Showing posts from 2018

Life Lessons From Space Camp

In 1986, the Challenger disaster was fresh on everyone's mind. Six months later, SpaceCamp opened to audiences that weren't sure they wanted to see a movie about a shuttle and near disaster. For me, it was a defining moment in my childhood.

Space had always held a fascination for me from a very, very young age. I would look up at the stars and wonder who and what could be out there. I give Star Trek the credit for most of that wonder, but the Space Program and the Space Shuttle seemed like the human dream of roaming the stars was heading towards reality.

In 1986, I was still a kid full of wonder and possibility. I wanted to be an astronaut so badly, I wrote an essay to try to win a scholarship to Space Camp. I never had the chance to attend, but to this day, I still hold a very wild, wide eye dream of "going up".

The movie, which I was obsessed with for most of my young life, well, still obsessed with actually, gave me a bunch of life lessons I still …

Searching For Answers And Clairty With Perspective & Feedback

Sometimes when I've been working in a situation for too long and I don't understand why things are behaving the way they are, getting someone else to come and sit in on the situation can give you a whole new perspective around what's happening. It could tell you whether you are crazy, or if you've really not lost your mind, or if you've somehow become dragged down into the muck with everything else happening around you.

When you throw in the towel from frustration and realize you are demoralized because those around you are demoralized, it's hard to gain perspective again. You need a coach or someone to come in and observe, with clarity, with detachment, with objectivity, what's happening around you to give you some much needed confirmation that you are not crazy, that maybe you are not screwing up, but only need help and encouragement.

I try to do this for people all the time, but I also forget to do this for myself. I need that small amount of feedback to…

Podcast Review: AB Testing #86 - Not the Customer's Champion

"Your most unhappy customers are your  greatest source of learning - Bill Gates"

Here are a few ideas and things I've been thinking about since I listened to AB Testing podcast #86.

It's always fun to listen to Alan and Brent chat about testing, and their brain-child Modern Testing Principles. In this podcast, they review the fifth principle, which states:

"FIVE - We believe that the customer is the only one capable to judge and evaluate the quality of our product."

(Check out the complete list here!)
I generally like the points these guys are making about testers not being the customer, or pretending to be the customer.

It's the idea that we need to go deeper than that and ask questions about what exactly it is that we are trying to make. This seems to head a tad bit into business analyst territory, but that's OK. Testers are analysts too, and business oriented folks can't think of everything. Often, testers pairing with business analysts or pro…

A Vigilante For Quality vs Bridging The Us VS Them Gap

Earlier in my career, when I first started working with tech, I always wondered how developers solved problems. My first jobs in tech were customer service related. I took phone calls. I wrote up issues with products. I reported my own investigations. That's as far as I was allowed to go.

Then, a few years later, I was offered the opportunity to do something more around development. This was exciting to me because I found I had a passion for good working software, not because the company needed to have good working software, but because the poor customer service folks who had to explain poor working software to people that would call to ask for directions or who would find defects and report them. That was where my passion was when I first started in software development as a tester.
The Vigilante For Quality My first year was akin to any superhero's first year. You think you are doing the right thing by taking names (aka finding bugs) and then finding the culprit. I hunted do…

TestBash Philly 2017 - The Lost 99 Second Talk

Honestly, I didn't really lose it, it was buried with all my other writing notes. I wanted to post this today as a reminder that if you work in the tech industry, you are not non-technical. I'm sure someone out there will disagree with that statement, but I feel like it's important to keep saying it. Inclusion vs exclusion. You may not be as technically skilled as someone else, but that doesn't mean you are non-technical. 

This is the full text of the planned 99 second talk I gave at TestBash Philly 2017 (I omitted some things for time, but wanted to post the original here).

Recognizing Your Technical Might
Who has a computer or smart phone?

As owners of these things…have you called yourself Non-technical?

Yes - Me Too!

 It’s Bullshit!

How many you have been free IT service for your relatives?

Me too.

We tell our devices all kinds of things everyday. We give our devices instructions, and those instructions trigger other instructions.

We have become so clever in disguising the t…

Coaching & Mentoring: Sometimes It's About The Pebbles

I've had the very cool, very humbling opportunities of mentoring and coaching other IT folks over the last two years or so. The topics are varied but mostly I try to encourage the people I've spoken with or understand what they are struggling with and see if we can solution something out between the two of us. It's been pretty exciting for me to give back to the IT community in this way.

When I was starting in IT, I had a lot of coaches, managers, and mentors who did various things to encourage me and help me deal with some tough situations. Working as a woman in tech can get very discouraging at times and many folks were there to help me through situations and roadblocks which might have resulted in me quitting IT all together. Without mentors and coaches, many of us wouldn't be were we are today.

I was recently discussing with a mentee some difficulties they were having trying to find a way to be valuable on a team. There were large problems that we both identified …

Mob Testing A Mobile App

"We should seek the greatest value of our action."-Stephen Hawking 
I've only done mob "anything" at conferences. It's a skill I've learned and I've been itching to try out for a while and have never found a good opportunity to try it. I recently got my chance to facilitate a mob testing session after I proposed the idea to my team. 
Currently we are working on a mobile application. We had a few days left in our sprint and a couple of stories which needed to be tested. I suggested we do a mob testing session so we could work through the last few stories together as a team. The team liked the idea! I was ecstatic, and then quickly had to figure out how I wanted the session to proceed. 
Assumptions I though the best way to get my team members to think about what they knew and communicate those thoughts to the other team members, was to write down assumptions we had about the application. I stole this idea from a recent twitter thread where several folk…

Testing Community Podcasting At It's Finest!

"You get to a certain age, and you are forbidden access. You're not going to get the kind of coverage that you would like in music magazines; you're not going to get played on radio, and you're not going to get played on television. I have to survive on word of mouth." - David Bowie

I can't say enough about the experiences I've had with Mark Tomlinson, Gem Hill, and Neil Studd. All these podcasts are serving the community of testers exceptionally well. I've been privileged to be on them and for the most part I've not put my foot in my mouth too much.

Testers' Island Discs I think the one exception to that, or three rather, was a couple of date flubs I made on Neil's Island Tester's podcast, and I reversed words at one point stating one thing and describing another. It's out there for folks to listen too. The mistake is glaring to me when I hear it and someone who appreciated my input reached out and asked me if I meant what I s…

Media List for March 2018 - Week 2

This week saw me reading a lot about Black Panther, listening to the sound track and generally enjoying it's ride in the box office. You'll find new headers this week to look into. Movies, music, books are all there, including a header listing my own publications, because it pushes me to write more and put my ideas out there.

From what I hear, Wrinkle In Time isn't fairing as well as it's brother-in-arms. That makes me sad as it's more focused on women and a young girl, being empowered. People that are fans of the book need to take a moment and realized that movies are a different medium and they should be allowed to take some liberties with the story. Most of the negative feedback seems to be coming from some folks that don't like the movie version because it wasn't true to the book. I got over the notion of things being true to a book when the first Dune movie came out, and again when Handmaiden's Tale (the movie, not the series, though the series i…

International Women's Day 2018 - Women Promoting Women

International Women's Day 2018 I have been receiving notifications all day many in the testing community tweeting about the women that have influenced them or gave them an opportunity in their career.

I have much the same story. I have a lot of people on my career path that have helped me, but there are two that changed the course of my career beyond my wild expectations.
Help Desk To Testing When I moved to Austin, Texas, I moved to help further my career, change my life, do something new and exciting, even if I there was a possibility of falling on my face doing it.

I after three months, I was still working remotely for Security Benefit back in Kansas. I was starting to lose hope that I wasn't going to find a job locally, that I was going to work nights for the foreseeable future. The only advantage I had was working as a contractor gave me a little more money and room to be picky about my opportunities.

Eventually I landed a job at an education software company on their h…

Media List For March 2018 - Week 1

Took the month of February off. I have lists, but I didn't post them as I was too freaking busy! Lots of articles published for Ministry of Testing, and Crossbrowser Testing (SmartBear). Attended ETC. Gave a talk/workshop at Ministry of Testing Dallas Meetup. I think I might have managed to get a blog post in during all that too.

This week had some interesting reading, music, and books! I tweaked the format a little to add some other topics that I do enjoy through the week and want to note on my blog. I probably should have a movie column on there as well. Will add that next week.


P.S: Here are links to February Lists

Also, here is a link to January Lists as well!

Mel's Thoughts: AB Testing Podcast #60

"If you rely only on your eyes,  your other senses weaken."
― Frank Herbert,
If you haven't heard this specific podcast episode yet, you as a tester, as a developer, as an anything in the software development lifecycle, need to go listen to it.

Alan and Brent are definitely on the right track with this podcast. I have been shifting towards these things they discuss, like using analytics to test data, features, and getting to the root of the what the customer wants.

Customizable interfaces that machines build for people instead of people building specific tools. I've mentioned before that I don't think we will really have GUIs in the next 10 years. With the take over of voice user interfaces, and more APIs being made available in the public domain, the shift will come to the point that businesses will be about serving up information, they won't be able creating log-in features or displaying content. All of that will be scrapped, captured, …

Reading List For Jaunary 2018 - Week 4

Lots about writing and blogging this week in my reading. I found some good articles with writing guidelines I think could help lots of folks move towards professional writing, and help improve things for those of us that write on a regular basis.

One call out to the TLJ article about the baby boomer mentality. I enjoyed it. I don't know if the movie is meant to be that heavy, but it's a good thought piece on the dynamics between generations and what it has cost in the relationship between them.

Happy reading!

Reading List for January 2018 - Week 3

This week we have some good picks from the news and from the industry at large. I've also added a few CFPs in the list to highlight that it's go time for those of us that want to submit conference papers for various conferences. I'm partial to TestBash'es, but mention KCDC since it's my home town as well.

An FYI - The cinnamon roll story could be triggering for some. There are not a lot of graphic details about certain things, but the very creative way she describes how she makes and eats the cinnamon rolls could give those of us that have strange relationships with food a bit of a pause.

The shutdown happened. We are all waiting for the collective of the White House and Congress to pull their heads out of their butts and figure it out. NASA and a number of science initiatives are affected, along with millions of kids and DREAMers. It's disgusting how being decent humans somehow doesn't figure into the picture for anyone in D.C. - that's a blanket stat…

Reading List for January 2018 - Week 2

While I was looking for a better application to sync all my bookmarks up, I discovered Notion and I've been playing around with it ever since. I've also moved most of my bookmarks to this app and created some new things, like a weekly reading list.

I read a lot. I like keeping track of what I've been reading so maybe at some point, I can go back and reference something if I need to. I was tweeting my readings each Sunday, but that seemed like a lot of spam as it was around 10 or so separate tweets.

This tool allows me to aggregate my readings and even comment on them inline. Additionally, if anyone has comments on the readings, they can comment on each link individually. I'm not sure if you can do that without a Notion account, but we'll see soon enough.

What My Dogs Taught Me About The Tech Industry

"Stop a minute, right where you are. Relax your shoulders, shake your head and spine like a dog shaking off cold water. Tell that imperious voice in your head to be still." - Barbara Kingsolver
A list of things I've learned from my dogs and from working in the tech industry.
Sensitive creatures are sensitive. Dogs are extremely sensitive to their environment, so are teams and companies, whether they admit to it or not. If they've been abused, they become wary of someone trying to help them. You HAVE to earn their trust, even for things that seem pretty easy and have very little risk.

The counter to that is understanding when you might not be the best option for the dog, or the client. Some groups are never going to be comfortable with some consultant types, very much like some dogs who pick the people they think they can associate with the best. Don't try to force a client, or group, to like you. Show you can be trusted first, but don't be surprised if you …