Nicky Tests Software: February 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Talking to Students about Testing at a Job Mentoring Programme: Mentor Sverige

Yesterday morning I took part in Mentor Sverige's Job Mentoring Programme at Ribbyskolan.

First off, it was a lot scarier than I was anticipating. I initially thought we would stay together as a group and then go around together in each classroom telling the students about what we do (looking back, I don't know why I thought this as there definitely wouldn't have been enough time for that). But we were all split up to go into different classrooms for 20min at a time to give our presentations. I gave four 10-12min presentations to students in Grade 9, with about 5min of Q&A and then a few min to get between classrooms.

The Cultural Aspect
Up until yesterday, I had never spoken to anyone in Sweden under 25 (aside from my colleague's daughter). I also really enjoyed going to a Swedish Grundskola (like a junior high school for 12-15 year olds) as I wouldn't have been able to get that experience otherwise.

Lastly, I had an early lunch at the student cafeteria just after we all finished our presentations. Again, wouldn't have had that experience unless I did this.

The Language Barrier

All of the instructions  that we were given by Mentor Sverige, before we started the presentations, were given in Swedish. I had a general gist of what was happening and had a vague idea of what the other mentors did for work - but didn't understand everything word for word.

I gave my presentations in English as I wasn't confident enough to do it in Swedish. Although I knew most of the Swedish vocabulary for what I would need, the prospect of public speaking in Swedish was way too daunting.

I feel that about half of each class actually understood my presentation, judging by the looks on their faces (however, I'm not 100% if this estimation is at all useful). Because of this, I wouldn't do it again unless my Swedish was much better than it is now and I could do it in Swedish and answer questions in Swedish.

Telling the Students About Testing

I had planned a slideshow presentation for each class, but given the fact we had 20min slots in each class and I didn't want to waste time on set-up - I ended up just giving my presentation by memory.

I told the students the following:

  • Brief background on me
  • What is software testing and what is a tester's role in a software project?
  • How I got into testing
  • How others got into testing
  • What I like about my job
  • What I don't like about my job
  • Tasks I might do in a typical day

I first asked if anyone had heard about my role. Unsurprisingly I got the best questions from guys who are hoping to be a software developer or a web designer when they grow up - even though most of them hadn't heard of testing, they were easily able to grasp the concept of what a tester would do.

Aside from that, I am worried I wasn't able to fully explain what a software tester does. I attempted to use relatable examples such as Facebook, Google and ATMs and provided example tests of what I would do. But I'm not sure if the language barrier got in the way of that.

If I were to do this again, I'd focus more on the link between where they are at now and what a software tester does. I feel that my job still seemed too foreign to them even after I gave my presentation. Also, I would try to show them software testing instead of just talking (how I would do that in 20min slots I do not know).  I think that would help me communicate better with the students what a software tester does.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My thoughts on the Context Driven Testing Community

I'm proud to be part of the Context Driven Testing Community.

Because of it I have met people who are truly passionate about testing, developed an eagerness to continually improve and been made to feel that it's "a small world" (thanks to Twitter)

The thing is, I struggle to understand  why it's not the status quo. When I read through the principles, it honestly seems like common sense to me. These are:

The Seven Basic Principles of the Context-Driven School

  1. The value of any practice depends on its context.
  2. There are good practices in context, but there are no best practices.
  3. People, working together, are the most important part of any project’s context.
  4. Projects unfold over time in ways that are often not predictable.
  5. The product is a solution. If the problem isn’t solved, the product doesn’t work.
  6. Good software testing is a challenging intellectual process.
  7. Only through judgment and skill, exercised cooperatively throughout the entire project, are we able to do the right things at the right times to effectively test our products.


I feel that someone would be hard-pressed to come up with an argument that would stand against these principles. It also means that if you apply these principles, your testing can be a "challenging intellectual process". Who doesn't want that?

It makes me wonder... Are we not welcoming enough? What is the perception of the Context Driven Testing Community to other testers (and to people who work with testers)? Have they heard of us?

You can't expect people to want to learn more about Context Driven Testing if they haven't heard about it in the first place. But then how do you reach out to those you don't know are out there (or how to reach them)?

I suppose this post raises more questions if anything and is a bit of a rant. But at the end of the day all I can say is:

If you are passionate about something, and honestly feel that people would find more fulfilment in their work by using this approach - then wouldn't you want more people to hear about it?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Getting back into Toastmasters

Lately, I've been getting back into Toastmasters. I recently joined a club in Stockholm and am really enjoying it so far. It's largely an expat club with over 10 nationalities (I can think of from the top of my head, there are surely more). It's also a very popular club - it seems to me that speaking slots are highly in demand and you need to be pretty fast to sign up so you can give a speech.

I was really hoping to join a club much earlier after moving to Sweden but ended up giving myself some time to settle in and focus on cultivating new friendships and getting into a gym routine. In addition to this, I was doing a fair bit of travel for work which made going to meetings regularly, a tough task.

Now that I've joined a club - I'm eager to get back into this routine and further improve my leadership and public speaking skills.

If you've heard about Toastmasters and have considered going or heard one of your friends rave about it - I seriously urge you to try it. Actually, just check it out and go to one meeting. The funny thing about Toastmasters is that I joined to improve my public speaking skills back in the end of 2012 (to be honest, I didn't give a toss about the leadership aspect at that point in time). Now that I've done it for a few years, the biggest benefit for me isn't the public speaking aspect per say, but the ability to articulate my thoughts clearly. I used to be a rather scatterbrained person and really struggled to communicate my thoughts in the way I wanted them to be heard.

I'm about half way through completing two advanced manuals: Technical Presentations and Humorously Speaking. Have signed up to give a speech on March 2 and am currently developing my ideas for this speech: Assignment 4 - Keep them laughing.

My objectives will be to:

  • Prepare a speech that opens with a self deprecating joke
  • String together two or three related jokes in the speech body
  • Close the speech with a humorous story
  • Do this in 5-7min

Truth be told, I'm rather nervous about delivering this speech as my sense of humour can be a bit strange and that nobody will laugh (but I can say for sure that the subject is one everyone can relate to). So fingers crossed I get a few chuckles from the audience!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

4 Tips for Working Remotely

I've been mainly working remotely for the past month and did a bit of remote working before Christmas. I sure can't complain about the lack of commute, but it definitely takes some getting used to. Here are 4 things I have learned that help make working remotely a bit easier.

1. Add some sort of structure to your day

I do this by going to the gym at lunch (it's a very short walk). This means I have a "morning slot" and an "afternoon slot" in which to do things.

2. Find a tool to help you be productive

For me, this has been something as simple as a to-do list each morning/week. I write it by hand and draw little boxes beside each one, then tick it off as it's done. I've tried online Note tools etc. But they don't work for me nowhere near as well as handwritten to-do lists.

3. Communicate with your team

We do the standard "good mornings" but I also do my best to let them know when I won't be available (e.g. going to the gym). I don't actually tell everyone in my team I'm going to the gym, but only those I'm directly working with. I don't want them messaging me and having them wonder where I am.

4. Move your body

This might sound a bit strange - but I like to stand up, have a break and either go for a 10min walk around the block (weather dependent), dance to a song (this one is my favourite) or do some lunges etc. I figured people who work in an office get to move around a much bigger space than me - and sitting still all day can make me somewhat lethargic so I need to get a bit of blood pumping.