OK, so tomorrow is day one of the 2011 CAST conference. And I’m thinking that it would be a good idea to at least take a look at the available sessions and have somewhat of an idea about which ones I will attend.

The first decision point is the 10:45 – 12:00 slot. There are three advertised sessions:

  • Paul Holland’s “agile” Test Teams (Even in a N0n-agile World)
    I guess from the title, he means “little a” agile. The blurb in the program includes what looks like an endorsement from Michael Bolton so this one is worth considering. It also states that Paul will be sharing “his methodologies, planning & tracking strategies, metrics and documentation techniques.” As a test manager, the description of this session appeals to me.
  • Chris Bain’s Trouble in the Mind: Troubleshooting Skills for Fortune and Glory
    The program’s description says this session will be about “troubleshooting methodologies, books, and tools” that have helped him learn to  be a better troubleshooter. I considered this session more before I read the bio which says “He believes in the form of software development espoused by Gerald Weinberg, rather than the named processes so popular today which secretly draw from Fredrick Taylor and destroy the soul of the industry and those who work in it.” Feels a little “conspiracy theory” to me so I probably won’t pick this session.
  • Markus Gartner(there’s an umlaut over the “a” in the last name)’s Paths for Self-Education in Software Testing
    “emerging techniques (that) value collaborative learning approaches over certification, thereby forming communities of software testing professionals.” sounds interesting. I know from twitter and other internet venues that Markus has something to say about testing dojos. If I were an IC tester I might pick this session but I think Paul Holland’s session is the one I’ll pick. I hope I will have a chance to meet Markus over the course of the conference though. I’ve been impressed by some of his writing.

There’s also Emerging topics so I’ll have to find out what emerges there.

For the 1:00 – 2:15 slot, the three scheduled sessions are:

  • *Now* What’s Your Plan (Henrik Andersson)
    I met Henrik at the AYE conference a couple of years ago and from the description it looks like this session might be similar to AYE-type sessions. This one might be interesting.
  • Computer-Aided Expl0ratory Testing (Harry Robinson)
    I can’t be sure but I think I may have seen this session already (at SASQAG?). Probably I won’t attend this one.
  • Weekend Testing: Skilled Software Testing Unleashed (Ajay Balamurugadas)
    Weekend Testing is a very cool idea that seems to be catching on. Ajay is the third guy I’ve heard of who is a student of the mysterious Miagi-Do School. This also might be interesting.

I might just flip a coin between Henrik’s and Ajay’s session tomorrow. Or maybe some Emerging topic will catch my interest.

At 2:20 – 3:30, there’s:

  • What Do Auditors Expect From Testers: Audit Survival Heuristics (Griffin Jones)
    I attended a BBST course with Griffin and his enthusiasm impressed me a lot. On the other hand, I don’t work in a context that involves auditors so I probably won’t attend this course. I hope to meet Griffin sometime during the conference, though.
  • Economics of Automation (Matt Heusser)
    The description of this session sounds compelling to me. I agree that we don’t address questions about value enough in the world of software testing. And I’ve been on teams where that really hurt the team and ultimately the product. This is the session I will probably attend.
  • Telling a Compelling Testing Story (Ben Kelly)
    This session sounds interesting (as does the presenter’s bio) but I wonder what new things I will learn from it given that I recently took the BBST bug advocacy course and am also attending Michael Bolton’s all-day tutorial on test framing.

After the afternoon break (3:45 – 5:00), the sessions are:

  • Building a Deeper Community of Practice: How to Organize a Peer Conference (Paul Holland)
  • Vendor Meets User: the Hexawise Design Tool and a Tester Who Tried to Use it in Real Life (Justin Hunter)
  • How to Coach Testers Using Skype (Anne-Marie Charrett)

Alright, this particular slot sucks. I really want to attend all 3… I love the idea of learning more about how to organize a peer conference. The Hexawise session also sounds interesting and I like the idea of the vendor and a user will both be a part of the presentation. And coaching testers using Skype also sounds interesting – I’m thinking if I attend this one I may gain some learning about how to coach testers irrespective of whether we are using Skype or not. I may have to flip my 3-headed coin on this one.

It will be a long day – I plan to stay until the end of the testing competiton. And then I’ll have to figure out what session to attend on day 2…