All posts by Mindful tester

Find The Monster In The Room

One evening in the winter I was having a dinner. People enjoyed their meal and there was a lot of talk.

The mood
was good.

Then the youngest child shrieked of panic. All talk stopped.

The first steps would be like: go to the bedroom and put on the light.

Everyone at the dinner table looked at the kid a few meters away. The kid was in the same room.

The mother said that the kid had seen something. She went to the little child and tried to talk about it. This was difficult, because the kid knew only a few words.

The mother looked in the direction of the fearful eyes and saw nothing strange.

Back at the dinner table she told a story about curtains with triangles which looked like eyes to another little kid.

The second shriek was handled in the same way. The mother went to comfort the child. While looking for the source of fear.

The 3rd time an adult was with the frightened child within a second. The person lowered the head to the same height of the kid and looked carefully.

A machine showed some scrolling text. It was like the pupil of an eye looking for …

One of my kids asked: “Can I draw out the power cord?”
My answer was: “Yes.”
This was immediately followed by a familiar sound.
The display went blank.

Earlier that evening there was a power outage. The machine was switched on and had no current time. So it politely asked to set the proper time and scared a little child.

Some readers might remark, that this blog is about IT and  testing.
My answer is: “Yes”.

My New Year’s resolution is to Find The Monster In The Room.

Now I gave it a name.

My Workshop At Agile Testing Days 2019

Preparation costs energy

After all the last weeks’ changes I could finally start my actual workshop.

I felt an energy drop and watched an expectant audience from a far distance. I used my automatic pilot for the intro.

While nobody moved, my distance to the audience became closer while I was talking.

I was back in the room.

First test session

For me the most elementary things of Exploratory Testing are

  • Charter
  • Test idea
  • Explore
  • Debrief

For this I created a heuristic. CTED is pronounced as See TED. If I need some inspirational talks, then I go to

A charter is a short instruction for a test session.

Explore < target >
with < resources >
to discover < information>

This template of Elisabeth Hendrickson is compact and informative. As mentioned in Explore it.

For the interested people test charter is not found in the index, charter is.

In my workshop the Target was a website. But it is still quite big. Resources is often a web browser.

Information was focused on privacy. General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, an European privacy law, is still quite huge, so the next step was to select some articles of GDPR.

Ik picked 2. 1 lead to the following question:
Does the website ask consent to gather information?

A charter can be quite abstract. A test idea can be used to focus on a feature, window, or term used in the website to explore.

Consent is not frequently used, but which words are used in a web site?
Privacy, cookies, permission, private data, etcetera.

Using the charter and test ideas it is possible to explore the web site, whether consent is actually asked from the user.

During the debrief the attendees shared their information, which could be used for the following test session.

Background information first test session

For the basic structure of the test session I used the heuristic DiSSS from Tim Ferriss. This stands for Deconstruction Selection Sequence Stakes.
I assume that i was added for pronounciation reasons.

I looked to all the steps I took during Exploratory testing.
Are detailed test cases needed? Not in every case. Most of the times a good description of the precondition is good enough.

What I noticed during Deconstruction was that certain steps always came back. These steps I used for the Selection for CTED. This also led to a logical Sequence. The Stakes were twofold: people had to tell whether the workshop is worthwhile. Also the fines for privacy could be quite high.

Second test session

One test session done.
Another one to do.

At the beginning of the session I enhanced the resources with personas. For me a persona is a person with a need, who interacts with the system.

Examples for a need are: acceptance, cooperation , safety, purpose, learning, support, inclusion, etc.

E.g. a known persona is a marketeer. The more she or he knows about a website visitor, the more she or he will sell.
For this purpose I had made a set of persona cards.

I also handed out an one pager to the attendees with articles and test techniques which could be used for testing websites on GDPR compliancy.

The test techniques were selected using DiSSS.

After the Explore phase more issues were mentioned during the Debrief phase.

Background information second test session

Once again I used a heuristic of Tim Feriss, CaFE. This is an abbreviation for Compression Frequency Encryption. Once again I assume that ‘a’ was added for pronunciation.

Was it possible to compress information for testing GDPR? Yes, by making an one pager.

I tried to make to Frequency high, so attendees had to go through Charter – Test idea – Explore – Debrief cycle multiple times.
I used Encryption by using CTED.

In case you need more background information, please have a mind map.

What went wrong

The time to explore was quite short. I did this on purpose. For beginners it can be terrible to click through a site for 10 minutes on your own without finding anything.

In hindsight a group activity was better suited to explore the website.

While I tried to keep the introvert involved, it was a challenge to give them enough speaking time. I really liked the sticky notes for found bugs in the workshop of Lisa Crispin and Lena Pejgan.

My prerequisite for the workshop for a laptop was not needed. I could demo certain tools using my own laptop. Luckily there was an Open Space to demonstrate GDPR and Exploratory Testing.

What went right

The demo was a great way to change the pace of the workshop. I had good feedback during the repetitions

My impression was, that most attendees were hesitant to test their own websites or websites of their employers. My test website provided a safe environment to explore.

During the preparations I learned a lot about websites and tools.

Thank you José Diaz and your team for this wonderful journey.

Tweaking My Workshop Accessibility

During the Speakers Dinner of Agile Testing Days 2019 I told Abby Bangser about my attempts to make my workshop accessible.
“It is even possible to add alternative text to images in PowerPoint. If you click on the image, there are several tabs. One tab contains Alternative text. [ … ]

Don’t forget the exclamation mark (!). The screen reader will read it differently.”

Tobias Geyer, another speaker, was confused. I saw him thinking: “Alternative to what?”
I told him about a screen reader which could read information aloud to people. This is handy for people with a visual impairment. Alternative text is used on web sites to add more information to pictures.

If the presentation would be downloadable at the beginning of the presentation, then attendees would be able to hear the information on the slides.

Blind review

Some people state that a blind review is the best one. The reviewer is not distracted by the looks of the speaker or the beauty of the pictures.

One of my reviewers was blind, so I really needed to speak well. Without the use of my slides it was difficult to tell a story. The main feedback was no clear structure.

So I added a mind map which gave a proper view of the workshop. This was really appreciated by the next reviewer.

For the exercises I had already tested the website with a screen reader. Once again it was time for the real thing.

My blind reviewer went through the website without any delay. The reading speed was so high, that it looked like a normal person was skimming the webpages. The feedback was almost instantaneous.

It was strange for me to hear, that bugs were found by clicking around. Navigation was on hearing. My test website passed the accessibility test.

Sound advice

The Friday before Agile Testing Days I had a talk with someone with a bad hearing. I told about my workshop. How should I speak to people who cannot hear well?

“What would be your best advice?”
“Ask whether people can hear you.
It is a professional thing you can do:
“Can you hear me?”

What also helpful is, are pictures. Next to key words on the slides.” This way a talk could be reconstructed, if words would be missed.

Somehow I lost sight on my slides.

I told about the handheld microphones seen on one of the pictures. Most of the time I put it in front of my mouth.
“It can be lowered. The quality will not decrease much, but people are able to see your mouth.” Lip reading for the win.

In the days before the workshop I focused on big fonts on my slides and my cards. I increased the contrast between the text and the background.

What could go wrong?

What went wrong?

I completely forgot to ask the audience whether they could hear me. Where was my checklist?
I had none.

The most embarrassing part of the downloadable stuff was, that there were no files on the promised location at the start of my workshop.
Big oops from my side.

After this painful discovery I repeated all the steps: I went to my github and uploaded my presentation. This time I scrolled down. A commit button?! I forgot to press it.

Github is git in the cloud. It can be used to store different versions of files. I still wrestle with it. As Janet Gregory stated in her talk it is about deliberate practice. I had only practiced once. In my case I had cut one corner too many.

Days after my workshop I checked the alternative text in the pdf file of my presentation on my laptop. I double clicked the file and the file was opened in my browser.

The text of the slide was told aloud by the screen reader. I hovered above a picture. Not a sound. I was also silent.

Last weekend I did another attempt to get some sound of a picture. I double clicked the file on my PC and Acrobat reader opened the file.

I searched a picture and placed my mouse pointer on it. A hover text was shown and read aloud. That’s what I liked to hear.

So Acrobat reader can handle alternative text of pictures, but my favourite browser not. And I had not made Acrobat reader a requisite for the workshop. A bit late, but alternative text can be used.

What went right?

I maximised pictures. Leaving out irrelevant parts from the slides.

In the right top corner of the slides I used small pictures to show the state of the test session.

During my preparation I looked at the presentation. There were no spots shining on the screen, so the contrast was good.

During the demo part I used a headset microphone. Attendees could hear me and I could talk at a normal volume. Most important is the fact, that the small microphone did not hide my mouth.

Warning: Code of Conduct ahead

On November 5th I gave a workshop about Exploratory Testing and General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR is an European privacy law.


In the past I wrote about the Code of Conduct. A good set of rules will ensure the safety of the delegates, the speakers, and the organisers of a conference. When enforced.

Therefore I was keen to adhere to this Code. The more diverse people at a conference, the more perspectives being shared. A new perspective is not always out of the box thinking, but natural for some people.

A woman looks different to privacy than a man.

Now I had a dilemma: I had a workshop about privacy. If a name and address would become public, then unpleasant things could happen to certain people.

I remembered a conversation with a white man not realising the consequences of a data breach. So I shared a story with him. It had some impact on him.

But this same trick would have a bad impact on women present in my workshop. So I would not stick to the Code of Conduct.

Imagine being removed from the conference as a speaker. Not good. At all.


It was time for me to mail to Uwe Gelfrich, my contact at the conference. I made a brutal honest warning like:
the workshop contains situations about violence and harassment.

In this way I could still talk about certain situations. Because people were warned in advance.

Uwe replied thoughtfully: violence and harassment would not be used in the workshop. And he proposed a warning along the following lines:
the workshop may contain situations about violence and harassment.

I agreed.
The warning was set on my abstract on the website.

And I would not use a rant.


During the preparation of my workshop I read a tweet about an anxiety attack of a delegate on a conference. According to me this person was angered about the vague content warning.

I reacted with the following tweet:
“During Global Diversity CFP Day this year I heard about trigger warnings for the first time.

So I did my homework.

I contacted the conference about a suitable and specific warning. It is on my abstract. It will be shown before and right after the start. I will tell it.”


On the day of my workshop I tweeted about the warning. It was retweeted by Agile Testing Days.

During the arrival of the delegates I regularly switched between the workshop title slide and the warning slide.

After the opening I gave a warning and an explicit permission to leave the room. I would not be offended. Then I waited about 20 seconds before continuing.

So this looked like an inclusive opening of my workshop.

Actually no.
I missed some accessibility items which will be covered in the next blog post. Reads like a pretty cliff-hanger.


On the Women and Allies evening a delegate told about a talk with HR. If colleagues would not behave themselves, then they would probably be removed from conferences because of the Code of Conduct.

Bonus Workshop Preparation Stage

Some thoughts:
“Are you really ready for your Agile Testing Days workshop?”
“No. Slides need to be updated. There are concept handouts. I still need to tweak.”
“So what is that bonus stage?”

Dreadful stage

The Bonus Workshop Preparation sSage starts after the dreadful stage, the stage without progress.

Progress can be measured in number of sheets or number of the exercises. I prefer the number of usable ideas for attendees. Customer centric. Sounds Agile to me.

2 weeks before my holiday I was in the dreadful stage. One of my website exercises became smaller instead of bigger. I used all tricks to get a baseline, but I failed.

I realised that I had to step back. The only solution I had was to fall back on an older version of the software. Within a few days I had a better solution.

Bonus stage

Another way to determine the bonus stage is the feedback of my reviewers.

My basic question: were they engaged?
My observation: yes.

I paid attention to words and the way they were pronounced. I looked at the body language. Most important: did they learn something?

What would I more include in my workshop?

  • an one pager
  • list of extra resources
  • a mind map
  • visual clues for exercises

“You can always change your workshop.”
My wife

Proper stage name

Last weekend I talked about my workshop with one of my kids. I told that one reviewer and I missed an obvious bug in the website. I was amused.

I told about some jokes how to illustrate my points. We had a good laugh about it.

The bonus part is also the fun part. The part which will make a workshop good or great.