All posts by MaikNog

Barcamp experience – Sessions and outlook for 2018

After my blog post from the perspective of an organizer, here is my barcamp experience report as an attendee.

Barcamp experience, the introduction

Around 40 people gathered on this Saturday and the barcamp started.  Stephan Roth did a great job to introduce the Open Space format and soon after we started writing and presenting our session ideas.

The board filled up nicely and we started the sessions soon after. The room layout of the oose campus was good, they were easy to find and enough to host several sessions in parallel.

There were even some overlapping sessions, but we shuffled them around in the time table and it worked out.

Some sessions

I also put two session topics up, the Testsphere game and one about external effect and Community of testers.

Testsphere game

Testsphere is a physical card game, designed and developed by Beren Van Daele (@EnquireTST) and MoT.

I met Beren on the Rumanian Testing Conference (RTC) 2017 and he was so kind to give me one set; which saved me the pickup, after ordering it here.

As an after-lunch activity it was great to avoid lunch stupor and also to connect people and get them talking.

Barcamp experience: Testsphere game session
Testsphere game session as after lunch activity

Christian Kram also used it in an Agile Games context, you can read more on his blog.

 

Außenwirkung und Gemeinschaft von Testern

In the morning I wanted to talk about what other testers do and use to increase the appearance and reputation of Testing / QA . There are still misconceptions and bad feelings and understandings what non-testers think about us.

I was curious if there are other types of activities I have missed so far, which could help to show a better image of us testers.

It is not enough to “just” do good work, but we also should show case this outside of our teams or departments.

Interlude

That is one of the reasons I invented the Software Testing World Cup (STWC); to show to some greater audience how testing can be fun, can be learning and doing quality work at the same time.

I often initiate such events with my clients as well, be it internal test competitions or a 20daysoftesting  (here is a nice overview from a XING QA colleague).

Interestingly my intended session was going in a different direction and outcome, so I leaned back and let the energy of the people take it over. It was a good discussion and one takeaway was the German “Tue Gutes und Sprich darüber” (~do good and talk about it).

 

Sources of information for testers

Since my passion is learning and supporting others I am always up to share and interact, so this session was very much to my liking. I joined late (Law of two feet), but Christian Kram did a very good job in mind mapping and facilitating this session from the results, which were already on the flipchart then.

Since it was a common request, he also put up a blog post, where people get some starting points where to find reading material around testing, you can find it on his blog.

 

Barcamp 2018

The final session I attended that day was a gathering to think about what we attendees thought about the barcamp and if we should repeat it.

In less than 30 minutes, the QS -Barcamp 2018 was drafted and decided.

It will be the first full weekend in September, it will be in the same frame as this one (oose campus, open space, less than a handful sponsors, maximum 80 attendees).

One addition we want to more actively communicate, is the openness for sessions in English, I think we excluded involuntarily our English-speaking colleagues.

I think, this energy and resolution speaks for it self.

 

That concludes my barcamp experience report, I am very much looking forward to next year.

Thanks for letting me being part of it.

Barcamp – The first for testers and how we created it

A Barcamp only for quality interested people? On a Saturday? With an entrance fee? Crazy!

Could that work? Was there enough passion and interest in the community? It turns it, it overwhelmingly was.

The starting point

End of April 2017 there was a blog post in the Hamburg Software Test User Group (STUGHH) from Georg Haupt, who was asking, if there would be interest to make a Barcamp for testers.

So far there was not such a thing in Germany or even Europe (as far a we could find out).

A Barcamp is basically an Open Space format, where the participants define the agenda in the morning; so the outcome depends heavily on the topics the attendees bring to the table.

The organization period

After a few posts it was clear, there were interest and some people were willing to organise it. (Ursula BeiersdorfJörg Sievers, Christian Kram, Georg Haupt and Maik Nogens).

I setup a slack team, to be able to discuss more in real time and be able to create topic specific talk channels, this gave us more freedom than the group structure on the XING platform.

Over a period of just a few weeks we come up with the format of the event.

  • It should be a full day event, so we decided to have it on the weekend.
  • There should be a pre-event just for networking and getting to know each other.
  • We did not want too many sponsors, just enough to come out break-even.
  • Georg offered to host the event in the facilities of the oose Campus.
  • We could also use their infrastructure to handle registrations, invoicing, etc. with the help of Georg’s colleagues (special thanks to Stephan Roth, Nicola Bosse and Songül Bulut-Efeoglu).

At the end of this period, we had a website with registration facility online, filled the website with information of the Barcamp format and started to do the foot work.

 

Marketing and sponsoring period

The event was in Hamburg and we decided to set the date on the first September weekend.

We were using our networks to spread the word about the QA Barcamp. From twitter over XING to our internal company and client channels we reached out to all testers, QA and other quality interested people.

Looking for sponsoring was also started. Surprisingly (for me), we easily found a handful of companies willing to support the event (thanks to ASQF, iSQI, MACH AG and especially to appQS).

Now the waiting started. In the summer vacation there were not many registrations.

With less than four weeks before the events, we were getting nervous and excited… would there be a “good enough” turnout?

While dreaming big with more than 100 registrations, from my personal experience as event organizer I was realistically thinking about a dozen attendees.

Others were also more cautious in their expectations.

Turns out, we were wrong.

 

BBQ and networking – Event time, Part I

The time had come. Friday after work I went to the networking pre-event.

We had a DJ with nice background music, there was a BBQ station on the terrace and a great buffet with a variety of food and drinks (meat, veggie, salad, beer, soft drinks, coffee, tea, …).

While we did not cater to every dietary nuance (e.g. we had no vegan), I think we did good to consider other things than “pizza and beer” and strike a balance here.

Best of all.. there were easily 20 people over the whole night. Just having discussions, get to know each other and (of course) talking shop in between.

We had also a great keynote  with Oliver Monneke and Michael Kutz from REWE Digital, titled “Schnelles Wachstum von 0 auf 35 Scrum-Teams – Ein Erfahrungsbericht aus QA Sicht?”

 

Nourished physically and mentally I went home before midnight to get some rest for the big day.

 

Barcamp – Event time, Part II

The second blog post will be focused on my experience as an attendee of the event we created, you can find it here.

Agile hiring – a practical example

Agile hiring as based on interviews we do for Tester (people who’s primary role in the team will be the testing activities).

Via twitter I came across a blog post from Cassandra H. Leung (@tweet_cassandra) about Tester Interviews: Techniques and Tasks which describes on a high level, how a diverse set of techniques can be employed to improve the interview process to find fitting candidates.

My suggestion is to read Cassandras blog post first and then come back and read the practical example.

Back in 2015 I began thinking, why the hiring process were not keeping up with the agile working way. I organized an event, where local companies and HR/recruiter/staff agencies where invited to a panel discussion.

One of the primary moments where, that some companies (e.g. Adobe Hamburg, XING) already had a layered approach of recruiting.

Agile hiring iteration
Agile hiring iteration

Out team priorities for candidates

We have a quite a product range in my (clients) team and therefore need to find out, if the candidates fit from different perspectives; for us this is mainly “testing knowledge“, “personality” and “agile working experience“.

Overview hiring process

The whole client hiring process can be broken down roughly in these steps:

  1. HR screening
  2. Technical (testing knowledge)
  3. Social / personality
  4. Meeting / lunch with team

I will write about point 2 “technical (testing knowledge)”.

Practical example

These are the elements mentioned in Cassandras blog, which we use.

  • “On Site”
    We do an online (video) session, where both sides can share their screens. Skype is often good enough, since its 1on1(2).
  • First “Testing practical”
    A software fitting to the team context, there are public or open source software for most use cases, e.g. video streaming, responsive websites, applications from stores, …
  • Second “Testing practical”
    This is based on the topic of “automation”, we use automation snippets and let the candidate read and explain it, suggest improvements, …
  • “Thinking out loud”
    For the two practicals we encourage the candidate to speak out loud his observations, his thoughts and proceedings. We explain upfront the intention and assist with questions, if the candidate is too focused and forgets to talk.
  • “Three amigos”
    In connection with “thinking out loud” we explain, that we will be the developer, the product owner, other stakeholders he wants to pose questions to.
  • “Knowledge questions”
    Depending on the candidates proceeding in the practicals, we can ask about other areas, the candidate hasn’t touched or mentioned, e.g. “security”. Often the external stimulus gets the candidate unstuck or out of his (narrow) focus.
  • “Industry and Community Awareness”
    We are interested, what ways and resources of learning the candidate uses and know.

Conclusion

With some opening small talk to ease up the interview, we spent like 10-20 minutes per practical and some open questions round in the end and we tend to finish before 60 minutes.

Most often we have two interviewer, which share the practicals and take notes.

Directly after the interview, the interviewers make a short estimate based on their current feeling and impression (thump up, down or neutral).

In the aftermath, the interviewers also summarize their notes and share them with each other; here is the time for more details in the relevant areas (personal, testing, agile).

Depending on the outcome, the next steps will be communicated.

Disclaimer:
  • We try to run the same practicals, to have a kind of baseline for different candidates.
  • Two interviewer should be present, to balance out human factors of the interviewers.
  • The short time span of the interview will still carry the risk to over or under estimate candidates.

 

It is often hard to find candidates in the first place and employers should make sure, they use a more fitting hiring process to find fitting candidates on a spectrum of skills, which is relevant to the (employing) team.

Maybe this practical example can show, how different techniques can be mixed to enhance the hiring process in an (one) agile way.

 

How is your experience as an candidate or an interviewer?

Do you have also a practical example to share?

Looking forward,

Maik

Social media tags can enhance your posts and increase your reach

Social Media Tags … Part of working as an agile tester in a News environment is taking care, that the features, which impacts the spread and reach of the news articles are working, so as not to lose out on readers and followers.

So whenever we have a new article type or sharing feature, I check the visual appearance on other social media like Facebook or Twitter.

If the visuals are missing or look weird, I check the source code of the news article and check, if the needed meta tags are present.

Here is an example where the different tags are set.

Social Media Tags in page source
Social Media Tags in page source

 

What is the business problem?

Since a few years I am also part of an editor team (together with @dnlkntt, @Lalitbhamare,@dirkmeissner) for a testing related XING News page.

We posts testing news, interesting blog posts, conference CfP, etc.

As with other social media outlets, we use a preview of the news to show it upfront to the user. This teaser is an important trigger for users to click on an article.

This preview is generated by social media tags included in the page source of a website.

Quite often I come across blogs, which don’t include these, which results in a preview like this.

Here is an example of the visual difference:

Social media tags missing and present
Social media tags missing and present

And even in the image on the right side I could have done a better job and choose a better preview image. 🙂

The less attractive and informative an information is (sic!), the less likely it is, that users will click on it and get to the valuable information.

 

What is the technical problem of social media tags?

Different social media outlets use different tags and formats, so to have a good reach, the writer needs to consider them.

Twitter is using their own tags (twitter cards), while Facebook and other media use the OpenGraph tags (there might be others, but so far these seems the most common ones).

Twitter: “With Twitter Cards, you can attach rich photos, videos and media experiences to Tweets, helping to drive traffic to your website.”
(Technical information)

Facebook: “We want all websites– and in particular news sites, magazines, blogs, and other media sites– to easily reach their existing fans and grow their fan base.”
(Technical information)

XING : (Technical information)

 

What is the (a) solution?

Use the social media tags which is used by the social media, where your audience is most likely to be found.

Depending on the tool you use to write, there might be different ways to include them.

For example, on WordPress there are plugins, from “Yeast SEO” and “Open Graph” to dedicated “Twitter”, which all provide the functionality.

What if you have a blog post, where there is no image?
You can set a default image, maybe from your start page or somewhere different.

 

Back to Testing
Now that you know some more background of these meta tags, you can also use that knowledge to test them in your products, when you are sharing to social media.

There are even tools outside, which can give you a quick insight, without the need to crawl through the page source.

OpenGraph: Just paste the URL of the article into OpenGraphCheck to see, which tags are present.

Twitter Card: Just paste the URL of the article into Card Validator to see, which tags are present.

Facbeook: Just paste the URL of the article into Dev Tool to see, which tags are present.

 

Toolkit for Test competitions

As part of our talk at the Nordic Testing Days 2016 about “Bake your own STWC (Software Testing World Cup)”, we presented a checklist for the different roles involved in a testing competition.

If you plan to participate or organize a testing competition, this can be a guideline, what to consider and keep an eye.

Player

  • Build a team
  • Find your way
  • Know your tools
  • Practice
  • Keep up to date

Organizer

  • Event size (company vs. global)
  • Framework (team size, timebox, restrictions)
  • Infrastructure (online vs. Offline, chat vs. room)
  • Gamification/recognition
  • „Supporters“, people who like that idea and assist
  • Don’t restrict, where it is not needed.
  • Have fun and take away learnings for yourself.
  • Feedback! Actively look for feedback. Adjust on it.

Judge

  • Time investment
  • Discuss & define the judging criteria
  • Ask for feedback, discuss in group
  • Be neutral
  • Avoid conflict of interest

Supporter / Sponsors

  • Money
  • Rooms
  • SUT (Software under Test)

Social Engineering leichtgemacht oder die Geschichte des abgehackten Kopfes

Es kommt ja häufig vor, das man Gesprächsfetzen in der U-Bahn mitbekommt.

Meistens sind diese belanglos oder so „anonymisiert“, das man keine Namen oder Firmen heraushört.

Heute morgen in der Hamburger U-Bahn war das leider nicht so.

Die nächsten Absätze sind aus dem Gedächtnis niedergeschrieben, es waren allerdings so viele Informationen, das ich ggf. einige falsch wiedergebe.

Am Bahnsteig kamen zwei Herren an und standen neben mir.

Folgendes sind einige Infos, die ich in den nächsten ca. 5 Minuten mithören konnte.

OH:

Herr Strathe wollte so gerne zu Herrn Bossis Beerdigung gehen und Frau Sachse hat sich echt Mühe gegeben, das vor den Weihnachtstagen einzurichten.

(Hat anscheinend leider nicht geklappt).

Und Joachim hat sein Konzept abgearbeitet, es aber leider mit der Beschwerde auch nicht hinbekommen.

Und die Zeugin aus dem Fall vor 10 Jahren konnte sich auch nicht mehr erinnern, wo sie die Informationen nun herhat, anscheinend gibt es einen Zeit Artikel, der das Thema auch behandelt.

Den wollte sich der Herr nun auch mal holen, vielleicht ist das ja interessant.

Und der Fall, wo versucht wurde, der Person den Kopf abzuhacken.. also wirklich.

Sowas möchte man doch morgens nun echt nicht in der U-Bahn hören.

Aber einer Person, die eine quietsch-gelbe Daunenjacke trägt, sind solche Überlegungen evtl. eh fremd.

Der zweite Kollege hat zwar nichts Interessantes zum Gespräch beigetragen, aber seinen Kollegen auch nicht wirklich unterbrochen oder darauf hingewiesen, das man solche Informationen vielleicht nicht in der Öffentlichkeit kundtun sollte.

Meine Vermutung:

Sie sind nicht an der Station „Gänsemarkt“ ausgestiegen, aber die nächste Station ist „Messehallen“, dort ist das Landgericht Hamburg.

Aufgrund der Art und Weise, wie sie bestimmte Wörter genutzt haben, z.B.: „die 3 Anwälte“, vermute ich, das es Richter oder auf Staatsseite Beschäftigte waren.

Was soll uns dieser kurze Blogpost nun sagen?

Solange es Menschen gibt, die aus Ignoranz, aus Nicht-Dran-Denken, aus Nicht-Dessen-Bewusst-Sein oder anderen Gründen Informationen, die Ihnen anvertraut sind, in der Öffentlichkeit ausposaunen, solange muss man sich nicht wundern, wenn Themen wie „Datenschutz“, „Privatsphäre“ oder auch nur der Respekt vor ggf. Opfern und Beteiligten als nachrangig angesehen werden.

Wenn man viel reist, wird man feststellen, das dieses Verhalten leider durchaus häufig vorkommt.

Am Ende einer Zugfahrt kann man durchaus eine komplette Projektlage kennen, inklusive Ansprechpartner und Budgetzahlen.

Anfänger Tips für Gespräche im öffentlichem Raum

  1. Nicht über die Arbeit sprechen

  2. Keine Kunden, Klienten, Firmen oder sonstige Namen nennen

  3. Nicht den ganzen Waggon, Bus, o.ä beschallen, leise sprechen (minimiert den Kreis der Mithörer)

Experten Tip

  1. Das obige gilt auch für Arbeiten am Laptop und Gespräche am Telefon

  2. Wenn man unbedingt mit Laptop arbeiten muss, eine Sichtfolie benutzen (minimiert den Kreis der Mitleser)

How to incorporate your ears to check log files

Today my irritation level was high enough to act. What happened?

While working on some Capybara tests, I was switching forth and back between the editor, the browser and the logfile terminal on the 2nd monitor to investigate if errors showed up in the log file.

If you ever tailed a file on a Linux system, you might have seen, that the log file is moving quite fast in your terminal window. Even on font size 6 its not easy to catch a certain ERROR label.

Opening a huge file and searching within is also not a pleasure and tedious, so that was also not an option for me.

Log-Watch

I remembered the Log-Watch tool from James Bach, which plays a sound file everytime a customizable word/phrase is found in a log file.

Alas, my work computer was not Windows based.

Would it not be nice, if there was such a tool for Macintosh?

A quick question into Slacks testers.io tool channel and Richard Bradshaw (@friendlyTester) had a solution at hand.

It basically combines the feature of the “tail” command to continously display the last entries of a given file on the screen with the “grep” command, which searches the input files for lines containing a match to a given pattern list and finally plays a sound file via afplay, if the pattern is found.

Command

tail -f <path-to-log-file> | grep --line-buffered ‘<Pattern to listen to>' | while read line; do afplay <path-to-local-sound-file>/test.wav; done

 

Richard also has a blog post up, which contains also a link into his Github repository.

Next level

That command is working locally. But the log files I use daily are on a remote server, a sandbox in my case. There are no sound files, no audio player and even it there were, its of no use, if it beeps in the server room. Might scare some admins, if it randomly beeps though.

Plus I also don’t want to install stuff on the sandbox. We delete them on a regular base and make new ones. Installing stuff would be another preparation step, which costs time.

I was wondering, if it was possible to use my local Macintosh files and hardware and started to adjust the above solution.

Command for remote files

ssh <user@remoteserver> 'tail -f <path-to-log-file>' | grep --line-buffered ‘<Pattern to listen to>' | while read line; do afplay <path-to-local-sound-file>/test.wav; done

This combined the command with the feature to log into remote machines via ssh.

 

The Benny Hill theme

Thanks to @simonk the tool channel probably had an earworm for the rest of the day, cause he brought up the Benny Hill theme.

Anyone not familiar, click on play here.

 

Lessons Learned for me

First, we are a global, intensively knowledgable community. As so often in development, someone somewhere might had the same obstacle and can help you out. Or s/he has the right skills to solve your problem. This was an exercise in tester pairing btw.

So reach out and connect. It can only be a win win situation.

 

Second, if something troubles / irritates you enough, it might be worth to investigate and automate it.

Yes, it can be called automation. We created a small line of code to help us in our testing work.

 

Third, remember that we have more senses in our portfolio than “just” our eyes, to watch what the software is doing.

The blink heuristic relies on your visual sense as well.

While smell has become a little out of fashion, even that was used before (Smoke Test anyone?).

If you are in mobile testing, the tactile sense is useful, e.g. when your battery becomes warmer, than you expect.

 

Conclusion

I used this command the whole afternoon, while testing and listening to music.

Believe me, the sound file you choose will be heard, even with music on, cause it is also a kind of blink heuristic for your ears. It sticks out.

This will give you an additional layer of information in your testing, because you can now make use of two senses instead of one.

The whole “development” might have taken maybe like 30 minutes and I am quite sure, it already has paid off.

 

STWC – Software Testing World Cup – Changes for 2015/2016

The official STWC website has gone public with the new information about the next STWC.

There are some changes and one of the obvious ones is the team registration fee of 40 Euro per Team (10 Euro per team member).

While the reasoning can also be found on that site, I want to explain some more about it.

As stated there are basically two major reasons, why we decided for that.

1. No Shows

Anyone who has ever organized an event, a user group or even a dinner table booking for people, who are not direct friends, might have experienced it.

There is most often a quota of “no shows”. Meaning people who said, they would come, but then don’t.

And I mean, without informing the organizer upfront; they just don’t show up.

Btw. that might be a reason, why sometimes e.g. airlines or hotels are overbooked. They expect, that a certain percentage of people are not showing up.

 

Why is this a problem for STWC?

Since each STWC continental round has a limit how many teams can participate, the teams who register, but then don’t show up, are blocking slots for teams, who are really interested and would love to play.

Why do we have limits on how many can particpate, its online anyway?

Well, one main concept of STWC is the evaluation of the teams deliverables by (as we call them) judges.

Each team is evaluated at least by two judges to get two opinions.If they are close to each other, fine. If not we bring in 1-2 more judges.

This takes a lot of time and commitment of the judges.

Most (if not all) are doing this as a voluntary, unpaid task next to their main jobs and private life.

With a round limit of 250 teams one can do the maths….

Often a judge has to evaluate around 20 teams in a period of one month.

Depending of course, that we get that many volunteers who want to participate as judges.

 

2. Raising money to realize the unique points of STWC

A lot of people invest their own, unpaid time for STWC. Be it the players, the volunteering judges from all over the world and also the organizers.

One of the awesome aspects of STWC is, that we want to fly in the winner team from each continent and pay their flight and accomodation. And also the professional live recording and video streaming.

I personally think, that is a great incentive to participate, cause a) it gives the event something unique and elevates it from a pure online event and b) it gives the team members a chance to participate in a good conference, make contacts with other testers from around the world and exchange with other known, public names.

This of course comes with a price tag.

While we were lucky to ask at the right time and place and could convince HP to be the global tool sponsor, it is not running so smoothly every time.

So we decided to take some money from the teams.

We could not realize the intial idea which we had, which was to charge each member 10 units of their local currency (peso, euro, dollar, yuan, rupees, etc.) to balance out the conversion differences and we thought to mirror the Big Mac Index .

Sadly it was too complicated, cause Diaz & Hilterscheid would collect the money (since they paid the tickets, etc.) and the tax issues involved were too much a headache and complicated, that we scrapped that idea.

This team fee will pay forward to the costs involved.

And, on a personal note, I think, some investment intoa testers learning should be worth to each of us. For some, 10 Euro is still something, but for a lot of folks that money is equivalent to 2-3 beer or other beverages of choice.

PotsLightning 2014 and STWC Antarctica wildcard team

Are you going to the Agile Testing Days‎? Why not come one day before and enjoy the company of fellow testing professionals? Potslightning gives you the (open) space to talk about topics from our craft, which focus on what the attendees want to talk about.

You want to discuss, how the advancement of mobile devices has advanced from mere mobile phones to new kinds of “things”? And how that changes our working area as testers?

Maybe you want to hear, how and why the winner teams of the STWC choose their testing strategy and reports; which scored them a place in the final round of the world cup.

BYOT: Bring your own topic. You have an area you want to talk about? Bring it along and put it to the vote for the other participants. Maybe it’s the newest trend or information, which we all are interested in.

If you are pumped up from a day of full testing passion, why not put it to the test (pun intended).

Open Space attendees:

George Dinwiddie (The Three Amigos concept),  Oana Juncu (Storytelling), Lisa Crispin, Janet Gregory, Matt Heusser, Helena Kolpakova, (Embedded System), Carl, STWC New Zealand Champions: Joshua Urieli, Joseph Walker, Henry Ashton-Martyn and Mark Tokumaru

This years PotsLightning will also be connected with the STWC.

We will create a 4 person team from interested participants, who will enter the final round of STWC as the wildcard team “Antarctica”.

If you are interested, sent me an email with your details, your topic ideas and why you should be one of the 20 participants. Please also indicate, if you are interested to play in the Final round of STWC.

 

The third PotsLightning peer workshop will be held on 9th of November 2014.
It is lined up on the sunday before the Agile Testing Days 2014 conference.

Some people are arriving the weekend before and now they have the chance to attend also a workshop with peers in a relaxed atmosphere.

We will do an Open Space format as not to restrict the flow via setting a strict theme upfront.

Plus we offer a small competition (max. 20 players) to be team “STWC Antarctica” and particpate in the STWC Finals round on Monday, 10th November 2014 on the AgileTestingDays.

If you are interested to attend, please contact us via email.
Should you already know a topic you want to talk about, feel free to sent it in the email.

Twitter Hashtag: #PotsLightning

Here are the information in short:

Date: 09.11.2014
City: Potsdam, Germany
Venue: Dorint Hotel