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Testing @ ThoughtWorks: A TestBash Experience

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I have been attending TestBash prior to signing onto ThoughtWorks. This year I enlisted the help of a fellow tester, Abby Bangser, and we recruited a couple of other TW'ers to spend their conference dollars going to TestBash USA in Philadelphia.

From Left to Right: Abby Bangser, Hiyasmin Dimaranan,  David Corrales, Melissa Eaden, Darrel Grainger
For those of you that don't read my blog regularly, TestBash USA is a pretty awesome event, along with all it's co-events that happen throughout the year which focuses on community and testing.

It's different from other Testing Conferences because it does exactly what it's mission is: Help testers, Aid the community at-large, and help people network within the context of testing and software development.

TestBash USA was 2 days long and offered a single track each day. The first day even had a new event called The Testing Circus.

The Testing Circus is a carousel style learning event where you can move from station to station …

Why Testing Is Like Writing: It Takes Years Of Practice

“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of job: It’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” —Neil Gaiman

I had a recent thought that writing is very much like testing. You have to learn it much like you learn most languages, developing a vocabulary, working on the pronunciations, and then figuring how to make a proper sentence.

That's all a lot harder than most people realize. We grow up in systems of learning that expose us to writing and language every day. We are inundated by the daily routine of learning language from the moment we learn how to speak.

Most testers I've known didn't start with Exploratory Testing. They started with test cases, probably dealing with regression, writing out hundreds of them, running through an application which they previously had no prior knowledge.

The description above includes myself. I didn't start off doing ad hoc anything. People wanted me to prove that w…

Dear Tester: Github Is Your Friend

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"It's never too late - in fiction or in life - to revise" - Nancy Thayer
Personal confession time. I have no idea why it's taken me so long to realize that I too could be a regular github user. For years, I've used it on projects, learned the basic commands for the command line so I could switch repos quickly, whether it was for automation projects or software development, I used github with little thought about how I could use it myself.

Somehow, one comment from one of the developers I'm currently working with, on a project I've been pairing regularly with developers, my mental context about github shifted. He asked about my github and if I had anything there. I responded, no, I used it for practice. I didn't really keep anything there.

I realized, much to my utter horror, that I could have been keeping all of my little coding projects and all of my code notes in one spot. Things that I've come up with and used for automation, small scripts I&#…

Hopes, Dreams, Goals: Thoughts About & From TestBash USA

"Motivation clears the head faster than a nasal spray"  - William Zinsser

Sometime back I took a motivational course offered by a lady in Austin. It wasn't a big eye opener, but it did leave me with this interesting little notebook with motivational quotes. I like the quotes because they remind me that if I didn't get much out of the day, other than being with a lovely group of ladies discussing topics, I did get an experience I do remember to some extent with people I liked. 

TestBash is way more than that. 

With what originally started as a writing experiment has slowly, over the last few years, turned into a sincere community for me. The community itself cultivates a diverse group of people, from all over the world, and tries really hard to be a supportive voice for those that are not often supported in the industry. Oh, and it happens to be about testing, testers, and software development. 

If anyone is looking to start any kind of group about a topic of interest, I w…

Dear Writer: How To Find A Topic To Write

"The most difficult and complicated part of the writing process is the beginning."  - A. B. Yehoshua
A lot of people want to write, but often have a problem getting started with an idea. Coming up with an idea is fairly easy, but figuring out if that idea is worth something to someone else is the hard part, because most people, including myself, stop themselves before they even write a word and discard an idea or a topic thinking it’s worthless.
Dear writer, don’t worry about the worth of the topic. Get past the idea that it might be worthless and write about it anyway. This will give you a few things to think about:
You gain more experience every time you write something, no matter how relevant or silly it might seem to you at the time. You could gain insight on how to approach another topic that does have more value, or more details, simply because you’ve written the “fluff” out of your system. You can always come back to the idea and make it better, expand on it, and grow it…

An Experience Report: TestSphere

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“We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!”- Benjamin Franklin

GeekNight, hosted by ThoughtWorks- Dallas, is pretty popular, and I jumped at the chance to host one as well as give the evening presentation on TestSphere, the testing game!

If you don't know anything about TestSphere, go check this out!

The short explanation is that it's a card game designed to get folks talking about testing topics. 

I started the session off explaining the different colors and basically what topics they were divided up into.

Lean TestSphere For the main part of the evening, I had everyone divide into groups of three and four. I explained how we were going to do a modified Lean Coffee style to pick topics and discuss the cards everyone pulled. 

Each person pulled a card from the deck and took it back to their group. Each card was given eight minutes of discussion time with the option to continue talking about the topic for a few more minutes before moving onto th…

Ready, Tester One? *GO!*

"I handed my passport to the immigration officer, and he looked at it and looked at me and said, 'What are you?'" - Grace Hopper (60 Minutes Interview)

The Grace Hopper quote above always makes me think about my job as a tester. Companies that develop software know they need testers, but they generally have hard time figuring out what testers are and what skills they need in the role. There have many discussions about how testers can be more technical and at some point, coding comes up in the conversation. My response on twitter contained a few things on a list I have, which I created for a client, so they could have a checklist of skills. This checklist was a guideline to determine the skill level of the tester applicant. This is by no means a complete list and I would be open to additions to the list. Feel free to add those to the comments or tweet them to me.

For clarity, I took the list of skills I had and broke them into levels. I like games and I like leveling u…