Saturday, August 6, 2016

Done with STeP-IN SUMMIT 2016

July 28: Workshop at Bangalore
Some of us were not sure if the workshop would run as scheduled. There was a Karnataka bandh (strike) proposed on July 28th. Later, it was restricted to North Karnataka. We went ahead with the workshop. Some of them were happy with the format of the workshop where I tried to explain a concept followed by an exercise to the participants. Some of them did not like the break in flow. It is hard to please everyone. Also, to note that it is indeed very hard to conduct a hands-on workshop and also explain many concepts in the same day.

While one participant complained that I came late to the workshop, I am sorry for it. I came 30 mins early to the time mentioned to me. I was unaware that the workshop was supposed to start 30 mins earlier than I arrived. I will ensure that this doesn't repeat.

We talked about Modelling, Mind Maps, Bug hunting, Test Ideas, Heuristics, Bug Investigation, Test Reports and Tools. I hope the workshop was useful to most of the audience as evident by the positive feedback I received from the feedback sheets. I learned from Rahul Verma on how to collect  feedback- just give the participants a blank sheet and ask for feedback.

Bangalore: Intense minds at work
July 29: Workshop at Hyderabad
Soon after the workshop at Bangalore, I flew to Hyderabad. The flight was delayed and I reached my hotel at 3am. I did not want to be late this time and was in the meeting room by sharp 9pm. This workshop, I wanted to try a different approach. Half day explanation, half day hands-on exercises.
And guess what, I received feedback that the first half was interesting and some of them felt lost in the second half. By now, you must have guessed how difficult it is to come to an approach that everyone likes. Many liked the session on mind maps and the resources I presented to them for further reading and references. It was heartening to see that participants came from Cochin, Mumbai, Delhi for these workshops. Folks, just call me to your place and avoid the travel :)

Hyderabad: End of workshop, Start of learning
Immediately after the workshop, I reached Bangalore at night. The next morning, I was off for a trip with my wife till Aug 2nd.

Aug 3: Test Automation Contest
For the first time, I participated in a Test Automation contest. Our team from Sahi Pro had the experienced Kshitij Gupta and the ever enthusiastic Pratik Shah. We saw at least five of our customers also participating in the contest and they were using Sahi Pro. The only question we had in our mind was: What if they won and we did not win? What will we say to our CTO?

After some time, we were ready with the answer: "Even in a lookalike competition for Charlie Chaplin, the original Charlie Chaplin came third :) "

First round seemed easy till ten mins to the end of the round where we almost messed up the code and started to panic. Good sense prevailed and we troubleshooted and resolved just in time. Results were announced and we were through to the second round. Only 8 teams out of 32 teams qualified for the second round. In the second round, we had to present our case and be ready for the Q & A.

When we connected our laptop, the HDMI port was not recognized and we presented 7th instead of allotted 3rd. The judges seemed to like our approach and how we used the full capability of Sahi Pro.
We were happy with our efforts.

Team Sahi Pro
Team Presentation
Aug 4: Summit Day 1
Welcome Address: Vivek Mathur kicked off the proceedings with a short speech on what to expect and how to get the most of the conference. It was crisp and noteworthy.

Vivek: Points to keep in mind
Keynote Address 1: Reinvent to Disrupt by Ashok Pamidi
I liked some of the points Ashok emphasized. The six major global technology shifts he mentioned included:
1. Digital technology
2. Cloud Computing
3. Automation and Robotics
4. Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing
5. IoT (Internet of Things)
6. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Major Global Technology Shifts
As a software tester, I had a thought: How many of us know something about all of these? Isn't it necessary to know at least something which will help us in a conversation about these topics? And no wonder that we heard most of the talks on these lines - IoT, Machine Learning, Automation, Digital, Cloud Computing.

Next Keynote Address was on Quality Engineer – Leveraging Your Potential/Profession in Digital world by Rashma Samani.
This keynote was also very useful. She shared her experience of testing SetTop Boxes and how testing is part of her life now. She asked us to get rid of few obsessions and also highlight our strengths.
Strengths of Quality Engineers
Next, Dr.Nandakumar Ramakrishnan honored each of the STeP-IN Tech Committee members. My part was reviewing the papers allocated to me and provide comments. Thanks STeP-IN for honoring us.

The next talk was: "Ninja or Samurai? The Art of War and the Future of Testing" by Wolfgang Platz.

Ninja vs Samurai
Though his claim of how exploratory testing cannot provide a comprehensive risk coverage was something I questioned, we could not come to the same point of view within the 5 minutes of Q & A time.

Then, the folks from Intuit shared their journey of how they transformed and inducted Quality in the organization through their talk: "Transformation Journey of Quality Engineering at Intuit". Karthik Krishna and Anandhavalli Krishnaswamy were the presenters. They highlighted how the testers at Intuit wear different hats at different stages of the product cycle. They also talked about they focused on the skills of the testers, how they helped the testers improve before expecting magic from the testers.
Different hats worn by Intuit Testers
Later, I attended the session by Santhosh Tuppad. He engaged the audience pretty well and shared his experiences of how he hacked many systems. He recommended OWASP, browser addons and learning about different tools. He asked us to focus on the mindset first before jumping into security.

Meanwhile, I also met Nikhil Bhandari, Parimala (@curioustester) and other friends once again!
With Krishna, Nikhil and Santhosh
I was a bit tired after non-stop traveling for the last week. So, I went back home. I also had to prepare for my talk the next day. At night, 9.30pm I started my preparations for the talk after conducting a webinar on Sahi Pro. You can also register for the webinar here: By 1am, I had my presentation slides ready.

Aug 5: Summit Day 2
I arrived straight into Rahul Verma's keynote: The Dogmatic Agile – ‘A Critique of Deliberate Blindness of Indian Wannabe Agilists’ and it was really thought provoking.
- Do not follow any process blindly.
- Focus on skills.
- Do not focus on just the extremes. Understand that the solution might lie in between the extremes.
Rahul's Keynote
Next tutorial was by Brijesh Prabhakar: Testing in the Extremes – an Olympics story!
This was an interesting tutorial in terms of how the team tested the application and systems with just 500 testers and 9000 test cases. It was surprising to know that the preparations start the day the previous Olympics ends. And they don't use any fancy models or tools. You had to be present at the tutorial to experience it.

Testing for Olympics
I did not understand much from the VMware presentation. I blame it on my lack of knowledge and not on the presenters. It was time for my talk. My talk was titled: "Automation in Testing — A session of Confessions, Introspection and Secrets".

The slide deck is here: PPT
A pic of my talk
Body language not in my control
Next session was on "Machine Learning in Software Testing" by Milind Kelkar.
He talked about the different Machine Learning Techniques and how they are applied along with the different use cases.
Machine Learning Techniques
 When I asked him on how to get started with Machine Learning, he showed the following slide with Languages for Machine Learning. He referenced Coursera course and Andrew Ng. The next course starts Aug 8. So, enroll soon if you wish to learn more about it.

Languages for Machine Learning
 Then the results for the Test Automation contest was announced along with highlights of each of the 8 presentations by the finalists. Team Sahi Pro came second and we were happy about it. One reason why we thought we missed the first prize was Sahi Pro is so feature rich that it might look that we did not do much in the 3 hours, which is acceptable. It is a testimony to the power of Sahi Pro. :)

Team Sahi Pro - The Runner Up
Sanal Nair (STeP-IN), Ajay, Kshitij, Pratik
That was end of day 2. I skipped the last session to talk to Shrini and Rahul.
Jayshree, Parimala, Vani, Sunil and Ajay
It was a great experience at STeP-IN SUMMIT. Most of my tweets have the hashtag #STePINSUMMIT16. Thanks to the organizers. And it is time for me to move on to the next challenge - The BugAThon :) 

Leia Mais…

Monday, June 27, 2016

Problem Solving Leadership - Part 1 of N (N could be 1 too)

As you can see, it is an email I sent to Esther in 2010 asking for details about the Problem Solving Leadership. I kept trying year after year to check if the cost came down. The good thing is that they have not increased the cost more than 2800 USD. It looks like it has always been 2800 USD since 2010 and maybe before that too.

2800 USD + Flight cost to USA from India + Accommodation + Food + Local transportation = Huge $$$. I could not afford it. I had multiple opportunities where I had to give them 14 hours and I would be paid a lot of money. I kept rejecting them. I stuck to those jobs that let me go home after 8 hours and also let me practice my skills. The jobs that let me participate in workshops, buy me books, send me on week long leaves to conferences and be myself.

While some of my colleagues started earning more money but were unknown to the world, I got some good mentors and friends all over the world. I kept going to conferences, spending my money on workshops, courses, books, licenses, mobile devices. I was working on my reputation as a good tester. Slowly, I was invited to present at conferences, called to conduct workshops, advise testers and it was all going good.

I had taken workshops/courses from Rahul Verma, Pradeep Soundararajan, Matt Heusser, Peter Walen, Fiona Charles, James Bach, Jon Bach, Michael Bolton, Cem Kaner since I started my testing journey ten years ago. Many recommended Jerry Weinberg's books. I also liked them when i read them. In fact, I liked them to the extent that I used to quote his words in personal life too.

I wanted to meet him. I also asked him if he conducted PSL workshop online and his reply was a No. I changed jobs and thereby got an opportunity to attend the PSL workshop this June. Even though everything was in place, I had my own fears - will I be sent back from airport for some issue with the documents? will I have to travel back due to any emergency? Will my flight be hijacked and I take a bullet to save someone and many more such crazy stuff as I could not believe that I would be able to attend PSL without any issues.

Finally, I arrived and I went to the hotel and was very excited about attending the workshop the next day. I was ready by 7 am and the workshop would start only by 9 am. I kept waiting outside the wrong room for an hour before I confirmed the exact room and went there.
There were already few people waiting. I smiled at them and got myself a seat. Esther soon came to the room and my eyes were still on the entrance waiting for Jerry.

And once Jerry came and the time was 9 am, the workshop officially started.

There were five full days of intense workshop followed by half day of introspection and some of us went to a nearby peak and had an awesome time on the Sky Tram.


What did we do during the five full days?
We had many explicit exercises which tried to emphasize

  • Observation
  • Team work
  • Personality types
  • Leadership models
  • Running a startup
  • Problem solving
  • Consulting 
  • Fish bowl
  • Lot of sharing what we learned as individuals and as a team. 

Sharing the exact workshop contents would not do justice to both - the trainers and the readers. One has to experience the workshop to feel the lessons. It is also interesting to know that each individual comes to the workshop with different set of expectations. Some want to know more about themselves, some want to hone particular skills, some want to know where they can improve (and not necessarily improve in the same week), some want to just absorb everything and some come just to have a break from their routine.
I was someone who went to learn more about myself and I realized that I learned a lot about others and how my actions affect others!!! Some interactions were eye-openers in their own terms and I also had the opportunity to see others full of passion / raw emotion and bringing their true self in the open.
There were opportunities to dive deep and get what you want. There were opportunities that made you feel stupid temporarily and it seemed to follow the golden rule (according to me for any workshops): You get as much as you put in. You put in a lot of effort, you get a lot of learning. You just skim through the workshop experience and you can get just that - the top layer - you might like it or hate it.

So, the next few months to start with, should be interesting. The participants of the workshop have promised to support each other. Sometimes, the workshop enthusiasm dies down after few weeks but I have a strange feeling about this one. This kind of teaches skills for life as it focuses more on problems which never go away and then on people who seem to be the ultimate creators of any problem :)

Till next time, "We will deal with it!!!"

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