Thursday at STPCon in Nashville was an interesting day for me.  It was certainly the shortest as far as conference stuff went, which was probably a good thing.  When I woke up, with the body still on “Eastern Time” and not “Central Time” I knew it was going to be a physically rough day.  The head cold I was fighting was not letting up and the voice was threatening to simply go away. 

So, I sucked down a couple cups of coffee, some juice,  some cold-tablets to try and lessen the “ick” feeling and carried on.

First order of business was the “Speed Geeking Breakfast Bytes” – The topic I had submitted was “Stepping Up to Leadership: Lessons Learned from Harry Potter.”  Yes, I found a way to work Harry Potter into a testing conference.  This was a “test” run of a longer presentation I was working on around technical leadership, or becoming a leader without having either “Lead” or “Manager” in your title.  I’d had an outline and a set of talking points in place and took the opportunity to squeeze this into an 8 minute presentation (complete with Power Point slide deck!)

The idea of the “breakfast bytes” was to give the same 8 minute talk to three different groups.  I made it though it – made reference to the other tables and their presentations and almost had a voice by the end.  I think folks like the ideas and saw later there were tweets on some of them – Cool!  Thanks Tweeps! 

I fortified myself with yet more coffee and a couple more glasses of juice then caught Selena Delesie’s presentation “Showing the Value of Testing.”  I really enjoyed the core of the presentation and the lively discussion during and after.  Much tweeting from this session! 

As the conference ended at Noon, and I was not leaving until the next morning. I decided that the wisest course of action was a nap.  I never take naps.  So, the boss and lady-wife (who had come down with us and had managed to see sights around Nashville and go to the social events with us) went shopping for the elusive boots and I stretched out. 

A couple hours later, feeling much refreshed, I checked email, dealt with a couple of lingering day-job items then went to see what kind of trouble I could find. 

Lo and behold!  Here was James Bach with dice with Michael Czeisperger and Gabe Wharton.  Being the un-shy person I have become, I joined in.  It was interesting watching how James handled the interactions and compared the “results analysis” with other folk I have seen do the same “introductory game.”  It was enlightening in many ways. 

Additionally, as the idea of observing and not participating is one I do not particularly care for, I soon had a set of dice as well.  So, James deftly handled this newcomer with an interesting variation.  I knew something was up when his notebook came out and was written in quickly.  It turns out that my initial behavior gave him an idea for a new set of rules.  When that was resolved, we compared my definition of the new game with his written note.  Close enough to say they matched – a slight change in phrasing was the only difference with no change in meaning.

On a related note, I brought the same game to the first team meeting after the conference.  Volunteers only, mind you.  Three folks dove in and gleefully experienced the frustration and learning and critical thinking that it takes to solve these types of puzzles.  In the end, they each reached the same conclusions by unique methods.  That is a topic for another blog post, however.

Gabe was flying out shortly, however, James and Michael were not leaving until the next day.  The boss, the lady-wife and I had plans to have dinner with Michael, as James was also unattached for the evening, we invited him as well. 

The five of us had one of the most enjoyable nights I can remember with a bunch of testers.  The conversation ran from education to schooling to un-schooling to testing to philosophy to learning to heuristics to beliefs back to testing (briefly) to the qualities of various red wines (we were in a steak house for dinner) to boots and the benefits of the various materials boots can be made from to the difference between hats and caps and jackets and coats and how cultural norms and more’s can be touched by those definitions and impact what is considered “proper” behavior.

Needless to say, the evening flew by.