Category Archives: Famous tester

A musing post

Some readers might wonder about the fact that I tweeted Lisa. Yes, the Lisa from the testing books. And yes, Janet was the other author.

Was this a typical case about courage? Nope.

If you would ask me, that I would use Twitter 5 years ago, then my answer would be: “No way”.

Today Twitter is my way to get updates from the testing community.

I want to stress that my tweet to Lisa is not about ‘Don’t fear your peer’.

I just grew.

 

Is it possible to find new ways of testing in a tester infected country like the Netherlands? Sure.
But there are already so many test methodologies and specialists.
So what?

Hark! The testing muses sing
[On the melody of ‘Hark! The Herald angels sing’ ]

An artist gets her or his inspiration from a muse. Some readers might think about a person, whose mere presence brings music or words in her or his mind.

For testing there are other muses. Do they sing Mozart? I do not know.

A muse like Lisa tweets. She writes.

Hark! The testing muses write
[On the melody of ‘Hark! The Herald angels sing’ ]

At this moment one muse Katrina is writing a book. The announcement led to great excitement in the testing community. And she blogs.

Read the stuff the muses wrote
[On the melody of ‘Hark! The Herald angels sing’ ]

I read posts from Maaret, a rather influential one. I read posts and books from Elisabeth, Alan, and Jerry.

I just grew.

An Appendix to Visual Testing
Last weeks I read some blogs, which I will incorporate in my workshop at TestBash NL. As you might have read, it is about visual testing.

I combined my thoughts and experiences with the ideas from blogs of my testing muses.

Now I am in the editing phase for my workshop: figuring out some logic in my slides, creating mind maps for structure, and using insights from sketchnotes.

It was and is a wonderful journey. (Hark! The muses co-create.)
Thanks for the invitation, Rosie and Huib. Other testing muses indeed.

I just grew.

Adding humour

Expect the unexpected
In a white room I was asking questions. After each answer I posed a new question. Then I asked something and the whole joke collapsed. Nobody noticed, but I had taken a wrong turn. I felt bad.

The white walls vanished. I realised that I was having lunch at the kitchen table. One of my kids looked curiously at me. My wife had a concerned look: “Is everything Okay? You were shaking your head.”
“I was just thinking.”

A century earlier I was making a presentation. One of the must do’s of a graduation is a talk. And I really disliked the formal nature of the talk. Why could I not add some jokes?

After my graduation talk a female student said with a smile: “This was not what I had expected.”

Years later during a company meeting I showed the last slide with Edutainment in the footnote. It contained the name of a founder of the company. A saleswoman started to laugh out loud.

After the lecture the smiling Practice Lead gave me a high five. Somehow I had the right mix of statistics, testing, and jokes.

On the European Juggling Convention in Rotterdam I met a street artist. He was a small ugly man and had the look of Catweazle. It was hard for him to earn his money.

When he did not have enough money, he told, that he would stay in their village. And marry one of their daughters. “Then they would give me enough money for the bus.”

Practice makes people smile

My standard procedure for adding jokes is to do this in the last weeks before the presentation. This time I started months in advance.

For my slides I needed pictures. After taking the picture I asked one of my kids to have a look at my workshop slides. “This is the place where I will put the picture.” Then I took the time to explain the English joke in Dutch. I saw a big smile.

Weeks earlier I showed my slides of my workshop at TestBash Netherlands to a friend with no IT background. He smiled faintly.

IoJ internet of Jokes
This Fieldstone is not particularly focused on making jokes for my own presentation. It is only about the process of joking.

March this year on my way home I saw a tweet of Bart Knaack: “Test”. Some other testers reacted and he replied that he was using IFTTT. ‘If This Then That’ can be used to automate steps.

Wait a minute. He was preparing for a presentation of a test conference I would attend. It was about IoT or Internet of Things.

In my mind I visualised his presentation platform. So the tweets to him would be processed by IFTTT. This on line service would trigger an IoT device which in turn would perform a useful action for Bart.

If I tweeted him during his preparation, then I surely would draw his attention. I would tweet an explanation for IoT. I thought about the Rule of Three. Make that three explanations.

In the train I noted them in a mind map program. Why not three tweets? I continued to combine the strangest English words I read or heard while using different interpretations of I and o.

After crafting 3 tweets I just went on. This was fun. Then it was time for a tweet storm.

“IoT
Internet of Thieves?
Ignore other Things?
Imagination or Truth?
: ) “

“IoT
Insalata on Top?
Interesting or Threatening?
One Zero Two?
: )“

“IoT
I offer Tests?
Intelligent office Trolls?
Instant overall Talk?
: )“

“IoT
Immense ogre Tokens?
Increase ostrich Traffic?
Imploding oblivious Tension?
: )“

“IoT
Incoming orange Truckers?
Instill or Tranquilize?
Integrate old Thoughts?
: )“

A short explaining answer of Bart followed: “Internet of Things”.

I was in turbo joking mode and tweeted back:
“In other Thoughts
– One option Though –

Internet of Things

Ten Thanks“

Fun achieved.

It’s a Kinda Magic
During the stand up my boss had some doubts about my actions.
“I dropped it hard.” I stressed it.
“Hopefully it was not broken.” My scrum master remarked.
“If it is broken, then I just need some glue to fix it.” I replied.

During my testing career I had noticed that programmers had their own kind of humour. It is a wonderful way to make contact.

Let me sketch the context of another situation. In one book a favourite main character had to board a train on Platform 9 3/4. He had some difficulties to find it. This is completely understandable for muggles and No-Majs.

One morning I showed my smartphone to a dev:
“This picture I took at Utrecht Central Station”: Platform 9 3/4. He started to smile.

How about this?
At a Spring Event of TestNet, the Dutch Special Interest Group in Software Testing, I had one of the last talks of the day.

I advised them to put you at the end of the schedule, because “Han Toan can tell in an engaging way.”

I had just started my talk about a performance test.
“This year they finished the renovation of Rotterdam Central Station. In the hall you can see this light.” A picture of the light with lots of bulbs and poles was shown on slide 6.

“My wife really liked this light. I did not consider to give it to her on Mother’s Day.” [a few days earlier]
“The lights are blinking.” while opening and closing my hands continuously at shoulder level.

“If I would place this light in my house, I could not walk straight up in my living room and my kitchen.” I lowered my head in an uncomfortable position. Smiles appeared.

“This light is to indicate the meeting point.”
“Ze noemen de lamp De Wolk. In het Engels The Cloud.”
[They call the light The Cloud. In English The Cloud.]
“For the performance test we used the cloud.”
Now I had the full attention of the audience.

A look behind the scenes – In Runö

When I mentioned at Let’s Test Conference in  2015, that I came from the Netherlands, the following question was likely to be asked:
“Do you know Huib Schoots?”
My standard answer was:
“Yes. And he knows me.”

At Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam I was waiting to check in my suitcase. Behind my back I heard: “Hey ugly man” I turned around. Ready to confront this man. Huib was looking at me with his characteristic wide grin.

When I arrived at the belt to pick up my suitcase at Arlanda Airport, Huib was talking with Bill Matthews:
“Do you know him?”
“The juggler.”
Huub confirmed that with an
“A huh”.

Shifting gears
On Sunday May 24 I arrived for the Let’s Test conference in Runö. In the conference centre one of the first testers I talked to, was Henrik Andersson.
“You asked me to do an extra juggling workshop. When would you like me to give this workshop?”
“This evening would be great.”
I agreed. On Twitter I had already seen a suitcase of Paul Holland packed with games.

That evening I packed 6 devilsticks with 12 hand sticks. When I arrived at the hall, Henrik saw me. He smiled and gave a thumbs up. I chose the bar room, because there was a lot of traffic. The chance, that people would join me juggling, was great. Henrik joined in. Even a man with a ponytail started juggling. The following moment I noticed, that Michael Bolton was juggling with one of my devilsticks. I did not believe my eyes. I thought about one of my advices in my conference workshop:
Don’t fear your peer.

I was so focused on my workshop, that I forgot to exercise answering the standard questions like

  • What is the name of your company?
  • What kind of products or services does your firm offer?

I was completely in the presentation mode: I had not practiced my small talk English. The proper translation of the Dutch word patiënt is patient?!

Flirting with disaster
On Monday morning I could not sleep any more. It was the early sun rise. So I opened my laptop to add another bug for my exercise. For some reason testers like to find bugs. The modification went well. Within 30 minutes I had finished it and tested the program. The last thing, that I had to do, was uploading the file to a server. I opened a connection. I got confirmation, that the upload was successful followed by a cryptic message about a data connection. I looked on the server: the old file was removed and it was not replaced by the new one.

At that very moment I realised, that I had made a major error. I assumed, that the connection was safe. So I did not take any precautionary measures like renaming the file, which had to be removed. So I gave it another few tries to no avail. In plain English I had just ruined an exercise.

Then I looked on the internet. The plausible cause was the firewall of the hotel computer network, which did not support uploading files. So I used my smartphone (with a mobile provider) instead to upload the file and everything was all right at the end.

Speaker‘s Corner
After the Monday morning sessions I was tired. So I went to my hotel room and had a long nap. Then I returned to the main building. I saw Ruud Cox, who was listening to Huib Schoots. The latter was talking about the building blocks of his workshop the next day and the time estimates of these blocks.

During his workshop on Tuesday Huib said:
“I always ask feedback.” And
“Tell every day to a colleague, what you have done that day. ”
“If you cannot find someone, place a rubber duck on your desk and start talking.” 

So I went to an empty table. Then I noticed, that more speakers were gathered in the same room: Jean-Paul Varwijk, Joep Schuurkens, Michael Bolton, Laurent Bossavit (?). Probably improving their talks. I went through my slides of “What I learned from juggling as a tester” on my smart phone and juggled a little bit.

Sharing the fun
My facilitator was Duncan Nisbet. The familiar question popped up: “How shall I introduce you?”I mentioned 3 things, which should be included. Then I referred to this blog for additional information. Then Duncan introduced me as a “good storyteller”.

I had never told him a story before. I was just sharing some on this blog. Anyways … 

Then I started with a story about a boy missing a foot and most of his fingers, who wanted to learn juggling from me.

On my ride to Runö I was sharing a cab with Bill Matthews, Chris Grant, and Dan Billing. The latter said something about the inner tester. The following morning I knew I had the perfect example for a story. Just before the keynote of Ben Simo I asked Dan permission to use this single sentence in my workshop. He agreed. On the last evening of the conference I told him, how I used it. This lead to a wonderful conversation about “needs, values and relationships”.

There’s a mismatch
On one of my sheets I am wearing a dark and a white sock. Nobody mentioned it.  Maybe you do notice now.

On the other hand two unexpected bugs surfaced during my exercise: there was a huge error in a sentence. The second one was, that my exercise was not usable on an iPhone. I forgot the portability test.

Oops sorry
During my workshop Henrik Andersson had entered the room. I was so concentrated on my presentation, that it looked to me he appeared out of nothing. I started talking about discovering a juggling trick. On the sheet the following text was shown:
“Create a framework to correct errors”.

“I did not discover this trick [helicopter], because my framework was too strict.”
Then I apologised to Henrik:
“Yesterday evening I gave a workshop. Henrik Andersson was present.
[Turning my attention to Henrik] If you cannot learn the helicopter, it is, because I gave you a too rigid framework. So I apologise for this.”

A question, which back fired
I showed a sheet with frequently asked questions about juggling to the audience. One of the questions was: “Do you juggle with fire?” I repeated this question aloud, followed by:
“This question was asked right before this workshop.”
One of the delegates got a red face and laughed hard.

Thanks for the workshop
While I waited for my cab, Kristjan Uba came personally to me to thank me for the workshop. I recognised him, because the evening before he was intensely observing Tobias Fors (?) and me solving the dice game. This was hosted by Michael Bolton. Kristjan wanted to learn the finer details of coaching this game.

Trying to look friendly I searched my memory for this man. Luckily Kristjan helped me by telling about juggling the devilstick himself. Then I noticed the ponytail. It was the juggling workshop on Sunday evening. So I juggled with 2 famous testers and a speaker.

 

Do you want to talk about it?

Sometimes I need to talk, sometimes I need to write.

A few good speakers?
There are test conferences, which are always looking for new bright speakers. One way to find them is the Call For Proposals or CFP. In the past I had serious doubts, whether my proposal would be accepted. Today I pose my self two simple questions:

  • Was this subject presented on this test conference?
  • If this is the case, can I present it in another way?

Sometimes I have to repeat these questions several times to pinpoint my subject.

A few years ago TestNet, The Dutch SIGIST (Special Interest Group in Software Testing), asked for subjects for their peer meetings. I suggested mind mapping. A few months later I noticed, that the subject was put on the calendar, so I volunteered to speak about it. The reply was, that TestNet needed proposals. I made two: one about the basics of mind mapping and another one about the use of mind mapping during testing. The latter was accepted.

A word of comfort for starters
I once read an article about the 100 Man Kumite. One man had to fight 100 man in an extreme short time. One Dutchman wrote, that he feared two types of fighters: the beginners and the experts. The beginners did unexpected things.

During one of her theater workshops Franki Anderson asked:
“Is every voice heard?”

Give me 5 minutes more
There might be a misconception, that an idea must be presented in 5 minutes. In the office 5 minutes of full attention of your manager, team lead or product owner can be a known restriction. You either learn or learned, how to squeeze your message or request to the bare minimum.

If I talk to my peer testers on a conference, I have enough room to sketch the situation. I have enough time to tell them about the problems I had to tackle. This can take about 20 minutes. Then I switch to the actions I took, taking 10 minutes. I end with 5 minutes looking at the results and lessons learned. In the Netherlands STAR is used: Situation Tasks Actions Results.

So, what would really trigger the organisers to accept your proposal and invite you as speaker to their test conferences? Exercises. Delegates or visitors of the conference go back home (to the office) with new ideas and real hands on experience. If you have any doubts about it, just look at TestLab. This popular activity is scheduled on different test conferences for years.

Let’s go back to my suggestion for mind mapping for the TestNet peer meeting. If I just talk about mind mapping, I can fill one hour. Participants get the idea, tell about it and forget it eventually. Exercises spice up the whole participant experience. I used to give 3 hour workshops about mind mapping for colleagues, who work in the IT. They made two mind maps during the workshop. The only thing I had to do, was to narrow the workshop down to testers. Instead of an one hour talk I now had an highly interactive workshop of 3 hours.

If you might have noticed: test conference organisers are looking for special sessions. I would suggest the following format for the workshop:

  • Describe the Situation and Tasks.
  • Let the participants perform the Actions.
  • Discuss the Actions and Results.
  • And repeat the STAR.
  • At the end share your own Actions and Results.

Getting to Stockholm
On my quest for knowledge I stumbled upon Peers with Beers on Friday October 24th 2014. Some participants are well known in the international testing community. For a ridiculous low price I could spend all office hours with them. I also joined the dinner, so I extended the time with another 5 hours.

During this peer meeting the participants were expected to present their ideas about testing in the future. The presentations were chosen based on the title. My presentation was not chosen. I realized, that I had a bad title. Too generic. Joris agreed with me:
“A good title is important.”

After each presentation the contents was discussed using K cards. I primarily observed the other peers: the way they discussed and the jokes they made. It was difficult for me to get in the right gear to exchange ideas. Huib remarked, that I was a bit silent.

During the dinner that evening the call for proposals of Let’s Test 2015 was discussed. Two days later was the deadline. Derk-Jan told a story about a rented car.  “We should make proposal for it.” We had a lot of fun about it. In the call for proposals there were no restrictions for the sessions. So this was totally acceptable. At the end of the evening Joep gave me a final advice:
“‘Do not forget the takeaways. ”

Weeks earlier I noticed on one of the pictures of Let’s Test 2014, that people were juggling with balls. I thought:
“I can teach them this easily”.
I gave many juggling workshops.

On the day of the deadline for Let’s Test 2015 I went to my PC and opened my mind map with the attached notes: What I learned from juggling as a tester?. I think, that creativity is necessary to become a good tester. As a juggler I have to amaze my public with my creativity. In my proposal I added a remark, that I would be able to extend the lecture with an one hour juggling workshop.

On November 6th I got the exhilarating news, that my proposal for a 2 hour workshop about juggling and testing was accepted. A total of seven proposals from Peers with Beers were accepted for Let’s Test 2015. So apparently, I was in good company.

[Updated:  Ard had a special Crime Investigation Game. This was held secret until the first day of the conference. So I increased the number of accepted proposals.]

Let ‘s make a mind map

On September 11 2012 I held a workshop about Mind mapping and Testing at 8:15 PM. TestNet, the Dutch Special Interest Group in Software Testing, was the organiser of the evening. The people in the room had worked a complete day, had dinner, and enjoyed an engaging introductory workshop about Mind Mapping by Ruud Rensink. It was time to start my workshop.

The Name Trick

After a minute in my workshop I showed my introduction sheet. “This year we had a summer with great sport events. I could ask you to mention a name of a player of the European soccer championship. Or a name of a player of the Olympic Games. Or a name of a player of the Paralympics. ” People started shifting in their chairs. Probably looking for names and ready to put their hand in the air.

“A few years ago the World Championship Table Tennis took place in Rotterdam. Do you know a name of a player?” People let their shoulders hang. Then a member of the audience said: “Erik van Veenendaal.” I continued with “Who does know Erik van Veenendaal? ” 70% of people raised their hands. The remaining people looking puzzled, probably thinking: “Erik Who?”

“Erik van Veenendaal and I were in the Belgium and Netherlands Testing Qualifications Board.” My red laser point was on the board name, which was shown on the screen. “Erik van Veenendaal said: “We have to write a letter. Let’s make a mind map.” Meile Posthuma and Rik Marselis were requested to make one.” In the back of the room Rik sat straight up after hearing his name. “I saw the mind map and it was interesting. That’s why I bought this book.”, while showing a book of Tony Buzan.

Breakdown

On LinkedIn I was linked with Erik van Veenendaal. A few years earlier I got the surprising update, that he was participating in the Table Tennis World Championship. This was so strange, that I still remembered it.

In the Dutch Test community Erik van Veenendaal played an important role. He is an author of several books about testing, which are used by Dutch testers.

Tips

  • Get on social media.
  • Follow people, who are influential in testing.

 

An Introduction Mind Map

In 2013 I was asked to be the  track chair of a tutorial of Alan Richardson at TestNet Najaarsevenement. I agreed. This was, how I introduced him.

Remembering after one and half year using a mind map
“Welkom, mijn naam is Han Toan Lim. Dit is de workshop The evil tester’s guide to http proxies. Because the speaker does not understand Dutch, I will continue in English as a courtesy.

One of the trends these days is to stand out in the crowd. Alan Richardson has three websites. On one of the website there is a blog post about zombies. You might be wondering: “What am I doing here?” Please be seated. You are in the right test conference. The websites are sources of knowledge about testing. There are courses about Selenium.

A log in one of the blog posts drew my attention: “Admin woohoo”. In plain English it means, that he could modify anything at the end of the test session. If this would happen in our systems it would be unacceptable for our stakeholders and our customers.

My wife asked me, why I became track chair. On LinkedIn and his blogs I discovered his genuine love for testing and coaching. It is no big surprise, that he won the award for the best tutorial on EuroStar in the capital Amsterdam. Now I leave you in the good hands of Alan Richardson.”

Used mind map
Click on image to get a readable version

Mindful tester - Announcement 15

Breakdown
The first thing I did, was making a mind map about Alan Richardson using a search engine. Then I began making a mind map of the introduction.

Tips

  • Use a mind map tool. Preferably one on your smartphone, which is compatible with a desktop version. Eg Mind Manager and Freemind.
  • Use version control for the mind maps.
  • Let the speaker determine the content of the introduction.

 

Are you appreciated as a tester?

Some people might wonder at the size of the cup. My answer is, that I got it from a famous tester. Then the following list of action points is likely to be proposed:

  • Sell it on eBay.
  • Gather proof i.e. pictures.
  • Request Huib Schoots to sign a certificate of authenticity, that he gave this cup to Han Toan Lim for the most intensive and concentrated test session at ..

At that  moment I would interrupt with:
“Time Out dude. You cannot buy appreciation; you have to earn it.”

Test right there
The consultant with a strong HR background in IT looked at me.
“I see those small wheels spinning in your head. If you can read a design document, you can probably write one.”
“I already did.”, I admitted.
He continued: “Then you can describe the flow. If you can describe the flow, then you can program.”
He looked to me with the silent question:
“Why do you not move up the ladder?”

At that moment the time slowed down to a stop. Internally I sighed for 3 seconds. Then time accelerated to the normal speed. Reality snapped back and I was confused. Only a tenth of a second had passed in reality. I saw a man looking at me and waiting for an answer. Like a stubborn school boy I stated: “I just want to test.”

Talking about talking kids
During the holiday my wife talked about the show for children: “The theme is job. So a member of the animation team asked the kids about the job of their father.” I heard, that one of my kids answered with “Not a real job.”. I groaned. Another one said: “Software tester.” My wife imitated the small, hesitant voice of animator: “A software tester?!”

Then she prepared me, that something worse would come. I steeled myself. The next kid said: “Police agent.” The voice of the animator became enthusiastic: “Police agent. Did you hear that: police agent. That is great!” My wife was not pleased. Neither was I.

Yours gratefully
On my last day in the office and my last workday I noticed, that one of the functional application  managers had not dropped by to say goodbye. So I went to his desk. The talk, that followed, was about gone times, the present time and  times to come.

During the talk we had walked to the door to the corridor. It was the door to a new future for me. It was time to say goodbye. While shaking hands the functional application manager extended his left arm and patted on my shoulder. He let his smile disappear and instead he pressed his lips together to suppress his sadness. “You fare well.”
At that very moment I really felt appreciated as a tester.