leaving on a jet plane

If you haven’t heard CAST 2016 is going on next week.

Last year, I got caught up in following the live stream of the conference. Between the real-time stream and setting up tweetdeck to follow the conference hashtag, it was great since you get to still feel involved even if you can’t be there in person. I completely geeked out on it last year and started going through some of the previous years recordings on the AST youTube Channel as well.

The live stream is available this year as well, but if it was that good over the internet I wanted more. Thanks to my current employers sponsorship, I’m heading to Canada next week to soak it all up in person. It’s my first conference, so I’m on pins and needles not knowing expect what to expect.


The day before the conference starts there are additional tutorials that are offered. It is an additional cost, but when I sent over the pricing to my manager we were both pretty shocked how reasonable it all was.

If you are curious I price compared CAST (conference+tutorial) to a similar 3 day package at STARWest and even with Super Early Bird pricing STARWest is roughly double.

  • CAST Tutorial + Conference $1050 USD
  • STARWest Conference + Tuesday Tutorial Day $2095 USD

I really respect how cognizant the AST about making their offerings affordable. It made my whole conference trip much easier to get approved.

There were four different tutorials offered, I was torn between Testopsies with Michael Bolton and Take Automated Checking Beyond Webdriver with Richard Bradshaw and Mark Winteringham. It was a tough decision, I really enjoy reading the Richard Bradshaws blog The Friendly Tester. I’ve also interacted a little with Michael Bolton through Weekend Testing Sessions, and while it wasn’t always easy to get my words right when chatting over skype I usually found it to be a good exercise, and helped refine my own ideas.

I ended up choosing Testopsies hoping that it will bring more value across my team when I return and share what I’ve learned since not everyone participates in automation.

Choosing Sessions

I haven’t completely decided on all my session choices. I’ve had some good advice from Chris Kenst to consider attending the sessions that will not be live streamed since they will definitely be available for watching later. I don’t want to miss anything, so it sounds like a good idea.

The decision-making challenge is kind of compounded by the way the schedule layout is displayed on sched.org. I think the sessions in a time block are occurring concurrently but it kind of makes it look like some sessions are shorter than others. That and you have to hover to see the description, so its hard to get an at-a-glance view of your choices. I have a feeling it will all be easier in person.

Other Activities

Lean Coffee is going on pre-breakfast each day, I plan on making the most of my time there so I plan on attending. I’m really curious to see a real lean coffee since I’ve never been to one organized by people that have done it before, or with more than an couple people. I’m sure I’ll need the coffee, but everything I’ve heard about CAST is how great the discussions are, so this just seems like an extra opportunity to participate.

A Beer Tour, this is so perfect. I home brew, and I love tasting good local beer. So one of the first things I do when find out I am traveling is to start looking for a where I can find the good stuff. I had just started my research on Vancouver when up on twitter I see fellow attendees already starting to organize an evening out. Sign me up.

There is a Lightning Talks session, if I am feeling brave I may throw my hat in the ring. No set topic in mind, but I’m sure there will be plenty of inspiration.

Hallway Conversations, as I mentioned above this is supposed to be top notch and I don’t doubt it. I’m getting my mind ready to try to turn off my more introverted tendencies so I can chop it up with fellow testers, share and learn which is what this is all about.

If you are going to be there are you are reading this I would love for you to say hi so you can save me the trouble of working up the courage 🙂