Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Where did 2013 go?

Reading other people's reflections of the year 2013, I came to realize I've had an amazing year.  There's two things that characterize the year in particular: learning as a tester and active organizing of events. If there's a downside, it must be that I've had a lot less chances of preparing presentations to share my own stuff but that's an easy fix for next year.

A Full Year at the Office

I changed jobs in April 2012, so this was my first year at this job that I could spend the full year on. I've loved the challenges that hands-on testing work presents me, enjoyed the freedom of learning bits of Selenium to get my teams started on that path and the varied work that I can choose from from helping business model development, defining our products to making sure they are actually what we thought they should be through testing them.

There's one feature area in particular that I absolutely loved testing this year. Learning that a migration feature works as specified and then finding out why specified is by no means good enough and driving the feature to actually useful piece of software was enjoyable and a great collaboration.

It's also been a full year with the amazing Alexandra Casapu (@coveredincloth) and guiding her on her tour to learn more of testing. Stopping to think about our different approaches teaches me a lot about how to use my strength, and encourages me to develop some of the weaknesses I had almost accepted - the automation avoidance in particular. Our collaboration has also given me plenty of things to write and talk about.

I'm more convinced than ever that I love long-term assignments for the depth of applying and developing skills. And I'm pretty sure I will not, no matter what I said when joining, be changing jobs after two years.  But I will continue on the path to enable Alexandra to work as full team member, regardless of her remote status and our insistence on not being comfortable with English in general.  

I also love the fact that in this work, I'm judged and thanked for the effort with the same criteria as the rest of us. No more "are you THAT Maaret Pyhäjärvi..." but actually being allowed to be just one of the team members. There's a downside to ten years of presentations, teaching and sharing what ever I can on testing with the local testing community.

Laying the Groundwork for the Year

For this year, I decided to focus my volunteering effort into whole-team view for software, as a tester still. The motivation that I hold for this is that there seems to still be the idea around that Agile teams don't often know what to do with good testers like myself, and testers developing their craft in isolation isn't really helping this. And, the fact that I've been helping the Finnish testing community for over ten years also begged to try out what happens when I leave for other volunteer work. I learned it means that discussions survive, but most of the other action completely vanished. 

Not Only Finland

I wanted to work on stuff that is not only in Finland and for Finland. The relatively regular tweeting makes me feel more connected, and I've managed to write to my blog in English mostly this year - even though Finnish is still my daily working language. I also had the privilege to be invited to EuroSTAR program committee and enjoyed the process of selecting the best possible content in Europe for the biggest and greatest testing conference. The only thing I was disappointed in that it wasn't more work so I took upon myself the work of getting to know many first timers at the conference site. Testing has so many amazing people and brilliant minds. 

I was also invited to speak at a conference organized by Agile Latvia -colleagues.  My presentation was titled "Serendipity and Perseverance - Injecting Testing in a Test Resistant Team". Wildcard conference was a lot of fun and my first of three chances this year to have long face to face discussions with Laurent Bossavit. I loved his book on Leprechauns of Software Engineering which made me more aware of what I want to quote in my presentations and let loose as things people refer to.

Organizing here and there

I run through  the organizing of Helsinki Testing Days that happened in June. With a few tracks and a massive test lab, the free event with about 400 people was a great experience. I did not speak there, as I felt that I should give room to others, and we had some really exciting new speakers for this audience. And my friend Ru Cindrea, Romania's gift to Finnish Testing community, did a great job with the test lab with a bunch of volunteers. 

I set out to organize a series of webinars. I run a couple of them, presenting one myself with title "Experiences with Remote Testing", trying out the GoToWebinar -platform. I also participated quite a bunch of webinars with nice contents, and realized that there's enough of that sort to my taste, and that a webinar is never even remotely the same as a live session. 

Then I joined the board of Agile Finland and took some things to organize from there. I organized a monthly breakfast series for various topics in Agile (no testing yet!) and Tampere Goes Agile -conference. With TGA, I learned that running a free 400 person testing conference is easier than running one for Agile at Tampere, from financing perspective. A non-profit without any money (FAST) has many benefits over a non-profit with some money (Agile Finland). And my connections to Tampere and Agile are not quite in the shape my connections in Helsinki and Testing.

I also made a commitment to developers to get something started with coding dojos and retreats. I did, bringing Adi Bolboaca to discuss this with us and build some energy, to work with my team at Granlund (to be "the one positive thing that happened this year" according to a team mate of mine) and convinced my brother to run a code retreat at Tampere Goes Agile. Happy developers result in better quality and more fun for testing, so that was a good choice. 

Since I had times of not enough things to do for my taste, I also did some work on agile.fi wordpress setup for Agile Finland. 

Absolutely best part in organizing was again doing something I had avoided for no particular reason. I learned to love Github and did my share of bugs for the web page I had to maintain for TGA.

Testing Stuff Re-emerges

While I thought I wouldn't do much for the testing community, seems there were a few things after all:
  • Helsinki Testing Days main organizer
  • Helsinki Agile Testing meetup group sessions: evening with James Bach and evening with Alexandra Casapu, as I can't let the great visitors pass by without contributing 
  • Presentations for Jyväskylä on Testing themes, with "Five things of (agile) testing for all of us" and "Does testing give us quality?" while I was visiting anyway  
  • Couple of testing dojos to practice together and see how other testers work with their test targets
Training too

I did a lot less training and presentations than on a usual year. Still my year fit a couple of 2 day trainings on Test Automation in Jyväskylä. And a couple of tailored for customer courses, a one-day session on "Acceptance Testing" and a two-day session on "Testing and Test Cases". Talentum gave me two changes to speak in their conferences, first a talk "Testing in a team that isn't colocated" and then "Buying testing services as a customer". I was also invited to an organization to share my experiences on with title "Specification by Example: Experiences on Getting Started".  Compared to previous years, I took it easy on this side and will definitely do more of this next year, with BBST around the corner as co-instructor with Cem Kaner.

Family and personal goals

With all of this, I spent weekends with my two kids, not doing much expect hanging out and playing. And I found time to start exercising (dance!), collect my willpower and lose 28 kilos on the side.

My family, in particular my mom is just amazing. And I have a great group of people around me that help make things real. I've been lucky. Here's hoping the good stuff continues for 2014 and allows me to try more things I love doing.

Happy new year all!