Category Archives: Testing

EuroSTAR 2011 Program Team

When Geoff Thompson asked me to join his EuroSTAR 2011 Program Team I did not hesitate to say “Yes“. If only I had known how much work it was going to be I might have reconsidered. It did however give me one of my best Tweets ever at a testing conference, “Oh no! The smoke machine has failed.” Was it fun? Probably . . . .

Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors – Photo: R. Marselis

This is the grand opening. As you can see, the conference chair, Geoff, was totally engulfed in smoke.  To set the scene: The auditorium lights were turned down. The smoke machine was turned on. All that the audience could hear was  a hissing as smoke filled the stage.  Then Thin Lizzy started up. As the band hit “The Boys are Back In Town” the 4 members of the team, Geoff, Derk-Jan, Morten and I, had walked from behind the screen, out of the darkness to the front of the stage, and  were illuminated by four very bright spotlights.

It’s one way to start a testing conference.

Throughout the week the day was started with a Hello Manchester session, which included all sorts of amusements and insights form the program team, et al.

The closing session was also fun, organised by Morten, and included a raffle for a place at the following years conference which involved little bugs hidden in the backs of the seats.

Men In Black - Photo: R. Marselis

Men In Black – Photo: R. Marselis

I really can’t remember very much of the conference, apart form the fact that the program team were very busy.  If you were there I hope you enjoyed it 🙂

Presented at:

EuroSTAR 2011, Manchester, Nov 2011.

The Testers Toolbox – Seven Powerful Cognitive Techniques

aka 7 Things You Might Not Know – (But May Find Really Useful)

Abstract:

This workshop will take you on a magical journey through some very useful but mostly unknown tools for perception and comprehension which will aid you in your daily testing life.

Building on the Graham’s previous work in the field, and his the enthusiasm for the subject, this workshop will you on a 90-minute journey of mind opening discovery, looking at 7 key but often overlooked tools.

Stroop effect

Stroop effect

The tools, and their techniques are easy, fun to learn, and very powerful to use. And they will help you in mastering testing in the industry’s currently very demanding transition from that of a structured V-model history to a leaner, more agile and exploratory approach.

The seven techniques that will be covered in the workshop are:

Gall-Peters Projection – a different but more accurate way to look at the world
Popper’s Theory of Testability – a powerful tool to scope testing
Mind Control – finally proof that your mind is not you own!
The Stroop Effect – a powerful mechanisms that can control your behaviour
The Necker Cube – what you see is not what I see!
The Spinning Dancer – the whole may look different to the detail
e-prime – how to communicate experience rather than judgement

The workshop will explain each technique through demonstration and interaction, followed by a discussion of the power of the technique and an insight into its most effective use.

The session will be highly interactive, directly involving the delegates in all of the exercises to give them a first-hand experience of each technique that they will be able to take back to their workplace.

Downloads:

PowerPoint NeckerCubeSmall      pdf

Presented at:

1. UK TMF, London, Apr 2010 (Workshop)
2. BCS SIGiST, London, Sep 2010 (Workshop)
3. EuroSTAR, Copenhagen, Dec 2010 (Workshop)

Notes:

The UK TMF workshop was co-hosted with Isabel Evans – Find out more about Isabel here.

Test Process Improvement – Answering the Big Questions!

Abstract:

A lot of people talk about improving the testing process, but very few people actually answer the BIG questions, such as:

Why? Is it just to save money, or do it quicker?

How? Do we follow an accepted method – TPI, TMMI? Are there change methodologies we can use?

What? Is it just automating test execution? What about planning, preparation, measurement and metrics, etc.?

Where and When? So where in our organisations, large and small, do we do this? And when is the best time?

Who? Is this just a testing team initiative? Do we need help? Who else is involved?

It is easy to ask the BIG questions but what we really want to know are the answers! This session will work through these questions to draw useful conclusions from the group’s collective experience.

Downloads:

PowerPoint  Workshop      PowerPoint NeckerCubeSmall Keynote      pdf

Presented at:

1. UK TMF Summit, London, Jan 2010 – (Workshop)
2. Soft Test Ireland, Belfast, Dublin, & Galway, Nov-Dec 2011 (Keynote)
3. Belgium Test Days, Brussels, Mar 2012
4. expo:QA 12, Madrid, Jun 2012 (Keynote)

How to Suspend Testing and Still Succeed – A True Story

Abstract:

This presentation covers a case study from a large testing program for a member bank which was part of the UK Faster Payments Infrastructure.

Graham will tell the story of a testing programme that was destined to fail, but ultimately succeeded.

He will give practical details of what went wrong, explain why testing had to be suspended, and discuss how with no real hope of recovery the team managed to set and meet their resumption requirements, and ultimately complete their testing on time.

He will explain the background to the project, the testing strategy that was devised and the programme organisational control structure.

He will also tell the story of what happened during test execution. Identify where things started to go wrong, how this was identified, and what measures were taken to ensure a successful resolution.

He will go into the detail of the challenges that the testing team, and the program were daily presented with when testing was suspended. And tell how innovation, ingenuity and perseverance, against all the odds,  won the day.

This is a real ‘war story’, from the testing front line, with valuable hard won experience, and is told in the very real hope that will benefit all who hear it.

Downloads:

PowerPoint

Presented at:

1. Expo:QA 09, Madrid, Sep 2009
2. BCS SIGiST, London, Sep 2010
3. Belgium Test Days, Brussels, Feb 2011
4. Czech Test, Prague, Jun 2014

A Hitch-hikers Guide to the Software Testing Galaxy

Abstract:

As Douglas Adams wrote in his book The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, “Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how mind-bogglingly big it is.”

Well, the galaxy of software testing isn’t quite that big, but it is large, getting larger every day, and can be very confusing to begin with.  So how do we navigate safely through the software testing galaxy and keep up with its expansion?

This presentation will take the audience through the software testing galaxy, in the style of the Guide, describing the major testing constellations of; methods, skills, processes, tools, and measurement and giving advice on best practice for each.  This will be presented as a 3D mind-map visualisation, an exciting way to view and zoom into mind-maps.

The book was written from the original radio series in the late 1970’s, became a television series, and recently a Hollywood blockbuster film.  The plot was interspersed, in a funny way, with Douglas Adams’s experiences of Computing and Management methodology of the time.  He was quite visionary, in that the Guide was a brilliant prediction of how useful internet search engines and mobile computing would become, and with the new range of lightweight and powerful mobile devices, combined with Google and Wikipedia we are fast approaching his vision. These insights have never been more relevant, current, and useful than in today’s fast changing world.

He was also very observant, and this presentation will draw out some very useful and humorous behavioural analogies for software testing, including; towels, Vogon poetry, digital watches and more, using video clips as powerful illustrations. 

The delegates will be able to take away;

1) an overview of the Software Testing Galaxy,
2) a recommendation for good practice & what to avoid, and also
3) learn some very useful behavioural analogies.

Downloads:

PowerPoint    includes You_Tube videos

Presented at:

1. BCS SGST, London – Sep 2009
2. UNICOM, Next Gen, London – Nov 2009 (Keynote)
3. czech test, Prague, Mar 2011 (Keynote)

Program Test Management – A Survival Kit

(aka Testing in large programs)

Abstract:

Using practical experience from several large testing programs this presentation will illustrate effective techniques for successful Program Test Management, presented in the form of A Survival Kit.

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

Why is this needed?  Well although the role of Program Test Manager is now firmly established in the sphere of testing, generally in large test organisations or on large many 10s or 100s of millions of dollar value programs, there isn’t a clear view of what the role is, how to perform it, or what success looks like.

Should the Program Test Manager be an über-manager in control of everything, or is this role more of an aggregation and reporting function? This presentation will look at the expectations for the role, and how these can be markedly different.

It also shares the critical factors for successful program test management, including oversight of the testing products and deliverables; matrix management of test managers; stakeholder, milestone, resource, and dependency management; and the softer but vital skills of influence and negotiation with very senior managers.

The talk will be illustrated by examples from real life, relating experience gained on several large testing programs which build into a practical model (or survival kit), easily understood by all, covering the key test management areas of organization, people, process, tools, and metrics—that your organization can adapt for its needs.

The delegates will be able to take away;

1) Effective techniques for Program Test Management,
2) Hard won lessons learnt from practical experience, and
3) A practical model (A Survival Kit) for Program Test Management.

Downloads:

PowerPoint          Webinar  EuroSTAR Webinar (Test Huddle logon required)

Presented at:

1. StarWEST, Anaheim – Sep 2008
2. EXPO’QA:09, Madrid, Oct 2009
3. EuroSTAR, Stockholm, Dec 2009
4. EuroSTAR, Webinar, Mar 2010

The EuroSTAR Testing Quiz

EuroSTAR 2008 was in Den Haag, the home town of conference chair Bob van de Burgt.

At the previous EuroSTAR, 2006, in Stockholm, Bob had asked me to join his program committee and help put together the conference. I of course said yes. There was one other request, that Geoff and I give another Quiz show.

That was more problematic because we had announced our retirement . . . but after a bit of persuasion we agreed.

We were struggling for a new format, having already done Weakest Link, Mastermind, and Test the Nations.  We didn’t have any technology this time either. So we decided to pit a team from of Benelux All Stars against a UK Challengers team !!!   We also decided to make this a quiz of quizzes. So included Millionaire, paying homage to David Hayman who first ran the game at EuroSTAR in Copenhagen. Weakest Link, where we voted off one contestant from each team, and a round of Call My Bluff – worth it for the theme music alone.

It turned out that the Benelux All Stars took it all rather more seriously than the UK challengers, no surprise there then, and they ran out worthy winners – with more money given to charity. Embarrassment and shame befell the UK challengers – You know who you are.

The EuroSTAR Testing Quiz

The EuroSTAR Testing Quiz

Had we known beforehand how much effort it was going to be, to do 5 different quiz formats in one, we would have done something simpler.  Retirement from Quiz Shows was reconfirmed and permanent.

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR 2008, Den Haag, Nov 2008.

What Influences Me In Software Testing – Workshop

Abstract:

I would like to share, in the form a workshop, the things that influence me in software testing.  The aim is to look at everything that currently influences me in the field of software testing, in the hope that it will also influence the audience.  There are a number of areas to look at:

Latest theories
Practical experience
Schools and approaches
Methods and techniques
Analogies and similarities
Books vs. blogs
The thinkers of our time
Popular culture
And lots of other things  .  .  .  .  .

With the aim that through a series of highly interactive activities, the workshop will build a mind map of influences for software testing, that can be shared and may be of use to others.

No advance preparation is required, other than to bring an open mind.  There is no prerequisite skill level.  All are welcome, but be prepared to contribute.

Downloads:

PowerPoint      MindMap   Mind map from TMF Summit

Presented at:

1. BCS SIGiST, London – June 2008
2. UK TMF Summit, London – Jan. 2009

Test The EuroSTAR Nations

When Geoff and I had the initial discussion at the UK Testing Retreat about The Weakest Testing Link Stuart Reid asked why we weren’t doing a variant on Test The Nation.  I think at the time we said it was too hard, would require too much technology, and couldn’t be done at a testing conference.

Stuart was chair of EuroSTAR 2007, and he decide that it could be done!  He arranged for each member of the audience to have a handset which they could use for direct audience feedback.

On the Wednesday there were two interactive sessions. Early afternoon a survey session run by Dot Graham and Mark Fewster, and in the evening, Test the EuroSTAR Nations run by Geoff Thompson and myself.

Well done to Stuart for arranging the technology. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite that easy for the presenters. In the months preceding the conference Geoff and I and several meetings with the  company that supplied the technology.  We built a quiz slide deck, then waited to integrate it with the handset technology. And waited. And waited.  Finally on the day of the ‘show‘ we met the person who was running things behind the scenes.  And had one, yes just one, run through of the technology before we went live.

Geoff also wanted to walk up to the stage and arrive at exactly the moment that Thin Lizzy hit ‘The Boys Are  Back In Town‘.  It worked a treat.

Test The EuroSTAR Nations

Test The EuroSTAR Nations

It had been hard work, quite stressful, but great fun.  After 3 quiz shows Geoff and I decided to retire and let someone else take up the reigns.

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR 2007, Stockholm, Dec 2007.

Grand Testing Master Theory – A Workshop

Abstract:

Recent research has shown that when a chess Grand Master is briefly shown a chess board, and then asked an hour later to remember the position of the pieces on the board, that they can do so with a surprisingly high degree of accuracy.

Chess BoardWhat the research has discovered is that when a chess Grand Master looks at the board, they don’t recognise the positions of the individual pieces, but that they remember clusters of pieces. So they would remember a cluster around the King, around the Queen, and other key pieces. The best remember clusters that overlap and can show them the whole board. With that understanding of the cluster, and a great level of experience the Grand Master can also work out how the pieces came to be in that position by predicting the moves with a high degree of accuracy.

This is in comparison to beginners or less experienced chess players who remember the individual pieces or maybe smaller clusters, but not the whole board, and then can not work out the preceding moves.

Sounds very interesting but how can the theory be applied to Software Testing?

Mind Mapping is a process that many of us are familiar with, and is well suited for representing clustered information. The aim is to run a workshop with experienced testers, such as those that attend EuroSTAR, to produce Software Testing Mind Maps that cluster together their knowledge of testing and the relationships between the testing entities. In this way an overlapping model can quickly be built up that shows the key relationships between the areas of the testing discipline.

This can be shared and validated with others, and can be extremely useful, especially for testers just starting out in the industry because they will have a representation of the software testing world which will show them for each area not only the things they already know, but many of the other things to consider as well.  This may also be useful in diagnosing problems, understanding the current situation, and planning the next steps forward.

This is the first step in getting many testers to produce individual Testing Mind Maps which can then be brought together to add to the Software Testing Body Of Knowledge which will have use for the whole industry.

Participants should be prepared for this session to be; informative, fun, challenging & rewarding, with the very real possibility of benefiting the whole testing industry.

Downloads:

PowerPoint      MindMap

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR, Stockholm – Dec. 2007