Connecting more testers in Melbourne – the TEAM is growing!

The second meetup of the Test Engineering Alliance Melbourne took place on the evening of Wednesday 5th August, 2015, in the offices of Randstad in the Rialto, Melbourne CBD. Momentum out of the first meetup saw us with just over 150 members before the second event. With a slightly larger venue this time, we could increase our cap from 30 to 50, but even so we were still “sold out” within a day of announcing the meetup! It was great to see almost all of the RSVPs actually showing up (we think there were 42 attendees, a very encouraging number).

Rajesh Mathur kicked things off with a welcome to the meetup, including repeating some history for the newcomers about why we felt the need to start such a meetup group to try to form a testing community in Melbourne. He ran through some of the background, our context-driven tendencies and our appreciation for the sponsor (Randstad) for providing the meeting room, food and drinks. He also introduced the idea of workshops and full-day events in the future, as well as the possibility of a small entrance fee if we are to expand into larger (paid) venues. (The idea of workshops was very popular, as we expected.)

The feature presentation for the evening came from one of the founding members of the context-driven testing community, Paul Szymkowiak. He talked about the history of CDT in his talk, “CDT: Highlights from a Journey”. The talk was structured around his personal journey and it was fascinating to hear how he became involved with the likes of James Bach and Cem Kaner in the formative years of the CDT school. His talk also provided an excellent recent history of software testing, viewed through the lens of CDT. Paul’s talk was very well received and we were lucky to engage him in the meetup to share his experiences with us.

The lightning talks came next and it was something of an embarrassment of riches this time, as we had three volunteers well before the meetup and then another addition from the organizing group just beforehand. Erik Petersen was the MC again and first up was Scott Miles (from AHPRA) who talked about some ideas for making automation tools more intelligent. He had some great ways of making automation more stable by introducing some intelligence into the way the tools work, rather than adopting their typical black & white pass vs. fail mentality. Scott will be publishing some of his ideas soon and is also working on an automation tool to incorporate some of these ideas; in the meantime, he has recently guest blogged on Rajesh’s blog on this topic: http://www.dogmatictesting.com/2015/08/improving-cost-effectiveness-of.html

The next lightning talk was given by Dhanushka Ranganath, who made a last-minute change to his topic and talked about his experience of running performance tests against a heavily-used education sector website. It was a good little talk, focusing on some practical “do’s” and “don’ts”, nice work. Paul Seaman was up next and he kept his topic secret, but it was an absolute cracker. He immediately hushed the room with his intro, telling us how confronting some of the content would be before proceeding to show us a photo of a young women looking heavily bruised to the face. The audience were visibly shocked and readily went along with Paul’s suggestions that the most likely tools to produce the image we saw were the hands of a male. It was only when he showed us a picture of a make-up box, the actual tools, that we began to see where he was going. His message was that we are easily fooled and our emotions fill in the gaps when we don’t have all the facts – while this is a useful survival skill perhaps, it leads us astray in testing all the time. Brilliantly done, Paul.

Our final lightning talk came from co-organizer Colin Cherry who was inspired to present by a LinkedIn discussion from one of the meetup participants. He talked about “measuring” testing capability and how contextual that is, the concept of “good enough” (as first coined by James Bach in the testing arena) being key. A good short talk from Colin, (deliberately) asking more questions than it answered to get the audience thinking about what “good enough” means in their particular environments. (For an example of Bach’s work in this area, see this IEEE Computer Sociery article from 1988 published on James’s website: http://www.satisfice.com/articles/good_enough_testing.pdf).

By the time the lightning talks were done, it had almost reached our scheduled end time of 7.30pm so we didn’t manage to get any roundtable discussions or dice games going, but instead encouraged the participants to enjoy the Randstad hospitality and network if they wished. It was pleasing to see most of the group staying around to chat and meet the presenters (and the Randstad guys were genuinely surprised how passionate these tester types are to learn and share!). The vibe was great and it was good to see such a broad range of experience in the same room, but all with the interest and desire to learn and share about testing – this is exactly what we hoped for by starting the meetup!

As a reminder, here’s how to stay up-to-date with the TEAM meetup and we look forward to seeing even more new faces at our next event!

TEAM LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/grp/home?gid=6968269

TEAM Twitter handle: @AussieTesters

TEAM website: http://www.meetup.com/Test-Engineering-Alliance-Melbourne/

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