I’m in Colorado on vacation, but waiting in a auto shop to get our minivan repaired.

Why are we in Colorado? My family is taking the long way home from the Conference for the Association for Software Testing — yes — driving from Seattle, Washington to West Michigan over a couple of weeks. It seems the rocky mountains were a bit much for our transmission … at least the second time through.
I’ve been meaning to do a wrap-up post on CAST, and it seemed like a good time.
First off, CAST was amazing. Jon and James Bach did an impressive job attracting some of the best minds around, then created a format to set them free. The highlight for the conference for me was not the few talks I gave, but instead the Test Competition on Monday night. From 6PM to 10PM we self-organized into teams, attacked a piece of software, filed bugs, and, at the end of the night, produced a test report.
As an organizer of the conference (I helped organize the Emerging Topics Track, along with Pete Walen), I was ineligible to win a prize. If I joined a team and competed, that would make my team ineligible for any cash prizes — and the prizes totalled fourteen hundred dollars. So when the Miagi-Do students formed a team, I tried to stay hands off. I thought I’d hang out with some folks, maybe grab a beverage with Pete Walen.
I’m afraid it did not turn out that way.
Instead, the members of the team — Ajay Balamurugadas, Michael Larsen, Markus Gaertner, Adam Yuret, Justin Hunter, and Elena Houser — insisted that they’d rather test with me than win a cash prize.
How do you turn that down?
So I played on the team. Along the way, several people expressed concern; after all, here I was, a conference organizer. Didn’t I know the rules? Didn’t my team know the rules?
It turns out, we did. We were playing for something else … for love of the game.
I felt I could not refuse. Our team did well. Markus, Michael, and Elena all have blog posts on it; Adam tells me he has blog post in the works.
The rest of the conference, though, was pretty much a blur.
Oh, in a sense, I accomplished a big personal goal. I was elected to sit on the board of directors for the Association for Software Testing and gave my three talks without having some sort of terrible accident; most people seem to think they were helpful.
In another sense, I’m afraid my CAST experience was a mix of indebtedness and regret.
I feel in debt because of all the work people did on my behalf to make things come out well. While I proposed Emerging Topics and put the framework in place, it was Pete Walen that did the heavy lifting and acted as facilitator. Then there was the audio for my talk, that Ben Yaroch and Tim Coulter put together on no-notice. (Ben found me an audio cord to go from my computer to the project, that I failed to give back. Then I found my presentation was in a different room with different equipment, and Tim, my facilitator, ran and bought me speakers during my talk, before I needed audio. Did I mention that I was on a mac and Jon Bach brought the converter to get the video connection to work?)
Seriously. Amazing.
Then there was Michael Bolton, Jon Bach, Markus, Justin Hunter, Anne-Marie Charrett, Selena Delesie, and a few people from the audience that participated in the “How to Reduce the Cost of Software Testing” panel on Tuesday:

If you are noticing the same names again and again, you’re on to something. Like I said, in debt. The panel self-organized, the whole thing came off without a hitch, because of the contributions of the panel members and the interaction with the audience.

Regret because of the people I missed. Despite arriving on Sunday at 4:30PM and sticking around until Tuesday at 5:00PM, there just wasn’t enough time to catch up with everyone.
I did manage to have a few minutes with Gary Masnica, only because he picked me up at the airport. I got to talk to Griffin Jones a bit, and most of the people above because, well, we had conference business to run. Yet between Selena, Lanette, Lynn Mckee, Anne-Marie, and Pete, I have to admit my conversations were the sort of quick, dash-and-run conference conversations that I am really not a fan of.
I barely got to shake Felipe’s hand, I couldn’t make Greg McNelly’s session and barely got time to poke my head into Markus’s. I even missed Gerodie Keitt’s testing improv session and didn’t really get a chance to talk to him, either.
In other words, if you were disappointed at my participating in CAST, well … so was I.
I blame Jon and James: They assembled a group of people so awesome that it was not humanly possible for me to catch up with them all. I didn’t even mention the keynotes yet, or other conference material …
I suppose, if the bar for conferences continues to be set this high, that’s something I’ll just have to get used to.
Still, the good news is we’ll get more chances. Many of these folks will be at STPCon, where I’ll be staying four days.
Plus there is always 2012, more conferences, and, just maybe, Test Coach Camp.
More to come.
I can’t wait!