May #MidsTest: “The Testing Social Network”

It was through continual and persistent poking that we eventually got Lee Marshall to do his first ever talk at #MidsTest. His first ever 99-seconds talk at TestBash Brighton also encouraged him to do a slightly-longer-than-99-seconds talk at #MidsTest!

Lee wanted to share his experience of his learning via the social network, specifically in the software testing context – hence the topic: “The Testing Social Network”. Ideal for a newbie with plenty of things to take away for experienced tester too.

The event was held on 24th May at our usual venue of Ramada Solihull where  our sponsor Matt Drinkwater from WoodrowMercer and hosts Raji and Ranjit met and welcomed the attendees.

With the room set (with gopro recording the session and all that…)

It was up to Raji to do the honours to firstly welcome the attendees, thank our sponsors, introduce the speaker and set the agenda.

Lee’s motivation was to share his journey of discovering and learning from various social networking sites/media and how it could become a vast knowledge base for testers – those new to software testing and as a reminder, a reference for experienced ones too.

Lee started with his experience of meetups and how one of the earlier #MidsTest sessions featuring Santhosh Tuppad had allowed him to understand and appreciate an area of testing he does not participate in his place of work. He also showed interest in knowing from the attendees of various other meetups, testing ones or others, that people attended. Some of the notable ones that were mentioned were

  • Other MoT meetups
  • Coventry Tech Meetup
  • Lean Agile Birmingham
  • Coventry and local area Agile meetup
  • NoSQL and Big Data Birmingham

Next, Lee’s source of learning was the discovery of various blogs that he reads religiously.

Lee’s favourites included blogs by  Michael Bolton, James BachMaaret Pyhäjärvi, Dan Billing and Simon Knight. He also observed that Twitter served an excellent platform to float an idea, a question, a suggestion around and get a feedback or a response almost immediately from across the globe. Lee also spoke about his how using blog and/or twitter with different perspective helps community gain from interactions amongst each other. Once opening it up to the attendees, following quick, notable mentions made:

Following this, Lee mentioned the Testersio and Ministry of Testing slack channels and how he had used them to get answers to his queries and even contribute to a shared Spotify playlist!

Forums then featured with as SQAForums, uTest, Reddit and LinkedIn and how they were much easier to navigate and search the topic you are interested in. Product-specific forums, especially those that are specific to tools are also a great source of information in getting specific questions answered quickly.

Lee then moved onto one of the most active events for any tester to learn – Conferences.

Citing his own example of how he was able to get a suggestion while discussing his requirement for screen capturing resulted in him trialling a tool that converts a series of screen captures into an animated gif file, Lee highlighted the benefit of not just being able to meet and network with individuals, presenters but even discuss topics that were talked about during the day – or within the community in general helped him significantly.

Some of the conferences noted were

Podcasts and Videos also featured as an excellent source of learning, serving those who commute, or for those who prefer audio-visual learning. Of particular interest to Lee were the feeds available from Ministry of Testing and Richard Bradshaw‘s Whiteboard testing video channel.

Mentions to various testing and non-testing related videos were mentioned, including TED talks – and the most popular list in particular.

Online website techgig.com also got a mention from one of the attendees.

With Lee’s talk finishing well ahead of time for food, it was the most opportune time for some Q&A

with some anecdotes from our co-host, Raji on how learning from the community, setting up a Testing meetup led her to her employment…

Overall, although it felt a bit rushed, Lee’s talk was well received and it did not appear as if Lee was doing his first ever talk!

Following a big round of applause for Lee on his first talk, it was left for the attendees to know about a few of the events happening over the next month before the next #MidsTest.

Encouraged by the quality of our sessions (and the venue and also our wonderful sponsors WoodrowMercer and Matt Drinkwater), two of our regular attendees even volunteered for their own talks/presentations. Definitely encouraging signs…

A list of future event (and past ones with reports) is available on our events page.

If you would like to attend or even speak at one of our events, please get in touch via email us at midsTest (at) outlook (dot) com or twitter or simply contact us via this form.

Finally, Lee has a blog post to go with his talk here. A link to the video will also be updated on this post once it becomes available.

Some pictures of the events are below:

April #MidsTest: “The Risk Questionnaire”

April was a double first for #MidsTest. Our new co-sponsor Xpertise Recruitment were sponsoring their first ever Midlands Testers meetup and despite having known Adam for a few years and having met up with him at various meetups and testing conferences, it was his first time at our meetup.

What started with a rather slow take up turned out to be a rather well-attended event with most attendees gathering punctually in the bar area! Ramada Solihull yet again pleased us by hosting us in a quiet, big function room with our sponsor Richard Bailey already setting up the Xpertise banner stand (you can’t miss it in the pics below!)

With attendees suitably refreshed, food ordered and the meetup agenda conveyed, it was time for Adam to take over.

Adam started his talk with narrating events that piqued his interest in human behaviour in times of facing risks – more importantly when facing changes in their risk situation.

As examples of this, Adam quoted instances where changes in risk situation were compensated by human behaviour such that established same, if not more, level of risk for respective situations as had been before the change had happened – thus, achieving a sort of equilibrium; a demonstration “risk homeostatis” theory.

Risk Homeostasis is a theory that individuals will alter their behaviour in response to changes in risk variables to maintain a constant perceived level of risk in any situation

By way of examples, Adam explained how predisposed human behaviour is in considering a situation risky by way of using the availability heuristic – where we recollect similar instances, examples or by relating to stories conveyed to us; how risk assessment is still very much a ‘system one’ or ‘gut’ reaction than a more methodical, logical ‘system two’ way of thinking – many times simply due to the lack of availability heuristic for individual manager to depend upon. This is something that is extremely relevant in software development where decision makers without insights into the software development processes may end up underestimating risk in such areas as compared to the ones they may be much more aware of.

Adam then proceeded to narrate the challenges he was faced with a client when he started a new role where he was responsible for driving / prescribing their test approach; how he noticed that there was no consensus over what acceptable level of risks were for that organisation.

Drawing from his personal experience of being at an independent financial advisor, Adam demonstrated a sample of a typical questionnaire advisors use when profiling their potential customers’ risk appetite. Inspired by this, Adam narrated how he developed his own questionnaire, across different areas, to assess the  risk appetite of the organization. These were then sent across to the members of the management team and the results collated to depict the variance in the perception of risk the organization as a whole had.

The responses presented in an easy to understand, graphical format  were wide ranging in some cases, surprisingly focused in others – giving Adam an incredible insight into – not only what the risk appetite of the company was, but also where there was a lack of consensus was in terms of testing issues and how that helped him embed a living test strategy into the organization.

 

With the talk complete, the attendees had the opportunity to firstly digest the talk and then pose questions – which there were plenty!

The questions continued until the food arrived. With the interest in the topic and questions still unanswered for many, our host suggested continuing the discussions over food – and the discussions were plenty!

Overall, we thought the night was a success with both – the attendees as well as our guest giving it their stamp of approval.

Adam has written a blog post to go with the talk which can be found here.

Here’s a selection of pictures from the evening…

 

March #MidsTest: “The dark side of web”

Our guest for March edition of #MidsTest was Santhosh Tuppad. This time, the meetup was a slightly delayed affair given our guest speaker’s availability after TestBash 2017. Santhosh and his team at TestInsane very generously gave us our logo (its’ now on the home page) and provided us with a poster for his talk too!

After an anxious time waiting to hear from Santhosh about his travel plans, we heard late on the eve of the meetup that he would indeed be present at the meetup! With a slight anxiety of whether he will make it and with no “Plan B”, we set about faithfully making arrangements for the meetup; Given the tremendous interest in the session, the attendance appeared to inch to our highest participation levels risking overcrowding in our regular meetup area. Ramada Solihull very kindly moved us to a much bigger space – the Courtyard Suite – generally suitable for much bigger occasions that our meetup;

It was pleasantly surprising to meet Santhosh for the first time – without is almost trademarked beard! Matt Drinkwater, our sponsor from Woodrow Mercer had most graciously set up a tab at the bar so while the testers gathered and refreshed themselves, Raji and Ranjit got time to introduce themselves to Santhosh, Tracey and welcome other attendees and arrange for a little something for Santhosh.

Santhosh’s high level of energy, enthusiasm and zeal was evident when he jumped straight into plugging his laptop to the projector, raring to go – this is generally where we have our slides up, we convey our agenda, introduce our speaker etc – but this time, we were more than happy to have Santhosh take it away!

We, of course, had to do a little bit of our job of introductions etc – which was left to the defacto face of our meetup – Raji. With formalities completed, the stage was all Santhosh’s.

Santhosh began with his journey into the testing world – from his hacking as a 12 yo to being a co-founder at Moolya to a startup owner at TestInsane.

He then jumped straight into demonstrating hacking; all live – exposing how low the awareness was amongst organisations with regards to securing their (and their client’s) data. Attendees were left shocked and horrified to see how easy it was for any hacker to get access to private data and exploit the vulnerabilities for financial gain; One such demo of showing a screen grab video of hacking he did before showed how a malicious hacker could syphon off money from companies.

Santhosh, while demo’ing the vulnerabilities kept the audience informed not only what a hacker might look for, but also as a responsible tester/authority what to ensure that might help reduce/avoid such attacks and the tools that could help – one such example was port scanning using nmap and what ideal states of these should be.

Next came the demo of some of the tools – nmap, Mantra browser – and its many many addons and perhaps his favourite – BurpSuite. Santhosh spent some time demonstrating the use of BurpSuite and related tools that allowed tester find (sensitive) information. There was a slight feel of the talk diverting into a tool/product demo but given the topic, it remained a relevant segment of Santhosh’s talk that made tester aware and equipped them with the right toolset.

The audience then got to engage with Santhosh over the ‘crack the password exercise’ before moving onto the mobile vulnerabilities and how there are tools out there to reverse engineer the Android APK files and allow code to reveal vulnerabilities.

The number of tips, tricks, websites, tools and techniques that Santhosh covered while talking came at an astonishing speed; and whilst Ranjit was jotting things down for a retrospective writeup, he could barely keep up! In fact, there is probably more out there on TestInsane website – especially within the mindmaps area than we could have jotted down – so feel free to browse the area, if you don’t already know it!

Such was the involvement and passion with which Santhosh was keeping the attendees engaged, it was only fair for us to allow him to go beyond the hour we had; We regrettably had to interrupt as the food had been served for the attendees; Santhosh made himself available to attendees, answering their questions, giving them tips, suggestions and pointers;

A quick and informal survey of the attendees revealed this to be the best session #MidsTest had organised so far with quite a few requesting half-day / full day (paid) workshops to be conducted as a part of #MidsTest.

It was a further few hours of varied and interesting conversations before the hosts got to say goodbye to our guests for the evening – a truly thought-provoking, highly informative and eye-opening sessions we’ve had the privilege to host.

Santhosh has been kind enough to say a few good things about the meetup, the hosts and the attendees too!

Santhosh has also put up a summary write-up of his own here.

Some pictures of the event are below:

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Guest Post: James Fairclough: Life can be testing

James was our featured presenter for our February #MidsTest. We requested James to do a guest post on how it was for him to do a talk (his first) at our meetup. This is his version of events. A separate summary report with some pictures is available here.

What it was all about

This was a talk that aimed to address where your skill set as a tester might benefit you in your life out of work. The talk looked at some soft skills, drawing inspiration from ‘Black Box Thinking’, analytical skills and hard skill set. The talk was formatted as a story telling from the perspective of myself, the talks author. Broadly – it’s an ongoing investigation and thus far produced little more than self amusement. Watch this space for ‘Life can be Testing v0.2’!

Experience report

Firstly, I’d like to recommend that anybody who frequents this meet up, or any other, to get up and do a talk!

In November, when I was approached about preparing a talk for #MidsTest meetup I was clueless about what value I could add or knowledge I could bring to the table. After some deliberation I decided to attempt to answer a question I’d been asking myself for a while; If I was a builder, I could work on my own house. If I was a mechanic I could help my friends out when they had car trouble.. but as a tester – what can I do?

The important part to look out for in the above is ‘attempt’! Basically, I’d position the talk as an early version. One of my opening slides quoted it as ‘v0.1’. I’m positioning it this way because I struggled to find many practical uses for my skills as a tester and the talk content predominantly demonstrated a series of stories/demo’s where I’d either tried to shoe-horn-in some relevancy to testing or I’m plainly trying to amuse myself! [for anybody who saw the talk – think selenium abuse]. A bit of a failed attempt maybe but I feel the journey I went on to discover a place for testing skills in the real world was one worth presenting.

The next step for me is to continue the journey of discovery – find a place outside of work where testers get a byproduct of our skills. To support me on this journey and engage the community in taking part, I’ve started a slack channel that we’ll be able to use as a forum to chip in ideas/demos or just share some [questionably NSFW] projects. I’ll publish the details again publicly when I’ve had a chance to administrate the channel a bit.

Reflecting on my opening statement, even a failed attempt to produce some content made for an interesting talk – so if you’re doubting yourself or wrestling with an idea then get in touch with Ranjit or Raji and book a slot for a talk! If nothing else you’ll learn something.

Thanks for having me and hopefully we’ll do v0.2 at some point soon!

– James

February #MidsTest – “Life can be testing”

For second month in a row, we had yet another first timer, James Fairclough as our featured presenter. James’ talk was titled “Life can be testing” – an experience report of sorts – using skills and techniques gained while testing software in workplace – outside of workplace.

With a large participation anticipated and an interactive session planned, this was an eagerly anticipated event.

Having suitably refreshed in the bar area by our sponsors for the evening, Woodrow Mercer, the participants made their way for the session where James took to stage:

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Whilst this was James’ first time presenting, his confidence and ease with which he began proved otherwise.

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Topics covered included discussions on Black box thinking, reflections on failures that were boon in disguise, Selenium hacks and even the possibility of death by pigeons!

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The topic covered gave plenty food for thought and was apparent by the active participation from the attendees…

img_20170208_193022img_20170208_192448 img_20170208_191247Before wrapping up, James shared details of his slack channel where those interested could discuss or share their ideas and experiences based on the ideas discussed in his talk.

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Finally, there was a little matter of networking and food to attend to which provided our attendees not just opportunities to discuss in person the day’s topic, but also to catch up with other attendees or even discuss job opportunities with our sponsor Matt Drinkwater from Woodrow Mercer!

Slides from James’ presentation are available here.

Lee Marshall (@nu_fenix), James’ work colleague has a detailed blog post/report about this talk here.

If you attended this meetup and have any comments or have a write up of this session, we would love to hear from you!

Why not join us for our next event – a-not-to-be-missed-masterclass from Santhosh Tuppad (@santhoshst) on 28th March? You might want to RSVP here!

Inaugural #MidsTest meetup – January 2017

Our first #MidsTest meetup was held on 11th January with a new speaker – Jyothi Balusu starting us off with her hands-on demo / talk “Introduction to Selenium Webdriver using Java”.

Matt Drinkwater, from our most generous host Woodrow Mercer – was unable to attend, but was very kind enough to arrange for the food and drink beforehand for a nearly full house attendees.

A number of testers who were unable to attend had requested we record the session; We did the next best thing – broadcasted the session live via Periscope – with our organiser Ranjit on the camera duties – and captured sitting rather awkwardly here by our hostess, Raji!

The talk started off with a confirmation and a walk through of install pre-requisites, setting up of the environments and a quick summary of Selenium’s capability.

Jyothi then demonstrated Firebug and Firepath – a couple of Firefox tools – and demonstrated easy ways of identifying web elements and generate xPath using these tools. The techniques of identifying XPaths – both absolute and relative were them employed on a demo wordpress website to allow attendees gain confidence. Jyothi also showed different ways in which the elements could be accessed – typically by means of class.

This was followed by a quick overview of the WebDriver and the implementation of a simple code of logging into the demo website using a script implementing code to invoke web elements using XPath.

Finally, Jyothi wrote a JUnit equivalent of the above example whilst also covering the different annotations that are invoked during execution of the JUnit script.

A keen interest in the session meant it overran its course, but quite a few attendees got their questions answered.

Following the session, the attendees were briefed about upcoming testing events and conferences and a confirmation of the next #MidsTest meetup; This led us nicely into yet another important agenda for the evening – that of food. This gave the hosts a good chance to catch up individual attendees over the Mezze platter, pizzas, salads, spicy wedges which did not last long. Sorry no pics of the empty plates here!

Testers of varied experience, a PhD student, a Programmer, a recruiter and even a college student looking to get into testing were our attendees!

The stream / recording of the main talk can be found here (or below) and the slides here.

Meetup Summary – May 2016 edition

May edition of #CovTestersMeetup was held on 26th May.

Our sponsors – Matt Drinkwater from Woodrow Mercer and their new recruit Natalie Brown were kind enough to spread the word around on the Midland Testing Forum – which got in few new faces, a couple of them who never knew such a thing existed!

There were two talks planned : one by the first timer, Venkat Natraj (aka @rajucvv) and the other by Vernon Richards (aka @TesterFromLeic)

Venkat has been with #CovTestersMeetup since its inception back in 2015 and has been a loyal follower/supporter and an active participant of the #CovTestersMeetup. For reasons unknown, #CovTestersMeetup never had him as a speaker. But as they say – it is better late than never!

Vernon on the other hand, has been around a while – to say the least. In #CovTestersMeetup terms, he is a veteran of many a meetups – although he has been to one or two #CovTestersMeetups, we only managed to pursuade him into doing a talk this month. That he took his talk seriously was very evident!

Venkat’s talk was titled “Testing Mobile Applications” – a vast subject in itself so convincing him to do a 30 min talk with Q&A was always going to be a difficult task to achieve. Venkat decided to do the next best thing: give a brief overview of what all was involved in testing of mobile applications and briefly explained

  • how the mobility came to the phones
  • the domains mobility is serving and is being used
  • the ecosystem that testers have to deal with and
  • the challenges testers face when testing mobile applications

Venkat during his Talk

Venkat has been testing mobile application for just over 3 years and can be reached here.

Following a short break to refresh, topping up our drinks over some nibbles, we were back for Vernon’s talk that was perhaps more complicated (or was it more complex) of the two – “A Testers perspective on Complexity and Cynefin”.

In his talk, Vernon introduced the Cynefin (pronounced ‘ku-neh-vin’) Framework that developed by David Snowden. With then help of a flip-chart Vernon explained how this framework was not a categorisation tool, but instead a framework that helped in assessing the situation on hand.

Vernon then explained the 5 domains that make up this framework and went on to cite some examples on how these would assist a tester in being effective in different situations.

Vernon’s talk did trigger some healthy discussion and perhaps raised a whole new set of questions for many who attended.

The testing community has been talking about this for some time, and Vernon did a splendid job of spreading awareness of this in making testers more aware, mature and valuable – so thank you for that, Vernon!

Before we concluded the evening, more networking over delicious pursued; all courtesy of our wonderful sponsors – Woodrow Mercer – so thank you once, again to Matt Drinkwater and Natalie Brown for this. We look forward to your continued support.

Do spread the word around about this event when we will have new speakers talking about more interesting things and happenings within the testing community.

We look forward to meeting you at the next #CovTestersMeetup which is on June 22nd – RSVP here!