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Please don’t equate Tragile with Agile

Lajos Moczar recently posted an article in CIO magazine titled “Why agile isn’t working” in which he states that “I’ve concluded that agile has not only failed like other fad methodologies before it but, in fact, is making things worse in IT”.  He goes on to identify ways in which he says agile is not only failing but making things worse for the IT industry as a whole.

I’ve read the article carefully and tried hard keep a balanced perspective as I perused it.  I can’t keep calm – this article is dangerous unadulterated drivel! The author misinterprets the agile manifesto and takes some of the agile practices completely out of context, using unfounded statements to justify his conclusions.

This post is my response, addressing the points he makes and tackling the myths he propagates.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

STANZ speaker profile: Karen Johnson

If you’re interested in testing you’ll want to hear what testing experts have to say on the subject. At this year’s STANZ (Software Testing Australia New Zealand conference) there will be presentations from four international testing experts. Each week we’ll tell you a little bit more about each of them. This week we’re introducing Karen Johnson.

About Karen:

Karen is a software test consultant. She is based in Chicago but travels to speak at conferences around the world and work with organisations planning test strategy.

She has worked as a software tester or test manager since 1992 after catching the testing bug (pardon the pun) while writing technical guides.

Karen’s testing history is very varied. She has worked with banking, manufacturing and ecommerce software as well as content management systems, medical software and business intelligence initiatives.

As well as teaching and testing Karen is a contributing author to the book Beautiful Testing released by O’Reilly publishers. She has published numerous articles and blog posts about her experiences with software testing.

Working with Remote and Distributed Teams

The biggest key to a successful project is good communication. Unless you always work on your own there will come a time when you have to explain something to someone. Still, that’s pretty easy isn’t it? You just talk.

Unfortunately it isn’t that simple, maybe the person you need to talk to is in a different office, in another country, and is awake when you’re asleep and asleep when you’re awake. Maybe they speak with a different accent to you, or have a different understanding of what certain words mean, or a different cultural perspective. Maybe you’ve never met them, nor will you ever meet them, so you don’t know whether to be very formal or more chatty. Maybe you’ve never worked with them ever before.

Good communication is about more than you communicating out, it’s about considering how your communication will be received by the person on the other side. This keynote talk will focus on good communication skills, how to get them and how to use them when you can’t see the person you’re communicating with.

The Strategy Part of a Test Strategy

Strategic planning is an indispensable skill for test leads and testers alike. A test strategy is the first thing a test manager or lead needs to develop, before you can even write a test plan.

You might not always have all of the resources you would like on a project, so this workshop will show you how to use what you have to get what you need. It will look at ways to get input from other team members. It will help you to get buy-in from all of the concerned parties and overcome political obstacles. Finally it will help you to continuously assess and monitor you testing efforts as your project progresses. After attending this workshop you’ll be able to think and plan strategically on any project that comes your way.

Here is a brief video clip of Karen at the Software Test Professionals Conference earlier this year:

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

How to convince your boss you need to go to STANZ

As someone interested in testing, you probably already know about the premier testing conference in Australasia, STANZ. You might even have been before and had a great time listening to inspirational speakers and chatting to other testers. If you would like to go to this year’s STANZ there’s probably only one way that will happen, and that’s if your kind, hardworking boss understands the value of you keeping up to date with the latest developments in testing and buys you a ticket.

If you think your boss might need to know more before that, copy and paste the letter below and send it to them. It explains exactly why STANZ is the event of the year which you should attend. Plus it’s always nice to get a letter.

<Your boss’ name and address>

Dear Boss,

Let’s make your job easier

You seem pretty busy to me. I bet it would be great to have a couple of days to get down to work while all your testers are out at a top quality testing conference. What’s even better is that we would come back with new ideas, practical tools we could apply to our work and buzzing with excitement from having spent time with other testers.

If you’ve spent the last 20 seconds nodding your head while reading this letter then you should book me a place at STANZ, Software Testing Australia New Zealand, or in the other words, the premier testing conference in Australasia.

STANZ is run by Software Education who provide expert training in all areas of software development. They book international experts and local speakers who are independent so they won’t try and sell me stuff. Instead they’ll discuss the important issues facing testers. The calibre of the speakers makes this conference excellent value for money.

All you have to do is go to www.softed.com/stanz and book my place to attend. It means I’ll be out of the office for a couple of days but I’ll be back before you have the chance to miss me and I’ll be so proud that you thought enough of me and my career to send me to this great event that I’ll even make you coffee for the rest of the week.

Kind regards,

Me

p.s. if five of us go one of us will get a free place

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

New Board Member – Paul Reid

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Paul Reid is joining the Software Education board. Paul is currently the Group Manager, Technology and Innovation at NZ Post, as well as a director of Maven. Prior to this he was CEO of the NZ Meteorological Service and prior to that he held a senior management role at Air New Zealand. He joins current board members Martyn Jones, Brian Steele and John Matchett and with his vast experience including building business in the Middle East and Europe we’re positive he is a great addition to the team!

 

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Do you believe in magic?

Recently, I had the good fortune of seeing Sonny Rollins in concert. Any one member of Sonny’s band would hold the stage on their own.

Sonny Rollins was the drawcard but the concert was not just about him; the band collectively made it about the music, together as a whole, not any one individual. Obvious solos abound but mini-solos and subtle by-lines ran through the various cuts and all throughout you could see musicians seeing, feeling, expressing in response to the others. Two hours flew by like it was only 20 minutes – no breaks, very little jabber, just pure enjoyment.
Watching them reminded me how we strive to bring together our various operational and project teams.

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Huh? I thought you were talking about Sonny Rollins? What does Jazz have to do with teams?”

Watch a good jazz band and you’ll see a team collaborating and sharing the whole. Watch a tight, outstanding, mind-blowing group and you’ll see magic happening and the outcome is on a whole different level.

How do some groups achieve magic? Watch and learn from the greats… you’ll see they LISTEN to each other and their whole blend. The spotlight is SHARED and they aren’t afraid to TRY. Innovation is part of their nature; dare I say habitual. They display emergent behaviour – complex patterns arising from simple interactions.

Jazz is characterised by improvisation, syncopation tied together by regular underlying rhythm(s). As the team lead or manager, we do whatever is needed to help maintain the underlying directional beat while the overall team contributes their various melodies, counter-melodies and rhythms. We don’t insist on keeping the spotlight or insist on being the only one driving the beat, but work alongside those that we lead. And like a jazz group, a well performing team adapts as the situation morphs and different voices emerge.

Magic doesn’t happen often enough and never happens on its own but the magic is there.

I believe in magic.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2011 in Culture, Uncategorized

 

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How technology changes our behavior

I’m a technology aficionado – the latest device, the newest toy, the cool new technologies appeal to me. I subscribe to technology magazines and enewsletters so I know what’s coming next, and am happy to debate the virtues of HDMI over WiMax, Blueray over Bluetooth and why 3G is just too slow! I don’t have to own every new gadget (just most of them), but I make sure I know about them.

Despite this I have always treated computing technology as just a tool – I describe a computer as “just a really fast pencil” and that’s how I’ve lived. Yes, we have four computers and two printers at home (one of the computers is a server), and I’ve had an email address since 1983 (unfortunately not the same one all that time), but the technology has not substantively changed how I run my life.

That changed in August last year when I got a Tablet device (an iPad) – insidiously this book-sized tool has significantly changed my behavior. I purchased it mainly to be a book reader – I’m a avid reader and travel a lot. On a recent trip to the USA I came home with 10kg of new books, and decided that maybe an ebook reader would be a good way to go. I researched the available devices, and decided that the iPad would probably suit me best as it opens up additional possibilities beyond just reading.

I had no idea just how much of a paradigm shift this device actually is. Yes, it’s a pretty good book reader, and you’re not limited in the format of what you read – I have five different reader apps on the device, and can read pretty much any format available today. At last count I had just over 150 books in my mobile library – saves a fortune in excess baggage charges :-). But the book reader has become only one of the uses for the device, and not the driver of change.

What has driven the change in the way I work is the ubiquitous phrase “there’s an app for that” – think of something you are interested in, or want to do, and there’s bound to be an app available to help you do it. Want to convert feet-per-second to Kmh – I use PC-Calc Lite (a fully fledged scientific calculator with over 30 conversions built in). Want to write a WordPress blog entry while traveling at 30000ft, use the WordPress app; want to know the current time in New York, or Bangalore – I use Worldclockr. Want to read today’s newspaper – The NZ Herald app let’s me download the news when I’m in a WiFi zone, and read it later (some of the other news apps use a live Internet feed, I like the offline capability of the Herald). Want to watch a Ted Talk – yep, there’s an app for that too, and this one let’s you download talks for viewing later (a really great way to get value from those endless hours spend in airplanes and airport lounges).

The beauty of these apps is the price – they range from free (most of those I mentioned above) to a few dollars. I think the most expensive apps I’ve purchased are Apple’s Pages and Keynote – and they were less than $20 each. At these prices you don’t bother with “try before buy” – just buy it and see if it does what you want. If it doesn’t do what you’re looking for the write-off is trivial.

This is the secret to the change in behavior – finally the promise of ubiquitous mobile computing is becoming a reality, and it’s affordable. I can check my email in an instant, no waiting for a boot up process. If I want to find directions to somewhere I tap on the Maps icon, type in the address and a comforting blue line shows me where to go, and estimates (pretty accurately) how long it’ll take to get there. If I want to chat with a friend in Israel, or a coworker in Dallas I load Skype and we can talk for hours (almost) for free. Yes, I can do these things on my laptop, but the instant on nature of the tablet means I can do so at a moment’s notice, and the lightweight form factor means I carry it with me without bother, there’s no need to stop and think, I just pick up the pad and am immediately productive, or entertained wherever I happen to be.

The tablet also has some capabilities that the laptop lacks – a built in gps and accelerometer tell me where I am, what direction I’m going in and (one of the best apps I’ve found) Star Walk let’s me hold the device up to the sky and shows me the names and descriptions of the constellations that are visible right now. Yes – I’m a geek, but you’ve got to admit that’s cool.

I remember the first “mobile” computer I worked with – the Osborne One Sewing Machine (they didn’t call it that, but those of us that lugged them around sure did) – I think it weighed 19kg, needed mains power, had 256KB of RAM, a tiny orange & black screen, a keyboard that folded down in the front and dual 5 1/4 floppy disk drives. And it was a steal at a mere $12000! Despite the weight (it was more “lugable” than portable) the freedom to take work to the customer site was liberating. Since the 1980s we’ve gone from lugables to laptops to netbooks and they have all been improvements, but the shift to the tablet factor, accompanied by the availability of a vast range of apps at affordable prices has really triggered a change for me.

I still use my laptop, mainly for work stuff, for bulk storage (150GB of photographs, backed up in 3 places), for presentation delivery and for writing long documents, but I’m finding more and more that I can use the tablet most of the time.

The tablet isn’t perfect, and I’m sure there will be significant improvements over the next few years. Mine hasn’t got a camera (almost reason enough for me to shell out for an iPad 2), and “battery anxiety” is a term I’ve become familiar with, if the battery level drops below 30% I start to get nervous, but I do get a solid 10 hours out of a full charge, plenty enough for a trans-Tasman flight; a USB port would be a good thing, so I can access external storage (those photographs on a portable hard drive). The competing operating systems mean that once you’ve chosen a device you are locked into that manufacturer’s offerings as the apps aren’t compatible between them.

We’re starting to see the low-price app model migrate to other form factors as well, and I wonder what impact this trend will have on the software development industry?

Music companies are having to adapt their business models to cope with digital distribution, and losing control over how their customers consume their music, are software companies facing the same challenge?

Are we going back to the days of the individual software craftsman building a product for a small audience that exactly meets their need, or will software development remain a teamwork activity. Will the software industry split into those building apps and products for the corporate environment using teams of people (probably using Agile techniques) and the solitary developer building a couple of apps, hoping that one will become the next Angry Birds? You can be sure large software organizations are looking at the app marketplace and drooling, will their business models cope with selling an app for $2.99, where they have been used to charging $2999.00?

What do you think, will tablet computing be a new paradigm or is it just the next small step in the evolution in computing?

“Live long and prosper” the tricorder is almost here!

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 27 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 72 posts. There were 16 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 8mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was December 23rd with 76 views. The most popular post that day was Getting Real Customers to Submit Proposals for Agile 2011.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were linkedin.com, pucpcmb.wordpress.com, twitter.com, softwaretestingclub.com, and lmodules.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for agile test strategy template, social contract example, what makes a good story, software education trainers blog, and shane hastie.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Getting Real Customers to Submit Proposals for Agile 2011 December 2010
1 comment

2

Top 10 Exam Tips January 2010
3 comments

3

What makes a “good” story August 2010
4 comments

4

Agile testing strategies October 2009
2 comments

5

What actually happens on an Agile Project – part 1 April 2010
2 comments

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2011 in Uncategorized