Fetching, fast and slow

Let’s start with a simple observation of the following sentence:

Do I communicate (without a mouse)?

 

If you were fast, then there is a high probability you were thinking: “The word mouse is used by the author instead of the word mouth. So the spelling is wrong.”

If you thought hard, then there is a high probability you were thinking: “The mouse is probably a computer accessory. So the question could be rephrased as follows: do I communicate (without a computer)?”

I once heard a great story from an experienced test manager René. He told me, that his project members were communicating with emails. It did not even change, when they sat in the same room. He just set a daily limit of 3 emails, which they could send. This lead to more face to face communication, which improved the project spirit and group cohesion significantly.

Breakdown
In the introduction I used a mind trick on you. This is a trick, which can be used to confuse people.  For the fast observations System 1 is used in most cases. This way of thinking provides fast, almost effortless way to digest information. Like walking to the office.

For the thoughtful observations System 2 is used. Doing complex operations like testing in the office. Both systems have been discussed in depth by Daniel Kahneman in the book Thinking, fast and slow. The title of this blog is based on the title of this book. And fetching is short for fetching coffee.

In March 2015 James Bach introduced the term testopsy. He analysed, what the tester did during a test. I thought about a post autopsy or blog post autopsy.  It is tempting to concatenate the strings post and opsy. But as a Dutch native speaker I do not take any chances. 

Just let me perform an autopsy for a blog post: how did I construct the blog post Do I communicate (without a mouse )?

Because I wrote the blog post, I have the original mind map, which was used as a basis. In the following picture I highlight, which System is used and the corresponding trends. System 2 is used in certain parts of the blog post and System 1 in other parts.

mindful-tester-mindmap-System1-Sytem2

A manager would say:
“This is nice. And that’s all. The relationship between the parts of the blog post and Systems is meager at most. ”

Time for a graph make over.

Graph SOS
There is a British car program, in which they deconstruct and construct a beloved car wreck. For people, who earn it.  And as a reader you definitely earn a better graph.

In case you did not read this blog post Do I communicate (without a mouse)?, please do. It makes the following graph understandable.

 

mindful-tester-timeline-system1-system2

In the graph above I show my usage of Systems 1 and 2 on the vertical axis. The horizontal axis shows the different parts of the post in reading order. So it is possible to observe, that System 2 is used less and less until the end of story.

A manager might be more interested in this graph than the previous one:
“So what you are basically stating, is, that people use System 2 for learning. And participating.”
Or even better:
“I wonder, whether System 1 is used during the meetings in my company .”

Breakdown 2
Over the years I saw a recurring pattern. Every time I boarded a project or got a new room, I had to change my coffee fetching list. And somehow I reduced the spent time. I eliminated waste: it looked to me, that I was lean. This story I carried with me for more than a year. Telling and retelling it to myself over and over again.

Then it was time to put it in a blog post. I started with the mind map with the condensed and descriptive title Coffee. The first branch contained the story. Then I added two funny anecdotes to add some flavour to the blog post.

In the meantime I had lost my favourite mug out of view: a bear, who juggles, while praising the owner of the mug. (That’s me.) After I had found the mug, I made a photo with my smartphone. The mug was on the foreground and my markers right behind them. Then I noticed my mouse: it was behind the markers and not on the photo. So I changed the view for the next picture: the mouse is on the background. Unreachable for normal use.

A few days later I noticed, that I was missing a photo with a funny text for the blog post. I needed something, that could be connected with coffee or tea. Then I remembered the picture of my mug, which was a major obstruction for using my mouse. A thought about communication entered my mind: Do I always need a mouse for communication? It was relatively simple to write an introduction from this point.

Most stories have a lesson at the end. I think, that it is highly predictable (and a bit boring). I wanted to give the reader a choice out of 3 lessons. But that was not entertaining enough. So I placed myself in the spotlights (again). If I could let my voices speak, then I would have a more recognisable situations instead of some abstract and concise questions without any explanation. I took the following voices:

  • The lean machine in me, cutting wastes on his way to the future
  • A woman constantly looking for her needs, while brainstorming and chatting
  • A service desk agent concerned about an implementation of a new functionality
  • A curious software tester looking for clues.

I somehow used a Dutch style form: the circle is round. I started with the title Do I communicate (without a mouse)? And ended with the same question.

Do I communicate (without a mouse)?

Just a bunch of thoughts popping up in my head, while looking at the picture:

  • Yes, I need some tea.
  • Yes, I need to make a note.
  • Yes, I need a mouse to communicate.

A Note As A Service
In the Netherlands people tend to be too busy to go to the coffee corner in the office. In some companies there is an unwritten rule, that you get coffee, tea, or water for your colleagues once every 4 hour.

The first times are hard. What is your name? What would you like to drink? How do you prefer to drink your coffee? Coffee is a difficult one. How strong, how much milk, what kind of coffee ? If you have 10 waiting colleagues, then you need some time to note their requests.

Because I am Chinese, I can make the following joke to make people relax. “So you take numbers 7, 14, and 22.”
Then  I get surprised looks.
Probably thinking: “Our coffee machine has no number 7.”
Then I continue with a heavy Chinese accent:
“One Babi Pangang, one Fu Yong Hai and …”
Then often a smile appears.

Accelerated note taking
Of course this process can become faster than I described. The names of the persons were abbreviated by me. I used codes for the beverages like C strong for a strong black coffee.  The waiting time during a phone call could be reduced to seconds by asking his or her colleagues: “What does he / she prefer to drink?”

I once noticed a serving tray. The type, which is used in the canteen. There were more than 20 circles on it. Every circle contained the name of a person, preferred beverage in the morning, and preferred beverage in the afternoon. When I called an end user with question about domain knowledge, I got the reply, that she was fetching coffee for her colleagues. So I told, that I would call back after a half hour.

Association and reduction
The next trick was to discover patterns: he always drinks black coffee in the morning. Or she prefers hot water for her tea.

Visualisation is also great: imagine the face of someone you fetched coffee for: cappuccino. Or look at the desks and the corresponding beverages: this is the tea corner.

My question became: “Would you like to have a black coffee?”
A few weeks later: “Black coffee?”
A few weeks later drinking an imaginary cup of coffee and waiting for a nod.
A few weeks holding an imaginary cup of coffee and waiting for a nod.
A few weeks a slight raise of the chin and waiting for a nod.

Questions I ponder upon
(
To spice things up I added some fictional thoughts and talks. )

  • Am I lean?
    I fetched coffee and tea for 8 persons within 8 minutes.
    Not bad!
  • Can I handle changes?
    “For a change I would like to have real hot water from a water cooker. Earl grey, sugar, and a real tea spoon. I hate those flimsy plastic reeds. Can you still remember it? The next time I’ll fetch you some tea. Or maybe I should take green tea. My neighbour really loves it. Nah, I just stick to the dark tea. Anyways….”
  • Do I communicate (without a mouse)?
    “Yes, Earl Grey. By the way I noticed, that you are testing the upload function. There are customers begging for it. Did you know that?”
    “Really?”
    “I was wondering, whether the following item is mentioned in the user story!?”

 

Mindreading 101

A mind trick is a trick, which can be used to confuse people. The following mind trick, which I used, happened in the real world. I changed the names of the mobile provider on purpose in this real tale.

A Tale of Two Techies
Once upon a time I had a phone call with a programmer of a supplier. He excused himself for being unreachable. I asked him:
“Are you in Rotterdam?”
[Immediately; strong voice] “Yes.”
“Are you using UVWXYZ [mobile provider]?”
[A little hesitation; normal voice] “Yes.”
“Do you use an Android phone?”
[Long hesitation; trembling voice] “Yes.”

The end

Breakdown
The weekend before I had problems with my mobile phone. So I called my mobile provider. There was a problem in Rotterdam. I asked how I could be reached on my Android phone. Then the customer service agent gave me instructions, how to configure my phone.

When I talked with the programmer, I knew that he was in the office. As a thumb of rule people, whose office is close by the customer’s site, are assigned to a project. Rotterdam was my best guess. Then UVWXYZ became the plausible cause of his unreachability.

The last question was my best guess. Programmers like to tweak things; Android phones are highly tweakable.

Now comes the worst part of my analysis. I really wanted to help this man: tester’s honour. As a tester I provide information to people to let them make an informed decision or perform an informed action. I only get information by asking.  But with my fast moving questions I frightened the man.

At the end of the phone call I had helped the programmer. He could use his mobile phone again.

Tips

  • Score three times yes in a row for unrelated questions and people start freaking out.
  • Put your victim at ease..
  • Be mindful on things happening around you. Especially people.

 

 

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.

 

An Interview With a Juggling Speaker – The way to Runö part 4

Interviewer: Hello, welcome to Mindful Tester News. I am Han Toan Lim. Today I have the pleasure to interview Han Toan Lim, who happens to be me.
[Turning his attention to interviewee] Hello Han Toan. Thank you for coming to your own room.
Interviewee: It is my pleasure. Nothing has changed in this room since the last time I was here.

Interviewer: The reason for this interview is your workshop for Let’s Test next week. The readers would love to read, what you are doing in the following days.
Interviewee: At the moment I am still modifying my workshop. The slides are almost ready, but my story is constantly changing. I try to add jokes and that is quite challenging.

Interviewer : The name of your workshop is What I learned from juggling as a tester. That is an intriguing subject. I noticed my self, that learning to juggle has a lot in common with learning to test.
Interviewee: I fully agree with you. It is about becoming a craftsman.

Interviewer: I just got a signal from the director (or my self), that it is time to finish this monologue. So I have one last question. What kind of audience for the workshop you are aiming at?
Interviewee: The silent and concentrated testers.
Interviewer [looking surprised]: So you are allowed to say not a single word during the workshop?!
Interviewee [nods]
Interviewer [makes a fist and extends his index finger for closed lips]
Interviewee [smiles and puts thumb up]
Interviewer [smiles back, extends right arm to shake hands and then realizes, that he has only one right hand.]

Safety first – The Way To Runö part 3

When I started juggling, I juggled above my bed. This had some advantages: my juggling props did not break fast and my neighbours downstairs did not complain about the drops. Unconsciously I created a safe environment. An environment, where no one laughed, when I dropped a ball. An environment, where no one ridiculed me, when I let my juggling balls collide against each other .

Open session
One of the finest tools for review is Skype. For my repetitions of my presentation it was great. I could show my PowerPoint to my reviewer. At the same time I could see the reactions on the face. The tool enabled me to observe the reviewer struggling with a small exercise program, which I especially wrote for my workshop.

The first session was horrible. In the second half I had to force myself to finish the story. There were too many slides. It hurt me, that I had to cut them out of presentation. One exercise was so big, that it would cost me at least a half hour to execute it properly. Too big to be included.

Nevertheless I got the compliment, that it was a personal story. Particulary the part about the safe environment was good:

What do you think, what safe environment looks like? What are the characteristics of a safe environment? (Silence of 2 seconds) For me it is an environment, where I can make errors.

The second session went more smoothly than the first one. I had been able to reduce the number of  sheets. The feedback was: “This is you”.

Once I talked with a delegate about the experiences of events of TestNet, the Dutch Special Interest Group in Software Testing.  The answer was, that the test knowledge was not that important. I was surprised: there was so much knowledge and experience in the Congress Centre, The delegate must have noticed my astonishment and explained to me, that it was a big comfort, that other testers were having the same problems. Somehow this peer conference provided a safe environment to exchange experiences.

Time 2 Juggle
In my abstract I stated, that live juggling will be included in my workshop. But for me it had been a while ago, that I performed for an audience. So it was time to practice the juggling tricks. You might wonder where. Above the bed in my bedroom :)

The next step was to juggle, where people would notice me juggling. Preferably a group people with a technical background. So I chose my colleagues, who were having lunch on a bench in the sun. And eager testers at Tasting Let’s Test in Breda.

In 2008 my family went to the European Juggling Convention in Karlsruhe. More than two thousand people gathered in this place to share the joy of juggling. It was the first time, that my wife went to an European Juggling Convention. She was familiar with the Dutch Juggling Convention, so she considered the European one a safe place. Families with little children were camping on the convention site. There was a relaxed atmosphere.

Exercising the exercises
I love to play games. Therefore I consider exercises as small games. There is a set rules and the players have to figure out a way to win it. So I talked about the exercises with a family member, who is a teacher. I let a colleague wrestle with a program. For good measures I let my small Dutch kids explore an English program and they loved it.

So
I increased my zone of comfort in the last months. By talking, by playing, and by being in a safe environment.

BTW if you are interested to attend my workshop What I learned from juggling as a tester? at Let’s Test 2015, it would be great, when you bring juggling balls, clubs, and other interesting juggling props with you. Maybe you know a friend or colleague, who juggles or juggled. You might lend some juggling gadgets for the duration of the conference.

From Mindmaps To Powerpoints – The Way To Runo part 2

For a company training, which I followed, the trainer used a flip over, a whiteboard with markers, and a set of binders with hand outs. No PowerPoint, so no time was spent on editing and reediting the presentation. It looked lean to me.

Your proposal rocks
Last November I was regularly looking in my mail box. There was a small chance, that I would be invited to speak at the Let’s Test conference 2015. But nevertheless it was worth the try. According to the tweets of the conference the speakers would be invited soon. And then …. I got the invitation. I did not shout as I had planned. But I was ecstatic.

In 2014 there was Tasting Let’s Test in Utrecht. I noticed, that Huib gave the same presentation of Let’s Test 2014. So I prepared my wife, that there was a small chance, that I would give my presentation at Tasting Let’s Test Benelux in March and May. Instead other speakers were invited, which gave me more room to prepare my workshop.

Get. Set. Mind map.
After this surprising news I was busy notifying people. Then I realized, that my proposal was written from the jugglers’ point of view. The name of my 2 hour workshop is What I learned from juggling as a tester? So what’s in it for the testers, who would attend? That gave me a brief moment of panic. Luckily I had my mind map for the proposal. This became my starting point for my workshop.

The first mind map contained the five branches with takeaways:

  • Small tricks lead to nice combinations
  • Create a flow
  • Learning by teaching
  • €Find your own style
  • €Have an open mind

In the takeaway mind map I made sub branches Juggle and Test under the 5 branches. Under these branches I brainstormed.

The second one was my outline mind map for the presentation. It described, when which takeaway would be presented .

One evening my wife asked me, whether I was preparing my workshop. I confirmed that. I mind mapped on my smartphone.

Episode Mind Maps
Looking to my outline mind map I split my presentation in episode mind maps. The first episode mind map I called first year. This was my abbreviation for the first year I was juggling. For each slide I created a branch. I added branches for the content of the slide, things I would tell and sometimes a title of the slide. This all lead to a Slides mind map, which contained the title and the text of all the slides in the right order.

Test Slide Story
In the movie industry first the scenario is written, then the story board. This board contains images of the movie, so all involved film crew members have a better idea, how the scenes will look. I used this idea to create my slide board, a serie of rough sketches of the slides. Every slide was created using the slide board, my pictures mind map, and my titles mind map.

I used a pen and lined paper for the first version. Then came the fun part: I used a coloured fine pointed marker to make changes. I noticed, that I still missed some titles and pictures. This process I repeated another time. Images were popping up in my head. So I had to take action to make pictures for the presentation.

One of the challenges I faced was to get nice pictures. For my presentation at TestNet Voorjaarsevenement 2014 I used my own pictures instead of stock photos. There were 2 pictures of some else I really loved to use. So I formally asked for permission and I got it in both cases.

From Mind Maps To PowerPoints
The making of the PowerPoint was uneventful: just copy and paste. Even after all the editing steps pieces were missing. I added mind maps like additions, research, and demo. On one point I did not like the order. So I made Order Mind Map, which I reedited several times. When I was happy with the order, I changed the slides in the Powerpoint.

A few weeks before Tasting Let’s Test Benelux I played with the idea: what would I do, if I got a request to speak? I focused on the big errors in my presentation.

 A few days before Tasting Let’s Test I realised, that I had to make differences in the presentation. If the presentation would be the same like the one in the conference, then people might be disappointed. So I modified a few slides and also decided to change some juggling props. One slide had only title. It was good enough.

The day before Tasting Let’s Test I loaded the latest version of my presentation on my laptop. I had my MVP, Minimal Viable Presentation.

PS
The story continues here.

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.]

Do you really need it?

Drooling about it
Paul knocked a few times on the door. And opened it slowly.
“Are you busy?”
“Yes, but I can make time for you.”
“We’ve got an open door policy, but your door was closed. So..”
Paul waited a few moments.
He gestured to George.
“George said, that I have to bring something to your attention. And ..”
George’s mobile phone went off.
“Excuse me.”
George left the room with the phone to his ear.

“Yes Paul.”
He looked to the door with a desperate look.
“I can wait.”
“What is that piece of paper? You want to show it to me?”
“Actually ..”, Paul started.
He showed it to his manager.
“That’s funny: the phone booth cannot be used.”

Paul pulled himself together:
“Within a month our company will release the car call service. So customers can call their cars and ask, whether enough fuel is in the gas tank.”
Paul’s manager nodded.
“At the moment we are focused on apps on smart phones. We are also testing normal phones. Why not test phone booths?”
“How big is the chance, that a business man calls his car from a phone booth?”
“Pretty small”, Paul admitted. “But there are enough people, who would like to publish a bug about the service on the Web.”
“So your point is…”
“Our slogan is: Your Drive Is Our Drive. People do not like to think about a slow walk to the gas station. Especially after a failed call from a phone booth.”

Ten minutes later George asked Paul:”How did it go?”
“Fine. I have budget to hire a phone booth.”
“How did your phone call go?”
“Nobody called.”
“You mean: no one.”
“Yes” George smiled.
Paul began with: “You are …”
“I am your coach, not your spokesman.”
Paul objected with: “I might not find the proper words to express myself or not find the right arguments. I might miss my drive.”
George just raised an eye brow.

Testing in it
During the training introduction of software testing I told the delegates about a special object in the neighbourhood.
“If you drive your car from Rijswijk to Rotterdam, then you see a huge building next to the highway near Delft. It is blue and yellow.”

I continued with telling, what most people thought. That it was just another furniture shop of a well known brand.
“It is a concept center. In this building ideas for this brand are developed and tested.”

How to Plan a Visit To Amsterdam

Board games are a great way to pass time with children. One of my favourites is Amsterdam. In this game you win, if you are the first one, who have visited 6 random chosen touristic places in the Dutch capital.

Planning as usual

At the beginning of the game my children and I had each 6 cards with touristic places to visit in Amsterdam. So I told them to find the places on the map. Then they had to plan their visit using the canals with a boat. This was more difficult. With some help from me they planned a boat ride by making a stack of 6 cards.

Replanning as usual

In the next step each player placed two bridge blocks, which can be compared with road blocks for cars. Six bridge blocks had a great impact on the planned tours. The ideal routes were blocked or even worse, touristic places were blocked. So the whole process of stacking cards began again. My children did not complain. 

Planning in progress

During the game the bridge blocks can be moved by players. So carefully crafted routes became obsolete. This time I was smart: I adviced my kids to plan a route within a small area of their boats.

Heuristic as a planning

After visiting a touristic place the player gets a yellow card. This can be a nice event like moving bridge blocks or distressing one like going to a boat of another player. My planning advice changed to: go to the touristic place, which can be reached by passing a minimum of bridges.

Planning as a service

So long planning saves time and reduces frustration, it is fine with me.