Tuesday, March 29, 2011

BBST Foundations (BBST_101E): Starts This Saturday

This Saturday, in addition to a session of Weekend Testing Americas, another session of the Association for Software Testing's Black Box Software Testing Foundations class will begin. It will be another four weeks of all volunteer effort, with a number of dedicated instructors helping to teach the class. It will be challenging, it will be fun, it will be a chance to learn even more than I already have from this great class, and this time I will probably learn more than all other times combined. Why you might ask? Because I'm going to be the Lead Instructor for this course!

I am excited and anxious about this turn of events. Excited because I want to see how well I can do in this environment, but anxious because I'm going to be the guy in the driver's seat this time. there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes for these classes to run smoothly, and a lot of the details associated with the class running smoothly are because the lead instructor makes sure to take care of many of those pieces. In previous classes, those responsibilities belonged to someone else. This time, they belong to ME!

However, I am not alone in this endeavor. I have two great assistants this time around (Mimi Mendenhall and Doug Hoffman). Mimi will be doing it for the first time, and Doug has been around since the courses were first offered, and could probably teach this class in his sleep (LOL!).

Registration is still open until Wednesday, 3/30/2011, so if you are interested in seeing if you can still get into the class, please follow the link to register and take part. If the class is over-booked, you can of course sign up for the next one. I may not be teaching that go-around, but it will still be a great class with whoever is teaching it. If, however, you can get in, I'll look forward to having you be a part of my class :).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekend Testing Americas #9 This Saturday

Hoping to make sure that more people know about the sessions are are alerted enough in advance to be able to participate in them. Our next session for Weekend Testing Americas will be held this coming Saturday, April 2nd, 2011.

While we keep the sessions somewhat close to the vest, we will say that the problem we are looking to work on this weekend will be somewhat unique, and that it will require some "hackerly" thinking to get the most out of it. We feel it should be rather "newsworthy" (and that's all the hints you are going to get ;) ).

In addition, I would also like to mention that Albert Gareev, who has put a lot of effort and attention into helping develop ideas and approaches for Weekend Testing sessions, has also agreed to take on the role of assistant facilitator for these events. this is what we call "redundancy" in the hardware world, but that doesn't really seem fair to Albert; he and I are to very different people with different strengths, and Albert will be able to bring plenty to this endeavor.

Another reason for this move is that we are considering shaking up the schedule a bit. For many people Weekend testing gigs work well on the weekends, but for many others, they are not able to participate due to family commitments and other things that pull at their time (what, you mean testers have lives, too?!). Because of this Albert and I have been mulling over the idea of having occasional WeekNIGHT Testing sessions for the Americas, sessions that would be easier to attend for folks in the Western Hemisphere. The challenge, though is to be able to schedule those sessions so that people can attend them conveniently (a 6:00 PM start time for the East Coast would be a 3:00 PM start time for the West Coast, a little challenging for some of us who would still be working. A 6:00 PM start time on the West Coast would be 9:00 PM on the East Coast, not ideal for a week night by any means. The solution? Alternate between the times, and have Albert facilitate the East Coast sessions and me facilitate the West Coast sessions.

In any event, the ability of having multiple facilitators makes it possible to have additional sessions, or vary the scheduling. we're going to be keeping track and seeing how well this approach works and who participates and responds, and that will help us tailor these sessions so that the Weekend Testing attendees will be able to get the most out of these sessions.

Friday, March 25, 2011

TWiST #38 - with Zach Spencer

One of the cool things about being a vocal and public user of Audacity is that I get contacted by people who do stuff with Audacity as well and either ask questions, offer suggestions, or in this case, aske me to review a new book. That review will go up on Wednesday if all goes well, but I'm please and happy that No Starch Press reached out to me to review their new title "The Book of Audacity".

More than just review, I like when a book gives me a new approach to do ing things and new ideas to production techniques. One of them is the use of the Leveling and Normalization routines in concert on separate sections, so that I can make a more natural balance between sections and do them fairly quickly. It's proven to be a huge time saver :)!

So this week Zach Spencer came back to be on the show (he was featured in Epidode 13). lot of this episode is dedicated to Acceptance Test Driven Development (specifically discussing Cucumber and its use in the organization) as well as User Experience testing and becoming a Subject Area Expert. of course, you don't have to take my word for it, go to Episode #38 and listen for yourself :).

Standard disclaimer:

Each TWiST podcast is free for 30 days, but you have to be a basic member to access it. After 30 days, you have to have a Pro Membership to access it, so either head on over quickly (depending on when you see this) or consider upgrading to a Pro membership so that you can get to the podcasts and the entire library whenever you want to :). In addition, Pro membership allows you to access and download to the entire archive of Software Test and Quality Assurance Magazine, and its issues under its former name, Software Test and Performance.

TWiST-Plus is all extra material, and as such is not hosted behind STP’s site model. There is no limitation to accessing TWiST-Plus material, just click the link to download and listen.

Again, my thanks to STP for hosting the podcasts and storing the archive. We hope you enjoy listening to them as much as we enjoy making them :).

Monday, March 21, 2011

WTANZ #13 - The HTML5 Browser Shootout

Saturday night, while the rest of the West coast was winding down to go to sleep, I decided to get together with my friends in Australia and New Zealand and participate in their Weekend Testing session. One of the things that excited me about this was the fact that we were going to be doing something I hadn't spent much time with, and that was HTML 5. I was curious to see how we would actually test this.

That was answered in the early part of the session. Here was the mission:

A significant aspect of these browsers and also Chrome and Safari 5 is their support for HTML5 features such web workers and storage. As testers, being educated about the new functionality HTML5 allows will help us understand how to better stress web applications that make use of HTML5.

Today’s session is all about HTML5 support.

The mission, work through the HTML5 Rocks slides which illustrate and educate about HTML5 features in either Firefox 4, IE9, Chrome or Safari 5. At the end of the hour, we’ll talk about how well each of the different browsers supports HTML5.

HTML5 Rocks: http://slides.html5rocks.com/#landing-slide

Please pick one of these browsers, and let the group know which one you chose:

Firefox 4
Safari 5

Since I had a laptop that I had just downloaded IE9 on, and a MacBook Pro with Safari 5, I decided to take those two on and see what I might notice. What's cool about the presentation linked above is the fact that the presentation itself actually demonstrates the features described. If your browser can support it, the option is displayed and can be worked with. If not, then only part of the feature would be displayed, or in some cases, none of the options would display.

Szalai László József posted the full transcript, so if you would like to see some of my observations, you can take a look at the chat session, but in general, I thought it was cool to see the differences between the browsers, and realize that not all browsers have implemented all of the features the same way, or even at all in certain circumstances. this shows me that HTML 5 support, while a neat new landscape, has a number of challenges, and compatibility testing is going to be a huge part of that puzzle. Safari 5 does a good job with graphical tweaks, but not so great with database manipulation and local storage of variables. IE9 was exactly the opposite.

So who was the winner of the HTML 5 browser shootout? From the evidence presented, Google Chrome had the best coverage of all the browsers based on the presentation... ah, but here's the rub, the presentation is a Google presentation, so I think it's safe to say that it was developed specifically to show off Chrome's capabilities. Be that as it may, all four of the browsers we tested had a variety of pluses and minuses related to the coverage of HTML 5 thus far, and I doubt that any of them is finished with development yet (seeing as HTML 5 is still evolving).

Overall a great session, and my thanks again to Marlena Compton for facilitating. as a WT facilitator myself, I know the time that goes into planning these sessions, and I enjoyed being able to be the tester again and learn something new.

TWiST #37 - with Lanette Creamer

Back when this podcast first started, Lanette Creamer was Guest #1. I don't know if I was the first listener to this podcast, but I'm happy to say I've been a follower of it since the first episode, and I'd actually wanted to go back and re-edit the old shows to be in a similar format to the later produced versions (I started producing the show with Episode #6). Matt said that he felt it was more appropriate to leave the first five shows as they were, because that was the nature of what they wereand how they were produced. He wanted to show where we came from, even if there were warts or mis-steps, or less than perfect moments, because it would show where and if we actually improved along the way.

Another reason was that, in a small way, I get a chance to really dissect the words, consider them, and ponder them when I'm the one editing the show. In sopme ways, the editing process is a super deep dive into the concepts and ideas of my fellow testers, and in a way, I wanted a chance to have that "deep dive" with Lanette, James Bach, Jerry Weinberg and Doug Hoffman. What's cool about this week's show is that, with Lanette becoming a "repeat offender", I had that chance again.

So anyway, this weeks TWiST was with lanette Creamer, as I stated. One of the great aspects of this week's show has been the chance to consider the changes the last year has had for Software Testing in general. Maybe it's my own awareness because of participating in the broader testing community, but I have seen a lot of what Matt and lanette have seen, a greater appreciation of software testing in general, and an understanding that automation may help some things, but isn't the be all and end all, and an alert sapient tester is one of the most formidable tools a compan ycan have (and if they have more than one, all the better). Also, as a budding hopeful when it comes to speaking about testing, I found Lanette's comments about encouraging and mentoring other testers to step up and become speakers to be very encouraging. Anyway, if you wna to hear the interview, go an listen to  Episode #37 for yourself :).

Standard disclaimer:

Each TWiST podcast is free for 30 days, but you have to be a basic member to access it. After 30 days, you have to have a Pro Membership to access it, so either head on over quickly (depending on when you see this) or consider upgrading to a Pro membership so that you can get to the podcasts and the entire library whenever you want to :). In addition, Pro membership allows you to access and download to the entire archive of Software Test and Quality Assurance Magazine, and its issues under its former name, Software Test and Performance.

TWiST-Plus is all extra material, and as such is not hosted behind STP’s site model. There is no limitation to accessing TWiST-Plus material, just click the link to download and listen.

Again, my thanks to STP for hosting the podcasts and storing the archive. We hope you enjoy listening to them as much as we enjoy making them :).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bold Boasts and Expectational Debt

There's been a discussion going on over at the Software Testing Club, specific to reading technical books, but in general, the idea of making a"Bold Boast" to accomplish some goal and put yourself on the hot seat. On the positive end, I think that there is a value to making a "bold boast" if it will actually get you to be motivated to accomplish something, but there's a down side and a dark side to it, and it's one I've started to realize. I didn't have a way of putting it into words, but when in doubt, Merlin Mann will likely come up with something awesome to describe it, and hey, Merlin didn't disappoint. During the 5by5 podcast "Back To Work" last week, he coined, on the spot, what I think is a great term… Expectational Debt.

What is that? It's what happens to us when we announce we are going to do something or we agree to do something that will take a substantial amount of time and energy, but we may not know when or if we are going to finish it. In a way, Expectational Debt is a behavioral cousin of Technical Debt, where we make decisions (usually by shooting off our mouths) to do something that we then need to fulfill, and we are, effectively, putting our "future self" in the hot seat. Consumer debt and technical debt do the same thing. We agree to something now with the proviso that the future self is going to be the one to pay for it. Sometimes this works well, but if we are not careful, this can also backfire spectacularly.

I've noticed in this blog that I have committed to quite a bit of Expectational Debt, some of it well meaning, and some of it is becoming problematic. Case in point… when I started the Wednesday Book Review, I was looking at books that I had either read a bit of or had some familiarity with. Those books were titles I could quickly breeze through, and as such, I felt good about doing a book a week. that doesn't work so well when I got into stuff that was a little less familiar or easy to absorb. It's because if this that I've made the decision to re-emphasize my book review schedule and remove the Wednesday from the titles. The Wednesday created an expectational debt (I don't entirely know who with, but my counters have historically shown that the book reviews are an often read element of this blog). The point is, I created an expectation, and that expectation causes people to be let down if I don't meet it, even if the expectation isn't a really high one.

The Practicum series was a good and well meaning idea when I started it. I figured, hey, I'll just work through all of the examples, how hard can it be? Well, it can be really hard when your environment doesn't match the examples given, or if your new job and its demands don't allow you the time to push through all of the examples and write about them. So I'm asking a little indulgence of those who have been following my Practicum posts and wondering "hey, Michael hasn't posted an update in awhile. What's up with that?" This is an example of a "Bold Boast" being undermined by too large a percentage of "Expectational Debt". Great commitment, but difficult to follow through on at the moment. It is, however, important to me to complete it, so I will take it on in smaller increments and post when it I get through each section. It may take longer, but it will at least get done, if not at the pace I originally intended. This is better than feeling overwhelmed by a project I cannot give 100% to, and making no progress because it's "too much to swallow right now".

We all know the old chestnut "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer is always "One bite at a time". Expectational Debt can likewise quickly turn into an elephant if we are too quick to say yes, too excited to not entirely think through our commitments, or to not have a firm grasp of what we need to do when everything comes together. I started a new job, took on the AST Bug Advocacy class, and have a long standing commitment to editing a podcast that I really enjoy working on. Add all that to the fact that I am a husband and a dad, and yeah, the available hours in a day get cut down rapidly. Time is a finite resource, we can't save it or slow it down, or bank it for later. We can only use it, and when I agree to do one thing, I have to accept the fact that I am agreeing to say no to any number of other things. If I don't I will start to build an unrealistic level of Expectational Debt. If I'm really not paying attention, I can also create a large amount of Technical Debt in the process, too.

So where am I going with this? Well, short of saying "thanks" to Merlin for putting a word to a phenomenon I do way too often, I'm examining exactly how much I willingly commit to, and how vocal I'm willing to be about it. There's lots of things I want to do, and I'm genuinely enthusiastic about all of it, but the simple fact is, I can't do it all. I'll never be able to do it all, and I need to figure out how to be OK with that. Maybe I'll disappoint some people, and I guess I'll have to learn to live with that, too. Ultimately, though, it's critical to focus on the most important Expectational Debts first, and make sure to focus on the most important areas, even if it means having to say no to other important and, yes, even fun things. I'm not saying don't make promises. I'm also not saying don't make "Bold Boasts" from time to time. I firmly believe the Bold Boast is an awesome tool, but we have to also make sure we don't Bold Boast ourselves into Expectational Bankruptcy. If a Bold Boast is needed to motivate you, then by all means boast, but weigh it in with your other commitments, and realize you may have to "Moderately Boast" for awhile.

Or better yet, take stock of your outstanding Expectational Debts and get "Gazelle Intense" (copyright Dave Ramsey) on wiping out those expectational debts that are already hanging around. If you know that you are not going to accomplish goal you set, or you're beyond that, go ahead and publicly say "I'm sorry, but this isn't going to happen". Acknowledge it, declare that momentary act of Expectational Bankruptcy, and then focus on the stuff that matters. How to do that, I'll leave up to you :).

TWiST #36 - with Sean McMillan

 So for the record, producing a podcast and studying for a Bug Advocacy final makes for some truly long days. I'll post something about the process of studying for Bug Advocacy in a bit, but I gotta' say, it's times like this that I discover just how much I enjoy producing the podcast, such as when I have to actually say "OK, it's time to stop editing audio and actually study… or maybe that just says I'd rather edit audio than study, I don't know… wait, yes I do :).

So anyway, this weeks TWiST was with Sean McMillan, a guy that Matt has worked with directly a couple of times. Sean McMillan is the co-inventor of Bacon Driven Coding and author of the Blog called, ironically enough - "Bacon Driven Coding." Sean also tweets at @McMillanSean.
In this episode, Sean and Matt talk about his background, his life with and without the safety net of good testers, and the adoption of model-driven testing in organizations.  But enough from me, how about having a listen to Episode #36 for yourself :).

Standard disclaimer:

Each TWiST podcast is free for 30 days, but you have to be a basic member to access it. After 30 days, you have to have a Pro Membership to access it, so either head on over quickly (depending on when you see this) or consider upgrading to a Pro membership so that you can get to the podcasts and the entire library whenever you want to :). In addition, Pro membership allows you to access and download to the entire archive of Software Test and Quality Assurance Magazine, and its issues under its former name, Software Test and Performance.

TWiST-Plus is all extra material, and as such is not hosted behind STP’s site model. There is no limitation to accessing TWiST-Plus material, just click the link to download and listen.

Again, my thanks to STP for hosting the podcasts and storing the archive. We hope you enjoy listening to them as much as we enjoy making them :).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday TESTHEAD

On March 10th, 2010, I decided to go forward with a little project to get myself out of a malaise and give myself a reason to push forward and learn about software testing again. I thought it would give me a way to think about some stuff and maybe have a few people here and there see it.

Instead, TESTHEAD became a catalyst for doing so much more than I ever imagined I would (or could), has been a way to meet a tremendous group of peers and friends, and literally help me reinvent my game as a tester.

Some TESTHEAD milestones:

* 20,000 + direct visits to the site (or at least since Stats became available at Blogger in June of 2010)– wow!!!

* Comments and encouragement from many individuals I admire and respect, thanks for helping me fuel this site.

* A place in the top 40 of Testing blogs :)

* Involvement with Miagi-Do and the Association for Software Testing

* Producing the podcast "This Week in Software Testing"

* Contributing a chapter to a book on "How to Reduce the Cost of Software Testing"

* Attending my first Software Testing conference (Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference 2010)

* Helping to found and facilitate the Americas chapter of Weekend Testing

* Publishing numerous book reviews and creating "the Most Complete Book Review of All Time", according to Alan Page (LOL!).

* Writing my first article for Sticky Minds

More to the point, TESTHEAD has given me a chance to ponder a number of ideas that I always wanted to think about and practice. It's helped me see things that I do well, and shine a light on areas I can work on and do better.

So here's a huge thanks to everyone who has helped me in this past year and helped make TESTHEAD into a destination people want to go to and has encouraged me to keep writing. Here's looking forward to another great year :)!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When You Don't See Me

There's a real danger that comes with writing a blog, and that is the fact that you start to get into a mode where you obsess over whether or not people are reading and what they are reading. Truth be told, this is a natural thing. Let's face it, I wouldn't write semi regularly if I didn't think it mattered to someone, but wow, you can get really wrapped up in this if you're not careful.

In some ways, the best and worst discovery I've made has been to see the Stats screen for TESTHEAD (for those who don't actively use Blogger, there's an option that was enabled in June of 2010 that allows blog posters to see who has visited their blog and from where and at what time of the day. I've learned some interesting things due to this... for starters, the U.S. the U.K, Canada, India and the Netherlands are my most active readers (well, I can assume testers in those countries :) ). The second thing that I've learned is that, while I can generate a lot of readership by posting a lot, I seem to get more hits and reads when I don't post! Huh?! Why is that? Another interesting thing is that, when I don't post to twitter, I get more followers during my fallow periods than I do when I post regularly. To steal from Merlin Mann (I do this a lot, just get used to it if you haven't already)... "what are you following? I'm not here!"

I think I've got an answer, though, and maybe this realization will help some people out there. What posts of mine are causing spikes in traffic and average readership when I'm not here? In general, they are articles that I think are good and interesting, mostly introspective pieces and active reviews (my How We test Software at Microsoft reviews had low numbers of reads while I was doing it, but they have spiked considerably since I finished the project. The reason? Alan Page and others saw what I did, and said "dude's nuts, but give him credit, he did it!" and they've linked to them. And those links are what are bringing in the traffic (and yes, I know this because of the Stats page, bless and curse it :) ).

So what this tells me is that, while I get a lot of hits when I make a lot of posts, I get as much or more traffic when I write something that resonates with people, and sometimes, I can do that better when I'm not frantically scrabbling to make a bunch of posts (which I think I tend to try to do just because I like the energy this blog pulls out of me). At the same time, I think there's times that I post because I'm excited about what interests people, and many times, my trying to follow up on that is actually less successful because I'm chasing what I think people would be interested in reading rather than the things that I actively learn, which is really the whole point of the site.

Matt Heusser talked about giving up Twitter for Lent, and I thought that was interesting. I decided to do something similar, not so much because of Lent (mainly because I'm not Catholic and I associate Lent as a Catholic tradition), but because I think it's time to retune and get my real bearings for this blog again especially in light of what tomorrow is (those who are regulars may be able to figure out why tomorrow is special, others, you'll just have to wait ;) ), but for 30 days after tomorrow, I will be mentally avoiding the Stats pages. Will I be dying of curiosity? Possibly. But I think I need to wean myself from it, because I don't want to be writing stuff because I want the page hits (well, OK, who am I kidding, of course I want the page hits :) ), but more to the point, I want the page hits because I'm writing something compelling, not necessarily something that I think people will flock to read. the subtitle of this blog is "the Mis-Education and Re-Education of a Software Tester". It's been my continued education and my willingness to share it that's been the consistent theme of this blog, so I'm going to make sure that that remains the focus. It'll be interesting to see what I come up with in the ensuing month, without the stats to guide me. Here's hoping you'll join me on the journey, It'll be interesting to see what you actually find interesting :).

Friday, March 4, 2011

Book Review: More Secrets of Consulting

So I will have to confess, this is going a little bit out of order. One would expect that I would read "The Secrets of Consulting" and then read "More Secrets of Consulting" after-wards. I'm actually doing it in reverse order. There are a few reasons for that, the first being the fact that I hadn't gotten to reading the first one yet (it's in my queue and I already paid for the book, so It's on my flash drive with all of the other PDF books I'm working though). No, the biggest reason why I'm doing "More Secrets of Consulting" before "Secrets" is that I was asked if I would. Specifically, Jerry offered me a free copy of the E-Book if I'd read it and post a review. How can you turn down an offer like that (answer: me personally, I don't :) )?

Early on, Jerry goes into a description of some of his most famous laws, specifically the law of Raspberry and Strawberry Jam, and then put's a new one in, the Law of Grape Jelly. His point is that while the raspberry jam and the grape jelly can be spread forever to the point where they lose their taste (and with the opinion that Grape Jelly never had much taste to begin with) Strawberry Jam is stubbornly un-spreadable. Chunks remain and will not break down and spread. His point in More Secrets of Consulting is that the chunks are the human element, the actual people that do the work and give the message. It's the humanity of the message, and thus, More Secrets of Consulting was geared towards providing that humanity and liking consultants to become more "Strawberry like". Yes, I just made that comparison, Jerry makes them a lot. If you can't tolerate a bit of hokey, this book is going to irritate you. If you can tolerate a little hokey and actually find it endearing, I think you'll love this book :).

There are various tools that are discussed in each chapter, and how Jerry uses those tools to help him become more effective in the role he plays as a consultant. This is valuable information to everyone in the job market today, and who will ever be in the job market. At the end of the day, most of us are consultants in one way or another. We provide a certain level of skill and expertise to help solve a variety of problems. Thus, if you think that you are not the target audience for this book, guess again!

There are various metaphors and objects used throughout the book, including "The Wisdom Box", "The Golden Key", "The Golden Lock", "The Yes/No Medallion", "The Wishing Wand", "The Telescope", The Fish Eye Lens", "The Oxygen Mask" and other items that are supported throughout the text as tools that a consultant needs. Ultimately, what you will discover as you read this book is that the tools to use are an exceptionally well tuned common sense, a focus on street smarts, a little bit of technical knowledge, and a whole lot of discernment.

Also, there really aren't any Secrets. There is a lot of planning, hard work, moral fiber, and guiding principles that need to be reviewed and applied regularly. Again, don't be fooled, you do not need to be a consultant to find value in this book. All of these tools are vital for anyone to have in their work-a-day tool chest. Notice, each and every tool is an internal attribute. Much like Steven Covey's guiding philosophy, Jerry looks at the internal character of the individual as the guiding and telling component. All of the tools described help to support that focus, that of helping to develop and build the inner character of the individual. there are no slick techniques presented here, no formulaic negotiation tactics. there is a lot of focus on personal preparation and integrity.

More Secrets owes a debt to who Weinberg feels deserves much of the credit for many of the ideas, Virginia Satir. Her names is mentioned often in many of the chapters, and many quotes are attributed directly to her. There are also many other quotes and memorable passes associated with other authors and individuals. Some memorable ones that ring through the text:

  • The Mercenary Maxim: "One of the best ways to lose lots of money is to do something only for the money."
  • Dani's Decider: "When you stop learning new things, it's time to move on."

  • The Detective's Fourth Rule: "If you can't understand where the questions are coming from, they're probably coming from an agenda someone doesn't want you to know about."

  • The Parallel Paradox: "If you're too much like your clients, you don't attract them; if you're too different, you frighten them away."

Bottom Line:

The Original Secrets of Consulting is high on my list of titles to read, especially now that I've read "More Secrets" before I read the main book. In the Introduction, Jerry says that it is not required that the reader have gone through "Secrets of…" to be able to receive profitably the message inside of "More Secrets…". I've found much to ponder and find interesting in this book. Some may say that there is a bit of a self-promotion aspect to the book, and hey, why should that come as a surprise to anyone? It's Jerry's work and ideas, and hey, as a consultant himself, of course he's going to hawk his own ideas from time to time. Still, even with all of that, "More Secrets of Consulting" is a gem of a book, and remarkably quick reading (my Smashwords copy comes to 165 pages). Needless to say, a single read through will not impart all the wisdom and experience of this book, but there's much to ponder, and it's my hope I'll be able to put much of this in practice in my most recent venture. Perhaps a year from now, I'll be able to come back and see how well I did :).

TWiST #35 - with Richard Sheridan

So this was a pretty cool interview and a lot of great information this time around. The interview itself sounds more like a call-in show, in the sense that the connection with our guest sounds like a typical phone line by comparison to some of the other interviews.

Volume leveling was interesting this time around in that the call was rely hot on the interviewee side, but I've gotten to the point that the leveling is becoming more natural (doing too hard a leveling causes both voices to sound distorted, so I've abandoned that technique). The down side is that there are some slightly jumpy dynamics, but I think we're getting it to a more natural level each week (hoping I'll be able to cobble up a NyQuist command that will allow me to do a clean leveling without introducing distortion, but so far, I haven't figured out the magic formula for that yet.

This week we talk with Richard Sheridan. Richard is the CEO of Menlo Innovations, a company dedicated to putting Extreme Programming and Agile practices into, well practice. His take on developing joy in the work, making for a sustainable work pace, and developing what he terms as "Quality Advocates". In any event, to listen to Episode #35, go here :).

Standard disclaimer:

Each TWiST podcast is free for 30 days, but you have to be a basic member to access it. After 30 days, you have to have a Pro Membership to access it, so either head on over quickly (depending on when you see this) or consider upgrading to a Pro membership so that you can get to the podcasts and the entire library whenever you want to :). In addition, Pro membership allows you to access and download to the entire archive of Software Test and Quality Assurance Magazine, and its issues under its former name, Software Test and Performance.

TWiST-Plus is all extra material, and as such is not hosted behind STP’s site model. There is no limitation to accessing TWiST-Plus material, just click the link to download and listen.

Again, my thanks to STP for hosting the podcasts and storing the archive. We hope you enjoy listening to them as much as we enjoy making them :).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

From Start-Up to Multi-National Corporation in Six Weeks

So imagine the surprise when, after just a few weeks at a new company (a small operation that sits 25 people in a small brownstone flat in the South of Market area of San Francisco), as you are getting your bearings about how everything works and what the company is all about, you see everyone gather together in the main room and the CEO pulls the big TV out of the conference room. You already know this is going to be an interesting day. Next, imagine hearing that the little start up you have just joined has made an agreement to become part of a multi-national corporation with office all over the world.

Yep, I witnessed it, and yep, news of that reality just went public today :).

So to simplify this a little, SideReel was just acquired by Rovi Corp.  The story of the event can be seen here and here.  Rovi Corp. is an entertainment company that handles a number of online properties and is basically a huge data provider about various entertainment options (including music, movies and television) all over the world. From the first article referenced above:

“We launched AllRovi to give consumers an immersive entertainment experience — where they can find significant amounts of information, related art, reviews —everything about the films and music they love,” said Dave Jordan, VP of marketing for Rovi. “By adding the SideReel.com website to our online portfolio, we believe Rovi can be the go-to source for finding and enjoying online content.”

So what does that mean for me? In the short term, not much changes, other than the fact that I'm now part of a company with thousands of employees instead of just a little group of 25. SideReel will likely be operated as its own group for the foreseeable future, and thus my mission and goals are still the same, to help develop a test team and testing culture in an Agile environment for a fast moving and small company... with the proviso that that small company has become part of the orbit of a much larger company. Beyond that, I can't really speculate or say exactly what will happen, but it has certainly made for some interesting several days, and the future promises to be interesting as well :). I guess we'll just have to see what tomorrow brings.