Jul 28

What I’ve Been Up To

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything. I’m still here, still doing some great work, and taking pride in what I do. I still love what I do, what I stand for, what I believe in, and of course this skilled craft we call Software Testing. A little bit below about where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing …

In November 2015 I had the opportunity to attend TestBash NY and had a chance to catch up with Matt Heusser. Now we didn’t just talk software and testing, but we had a nice chat about some of the most important things in our personal lives including family, our significant others, the gift of time time, and celebrations. I’ll never forget that chat and the advice Matt gave to me that day. One of the things he told me was that it was okay to step away from the testing world to focus on personal stuff and then balance it all out and to never forget or take for granted the people and things that are most important to us.

Now I’ve still been reading, staying up to date on the happenings in the testing and software world on twitter, and still doing some great testing at work. Matter of fact, I just finished up working on a project with a great software development team working alongside a fellow skilled and talented tester, and a strong team of individuals that filled out the different roles on our team. Great news is that I’ll be staying alongside many of the team members to work on our next project!

Throughout the past 10 months I’ve continued to experience a lot, learn a lot, and observe a lot of different things – I have a ton I’m going to be talking about in my upcoming posts.

 

 

Jan 08

2014 – My Year in Review

2014…

So here we are, a few days into the new year – eight days to be exact.  I haven’t written in a while, it’s been almost six months!  I have been reading though, reading a lot, and that re-energizes my mind and puts me in the zone to write.  After the amazing, unreal, AWESOME year I had in 2013, I went into 2014 pumped and full of energy.  The first ever Montreal Insights Into Software Testing workshop & peer conference – MOIIST2014 was just around the corner, I had started a new job a few weeks earlier, and I had plans to continue my testing accomplishments and learning from where I left off.

In January, we held the first ever Montreal Insights Into Software Testing (MOIIST2014) workshop & peer conference.  I had put in a great deal of effort in the months leading up to the workshop to help organize it and it was well worth it.  The workshop was great – I did my first presentation at a Software Testing event and met some awesome Testers, both from Montreal and Testers who attended from out of town, not to mention the chance to hang out and chat with Rob and Scott.

Plans can and do sometimes change

I had a lot of other plans for 2014 – to continue on that great road of Software Testing awesomeness from 2013, and the MOIIST2014 workshop – but in life things happen and plans sometimes get postponed due to circumstances and priorities.  The first half of the year was exceptionally tough, but I was able to stay optimistic, make decisions I needed to make (which turned out to be great decisions) and I’m happy to say that the second half of the year was great!  But before things could change and get better, they got tough (and negative) and I ended up learning quite a bit from the experience.

What I learned

In one sentence – it’s never too early to leave a job if you’re unhappy.  I was hired by a Test Manager with whom I wanted to work and a great team of fellow Test Lead’s and Testers (in western Canada).  I was hired to work at the office just outside of Montreal. I never thought the distance and not being in the same office would present the types of issues and challenges that it did – none of us did.  When the individuals (especially the leadership group) at the local office where you’re hired to work do not want you there – no matter how great of a professional, tester, and person you are, no matter the things you do to make things work and change their perception – it won’t make a difference, you’re not wanted – period (that held true in my situation).  It’s 2014 and the world is as connected and collaborative as ever, but in some toxic environments (like the office environment and location I was in) you can’t stop negative, backwards thinking.  I don’t regret taking the opportunity, I learned a ton working with my fellow Testers out in western Canada but I do regret staying in such a hostile, discriminative environment for the duration I did stay (I stayed a few months but should have left in a few weeks).

Now even though the aforementioned experience was a negative one – I always look for lessons learned and I took away some really positive and important lessons that have made me more aware and knowledgeable.  I learned more about myself as a person and as a professional and experienced first-hand what I had always known, what I stood for, and what I believed in – that my self respect and dignity was more important than a paycheque (especially one coming from a toxic environment).

I learned that sometimes it’s worth taking that bold risk and leaving a negative situation without that safety net to fall into – which is what I did. I also learned that when interviewing for a job where your manager and/or team will be in another location, its extremely important to meet (in person) the individuals with whom you will work with locally in the same office, including the leadership group. It’s especially important to speak with those in the leadership group to get a feel for how they work, the environment and atmosphere they promote, how they view testing & their goals regarding development & testing and collaborating with the team(s) located in different offices/cities.  I would take the time to ask about their philosophy and if they are actually in-tune with the testing approach being taught and encouraged from the leadership group (the ones hiring you) in another location.  There’s a lot that can be learned by taking the time to do that, and may also help you make a good decision by listening to your gut feeling.

Getting back on track

Once I made the bold decision to leave with no safety net to fall into – everything (professionally and personally) started to change – I was happy, full of energy and things started getting back on track!  While I had a plan, I didn’t have another job lined up (and that can be a scary thing considering bills, house etc.) – but I had/have confidence, optimism, and my testing skill-set that I am always working on expanding. It was a bold risk I took and I’m happy I took it. Things fell quickly back into place and I enjoyed the second half of the year much more at my “new” job and was having fun outside of work, and was also able to focus my energy on learning more about software testing once again and doing the things I enjoyed doing.

Wait – what about those plans?

There were a few plans and goals I had for 2014 that I wasn’t able “execute” in my roller coaster of a year. After CAST2013 (after which I was so pumped up to attend the next CAST), I wasn’t able to attend CAST2014 as I had planned too.  I can’t get that back but I will be at CAST2015!  After successfully completing the BBST Foundations course in 2013 I had planned to take the BBST Bug Advocacy course but with everything going on and the course schedule, it just didn’t pan out.  On the plus side, I am going to take the course this year and I’m looking forward to the learning experience and challenge!

Ending off the year

I ended off the year happy, relaxed and reading a book on the beautiful beaches of Varadero, Cuba.  I feel refreshed, energized, and extremely focused (professionally and personally) starting off this new year.  While I still progressed as a Software Tester in 2014, it wasn’t the type of progress and “jump” I experienced in 2013 – which is okay.  I learned a lot of valuable lessons as a professional and as a human being from the negative situation I found myself in.  I learned to turn things around and that only I had the power to do so.  While I try not to live with regrets, if I could go back and do things a bit differently I would – but knowing that now, is a part of what learning is about.

KMF – 2015 here I come!

Jan 15

Learning with colleagues

Depending on certain variables it can sometimes be rare or popular (at the opposite end of the spectrum) to meet somebody at work, on your team who is as passionate about the craft (and getting better at it) as you are. These dependent variables (among many) can be company, company culture, team, team structure, projects, communication methods, technology, and of course colleagues themselves.

Working as a consultant you meet many people. I recently met a fellow Software Tester very interested in learning more about certain approaches to testing and to become a better, skilled (building on current skill level) Software Tester – very similar to myself.

One of the areas of testing he’s worked with and is working on becoming better at is Performance Testing. Of course Scott Barber’s name came up as we’ve both read a lot of his work and apply what we’ve learned from the content where applicable. My colleague at work has more knowledge and skill than me in the area of Performance Testing – it’s actually an area of testing where I want to improve my skill level (and working towards that goal).

One technology I’ve worked with considerably and improved my knowledge & skill level (and continuing to improve) over the last 4-5 years is testing applications built on SOA. I’ve worked with both SoapUI Pro and SOAPSonar as my primary testing tools. I’ve created and executed operational + inter-operational tests based on what I was testing and the way in which the back-end service would be used (or be called) in a production environment by actual users. I have more knowledge and skill than my colleague testing applications built on SOA – testing applications built on SOA is something he’s very interested in and wants to improve his skill level.

We’ve agreed to share and exchange knowledge, test approaches, technical knowledge regarding different tools & how to use them, the different types of applications we’ve tested, and documentation we’ve created to aid in test setup & execution over the next few weeks. Of course there is the intersection where SOA based tools may be used to do performance tests.

Looking forward to the learning curve ahead!