As the year wraps up, I’m spending a bit of time sipping coffee and looking back on the last year.

There have been some changes, sure – I actually took a full time position in July (for those who missed the subtle notice then) with Gordon Food Service in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Still, my role remains much the same – help them do better testing.  In doing so, Ive been on a deep dive looking at how testing is done – now I need to figure out what the next steps need to be and work on making them happen.

Simple, eh?

Looking Back –

The local tester meetup is continuing to help me learn and share ideas locally. I am grateful to all the usual suspects who get me to think about things I often would not otherwise consider.

By sifting through my blog posts from the last year, I expect you’ll get an idea of some of the things I’ve been thinking about or trying to work through in my head.  It is probably easier, and shorter, to simply point you there.

So, I guess that brings me to Conferences. Most of them I captured in live blogging (or almost-live blogging) at the time.  If you want to go back and read them, by all means, do.

Let’s see – the first conference I participated in this past year was in JuneNordic Testing Days in Tallinn, Estonia. It is a very good conference in a very nice, historic city. Loads to see and do – the National Parliament building, museums and many fine shops, restaurants and the like.

The most important thing I remember from this, and other conferences, are the people.  Folks like Huib Schoots, Dan Billings, Stephen Janaway, Peter Varhol, Gerie Owen, Gitte Ottosen, Rob Lambert, Raimond Sinivee, Raji Bhamadipati, Helena Jeret-Mae, Ruud Cox, Bill Mathews, Kristjan Karmo, Irina Ivanova, Rob Lambert, Aleksis Tulonen, Andrei Contan, Rikard Edgren, Martin Nilsson… loads of people worth meeting, getting to know in person, renewing acquaintances with…

August had me participating in CAST. The 2014 edition of the Conference of the Association for Software Testing was in New York City, in August. This conference, for me anyway, was unlike most conferences I’ve been to or participated in. I spent three days at the Registration table, checking people in, answering questions, directing people to where they are trying to go – and running the odd errand for speakers. Really, it was a pile of work and great fun all around.

One thing that makes CAST interesting is that people attending like hanging with other participants – even when they don’t know them (at least when they start chatting.) The Sunday night before the conference, there were 15 people from the conference hanging out talking, having pizza and other food, and having a laugh or three over beer, wine or …whatever. The fun part was, none of that was planned.

This is topped only by the hallway meetings and conversations that can last 3 minutes or 3 hours. And CAST this year was no exception for me – Let’s see- time with Fiona Charles, Erik Davis (and his crew from Hyland Software – these folks get it), Huib Schoots, James Bach, Griffon Jones, Matt Heusser, Karen Johnson, Michael Bolton, Selena Delesie, Michael Larsen, James Christie, Richard Bradshaw, Smita Mishra, John Stevenson, and … the list just goes on.

The simple thing is, solid ideas can be discussed and shared with colleagues, new and old, given half a chance.

In October, I was at StarWest, in Anaheim, California. Yeah – Disneyland. I had not been there before and was not quite sure what to expect. 

Aside from the lovely weather and nice venue (the Disneyland Hotel – yeah, its nice) It was very nice seeing familiar faces – Michael Bolton, Rob Sabourin, James Christie, Jon Bach, Griffon Jones, Martin Nilsson, Ben Simo, Paul Holland. It was also good to meet some new folks, like Julie Gardner and Rob’s lovely and charming wife Anna.

There were many people I had great conversations with like, well, there were the nice people I had a glass of wine with one night, and talked about recruiting and training and motivating people – I’d tell you their names except, well  – OK folks – I don’t remember all your names – BRING BUSINESS CARDS AND HELP ME REMEMBER!!!!!!! (ahem – sorry)

November (sheesh, sounding like quite the jet-setter!) found me in Potsdam, Germany for Agile Testing Days. This was an amazingly rewarding trip this year. it was unlike any I’ve been to before. I was crazy busy – like CRAZY busy. Some of it you can see from the blog posts from the conference. Some of it – well – to quote the great, inspirational tester Conan the Barbarian, “Time enough for sleep in the grave.”  Let me just say that 15 minute naps help a great deal.

People – Oh my, where to begin – The wonderful staff from the conference – Jose Diaz, Madeleine Greip, Uwe Gelfert, Maik Nogens – they were everywhere doing everything – and still made time for you to feel like the most important person at the conference.

I had conversations with loads of people – some planned, some unplanned. Chats, unplanned but not un-hoped for with Bob Marshall (@Flowchainsensei), Meike Mertsch, Jean Paul Varwick, Huib Schoots (AGAIN!), Darryn Downey and the crazy folks from Paddy Power, Dan Ashby, Emma Armstrong, Chris George and the folks from Redgate, Tony Bruce, Selena Delesie (and her wonderfully charming son!), Markus Gaertner, Andreas Grabner, Bill Matthews, Carl Schaulis, Lars Sjodahl, George Dinwiddie, Richard Bradshaw, Alan Richardson, and, and… and more. Loads of people (can ya tell?)

Then there were the planned chats. I was asked to “interview” selected speakers and participants from the conference. What would you chat about with Janet Gregory, Lisa Crispin, Joe Justice (from Scrum, Inc.), Matt Heusser, Maik Nogens, Jose Diaz,and the members of Cesar Brazil?

Who? Team Cesar Brazil! The winners of the Software Testing World Cup (STWC) championship! Smart, Bright, Intelligent people – and very, very nice – An excellent combination. The team consisted of Alessandra Cursino, Jose Carrera, Melissa Pontes and Rodrigo Cursino. A lovely conversation.

So, 15 to 20 minutes or so of chatting over three days was loads of fun. The interviews were recorded and I expect will be available shortly.

One other thing – I tried to have informal chats with ALL the competitors in the Finals of the STWC. The folks were friendly and smart – if they reflect the future of testing, I have hopes that future will be bright:
Army Ants from Romania, consisted of Ileana Brodeala, Lavinia Cazacu, Sanda Cristina Pop, Irina Savescu. OK, The name for the team was inspired by Big Bang Theory – very fun.
Teststar from China, consisted of Nicole Niu, Humphrey Chen, Eva Hao and Harris Wei.  A very bright and talented group of testers.
Quadcore from Canada (Kitchener-Waterloo, ON) was made up of Shivani Handa, Shuman Ip, Persis Newton and Richard Bouffard. 
The Annunciation from New Zealand consisted of Joshua Uriele, Joseph Walker, Henry Ashton-Martyn and Mark Tokumaru. Very out-going gents with good thinking skills and very friendly.
Open Box from South Africa was Andrew Thompson, Carin Eaton, Delicia Oliver and Ryan Hill. Right. These folks were outgoing, welcoming, ready to learn and have a great time.

To each of the people from the teams, particularly those of you I was able to have longer conversations with, remember that you have good skills and wonderful gifts. Share them. Write, speak, help others learn. I look forward to hearing great things about you all.

Looking Forward – 

For me this coming year, I can safely say things will be a bit dif
ferent. I am not looking forward to what is coming.  I am planning on fewer conference this year – I am looking forward to some new adventures.

One of those adventures is chairing CAST – the Conference of the Association for Software Testing.  The 2015 edition will be in Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 3-5. Look for more on that in this blog as we get closer.

There will be more articles coming, and more sharing by other methods.

It is the conversations and connections that mean so much to me, and help me learn more about testing every day. Thank you for sharing my journey so far.  Won’t you continue along with me in the future?

I look forward to the company –