How I choose conferences

I love going to conferences. After a good conference I always come back to work full of energy and with a thousand new ideas to try out. Conferences inevitably boost up my enthusiasm a couple of levels. Usually my network has expanded quite a bit too, and I’ve met people that are not only friendly and interesting, but also amazing sources of useful tips, advice and insight.

Even though I’m fortunate enough to work with a great bunch of testers, nothing beats the intensity of the testing conferences where approaches and techniques are scrutinized, refuted and worshipped into the wee hours.

What do I look for in a conference?

  • Enthusiasm: Attandees that are there because they’re passionate about the topic, and not because the conference is at a fancy resort, or because they want to skip work for a couple of days. Judging the level of enthusiasm at a conference is hard to do in advance if it’s a conference you’ve not been to before, but I have faith in my peers and ask around – someone is bound to have been there.
  • Topic: I want to be enthusiastic too, so of course the topic of the conference has to be something I care about strongly.
  • Socialising: The time outside the sessions is usually at least as important. There must be time for just hanging out and talking about testing. That’s one reason why I usually prefer to stay clear of the really huge conferences – there seems to be an inverse relationship between the number of attendees and the number of productive interactions.
  • Price: Yes, the price matters, but I’m also prepared to pay for quality (come on, I’m a tester!).

What’s on my confence schedule for the next couple of months? Well, no less than three conferences I’m very much looking forward to:

  1. Let’s Test, Sweden, May 7-9
  2. CAST 2012, USA, July 16-18
  3. TesTrek Vancouver 2012, Canada, July 25-26

I hope to bump into you!

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Why Are You a Tester?

I am always curious as to what drives people – what their motivation is – especially when it comes to other testers.

I know why I am a tester. My driving force is my curiosity and the need to learn and gain experience. I want to know how things work, and preferably also why. That is why I went to graduate school and got a Ph.D. in physics, and it is also why I am a tester. To me testing is a quest for information: I test to learn about a product and everything that surrounds it.

As much as I love science and research, I decided that I did not want an academic career, and did what many other physicists do: I took a job as a developer. At least programming was something I knew how to do, while the demand for experimental astro-particle physicists outside of the academic world is…somewhat limited. By coincidence, I was asked to pitch in and help the test team, and I was immediately hooked: I had found a research substitute! As a tester I am able to take full advantage of my curiosity, attention to detail, observational skills, logical thinking and ability to analyse and draw conclusions. Software testing is something I am very passionate about, something that occupies my mind constantly, and something I am so enthusiastic about that I do not really consider it “work”. I have found my true vocation.

But what about other testers? What brought them into software testing?

Asking around, a common answer seems to be “curiosity”; the need to find out how things do – or do not – work. Not surprisingly, it seems as if testers have a tendency to want things to work, and they get more annoyed than the general public when software they encounter fails. Maybe being a tester is a way to make the world function a little bit better and bother us a little bit less. There is of course also the thrill of the hunt and the excitement when you catch your prey, even if it is just a bug.

Quite a few testers start out as developers and then – like me – make the transfer, after finding that testing is more interesting and fulfilling. Why is it then that software tester is still rarely presented as a viable career path, comparable to software developer? I find it interesting – and important – to ask testers that I encounter why they are testers. Not everyone starts out as engaged and enthusiastic testers, and some might need a little bit of encouragement and coaching to realise how much fun it actually is.

Take the time to think about why you are a tester, and you might learn something new about yourself – and others.

Relocating

For quite some time I have been using Blogger for my test blog and…I am experiencing strong feelings of dislike and disappointment. It seems to be impossible to display large images in a nice way in posts, and the iPad app is just horrible, sorry.

After trying WordPress for a while for other blogs I have to admit that I find it to be superior, and hence I am relocating. Currently I have no plans to migrate old posts, but they are all still available here.

Welcome to Christin’s new (but sadly enough not improved) blog on software testing!