Better Late Than Never – My Experience at QA or the Highway 2016 – Columbus

Every once in awhile, I have writings that get stuck in a draft format that remain unpublished for far too long.  While QA or the Highway 2017 is less than three weeks away, I thought I would share the raw notes that I took for QA or the Highway 2016.

The conference in 2016 was great and I look forward to this year’s event.  There are a lot of good speakers and subjects lined up and if you haven’t gotten tickets for the 2017 conference yet, I suggest that you do so right away.  Over the next few weeks, I will also be writing some short blog posts spotlighting some of the speakers who will be at QA or the Highway 2017.


QA or the Highway 2016 Recap

Date – February 16, 2016
Location – Columbus State Community College – Columbus, Ohio

Personal Reflections
This was the third conference that I was able to attend with my wife, Mindy.  What better way to spend a conference than a date with your best friend?

It was an excellent day of learning.  The conference was well put together.  The speakers were dynamic and provided excellent content for the sessions that I attended.  I thank all of the individuals and vendors who made this event possible. I am already looking forward to the conference next year.

And now, to the recap.

The conference was well attended with approximately 400 testers.   The one day conference consisted of an opening keynote, 5 breakout sessions (with an option to chose from one of four tracks), and the closing keynote.   The talks were conducted by local, regional, and national speakers.  Experience of the speakers ranged from first time presenters to seasoned veterans.

Links to the presenters & schedule:

Here are my notes of the sessions that I attended.

Opening Keynote

Karen Johnson kicked off QA or the Highway 2016 with her talk “How Nancy Drew Prepared Me to Become a Software Tester.”
In her keynote, Karen parallels the sleuthing activities of Nancy Drew to software testing.

Key takeaways and “lines”:
– In reference to Nancy Drew – “guided by intellect, gutsy, capable, independent, applauded for achievements” – sounds alot like testers
– Inspired to persevere, archive, ask questions, find answers
– Themes seen in Nancy Drew books included: Facing Argumentative people, eerie occurrences and odd happenings (irreducible bugs), how to get work done during time of personal issues, dealing with criminals (hackers), who’s telling the truth (ever happen on projects?), politics (not everyone plays fair), switching context (learning and changing)
– Book Referenced – “Making Things Visible”
What do you see?  What do you think about?
Think on own, then share, compare notes
What Makes You Say That?
What going on?  What do you see that makes you say that?
I Used to Think, But Now I Think…
Evolve Our Way of Thinking, Should Not Stay Stagnant, Can’t know everthing up front
– Compass Points
E – Excited
W – Worrisome
N – Need to Know
S – Stance/Suggestion to move forward

Book Referenced – “MasterMind”
Active vs. Passive attention
Active engagement vs. been there done that
Ongoing skill of staying motivated
Build a Brain Attic – Brain as a storage facility of ideas
Use the Scientific Method
Mindset of  Hunter – Attention, Adaptability, Acknowledge limitations, cultivating vigelence

Session #1

Ramesh Krish spoke on the topic of “Mobile Test Automation – Laying the right foundation”

Key takeaways and “lines”:

– Increasing Mobile Usage, what is projected ahead
1.3B smartphones used globally
2 hrs 21 minutes spend by users on a smartphone daily
Mobile usage dominates the desktop in 2015
Average person engages their phone 200 times a day

– Barriers to Mobile Testing – Lack of process, devices not readily available, mobile testing experts are not availalbe, lack of tools, lack of time
Challenges – Diversity of devices, jail breaking devices, source code requirements, App rendering is different between devices, device specific features, iOS automation is not free

Session #2

Stan Jónsson presented “Testing Web Services”

Key takeaways and “lines”:
– Overview and demos of SOAP UI, JMeter, Rest Assured, and Advanced Rest Client
– Uses of SOAP UI for Exploratory Testing to provide fast feedback to developers, uses for mocking Web Services.  Examples shown also of how to build a test suite, the ability to use it as a load testing tool, use for security test.
– Uses of JMeter focusing on more load/performance testing usage, used for smoke testing for happy path scenarios, production monitoring.

Break for lunch.  Time to recharge, network, and get ready for some more presentations.

Session #3

Rob Bowyer & Erik Davis were up after lunch to talk about “How Do I Reach the Congregation When I’m Preaching to the Choir”.

Key takeaways and “lines”:

– In this presentation, the two facilitated an open to discuss to talk about:
How do we reach more testers
How do we “sell” professional development
Should we “sell” professional development
– Challenges are felt by testers to find time to learn
– Methods for getting people to learn at work – Inhouse Lunch & Learns, Internal Test Blog, Technical Tester Talks
– Explored what are things keeping people form being involved in testing?
– What is the value that testers show?

Session #4
Joseph Ours was up next in his presentation “Building Competency Through Social Science.”

Key takeaways and “lines”:

– Confidence builds competency
– Are we good at our job?  Am I really as good as I think I am at my job?
– Myths explored:
Anyone can be trained to do testing
Enough unskilled people can do the same job as skilled people
– Knowledge + Experience = Insight + Wisdom
– Don’t take short cuts
– Be careful of false positives, don’t let your biases impact your decisions
– Metric modify people’s behavior (be careful)

– Levels of Learning
“I don’t know that I don’t know how to do this” – unaware skill existed, unaware of a deficiency, deny relevance of skill.  Move past this by providing knowledge and experience, awareness of value of skill, affirmation of skills

“I know I don’t know how to do something yet” – Are of existence, aware of deficiency.  Move past this by self study and learning, provide time to master and apply, provide opportunity and goals to apply, avoid statements and judgements of poor results.

“I know that I know how to do this” – Can perform a skill at will, can mostl y do the the skill, can demonstrate but not teach, requires concentration.  Move past this by continuing to exercise the skill, continuus review and self learning, encourage practice and encourage to expand the skill.

“What you say I did something well” – Skill is 2nd nature, no concentration, can teach skills, skill is atomation.  Move past this by understaning skills may change, continue to learn, avoid complacency, failure to use skills can lead in skills going away.  Most think they are here but are not.

– Find out where you are with your various skills.  Determine what you want to learn, where you want to go.  Treat yourself as a busines.
– Failure to use your skills will results in losing them.
– Help others to develop their skills

Session #5

Jess Lancaster  presented “The 30 Best, Free Testing Tools in 60 Minutes”

The List presented included:

Who, What, Where
Thinking Tools
Heuristic Test Strategy Model (Bach) (F)
Your Brain (F)
Black Box Software Testing Courses
Producivity Tools
Google Apps
Tools in Testing
Notepadd ++
Rapid Reporter
Burp Suite
Check My Links
Automated Tools
Selenium Web Driver/IDE
Technical Tools
Process Monitor

He then opened up to the audience for other tool ideas
Mobile App Tester
DB Visualizer
Batch Shell Scripts
Paired Testing

Ending Keynote:

Didn’t make it to the last session.