing About How Customers Use Your Software," which was a guy from Microsoft showing a bunch of ways they measure what people actually do or would like to do with their software, from the ever popular A/B (i.e. Optimost) tests to the error messages that feed back to them to these little "what matters more to you, X or Y?" quizzes they give to their beta testers. It was actually a very informative session about what Microsoft does, but as a firm that develops things that don't use the internet, for almost strictly internal customers, it wasn't particularly relevant. I did almost win a book, though.'

Anyway, 5:30 and no luck seeing Mom [livejournal.com profile] lastwordy_mcgee, as she was booked already for the evening and not free again until after M comes to town. So I took myself to yet another mall, this time buying *drum roll* socks, underwear, and some soap. I was, at least, on the right end of town to go to Jalapenos, which I did and where the food was amazing - I had the plate that came with a chile relleno, a green enchilada, and a tostada. OH SO FULL. Even the beans and rice were amazing. I also had a guy at the place MASSIVELY hit on me, offering me a beer ("no thanks, I'm driving"), then asking me if I wanted to play pool with him "or just party," then following me out to the car and asking me to change my mind. Yeah, no. Ah well, at least I know where the action is now, and I have lots of new socks, so no more of this Oliver Twist crap with the multiple holes, I'm having a sock chucking party when I get home.
webcowgirl: (Tiara)
These days so much of what I do has so very little to do with testing, or even knowing how to do testing, but rather with relationship building. This was basically confirmed as the right tack to take by Randy Rice's "Becoming an influential test team leader" talk today at StarEast. Well, he did say that you should know your technical stuff, but when we reviewed a list of 31 problems testers face, 95% of them were caused by human factors, so it seems that dealing with the people issues, i.e. convincing people that the thing you want them to do is worth the effort or the money, is really the thing to do.

Me, I've noticed that the higher up you go in the management tree, the less it matters whether or not you can do the testing; it starts to matter that you can manage the workload for your team and that you can get them the resources they need to do their job. They become your eyes and your arms and your legs; you have to use them to get the information you need and to accomplish the things expected of your department. But they need you to help them, by getting people to understand what they do, by planning ahead (further than "just the next project"), by getting them training, by making their jobs enjoyable if not by the nature of the work itself then by the support you give them and they give each other. Then of course you have the joy of doing things like reports and metrics, but, really, those are also tools you can use to help your team, and you need to embrace the fact that it's something you've got to do and you have to be responsible for. Maybe in some ways my whole career as a manager (or potential manager) started when I took that class Steve McConnell held on software project estimation, then came back and tried to figure out how to apply it to my work; suddenly I was able to give status reports in a way no one ever seemed to have done before, in terms of percentage completion of total test cases with nice linear charts showing where we should be and where we were. Before people just focused on how many bugs we were finding, but ... anyway, I loved the statistics and the measurement, which is a good thing given where I am now.

Ahem. At any rate, Randy focused on things like "understanding your team's training needs," "selling your message," "developing your team," etc. We had a lot of fun solving each other's problems; I had one girl tell me I'd done such a good job of building someone up that I should be a motivational speaker. (Gosh, heck!) I also talked to Randy a little bit about getting a paper together for next year; I am interested in talking about "growing your team's leaders" but he suggested I should figure a way to measure it. Ooh, a challenge! And I left with all sorts of ideas about helping to train the leads I already have, but also for some stuff for the rest of the team to make the job better and help me do my work more effectively (by better understanding my team).

In between I managed to stop by a class on "Becoming a Trusted Advisor to Senior Management" and get the notes; chat with fellow tea fan Nicole on the quality of tea provided (Revolution teas, individual boxes with cloth bags and whole leaf, really top notch, sadly missing from first coffee break when I needed it most); and get in a long visit with Stephanie from Pop (back in Seattle) over lunch. This was all fun and energizing and good consolation for the crap start of the day, when I discovered the conference was not at the Rosen Center hotel I'd booked my crummy hotel room nearby; rather, it was at a different Rosen Center ("Shingle Creek," sounds like a disease) two miles and $10 in cab fare away. Grrrr, not pleased to start 20 minutes late (at least ten of which was just in walking the immense distance from the entrance of the hotel to the registration desk and then halfway back to where the actual lecture hall was - the place is a barn). I guess when I said I was going to go nuts before I left for this thing I was right in this respect: I did drop a few balls due to juggling too damned much.

Anyway, back home and my sis and niece and I went out first for a little shopping (Ann Taylor: love the suits, not feeling so great about dropping $200 to buy one; $10 silk shirt much more my speed) then to eat dinner at Numero Uno Cuban Restaurant, which beat the pants off of the massively overpriced Cuba Libre restaurant we walked to Saturday night and had utterly fantastic food to boot and super friendly service. They gave Dawn some free fried banana and a bit of toasted bread with butter. She spent the time not really wanting to eat anything but then stomping around and chewing on a butter holder and finally flirting with the men who came in the restaurant, one of whom was teaching her to blow kisses IT WAS TOO FUNNY. She got quite screechy - best guess was teething - and we high tailed it back to the hotel, where I'm now sitting typing this in the dark so as not to wake Dawn up (and my sis is taking advantage of the peace and quiet to take a bath). They're off tomorrow, and I'll be settling in to Day Two of Star East and "Essential Test Management and Planning." With luck I'll try to set up to have dinner with [livejournal.com profile] lastwordy_mcgee's mom tomorrow, but I won't be able to set it up until later - at worst, hopefully she'll be free on Wednesday. She seemed like such a nice lady and full of that Lastwordy charm - I'd really enjoy having some time to hang out with her!
webcowgirl: (Flamenco)
Inspired by the actually somewhat unimpressive macho style of the Nuevo Ballet Espanol on Sunday, I bought ticket for yet another flamenco festival participant, in this case Eva Yerbabuena. I probably should buy a shawl like the woman on the picture is wearing, too. I can feel the urge coming on.

Tonight I spent watching Megan Mullally singing songs on stage - before I got bored and went home. The day was spent getting some "training" that just didn't deliver what I wanted. I got very angry at one point about the speaker's insistence on training us on his customized requirements specification language - the one that has a 300 page support book that he wrote. I wasn't going to become an expert in it in two days and I didn't want to because that's not my primary job - and even if I did, it would be a waste of time because no one else at my organization uses it and they're not about to change overnight - not even in two years. Dammit, what I need to know is how to get people around a table having the right conversations and how to think creatively about what the solutions to the problems we're having might be. My solution was to go home two hours early. Grr.
webcowgirl: (Default)
Well, it's actually been a week since we saw an Ozu movie. Kevin's non-arrival on Friday (he cancelled at about 5 PM and it was just too late for us to make it to a 6 PM show) meant we missed the Munekata Sisters; my lack of sleep last night meant I just couldn't stomach an 8:40 show of Equinox Flower (and getting to bed sometime around 11:30 or maybe even midnight). Maybe I'll see them on DVD someday. I've compensated by buying tickets for the final movies of the festival:

Late Autumn
Saturday 20 February 2010 at 13:00

The End of Summer
Monday 22 February 2010 at 18:20

Early Spring
Wednesday 24 February 2010 at 18:00

The Flavour of Green Tea Over Rice
Saturday 27 February 2010 at 16:00

As ever just nobody seems to have a real interest in seeing these movies with us, but, well, you know. Japanese movies and early music, you just can't get everyone to like everything. At any rate, we had fun people to talk to us in the pub tonight, and they want to do other fun things like go to the Showoff Piano Bar and do hikes and see musicals so that seems pretty close to having it all. I mean, at least we can SEE this other stuff here.

Some of the other stuff we're seeing is some flamenco, and last night we broke in the Sadler's Wells Flamenco Festival (2010!) with Nuevo Ballet EspaƱol (yes that's a link to my review) which wasn't brilliant but reminded me of how much I enjoy flamenco, thus sending me off to buy tickets for Eva Yerbabuena for Thursday because, you know, those people who said they'd pay me to write reviews for them are dicking me around and NOT making plans for Thursday for a writers meetup like they said they would. So screw them. Flamenco especially rocks because it's a) five minutes from work b) usually done without an intermission thus ensuring I get home before dead o'clock. So Rawk. And I've got two more shows the following week. All signs point to February being done before I even figured out how to pronounce it correctly.

Er, and, uh, I spent today in training, mostly being frustrated that the guy was trying to teach us his special planning "language" that was guaranteed to remove ambiguity through enthusiastic use of <, [, ( and {. I was unimpressed. I did get the answer to my boss's question from last week ("How can we prove the business value of instituting quality assurance of requirements?") though, so I'd consider the day not entirely wasted. (Answer: 1) Through reducing the amount of time developers are spending on recode work due to misunderstanding of requirements. 2) Through reducing the percentage of time test people are spending writing and researching bugs that were caused by misunderstanding of requirements. Both require analyzing which kind of bugs are caused by misunderstanding of requirements, but it should only take one days' analysis of a project to produce the numbers - maybe two.)
webcowgirl: (Tiara)
So. There are many problems at my workplace. One is lack of documentation (shock!). Another is single points of (human) failure, like "if this person gets hit by a bus our project will collapse because no one else can do it."

And Thursday one of my employees did a presentation on a project she's been working on and made a mention on how it's been hard work since there is so little documentation on it.

And on Friday I was asked to approve a test plan for that very project that noted "because there is no ACTUAL DOCUMENTATION on how this works technically, the test plan may suffer some inadequacies" (in the risk section). Admittedly it was written based on some very in-depth knowledge of the product from the test team, but still, there concern about it being inadequate was on the money.

So I rejected the test plan, and said that until the documentation was PRODUCED, the test plan could not be considered adequate.

Let's see what hornets' nest I shook up come Monday. The project manager is going to be shitting because his project can't be done on time unless the test plan is accepted. I can't wait for them to turn to "Mr. Single Point of Failure" and tell him to get that shit out of his head and ONTO some PAPER (no sense hoping it might actually be in a computer). Woo woo, I am Queen Test, FEAR ME.

Oh yeah. The Silver Fox? He types with two fingers. Guess in his earlier days they had "girls" to do that work for him.
webcowgirl: (Ballet)
So, lessee, it's been a short week for me, since I was out of town on Monday. Tuesday night I stayed out too late to see if the Royal Court's "Cock" was as good as everyone says; the next night I was off to Sadler's Wells with [livejournal.com profile] mabel_morgan to see Carlos Acosta (link is my review). My favorite part of the night was hanging out with her, really; she is such good company and has really clear insight into human nature.

Last night was "stay at home and catch up" night. I left work super early (5:10), came home, cleaned, and roasted a chicken. The house looks ... a wreck still, so I'll be doing Wash Rinse & Repeat before the cocktail party tonight. Meanwhile, J's show opens tonight at the King's Head, so anyone who likes Charles' Dickens, perhaps you should get down there and check it out. They did a nice recovery from having their ceiling collapse on Sunday.

My boss has been gone this week so it's been oddly quiet and productive at work. I want to write about it but it seems like I have hardly any time to be online anymore, especially since blogging is banned at work. (I can do it from my phone but it's really an effort.) I did get asked to present at the local QA conference, though it's only a book review - but still, I'm excited about it. All the way in March ... and it's on my calendar.

I've also got an idea about what I want to do about the Ozu festival at the BFI. If any of you like 1920s-1960s Japanese cinema, let me know, and maybe we can see about going together.
webcowgirl: (Default)
Holy CRAP I am exhausted. Is it because I spent all day in a conference? No, it's because the Master of the Alarm Clock left it set to an hour earlier than normal last night, and only figured it out some time after it had gone out and I had dragged myself into the shower. I _did_ go back to sleep afterwards. I wound up missing most of the first speaker for my conference because of all of this, but I figured it was better to be able to pay attention for most of the day and miss one speaker than to be there for all of it and forget every single thing that happened because I couldn't keep my eyes open.

The conference (a QA conference) was actually pretty good. I say this in spite of the fact that the first two hours were nearly a complete waste of my time. So why is this? Well, of the six talks I heard, four of them were interesting and two of them were actually useful. That's actually really good - I figure one good talk out of a whole day is a good return on value (and it's to be expected that some people just aren't going to be good speakers). I've got a lot to take back to work with me.Walking back from the conference through Regent's Park - it's... on Twitpic

Oh, yes, including this: Friday AM I have a screening interview with Tripadelic. I'm psyched, though I'm worried I'm going to sound like I've spent the last two years mostly rotting. Which, you know, is true, but it doesn't make people want to hire you.

After the conference, I met up with J in Regent's Park (because it's SO pretty there, and the roses are going crazy), then went with him to the Saatchi Gallery. I'd won free tickets off of the Evening Standard (I've got another pair for next Wednesday, let me know if you want them), but, you know, the Saatchi is often so modern it passes me by. We left after an hour and headed back to Tooting, where we gorged ourselves on Karahi Lamb (yes, we do like it hot) and channa masala. Mmmmmm. I love my neighborhood.
webcowgirl: (TopBug)
This has been a whirlwind week at work - I'm helping two teams release, but one of them is doing two releases - so I've been up to the eyeballs in things to do. I'm not really able to do much proper blogging, though I've been working on my theater blogging (and Twittering) in my 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there. However, it's the end of the day, and I realized ... I'm probably going to not update LJ at all if I don't say something now, so:

Funniest bug in years today. Today's the 31st, right? And one of the releases I'm sending out is about credit cards. So today it comes out that if you try to make a purchase on our site ... today, the 31st ... with a credit card that expires on a month with only thirty days ... our site will reject the credit card. And woe to the person with a credit card that expires in February, for that card cannot be used to make a purchase on the 29th, 30th, or 31st of the month. So I've been going around reciting that old nursery rhyme ("Thirty days hath September ...") while looking at various people's credit cards and trying to figure out if I can use them to finish testing my change (which is to verify that certain credit card types are no longer valid).

I just really can't imagine how anyone would have ever have imagined something like this happening. Bugs with February 29th or a year having 366 days, sure, but something that only happens seven times a year, and somehow has passed unnoticed for how long? Utterly bizarre!
webcowgirl: (Twit/ter)
I have to laugh because I just typed as an event the play "Three Days of Rain" into my Google calendar, and when I went to edit the details, the title of the play was now "Of Rain" and the event was three days long.

Exam done

Aug. 4th, 2008 04:53 pm
webcowgirl: (Default)
Am sitting at Staple Inn with its rosy fountain and peaceful benches (this is the very Elizabethan building on High Holborn next to the Chancery Lane entrances). Who'd think there'd be such a quiet space just off such a busy thoroughfare? At any rate, I scored 35 /40 on my test, a strong pass and much better than I'd done on the sample tests.Staple_Inn.jpgBoy, the roses here really smell nice.
webcowgirl: (Tiara)
Man, studying for a certification I just don't believe in is a TERRIBLE way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I am _only_ doing this to "walk the walk" since I'm now a manager and think that newbie testers have something to gain by spending enough time to learn the very basic concepts covered in it (and to use a vocabulary that is actually standardized in the UK, unlike the US where people argue about what a "regression" test really is, retesting a failed test case or running tests that verify software more widely - are you asleep yet?). But this damned cert doesn't show you know how to test at all - I've interviewed MANY people who could parrot back things in the test but when you applied them fell over their big clown shoes just like they were fresh out of the big top. I have maybe picked up two or three things in the book I spent my three days in Lyme Regis pouring through that I think I might be able to use back at the ranch, but that's a really low signal to noise ratio. I would have been way better off spending three days reading the books on stuff I'm really interested in, such as practical test case design and managing risk in projects. But no, instead I'm doing rote memorization of vocabulary words and trying to be 100% positive about the 15 components of the IEEE 829 test plan documentation set, which no one I know uses. AAAARGH

There is a wonderful little book by Jo Clayton I started reading on my way back from the trip (after I finished Madame Bovary), "The Snares of Ibex," which was so good it polluted my dreams last night with visions of evil half-cat women trapping Our Heroine in their planty lair, but instead I'm reading about the IEEE 829 blah blah blah (the book says, "Use SPACEDIRT as an acronym to help you remember the sections of the test plan!"). I also want to be sending out emails and updating my other blog with a review of the play last night, but if I don't pass this test it will be humiliating. It only needs to be 25 out of 40! AAARGH!!! I HAVE BEEN TESTING FOR A DECADE AND THIS DUMB LITTLE TEST IS NOT GOING TO PROVE I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING!

"Cyclomatic complexity," "LCSAJ," who cares! Does it matter what name you call the "role" various people might play in a code review? I SWEAR, until the day I die I will never require some bullshit cert as a proof of competence for a job! AAARGH!
webcowgirl: (Tiara)
Well. I'm going to not push myself today and have eliminated swimming in favor of going home and going to sleep early or something. I've even talked [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy out of his French class, which he didn't want to go to anyway, but when I said, "Yeah, but you've been doing homework for three days straight!" he completely caved. Yay for me, now I have company for dinner.

I'm spending Wednesday through Friday in Lyme Regis studying for my ISEB exam. This has caused me to spend a lot of time fooling around online today in search of free study materials, which led to a funny cartoon about Agile testing (which not very many people will find funny besides me and maybe five other people on my flist, but, oh well, everyone else makes World of Warcraft and Dr. Who jokes and I never get them). This "EvilTester" guy is pretty funny overall. I also found an article on testing in an Agile environment on another guy's website that starts from the premise that sometimes testers "brin[g] friction to an Agile environment." Hot, and so true! I'm interested to see if my current company will wind up implementing Agile this time around - and if we do, I want to be prepared.
webcowgirl: (TopBug)
Prize for useless help screen of the year goes to:

UselessPasswordHelp (19k image)

Yeah, thanks for that ...
webcowgirl: (Mano Poderosa)
I spent four hours today trying to do a simple XML post to the site at work. I thought my problems were that I didn't understand the naming conventions for the fields (because I was working with a foreign language site). I dug and I dug trying to figure it out.

Then it turns out the tool I was using was in fact the problem: it was incompatible with that website (something about only being able to do XML posts via SOAP for those of you who know what that means). Apparently what I had been trying to do to test it would have worked with any other website except for that one. So I spent hours and hours futzing with the data I was trying to put in (once I got something I thought would work), trying to make it exactly right (and thinking, surely I've just missed a little thing and that's why it's not working), and I was TOTALLY wasting my time.

I've accomplished almost nothing today. At least [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy and I went out and had a lovely lunch at Pu's Brasserie, the Most Unfortunately Named Restaurant In Central London (I even mention the possibility of "pus" brasserie until I looked at their URL), and lunch was really, really good, with a stunningly generous mixed appetizer starter in addition to the main (and no extra charge for rice).

I am now waiting for the videos of Hillary singing, "Soy un perdidador..." to come out on YouTube, but I think she just can't handle the concept.
webcowgirl: (HotTomato)
Well! What a day. I spent most of it working on my presentation of my StarEast experience for people at work. It was amazing to see just how much I'd learned in four days. And let's not forget how much I learned about manatees! I also got together with [livejournal.com profile] barakta for lunch at Thai Dream, around the corner. Yes, I actually slacked off and had a gym free lunch, but I'll be back tomorrow.

I also did a lot of online research about soem of the QA stuff from the conference. First, I found and evaluation of the cost of fixing bugs at various phases in the software development lifecycle; then I found the great video by the Powerpoint Comedian; finally I got entirely off topic and found an article about travelling in Salamanca, Spain from Rick Steves. Man, that looks good. I'm sure I'll make it eventually!

Now for leaving drinks with a colleague ...
webcowgirl: (Tiara)
Well, I've just finished up two talks, one "The ROI of Testing" (Shaun Bradshaw) and the second "Learning from th Past: Leveraging defect data" (Brian Robinson). The first one was emphasizing showing the financial benefits to be made from doing testing earlier in the process, rather than when Dev "throws it over the wall." He included several formulas that I think would be useful - defect injection rate, defect repair cost, test effectiveness - but unfortunately he went over it so fast I neither got the formula nor the usefulness. I guess I'll have to look at the slides and see if I can figure it out from there.

The second talk was dreamy, kind of a vision of what I would like to be doing for a living. It was a presentation of a big project this guy worked on, to analyze where the defects were coming in for a very large company's software product and then figure out, not just what could be done to reduce the defect introduction rate, but how to sell it to the people who needed to do it and the people who needed to pay for it. The bugs were broken down by criticality and origin area, and they came up with two easy ways to attack the most glaring bugs at the source: unit testing and code reviews. To be honest, the description of how he dealt with it politically was just as interesting to me as how he "fixed" the problem, because you can come up with all of the brilliant programs you want to and if you don't get buy in you're just blowing smoke out your **s. I want to figure out what kind of PhD this guy has and see if I can get one just like it.

Now it's time for lunch and I'm ravenous. Check in later after *gulp* my talk! (New theme: "She Blinded Me with Science.")
webcowgirl: (TopBug)
I'm a bit tired now and am already back at the hotel in preparation for completely rewriting my talk ... but here's a brief recap of today.

1. Made it to hotel on time in public transpo shocker, had yummy snax, then listened to a talk by James Whittaker on "Testing Dialogues in the Executive Suite." This turned out to be about something else entirely, basically, "What testing needs to evolve into being as the current state of software is unacceptable and we're supposed to have an even more computerized life in 20 years." He demoed a first person shooter hack as how he'd like testing to work ("Here's your enemies! And these are magnetic bullets to hit them with!"). He said his talk is online ... at www.msdn.com/testercenter, but don't be too suspicious about him being at Microsoft because he did teach testing at some college in Florida for a really long time and according to Lee Copeland his books are good enough to buy with your own money. (I will try to add more notes about his talk later, but probably not until tomorrow.)

2. Guy behind me said, "Hey, aren't you the American girl who moved to London?" and then proceeded to tell me he'd seen my blog and apparently spent enough time on it to recognize me from my pix. My. (Yesterday Mr. Copeland said, "Aren't you the Vonnegut expert?" because he'd Googled me and found the books I'd written on Amazon. Odd what traces you leave of yourself on the internet.)

3. Listened to Elizabeth Hendrickson's "Extreme Testing" talk, which was mostly full of, "Wow, I've worked on teams that aren't dysfunctional" to me (despite what she was actually talking about this is what I heard, a description of a beautiful world I've never lived in). She also had great "I'm a testing nut" rubber bracelets to give away which I'd like to get a hold of. Er, let's see, she recommended that testers in XP situations work with the developers and work with the customers - developers can put in things to help you test and customers can help you design your tests as well as providing feedback on the system themselves.

4. Went to the expo and got a multi-colored flashing luggage tag. Actually, I got two, but I'd like to get more. Also got some sort of AC/DC t-shirt ... actually it says AQ/TC and below it "for those about to test," but the font is AC/DC.

5. Went to a talk on Fundamentals of Data Warehouse testing by Mark Bloom, who works at Capitol One. I figured he'd know his stuff. Oddly he used to be a product manager - and he says old mainframe programmers are the best people to staff his team "because they used to code on 128K and they know how to drive data through the small pipes." It was a good talk and I wish he'd had a four hour session to really go over stuff. I got good recommendations on how to scrub data. He also encouraged people to have their business define what data elements are the ones that need to be kept secure when you need to test against production-like data rather than using your own judgment.

6. Lunch - soft tacos and enchiladas, chips and salsa and flan and coconut cream cake. Yum. I gave a woman I was sitting next to the five minute version of my talk so she could go to the one she wanted to that was at the same time, in exchange for a promise from her to give me the info from that talk later.

7. Books - bought $150 worth after getting work to promise to pay for $100 of them. Oops. Saw the woman I mentioned on my blog a year ago (Lisa Crispin) and thanked her for inspiring me to submit a paper for the conference.

8. 1:45 - "Growing our industry: cultivating testing" by Isabel Evans, who is English. She has a degree in horticulture and used this as a metaphor to say that QA really ought to have better certification than it does now. I did not agree that people needed to be certified but I certainly think the current system is a waste of time, an opinion which I shared with her during the Q&A.

9. "Testing Disasters and Turnarounds," Randall Rice. I couldn't avoid this talk for obvious reasons - I love other people's horror stories. Basically, companies with no documentation and constant changes are pretty likely to be falling appart, and when you're trying to come up with a solution for the problems, it's useful to do it as a series of things that take place over different timescales - but if you can't get management buy-in, you're hosed. Enjoyable!

Then it was 4 PM and I was BEAT and wanted to actually get to the hotel before the sun was setting so headed back. Nap time now, then I'll have a swim and get a room service pizza and work on my paper ...
webcowgirl: (TopBug)
I'm in an all-day session today on how to write good test cases, led by Lee Copeland (who didn't hassle me about being an hour late, thank God). I'm short on time to write but a useful lesson from this morning's session is that if you do a diagram of business rules, a graph, you will frequently find that there are cases which are not addressed in the spec or the code (I'll demonstrate later).

I also talked to the guy who led yesterday morning's estimation talk and he recommended I cut my slide set down to about 20. It'll mean I miss stuff, but it will also mean I will not run out of time in the middle. He said to put other stuff in "bonus sections" at the end that I can use if I have extra time. I think that's a great idea!

Right, session starting now, and we're covering some kind of test analysis technique I've never heard of before and thus can't say the name of now. Will check in later around 5:30 or so.
webcowgirl: (Default)
My second session, "System testing with an attitude," didn't really hit it for me. Supposedly we were being given a template for designing end to end cases, but what I wasn't seeing was how to deal with the situation where we didn't have good data about how real users would use the system - just vague use cases we are expected to test as best we can. And there were some notes in the presentation about "influencing the behavior in others" that weren't fully fleshed out and I suspect very important.

I also learned over lunch from a former Air Force guy that there are no fly zones on US maps marked as "Turkey Farms." He said he asked someone, "That's great, really funny. But what are they?" And the guy said, "Turkey farms. Turkeys are nervous birds. If you fly too low, they will freak out and die."
webcowgirl: (TopBug)
I'm going to do little updates. I'll poll about putting them behind a cut tag, but as I know you all know how to use a scroll bar ....

The first talk I went to for the conference is/was "Measurement and metrics for test managers." This is a subject near and dear to my heart as when you're a manager, you get asked all of the time: how long will it take to do this? How are things going? How long is left? How did the project go? Test status reports and test estimation have been my lifeblood in QA and I find them fascinating.

The talk hit two points which I thought very useful. One was how to measure code quality, a puzzle I've debated over for ages. I have never worked in an organization where I could get numbers for lines of code, so how was I to say how good it was when I didn't know what I was measuring against? All I could do was say how many bugs. But I got the idea of doing number of bugs versus hours of development, and now I can see that I can have some numbers that actually relate back to the size of the project in a way I consider valid.

The other idea was knowing how good the testing is, which is done after the project is done when you are finding out how many bugs are found after release. This requires access to the external bugs information. But apparently you can use this data to calculate a percentage of bugs missed over time, ie bugs found by QA / bfbQA + bNOTfbyQA. Industry standard is 85% - but after just one project I'll have an estimate for MY company, and I can predict what the bNOTfbyQA is for the next project once I've got the percentage.

I am very excited about both of these things.

Lunch was fine and some nice people invited me to eat with them so it wasn't too lonely. The jet lag is hurting me a little right now and I need some tea, but for now I'm going to run upstairs and get right on "System testing with an attitude."

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webcowgirl

April 2011

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